Remember in last week’s newsletter I told you that I had woken up with a line from Mary Oliver’s poem in my head: “What is it that you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
I also told you that I was headed to Josephine’s Cabin for an overnight retreat.
As always, having that time away was absolutely life changing.
Something magical always happens when I set the intention to show up fully and to create a space for myself.
While there, I was thinking about a lot of things. I was thinking about that line of poetry. I was thinking about how much I love creative one-of-a-kind gifts that express love. I was thinking about getting certified as a high performance coach recently. I was thinking about the word “celebration” and what “simply celebrate” really means to me.
I turned on the recorder and started talking to myself about all these things. I was walking through the woods at the time and would stop to take a deep breath or to admire the buck and his deer family grazing in the nearby open meadow.
In the course of this conversation with myself, something happened. The word “intention” started popping up over and over.
I realized that intention braids together all these parts of my life.
I’m reminded of a favorite quote from the book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less: “We overvalue nonessentials like a nicer car or house, or even intangibles like the number of our followers on Twitter or the way we look in our Facebook photos. As a result, we neglect activities that are truly essential, like spending time with our loved ones, nurturing our spirit, or taking care of our health.”
When we stop to pause, it gives us the space to remember what is truly important. From that place, we can set intentions for who we want to be and how we want to live and love.
I want to tell you a small story about intention and how it can be a gift.
Last Sunday I had plans to get together in the evening with my beau, Ian. Since I had just been on my retreat at the cabin, I was feeling like it would be great to have a special connection with him.
I asked him if he wanted to go see the sunset with me from the top of Twin Peaks. And he said, “Great idea. Yes!”
Sunday morning, I texted him to say I was looking forward to seeing him. He texted back with an icon of the sunset and a heart. 🌇 ??
Something sparked in me and I thought, “I’m going to surprise Ian by packing up my picnic basket with a bottle of wine, some yummy cheese, crackers, and a bar of Ian’s favorite fancy chocolate. (I always have wine glasses and red-checked napkins/tablecloth in the basket ready to go.)
It was really fun to go to the market and get some things I knew he’d love to eat. Later, when it was time to get dressed, I was about to put on some jeans and a sweater, but then I thought, “No! I want to wear something romantic for the sunset with him.” I pulled out a sky blue dress with polka dots that I rarely wear and paired it with some sexy stockings, fun jewelry, and a pretty sweater.
When Ian showed up, he was wearing one of my favorite hats of his and a beautiful gray sweater I love. I opened the door and we both smiled big and said, “You look so handsome/you look so beautiful!”
He said, “I packed up some special cheese, chocolate, and crackers for us!” I said, “Me, too!” We just looked at one another and laughed.
When I got in Ian’s car, I saw that he had strung little fairy lights all around the inside of the car! He grinned when he saw how excited I was. “I wanted to make it feel really special even after the sun went down!”
During the sunset, while we were enjoying our double picnic and the beautiful view, we started remembering other amazing sunsets we’d seen together over the years. I said, “Drat. I wish we’d kept a journal of all the sunsets!”
Then an idea dropped in. I quickly opened the voice memo app on my phone, hit “record” and said, “This is Ian and Sherry coming to you from the top of Twin Peaks reporting on our sunset experience.” We talked about our picnic, the twinkly lights, the conversation we’d been having, and how lovely it all was.
Then … we spent the next fifteen minutes remembering lots of other sunsets — the one in Peak’s Island when we brought dinner down to eat on the pier beside Casco Bay; the one in Morro Bay when two guys hollered from a sailboat for us to come hop on board and didn’t hesitate to do so; the one from the deck of our Sausalito hotel a decade ago; the one from atop his apartment roof when he surprised me by pre-stocking the roof with a blanket, some swing dance music, wine, and truffles; the one in Ohio waiting for fireworks before the thunderstorm struck; and so many more!
By the end of the recording, we were both just so giddy with happiness. What could have been an ordinary Sunday evening at home had turned into a very special evening filled with surprise and connection.
Why did that happen?
You guessed it: intention!
We had both set intentions before the evening to do things that would connect us to the other person and that would express our love.
Later, Ian and I talked about how one good intention paves the way for another. It is a domino effect in the most positive of ways.
Can you see a place in your life right now — today or tomorrow?— where you could bring intention in order to make an experience a gift for someone?
For instance, if you’re going to see friends tonight, could you set the intention that you want to be really present with them and listen intently? What if you intended to bring one question to the table that would be thought provoking and connecting?
If you are visiting an elderly relative, what kind of intention could you set to make that visit really stand out? What would take it from ho-hum to feeling electric and lively? What if you set the intention to ask that person if she’d be willing to go through some of her photo albums with you and share her stories? What if you asked her if you could interview her about her life?
What if you called someone you haven’t spoken with for years and set the intention to tell them three things you especially love about them?
Sometimes we don’t even need to do anything at all to turn an ordinary experience into something extraordinary. We simply need to be … present and intentional.
Try it, okay. And let me know what happens! (I hope your weekend feels as magical as twinkly lights!)
P.S. Set the intention to create a space of intention! I swear to you, my one-day retreats have changed my life! I’ve written a couple articles about personal retreats — why you deserve one + the nitty gritty of planning one. Also, here’s a short audio note to help inspire you to treat yourself.
P.P.S. If you need help planning your personal retreat, email me about my stand-alone coaching sessions that’ll help you get clarity about this gift to yourself. I can help you plan your retreat and also get to the heart of what you most want clarity around for it. Email me!