Happy Monday friends, and welcome to week two of our Rest Retreat! My goodness, although my memory is telling me otherwise, it feels as though we haven’t spoken in a month or more, not just a few days shy of one week! Time has decelerated to a slow drip over here, and I am hopeful it has in your corner of the world as well. Before jumping into the content I have been gathering for this new week that centers on establishing our non-negotiables, I thought it would be nice to share how the first part of this retreat has been going for me personally. I also have been catching up on all your thoughtful comments throughout the week, and I must say, y’all are so inspiring! To those who have taken the time to not only take part in this retreat, but also share their own experiences in the midst of all this soul-work and external change, thank you. It’s refreshing to read such candid words from my sisters, and I want you to know that you are helping motivate my personal journey in countless ways. I so appreciate you!
How has this week been going for me? Well, here goes. Like many of you, I have become increasingly aware of the hefty amount of “wait time” that occupies our days, and consequently, how poorly and absentmindedly I had been using those moments pre-retreat. An unavoidable part of life, I am learning how necessary, healthy, and dare I say, life-giving, wait time can be. You will hear more about this in Simon Sinek’s talk further down. Week One has reoriented me to the slow art of waiting, while giving me plenty to chew with regard to how I used to manage that time. Here are just a few examples when I would normally feel compelled, gosh even justified, to hop on my phone to check in, share, or scroll instead of allowing myself to just be connected to the present moment:
- When in a checkout line
- At a stop light
- When there’s a lot of commotion at home
- Before bed when I cannot get to sleep
- When I wake up and the house is quiet
- Watching supper bake or water boil
- Anytime in the passenger seat
- When laying with my kids during naptime
- In carpool line
- In the doctor’s office
- And yes, even in the bathroom – no one said the truth would always be pretty
The common denominator above is that these are all times of waiting. They are the moments of in-between where nothing too sensational would be happening, so I’d fill them up with information I found to be more exciting than time spent lingering. Without really even thinking about it, I would grab my phone, click a social app, and let the immediacy of social media whirl me into another world where I felt in control over my time. That being said, my values at the time were ironically giving my phone more control over my time, and the control I thought I was procuring by scrolling was actually perpetuating my insecurities via ego and comparison, like a pseudo control quietly catering to my self-worth built up through a screen. That’s uncomfortable to write, and really uncomfortable to share, but if I want to do better, being honest with myself is the only way.
Week one has shown me quite candidly that I am uncomfortable with moments of stillness where waiting must occur and is necessary, and thereby more comfortable with the feeling and the instant rush that social media is able to give. Yikes, right? How sobering and raw. It’s like a Band-Aid has been ripped off a wound on my soul that has been festering for quite some time—sensitive a sore that simply needs a bit of fresh air and time without a suffocating cover to heal.
This past week Andrew and I were waiting for our plane at the airport when beginning our trip and I couldn’t help look around and notice nearly everyone with their heads down looking at their screens. At first this made me uncomfortable. Not because of what I saw, but because of what I felt I was missing. FOMO, much? I wanted so badly to tap that little IG app and get lost for a bit. I wanted to “connect” and “catch up” and “get ideas” and ultimately, escape that time. But because of this retreat and my promise to myself and you, I didn’t. Instead, I made lists of meals I wanted to learn how to make. I sat quietly. I listened to book about yoga and moonology. And most notably, I talked to Andrew without being uninterrupted or distracted, while my social app-free phone stayed tucked in its new home in my carry on. After that first long bout of itchy discomfort, I was able to fully open my eyes to the world around me and see just how much everyone was defaulting too. We live in a world of defaulters you guys, and it’s pretty easy to see when your own head isn’t looking down at that addicting blue screen.
I took that newfound awareness with me everywhere, even on our mini vacation, and decided to participate in a little experiment with myself. I decided to not only notice how others were using their “wait time”, but to also connect with my moments of wait time to better use them more thoughtfully with intention, even if that meant doing nothing at all. Over the course of this past week I repeatedly asked myself the question:
“Instead of scrolling my phone, what could I do to pass my time, or better yet, enjoy my time of waiting?”
I has been very humbling to recognize just how impatient I truly have been, and unfortunately, the impact it had been making on my relationships, both new and old. Because I no longer have social media apps (nor email) on my screen, I have instead been using my phone in three primary ways:
- To communicate with someone via call or text.
- To check the weather—admittedly, an embarrassingly number of times.
- To get on Audible or Spotify to listen to a book, playlist, or podcast.
Recently my phone has been less of a need in my life, and I can feel my attachment to it physically and emotionally waning. Because of this new mindful habit, the hours in my day feel longer, and the minutes in those hours, slower. I feel like I am on a little vacation in my own home. Can anyone relate? The satisfaction of doing something with care for myself and for my family alone has been a rewarding and empowering gift. To clean the house, to make a beautiful meal, to read an inspiring book, to make art with Stell, to build a big castle with the boys…it’s been just for me, just for us, and that has felt very fulfilling and surprisingly less isolating than I was expecting.
It’s in my nature to share things that I enjoy with others; it comes naturally to so many of us. It’s a part of my value system to feed my curiosities, creativity, and my truth, so unsurprisingly, I feel joy when getting opportunities to help others grow or learn new things. I am a teacher at heart, despite no longer having a classroom, but a veil has been lifted so I can see just how much I was pouring into social media merely because I was not comfortable with times of solitude and/or waiting. While I still think it is important and wonderful to symbiotically share ideas and give inspiration to others, I think there can and should be a better, healthier balance for myself in doing so moving forward.
Something exciting I have noticed this week is that there is a new kind energy flowing throughout our home—we can all feel it! I have been spending so much more one on one time with the kids and Andrew, and because of this I have seen much better behavior from them. Well, not Andrew so much 😉 – Another unexpected treat, I’d say. With the wake of the New Year our family has also been working to establish new sleeping rhythms, and because I have more mental energy, I have been more patient everyone throughout the day, myself included. We are having both boys sleep in the same room (their shared room) and it’s been going better than expected. Andrew and I have been suffering from lack of sleep by co-sleeping with the kid(s) and we’ve wanted to change things up for a long time. Five in a queen-sized bed does not work for us. I have realized that the problem hasn’t been the willpower and determination of our kids to choose their own sleeping arrangements, but rather, our lack of energy in the evenings when it’s time to put them to bed and stick to our guns. Time off social media is spilling into areas of my life I had no idea it could reach. That alone has made this time away so worth it.
I am also learning that a vast majority of life’s goodness comes in the unrest we experience while waiting, which I believe gives birth to the ability to become present and to fully sink into the richness of our days. This leads me to our first daily practice! This video was kindly sent to me from a fellow participant of this Rest Retreat, as she thought it would fit in well our content. I am so thankful for her and her willingness to share it, because it touches on everything I have shared with you above and goes onto reveal exactly why it is we are prone to scroll social media when waiting. But before WATCHING the video below and JOURNALING your reaction to it, take a moment to reflect on this question: why is it that you want to use social media going forward in certain scenarios, and how does that reflect your values?
Better Example: I want to use social media to share this photograph I find to be beautiful and inspiring, because I value collaborative processes and the beauty and inspiration it manifests. Idea: give yourself a 5-minute time limit.
Poor Example: I want to use social media because I am bored waiting, because I value ______? Idea: pick up a book instead.
Better Example: I want to use social media to get meal ideas for supper tonight, because I value eating well and being organized. Idea: give yourself a 10-minute time limit.
Poor Example: I want to use social media because I don’t want to get something done, because I value ______? Idea: Turn on some motivating music and get to work on that project!
Better Example: I want to use social media to connect with dear friends, favorite feeds, and loves ones, because I value my relationships. Idea: give yourself a 30-minute time limit after the kid’s have gone to bed.
Finding your why and taking the time to discover and connect to your purpose is a catalyst for positive growth and change. I believe that this is the root of true intentionality, and if we want to incorporate healthier forms of balance in our lives (while moving forward with social media) starting with our why is essential.
Next I want you to make a list of your non-negotiables, aka: realistic things you need and want to thrive within the span of your day or week. Take note of your personality, your circumstances, and the season of life you are in before starting. Here are most of mine:
- A hot shower each day, preferably in the morning—I love feeling refreshed and this wakes me up
- Morning solitude, if only for 10 minutes, with a cup of coffee before everyone wakes up—as an introvert this restores my energy and a good cup of coffee makes me happy
- Making healthy and nourishing meals for our family—cooking is my meditative time and we all feel better when we eat well
- Eating together at the table for supper—this is our time to connect as a family and establish rituals
- At least 1-2 hours a day to write and feed into creative pursuits and projects—this time is what I use to work on my blog and other job-related tasks
- 30 minutes of yoga and/or stretching—I feel so much more alive and connected to my body afterward
- Date night every other week—special time to connect with Andrew alone
- Weekly visit to the library—a family tradition we all look forward to
- One night a week screen free—this helps recalibrate our energy and makes us be more creative with our time together
- At least 7 hours of sleep each night—I really love sleep
As you can see, my list is not comprised of complex, idealistic pursuits, but rather simple things done with care. My best day includes all the things I’ve listed here. Did you do that practice during Week Zero? While I know that getting all of this done may seem like a lofty and unrealistic model to follow, I have found that as long as I craft my day with care, and use wait time better, it’s not only possible but easy to do all the above with time to spare. Simple doesn’t always mean easy, but when you value something enough, you make space for it to exist. This is what your non-negotiables are all about.
Next I want you to READ this article about the art of deep play. I feel it is directly connected to the presence we are able to feel when not distracted by our phones. It’s another Brain Pickings article, which I hope is okay! Maria Popova writes about deep play and what are able to do when revitalized and met with more time than we are used to. She writes, “In this small act ablaze with absolute presence, I felt I had been granted access to something enormous and eternal.” Her words echo my sentiments on how delicate, moving, and meaningful life spent lingering in the present can truly be.
And a little note from my journal on this topic…
“Life has reclaimed a vibrant spark that my weary soul was detached from due to the fact that I was living in a constant state of disconnect, always allowing myself to be reached and tethered to a screen, ironically with aim to foster connection in the first place. In this way, the mundane reclaims a kind of transcendent romance that only comes from true presence. The tiny rainbows on bubbles flicker in the sunshine as I wash the dishes has become small blessing from above instead of drudgery, and because of this, I am able to foster more gratitude and appreciation for time itself and for the gift it is in my life. I value small moments of wonder and can only truly see them when given space to simply BE.”
I reason that rest, and the kind that we’re after, can mirror the kind of keep deep play talked about in this article. It doesn’t have to mean sleeping an extra three hours each morning, or building many more moments of calm, because after all, isn’t it rejuvenation we are after? Whatever rest looks like to you, whatever it is that you find to be healing and uplifting, keep leaning on that. If you can restore you weary spirit by taking a walk alone in the woods, or kneading bread with your bare hands in the kitchen, or getting into a good book by the fire, then your acts of play can simultaneously become your acts of rest.
“When one enters the realm of deep play, the sacred playground where only the present moment matters, one’s history and future vanish. One doesn’t remember one’s past, needs, expectations, worries, real or imaginary sins. The deep-play world is fresh, wholly absorbing, and full of its own unique wisdom and demands. Being able to temporarily step outside of normal life—while keeping one’s senses alert — is indeed like being reborn. To erase all memories and yearnings — to be vigorously alive without self-awareness — can provide a brief return to innocence.” – Ackerman
Such beauty and goodness to reflect on! And lastly, I leave you with another poem by John O’Donohue. I went back and forth whether or not I should find a new poet or share this one during Week Two, but it’s just too poignant and pertinent not to send your way. It was written for those who are exhausted, which I think applies to all of us here seeing rest and rejuvenation. I recommend reading it aloud to let your thoughts dance slowly through the lines of this beautiful blessing.
This was a long one! Feel free to take you time going through all of this material, and whenever you feel called to do so, the door is always open to check back in to share your thoughts and your experience, or to simply ask a question. I am sending you all heaps of love and light as we enter this fresh new week, and I thank you for going along on this restorative journey with me. Oh, and before I forget, so many of you like me are also taking part in this 30 day New Year’s Yoga Challenge called TRUE, and I really recommend it! As a long time follower of Adriene and her vlogs, I can say that her practices are the perfect balance of challenging and restful. If you are looking for a way to incorporate more physical activity this winter, check ’em out!
For those who are catching up or have decided to join, here is…
- REST RETREAT WELCOME
- WEEK ZERO | Preparations
- AN UPDATE & BLESSING FOR THE NEW YEAR
- WEEK ONE | Restoring Your Rhythms