“I worked so hard to be liked and wanted so badly to be loved,
only to have each attempt pruned back by the insensitivity of a world that wouldn’t slow down.
Once I could drop down below the pain of my loneliness
I came to accept my solitude and in that solitude I found eternity…”
– Mark Nepo
Hello my friends. How are you? What is the state of your soul today? I would love to read your check-in’s if you care to share. In all honestly, I really am struggling to find a single word, or even a handful for that matter, to sum up how I am feeling right now. It’s kind of a lot, so I’ll do my best instead to explain.
Here we are, 27 days in to this Rest Retreat, and here I am, slowly sifting. Over the course of this past month spent tuned inward, listening and pondering in a quasi social media solitude, it seems I have done a thing. I have sort of unknowingly dumped my entire life into one gigantic colander, and right now, I find myself standing over a big sand box of things that no longer fit, sifting, sifting, sifting. Morsels of projects, relationships, ideas, disappointments, and expectations are among them, for they have been sifted through a mindful shake of the wrists and passed through tiny holes, thereby allowing what I am authentically able to hold space for energetically to remain, unencumbered by the tiny grains of glass that used to surround it.
After almost four weeks of saying, “No thanks, not today” to default habits and mindless reactions that were making me feel tired, zapped, and spiritually homesick, I am only now aware, or beginning to be, that I have been moving my hands rhythmically back and forth, editing away, for a number days now. I am just now really feeling the affects of such actions, and I am trying to process what it all means. Does this sound familiar to any of you? It is all kind of catching me off guard.
I have realized that taking time to really slow down to be intentional with my time and energy (outside of the strong current that moved me before this retreat, not just in social media but life in general) has given me considerable space to reflect on how I truly want, and perhaps need, to move through life. This space has given me long lavender baths, present play with my kids, long talks with Andrew, and tea on dark mornings. It has also helped me ask hard questions, like, “What is my truth?” and “Do I want to be moved by a current at all? If so, what does or could that look and feel like?”
Like the gong of towering clock ebbing and flowing to measure time, I have been spending my days gently shaking all the things I give my energy to, paying attention to what is big enough to be caught by the bowl, allowing what is not, to be shed. Goodbye things that no longer fit. Goodbye. Like an autumn leaf, transparent and gold, that can no longer cling to it’s branch, it lets go and falls to the ground to fertilize new growth in the seasons ahead of it. It goes home to the earth, restoring the land that once grew it.
There has been a deep surrender in this small slice of a season. And the odd thing is, well one of them, that I am not particularly choosing what stays in the bottom of my perforated basin, but rather, am allowing what falls to fall, honoring what remains. As someone who prefers to know and control, this is hard. Alas, this has been an intuitive selection, causing a lot of emotions to swell, both good and hard ones. I haven’t been commutating with others much, if at all, during this month, nor have I been saying “yes” to anything outside of what feels like a sweeping nod in that direction. This has upset some people, causing them to question me and our relationship. Yet such boundary setting has given me the space I didn’t realize I needed until after it was given to be present with the minutes that make up my day, to integrate my body with my mind, and to nurture myself abundantly while entering the final phase of what is likely to be my last pregnancy. It all feels strange and yet, healing and right.
It also feels like home.
Not words I’m used to stringing together, but they flow within me and that’s more than good enough right now. I guess I could say that I expected this feeling, if it were ever to arise, to arrive much earlier in the month. Perhaps it was more of a hope than an expectation. What convenience that would have been! Ha. Alas, here I am heading into Week 4 feeling the paradox of feeling very much at home within myself and sort of stuck in how to build a bridge from life as it was, to life now sifted. It feels as though I am looking up at life from down below in the warm sea, feeling very much like a fish who is just getting used to swimming in her new skin. It’s quiet down here, and I like it.
I am not doing this perfectly, or probably even well, but I one thing I know for sure is that I am much more centered now than I was before beginning this Rest Retreat. It feels like there is an light-filled energy orb around me, a protective bubble I guess you could call it, keeping me from bumping into sharp edges. I am thankful for it, however it got there. And given that I am nearing the birth of our baby girl, I cannot tell you how grateful I am that I decided to give myself this gift. I do not understand it, but I welcome it.
I planned the outline of this retreat well before doing it alongside you, and in doing so, I let decided to let my inner voice guide the flow of our weeks together, even down to the naming the parcels of days. I prematurely titled Week 4 “Tread Lightly,” not because I had any material on the subject, nor a solid foundation of what that even means, but because it felt right. I don’t know, I went with it and hit publish. In visiting this sentiment now and considering where I am at, to tread lightly could not be a more apt way to spend the remainder of our time in January.
Journal Question | What does “to tread lightly” mean to you? What imagery does it evoke?
To me, to tread lightly means to move through life slowly, deliberately, and with care, to be intentional with one’s time, and to nurture habits that restore and manifest positive energy in connection with myself, others, and the natural world. To me it means to wake up, and to work to keep waking up. To know that life lived in that endless work, not in the place where hard things never happen, is a spiritual homecoming. One is never fully woke in the sense that there is always work to do, I think.
To tread lightly to me also means to consider how the ripples we make in simply living our lives affect the energy of every other living thing. It also means to know and live by the ethos that everything is connected, and that through these sacred connections, we have a responsibility to nourish and and heal and love all forms of life beyond our own. This means that in taking care of ourselves and by being mindful with how we use our resources, our energy, our words, and our time, we can take care of others and thereby foster a deeper connection with life itself. To tread lightly means to connect. And it is my hope, that through this deliberate kind of connection, we can create harmony in our lives and our world.
What in the world does this have to do with social media? As we live in a time where most of us consider the majority of our connections to be through virtual threads and not ones fostered face-to-face, it is crucial that we examine these social tools and the role(s) they play in our lives. This is important work! Because if we don’t we just might be swept up by it all, by it’s pace and rules and addictive qualities, eventually lulled to sleep in the very midst of our lives. And I do not want to sleepwalk through my life. I refuse.
The question then becomes not about whether or not we engage with technology, but more so how and how much? Technology is by definition science or knowledge put into practical use to solve problems or invent useful tools. It is all around us. And it is wonderful! Books are technology, if you think about it. As are the cast iron skillets your grandmother used and the vinegar that she poured into jars of citrus rinds to make a cleaner, along with the primitive tools Shakers took to their gardens each spring. Technology moves us forward and helps us out. Most of use inherently know that technology is good and that we should embrace it, but also, that we use it with keen awareness and care in ways that uplift our lives and the lives of others, helping us dive deeper into our purpose here on Earth.
Journal Question | How can we use the tools of social media to foster meaningful connection over default communication?
While we’re pondering, how then does one use their various online connections through social media with mindfulness over defaulting to habitual commutation? I don’t have all of the answers for that. It really depends on you, your values, and the season of life your are in. This is where you have to do that work, as do I for myself. And how then does one measure the amount of time and energy they should invest in said online connections through social media? Same answer. It depends on you, your values, and the season of life your are in. This is where you have to do that work, as do I for myself.
We have five days left in January, which is not a lot of time. Rather than give you a bunch of homework this week, I’d rather have you spend it journaling on what treading lightly means to you specifically, and how you can weave this way of being into the rhythm of your daily life onward. Spend the remainder of these days sifting and paring down, evaluating what is ready to be let go and left behind. Be ruthless about the boundaries around your time and energy. Tune out the noise of the world for five more days, if you can, and write about what it feels like to live below the surface of the sea, at home in solitude within the company of your very being. How does life look above the water? How does it feel to be a fish? What does solitude feel like? When will you be ready to return to land? If you do not know, that’s okay. Make peace with not having the answer and instead, keep nurturing your fins and gills, enjoying these slower depths that are giving you space and pace you need to explore and swim.