February’s Treat Yo’ Self Retreat

My son was joking and said it feels like my monthly retreats are like every 3 days. šŸ˜‰ I am thankful that my kids have come to expect and accept that mom is committed to take this time for myself each month.

Started this retreat at 2:00pm. My goal was to get out of the house by lunch but there always feels like something else to get done when I am home and thus why I must leave monthly to rest.

I ran into the store to grab chips for my store bought guac that is a must on these retreats. I also wanted to get a hot cocoa packet since my favorite coffee shop closes at 1:00pm. Tomorrow I will have to get my fav mocha before it closes.

Walking into my mother in law’s apartment feels like relief. Every place has a smell and the familiar smell of Grammy’s place is a comfort to my heart. It feels like a nice long exhale to walk through her door. Her home has always been a place of respite for us. She housed our family of 5 (at the time) plus our chihuahua between houses for 5 weeks in her 1 bedroom apartment. We stayed with her on our visits back home to CA. She hosts a weekly family dinner to give me a break from cooking. The kids come for another dinner once a week so we can go on a date. It’s a great place for a retreat. On her table she has left me dark chocolate covered almonds from Trader Joe’s plus a sweet note – “Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all.” -Proverbs 31:29

It is a uber chilly, cloudy, rainy day. A perfect day for a nap. She has left clean sheets and blankets out. I grab my favorite cotton thermal blanket and lay on the couch with my ocean noise playing. I decide to not set an alarm and just sleep as much as I need. There is a risk to this- sleep past dinner and then end up not being able to fall asleep at a good time. I end up sleeping an hour and a half, a full sleep cycle. They say that in order not to get a nap hangover- it is good to sleep either 20 minutes or 90 for a full cycle.

Woke up still feeling chilly so cocoa sounds like the next good, restorative thing for me. I want to cuddle up in her comfy arm chair and cotton blanket and enjoy the warmth of the mug in my hands. I want to be present in this time away and not distracted. Momentarily I felt like I should be doing something while I enjoy my cocoa like watching something, reading something on my phone etc. I resisted the urge and stayed present in this time of enjoying my cocoa. Whoa, I felt so hygee. šŸ˜‰ Looking for a fun, light read try https://www.amazon.com/Little-Book-Hygge-Danish-Secrets/dp/0062658808 ( there must be a better way to link stuff;) This retreat I wanted to cultivate more silence so I’m choosing not to talk on the phone, use Marco Polo app, leave or listen to audio messages. This is not a must but just something I need. Once on a silent retreat I experienced the benefit of extended silence. That was a full weekend at a retreat center. I still have the noise of going into places to get food. So this is a modified silent retreat. I also find having my computer is a source of digital noise. I can so easily get distracted and on rabbit trails on the internet. That is not bad but I guess it contributes to the noise of my mind.

Knowing that I wanted to cultivate more silence and peace on this time away- I had decided I wanted to try to practice centering/contemplative prayer a few times. I find the more I meditate, the more capacity for love and compassion I gain. So after I finished my cocoa, I used my Contemplative Outreach app to center for 20 minutes.

Next I started this entry documenting my time away in hopes that it will encourage others to carve out this monthly time for themselves.

Paused for a dinner break, Vegetable Soba take out from Hibachi 101. Mmmmm… food no doubt is a sweet comfort on these retreats.

Then I cuddled up in the same chair with the same cotton thermal blanket and continued reading Dwelling: Simple Ways to Nourish Your Home, Body and Soul.

Next soaked in the bath with some epsom salt for my sore neck muscles that I injured last week. So soothing and relaxing. I decided to do some diaphram breathing- it is this deep breathing method that is proven to reduce stress. I had not practiced this in months. It is something my psychiatrist recommended for anxiety. I think I will plan to start my centering prayer practice with a minute or so of deep breathing. I do love that my watch reminds me to do so though its prompts are not long enough I feel for inhaling or exhaling.

After I enjoyed reading my book with a fav snack of Popcorners- Kettle Corn. I decided to go to bed at my normal time 10:00pm because I was feeling sleepy. I really try to pay attention to what I am feeling and what I need during these times. It can be tempting when I have all this time to myself to stay up really late doing more things but my body says “Sleep” so I do.

My alarm went off at my usual time of 5:30 a.m. Whoops, forgot to turn that off. Turned it off and went back to sleep. I ended up getting up at 9:00 a.m. The last hour of sleep was not very restful. I had a stressful dream and each time my sleepy body would go back to sleep, my mind continued the dream. I dreamt that I went back to teaching first grade. I loved that job 20 years ago but in my current season it would be more work than I am willing to give. I want to be able to walk my youngest to school and pick him up from school. I want the margin to write the books that I feel are in my heart. I want the margin to support Jeremy in his next chapter of life and new career. I will work if needed but we both would rather live simply so that I can be where my heart longs to be- home.

So waking with feeling like my mind is a hamster frantically running on a wheel I knew I could use some centering prayer after a shower and breakfast to help quiet my mind. I started with 20 minutes but ended up doing 10 more minutes because my mind was so chattery. I was thinking on things that I am excited about, things I am worried about, etc. I chose the word, “Come” to return to when thoughts came up. I imagined Jesus sitting on a couch patting the spot next to him inviting me to sit. And as I started to verbally vomit all the jumbled thoughts he patiently and gently says, “Come”. So I sit and receive and allow the thoughts to float on by. In the last 10 minutes there was a thought that came to me clothed in the God narrative/voice. But it’s message scared me. So I had to in that moment pay attention to how I was feeling. God’s voice brings comfort, peace and love. This message brought fear and panic. The fruit of the message was not love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness or self control. So I had to dismiss it as not God’s voice. So even in a time that I have set aside to center on God, opposing/attacking thoughts can come and I have to pay attention to what fruit they produce in order to discern if it is truly of the Lord.

So now after helping my mind to clear away some debris, I feel more ready to practice my morning rhythms of my gratitude journal, lectio divina and prayer.

I am going to clean up here and grab a blessed mocha šŸ˜‰ on the way home. I was feeling and wondering if I should be accomplishing more on these retreats like should I be writing more than 1 post etc. But then I need to remind myself that these retreats are not about production. There are no “oughts” or “shoulds”. It is about restoration and rest. Posting on my experience is enjoyable for me. It is important to just be present and receive the time as a gift.

Cost of this retreat:

  • Lodging: free
  • food/quick grocery run: $23
  • dinner: $10
  • mocha: $4

Total cost: $37- soul maintenance retreat: priceless

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