Hello, friends! It’s been a minute. How are you? All things are well and dandy over here! I meant to check in a few days ago, but I tucked my computer away instead, and traded it for some new books I picked up at the library on one of our weekly jaunts. I am currently bouncing back and forth between herbal homemaking and the gardening history of the Shakers – both fascinating things to learn about in the middle of the frozen tundra we are experiencing right now! Warm up Kansas City!
Along with reading more, I’ve been spending a good chuck of my day immersed in essay writing, something I’ve decided over the past few months needs to be a part of my book. I love reading essays myself, particularly when they lend themselves to ordinary arts, such as cooking, crafting, organizing, and gardening etc. Anyways, that’s been sweeping me away for several hours at a time, and I’ve been really enjoying the messy process.
Let’s see, what else is new? I’ve been consistently working out! As in 4 times a week. This is big. I don’t know if you know this about me, but I love sleep and will use it an an excuse to get out of just about anything, working out being at the top of that ridiculously long and embarrassing list. And you know what, it’s paying off. My pants had been rather tight around the bum since the end of summer, and I just wasn’t feeling like my usual self. Low energy, belly bloat, yada yada. And now I am fitting into my regular jeans and have so much more energy to boot. Andrew and I decided to limit drinking alcohol (a lot) and have focused on making clean meals together instead. Last night we made Chinese Beef Broccoli from scratch and it was heaven. And I don’t even care for Chinese food. I have also been having him meal plan with me on Sundays and that has been helping us eat so much healthier because I haven’t been stuck planning all the meals myself. Here’s a stack of my favorite cookbooks, Andrew. Now, chop chop! He usually picks things I never would and I’ve been better for it. This has been a treat for our marriage and the little shake up we needed this season.
We have also been doing this new thing now, going on three weeks, where we’ll pick one night a week and have an indoor date night. Last night was our third. We’ll make an early meal for the kids, something really simple that they love like pasta or quesadillas, and it’s an early bed night for all three bubs. Whatever day we choose to be our indoor date night is also a screen-free day, too. The kids have surprisingly been more than alright with this, and they know that they can choose to play in their room until they are ready for bed if they want. I have been pulling out the puzzles for these nights and other hands-on games to keep them entertained in lieu of a screen. It works! I put a bunch of things in a big tub a while back and get it out then, and they think it’s so special. To do this weekend: make a screen-free tub. You should try it. Andrew and I then make a meal together, something we’ve never made before, and chat over a mocktail in the kitchen sans kids – last night’s was cucumber soda with lavender simple syrup and lemon slices. I also threw some fresh rosemary in there too because if I have fresh rosemary on hand I throw it in everything.
Then as for the rest of the evening, we’ll either watch a new movie together (because we older folk get to bend the rules), or play a board game or cards, chat over music, or read aloud. I know that last one sounds kind of odd, but it’s fun! I picked up an old, dusty copy of Leaves of Grass up on our second indoor date, and Andrew selected Walden, and we popcorn read like back in middle school next to the roaring fire. I hadn’t read either of those since my college courses and it was really a hoot taking turns reading and discussing, sometimes in accents, like our very own romantical Dead Poets Society, but with food! Good stuff if you ask me.
I know it’s the 25th and this month is almost over, but I don’t want it to be. This time has been a gift, a treasure, and I want to keep hold of it’s magic for as long as I can. I want to keep waking up with the sun, saying yes to building castles with Alfie, making messes in the kitchen with Andrew, helping Stella read in bed, and reading to Theodore about Dinosaurs. Did you know birds are the closest living descendants of dinosaurs? T and I learned this a few days ago. This was new to me, and now every time I see a bird my eyes widen and I find myself marveling. If your kids like dinosaurs, check out the Usborne books. They are great.
There have also been little changes inside of the bigger changes that have been bringing me a lot of inner peace this month. For whatever reason, I have been really caught up on house chores this month. Our home has remained fairly tidy, and that’s given me so much more time to read and write. And the interesting thing is, is that we all have been so much more creative too! Lots more making going on over here, but not as much mess. Hmmm. I like it. I have realized that those minutes spent scrolling really added up, making simple tasks such as throwing in a load of laundry while coffee is brewing feel bigger than they really are.
I’ve found myself mediating more too, not formally in a lotus position on my yoga mat whilst chanting over billowing clouds of incense, but in everyday things, as in simple matters of the home. When I am doing dishes, for example, I’ll be aware of my breathing, as well as the warm water on my hands, and the gift that is having warm water to wash our dirty dishes in the first place. As I breathe in I’ll say an object, like “I am water.” And as I breathe out I’ll say an intention, like “I am flowing.” Or “I am calm.” It has been helping me a lot, and I have been feeling so much more in control of my anxiety. Seeds of gratitude are planted every time I take the time slow down and pay attention, and mindfully washing dishes is just one of the ways I do this.
Oh, I almost forgot! I have been taking bubble baths! When was the last time you dunked yourself in a tub just for the hell of it? Here’s what I do before sliding in…I’ll set up my little spa with the following: a mug of herbal tea, a scented soy candle, something delicious to read, and oatmeal bath salts infused with lavender and geranium. It’s divine. I’ll get the water piping hot and glide in like a seal, letting the steamy water blanket my body as the winter wind hits the window panes over my head. The juxtaposition between the hot and cold makes it even more healing than your average soak, I think. I’ve taught Stella the art of bathing too, and she’ll pull out a candle of her own, Pete the Cat, and mist her face with rose water while she gets good and pruny. It’s the cutest thing.
What I suppose this all boils down to, is that there is time for these things. Time for waking before the sun. Time for working out regularly. Time for making meals with a husband who doesn’t know how to cook, but is learning. Time for indoor date nights. Time to learn about dinosaurs at age 31. Time to do things that give life rather than take it away. More time. I didn’t think there was or could be. But there is. Time is all we really have, and it’s all about how we measure and make use of it that matters.
I should tell you that I don’t tend to spent a lot of time doing a majority of these things I’ve mentioned above, but because I do them slowly with care, it feels like it’s deep in the marrow of my being. A beautiful 15 minute bath is often times the inward breath I need to take the kids to the indoor gym or the park for well over three hours. A 10 minute dish scrub while watching the birds (that I now know are dino cousins! just wild.) outside the big window that frames our sink in the kitchen, offers me patience to get Theodore yet another snack and give Alfie a long back rub each night before bed. These little pauses to turn inward and become aware of my body and my breath, are what have been carrying me forward with patience and grace, and it is this that I want to honor and carry forward myself as we leap into February.
I do not want to get back on social media right now. And I am okay with that. No decisions need to be made today, it’s only the 25th. We’ve got time. It’s all we’ve got, indeed.
Tori - This rest retreat gave me SUCH a similar experience to yours. I am blown away at how my overall attitude has been lifted, days seem longer (in a good way). The slow moments (like you’ve described) have truely given me more patience for my kids and gratitude for the small things. And I’ve managed my stress like a boss!
I, too, have been keeping up with house cleaning with a weekly schedule I made for myself. I have never had such a clean house with 3 kids and so much time for extras! I’ve been much more experimental in the kitchen and it’s been healthier, too. Thank you for prompting me onto rest and reflection of the important things.
Sara - I enjoyed this! I’m so happy for you—for peace, for joy, for learning something new. I never took into account what I could actually accomplish in the time spent scrolling my feed (while the coffee brews) like a load of laundry. Eye opening. We have time for what we make time for. Simple, yet profound.
Aldo, hooray for those workouts and feeling good! That’s huge. But I also hope your able to squeeze in a nap here and there. Because balance, you know 😉
Julia - I was wondering where you were since you said in the beginning you would post almost daily on here – and really hoped that you just got so happy with this new lifestyle that you simply wanted to keep your laptop in the drawer – I am beyond glad that this wild guess of mine came true !!!
The thing that resonates the most with me is the discovery of how much time we actually have in a day if we don’t interrupt it constantly with screen time on our phones or laptops. And that is the most wonderful thing to discover. Whenever I manage to stay away from screens, I feel like I’m doubling my time on earth here because the days suddenly feel twice as long. Literally.
I strongly, strongly encourage you with your plan of staying a bit longer off of social media – the people who really miss you will go to your blog and read it anyways! Like I do!
And if you decide to only post once a week on instagram after that – you can totally do that! I can imagine that with a follower count this high, there’s a bit of pressure to post regularly, to engage with your followers, but honestly, I’m pretty certain that no one would mind if you’d reduce that engagement for your own good! I even noticed that people who rarely post on instagram, but still post high quality content, feel just so much more special, and you appreciate the posts SO much more because you don’t get one every single day. It’s like chocolate: if you eat it every day it becomes a bit less special and nice compared to if you only eat it every sunday!
I am super happy for you that you’re discovering the stillness of life without heavy screen use and that you wanna keep that up – I always tell myself: You really, really deserve a quiet, happy, slow life. So go have it!
Kaitlin - I echo a lot of your sentiments. It is amazing, in a somewhat uncomfortable way, the seemingly small things social media had started to distract me from. As an aside, I decided on sobriety after the birth of my second daughter last March. I identify as a gray area drinker & a few years of questioning led me in this direction, but showing up, clear headed and present for my life, was at the tippy top. ❤️
Pam Clark - Amanda,
You really are a beautiful soul. So deep are your thoughts and so purposeful is your life. I am old enough to be your mother and yet I love following you. I get so immersed in reading your words. You are so deep and thoughtful for someone so young. I can’t imagine being a mom in todays world with so very many distractions and the abundance of self adoration, especially on instagram. The balance you have created is so so important for you and your family. So many instamoms could learn so much from you. You are a great role model and it’s obvious a great mommy who clearly believes as I do parenting is still the most important job you will ever have.
God Bless you Amanda. And thank you for your bringing joy to so many through your words and from the light that shines brightly from your heart.
Lisa - But you’ve been pinning on Pinterest pretty much every day this month. I wish you’d be honest about this; being imperfect is wonderful and we can all relate to that.
Natalie Meyerhoff - Yes Amanda, I too am in no hurry to get back on social media. In fact whenever I do get on, even for a short amount of time, I instantly get a sick to my stomach feeling, literally physically in my stomach. I definitely think it’s a sign that my choice of been on social media and doing nothing but scrolling is not good.
I do so enjoy all of your ideas, and revelations, and thankful that you share these intricate and vulnerable parts of yourself with us. I obviously don’t know you, but I feel like I do, and I’m way over in here in Southern California, but I wish I had a neighbor just like you. Thank you for sharing your peace and your love and your tranquility, and for helping us mothers give our self grace and patience and forgiveness. It’s hard, but hearing from people like you really brightens and lightens everything. God bless. Thank you.
melissa - i really connect to this post, amanda! i have made a couple little changes this month, due to promptings i’ve been feeling for a while. i started crocheting again, even though i know no one wants my hand-crocheted goods. it just makes me feel good. i’ve also adjusted some eating habits, nothing drastic, just basically listening better to what i actually want. and i haven’t taken the whole month off instagram, but a prolonged break. that’s the one that has me a little stumped. i enjoy having only my real life interests to think about (and watching shows like monty don’s gardening shows on netflix, have you seen them?! there’s one on french gardens only. they’re so good i am dying for spring). the only thing i feel like i’m missing out on is the sense of community across miles and other barriers that the internet lets us cross. however, i sort of think they are (in my case) false feelings of community. the people i follow don’t know me, or care what i think, and it isn’t as much a community as i would like. but there is some real beauty there. so anyway, i am just thinking and considering and such.
bridget - i truly enjoyed reading this so much, hearing all that your soul, mind, and body have been up to in these days. and i want to thank you for encouraging us to join you in this retreat. i re-joined instagram a couple days early (earlier this week) because i was off it for much of december too, and one day i awoke feeling ready. feeling so different, and so inspired rather than feeling paralyzed by it ~ which was perhaps a bigger challenge for me than scrolling. but the days of the retreat. wow. i’ll be doing this again with you, my friend, year and again. i cleaned out our wardrobes, set up an office, completely minimised the nursery, deep-cleaned the kitchen, had the most inspiring thrift trip o my life (things that were absolutely me and not just things i felt i could make work because of, honestly, an app). i made good, thoughtful purchases that have changed the landscape of my days by inviting activity (like, finally getting a much-needed new coat so i can go explore our forest with my boy). i started blogging again, and just for fun! i’d like to say i got back into a good sleeping routine with my baby…but maybe more importantly i pressed on in and deepened my belief that gratitude (even nights where we are up a dozen times, even weeks of this) changes everything. i’m forgetting so many things as i type but what i mean to say is that this was good. deeply good. thank you, amanda…i hope you can feel and know how much your quiet encouragement has changed this start of my year…and in doing so, changed the year itself entirely.
Tara - I wish I would have participated in this year’s retreat. But honestly, the thought of all the assignments like last year’s retreat gave me anxiety and turned me off. Although, I see that your posts have been very minimal this time around, and I like that no pressure approach.
One thing that I have noticed during this first month of the year is how much my day’s mood is affected by checking social media. Even Pinterest. Envy and comparison lies heavily on my mind after seeing pictures of people with lives different than mine. I love the inspiration and ideas that come with the access of social media, but I can’t seem to find a way to separate fantasy and reality and be okay with it.
Anyway, I just wanted to say that I love the idea of a pause in electronic life. I love the idea of filling empty scrolling with something that will last and impact my life. Maybe February will be my month!
Eliz K - Curious when/how you homeschool in the midst of it all? I am struggling to get the basics done right now, feeling like I can either have a clean house or fed family or kids taught… I’m up at 5 w little people, get stuff done after they’re in bed, don’t have a tv or wifi, but can’t get it done… and you’re obviously doing so much more! Tips appreciated.
Shana - Amanda, Thank you for all your words. I really find so much inspiration in what you do! I’m so curious, what are your favorite cookbooks? As a mother of two little ones, and another on the way(!) I’ve been attempting to self teach myself how to cook. My grandmother raised me and I learned so much from her but she also had to work full time which didn’t leave a lot of time for cooking. I’d love any feedback on the subject! xo
Rachel - This is beautiful! And so encouraging, inspiring and gives me room for hope as I continue on my mothering journey. Thank you!! I am enjoying my social media break that i don’t have the desire to go back yet either 😌 I also loved reading others comments on this post. What a lovely spot to come to at the end of a long tiring day!
Lovelle - Looking forward to Rest Retreat 2020!! It’s been sort of a tradition for me since you started in 2018. X much love!