AmyDolanarticle

On Solitude, Resting

Personal Development //

Last week, I took four days away from the city for solitude and resting.

AND IT WAS GLORIOUS.

I went to my favorite place on the lake. My sacred space that instantly calms and comforts my spirit. It’s mostly a summer beach town, but in the winter, it’s empty and slow and you’ll only see the folks who live and work year-round in the town. Which, really, is absolute perfection for a solitude trip.

Four days of sleeping, walking, eating at my favorite places, catching up on TV, late afternoon coffee, room service, reading. SO GOOD. If not for my loved ones, and my beloved city, my great job, my nieces, it’s possible I might have stayed in that hotel room on the lake for possibly ever.

I don’t usually take space just for myself like this — travel is usually best with my husband, or reserved for work, but after a VERY busy fall with loads of activities and lots of spent-people-energy and without a lot of space for recovery, I needed this.

NOTE: I’m an extrovert. Solitude isn’t necessarily in my nature, or my first reaction. But, I’ve found that it’s crucial for my emotional health. Time alone restores, relaxes, refills.

While away, I noticed my reaction toward filling time, all the time. Specifically, I noticed that while I was in between activities {driving, waiting for lunch} my mind INSTANTLY went to what else I could be doing. I should text my husband, read a few chapters, get gas. I had to fight REALLY hard to stop the pattern, to reprogram my mind to sit still, look around, DO NOTHING, breathe. Enjoy.

Also, in the hustle of everyday life, I assume a fast paced, full life is who I am, my preferred speed. But, when I was slow, without an overscheduled day, I felt pretty dang happy. Giddy, really. I felt calmer, clear-minded, more myself. Maybe I’ve talked myself into a busy life. NOTED.

I paid attention to my body. I knew when I was hungry, tired, over-caffeinated. Without distractions, my body became my primary focus. It felt odd to be so in tune with my body. Because in everyday life — tasks and pace of life take over and the needs of my body take a backseat.

One afternoon, I got a massage. Afterwards, I asked the therapist how my neck felt. TIGHT. She said. I asked what I could do to eliminate that day-to-day. Her reply was kind, but really, I knew what she was thinking — has no one told you? CALM DOWN. SIT STRAIGHT. STRESS LESS. Got it.

I’m home now. Back to life, back to the hustle. More mindful of my body and my posture, and my pace, and my patience, and those who matter most around me. I’ll carry the gifts of solitude and the lake in my heart, knowing that I’m different and better because of the time.

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About the Author

Amy Dolan is founder, leader and blogger for Lemon Lime Kids, a children’s ministry consulting company that seeks to encourage churches to consider a fresh approach to leading and teaching children. Amy started the company in 2005, as a way to empower and encourage fellow children’s ministry leaders, and since that first day has had the opportunity to work with leaders & organizations committed to the spiritual growth of children. Amy believes that the church fully empowered, combined with the commitment of the family, and the compassion of the community has the power to inspire children’s faith for a lifetime. In addition to her consulting work with Lemon Lime Kids, Amy leads the strategic curriculum development for Phil Vischer’s new curriculum What’s in the Bible? (whatsinthebible.com), and serves as Director of LOCAL, a Chicago-area children’s ministry collaborative (kidmin.com). Amy is the former Executive Director for Children’s Ministry at the Willow Creek Association, a former Children’s Ministry Director at The Chapel in Libertyville, IL and a Curriculum Writer for Promiseland at Willow Creek in South Barrington. Amy is proud to be married to her husband Kelly, and loves living in Chicago. Amy blogs at lemonlimekids.com and tweets at @adolan.