Homesong Rest Retreat | Happy New Year + An Update

Happy New Year’s, friends! Andrew and I are currently en route home to Kansas City from Pasadena where we took part in the Rose Bowl Festivities with the company he works with, Northwestern Mutual, hence this short but important message to you! I planned on having quite a bit more down (and internet access) time to finish up Week One of our Rest Retreat whilst traveling, but unfortunately the itinerary given to us was much more nuanced and hectic than I had hoped, thus not much time alone with solitude to write. I have a few more additions I want to make before sending our reflections and practices off to you, and I would rather get it just right instead of blindly hitting publish, so I hope this two day delay doesn’t disappoint too much, and you can use this time to sink into the material I sent for our preparations in Week Zero. How did you like the reading material and videos? They have been playing over and over in my brain, and I am so excited to share more about how they have affected my present outlook with you tomorrow.

If you have sent me an email or note here about wanting to subscribe to Homesong, I will get you added shortly. To subscribe, you must do so on a computer (the mobile version does not allow it for some strange reason) and it can be found under the CONTACT section above. Just enter your email, answer a question so it knows you are not a robot, then a confirmation email will be sent to you. I hope that is not too confusing!

With that, this first week of the Rest Retreat is all about restoring of the rhythms in our lives. The reflections and materials I gathered for this week are centered around helping us navigate the flow and structure of our days, along with some wonderful advice on boundary setting and the beauty of slowness and stillness. In the mean time, I want to share with you a beautiful blessing for the New Year written by John O’Donohue. I posted about it last year too, and it remains one of my favorite pages in his book, To Bless the Space Between Us. 


Beannacht: A Blessing for the New Year 

“On the day when
The weight deadens
On your shoulders
And you stumble,
May the clay dance
To balance you.

And when your eyes
Freeze behind
The grey window
And the ghost of loss
Gets in to you,
May a flock of colours,
Indigo, red, green,
And azure blue,
Come to awaken in you
A meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
In the currach of thought
And a stain of ocean
Blackens beneath you,
May there come across the waters
A path of yellow moonlight
To bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
May the protection of the ancestors be yours.

And so may a slow
Wind work these words
Of love around you,
An invisible cloak
To mind your life.”


Aren’t his words a breath of fresh air? “…A slow wind work these words of love around you, an invisible cloak…” I love that hopeful image and the soft but secure comfort it offers us. I will check back in tomorrow once we are home and settled, and I have had a chance to put the final touches on Week One for us. With an addition to sharing all of Week One, I will also post my reflections as they unfold with regard to the material. I have been journaling on the plane and feel so good about making the choice to step away from my phone. I already feel so much lighter and much more like myself. And I cannot wait to read more about your experiences this first week, too! Lastly, cheers to new beginnings, and thank you so much for your patience, grace and understanding.

With Care,




  • Erica M - I enjoyed my journaling during Week Zero so much, I keep thinking about it! As much as it is my goal to step away from screen time during this month- I’ve always journaled on my iPad using the Evernote app. It’s way more comfortable for me to type on my attached keyboard than it is for me to write. My iPad is small & portable enough that I can cozy up in my retreat space & journal away. Nearly two hours into journaling- I felt so much more prepared for this next month. I’ve never journaled that long! I also have never thought much about my Perfect Day & this was my favorite part about Week Zero. Now my perfect day is in the back of my mind all the time & I find myself doing small things since journaling about it that resemble moments of what I dream my perfect day would be. I feel really optimistic about what I will gain in the next month.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - so good to hear from you! An extra couple of days with week zero certainly isn’t a bad thing. I’ve been so inspired by the material you’ve shared and thought harder and deeper than I have in a long time. And the freedom from social media! I LOVE it. But I am also realizing how bad it had gotten. I reach for it all the time…. but I love remembering it’s not an option!ReplyCancel

    • Katie - Hi Sara!! I also keep reaching for my phone out of habit. I’m so shocked at how often I have done it, and sometimes surprised at when I reach for it. Almost seems random and unnecessary, and I too love that it’s no longer an option.

      That habit of staring at my iPhone is so evident with even simple awareness around it.

      And I’m also loving taking pics of my children in spontaneous happy moments rather than wondering if it fits a “curated little square” style of my instagram feed.ReplyCancel

      • admin - Katie, yes to all of this. I grabbed my phone five times today while sitting in traffic, something I wouldn’t have batted an eye at normally, and I have taken ONE photo over the past four days. ONE. It insanely freeing to not feel so tethered to my phone. I am giving myself and my family such a gift. Thank you for sharing, you are too! x AmandaReplyCancel

  • Carli - So nice reading this note Amanda! I hope the trip was enjoyable. Very much looking forward to your reflections this coming week. I, too, already feel lighter and more calm since stepping away from my phone. I’m so hopeful for what this month of quiet reflection will reveal. And that poem is just *pure comfort*. Thank you for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - Hi! I am also having trouble subscribing. I would love for you to add me! I really enjoyed week 0 and can’t wait for week 1s material! 2 days off social media has been so refreshing already! Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Chelsey - So glad I had more time to reflect with week zero. It’s hard to get back into the swing of things after the holidays so the delay was welcomed. I too have noticed how often I am reaching for my phone then realize I’ve deleted the apps on my phone(helps so much with the temptation to scroll). Today was so precious without social media! I noticed how many small things I miss by checking my phone throughout the day. It’s so much easier to keep the wee ones off the tube when I’m fully present! So excited for tomorrow!ReplyCancel

  • Lisa - On a related note, a friend recommended the app called 72 Seasons to me recently, and I thought you would enjoy it. It updates every five days with new seasonal history, food, poetry, and thoughts on the current season within the Japanese culture. I think you would enjoy it.ReplyCancel

  • Solveig - Mmmm. I love that poem and the material you have gathered here already. Thank you, thank you. <3ReplyCancel

  • Ashton - I am not sure if I am still subscribed or not from the book club? I would love for you to add me if not!
    I hope you had some refreshing time away. I’ve enjoyed the resources you posted on week 0 so much. That reading by Mary Oliver—-I totally went and listened to the whole podcast on On Being after that.ReplyCancel

  • Alicia - I’ve enjoyed the reading/listening content from last week so immensely…the TED talk especially has been ringing around in my heart, and I already feel so much good and positive reflections happening from just two days of zero social media. Thank you so much for leading out in this special season of rest!ReplyCancel

  • Morgan - I love this blessing from John O’Donohue – have you heard him on On Being? I think I remember him reciting this one, I may have to give it another listen. It’s one of my favourite episodes of all time. I am really enjoying the rest retreat so far – slowly but surely feeling more myself and seeing energy and creativity come back which is wonderful.ReplyCancel

  • Holly Hoffman Minutaglio - I’m still journaling the week zero prompts (ever the late-starter!), so a few extra days is actually appreciated! I thought I would leave some random thoughts from the Brain Pickings article, which stirred up a lot in me. My degree is in philosophy and I wrote my thesis on the existential philosopher Martin Heidegger, specifically on his concepts of being, authenticity (are we capable of existing fully enough to actually understand being?), fallenness (losing the conscious self in unconscious action, like washing the dishes), how they related to the Beat generation’s concepts of authenticity and being, as well as the backdoor influence of buddhism on both movements. So, for me, part of what he’s saying comes into direct conflict with how I’ve come to understand the best way to be (if that’s really a thing, but philosophy argues about these things as if there are such absolutes). It seems like Watts is saying unconscious thought is the purest experience of the present, where Heidegger would say that unconscious thought is a loss to the experience of being. It’s an interesting crux, though I’m sure a more in-depth synthesis of their ideas would find some common ground.

    Regardless of the philosopher you side with, I’m not present when I’m scrolling my Instagram feed. If you take Watts’ ideas as truth, then just the action of posting removes me from the present (I have to abstract the past to post memories, or I’m projecting an idea of a separate self, etc.), and therefore, I am removed from happiness. I find this incredibly interesting, because so much of the shaming that occurs with the big IG bloggers is that the content of the photos carries the blame – they’re making it look too good & setting unrealistic expectations. When in truth, the very act of participating is immediately creating unhappiness. That is a MAJOR AHA to me!

    Also, I haven’t thought about my philosophical training or dived in at a deeper level on concepts of existentialism for many years. At the very least, the time I’ve created by NOT mindlessly scrolling for half an hour at a time standing at my kitchen island when I was just going to find a recipe (!!!), has allowed me to contemplate and consider my being, which has to be a gigantic step closer to living a happier, more present, more authentic life. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Elizia Curry - I can’t believe the difference in me sans social media. I’m more myself. I hear my thoughts. I use to journal and go to art galleries when I was younger. Somehow I lost time for those things or love but somehow it’s back. Now my love for cooking is back, trying new recipes. I feel much happier. I set time every morning to read a verse in the bible and reflect.ReplyCancel

  • Eva Baldwin - Hi Amanda! Could you please add my email to your list, so I can receive the Rest Retreat assignments? Thanks so much! I love your blog!ReplyCancel

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