Monday, March 31, 2008

Leaving Home

“It’s an old tendency of humans to leave home and strike out across a frontier that beckons as a zone of magic, mysticism, inspiration and holy conversion. When we are at loose ends emotionally we tend to set out on a symbolic journey into unfamiliar territory where newly aroused senses allow us to feel vigilant and reborn. In part this is based on the intuition that to change one’s self one must relinquish all that is known and habitual, cast off from the shore of one’s home and the endearing familiarity of everyday life, whose moods and manners one comes to know like an old friend. …we do not always travel to escape our circumstances but to find ourselves. Why must we do that in a foreign place, having become foreign to our past.

...The wilderness may be an actual frontier fraught with danger, or it may be a wilderness of doubt.

from Cultivating Delight, Diane Ackerman

Sometimes people travel to lose themselves, some people travel to find something they've lost, a nostalgia for their childhood town, or a sense of who they once were in younger years. Some people strike out alone, others in groups.

For myself, my mid-life quest or peri-menopausal quest, has taken me from Australia to India, from Panama to Massachusetts, from Vancouver Island to New Mexico. At least once a year, and often twice, I leave my kids in the capable hands of a caretaker plus my husband (or in recent years, up to their own devices) and go on retreat.

Sometimes it's a long journey amidst a group of fellow seekers, sometimes it's a lone ride in a rental car through the desert. Sometimes it involves camping on a natural reserve on the other side of the world and dealing with jet lag as I meditate amongst the Kookaburras, sometimes it's singing with 45 other women in a convent just south-east of Montreal and sleeping in a tiny room.

The important thing is, I get away by myself. That is, without family to take care of. I take some needed time out, because a year-long sabbatical is out of the question until the kids leave home. I'm used to working alone in my home office, typing away at my laptop, but it's not just solitude I'm looking for. It's the mystical sense of finding 'me' when I remove myself from my habits, my daily routines, my ruts, and plunk myself somewhere new, either in a workshop or retreat, and ask questions of where I am, what I'm doing, what I want to do.

The answers have been slow in coming. Sometimes it's about rooting deeper into my essence. Or jumping fully dressed into a swimming pool at midnight. But it always involves a challenge. Driving into a lightning storm on the desert roads of New Mexico with 2 newly found friends was dangerous, exciting and felt like crossing the fear-barrier inside me. Waking up to coyotes howling every night in a pitch dark adobe dwelling was breaking part of the fear-barrier too. Sitting in front of a blank page, facing the sacred Taos Mountain, waiting for a sign about what my work would be, or should be, or what project called to me, I faced the fear inside. Maybe nothing would come out of it. Maybe I had to stall this project of calling myself a writer and go back home empty-handed.

The answers are rolling in, now, slowly but surely. As I continue to learn, read, study, follow my natural inclination towards researching menstruation and menopause, I am finding my subject, or it is finding me.

I continue to quest. I invite you to read some of the entries on this blog, for pieces of my journey. Perhaps they resonate with your pieces. Or not. We each have a quest, and I believe that menopause is a fantastic opportunity for self-knowledge, self-awareness.

So leave home, if need be, as often as you can. And return. With something new you've learned about you.



Mama Zen said...

I so rarely get to be by myself. Right now, it's just snatches of time here and there. But, each minute is precious.

musemother said...

Hi Karen,
when my kids were little, getting into an office with a closed door was the only time away I had. I did join a Babysitting Coop, other moms who would trade off spending time with my kids for 'buttons', we used for payment. Having a playmate over for my kids also kept them busy and freed me up. One gets creative - sometimes 4 am was the best time to write....

Autumn said...

I hope you don't get this twice. Blogger was being bad and told me I already posted, but it didn't seem to accept it.
Just delete me if this is a doublicate ha ha
I am really enjoying your blog and glad that you came by mine so I could visit here. I love your way of thinking and I am adding you to my bloglines. This way when you post I can come by.

musemother said...

thanks Autumn, I'm so glad you didn't let the bad blogger tell you off! glad you stopped by,
keep in touch

bella said...

Thank-you for this.
It helps to have your words here, as guide and invitation.
I hear this call, to leave behind, to quest, to retreat and in doing so, return home to myself.
Sometimes I listen. sometimes I run from it.
I feel ready now, again, to heed the call.

Lillithmother said...

ah, alone time ~ time to re-connect with 'me'. i could write a plethera reasons why a mother of a 3yr old can't do that as often as she like, but you know all about that having children of your own. i do go out one night a week...but sometimes i long to stay home in solitude instead, which isn't an option.

thank you for writing this ~ i'm going to keep it in my hopefull heart.


Shawn said...

Absolutely. You're so right. This reminds me of the book "A Gift From the Sea." I need to take time. I know my husband wants me to do this for myself. I want to head to a retreat; yoga, maybe, or silent. Though, I feel like I'm in silent retreat all week when home with two toddlers and no adults! lol

Thanks for popping by. It's so great to meet you. Bella has created some amazing connections. Will be back ... though, I am limited with my blog-reading time, just so you know. : )

musemother said...

Dear Moms at home with toddlers,
I hope you find a like-minded mom to trade off with, so you get some time alone, doing yoga, at a spa for a few hours, however brief, or make yourself a mini-retreat at home with candles and soft music, curl up on your bed with a favorite song, take it moment by moment, until the longer breaks come....
I want to create short 4 hour retreats for busy moms, it's one of my goals....we need to get help sometimes, from sitters/grannies or friends.