Hello, dear friends. I am writing to you from my new sacred space high up looking out to the frosty treetops where I see thin sheets of ice are clinging to outstretched branches, that in every other season but this one, delicately shade this old home of ours. It’s a space feels fresh and alive, and smells richly of juniper, sandalwood, and black spruce—a woodsy escape right here in my bedroom as I begin my journey.
Crafted just this morning, this quaint but inspiring little spot is one that welcomes me in and invites me to let go, just as I welcome you in and invite you to do today before we begin. It’s a corner of this busy world just for me, a sweet spot in our home, and slow and silent refuge for my heart and soul’s wanderings. I wanted to make a harbor that I could sink into mindfully with gentleness and grace, and our bright bedroom is just the place. I moved my antique wooden desk up here a little while ago to sit beneath the wall of windows facing the southwest side of our home. Even on a dreary and gray day such as this one, it’s cozy, light, and full of warmth. On my desktop I have just a few things: a small oil lamp for golden light, a new green plant for life, my computer for sharing with you, a new journal and pen for reflecting, coffee for savoring, a sheepskin to keep my back comfy, and my oil diffuser to balance and ground my emotions as I write.
Your first assignment is to make a sacred space for yourself. It doesn’t have to resemble mine at all, but it should speak to you and reflect the calm you so desire. It could be a seat at your dining table, a corner of your living room, a desk in the hallway, or anywhere you feel gives you respite with renewed energy. Wherever it is you choose to make your sacred space, do so thoughtfully, simply, and with care. This spot will be where you do most of your reflecting if you can, and will be a home for your throughout this Rest Retreat.
Assignment One: Make a sacred space and share that on Instagram as your photo for this Rest Retreat. I will do the same.
Once you have your space set up, pull out your journal and give yourself some time to answer the questions below. Your answers can be as long and reflective as you like, but make sure to give yourself complete freedom when answering them. No one will read your words but you alone. You have a permission slip to let go and say whatever it is you want—things you’d never dream of sharing on social media. How freeing, right?!
Reflection Questions Before Beginning: Complete before January 1st
- Why, in this season of your life, does this Rest Retreat appeal to you? Why do you need this break from social media right now, and what do you hear your soul telling you?
- What does rest look like specifically for you? Give detailed examples of these things and note why you find each one to be restorative.
- In what ways does social media, and screens in general, make you feel unhappy, anxious, agitated, and/or unfulfilled? You can be as specific or as general as you’d like.
- What do you hope to accomplish by the end of the Rest Retreat?
- What does a perfect day look like for you?
Weekly Practices: Complete before January 1st
- READ Maria Popova’s article on Brain Pickings titled An Antidote to the Age of Anxiety: Alan Watts on Happiness and How To Live With Presence. Journal your reaction to this piece, and then write about how you feel you could be more present in your own life. How is spending a lot of time on social media an abstraction that can keep you from living a more present life? What does social media unhinge within you? Do you agree that, “Happiness isn’t a matter of improving our experience, or even merely confronting it, but remaining present with it in the fullest possible sense…”? This article is rather long and existential, but what other kinds of questions or thoughts arise when you read it?
- LISTEN to Mary Oliver’s poem Wild Geese below. Note how her words make you feel, and then also, how hearing her voice rather than merely reading this poem affects you. What does Wild Geese shake and stir up within you? In what ways do Oliver’s words welcome you as you are?
- WATCH the TED talk below and write down three ways you can incorporate some reasonable stopping cues into your day. We will revisit these cues in the following week.
- DO consider taking up a physical practice to implement and get your body moving this month. I have just joined a local yoga studio and will be taking weekly classes, but I also plan to walk with the kids as much as possible despite the cold weather. This practice can be in your home or outside of it, but should be free of work and worry. Whatever it is you choose to do, make sure it is restorative and not too strenuous.
- Log off of all social media before January 1st and review the Rest Retreat Schedule.
- Check back here each Monday, or in your mail inbox if you subscribed to Homesong, with another round of weekly reflections and practices. Including this Preparations post there will be five Rest Retreat posts in total.
- PRINT THE REST RETREAT CALENDAR ABOVE and write out the weekly practices (READ, LISTEN, WATCH, DO) you plan on doing throughout the week so you can affectively manage your time. If you are someone who wants to do everything in one day, that’s alright, but I highly suggest you split the reflection and practices up so you do not end up too overwhelmed. Follow the directions on the calendar and give yourself two days a week off for rest – mark those with an “R”.
- When you check in on Monday for the following week’s work, you can share as much or as little about this retreat as you’d like in the comments section for the week you’ve just finished. I will be doing the same.
- Take a long, deep breath in and exhale. Enjoy this time away from the tug of social media, and allow your heart to open up and feel the fullness and beauty that being present will offer you in this season of your one wild and precious life.
With Love and Care,