birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Retreat

Just over four years ago, I remodeled our house. We gutted it down to the studs. We moved into an apartment for four months, half of our belongings in storage. When we returned to our new old home I felt off balance, exhausted by the months of living a misplaced life. My days had been filled with the minutia of home décor. The perfectionist in me fought with the imp on shoulder who didn’t care about such nonsense as finding the ultimate knob or the right shade of gray green paint for my office. The perfectionist always wore me down to get the project just right. When we finally returned home to unpack the mountain of boxes, I began to toss out anything that did not serve my life. Clothes I would never wear. Books I would never read again. I was weary and lost by this frantic process of purging and recreating my home. I needed to slow down to find the person I lost in the process of reconstruction. I received an email from my favorite yoga teacher advertising her 5-day retreat in Maui. I didn’t hesitate for a second to respond to this email. I needed to reset my clock, to find myself on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. There were only eight of us for these few days in paradise. All of us, for various reasons, reacted in the same way to this invitation, no hesitation. We needed to slow down. Our days had a regulated pace, morning yoga and another restorative session before dinner. We stretched and perfected our poses. We found our hearts in Yoga Nidra. We hiked to a beautiful waterfall in the rain. We ate healthy meals prepared by a local chef where almost every taste was punctuated by “Oh, my God!” We laughed until we cried. I went there alone and returned with seven new friends. We all needed to repair ourselves in different ways. Slowing down means savoring, pausing to notice the wonder in every day. Rushing numbs and kills. Time was stretched and unhurried so I could move through a yoga pose slow enough to find my breath. Before thus retreat, I used to live in my head. Those five days taught me to sink into my heart, to opt for kindness. Slowing down at this time was an extravagant but necessary gift I gave to myself. Those five days in November made me a better me. I continue to practice with the same teacher. Last Saturday I gave myself another slow day at a silent retreat in Topanga Canyon. Slowing down gives my days a new clarity.

In GODs Hands

Red Riding Hood, Later