January 01, 2020
Happy New Year! Happy New Decade! I hope you were able to ring in this new season with gladness and joy. Our family rang it in on the Southern East Coast in the balmy state of Florida visiting family, each of us clad in our PJ’s and most of us asleep well before the clank of midnight cheers and glowing fireworks. I tucked my pregnant self into bed near a snoring Alfie around 9 pm and it was glorious. I am feeling every kick these days and it’s getting hard. But before kissing his sweet cheeks and letting myself sink farther into the pillowy comfort of the mattress, I offered up a small prayer, an intention, a hope for the days to come:
“To the New Year, may it be wild.”
Wild is not a word I am used to using, and honestly, but over the past few months after digging deeper into several books that both emphasize the depth and beauty of the female wildness and the wilderness that of that magical interior landscape, I have come to understand that this part of me is something I want to embrace, lean into, and explore. Alas, my word for the next twelve months is wild. Not crazy. Not unruly. Not savage. But wild. As in tuned-in. Listening. Attentive. Spirited. Assertive. Present. Passionate. That wild. Which brings me to my first contemplation for you on our Rest Retreat together:
Journal Question| What one word, phrase, saying, or mantra will take you into the New Year?
It can be an action word that prompts movement, a describing word that gives depth to your life, or something you feel your soul clinging to in the name of authentic pursuit. It can be anything. A saying, a favorite quote, or a phrase that roots you like a mighty oak in a windy storm. Take a moment to journal your thoughts on this, letting your ideas flow freely from your mind to the page without judgement. If you don’t know where to be begin, begin there. I do all the time. Acknowledge that you don’t know what you want from the year, that you’ve decided to begin again. Perhaps start writing about the person you’d like to be, rather than the things you’d like to do. I think that might take you somewhere worthwhile. Once you’ve come up with your word, mantra, or phrase, circle it. Now meditate on that for several minutes before writing anything else. How does it make you feel? Strong? Empowered? Content? Excited? Motivated? Calm? Good.
We’ll call this your New Year’s Anchor, as it will be a beautiful weight you can use to harbor your boat when the seas get too rough and you find yourself feeling homesick. It could be helpful to write this somewhere you can see it everyday, perhaps near your bed or on a wall in the bathroom where you get ready. Begin the simple practice of returning to your Anchor when you feel unsettled or off track. It guide you, giving you rest in the deep sands of time, a pause from the chaos that looms above, reprieve from the world for a moment so you can come home to yourself. Next let’s talk about the word rest and what it means in the spirit of this retreat?
Journal Question| What does the word ‘rest’ mean to you in this season of your life? Dive deeper. Why you were drawn to this retreat? Why now?
Perhaps for you rest means literal sleep. As a mother of young, energetic children who seem to thrive on very little of it, I’d be lying if I said that seeking rest meant I only wanted a mental break that offered introspection. I’d love some sleep. And then some more. And I plan on doing a lot of that this month, especially as I just entered my third trimester growing this wiggly little girl. But beyond sleep what I really feel when I ponder on the word rest is inner renewal. I envision my spirit lungs ballooning up with life-giving air, and that restorative energy spilling over into all of my being: my other organs, my muscles and bones.
When I think of true rest, I think of my soul being fed a delicious meal that leaves me feeling full of hope, wisdom, trust, and inspiration. To me, rest is an inward breath, a long break from routine and habit, yes, but more importantly, it’s a deep dive. It’s an intentional act that fills the well inside. This kind of rest changes both the speed and the scope of my daily movements, while challenging me to grow in a more mindful direction that prunes and the garden I want to grow and nurtures the life I want to live.
To me, rest is restorative on physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels. It is a meaningful way we can connect to the rhythms of our inner song sung within so that we can use the gifts we’ve been given with flowing creativity and honest gratitude. From rest we grow creatively, and from our creativity we grow in our need for rest. This symbiotic relationship is essential to human life, and without it, homesickness is sure to pervade the terrain we trod one way or another. It’s the ebb and flow that can be found all over in nature. And as a part of nature, it is a way we must return to, or at least try to remember and embrace.
Journal Question| In terms of rest, what is it that you seek either physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually? Why will getting off social media for a month help you achieve or actualize form of rest? What does this reflection say about your past habits with regard to social media use?
Let us end on the topic of social media, because after all, stepping aside from social media use for a month is a part of this retreat’s daily practice. I am not sure why taking a break appeals to you, but for me, the space it offers invites more time and energy to step back and contemplate the minutes in my day and how I am using them. Minutes add up to an hour, hours add up to a day, days add up to a season, and like rain drops, soon enough you’ve got an ocean – a lifetime.
Every once in awhile I’ll have an idea to go find a recipe on Instagram I saw on a creator’s account, so I’ll log in, scroll and tap my way through the wilderness of the screen, and end up looking at vegan meal plans or English cottage kitchen layouts for like a half and hour. This happens a lot. I go in with intention and almost immediately drift elsewhere, my mind absorbed in rabbit hole games that end up directing my sails to seas of distracted waters. I’ll resurface at some point thinking, “What was I looking for again?” Only to be swept up by the current, looking at other people’s lives through 2D squares instead of living mine fully. And while I am not really that hard on myself because mindless daydreaming isn’t all bad and sometimes can even lead to interesting endeavors, it is not what I would journal if given the prompt:
Journal Question | “Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” – Mary Oliver from Summer Day
So, what is your answer to that question? It’s a biggie. Spend some time reflecting and writing on it in your journal. If nothing held you back, if no one was in your way, and if your fears were whispers in the wind, here then gone, what would you do? Would you be a writer? A painter? A healer? A craftswoman? How would you choose to spend your days? With your hands dug in the freshness of the earth, or in the soft dough of kneaded bread? Would your arms be at home cradling a baby, or in an office directing a team or board? Would you be on land, or in the air? What about your feet? Would they be pounding the pavement in a marathon abroad, or walking the perimeter of a new shop ready to be opened? Be ruthless with your answer. What does your soul say? What is song is it singing below the surface of your being? Who is your soul calling you to be? That is your home, and that is the sacred sanctuary we will be exploring next on the 5th.