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What I Learned on my First Writing Retreat

What I Learned on my First Writing Retreat

A few weeks ago, the Handsome Husband and I went on a no kids trip to Washington DC. Never having been there before, I thought I could tour the sites in the morning, and then have my afternoons free to write blog posts and read all the delicious books, while he was in meetings.

Oh what I fool I was!

Washington DC is an incredible city. I didn’t realize the depth and breadth of the museum situation, nor the magnitude of all the historical sites. I toured my little heart out until I literally crashed one afternoon into my bed with a blaring headache from all the stimulation and noise and people.

Clearly, I did not open my computer even once.

I was lamenting to one of my besties, and saying that maybe we could get an airbnb for a night or two. In our city, whole apartments are really cheap. She could work on her master’s class and I could write.

To my delight, she thought this was a magnificent plan and offered up her family’s cabin, on a bluff above the Mississippi about a ninety minute drive away.

We went out for a nice dinner Friday night, stopped at the store for mostly healthy grub to keep us fueled all weekend and arrived around nine pm. We watched a movie (well, to be honest I fell asleep halfway through) and woke around eight to a gorgeous snowstorm.

Completely, slowly, and calmly, for the first time in forever, I read my Bible, brainstormed, and posted on social media until about ten. I wrote pretty much all day until about seven pm. We had pizza, lemon crumble and Moscow mules for dinner and stayed up way too late.

Sunday morning, I woke up gloriously tardy, read my Bible, a book, and attended church on-line. I thought I could do a webinar on growing your blog’s reach, but my phone’s internet connection was too spotty.

I wrote eight blog articles as well as the amazingly productive brainstorming session, before we had to clean up and head for home around four pm.

Feeling accomplished, I can’t wait to schedule my next writing retreat!

I learned a lot about what I loved, who I am, and what I’ll do differently next time.

Even with no kids around, I’m highly distractable.

I get preoccupied by ducks and herons. I’m startled by the chiming clock and the thumping furnace. Even with no wi-fi at the cabin, I still wanted to check my social media accounts quite frequently. I was able to put it off until after I would finish an article, and use my social time as a break. Having to wait on a slower cell signal helped me not want to do it as readily as I do at home. I would definitely suggest finding someplace with little to no internet if you really want to get some writing done.

I like to exercise.

At home, I start my day with a jump/jog/walk on my rebounder nearly every day. It really helps wake my brain up. We were here during a blizzard, but next time, I’ll plan to go for a walk in the mornings.

I can get a lot done with a body double.

Having Karen working in the same room as me on her class work helped me stay on task immensely. In the ADHD world, they call that having a “body double”. Another person here with me who doesn’t even have to be encouraging me or saying anything to me assists me to keep my focus on my goal. She served as a physical anchor for me to keep coming back to the tasks I wanted to do. Karen, just by being present, also provided a kind of calm reflection of how I wanted to be, which helped me absorb the message of “I am working. I am focused. I can accomplish this.

I over pack.

On Saturday, I got up and wore what I’d slept in all day. I didn’t really need to bring separate outfits for each day. I brought my pillow, but I forgot to bring it into the house with me. I didn’t want to go out and get it in the blizzard and found I still got two great nights of sleep without it.

And I still don’t have what I need.

Luckily Karen was prepared with extra phone chargers and ear buds. My kiddo found the list of blog ideas that I had left at home and snapped a picture of it to send to me. I will try to make sure I have those with me next time.

If given free rein, I drink way too much coffee.

At home, I make my coffee with half teeccino so it has half the acid and half the caffeine in the mornings and switch to all decaf by noon. I like to have something warm to drink all day. Karen likes fully caffeinated coffee all day. I kept pace with my usual though, and then couldn’t fall asleep until past two a.m. Next time, I’ll make sure I stick with my regular regimen.

I buy too much food.

We had less than 48 hours in which we needed to feed ourselves at the cabin, but I bought enough for several days. I guess some part of me is afraid of starvation, or at the very least, not having just the perfect snack I am craving on hand. Still though, it was nice to have whatever I wanted to eat nearby, and to have a good selection of healthful foods along with the treats we brought. Since we stopped at Aldi, it was still really reasonable. I would probably buy too much food for future retreats too.

I can just write.

Usually, I do the entire process at once: write the article, revise and edit, find the photos, make a picture graphic, add links, and schedule or post it. Doing it this way seemed much more efficient. I liked doing a batch of articles all at once. Then from home, doing the other steps in another session will be a lot faster. I will definitely try to stick to this method.

My first writing retreat was definitely a hit. I would like to do this on a regular basis. Have you ever made a retreat for yourself to get some goals accomplished? What are your recommendations for success?

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Potty Training

Potty Training My Sixth Child

Potty Training my Sixth Kid

One would think I would be an expert in all things child, since I do have children ranging in age from 13-2. I’ve got boys and girls. I’ve got all the personalities (Ok, maybe not, since there are 16 main personalities, but it feels like it most days!)

I’ve got lots of experience in many layers of different. All five of my older children were out of diapers full time before they were three. They all currently use the potty on the regular.

potty training three year old
Three year olds sleeping without diapers can be risky

With my first five, they had a little sibling coming along around the time they turned two, so I was hyper-vigilant before the new baby arrived. We had long stints of Elimination Communication when they were wee babies. I instituted “Potty Train your Kid in Two Days” (Lies!) type policies. We used cloth diapers when we were out and about so they could feel the wetness. They were pantsless at home. They got chocolate chips when they did their business in the right place. They got it. They learned.

One would think potty training my sixth child would be a breeze.

If you think that, you would be wrong.

potty training before three
Almost two year old covered in caulk on the potty

Even with more eyes that should be watching this sixth kid, she gets away with more. Case in point: she completely flooded the bathroom the other day. There was at least an inch of water on the floor. The drawers in the vanity under the sink were two/thirds filled with water.

Kevin was home with the kids while I was on a writing retreat, and I like to think it wouldn’t have happened on my watch. (Lies.) Perhaps with more people around to keep an eye on her, everyone else thinks someone else is watching her, and no one actually is.

There’s a possibility she wasn’t being trained as closely during her readiness window because of her beloved grandma being sick and subsequently dying right around her second birthday. It could be because I stopped cloth diapering all together when she was still a baby. We could attribute it to the fact that I didn’t do Elimination Communication as long with her as I did with the other kids. It’s likely she’s just more stubborn and I’m more tired.

Maybe there isn’t a good reason.

The reason doesn’t matter as much as you knowing that whatever stage of motherhood you’re in right now, you’re not alone. Even us seasoned mothers don’t know what we’re doing, or why we’re doing it, or why it’s going wrong. If your kid won’t sleep through the night and is crawling in bed with you, it’s normal, you’re not alone. If you can’t get your kid potty trained by 3, don’t worry, you’re not alone. If road trips make you think you’re going to lose your everloving mind, and any self control you had at any point in your life, you’re not alone. If you’re afraid your kids are going to kill each other in a spatula fight turned nasty, take heart, you’re not alone. What is going on with you and your kids happens to all of us. I’m here for you. You’re not alone.

Unless your kid is using the teeter totter to catapult  dead mice into an open window. Then you might be on your own.

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