It is only when we silence the blaring sounds of our daily existence that we can finally hear the whispers of the truth that life reveals to us, as it stands knocking on the doorsteps of our hearts.
~ K.T. Jong (via Kingfish Komment)
Some time around November each year for the last three years, I’ve had a feeling of being “sped up” in my life and a desperate craving of stillness and rest. I begin to feel like pulling inward, “calling my spirit back” and re-integrating fragmented parts. Aside from my family members, I stop feeling like being “of service” to others and their interruptions of my space or requests for my time or attention begin to feel like impositions. I begin to hear the distant call to “retreat.” I crave stillness, rest, and being alone. I fantasize about broad expanses of silent time in which to think and plan and ponder. It then takes me until February to actually act on this urge. So, as of today, I now begin my annual week of retreat. In the past, I’ve done a computer-off retreat. This year, it is a Facebook-off retreat. I keep returning to the persistent feeling of having my life/brain full of digital noise/clutter and envision taking a sabbatical from the constant, hyperactive flow. My good friend wrote a blog post about her decision to take a FB break and that was the last little nudge I needed to take a break myself. The night before reading her post, I’d gone to bed thinking, “any day in which I think, ‘I didn’t have time to XYZ,’ but I DID check FB, is a day that I lied to myself.” I have a somewhat conflictual relationship with Facebook—in most ways I love it and in some ways I feel like it fosters a false sense of connection with others. I do love that it helps me keep up with and maintain real connections with real friends and with long distance family. I also appreciate the way it “smallens” the gap between people and I appreciate the opportunities it offers me to network. And, I appreciate how I am able to use it to support, encourage, and connect with other women I may never meet—it broadens my reach and impact. Finally, I most definitely appreciate it when someone shares one of my blog posts via Facebook! A good deal of my site’s traffic over the last year has come from Facebook.
What I wish to disconnect from it is ALL the digital “noise” in general—FB, email, e-newsletters, free Kindle books, etc.—all the requests for my time and attention. A lot of it originates from Facebook. I’ve mentioned before how if I wasn’t there, I wouldn’t even know about all the stuff I wasn’t doing–instead, it contributes to this false sense of urgency and immediacy about staying “caught up” with everything and everyone.
I still have to teach and parent, so this isn’t a full retreat, but I am taking this FB break. Yesterday, I deleted my FB apps and prepared to take a rest to focus on CREATING rather than consuming. Upon reflection, I realized it sounds like I mean I want to create digital noise, which isn’t what I mean. Though, I do want to spend more time writing blog posts and articles, so I guess that is kind of ironic. Also, I recognize that it is kind of annoying when people make big announcements/declarations about how they are QUITTING FACEBOOK, but I still feel compelled to explain it… ;-D I didn’t delete my account, just the iPhone/iPad apps that make it so easy to check in often. I’ll reinstall them when I’ve had at least a week of mental space. I value the connections I have via FB and don’t want to lose that, but I need some time away to re-clarify my boundaries. I also need to go on a fan page deleting spree as I am a fan of more than 500 pages. ;-D I need QUIET! Space in my head to hear myself think.
On February 1, 2010, the first year I took a personal retreat (this one was a computer-off retreat), I also started to miscarry for the second time. In my journal, I wrote:
At 4:00 this morning, I began to bleed red. I had allowed myself to become hopeful yesterday since there was no spotting increase (until evening)…Today, I am certain that is not the case and I feel dissolved. I am disconnected from this experience and feel unreal and unmoored…I feel SO foolish–WHY did I think I could do this again? Why did I open myself up to this again so soon?
…I cannot believe Zander was the last–last to nurse, to sleep in our bed, to be carried in the Ergo, to watch crawl and learn to walk, to hold in scrunchy newborness. I’m NOT DONE YET. Or, am I?
…I just want to say two things again:
1. I do NOT want people to feel sorry for me again so soon.
2. I feel DUMB.
I do not feel like I am handling this well or with strength. I just feel numb and dumb and done and done for. I am bottoming out right now. Bottom. Pit. Despair.
That retreat ended up being a meaningful and spiritually enriching time for me, but it was also full of a lot of darkness and tears.
On February 1, 2011, I had a 13 day old daughter and was enjoying my babymoon with a deeply thankful heart.
And, now on February 1, 2012, I have a robust one year old, whose boundless energy and drive also stimulate my interest in the stillness of retreat!
Some time ago, I saved this list of why women need retreats (via Jennifer Louden):
I need retreats to remind me who I am.
I need retreats to come home to myself.
I need retreats to connect with the divine feminine.
I need retreats to renew myself.
I need retreats to connect with myself.
I need retreats to connect with others.
I need retreats to rest.
I need retreats to be alone.
I need retreats to find myself.
I need retreats to honor myself.
I need retreats to learn.
I need retreats to dance.
I need retreats to play.
I need retreats to sing.
I need retreats to laugh.
I need retreats to cry.
I need retreats to be myself.
I need retreats to Be.
Yeah. That pretty much sums it up! Though, actually, these are some of the things I wrote down when considering this year’s call to be on retreat:
- Crochet Yoda for boys
- Make craft projects with boys
- Make doll for Alaina
- Go outside
- Make more sculptures
- WRITE! Tons! Posts, articles, essays for classes.
- Be still
- Plan/brainstorm pregnancy retreats/birth art sessions/prenatal fitness classes—re-vision my plans for birth education
- Clean out inbox
- Clean up computer room and go through binders/filing cabinets/bookshelves
- Declutter in general
- Clean out closet and spare room
- Review books (hmm. This is a “should do” rather than a want to. I’ve got about 6 that are staring at me and waiting their turn)
I’m no longer foolish enough to think that I’ll ever be able to get “everything done” (because I’m a fascinating, amazing person after all!), but I do feel confident that I can take some steps to gather the whole, improve my focus, and re-commit to my life’s priorities, as well as consider how to best prioritize my time and energy in order to fully “savor and serve” my family and the world.