No talking!

My husband calls me a “professional talker.”

And my mother underscores the notion of my talkative nature with her own story.

When I was five months old she peeked into my room and from my crib I looked up at her and said, “Hi!”  She claims she almost fainted to hear her baby talk and that was only the start.

By the time I was 12 months old, I spoke in sentences.  And, when I was 7, she and my Dad bribed me with offers of 50 cents an hour for my silence.  I don’t remember making any money;-)

So you might be surprised that the most exciting dream for me this summer was to go on a “silent retreat” down this path you see above. No talking, no schedule, no plans.  Three whole days to myself in silence.

Have you ever done that? Or wanted to?

My year had been so full – happily so – yet nonstop with activity and  — talking — that’s when the idea of time alone to myself in silence came to me.

Close friends Edward Beck and Nancy Neal had shared fascinating experiences with me about silent retreats they had taken in California and Colorado.

Sadly, I realized I was too tired to travel to another location to get the rest and quiet I needed and wanted.

That’s when Woman on Fire Lisa Umberger Arundale stepped in and generously offered me her beautiful home in the woods, only a few miles away from my own home.

So I packed a three-day supply of clothes and food, kissed my husband and our cat, and without a computer or iPad, off I went to my destination — a 10-minute drive to my wooded nirvana.

Here is what happened and what I learned in those three days — and why I recommend even a day-long silent retreat to re-energize your life.

When I finally stopped running, stopped being busy, stopped talking, unexpected feelings came up.

I wasn’t particularly happy or joyful on Days 1 and 2 of my silent retreat.  Thoughts of my father who died 8 years ago bubbled up and I realized I hadn’t fully “leaned into the grief” of his loss. So I cried and just went with it.

I woke up and went to bed with the sun.

Each day I took a two-hour nap.

I ate granola, yogurt and fruit for breakfast — and on two nights for dinner.

I read and prayed and stretched and soaked in Lisa’s giant bathtub.

I sat outdoors and marveled at the hibicuses and hydrangeas. (And, took this picture so you could see how pretty it all was in the glow of nightfall.)

On Day 3, I started my morning by writing a gratitude list in my journal.  And then in less than an hour I wrote a plan — no, the plan wrote itself! — for what I want to accomplish this next year.  No struggle.  No questioning.  It just flowed.

The transformation between Day 2 and 3 astounded me.  Being in silence had  worked for me to regain a sense of peace and clarity!

The surprising thing was that I didn’t miss talking.  In fact, I didn’t even think about it.  When the three days were over, I was ready to go home.

I felt refreshed, re-invigorated and much clearer than when I arrived in the woods.

As I bundled up my belongings and straightened up the house to leave, I noticed three perfect words to describe my retreat were printed on Lisa’s side table.

And, I broke my silence with a big laugh.