What I did in my personal retreat

by Mary Ann on October 12, 2011


mary ann johnson portraitFinally, at my daughters! The time for writing the perfect vision statement is now here! So here is what I did in my personal retreat.

I entered some of the information, from the scraps I had collected in my office, into the computer. I wrote another daughter a letter and sent it off. I contacted a few friends via email and sent my good wishes. I emailed Don twice to come over, I missed him! I just couldn’t bring myself to do this one thing that I had been pondering on for over two years.

Now you may wonder why I placed such emphasis on a written piece of paper. I have learned through long experience that you cannot hit a target that isn’t there. I had flown by the seat of my pants for much of my life. However, I want to know where I am going so that when I get there I can celebrate. It wasn’t enough to just say I am going to be a good person and help other people and love people like Christ. Not enough detail! Trust me on this!!

I sat at my computer knowing that I was putting off doing the thing that this retreat was really all about. I didn’t need Maine, I didn’t need Virginia, I didn’t need a week to clean up and organize small messes. What I needed was to put pen to paper and trust that my higher power would guide me. So I knelt down and asked for a bit more help to overcome my reticence and whatever fears were lurking in my heart. I had the thought to go outside and sit in the sun.girl sunset picture

It was wonderful, relaxing and I enjoyed it so much. I thought about all of you and your families and how much I desire your happiness and success. I thought about myself and my family, the past, the present and the future.

When I returned to the apartment I had other thoughts. I was impressed to read one of the old journals I had brought with me. I haven’t read any of them since they were written. This journal began in the spring of 1991. As I read I was overcome with all the things I had forgotten. I had forgotten how intense my desire for growth and change was and how diligent I worked on both. I had forgotten how much I loved my children and how often I did more than was required to reach out and nurture them. I wept as I realized just what a fine, although not perfect mother, I was.

In my journal was an entry from one of my children. She had seen my discouragement because our family was not perfect and was struggling. She wanted me to know that I was doing a good job. Here is a small excerpt from her comments:

“You are doing everything you can to try and make our home and family what it should be. I just wanted to let you in on a secret of mine. Our house is a temple. I love my home. I come here for protection and solace. This place is a haven, a place for love and spiritual replenishment. When times are the worst I just long to be home where there is peace for my soul. No mother, your efforts are far from in vain! I just wanted you to know how much I love you and how much I love my home.”

If you do not know the story of our family then this letter will not be as impactful. But if you do know our story you, as I, will be amazed that these tender feeling could exist in imperfect surroundings. This is the payback that I want to help others have while you are in the trenches of parenting. I want to help you see what you are doing and not focus on what you think you lack. I really desire that you have more joy now!

The vision for my life and what I want it to be as I move into the winter of my years began to gel into a clear picture in my mind. I sat down and began to write. It flowed from my heart and it is perfect. I know what I want, where I am going and I know that I will have all the resources I need to get there.

It is interesting what we think we need and what we really need! I needed only a few hours, help from on high, remembrances of the past and a desire to put pen to paper. That was all I really needed.

My daughter did a retreat for the same reason recently; busy mom, lots of kids. She went to a park with a table for 5 hours on a lovely summer day. That’s all it takes. A few hours, some quiet and a desire to have a plan.

Here was my process for getting this burden off my back and a vision into my heart:

  • Do a lot of thinking about what you want to have, feel and experience
  • Pray a lot
  • Be honest with yourself
  • Don’t dwell on weaknesses but on strengths (yes you do have them!)
  • If you have a journal read some of it. Look for successes.
  • Do what ever you do to prepare to receive help from your higher power. I fast and pray and read scriptures. I also have a special blessing that I read every day for a month.
  • Find a time when you can have a few hours alone. It doesn’t really matter where.
  • Schedule it!!!! And then do not change it! Don’t chicken out!!
  • Have paper and a pencil or pen
  • Make a list of all the roles that you have: child of God, wife, mother, employee, daughter, friend, etc.
  • Under each role answer these questions: 1. What would the ideal me look like in each of these roles  2. How do you feel  3. How do others feel about you  4. How do you want to respond
  • Don’t put it off, the burden just gets heavier. Jettison the emotional weight and just do it!

If you have been putting off writing a personal vision statement you can make a commitment right here, to me, in the comments and I will be here to keep you accountable. I promise I will!!

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Kimberly October 20, 2011 at 4:49 am

Thank you for sharing this, it resonated with me fully. (and even made me cry. ) You are a wise and beautiful mentor… Thank you.


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