Hunkering Down

Going off the grid, getting things done

By Kara Richardson Whitely

In between a crazy week of travel that had me going like a ping-pong ball across the country — giving five talks in a week from an intimate off-site gathering at Sanofi to speaking in front of hundreds of women at a hospital association conference — I was in need of some quiet time to get stuff done.

I had to finish some edits on my book Weight of Being, which is due out next spring. But here’s the thing: It isn’t coming out if I don’t finish it!

Since I was in the Midwest, I decided to take a few days and head up to our family farm. No Wi-Fi. No children — since they were in the loving care of my husband, in-laws, and our au pair. No distractions.

Normally I would have flown home for those three days, but I’ve really been trying to own my time better. For example, I’ve been doing yoga so much lately that it’s now recognized that Sunday morning is my time to go to class. I needed to add another indoor cycling class to my workout schedule and because I couldn’t spare more time during the day to get there, I needed to go in the evening. Turns out, my kids love the clan that is at the YMCA childcare at night and they look forward to it as I do to the Spinning Out Loud class, which is a boisterous workout with our fearless instructor, Kris.

happy trails - hunkering down
So this writing retreat was going to be my time and I wanted to make the most of it, not only to pursue my writing goals, but also to support my health. I first stopped at the local market to pick up some nutritious food. At the grocery store I mapped out three days’ worth of hearty but healthy meals for me and my father-in-law, who was also there.

Then I unpacked my laptop and got to work. The farmhouse is frozen in time, but beautifully kept up, from the time my husband’s great grandfather established it. It has become a place for family — and growth.  

I love working out there because I am inspired by the fields and fields. The horizon goes on and on, not blocked by house after house like at home. That scene, while beautiful, can be a bit jamming when it comes to freeing my mind.

My only farm chore was washed out. I had planned to plant carrots and watermelons so they would be ready for our summer arrival. However, with a week of heavy rain, the garden looked more like a mud-wrestling pit than fertile ground.

I had no choice but to stay in and work. When there was a break in the weather, I took walks, free to contemplate problems in the book that I had to solve.

happy trails - hunkering down
This is the beauty of writing retreats. When I wanted to pull away from my work, either to tend to our laundry or check out other people’s lives on Facebook, I couldn’t. I had to return to the page and get it done.  By the end of my time there, I had made significant progress on my project. When I returned home, I vowed to live life with fewer distractions and to buckle down and get things done whether it was work or health-related. It reminded me the importance of removing yourself from life every once in a while. We all have the same amount of time every day. What we make of it and how we use it is our choice.

Follow Kara on Connect @gorgegirl15

Read more posts from Happy Trails