Leaving Home

In a few days, I’m going on a trip. Alone.

Two days and nights of solitude at the incredible Highlights Foundation (yes, the children’s magazine has a dreamy getaway for writers of all genres). Me, my laptop, and a stack of books.

Some of the lodging at Highlights. Oh bliss.

Some of the lodging at Highlights. Oh, bliss.

It doesn’t feel real. I’m in denial that it’s happening at all because – brace yourselves – I’ve never been away from my kids. Ever. Not for ONE night since my daughter was born seven years ago.

After giving birth to my son, I came home the same day. (Hey, I was high on hormones, what can I say?)

There’s plenty I could write about why it’s taken me so long to leave my kids, but that’s not the point of this post.

The point is, it’s happening now. I’m anxious and giddy in equal parts. I know my family will be fine (right, dad, right?!), and I think we’ll all be better for this small yet significant break, but I can’t help feel the weight of it.

My goal is to, finally, finish this novel draft. Maybe even work on a short story that has been brewing. I just hope I can live up to my own expectations. What if, upon arrival, with the days stretched before me, long and unencumbered, I freeze? What if I screw up this golden opportunity?

Of course, this is self-doubt creeping in, stealthy and sly as always. I’ve been doing this long enough to recognize the signs. Years of experience has given me the tools to shut it down. When I get stuck, I’ll get out of my little cabin and go for a walk or jog on the gorgeous woodsy grounds.

highlights grounds

I’ll grab a cup of coffee in the lodge and gain some strength from shared smiles and kind words.

One of my favorite writers, Dani Shapiro (please consider reading Still Writing if you haven’t already) recently posted some gorgeous photographs on Instagram of her recent writing retreat, along with these simple goals:

Writing

Reading

Walking

Thinking 

Connecting

That’s exactly what I’ll be doing the moment I leave June 22, the day after Father’s Day, summer solstice, and the eighth anniversary of my mother’s death.

This trip is a gift, a literal one, for my upcoming 40th birthday. My husband will take his own later this summer. We got the idea from some friends who celebrated their milestone this way. A few months ago when we decided to make our plans, I immediately knew what I wanted to do.

My husband was surprised. “Don’t you want to go to a spa? Get massages? Relax and unwind?”

“Nope,” I said without hesitation. “I want to write. That’s all.”

I’m lucky that way. I’ve always known what I wanted to do with my life, what I wanted to be. For years I wasted my time, or maybe I just didn’t have enough life experience, maybe it wasn’t the right time.

But it is now. I’m ready.

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