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Retreat to Renew (Odd Socks #7)
Early this year for my annual retreat to someplace woodsy, quiet, and absent of responsibilities; November already?; plus the usual extras.
Welcome to Odd Socks Issue #7
I write here about stuff that interests me, puts a smile on my face, or could use some clarity amidst the noise. Each issue includes two original articles plus four bonus sections. Enjoy!
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Retreat to Renew
Most years over the past decade, I’ve gone off somewhere during the last two weeks of the year for my Annual Retreat. It’s a time for me to be alone, reflect on the year, and look forward to (plan) the coming year. But it’s not yet the end of the year, you might be thinking!
Lately, our “years” are anything but normal. In fact, we should stop using that word associated with just about everything in life, the planet, and world events. We’re in an era of go-with-the-flow and not always in a good way.
So this year, based on several factors, I did my retreat in October and went north in Michigan, where I could catch some color. Through AirBnB I found a cabin of sorts not too far away, but enough to feel isolated from my (oops … almost said “normal”) daily routines. My checklist of places suitable included in the woods, a wood-burning fireplace, within 30 minutes of a town with stuff (e.g., good grocery store, and coffee shop options), and Wi-Fi/power. Not a tough list to match, but finding a place during fall colors season is tougher when one waits until a month before to reserve!
As the photos show, I found a gem that met all my needs and was comfortable to boot. Did not mention hot water on my list, but this place had that in plenty and an awesome shower to boot. Being alone during this week-long stay, I wasn’t concerned if it didn’t have a shower. Since no one’s here to be offended, I’m experienced from vanlife to survive for a week without a shower or bath.
As I write this, I still have a few days left here. When Odd Socks publishes, I’ll be back at home and living the (more) civilized life, some would say. As for my retreat’s agenda? Did everything I wanted to do and relaxed more than usual.
I would recommend anyone take at least a few days off at the end of the year to do a personal reflection/planning retreat. Not a vacation spot, just somewhere away from your usual responsibilities. Best is a place where you can be alone with your thoughts, have time to reflect, take walks, ponder, write, and renew yourself for the coming anything-but-normal year.
Turn the Page
Jeez … is it November already? As I shared last issue, October is my fave month, yet every dang year it seems to fly past faster than a deadline one doesn’t want to do.
Still, Fall and all that. November, after October, is my favorite familia month, with a history of fond memories since my youth. I grew up in a house with a traditional Thanksgiving feast, either just our family or alternating with the rest of the dispersed clan. But more on that in a later issue nearer to feast day (or, despite math geeks in March, Pie Day as far as this never-too-much-whipped-cream-on-pumpkin-pie kind of guy is concerned).
October is usually the first month of brisk weather, with November often being a transitory month and typically milder. Or is it that October is the first chill and by November, our bodies acclimate to the new cold? Bookended by December and it’s holiday madness, November’s a pretty chill (attitude-wise) month. Until Black Friday arrives. If, like me, you lived before the retail madness of Black Friday began, then you just shake your head in dismay every BF.
Until the National Novel Writing Month challenge (NaNoWriMo) came into my life during Novembers, I enjoyed it as a laid back month. This is the first year in the last 10 or so that I won’t be doing NaNo. I’m sure I’ll find things to take up the newly available November days. Plenty of chill weather for blankets, books, accidental naps, and walks in the brisk air.
This month features a novel that I read in two nights. Yea, while I rarely read fiction, occasionally one grabs me and I enjoy it. Didn’t hurt that I’m an all-things-medieval buff, but I think anyone who’d love a good, suspenseful, strong characterization story would enjoy this.
The Book Industry Study Group (BISCG) puts Haven by Emma Donoghue in the Action & Adventure, Historical - Medieval, Sea Stories topics. Eh … close enough. It’s a deep story on how blind religious fervor leads to suffering and disconnection, while being a study of how interpersonal relations build and break apart under isolation from others.
Summarily, it’s the story of three monks who leave an Irish monastery to set off in search of a island void of any former or current human influence. The lead monk yearns to find a place to do God’s work without the influence of civilization and picks two monks to go with him.
The eventual location is a place I’ve thought about a lot: Skellig Michael, a craggy spire of an island off the coast of Ireland. It’s true a group of monks settled there and set up a monastery of sorts, but Star Wars fans will know this more as the place where the aged Luke Skywalker retreated to in his elder years in The Force Awakens.
That’s all you get from me, other than to say it’s well researched and written, and, as with most novels I enjoy, not too long!
This issue features a part-listen/part-backdrop YouTube channel by Cozy Coffee Shop. They prepare and share themed, motion images with Jazz music for when you want something that sounds nice and looks great running on your TV, laptop, or extra monitor while you’re working.
Not normally a fan of full-screen static things like this, plus the constant bandwidth, but there’s a place for these, I suppose. This channel does some very creative things and imaginative themes. I’ve had one of their Halloween Jazz videos up on my laptop today as I’m doing some sketching.
If this is your thing, or are just curious, check this Haunted House Halloween Ambience with Spooky Background Jazz Music & Fireplace Sounds to Relax, Sleep release. Yes, I know … Halloween’s behind us now, but some of us pumpkin nerds are slow to let go. After all, it’s a WHOLE FRIGGIN’ YEAR before we get to ingest pumpkin spice in mass quantities again.
Worth checking out! There are a lot of other themes to choose from on this channel. And if you like this sort of thing, several other YouTubers produce similar content, so you might search for them.
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