Seven years ago after leading an Artist’s Way Series based on Julia Cameron’s book, I decided to test her ideas on luxury. She claimed that all creative types, and really people in general, need a little “authentic luxury” in their lives. She wasn’t talking about high-priced cars or penthouse views. She was talking about the little ways we can pamper ourselves each day and most importantly the luxury of time and space to create and care for ourselves.
So I reserved a room alone for a week at a B&B in the mountains near Thomas, WV to write a book. This was not an ordinary feat for the practical woman that I am. It cost money and time away from loved ones, and for what…a book that would probably never be published? It seemed a ridiculous thing to do, but something drew me to this little place in the mountains I’d never been before and I allowed myself to be pulled by it.
Any description I could give of this week in the mountains may seem hyperbolic, but it truly was a transformative experience. To gain inspiration for writing my children’s book, I hiked on the rail trail below the B&B. I explored coke ovens, sat by waterfalls, made friends with butterflies, and found the perfect rock by the river to meditate on.
By the end of the week, my spirit was lighter, I felt a powerful connection to my own voice, to the Divine within me, I felt changed. One day as I walked along the trail, I heard my Divine voice calling me to share this experience with others, to find a way to help others live more contemplatively, with more ease and spaciousness, more connected to themselves, to God, to others, to nature.
You know how you can have plans and then God swoops in with different plans, with better plans, with bigger plans? Yes, it was like that. I went into the mountains to write a book, which I eventually finished by the way, all 16 chapters. But I left that week with a new vision for my life. I knew that in a few years I would leave my very safe and secure position in the school system to somehow share with others this contemplative way of living, with less rushing and stress, with more connection and joy. If I had not accepted the luxury of time for myself that week, Inner Path may have never been born.
What if these little pops of luxury of time and space, could awaken us to our true self, to our truest path? What if these experiences in self-care that we often see as a waste of our time and resources, could be what life is really about, what gives our lives meaning?
Everyone’s experience of luxury will look different. For some it could be a half an hour in the morning with a cup of hot tea watching the birds at the feeder. For many it could be a daily walk or hike alone with their thoughts. For some it could be time set aside every week covered in paper and colored pencils, just to play. For me it is a little time by myself in the mountains.
Every summer I retreat to this place, even if just for a few days, for time in solitude. I just returned from one of those trips yesterday. The most amazing things happened while I was there. I watched the ripples of a lake shimmering in the mid-evening sun. I saw a tiny hummingbird moth kissing the top of a purple thistle. I communed with God and the earth. I got quiet enough to hear my still small voice.
There were no grand epiphanies this time like there were seven years ago. They were subtle yet powerful ones instead. As I lay on the back of my favorite rock listening to the rushing water of the river, I felt the reassurance of my Divine voice saying, “Everything is flowing in the right direction. Your life is unfolding exactly as it’s meant to unfold. All is well.” So I just paused there a little longer relishing in the gratitude of my life, of this moment.
When I drive up in my nearly ten-year-old no-frills car, I may not seem like the poster child for luxury, but my life is full of riches. I pray that you will tap into your own personal riches in this life, that you will allow yourself the luxury of time and space to know what those riches are for you and to simply enjoy them, to even just pause for awhile appreciating them. You deserve it. We all do. It may just be the thing that makes life worth living.