It’s a radical act to strike out on your own. On purpose. With intention. And yet, however terrifying that prospect might seem, I am firmly convinced it is elixir for the soul. Keeping good company with your own self is an exercise in unconditional love. Free from the distractions of prater and chatter, cell phones and wifi, friends and foes, the hum of our own operating system can be heard.

Every year, sometime during the week of my birthday, I take myself away for one night and two days. I started doing this the year I turned 39 and it’s become something of a ritual. I always go to the same place up the coast. Every year on the day I leave it rains. And the kids whine and beg me not to go. And awful stories swirl around in my head about being selfish, inflicting unnecessary stress on my family and spending money on myself that could go toward something else. Something more important. But I somehow muster the fortitude to drag myself out of the house, into the car and up the coast.

When I tell this to people – friends and clients – I get a lot of “well, that must be nice…” or “I wish I could do that, but it would be so hard to get away.” Let me tell you right now, “nice” is not the word I would ever use to describe that journey, and it’s never ever easy to get away. Ever. It’s rugged and it takes every ounce of courage I have. But having fulfilled that commitment to myself for three years now, I am a believer. It’s so worth the angst, the sweat and the money. It’s my annual anchor and it deeply nourishes my spirit and soul.

Each year, I have many rituals I go through and very clear intentions for my time away. Some of them soothe my soul so I relax and some of them stir the pot and agitate me into a state of clarity. The best description of what I do, however, I found in the KT Tunstall song, Someday Soon:

Think it’s time to put myself away
Seek out a little solace
Close the doors and sit a while
And walk a little

As I put my words away
The flow slows…

It is this same belief that inspired me to offer Homecoming: A Women’s Retreat back in 2008 for the first time. Forty-one women joined me at that retreat back then. This October, I will be holding the retreat again and it’s likely we’ll have twice that number. It seems that “radical’ is the new black. More and more women are putting firm stakes in the ground and are carving out time for themselves. Look at what a phenomenon Eat, Pray, Love has become (it opens today, by the way…)

Will it be hard to pull yourself away? Sure it will. Might you feel awkward or self-conscious at first? Of course. But that won’t stop you, will it? Because if you’re reading this, you’re a believer, too. And if you need a bit of encouragement or a primer, check out this awesome YouTube video called Learning to Be Alone. It’s a thing of beauty and calls to each of us to see ourselves as such.