I’ve made it a tradition to travel for my birthday, either trips to beautiful locales I have not had the good fortune to visit yet, or to go find snow, my favorite thing in the world. My mother always made a point of celebrating our birthdays, and I learned to carry on that tradition. So many people dread the thought of getting another year older, but I relish the thought of celebrating life… my life…another trip around the sun, and God willing, many more to come.
About six years ago, I stayed home for my birthday, which does not happen too often. I had turned 40 the year before and took a big trip south of the border and learned to surf for that celebration. But at 41, I stayed home. I ventured out on my bike on the morning of my birthday, and while biking I did a little exploring and poking around the seminary and convent near my home. While walking through a beautiful arbor I discovered (that also happens to be the main photo of my blog), I stumbled upon a little cabin. There was a sign out front, and I immediately became intrigued with whatever a “hermitage” was.
So of course I went home and immediately looked it up.
Hermitage:1) the habitation of a hermit, especially when small and remote2) any secluded place of residence or habitation; retreat; hideaway.3) (religious retreat), a place of religious seclusion;
It was then and there that I decided I needed to go on my own hermitage.
I was dealing with a difficult decision I needed to make in my life, and thought that maybe if I went somewhere small and remote, and alone, that I could find the answers I needed to hear. So in April of the following year, I went back to my home town, rented a small cabin overlooking a lake, and holed up for three solid days. I slept until my body wanted to wake up, ate good food, read inspiring books, and read every one of my journals from the past 10 years of my life that I had hauled along on this trip. I read through the chapters of my life, and tried to understand how I got where I was at that point in time. I cried a lot. I released a lot. And then I made a bold decision to start changing the path of my life. The time alone in the healing power of nature gave me the space I needed to hear my own inner voice; to hear what I already knew, but crowded out with the daily trappings of life.
That was the beginning of a promise to myself that I would annually take this trip and give myself the gift of going “outward” to nature in order to go “inward” to my own true nature.
It also was the beginning of my confidence in becoming a solo female traveler. The very next year I took an even longer hermitage, further away from home. It allowed me to complete a bucket list item, and yet was also a time where I needed to once again do some serious contemplation in search of answers. It was an amazing trip and I relished every second of it. And as painful as it was, I found the answers I needed to make hard decisions, and to make the first step towards the rest of my life.
Now I make a point of taking two big hermitage trips a year; one in April, to cleanse my soul of the toxicity of four months of a hectic work schedule, and another in June, planned around the summer solstice, with a solid connection to nature and traveling to beautiful, mystical and high energy locations.
These trips always refuel my spiritual tank. The rapidly speeding hands of time are suddenly slowed to a crawl. Nature becomes more vivid and lovely. Because I am alone, I meet more people, notice more kind hearted souls. Adventures find me. I savor my slow mornings and my drawn out evenings. I hang out with the sunsets. I heal as the pieces of me slowly fuse back together after being blown apart by the stresses of daily life.
I am currently in the planning stages of my 2019 Summer Solstice hermitage. I am being called back to a particular location, and my “logical” brain is fighting the call. “I should go somewhere new!”, I tell myself. But my heart knows I should heed this call; something may be waiting for me there.
I’ll also return to the farmlands of Wisconsin – the rolling green hills that always nurture my soul. I head back to the same farm each summer because it just feels like home now, and the proprietors are just truly kick ass people. Also, restored vintage campers and a unicorn goat… who can pass that up?
I encourage you to plan your own hermitage; where will you go? What will you see? What will your soul say to you? Who will you meet along the way? How will your life be changed?
For me, on this year’s hermitage, I will be contemplating the following question….. what if I could do this all the time? What if hermitage was my new way of life? What if after rising up out of my hermitage, I find its time for an even bigger and more bold way of going inward? Stay tuned…..