I just love calling my monthly 24 hr. retreat this. I think too many would think that a silence and solitude retreat would be dreadful but they would be wrong- it’s magical! Why does my default line height keep going back to 1.5. I have been trained since college that things need to be double spaced. Having my techie wizard husband here would be nice to help me.
As an introvert I realize these retreats away come easier for me. I love the alone time. I love the quiet. But I know pretty much every spiritual guru would say the practice of silence and the practice of solitude are necessary for a healthy soul. I would say it is also so good for the mind and body too. My precious 110% extroverted 5 year old said, “mom, I know how you can get silence (he was trying to talk me out of going), when I go to bed.” I thanked him for the sweet idea but told him that I like to take a full day of silence.
There is something so restorative about silence. I believe this is why mindfulness and meditation have made a resurgence in our culture because we are so plugged in and there is a continual stream of digital, visual and actual noise coming in. Just today I found myself needing to step away from the usual. I was enjoying loud praise music while tidying the kitchen. As my phone dinged I would text the various people reaching out to me. So I had all these conversations going on in my mind and before my eyes as well as music playing. I realize as someone who identifies as a HSP (highly sensitive person), I recognize that I can get easily overly stimulated and need mini mental retreats. My friends says she is the same and her counselor suggested that it is partly due to the chaotic childhood that causes her to easily get overwhelmed. I totally see how that could have contributed to me being a HSP. But who knows maybe I’ve always been sensitive. I have realized I have the gift of empathy and that I am generally a sensitive person all around – with my emotions, my environments etc. I think regardless to what caused what or what I was born with, I’ve just come to accept who I am and embrace it. It feels so much better to my soul to pay attention to what I need. Anyways earlier today I could just feel it in my body, the sense of overwhelm. It was not in the sense of almost panic attack or anything like that but just a sense that I am feeling overloaded. I can feel my body feel busier and more scattered. This is likely due to the multiple convos at the same time. This is the crazy thing about the “convenience” of texting because it allows us to multitask more. Texting can be easier than actually calling back and forth with each thing but it does cause a fragmenting, fragmenting of attention. Anyways I was feeling that so I decided to go do some centering prayer. I love the peace that these mental breaks can provide. After the 20 minutes (I use the contemplative outreach app) I can feel a peace in my mind and body and I am better to reenter the world. I don’t believe 20 min is necessary but I have heard at least 16 min is most beneficial.
Preparing for today’s exit out of normal life- I was really feeling the need for silence. I knew I wanted to skip my usual use of the Marco Polo app or listening to my audiobook, Soulful Simplicity. I just did not want to hear anything. I knew I’d skip listening to music as well. This is not all necessary but I am just trying to pay attention to what I feel like I need. I felt like the need to shelter in. I felt a real need to retreat. My heart craves the space to be quiet. Some might hear me share this and become worried. But nothing traumatic happened that caused me to feel the need to retreat. I have heard it said that the longing for silence is actually a longing for God himself. I do find the more silence I have, the more I crave it. I love what Mother Teresa said, “We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of sileAt a retreat in Montana last February, the founder shared how she felt like our week was about allowing God to hem each of us in. The retreat was an opportunity to feel safely tucked away in God’s care. I did try to unpack as to why I might be feeling this way, this need to be tucked away tonight. Today is a good day but for the last month or so I have had a back/neck injury which has made simple things like exercise and sleep difficult. So I wondered if I have felt weary from that. Also our youngest started kindergarten today. This feels monumental since I have been his primary care giver for the last 3.5 years. I have had help with times away, babysitting etc but it feels like a huge shift to now having him spend most of his day away from home. Prior to him joining our family I had this crazy intense intimate season with God. One day I hope to write a book sharing this season. This time was very much a mountaintop faith experience.
My spiritual director shared how we would all love to stay up on the mountaintop but it is in the valley that the work must be done. So sending him to school today felt like a huge victory. Caring and loving him has felt like the work I was meant to do. It feels as one of the blessings of that intimate season was to sustain me during this long work season. I pray if he ever reads this one day that he will not feel bad for the work it has been for his mama. I don’t regret any of it. But it would not be truthful to say that it has not been hardwork. Work is good. Work often requires blood, sweat and tears but there is a harvest to show for it. He is a confident, healthy little boy. Of course I cannot take credit for all of this at all. But it has been work to help him learn how to manage his emotions and to learn how to receive comfort when he is hurt. I have often felt like I have never been a mom before though i have been momming for almost 18 yrs. It is because I had no experience in loving a child with ADHD. I had also never been a foster mom and navigating those waters. There have been times where I felt like I was barely keeping my head above water. This new season feels like a chance to climb up on that raft and lay in the sun basking in its warmth. This season is a chance for my little social butterfly to spread his wings and fly. When he first came to us, so many advised I try half day preschool for him. After 4 months of him crying everyday when I dropped him off, I decided to bring him back home. Everyone kept saying, “Don’t worry, just give it time.” But I now realize that perhaps their little ones just needed more time before they settled into preschool. But their little ones already felt secure in their stable family. Their little one did not get removed from the only family he knew at 1.5 yrs old. Their little one did not then get placed in an emergency placement for 3 months before settling into their home. Their little one did not have to learn how to do life with his 4th mother figure at only age 23 months. Somewhere along the journey I realized that no wonder he is so attached to me because he has been removed from his biological mom, biological grandmother whom he lived with, his 1st foster mom and now I’m the fourth one in line. I remember him crying just when I went to the bathroom and his little fingers under the door. Even now if he hears the front door open he comes running to follow me out even if I am just taking out the trash. So now I have learned to invite him to whatever I am doing even if I am just putting something in the van. I realized I did not want him to have the unnecessary stress of panicking if I was leaving. I don’t think he realizes he does it or even realizes why he might do it. Likely one of those traumas that he can get help healing through. All that to say, this silent retreat is just what I needed to process all this through writing.
Earlier today after I did my centering prayer I wanted to practice lectio continua. It is just the practice of reading through a book of the Bible and as something stands out then meditate on it. Today’s verse that jumped out at me was Lamentations 3:28, “Let them sit alone in silence beneath the Lord’s demands.” Uhhhhh…. isn’t this a timely passage the day of my silence/solitude retreat. I love how the Message paraphrase says it, “When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence.” Isn’t that beautiful!!! Enter the silence. It makes me think of entering Narnia through the wardrobe. Enter this magical space. Go into it and know you have been invited there. Allow the silence to envelop you. Be surrounded by it. Be wrapped up in it like a cozy blanket. Kinda like when you lie back in a hot bath and the water pours into your ears and draws you into rest. Be there. Receive it. Enjoy it. I have never read that version of it and I love it!!! Verse 29 says, “Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear.” Seriously!!! That is so beautiful. This reminds me of what I keep hearing God say to me- “wait and see. Just be patient my daughter. wait and see.” Talk about anticipation building. Lord I know your plans for me are good and I wait to see what you have up your sleeve.
Ok, it’s 7:00pm and I need to go get food somewhere. I might want to go smell book glue first at Barnes and Noble. Sidenote: I have told hubby how I love how that place smells and he joked it must be the book glue I am loving.
So didn’t stay there long. I hope actual bookstores are always around but wandering around just did not do it for me tonight. I think partly because I am in a pruning/decluttering season. I love deals so it can be hard to walk away from a $5 book. But as I have been decluttering I am less likely to want to bring more into my home as I am trying to simplify our belongings. I am trying to have more filters for what I buy besides it seems like a good deal. I want to consider will I likely reread this book. Or a better question is will I even read this book. I have kept unread books for years because of the guilt of not yet reading this thing I spent money on or someone gifted it to me. But I once heard a minimalist share that if she hadn’t read this new book after a year than she probably wasn’t going to and then just donated it. The danger of wandering a bookstore or book section of a thrift store is that I am likely to swoop it up with good intentions of one day reading it. I am preferring my current method of buying books that met me in the season I am currently in. I currently have 2 books in line after one I am currently reading. I think next time maybe just buy 1 additional book but I hate to be without a book. Wow, never heard me say that before. It is a rare season that I am not reading. I have been feeling the need for lighter material lately so enjoying sweet romances. Sometimes my brain feels too maxed out for any more self help and a sweet romance set in World War 2 era sounds a billion times better. Currently I am reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I requested it from the library after I watched the Netflix film. I usually prefer reading the book first but I have really liked having seen the movie first because I feel like I know the characters. The book is quite different but enjoying both.
While at the store I was flipping through a $5 book about healing foods. I am always drawn to books and documentaries on health stuff. But I realized flipping through and reading bits and pieces was not adding to my peace. I am finally realizing I have to read this stuff with open hands. I can easily get swayed by this doctor’s sworn method to health. I then can feel guilty for noncompliant food choices and begin to live in fear that I don’t have the prescribed water filtration system etc. The daily coffee enemas for a month had me reshelf the book. 😉 Books like these I can learn good stuff from them but they do not deserve a place in my personal library. I am learning I probably shouldn’t spend much time reading stuff like this. I want to care for my health and body but I also don’t want to be obsessed into doing everything to try to hold onto to this life. There is so much out of my control and I don’t want to lose my peace over it. If I read something like this, it is better borrowed and not wasted my money on like the time I bought a $5 book on the magic of juicing celery. Seriously Kimi?!? Put down the $5 books and walk away.
Writing has not been a consistent part of my life except for on these retreats. I am hoping to write more now that our youngest is in school. I often forget how restorative writing is for me until I am wrapped up in it again.
Off to a lava bath now. 😉 My mother in law loans me her place for these retreats and her bathtub can fit an adult instead of just small children.
Awww… that’s what I’m talking about. Nothing like a hot bath to relax the body. I just ooze back into this armchair feeling way more mellow. I could probably fall asleep but I’d like to read some of my Guernsey love story.
Slept a solid 11.5 hours!!! These retreats are all about paying attention to what I need. And it looks like I needed to sleep. As a 9 on the ennegram, sleep is a fav past time.
I deleted all social media a year ago. I cannot believe it has been a year. I do not miss it at all. I do have a private instagram because I love to print books from Chatbooks. It is how I scrapbook now and collect family memories. I only follow my hubby. But wasted precious retreat time today on Instagram. I was looking at hubby’s posts and saw a weird person like his stuff. I did not know you can get hoochie mama spam likes on stuff if not a private account. So got all that sorted out- he blocked it and made his account private. Anyways a great example how social media can steal precious time and energy away. I originally felt like God was inviting me into something better for me. He knows how my heart longs for peace and quiet. He knows how angry and pissed I felt all the time as a result of junk I was reading on social media. I felt like he was inviting me into a quieter life. A sweeter life. And it has been so much better. I am not regularly angry and fretting over stuff. I am not addicted anymore to scrolling. There is no need to feel shame over scrolling. These industries employ many to cause their platforms to be addictive. But I am still addicted to my phone. I still pick it up over 50 times a day to check stuff. This 50+ times is even with email off my phone. Most of my pickups are to text or Marco polo. But still think about it- wouldn’t be obessive if I made 50+ phone calls in a day. That is alot of interruptions to daily living. I think texting and conversing with those we love is good but I would like to have more set times that I check stuff so I am not on it as much. I want to be present to people. I know I hate hanging out with people with whom their phone is connected to their hand. I had been around some people this summer and literally their phone NEVER left their hand. But in a way it is like my phone never leaves my wrist since I have an apple watch. Think of all the distractions throughout the day with my texts going to my wrist. No wonder I can feel fragmented throughout my day. I want to figure out if I can only receive immediate family texts to my watch. It is already frustrating to my family because my phone is often on silent or do not disturb so I am hard to get ahold of. But remember the days where your actual house phone had to ring if someone was trying to contact you. My phone is still a master of mine and I obey most of its dings and rings by running to it. I often start my day looking to see if I have messages before spending quiet time receiving encouragement from God from his word and journaling. I want to change that. The book The Common Rule suggested Scripture before phone in the mornings and I would love to live by that.
So after my instagram distraction I decided to practice lectio continua to receive encouragement for the day. It was a lovely time of journaling and shedding tears. I love how God speaks to us so specifically. For me I often don’t hear because I am not quiet or alone. Hence the beauty and necessity of these silence/solitude retreats.
Walking and the outdoors are very restorative to me but since it feels like a giant sweaty armpit with this humidity- I skipped this. As we shift into fall I can see myself renting a hermitage at a local prayer center so I can enjoy the outdoors more. Right now I do not enjoy the mosquitos or humidity.
This month’s retreat:
- $0 for lodging- swapped places with my mother in law
- $0 spent at bookstore, resisted the $5 health book that was going to make me feel guilt and fear;)
- $8 Vegetable Soba from Hibachi 101 (ate this for dinner, breakfast and next day’s lunch;)
- $0 spent on necessary chocolate. My mother in law left me a gift box from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory
$8 spent for a restorative retreat: priceless