“Taking Time To Reflect” by Patricia Cavanaugh

Taking Time To ReflectThese lines where urging me to take a new approach to putting my work out in the world Recently I spent 10 days at Bishop’s Ranch an Episcopal retreat center near Healdsburg California. During my inspiring stay there  I found  direction from one of Rilke’s poems urging a new approach to putting my work out in the world.  I also was informed by my walk through the well cared for land that the staff of Bishop’s Ranch stewards.  I walked over three different kinds of bridges and four gates some new and some old.  I chose to see these in a symbolic way and thought about the importance of various transitions in my life, the gifts and challenges they afforded me.

I had prepared for the ten days by laying out a series of questions for myself focused on my work.  I was challenged to take a longer at look at my long term goals by changes that have occurred in my life over the last year.  In our 3rd act work with folks we recommend that a plan be developed for this stage of life to have a successful experience.  But, it is also important to take that plan out and review it on a regular basis and adjust it as needed to respond to the positive and negatives that life sends our way.    Now I find inspiration as I walk

Part of the time at Bishop’s Ranch included prayer and meditation twice a day.  That gave me a good 2 1/2 hours of reflection time.   The rest of the day was spent walking the property or exploring the beautiful country filled with  vineyards and charming towns surrounding the Ranch  Each day upon rising, I selected a question from my list and focused on it in my sitting meditation and moving meditation as I hiked or drove through the countryside.

I used Rainer Maria Rilke’s Book of Hours as a poetic guide to explore the questions before me.  I selected a poem or two each day which seemed to speak to the issues I was considering.  As answers to my questions came to me I wrote them down in the journal I brought with me for just this purpose.  I found that that responses came in the form of fully fledge ideas or in slips of notions that needed further exploration.  My ground rules where not to force an idea or answer to come but to allow it to bubble up.  I also made a commitment to myself to come to a resolution about all of my concerns but  not take any action until my retreat was over.  I sometimes have found in the past that taking action too soon sometimes short circuits the full process of exploration.

By the end of the ten days,  I had a new plan of action for 2013 with clearly defined next steps to be taken in the next two months readying myself for the New Year.  My plan had shifted to include the changes in my life and reenergized my commitment to my 3rd Act.

Have you pulled out your plan and reviewed it?  Have health or financial changes caused you to  rethink some of your goals? Have new interests pulled you in a new direction?  We would love to hear your experiences.

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