What I Learned from 7 Weeks of Hibernation

It is January, and that means that “hibernation” is over. Simon and I are slowly emerging from our “cave” and reintegrating ourselves into social circles. But it’s different than it was pre-wedding.

This hibernation period was a suggestion made by our friends Kat and Jesse. Kat and I were roommates last year when I moved back to Ottawa. She and Jesse married December 30, 2011. One of the best pieces of advice they were given was to have no expectations of spending time with other people (save for family) right after their wedding. Take a month or so to just hang out, settle into marriage, establish routines, and enjoy one another’s company.

Simon and I talk nearly everyday about how much we loved our 7 weeks of hibernation. And our honeymoon established the foundation for this season.

Initially we dreamt of spending a week in a hot destination such as Cuba or Mexico, but the more we thought about it, the more we realized we needed rest. And how restful is it to wake up at 3am to drive to the airport and catch a flight after several emotionally charged weeks building up to a wedding? Not very. Besides, we didn’t need to start our marriage with an exciting and exotic honeymoon destination. Honeymoons are exciting and exotic on their own!

So we rented a cabin on the lake just 2 hours west of us. We were the only ones on the property besides the owners (who left midway through the week to go to Toronto and offered for us to stay longer for free. PLUS, they gave us unlimited use of the authentic Finnish sauna.) No cell phones, no computers. No people. We cooked meals, we built fires, we roasted marshmallows, we drank wine, we ate chocolate, we went for walks, we sat by the lake, we watched movies, we journalled, we talked, we prayed, and we slept – a lot! It was bliss.

Gorgeous November weather

Gorgeous November Weather

(You’re probably wondering how the heck we’re in bathing suits in November, in Canada. Well, it was a balmy 11 degrees celsius that day! AND…we just came out of a steamy sauna).

Hibernation has been amazing, because like our honeymoon, it has given us the chance to unplug.

When we removed expectations from the picture, it was easy to see how often we do things simply because we feel like we have to. Maybe we hang out with someone because we feel like we owe it to them. Or we serve somewhere just because we think we “should”. Or we say “Yes” to seemingly good opportunities when it would be far wiser to say “No”. For the last month and a half we have been justified in saying “No” to friends and activities because we just got married. They get it. But will they get it now?

Because that period is over, and “No” is winning. To clarify, we aren’t saying that we don’t want other relationships or responsibilities in our lives. We do. But we are discovering what our priorities are and not feeling bad if a person or an activity doesn’t fit into it. It’s not about “I should do this”; it’s not about cramming our schedules to prove our worth with busy, important lives; and it’s not about the fear of missing out on fun. It’s about freedom. Simon calls it “Freedom to Thrive.” And he writes an awesome blog about what that means to him right now here.

Our honeymoon was a retreat. It was a chance to hit “reset” and focus in on how we want to live our lives. It was an opportunity to dream together and write those dreams down on a list, believing in faith that they will come to pass. With this kind of clarity it’s a lot easier to begin building – to make decisions about how we invest our time based on wisdom.  (More on how that looks for each of us later).

I love what Jon Acuff writes in this post: “‘No’ is complete sentence.” We don’t have to say “No” to something and then give a long list of reasons as to why we said no. We have the freedom to just say no, because “No” is a complete sentence.

Thank you, Kat and Jesse, for passing our your best piece of advice. With it we’re learning weight of the words “Yes” and “No” and the freedom they bring when executed from a place of trust.

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