Hello dear friends, I hope you are enjoying your day so far. So I’ve been quite immersed in a new (to me) audio book lately and am giddy to share it with you this week. I started it like I do most other audiobooks, either while multitasking in the kitchen or spending time in the car, but this one made me stop in my tracks right away and run up our creaky stairs to grab my moleskin. For those of you who have not read or listened to The Wisdom of Sundays, you are in for quite a treat! I do recommend getting the audio or paper version for yourself to get the most out of this post, and I hope that doesn’t inconvenience anyone! It’s worth your while, I promise.
This book is a carefully curated selection of life-changing insights from Super-Soul conversations hosted by Oprah, and not to be too dramatic or anything, but it’s going to change your life. There is so much I want to touch on today, but because we are wrapping up our last week of our Rest Retreat together, I will focus on the part that I feel is most important—a concept I outlined months back while sitting in the light-filled corner of our kitchen detailing this journey we are now on. Let’s talk about intention.
JOURNAL: When you read or hear the word intention, what comes to mind? What do you think it means to set or craft an intention? Is this something you’ve ever done throughout the course of your life? Reflect on these questions for a bit. This word is going to guide us, friends.
The chapter (Four) of the book I am going to be referring to throughout this post is a conversation between Gary Zukav, author of The Seat of the Soul, and Oprah, creator of all things good. He talks about intention in a way I’ve never heard articulated before, and it resonates so deeply with me. I have always believed that a divine thread connects everything, and that the energy we put out into the world matters. Listening to this conversation was a light-filled homecoming for me, and just one more way God and the mysteries of the universe have graced me with wonder this month. I think opening up our dialogue to the ideas of making intentional intentions is an empowering and powerful way to end our time together on this retreat of true life-giving rest.
Gary shares that an intention is: our consciousness, and powerful energy behind our motivations we create in life. We can either choose positive and loving intentions, or negative and fear-based ones. Our mentality and the condition of our mind affects our abilities to do this, and it matters greatly if we are someone who sees the world for its abundance vs. someone who seeds the world for its scarcity.
Andrew and I talk all the time about the beauty and power of living abundantly, which is not the same as living extravagantly in materialistic measures or out of our means, but rather, seeing the world though a lens of open-heartedness and gratitude. Abundant living is the opposite of living with a scarce mentality, which is a narrow view of the world fuel by our fears. Our culture is so saturated with fear right now, it’s everywhere I turn, and because of this it’s easy to fall into the trap that there’s not enough to go around, but that’s not true. There is no bottom line or end reserve for virtues like kindness, trust, vulnerability, honesty, empathy, and love. Fear wants us to believe otherwise, and that why so many of us make the poor decisions we do. But the good news is we have a choice, and each one of us (no matter our circumstances) gets to wield that authentic power. The power of choice is at the heart of this divine conversation, and that’s why this act is so empowering as each of us moving forward as we learn to trust our path. The clip below is a snippet of Super Soul Sunday with both Gary and Oprah. This is only part of the 30 minute conversation they have in the book, but it’s worth watching.
Now that you’ve watched a clip of this Super Soul section, JOURNAL your initial reaction to it and any questions you may have. This new concept of intention can be a lot to process, what do you feel it stirring up inside you? How does this video compliment, enlighten, confuse, or challenge initial views you held for the concept of intention?
There is another part of the book I want to share more about with you, and it talks about levels and layers of our intentions, one of them being “out-tensions” vs. “in-tentions”. An “out-tention” is the first layer of intention that you are projecting externally. This energy serves the exterior version of you, the self that others see, and the one detached from the soul. I came up with a few examples of “out-tentions” that some of us may be carrying, and then wrote next to it in italics a possible “intention” one could craft as their motivating energy behind it. Why look at intentions? Because they are the energy behind all that we do, and unless we want to get any sort of result or change in our life, we must evaluate where our energy is coming from. Understand that there could be many different intentions behind these wants or “out-tensions” and this all depends on the mindset, personality, meaning behind its’ creator, but we carry them nevertheless:
- I want to spend less time looking at screens during my day. I want to spend more time with those I love and the work I value.
- I want a home that looks like Pinterest. I want other people to validate my worth through social media.
- I want to have more date nights with my husband. I want to spend more time getting to know and care for my best friend.
- I want to write a book. I want to express myself creatively through the written word and make an impact in other’s lives.
- I want to start waking up early before my kids. I want to carve out more time for solitude and self-care.
- I want to lose weight I gained while pregnant. I want to feel healthier and practice self-care so I have more energy throughout the day and I can better care for those I love.
- I want to travel the world. I want to learn more about the world and help it shape my ideas of happiness and home.
- I want to get a promotion. I want my colleagues to respect me so I feel important.
- I want to get more sleep at night. I want to have more time to shop online.
- I want to live in a clean but creative home. I want to be my best self – I function best in tidy environments that are full of creative opportunities.
These examples of “out-tensions” are examples of things that can consume our thoughts, but they are not the bedrock of our truest motivational energy. They are the first layer we meet when examining our desires and often times, are energies we think we are projecting. But what lies underneath that top layer is our real intention—a powerful energy and life force that can either positively or negatively affect the course of our life. Unlike the majority of life that is out of our control, say the weather or the actions of other people, we get to craft and shape our own intentions, therefore we get to play a part the shaping of our own lives through the energy we manifest. This concept is one of the most thought-provoking ideas I’ve ever reflected on—that each of us is a gifted maker, who holds within the power to create reflecting light and ripples of positive change in the world.
It’s important to understand, that like a spiritual boomerang, whatever intention you put out into the world you will get back. It may not happen in the manner or timeframe you want or expect, but it will find you. If you want a home that looks like Pinterest in the example above, then your deeper intention may be to please others. It may not, I don’t know. But if you intend to please others, than that is what you will do because you’ve set that intention, that strong motivational energy within you, into motion by the value you’ve placed on other people’s reactions to your actions. If instead, you want a home that looks like Pinterest because you find inspiration, comfort, and renewal in the ideas generated by other creatives, your intention will be completely different. In this instance, your intention will be to create a home that feels the way your soul sings. I for one believe that this is a really beautiful and fulfilling pursuit, one completely different than acting out to gain approval of others. It all boils down to intention.
And you may not even be aware that you are creating intentions behind everything that you say, think, feel, and do, but you are. We all are. With every choice and every act, we send our crafted (either intentional or not) energy out into the world, and that energy comes back to us. Some call this Karma, others call it The Golden Rule. You can call it whatever you want, but the bottom line is that we (all of us – you – me- your baby – your husband – your neighbor – your boss – your friend—even Trump) are blessed to be in charge the energies we both send and receive throughout the course of our one wild and precious life. This is what is means to be human, and it is a gift. One of my favorite parts of the podcast episode is when Gary says:
“Choice of intention is a fundamental creative act. Consider that you are powerful, creative, compassionate, and loving spirits. And that you are co-creating your life with the universe right now, and your choice is the choice of intention, so that when you become an aware creator, you become a more powerful creator to use your creative capacity in a loving way. When you’re not aware of your intention, you are creating with fear. You are a powerful creator who can create with an energy (intention) of fear or love.”
Just. So. Good. So when you get something that a fear-based part of your personality wants, you will be happy short-term, but this will not and can not feed your soul—which is ultimately who you really are and are here to discover. Like we talked about in week one of the retreat,
“Alas, your mind is a garden. Your thoughts are the seeds. You can grow flowers, or you can grow weeds.”
It’s up to you to nurture your mind so that you are in a good place to make choices that put loving intentions into the greater energy of the world. I believe this wholeheartedly, and that’s why self-care is not one bit selfish, and it is one of the most important things we can ever give our time to. This is the work of unraveling our soul and discovering our truth, and it matters.
JOURNAL: How does the concept of creating loving intentions change the way you view a difficult situation you are currently facing? How can you use the power of intention moving forward with our without social media as a part of your life or your business? And lastly, if you had to describe your inner truth, your soul, to a dear friend on the listening end of a conversation, what words would you use to do so?
Listening to your soul and then mindfully crafting your intentions around that wise voice sifts your priorities through a sturdy, grace-lined sieve, shaking out all the things you thought you needed to care about and give your time and energy to, leaving behind only precious gems and true treasures, aka: the things that matter. I believe that this act is a spiritual one that leads to more fulfillment and wholehearted living. If only more of us took the time to listen, to be still, and to pay attention to what our souls are telling us behind the layers of our noisy minds and distracted hearts, there would be so much more harmony and compassion in this world. Instead, we often times react like hand on a hot stove to thoughts, ideas, and emotions before pausing a moment to breathe, take stock and, craft a encouraging and loving intention before moving forward.
So how does this all connect to social media? Well, I think it connects to everything because intention is the source of energy we release when doing anything at all. If you have a clear-set intention behind using social media, honor that energy and make your values a priority going forward. Remember your non-negotiables? And if you know you are someone who has an addictive or all-or-nothing personality, take that into consideration when crafting your intention, because that matters, too. And when it comes to taking back time, what I am really talking about is reclaiming your priorities so you can live by your values and intentions. It is about nurturing your whole self in a way that celebrates your life and the life you want to live. This is our true calling my friends, and I am filled with so much gratitude to have another day, another opportunity, to work towards fulfilling this beauty-filled purpose. Below is an article I read this week about the power of our intentions, I think you’ll find it meaningful.
What questions do you have about setting intentions can how do you think it can help you moving forward? I look forward to digging deeper in this conversation with you!
To everyone who has visited this space during the four weeks of our Rest Retreat, thank you for your time. To everyone who has taken part in this journey, if even in some small way, thank you for your energy. I hope it was meaningful for you. To everyone who has taken an extra step to share part(s) of their experience here, thank you for being brave. Vulnerability and connection is what made this retreat possible, and I could not have done any of it without you. I am going to do a follow up of how I plan on incorporating social media back into the rhythm of my days at some point, and feel free to share your plan or path, but for now, I’ll leave you with a blessing for a new beginning and a big virtual bear hug!
In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.
Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.
Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.
John O’Donohue To Bless the Space Between
With teary-eyes and so much care,
And if you care to…
Rhea - Thank you Amanda for putting together this rest retreat. These weeks have been so life-giving for me. I am excited to experience this year with a little more margin for solitude and reflection, and with more mindfulness of intention. So good!
Margo - Thank you SO much for putting this retreat together Amanda! The idea of taking the break from social media has been on my mind for a while and when I read your ‘invitation’ I decided to jump on the band wagon. That same week when visiting our library I coinsidantly run into a paper version of Oprah’s ‘The Wisdom of Sundays’! It could not have been a better timing! This book has been wonderful and lead me to so many other sources. Just like Oprah’s podcast the ‘SuperSoul Conversations’. I went back to reading Eckhart Tolle books, discovered Shawn Achor, Brene Brown, Michael Singer and many others.
Self care is essential and without it we cannot be functioning in our society as caring, wholehearted and compassionate beings. This retreat helped me establish some good habits for myself, my home and my family. I have gotten better about meal planning, cleaning schedule and I found the time to declutter and reorganize some parts of my home that needed it for some time. I am back to meditation, starting and finishing my day talking to my kids and husband about gratitude and meaningful moments in our day. Thank you for initiating this great start of the year! I am truly committed to do my best and live my life with best intentions and in the present moment.
Good luck to you and all the best!!
Nicole - I will so miss finding your encouraging words every week. This retreat was like drinking a cup of tea with a kindred spirit! The encouragement of reverence and intention was a breath of fresh air, so hard to find in our world today. I sincerely hope that you continue to post inspiration about home, creativity and simple acts of goodness. Each post brings hope, calm and peace to all who enjoy your words. Many, many thanks and blessings to you!
Taylor - This reminds me of my life’s scripture verse: I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly.
I think it’s true that you said it’s a person’s own responsibility to nurture their mind.
A while ago I set the intention for my life to always be a refreshing, encouraging presence for my friends. I want to always listen to anyone who crosses my path and I want to believe in people so that they can keep believing in themselves too. Some friends even commented on feeling it and that was the hugest gift.
Lauren - Thank you for sharing that poem. It has really helped me today.
Kaleen - Amanda, thank you so much for your heart. I’ve always found you to be a kindred spirit but have been truly impressed by your vulnerability and effort you’ve shared with us. So many wonderful, surprising thoughts and revelations have come to me through this experience. A few tears for our culture, our minds, and our children. But so much prayer and reflection. Also you should know that this has reached far beyond your followers…it’s been shared with mothers, friends, community (church) groups, etc.This conversation is so necessary regardless of age or usage in my opinion. I’m nervous to jump back in but am missing aspects of it. At least now I know how to stay the course and pull back when needed. I’m going to tread very lightly back into it bc for heavens sake, I want to keep my “humanity”!
Peach - This has been an interesting and eye opening journey and I am deeply grateful. However I feel as though this is only the beginning, I am eager to see where this journey takes me, who I am and thus becoming. Thank you Amanda.
Lauren - The article had me filling more journal pages than I have all month! I’m so glad you shared, and I hope to pass it on to friends and family. I have a feeling this one will stick with me for several weeks. Thank you again for all the valuable learning you have shared this month!
Robin - Oh, Amanda. This post. Your thoughts on the subject of intention touched me so deeply – I penned many of them down in my journal to read over and over. Moving forward with so much to think about. This powerful idea of mindfully refining our intentions and motivations to “the things that matter” goes so hand-in-hand with the simplifying journey we’ve been on for the past two years in both our belongings and lifestyle. This feels like such a natural next step, to really simplify and tune into what motivates us, where we want to direct our energy, to focus on those things that really matter to us.
Thank you again and again my beautiful friend. I’ll be sad when this is over, but so thankful for everything I’ve learned about myself to carry forward into whatever direction I choose next. xx Robin
Brittney - thank you, thank you so much for this beautiful series. i really enjoyed this deep and spiritual side of your blog. so eloquent and thought-provoking, a continued series like this would be wonderful! x
Tabitha - Amanda, you have been such a beacon of light for me this month. The way you speak, write, raise your children, live your life, etc. motivate and inspire me to no end. As a first time mama to twins who turned one last week, you give me hope for the future of our home and our rhythm.
This week’s theme is hard one for me. It hit me in a deep, dark place, I think.. like maybe I’ve never really had intentions, and I have just been living my life on the surface, reacting to life as it comes. That’s depressing to think about. Does anyone else feel this way? And now that I have two children to care for and mold intentions for… well, it feels overwhelming and scary to me.
Amanda, I urge you to continue writing more about these topics [a book perhaps? :)], and please, please, keep posting here – your following is abundant.
Jessica - Hello Tabitha,
I can so relate to what you’re going through, mama! I feel as though I may have been living my life on the surface as well, reacting to moments as they unfold. I’m so thankful for this retreat, and everything Amanda shares with us on Homesong.. it has helped me navigate the waters of motherhood (I’am also a first time mama to 14 month old twins), and continues to teach me about the kind of home I want to provide for my family.
Living in an extremely small community (population of my hometown is 1500), it has been very difficult finding like-minded mamas to share these experiences with. I look forward to reading comments like yours, that make me feel like I’m not alone in this season of motherhood.
Thank you again, Amanda, this retreat has been life-altering! I’m so sorry that it has come to an end, but I truly hope you continue to write more on these topics and posting here!
Tabitha - Jessica, we should connect! I have been looking for like-minded mama’s as well, and it would be so refreshing to chat with a fellow twin mama. My email is email@example.com 🙂
Jessica Noll - Amanda,
Yesterday was a snowday here in Northwest Iowa, so I didn’t get to your post until today. I wanted to ask if you were familiar with Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations Podcast? I listen to it via CastBox. It is all of her Super Soul Sunday’s conversations in a podcast form. I LOVE it! I also wanted to say thank you. I am participating in your retreat, and it has been eye-opening.
We live unplugged from the internet at home besides cell service. It’s usually nice basically being immerged in “forced airplane mode” due to lack of data reception, but can be an inconvenience. I usually get my (somewhat rediculously) large dose of internet exposure at work. I feel as if I’ve been through a mental cleanse, and I can now see what’s actually important much clearer.
Lisa - Thank you for all of the effort you have put into this retreat.
I just watched this Ted Talk, and was very encouraging about signing off from social media:
Erin - Wisdom of Sunday’s is such a beautifully curated book! Have you listened to Oprah’s podcasts, Super Soul Sunday’s? They’re amazing as well! Thank you for sharing your wisdom and heart with us this month Amanda! Your insights have been so helpful and have truly helped me reflect on such important topics and areas of my life. 💛
Natalie Roe - Thank you for your heart and soul poured into this. I felt it every time I sat down to read. The podcasts and articles and videos you presented partnered seamlessly with other podcasts and articles I was listening to for Sunday School/just for fun. It’s like when God wants to really tell you something, sometimes he opens up the heavens and dumps it on you like Niagara Falls. 😉 All of this to say: these weeks have opened up a much needed awakening and healthy restart in my spiritual life and soul-keeping. After going through the motions for awhile now with my morning quiet times, church, volunteering, prayer, etc and just not feeling the connection or peace I once felt in doing so, but still kept on keeping on regardless…the INTENT involved with taking a step back from social media and the mind numbing habit of technology, realigning my priorities, my family’s priorities, and recommitting my mornings and therefore my days to God in the process…this INTENT has produced an EFFECT of: reaffirmed faith, greater connections with my children husband and friends, a burst of creative energy at work (self employed Interior Designer), and perhaps of greatest importance produced an overall more content feeling in my soul, and therefore a much better version of myself projected out to those who come in daily contact with me. And I’m not even a big social media user! Haha! I can only imagine what a retreat like this did for those of a slightly younger generation whose lives are even more intertwined with technology (Born in 1982 I am right on the cusp of what is considered “millennial”). Thank you thank you thank you for sharing your soul and encouraging all of us to reconnect with our own. xoxoxo Natalie
Kathleen - I’ve been reading the book “hand wash cold: care instructions for an ordinary life” by Karen Maezen Miller this past week. She is a mother, wife, and Zen Buddhist priest. Throughout the book she talks about how our life is literally what is happening in the few feet in front of us.
She writes, “When I give meditation instruction these days, I ask students to life their arms up to eye level, wiggle their fingers, and see for themselves. That’s where your life is, that’s where your life has always been, in front of you…”
I’m not sure why I found such an obvious statement to be so profound but I did. It made me ask myself, what do I want to put right in front of me? My phone? Pictures of stranger’s lives that I’ll never know? Endless news articles that leave me feeling depleted? Or the sweet scent of my son’s head as a I read him a book? A hot cup of tea and an enriching book? Knitting articles of clothing to keep my family warm?
Later, she writes, “Compassion waits in the space between us, the space that only seems to separate us: a gapless gap we close by reaching an arm’s length in front us to wipe a tear or wash a breakfast bowl.”
And finally, “Attention is the most concrete expression of love. What we pay attention to thrives. What we do not pay attention to withers and dies…I am sure it can seem to some that all they have time to do is work, leaving all other priorities to languish on the periphery. I hope for your sake that when it is time to work, all you do is work. But in those hours when the choice is truly yours, what do you choose to put in front of you? Where do you cast your enraptured eye? Where do you lose yourself? Where do you invest your time, your life, and your love, knowing that whatever you pay attention to thrives?”
This month I have been putting my yoga mat in front of me, every day. I’ve been putting books and knitting and healthy food. Fresh air and the conversation and laughter of friends. My children and husband. I’ve largely not been putting my phone in front of me (or at least much, much less than I used to) and I hope I can continue to make that choice moving forward.
Thank you for crafting such a beautiful, thoughtful, heartfelt retreat. Like someone else said, I have shared some of what I learned and have been thinking about with friends and family. Your words and intentions are reaching further into the world than those of us who’ve been directly following along. This has been truly life-changing and transformative for me. Thank you.
Mally - Thank you SO much for this amazing retreat. I wrote a short post on how much it has helped me and will share it next week. All the poems, quotes, articles and your insight has seriously fed my soul during this retreat. Thank you again! ❤️❤️❤️ (@therevivalkit)
Jenny W - Thank you for all the hard work. I really connected with the pace and material in this retreat. Pre_retreat removing SM seemed like a tall order. Now I am choosy as to how I incorporate media into my day which is surprisingly limited. Self_care is now present and will be an ongoing battle to maintain. Asking for help is new to me but a super healthy addition to my toolbox. I remind myself that I cannot serve others with love if I don’t model that care for myself. With added energy our family rhythm is stronger, detailing values and boundaries were essential. I thought they were clear but it looks like we need to review these decisions every so often to make sure they still represent our family. I am enjoying your intentions right now but hope to add a few of my own as they present. Baby steps.
Shelley - I am truly enjoying this series. It has been a much needed reset for me. Thank you for following your heart and taking the time to learn and share with others.
McKenzie - I simply cannot express how enlightening this Rest Retreat has been. I have felt nourished and uplifted and feel like I’m actually a present participant in my life. I feel so good, I’m not sure I’m ready to jump back into the world of social media quite yet. Thank you so much for your efforts in putting this together. Your writing is beautiful and inspiring, and YOUR intention is clear and meaningful. This process has made me realize how many people I “follow” that do not promote those feelings that I want in my life –however you are one of those people that continue to inspire growth. So grateful for this and for your work. You have such a gift. Thank you!
Jamie - Thank you so much, Amanda, for putting together this Rest Retreat. It was so thorough and well thought out, as well as helpful. It was because of this retreat that I took a break from social media, something I had really needed to do and something that has changed everything for the better. Spending time thinking about your journal prompts, reading your carefully selected articles and poems and listening to the moving podcasts and clips has in fact nourished me over this month of January and I am so grateful for all the time and energy that you put into this. What a truly giving thing you have created here. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, intentions and joy with others. <3