I am posting this in April. I have thrown off my rhythm of these monthly soul care retreats. I missed June and July last year due to moving across the country.
This month I am staying in a rustic styled tiny cabin on a 10 acre horse ranch in Hemet. My last 2 retreats have been in AirBnBs for a couple of reasons. I am realizing how much nature/the outdoors is restorative to me. So finding a place that is quiet, peaceful, and with great views feels important to me. I remember my first retreat was in a local Catholic retreat center with walking trails and quiet places to sit. The one right in my town shut down so I began to need to travel much farther to find a similar experience. So at that point many of my times away were either camping out in our green room at our church building or at my mother in law’s apartment while she stayed at my place. Both of those had places that I could get out and walk. For me, having a place outdoors that I can walk is very important as well. Walking really helps me clear my mind. It also helps me with creativity and gets the writing juices going. So depending who you are- you’d have to think through what elements to a retreat feel necessary to you. My hubby still says that he would not enjoy the solitude and that he’d want me to join him. So maybe he is more extrovert than he realizes. So perhaps an uber extrovert might delight in renting a place in the middle of a city with the city noise. If these monthly retreats are for the purposes of refilling then it will look different for each person. But if the retreat is for the practice/discipline of silence and solitude then it might look different as well. I think silence and solitude is often necessary to make major decisions, to be inspired, and to hear wisdom you might normally miss among the hustle and bustle. But I understand that silence and solitude (especially extended periods) can be hard and even scary because there is not the usual to distract and so wounds that need attention can surface. So though it can be hard, it is good and healing. But I can’t write from an extrovert’s perspective because I am totally an introvert. I need time away to be restored. If you are not sure what you are, check out 16personalities.com for a free test.
My super sweet mother in law still has offered her new place in a senior apartment complex but it’s on a corner of a main intersection without anywhere lovely nearby to walk to. But there would be if I jumped in the car for a quick drive. So it is certainly still an option moving forward if a monthly AirBnB is not in the budget. I am guessing it won’t be. But my husband had a great idea. We are hoping to get a little camper and he said he could drive it over to our local regional park and set it up there for me for the 24 hours. That sounds lovely too.
So for this time it was my hope to do Friday noon to Saturday noon. My youngest is getting used to this rhythm though in the beginning it was hard for him to accept. Now he just likes to know about when I will get back. I believe it comforts him to know what is on the schedule. I had a DMV apt in the morning to update my license since moving back to CA. After bombing the condensed 25 question version 3 times I was not allowed to take anymore. There were some obscure questions. Like do I really need to know the consequence of evading an officer? I can see why they want people to know that but I have no plans in doing so. So I was able to laugh it off and realized it will be an encouragement to my other 3 kiddos one day when they go and try to get their licenses. So I will have to come out another day to try again. So I got to the retreat at 2:00 instead of noon. It was so stinking cool though when I got back in the car I asked Siri to play some Bethel music. I was feeling a little anxious for some reason. Maybe it was because I was late and I had a 50 minute drive to an unknown place. The song lyrics from many of the songs were perfect. The first song was Still by Amanda Cook. “I lift every fear to the heavens, watch them disappear in Your presence, One by one they fall into perfect peace… You listen through my anxious thoughts with compassion… If you are with me what can overwhelm me”. Next was The Father’s House by Cory Asbury- “Sometimes on this journey, I get lost in my mistakes…failure won’t define me ’cause that’s what my Father does… Check your shame at the door (yep failed test 3 times;) but never got a ticket in 2 decades of driving). Then there was the song Evidence by Josh Baldwin. “All throughout my history Your faithfulness has walked beside me. The winter storms made way for spring (this resonated because spring of 2021 felt like God promised my family that spring was coming and that new and beautiful were coming)..In every season, from where I’m standing I see the evidence of Your goodness all over my life. I see Your promises in fulfillment all over my life…Fear may come but fear will leave…Why should I fear? the evidence is here.” There have been so many times that feels like God is my perfect DJ;). God knows what I need when I need it. Whether or not God is picking my playlist, lol, I still feel seen and encouraged. I know it seems impossible with the billions on our planet but I have endless stories of insanely intimate/detailed things that have happened in my life to believe it is just chance.
I missed the street when I arrived and had to drive a mile up this windy, narrow mountain road before I could find a safe place to turn around. So I breathed deep and had more opportunity to have faith.;)
I often nap when I arrive but instead I sat under this lovely shade structure over a stone porch with vines growing up the poles. I just sat and enjoyed the view. I watched a funny TicTok someone sent me and then realized I could easily fall down that hole of distraction so I hoped off. I relaxed an hour before heading to the store 15 minutes away to grab food. I often buy ahead of time and pack it but since this was 50 minutes away I knew my Haagen Daaz Caramel Cone pint of ice cream would melt so I opted to shop once arriving. 😉
I mostly sat either on that stone porch or the deck outside of the cabin. Sat, snacked and sat some more. I realized that in my normal life I don’t sit that much besides when I am taxiing kiddos and in carpool. I am trying now to take 10minutes a day to sit in my comfy recliner with with my feet up, snuggled under a blanket and breathe deep. My spiritual director recommended I try this twice a day. It has become my fav part of the day. Sometimes I let the 10 min evolve into a nap. I always have to set an alarm so I don’t miss picking my kids up. I imagine that might me an embarrassing call from the school office. It is funny as soon as my chihuahua hears the recliner pop up he comes running to sit with me. He knows me sitting is rare. The other day I had made great progress on my short, simple to do list that I allowed myself after the 10 minutes to watch an hour of Youtube’s storage home episodes.
I have to be really intentional about my self care because otherwise it does not happen. I remember after having my second panic attack realizing I needed to schedule with my therapist and my spiritual director. I would often only see both when things got hard or not good. I saw neither of them consistently. I now see my spiritual director once a month. I feel like it is preventive care for my soul. I look forward to it each month. It is wonderful. Anyways I remember her sharing with me that only I can make sure to keep self care on my plate. She said the heavier my plate is (all I am managing and juggling)- the greater the need for self care. Mamas can often see it as selfish but I have learned the hard way (with panic attacks, anxiety, etc) that I can not pour from an empty cup. As moms we can go, and go and go without any thought of allowing our own cup to be filled. I had gone through several rounds of disabling anxiety that I was weary of going another round and realized I got to change things up. I have learned many tools to manage it and that I MUST build rhythms(daily, weekly, monthly and yearly ones) into life that sustain me for the long haul. I really enjoyed 3 books on this: Crafting a Rule of Life: An Invitation to the Well-ordered Way, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality and A Mother’s Rule of Life. These books share the idea of rule of life. This is a concept I believe that was developed by Saint Benedict hundreds of years ago. He had a rhythm and structure that he wanted his fellow monks to live by. I like to see it as getting one’s priorities right. It is so easy to live in the urgent. As a mama I can go from putting out one fire to the next and come to the end of the day wondering what I even did. We live in such a distracted age that it makes it even harder to live with life-giving rhythms.
The word rule actually refers to the idea of a trellis. I learned a lot about this in Chasing Vines by Beth Moore. I read it and listened to it. A trellis is the structure a grapevine needs to help it grow and without a trellis the vine grows wild. The trellis helps the vine to be more fruitful. And this is exactly what a rule of life does- it brings order and helps you to become more fruitful. Don’t just think produce more but think abundant harvest. Who doesn’t want more joy, peace, hope in their lives? I have found when I live by rhythms (habits is another way to see it) the flow of my life is more peaceful. I am not bouncing from one thing to another. So for me one of the most life giving habits/rhythm is having a quiet morning spiritual practice. I used to get up, read my Bible, journal with the practice of lectio divina then pray through a prayer journal. But in this new season of all the kids in school, my rule of life has shifted. Your rule of life is an ever changing/evolving thing. Writing it out can help. I was finding that spiritual practices that were once life giving did not produce the same results. So it is ok to put those tools back in the faith toolbox and try something else. I know like to get up stretch with 5minutes of yoga, then 5 min of core work then finish with 6 minutes of more core strength (using the NTC app). I will then often go for a mile walk as the sun is coming up. I like to now do my lectio divina/prayer once the kids are gone.
Another current rhythm/habit is writing out my goals/hopes for the day. My spiritual director could see I was tired and weary and feeling overwhelmed with all the new transitions of the move, unpacking etc. She suggested I write out 3 simple things I want to get down for my family for the day. Things that would help our family/house run smoother. Then I was to write 3 things to do for myself that would nourish my mind and/or body. Some days I accomplish all 6 but most days I get 4 or 5 and that feels great. I keep it real simple like:
- put chicken in crockpot
- clear counters (this sometimes is not simple because they so quickly get cluttered)
- fold/put away 1 load of laundry
- 10 min of deep breathing
- lectio divina/journal
I have noticed on days where I do not do this that I feel frazzled and scrambled and just all over the place as I spend an hour looking at a yurt farmer’s instagram posts. 😉 Once that happens, all motivation is sucked out.
Well Kimi. Excellent writing. Thanks for all the insights into your life. I see you as the most put together person I know. Keep up with what ur doing. Ur the most inspiring woman I’ve ever known. I was so blessed with you. Ur writing will help many women. Love you bunches!