Ever wonder what it’s like to live as one to the manor born? Well, I have. When a wealthy couple offered use of their second home (worth millions) to my writing retreat group for a week, I expected my curiosity to be satisfied but had no idea how the experience would change me.
I arrived first the morning of our retreat because I had to unlock the doors and turn off the alarm. This was a prospect that terrified me because when I opened the door a warning alarm would peal. If I didn’t manage to turn that puppy off within a minute the full alarm would sound, the one that rang through to the police station, and the owners of the property would have to pay $250 for a false alarm. Now that fine might not be big bucks to them, but it is to me. Needless to say, I turned the alarm off in time.
As leader of the retreat group, security became my duty throughout the week. I arose early to deactivate the alarm so any of the other six women in my group could go outside or open a window if they wished. Last thing at night I locked down doors and made sure the windows were shut before rearming the alarm. I may have been more sensitive due to my role, but being responsible for millions of dollars worth of personal property and the welfare of seven people was enough to make a person paranoid. Although I was able to put it in perspective, there’s a down side to wealth I hadn’t thought about before. On the other hand, once the alarm was set for the night, we slept like babies.
Now the owners of the mansion are quite generous. They provided a variety of beverages, espresso and tea bars, snacks, seasonings, and frozen foods for our use. In addition, other groups who had stayed as their guests had left copious amounts of food in the three refrigerators, so much that we had a hard time finding room for our own. We were invited to eat our fill.
With such abundance at our disposal, I wanted for nothing but consumed very little. I didn’t need to try to fill myself up with something that might not be there next time I looked for it, so I ate less rather than more. My mainstay drink remained tap water with ice. I still drank only one or two cups of coffee in the morning and possibly a cup of tea in the afternoon. We did bring special snacks, and our one extravagance was a dessert each night.
I have to admit that I usually gain weight while on retreat, but this year I didn’t. In fact, I seemed to lose a few pounds. I only swam in the pool once, but I truly believe it was all the walking to and fro that burned calories. There was a lot of house to walk across whenever you wanted to do anything. Even getting something in the kitchen took more steps than usual.
The house was given over to us, and everything in it. There was a lot in it. We could swim in the indoor pool, steam in the sauna, shoot pool in the billiard room, watch movies in the media room, read books in the library, daydream in the gazebo, bask in the sun in our choice of patios, trail our fingers in the waterfall, feed the fish in the pond, and even gaze down from a tree house.
I did most of these things at least once, but the bulk of my time went into writing as usual. However, my focus became not how to accomplish my goals and push through the day but how to enjoy the moment. It was a subtle change in my attitude, but one I needed.
The retreat is over and I’m home now. As I look back over the week I lived in a mansion, I can see how it changed me for the better. The owners provided for us from their abundance, but God who supplies my needs owns the cattle on a thousand hills. I can trust Him to take care of me. I don’t have to fill myself up with what I can grasp on my own. I’ll look for ways to move more in the course of daily living. And I don’t have to rush through life so fast I forget to enjoy it.
I loved the house, but my writing flowed most when I sat in the gazebo with the sounds of water falling and birds singing all around me. This surprised me, although I knew nature inspires me. I just hadn’t realized how much. Until now I’ve avoided writing outside because I thought the sounds would distract me. Now that I know that to be untrue, I’ll set up a shady area with a small fountain that has been gathering dust so I can write outside.
I’ve learned something I’ll never forget. I can live like a wealthy person anywhere, because that’s what I am.
©2014 by Janalyn Voigt
Need an escape?
DawnSinger, Tales of Faeraven #1 by Janalyn Voigt
A headstrong young princess and the guardian sworn to protect her fly on winged horses to the Gate of Life above the Well of Light in a desperate bid to release the DawnKing, and the salvation he offers, into a divided land. Will they each learn in time that sometimes victory comes only through surrender?
Purchase DawnSinger today!