D A Y s e v e n
Yesterday was the first New Moon of this New Year, and today on this new day of this new week we are basking in the energy it continues to offer us. And yesterday, without much awareness of the moon or her rhythms, because let’s face it, I hardly even know what day of the week it is when on holiday break (which just ended for us, by the way) we turned our house upside down cleaning out closets, dressers, cupboards, and cabinets to make more room and space for simplicity. That’s my word for 2019 – simplify – and I am going to practice weaving it into as much of my everyday life as I’m able as we journey our way around the sun.
Back to yesterday, when we were in flow, both Andrew and I, and in an almost synchronized fashion we leaned into this energy as we made our way from room to room. Our shared intention to simplify and reorder our environment was buzzing from Sunday morning through late afternoon. My closet now resembles a mini store with about 1/2 as much clothing as before, our dining room as three free cupboards, and our refrigerator is spick and span and full of Paleo-friendly foods (another thing we’re doing as a family to reduce inflammation and up our veggie intake). Nothing as been vacuumed or dusted, but everything as a home. I fell in bed happily knackered and woke early this morning after a good night’s rest with a pared down bedroom and tidy home to start my day. I cannot tell you how good it feels to have oven five large bags of things to drop off at the donation center, with most of our belongings being a blend of beauty + utility. It helped, of course, that we hadn’t slept in our own beds in over two weeks and were itching to be back where we’re happiest together, which is here at home.
We recently returned from a trip to Florida to visit Andrew’s mom and dad where, we sat in the warmth of the sunshine, bathed in the backyard saltwater pool, held baby alligators for the first time ever, ate avocados nonstop, and dug our toes in the sand. It was a beautiful and connecting trip for our family, and I know being off social media is what made it extra special. The kids and I had plenty of one-on-one time in the water together, something we rarely get living in the Midwest. Not having a phone nearby to check made me more available and present to them, Andrew, and myself included. It mostly stayed tucked in zipped part of my purse throughout the duration of our trip, there if needed but away. I forgot about it most days, instead reading a lot, swimming, cooking, and enjoying the fresh air outside. The boys took to the water like little fishies, and Stella grew leaps and bounds as a novice swimmer. Andrew golfed with his dad and read a lot too. It was slow living and truly restful. It was our family Christmas gift and a great way to kick off the New Year, and we all came home feeling ready for the adventures that lie ahead.
Before that trip, we were up north in Iowa visiting more loved ones and having Christmas with my side of the family. We were there for four days, so coupled with time spent south in Florida, we were all quite ready to walk through our front door, sort through new gifts, donate old ones, and put things in their home. That’s what we call it – putting things in their home – when we bring order to a room or pick up belongings where we live. It’s a phrase we use indicating that something needs putting away, and it implies that everything we own has a place where it “lives”. This helps keep our home fairly tidy, something we value for the freedom and simplicity it gives us. Sometimes we’ll do a quick pick up as a crew where I’ll turn on dance music and for ten minutes and we’ll bop around one or two rooms returning everything to its home where belongs when not in use. It’s a fun way to put things in their home and it’s fairly efficient too! But what about things you can’t exactly hold in the palm of your hand? Or what about that thing that tends to live in the palm of your hand most hours of the day? How does one tidy technology?
By being here and reading this, you’re already tidying technology on some level. By staying off social media for the month of January you are putting technology in its home for a bit, ordering the rhythm of your day in a different way that allows for more time to pay attention, and more time to be mindful as you start the New Year. You might not have looked at it in this way before, but you’re cleaning house in an important area that tends to get ignored, therefore collecting a heck of a lot of dust! It’s important to unplug and give yourself the gift of time to be genuinely present if you want to make significant changes in your life. It’s important to put distractions in their home to create space for inner growth and reflection. The work you are doing right now is tidying – it just doesn’t look like folded linens or sorted toy bins, but I’d argue that it’s just the kind of tidying that will give you the most satisfaction and freedom.
Let’s talk about tidying technology and what this means. By tidying technology in setting it aside, you are making room for something else, and that something else is entirely up to you. Just like when you take out 1/2 of the clothes in your closet that no longer fit or bring you joy, you are creating space. This space can take you in one of two very different directions.
1. You can not fill that space with more clothing that fits and brings you joy.
2. Or you can keep that space free, giving you less options and therefore less time deciding on what to wear.
The same principle can be applies to tidying technology: with the space you’re creating this month by being off social media, you are making more room, and therefore more time and energy in your life. But you also have two directions you can take, either to fill that time with more of something or to enjoy the simplicity of less with nothing. What path have you taken? Have you been filling the time you’d normally spend on social media with something else? Perhaps. Amazon shopping? Pinterest scrolling? With what? Or have you been taking the opportunity to restore your rhythm by slowing down to really reset daily practices? There’s no right answer, because only you know what it is you truly need, but I know for myself that leaving that space open is what is going to make this experience most meaningful and full of purpose.
Which brings me to a few questions I’d like us to answer today. Week One as you can see here, is about restoring rhythms and looking at how boundaries play an important role in how we measure the time and energy in the minutes, hours, days, and weeks that make up our lives. I have many things in store for you to read, listen to, and engage with, but for now…these questions will help you uncover quite a bit of insight moving forward. Take your time and be honest as you answer them.
Your Daily Practice | Reflect or Journal
- Being in rhythm is being in flow. It’s an intuitive feeling that gives motion to your day, and it’s what makes you feel most like you – the inner you that is a spiritual being having a human experience. You know when you are in flow and in rhythm when life doesn’t feel stuck and it sort of just moves along in harmony. It doesn’t mean bad or unfortunate things don’t or can’t happen when you are in rhythm, because as life teaches us, we cannot control much of of what happens in our outer environment, but it means you are able to work through them with grace and resilience. It’s this rhythm that makes time evaporate and what allows each and every one of us to reach our fullest potential. So, when was the last time you felt that your life was in rhythm? What were you doing then? What did that feel like? Explore this.
- Now that you’ve identified what it feels like for you personally to be in rhythm, what role does technology play in that flow? More specifically, what does social media and online connections and/or distractions play in your life when you feel you’re in rhythm? Be realistic, because technology might be a very large part of your job or calling.
- You are in the midst of tidying technology right now, with an emphasis on social media, but how are you filling the space you’ve created with more distractions, technological or otherwise? What are you specifically doing with the time and energy you’ve gained? It this in alignment with your values and who you want to be this year?
- Where does your phone live throughout the rhythm of your day? In your hand? Pocket? Purse? In a bowl on the counter? Is it present at mealtimes, when you wake, when you rest? Think about the homes you have for technology and how you can improve those.
- How can you further tidy your tech by creating homes for your phone and other distracting types of technology (computer, tablets, TV’s, etc.) throughout the rhythm of your day? What solutions can you create today, perhaps even right now, that will put technology in its proper place, therefore establishing boundaries for usage? How do you think this will impact the energy of your home and the connections for your family?
- In preparation for this week’s work, what are your top non-negotiables for you as you go about your day or week? These are things you feel you must do or have to best live out your values and practice what you stand for. How does technology fit into this picture? What does it give to your life making it a non-negotiable, if so. If not, what do you value?
- If you had to pick one word as your intention for 2019, what would it be and why?
- If you had to choose 10 words that most accurately reflect your family’s (or your personal) values what would they be? This is the foundation of your home manifesto, and these words should be reflected in how you use your time and spend your energy.
- What is one thing you notice that is different about your day now that you are less distracted by social media?
- Lastly, your homework for tonight is to listen to this podcast with Oprah and Daniel Goldman from 12/30/2018. I am going to do so again, and write to you tomorrow with an update and more reflections. It’s about emotional intelligence, mindfulness, and exactly what drove you to make the decision you did to join this Rest Retreat.
Incase you missed it:
Stephanie - I’m not sure if this comment fits here, but your thoughts on sorting new gifts and donating old hits home. I am struggling with how to handle gifts that don’t fit within our boundaries. After kindly asking for simple gifts, I chose to donate some toys from my sister weren’t consistent with what we want in our home. Although I thanked her for the gifts on the spot, she was irate to find out that we did not choose to keep them and accuses me of controlling and censoring our kids. How do you handle receiving gifts from those who don’t respect your boundaries? Maybe I could have let the kids have them for a period of time and later donate them, but my husband is opposed to taking things away if the kids don’t agree to giving them up. So nice that you and Andrew are on the same page about decluttering!
Anna Lavon - Hi Stephanie,
I just wanted to tell if my own experience since I used to think the same way you do now.
I’ve learned to let my family have their own relationship with my kids, as aunts and uncles and grandparents- and part of that letting go may include them giving gifts that I wouldn’t necessarily choose. As long as they aren’t dangerous or inappropriate, just because the gift might not fit my aesthetic its not a reason for me to deem their gift not worthy. My daughter will play excitedly with her presents from her Aunty for a few days or a week and then it’s left alone or bits become misplaced. And when it’s forgotten about completely is when I donate or get rid of it to avoid the inevitable clutter! I say model grace and thankfulness when it comes to family and gift giving. Any other way will just create a kind of unease within the family and the best way to educate about sustainability/plastic (if that’s the issue) is simply by doing your thing.
Jackie - I do agree with most of Anna’s thoughtful response, just wanted to add that sometimes it’s not at all about fitting in with your aesthetic, but more so your beliefs and philosophy around what is appropriate for your child’s developing brain – ie the electronic toys, media/character-focused, age-inappropriate, downright offensive etc. I want to be graceful and respectful when it comes to family gift giving and have always done as Anna wrote above and I believe it’s similar to what Amanda has written about this topic? but I have regretted it at times. I know the children will be exposed to all kinds of things from all kinds of sources, but having things live in your home really find their way into their consciousness…
So I commiserate with you, Stephanie! It’s a toughie for sure and I do not think standing your ground in some cases is to be looked down upon. <3
Vanessa - This is also how I respond if my children are given plastic or something that we just don’t want in our home, although as the years have gone on, our family do tend to only give gifts that are eco friendly, or they give experiences, which is something we like to do. xx