• Valena Spradley

Runaway and Be Still...

212 degrees....That's the temperature needed for water to boil. I recently bought a leadership book by Sam Parker entitled The Extra Degree, and it describes the difference one degree can make in your life. It is a delightful book on motivation giving you examples and encouraging you not to quit – stories of how that tiny little one degree can make all the difference in succeeding. That one degree is the difference between water and steam. But as I read it, I took a different perspective. I was stressed... work life, home life, and just life had me living at 210 -211 degree mark...every... single...day. It is not hard to boil over when you are that close to 212. It was 2017, I was 52 years old, and with that comes some aches and pains. After going to the doctor for an aching knee due to Zumba class my sweet doctor said I needed to be on blood pressure medicine and my cholesterol was not in a good place. She put me on medicine and then 6 weeks later the blood pressure medicine was increased. My husband owned a construction company, his business was slow, a friend died much too young of a heart attack, and I decided that something had to change. My parents were getting older and needing me more, and we had a 14-year-old daughter. Living on the edge of boiling over is no fun for anyone- just ask my husband and daughter. So, I ran away from home. Yes, you read correctly. I took my camera, pillow, blanket, and I ran away for 4 whole days. I have never traveled alone except for work. Of course on those trips, there is always a conference to attend and an agenda that must be followed. This was just me alone doing whatever I wanted. It was springtime in Texas, and I have never witnessed the beauty of our state flower the Bluebonnet in real life, so I decided to go to the Texas Hill Country. I googled spiritual retreats and everything that came up was yoga-related. I love the idea and peacefulness of yoga, and in my mind, I would be great at it, but in my mind, I am also 5' 11" and look like Christie Brinkley. I wanted Jesus spiritual, quiet and peaceful but I did not want an agenda. I was so very tired of agendas and having someone else schedule my time.

I set off on my adventure and had made plans to stop for the night in Marble Falls. With my car packed with snacks, a journal, 3 books, and a couple of bottles of wine I took off with the Dixie Chicks singing Wide Open Spaces. I headed first to Marble Falls. It is a quaint small town, so I found a hotel room and started exploring. I first started seeing the Bluebonnets in Franklin – about 100 miles from my Pineywoods of East Texas. It is extremely hard to capture how uniquely beautiful and perfect they are. And they have a soft scent that is equally hard to describe or capture. I had lunch at the famous Blue Bonnet Café - the most incredible chocolate pie I have ever eaten, and I asked where I could see the best bluebonnets. I was told “the cemetery.” I located a small cemetery on a hill behind the city park.

The flowers were a blue carpet around and on top of the graves. It was peaceful and holy. I went back at sunset and the views were even better. I was walking alone exploring the names and dates when Amazing Grace started playing – on bagpipes. At first, I jumped then started looking for the speakers. The sound floated all around me – I never found the hidden and I'm still not sure if they had hidden speakers or God just dropped the music down to me.

After a great night's sleep, I traveled on to my destination. My first stop was Inks Lake and I hiked up what I considered a big hill and enjoyed the view. I passed the Perissos Vineyard in the valley near Burnett, so I turned around and enjoyed a tour and a delicious glass of white wine while listening to a bachelorette group sitting next to me discussing the upcoming wedding. It was fun to just be an observer listening to the girls laugh and plan. It was a warm spring day, and the big Texas sky did not disappoint me.

I arrived at the Rainbow Hearth Retreat center, called my husband, and turned off my phone. For the next two days, I acted like Forest Gump – if I was hungry - I ate, if I was tired - I took a nap. I have never had that much freedom and time to focus just on the moment at hand and what I wanted to do. It was blissful. I took a riverboat cruise and drove all over exploring the beauty of nature and quietly centering myself.

I woke up before the sunrise and went to my private balcony and just listened. I heard birds singing that I recognized and then many sweet songs I have never heard. I spend a lot of time at the beach and always rise early to watch the sunrise. This sunrise over the lake was different - the sky behind me slowly came to life and then soft pink colors started appearing on the lake. There was a beautiful large wind chime located close to my perch and the soft wind occasionally rustled a beautiful tune. Just writing these words takes me back to that peaceful moment.

After returning I remodeled my large closet – I painted the walls soft grey and blue, purchased a used comfy chair and my husband built bookshelves for me. The final product is a quiet little nook where I do not have to leave home to run away and be still.


This article was originally published in The Journey Lifestyle magazine in June of 2017. Since then, scheduling time alone out of town has become a habit. My daughter teases me “Mom are you going to run away and be still again?” “Why darling yes, I am.”

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