“Book” Your Getaway!

Last weekend as I drove to town to do errands, every tree and stretch of land beside the road was green, green, green. The air pouring through my car’s open window was sweet and warm, and the sun smiled down, kissing everything and everyone with heat and happiness. I’m not exaggerating! I know the other drivers felt spring’s invigorating cheeriness, too. Even folks at the four-way stop in Thornhill managed to take their turns properly and with minimal road rage.

What caught my attention most, however? The profusion of camper-laden trucks pulling boats, ambling RVs, and cars jampacked with tents, sleeping bags, coolers, and other miscellaneous gear.

After our long winter, it seemed like everyone and their dog (Seriously, there were a ton of pets grinning joyfully from passenger windows) was out and about, ready to explore.

All the smiles—and bags of fast food—I spotted through windshields brought back memories of the many, many road trips I enjoyed with my family as a kid. One of my favorite parts of those long and varied holidays was waking up in the gently swaying camper, already long in motion, miles from where we’d stopped for the night. (Remember when you could legally travel like that? I am old!)

I’d clear a peephole in one of the condensation-misted windows and stare out at the blur of highway and—to me, at least—“exotic” scenery. No matter how familiar our destination was, my grandparents’ farms, or down to Vancouver to shop and visit extended family, or off to a favorite remote lake or campsite, each trip was ripe with possibility and promise.

When I tired of gawking, I’d burrow back into my sleeping bag (I favored a chocolate brown one that was incredibly soft and had an orange, beige, and brown interior, sporting a wild forest scene, replete with huge moose) and commence my other favorite part of the trip—one that will come as no surprise to anyone: putting my nose in a book.

My mom bought me an old, slightly battered train case at a church rummage sale when I was six,  and I treasured that thing until late into my teen years. It was perfect for book hauling!  Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, Harriet the Spy, Laura Ingalls, Mary Lennox, Anne Shirley, Bugs Potter . . . I’ve lost track of how many childhood friends I dragged with me in my early travels—a tradition I continued when I grew up, then passed on to my own kids and husband during road trips (especially via audio books).

In the same way that certain scents have a way of sending you back through time to places—and people—from your distant past, at specific scenic spots all along Hwy 16, I hear various characters and recall dramatic happenings. (Miss Marple haunts Terrace to Prince Rupert very spectacularly!)

I’ve always wondered if this duo love of mine for stories and road trips partially explains the inspiration behind my River’s Sigh B & B series. After all, each standalone novel is somebody’s road trip, his or her own personal story.

These days, thank you eReader, my luggage is a lot lighter when I travel, but whether it’s the beach, a campsite, the city, or the open road, you’ll still never find me without a book nearby.

And whether I’m literally traveling or not, I go on little escapades all the time. It’s the most wonderful part of being a reader: how there are no limits to the places you can visit, the time periods you can explore, the people you can meet, the adventures—sweet or terrifying!—you can find yourself in, the ways you can grow. . . .

I hope you and yours get to explore new-to-you terrain this spring or summer, by boat, plane or car—but even if you don’t (actually, especially if you don’t!), make sure you “book” other getaways and adventures.

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“’Book’ Your Getaway!” by me, Ev Bishop, was originally published in the Terrace Standard, June 21, 2018 as my monthly column “Just a Thought.”

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And hey . . . in case, you’re looking for your next audio gallivant, I’d be honoured if you’d give WEDDING BANDS a try. 😊 Listen to a sample here and/or buy it today: 

 Audible.com  ~ Audible.ca Amazon Nook 

Wedding Bands is also available on iTunes and from a huge variety of other vendors, so if you have a favorite spot to buy from that’s not listed here, please look it up. 


Ms. Bishop. In the Library. Redux.

A photo of Ev Bishop's library at her old home

A glimpse into my library of yore . . .

If you read my last Terrace Standard column, you know I’ve been on organizing kick—and my latest target is my new library. I’ve had the shelves up for a few months, yet my books are still stashed willy-nilly throughout the house, much to my husband’s confusion. He doesn’t understand that I need to know what specific shelf and/or books I want to add first before I can get started. I was a tad baffled myself—and then I came upon a column I wrote a few years ago about my old house’s library.

Books mean a lot to me, so sorting, shelving and possibly culling them is a complex undertaking. Perhaps you’ll see something of yourself in my process.

I’m prone to flights of daydreaming and distraction at the best of times, but when I’m supposed to be tidying books? Heaven help me! All those ideas, adventures, life-changing worlds and words. . . .

I’ve been known to box up books, only to go back and rescue select titles. I keep doubles of some novels—because they’re that good and because it is a truth universally acknowledged that if you loan books, you rarely get them back.

Anyway, armed with fresh coffee, a multitude of multi-sized cardboard boxes, and a belly full of steely resolve, I headed to my miniature library.

I’d just gotten through my writing-related books, when the biggest killer of productivity, house-cleaning wishes, and de-junking desires hit me: an interesting thought. My brother had been sorting my Dad’s books and commented that you can learn a lot about people from their bookcases.

I found his theory interesting. So interesting that I lost several hours to perusing titles with an eye to what secrets my books might tell about my psyche, obsessions, and beliefs, instead of focusing on whether or not I would ever actually read or refer to them again.

A deer skull (complete with lower jaw and teeth) sits atop one row of books (Christianity and other faith and religion texts). I’m not sure what that says.

A bottle of wine lounges on its side, coming of age in the lofty company of modern literary fiction greats like Joy Kogawa, Barbara Gowdy, Wally Lamb, and Eden Robinson. Why am I storing a bottle of wine there? To make the classic authors a shelf above and a shelf below jealous? Perhaps. Also, it looks kind of pretty.

I have a lot of science fiction—Orwell, Bradbury, H.G. Wells, Asimov and Silverman, Heinlein, Robert J Sawyer. . . .

A full shelf homes titles by authors who are also personal friends. And another carries autographed works. And I have a small (but growing!) section with books that carry stories by me.

I have gads of Stephen King, the full Merrily Watkins series by Phil Rickman (highly recommended, by the way), Diana Gabaldon’s wonderful genre-bending Outlander series, and a myriad of other scary or scintillating tales. They hulk in the shadows, balancing the sweetness and light of my Jan Karon and Maeve Binchy books.

Although I parted with any kids’ books that were lame after my children grew up, I still have one full five-shelf case of “must keeps.”

My collection is roughly 1/5 non-fiction (but within that, a full shelf is devoted to poetry), with a higher concentration of writing craft and religious texts—but lots of history, social sciences, and philosophy, too.

What fascinated me most circles back to my original goal of pruning my collection. Weirdly, it’s not the best books I have the hardest time parting with. The story between the covers isn’t my only consideration—nor the information relayed, nor the style, humour, or power with which the author writes. Not even my firm “Will you ever read this again?” question actually determines whether I cull or not. No, what really hampers my ability to part with a book is the story within the story.

I bought this for the kids at that little bookstore when we were on holidays on the Island.

My aunt and I spotted this book at the same time. She let me have it, but I “owed” her.

This was the first book I read after my mom died.

Aw, this is the one Chris read to Christopher all the time!

Breaking Smith’s Quarter Horse! My dad was obsessed with this forever.

And that—the notion that the story within a book is only part of the reason it keeps its spot when another, arguably far superior, might be pulled—was eye opening. I’ve long fought junk collecting because I know what a trap it can become. I had no idea that the psychology behind why I hold onto some books is similar to why some people can’t get rid of broken toys, old clothes, or boxes of knick-knacks they haven’t looked at in years.

Reading over reflections on my last library was inspiring and motivating. I’ll have to let you know when I have my new library in shape, though I suspect it will always be a work in progress—as every good library should be! 

A photo of Ev's work-in-progress library

A peek into the start of my library to be! This is actually a slightly outdated picture. I have my poetry shelf filled and one of non-fiction history books. Will update you when the stacks are stacked!

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“Ms. Bishop. In the Library. Redux,” by me, Ev Bishop, is a combination of new thoughts and old ones originally pondered in an essay called “Ms. Bishop. In the Library. With a Coffee Mug.” This version was published in the Terrace Standard, April 5, 2018 as my regular column “Just a Thought.”

The Maximum Minimalist Challenge

Day 15 – so much gone, so much still to go!

I like to believe I’m not that much of a junk collector, but a contest this past month quashed my wishful thinking. In reality I have two ever-battling, opposing personalities when it comes to stuff: dreamer Ev, who clings to mementos and to anything that might possibly come in handy in any way, ever, and practical Ev who vows to not be ruled by the tyranny of possessions.  

The lesson kicked off in mid-January when my daughter invited me and a friend to take part in a decluttering “minimalist” challenge that she’d heard about online. 

Every day for 30 consecutive days, we’d purge the number of items dictated by whatever day it was in the contest, so Day 1, 1 item. Day 2, 2 items. Day 3, 3 items. And so on. We’d send each other daily pictures to show what we got rid of. Whoever made it the furthest into the 30 days would “win” and get all the discarded stuff. Just kidding! The stuff was sold, donated, recycled or trashed. The prize was “loser buys coffee.” 

The first few days were, as you probably guessed, super easy—and our artfully staged photos reflected our enthusiasm. 

As the month rolled on and items accumulated, our increasingly messy photo record sparked much laughter, conversation and debate. We frequently coveted each other’s giveaways and had to make a new rule: taking someone’s discard required the shedding of two additional items. That mostly cured our magpie ways.  

We were all surprised that gathering our daily quotas didn’t become impossible—or even difficult. What was? Motivation over the long haul.  

Making time to delve into the back corners of cupboards and closets, then sorting, packaging, driving and dropping off, etc., got tedious. Just maintaining our normal home and work lives is work intensive enough. Anything extra feels like extra.   

Also, re-homing some items required uncomfortable honesty and/or a kind of letting go. There are interests and hobbies from bygone days that you’ll never rekindle, no matter how fondly you look back. There are impulse purchases that were mistakes—and keeping them another ten years will not remedy that fact. 

And, of course, things stowed because of who or what they remind us of were—and are—tricky. It’s important to figure out what’s really precious and what’s just stored out of habit or guilt—and that’s highly personal. No-one else can determine it for you. I try to go by rule that if I literally never use it, never display it, never pull it out for rainy day reminiscences, I should re-home it.  

I wasn’t surprised by the pull of sentimental items—or by my resistance to relinquishing things that might have a purpose. Someday. Maybe. Plus, there are things I love just because they’re pretty or whimsical or whisper of secrets and conjure up stories. So no, stashes of things like old keys, etc. didn’t shock me either. 

No, what I found horrifying was the actual, literal, garbage I found. And worse, in one case, still didn’t get rid of. I wasn’t alone in my bewilderment about what my brain deemed must keep treasures. We all had some type of thing we clung to out of strange compulsion, all had our own But why? moments.  

Over the years, I’ve worked hard to learn how to let go of hurts, to deal with grief and change, to let myself feel joy without guilt, and to not fall for the lie that purchasing another this or that will cheer me up if I’m sad or make me feel good about myself if I’m feeling bad, but this challenge was a good reminder: it’s a lifelong process. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying things we’ve work for or appreciating relics from the past, but it can be all too easy to accumulate and hoard stuff for more complex reasons. For me, the best thing about the challenge was the reminder to be intentional about what I hold on to.   

If you want a little glimpse into what makes you tick (or what your ticks are!), or even if you “just” want a closet that contains only wearable clothes (I know, crazy concept, right?)—do this challenge. You’ll lose clutter and gain a lot in the process.   

P.S. In just 30 days, we each unburdened ourselves of 465 things. Collectively, that was a whopping 1395 no longer useful (to us) items!

P.P.S. If you’ve done – or do! – a similar challenge, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the process.
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“The Maximum Minimalist Challenge” by me, Ev Bishop, was written in February 2018 and was originally published in the Terrace Standard, March 15, 2018 as my monthly column “Just a Thought.”

I’ve written on this subject before in a larger, more serious scale: CIRCLES by Ev Bishop

Snowed In

The view outside my front door, Jan. 31, 2018

I live on the same property I lived as a teenager. Its terrain is as familiar to me as my own backyard because, of course, that’s exactly what it is—and what it has been for so many years.

The last few days of heavy snow have changed everything, however. The view outside my door and a trek across the yard reveal a foreign landscape. It surprises me every winter, how the sound-dampening white blanket turns the familiar strange and the once-obvious into something only hinted at.

And that’s how I feel this new year as I contemplate the future, like the landmarks, anchors and foundations of my life are still there—yet at the same time, somehow hidden from me. I can’t make out their details.

I had my children about ten years younger than a lot of my friends did, so while they’re still busy with childrearing and household things . . . I am not as much. So this spot I’ve hit . . . Is it empty nest syndrome? A midlife crisis? The itch before an opportunity? I don’t know—but I suspect it’s a normal phase of human development, like teething for babies and tantrums for toddlers. (So not the most fun, understatement, but survivable. Normal.)

The other day, I described my life as “empty” to a friend, but even as I said it, I knew it wasn’t the word I was looking for—too ungrateful, too negative, when I actually feel so much thankfulness for all that I have. The fresh snow showed me what I’d truly meant and failed to describe: not empty at all, full—but with the pieces that make me whole a bit buried at the moment, hard to see clearly or to make sense of.

In my 20s, I knew what my time needed to be filled with, what my priorities were, what I believed in and lived by (for the most part anyway—or my life was so busy that I didn’t have as much time to dwell).

Ditto in my 30s. Trying to put all my plans into action, working to see my hopes become reality, and keeping on top of the choices I made kept me focused and determined, constantly learning and seeking. I had to-do lists and goal maps that spanned years.

My early 40s were like a harvest. The bulk of things I had invested my time, energy and heart in for so long matured and were . . . done.

And 45? It’s a mystery. Thankfully, I love my work and take a lot of joy and solace in the fact that I still have lots of room to grow in it (forever), but everything else—who my husband and I are as a couple, instead of just as parents, what my new role is in my children’s lives (and in my grandchildren’s), what my faith is, how I should live, where I should spend my personal time—is blurry.

What will the next half of my life look like? I have no idea. Right now, it’s all shadowy outlines and slightly lumpy impressions. I think that’s okay though. As disconcerting as it is to be unsure of pretty much everything, beneath the obscuring layers, the landmarks and foundations of my life are still there. And just like I’ll have to wait until spring to see the details of my yard again, I may have to wait a while for the things I’m pondering to become clear.

Some seasons in life provide a straightforward vision of what we want to do next or how we need to grow. Others call for hunkering down, lying dormant, waiting—which is always, at least for me, less comfortable than forging ahead.

Whether your path is clear, or whether you, like me, feel that if a path exists, it needs to be shovelled (or plowed with a loader), I wish you a wonderful 2018. May you find what you need most—and may joy, laughter and good friends accompany you on the journey!

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“Snowed In” by me, Ev Bishop, was originally published in the Terrace Standard, February 1, 2018 as my monthly column “Just a Thought.”

Fear of Falling

Nanaimo River Picture by Gerry Thomasen Seth Godin quote

“Boulder Swim” Photo Copyright Gerry Thomasen.

I spent ten days up and down Vancouver Island this summer, visiting family and friends. One moment of the holiday will be etched in my mind (and felt in my gut) forever—for both positive and negative reasons.

Nanaimo River is a gorgeous run of jade green water that cuts through wide crevices of massive rocks, flanked by ancient forests. It has sections of rapids and white water, but for huge stretches, it is peaceful and current free. Here and there, in spots often decorated with giant boulders and featuring convenient layers of flat rocks down to the water’s edge, it widens into pools—which make spectacular swimming holes.

Because it’s in a valley, you have to climb down to it, and sometimes the inclines are steep. There are places where multiple rough ladders have been placed end to end to make certain spots accessible. Even for me, however—and I’m no gazelle—the trails are doable. I just went very slowly and my family was very patient.

Anyone who knows me knows there is nothing in the world I love better activity-wise than swimming in lakes or oceans, and Nanaimo River is a particularly glorious place to take a dip—cool, clear, super clean and green, green, green. We had an amazing afternoon for it too: hot and sunny with the kind of deep blue sky that’s so pure and pretty it’s dreamlike.

On the hike down, my brother pointed out a giant fallen tree lying bridge-like across a deep ravine. We could’ve taken it instead of one of the three ladders, and we all thought it looked like fun, so on our way back up after swimming, take the tree bridge we did. And this is where the gut-roiling moment occurred.

It really was an enormous tree, easily four feet wide, and absolutely solid. Yes, there was a huge drop to the rock strewn, branch-spiked earth below, but there was no question that it was safe. When I was three or four steps out, however, my husband (behind me) said something like, “Don’t fall.”

It was a joke, not meant meanly. Half the group had already skipped across, after all, and a person would pretty much have to try to fall to actually manage to do so—but it didn’t matter. I heard “fall” and looked down. Instantly, my breath was sucked from me. My lungs, chest and stomach cramped so hard and so quickly that I couldn’t inhale. My limbs locked, my heart hammered like it would explode, and I broke out in a prickly sweat but felt ice cold.

Seconds that felt like years later, I managed to speak—not to move. “I don’t think I can do this. I can’t do this.”

Immediately my family and husband were like, “You can. It’s okay. It’s safe. Just go slow.”

“Don’t talk about falling,” I growled to my husband, who felt bad.

Painstakingly, utterly humiliated, I minced across in the tiniest, most halting steps. Everyone cheered when I made it, like it was some big feat, but I just felt stupid. And embarrassed. And weak. And out of shape. And, and, and . . . a whole slew of other negative, self-berating things.

The worst part was that I had been so excited, was so looking forward to crossing the log bridge. It looked almost magical, surrounded by old growth trees and moss that glowed golden in the filtered sunlight. And I am someone who has always imagined herself up for any adventure—or at least not fear-stricken and crippled when confronted with one.

It also really bothered me because I worried that it might speak to how I handle other challenges. We never know when some event or issue at work or in our personal life is going to trigger . . . fear. Fear of falling. Of being damaged beyond repair. Or just of looking stupid or weak. I kind of hate that it was that last part—appearing weak—that bothered me the most. Why did that bother me so much? Who did I think I had fooled? I am weak. In so many ways. We all are. But the bridges need to be crossed! Fear, weakness or perceived failure shouldn’t keep us from going for the things we want.

It’s okay to freeze, to need reassurance, to only be able to muster up enough courage to mince—but mince we must. And hopefully we’ll also have those other times, the ones where we run full out, arms wide at our sides, laughing and adventuring forth in brave delight.

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“Fear of Falling” by me, Ev Bishop, was originally published in the Terrace Standard, October 12, 2017 as my monthly column “Just a Thought.”

The Trips They Are a-Changin’

I’ve been busy this month solidifying summer vacation plans, and while there are always some details that need careful attention or adjustments, what strikes me most about this empty nester holiday stuff is how easy it is, how few things need to be nailed down when you’re only organizing for two adults.
 
I remember well—and a huge part of me will always miss—the days when my children were small, despite all the work that went into planning even small excursions then. The labor was well worth it in the fun and memories we created, but it was exhausting at times, physically and emotionally.  
 
Plus our budget was always tight, a common yet frustrating fact: often your finances are at their shakiest at the time in life when you have the highest set expenses, the most mouths to feed, the most bodies to dress, and, simultaneously, the most things you want your kids to experience and see.
 
Recently I returned from a ten-day combined work/pleasure trip, where I carried a backpack and one small book bag—and that’s it. Parents of young kids carry more stuff just to go to church or for an afternoon at the lake. Stroller. Diapers. Wipes. Changes of clothes. Water bottles. Sunscreen. Toys. Food. 
 
Nowadays, I literally live by this travel mantra: Oh well, if I forget something I need, I’ll just pick it up somewhere. That attitude doesn’t really suffice when you have infants or toddlers and have to plan for possible delays, lack of access to restaurants, etc.
 
It’s nice to know where I’ll be staying, but it’s not critical in the way it is when you have children. As my adult son, who, along with his girlfriend, will be meeting up with my husband and me for part of our trip, said when he realized they’ll be arriving at our destination a day or two before our reservations kick in, “Oh well, we can always car camp.” Exactly. That’s totally an option when you’re an adult. Spontaneous car camping doesn’t work with small kids. To swing an overnight in a vehicle, you’d have to be completely non-spontaneous and make sure you had enough of everything mentioned in the list above—plus bedding.
 
I also—gasp!—actually sleep the night before holidays. I know. Crazy stuff, right? I’m not up until three in the morning doing all the things I didn’t have time for when I was running after youngsters—and then kept awake, though beyond tired, by racing thoughts, wildly going over and over all the things we still need to do before leaving the next morning.
 
Do you think I’m protesting too much? That perhaps I’m trying to sing the praises of empty nester trips only because I miss past ones full of kids and mayhem so much? (After all, you’ve read almost eighteen years of my thoughts. You know how much I loved traveling with my kids!) Okay, you got me. You’re partially right. As I said at the beginning: the work and the craziness and the busyness of planning and taking trips with your family is always worth it. For kids, every trip from the treat of a lifetime Disney vacation to the most simple getaway, camping excursion, or road trip is chock-full of new moments and first time experiences. I loved every minute of that and found it precious and joy evoking to get to relive that newness, that freshness, through their eyes.
 
But I also see things anew and differently traveling alone as an adult, unencumbered. Some opportunities open up that aren’t available or practical with children in tow.
 
So yes, I confess I look forward to taking my grans on overnights and/or holidays (hopefully my kids will be the kind of parents who let me, LOL!). I’ll happily shoulder the extra work, carry the gear, and shell out the money. But in the meantime? It’s great fun to travel light and to, instead of revelling in the thrill of others’ first experiences, keep having some myself. Hopefully that part of trip taking never changes.
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“The Trips They Are a-Changin’” by me, Ev Bishop, was originally published in the Terrace Standard, August 16, 2017 as my monthly column “Just a Thought.” 
 

Gargoyle Cottage. Retreat, retreat!

Gargoyle Cottage at Allbion Manor, Victoria, BCThe name of the place grabbed me immediately: Gargoyle Cottage—how simultaneously creepy and delightful, a perfect companion for its bigger sibling, the gorgeous and funky Albion Manor. It seemed the perfect answer to my where-to-stay-in-Victoria search, commenced when I received an invitation to be a guest speaker at Vancouver Island Romance Authors’ June meeting.

And upon seeing Gargoyle Cottage in person? Even more perfect: a fairy tale house, nestled behind a massive weeping willow tree amidst an enchanted jungle of blooms. Thriving purple clematis and bright blue California lilacs guard the back of the tiny domicile, while its crotchety namesake perches above the glass paned door. Managing to look protective, welcoming and snarky all at once, the gargoyle’s sneer says, “Don’t just stand there gaping. Go in or stay out, but make yourself useful either way. Deadhead the petunias or something.”

I confess I did obediently deadhead a few flowers before proceeding inside, where I was as charmed by the cottage’s interior, as I had been by its exterior. The antique furniture gracing each room grabbed my imagination. What whispered conversations had that sideboard been privy to over a century? How many dreams had the massive, crazily ornate bed inspired? Who had kept what in that tiny, intricately painted, yellowed with age Chinese lidded vase?

Settling in, I pondered what I wanted to accomplish during my days beneath the gargoyle’s watchful eye. Some professional development, absolutely. A couple of close author friends and one of my editors live in the Victoria area. Some purely fun stuff—of course. Chiefly, however, some deep thinking. Perhaps it seems weird that I need to slot in time to think, but there you have it. Obviously (or hopefully), I do a certain amount of thinking every day, but to actually spend concentrated time at it? Yep, I have to schedule it, or it doesn’t happen.

Life is so busy that it can be difficult to find time to consciously evaluate and plan what I want to do. It’s all too easy to feel wiped out and inundated with work and chores, almost like I don’t have a spare minute, while also feeling like I don’t get anything done or don’t have time for the things that really matter.

This fact—that life is busy—is exactly why taking regular breaks to play, think, dream, imagine and plan is vital. It allows me to prioritize and regroup. It helps me really live my life, not just go through the motions. It shows me areas where changes might be needed and affirms things I’m doing right.

Not all my retreats take place in quirky, quaint little B & B’s, however. (I wish!) It’s much more common for me to set aside a day in my normal life. If a mini retreat sounds intriguing to you, here are a few tips to get you started.

1) Leave your house. Even if you’re not planning an overnight stay, getting out of your home, away from your everyday life, is critical. If you stay home, it will be too easy to see all the things that need doing. You’ll decide to tackle just one task—and bam, all will be lost.

2) Bring a notebook or a laptop. (Avoid all social media sites like the plague!) Ruminate on what you’d like to focus on. Do you have a decision you need to make? Are you trying to narrow down your work focus, seeking to prioritize the bazillion ideas rattling around in your head, or just wanting to contemplate life?

3) Consider arranging a lunch date with a close friend or colleague. (And enjoy every minute of it, but don’t let the social time of your retreat eclipse your alone time.)

4) Go back to your alone space and spend time reading magazines or articles that deeply interest you or are relevant to your life in some way.

5) Head outside and take a long walk (or just sit) in a place you don’t usually frequent. Don’t move briskly though. Meander. Absorb your surroundings. Let your mind wander.

6) Return to your space and mull over your notes. Possibly do some brainstorming, jot a pros and cons list, or draft a schedule if you’re aiming to meet a large, many parted goal. If you realize that what you wanted to think about has changed, explore that instead.

7) Repeat semi-frequently!

If you take time to retreat and think—or you’re planning to now—I’d love to hear about it! Please respond in the comments. 🙂

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“Gargoyle Cottage. Retreat, retreat!” by me, Ev Bishop, was originally published in the Terrace Standard, June 28, 2017 as my monthly column “Just a Thought.”