As we set out on the adventure of 2018, let’s make sure we know where our favorite rest stops are along the way. We’ll likely have no idea what kind of energy, sacrifice, and effort we’ll need to expend this year, but we can think about ways that are sure to refresh us.
Here are three ways I plan to replenish en route. I encourage you to identify and embrace yours this year.
REST STOP #1: BE MORE PRESENT
I admit it. I am more and more distractible. Being surrounded by screens and bombarded with notifications my brain has become itchy. So, I’ve decided to do two things this year: 1) give myself screen-free breaks and 2) savor screen-free time with friends.
Give myself screen-free breaks. When I’ve needed a break from work, I’ve taken a few minutes to scroll through IG or FB, listen to NPR or even play a couple of rounds of solitaire on my phone. The change has been minimally helpful but rarely rejuvenating.
I go from my laptop to my phone and back again…seeing, hearing, interacting nonstop. That’s what an engaged individual in the 21st does, right? Yet, more and more evidence shows that our brains need boredom. We need time without external input so we have space to internally process our world—daydream, problem-solve, create and synthesize our memories.
Here’s an article on the link between boredom and creativity: https://qz.com/1020976/the-scientific-link-between-boredom-and-creativity/
I’ve schedule two five-minute screen-free breaks a day. It’s such a small act, but I’m excited to reclaim a little boredom…and gain more creativity this year.
Savor screen-free time with friends. I recently visited several friends in Colorado. I noticed such a difference in the quality of connection when I had my phone out of sight. Whether it was snow-shoeing, being in a hot-tub or staying in a yurt, laughter multiplied and time felt elongated being in these offline settings with dear friends. It reminded me how important shared play and adventures are, even as an adult (or…especially as an adult).
Here are a couple of my favorite quotes and invitations to be more present:
by John O’Donohue
Awaken to the mystery of being here
and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence
Have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.
Receive encouragement when new frontiers beckon.
Respond to the call of your gift and the courage to
follow its path.
Let the flame of anger free you of all falsity.
May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame.
May anxiety never linger about you.
May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of soul.
Take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek
Be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul.
May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven
around the heart of wonder.
To Bless The Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings, Pg 42
“Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”― Jim Elliot
When do you feel most present—most present to others, to God, to yourself? Are there places or people that invite you to a deeper sense of rest? How might you invest more time this year with those people and in those places?
I’d love to hear about that and any practices you have to cultivate presence. Do share!
REST STOP #2: COMMIT TO WONDER
The more I breathe the air of the Information Age and move about in a world where IRL has be identified, I need wonder. I need more and more wonder.
Surprise me with a small, generous gesture. Give me beauty and grandeur to recalibrate my soul.
Let’s get out of the office, the house, the shopping mall for five-minutes and look up together. Find figures in the clouds. Spot a hawk. Hear the sky tell us a story. I need that. I want that.
This year I’ve committed myself to a few ways of chasing wonder.
Nature. I crave motion in the great outdoors. Admittedly, I go stir-crazy without it. But it’s not simply that. My thoughts tend to get crisper, my prayers more honest and my heart more at rest when I’m in nature. So, I’m trying to get time outside five days a week…no matter how cold it is (burrr).
Children. There are few things on earth like the laughter of children. While I’m not a mom (though have longed to be), children have a way of grounding me in wonder…whether it’s chasing them, or spinning them around, or hearing about their day. I’m so grateful for friends who have welcomed me into the lives of their children. I’m committed to showing up to that invitation—and all the contagious laughter that goes with it—as much as I can this year.
Reflection. I’m trying to end each day with a couple of moments to reflect on where I experienced wonder and also how I experienced disruption. This helps me remember wonder—and pause again to give thanks. I’ve also added a practice of noting any conflict or frustration. The hope is to try to deal with and release each day’s disruption to make more room for tomorrow’s wonder.
Here are a couple of quotes from two people well acquainted with wonder:
“I have one talent, and that is the capacity to be tremendously surprised, surprised at life, at ideas. This is to me the supreme Hasidic imperative: Don’t be old. Don’t be stale.” ― Abraham Joshua Heschel
“The multiplicity of forms! The hummingbird,
the fox, the raven, the sparrow hawk, the
otter, the dragonfly, the water lily! And
on and on. It must be a great disappointment
to God if we are not dazzled at least ten
times a day.” — Mary Oliver, Good Morning
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
When\where\with whom do you tend to experience wonder? When was the last time you were so lost in beauty, laughter or reverie that you simultaneously lost self-awareness and yet felt fully yourself?
REST STOP #3: GROWING IN GRATITUDE
To me, gratitude is like Golden Hour. It softens, beautifies and can even magically transform situations.
I’m trying to start every day with “Thank you.” “Thank you” whispered to God. “Thank you” written out in my journal pages. “Thank you” said when reading Scripture and making my coffee. “Thank you” texts to dear friends and those I go on dates with, even if they’re one-date-dates. “Thank you” to cashiers and kind kids and people in traffic. And I find when I start my day off with “Thank you” the gratitude tends flow more naturally the rest of the day.
And, when I’m disappointed, frustrated or angry with someone…or myself, I am attempting to pause first. Before I rant and react, I try to think about my appreciation for that person…or myself. It’s not that disappointment, frustration and anger aren’t valid emotions to have but they’re not as good at illuminating an entire scene as gratitude (that Golden Hour).
Here are a few odes to thankfulness:
“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” —G. K. Chesterton
“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” —Zig Ziglar
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” —Oprah Winfrey
“Bless the notebook that I always carry in
And the pen.
Bless the words with which I try to say
what I see, think, or feel.
With gratitude for the grace of the earth.
The expected and the exception, both.
For all the hours I have been given to
be in this world.”
Mary Oliver, Good Morning
WHAT ARE YOUR REST STOPS?
Perhaps you too find gratitude to invigorate you as well. Maybe you have different ways of thinking about it, practicing it, expressing it. I’d love to hear. I’d also enjoy finding out what other ways you plan to refresh yourself this year.
Whatever ways you chose to re-energize en route, may rest, joy and meaning mark your 2018. Cheers to life abundantly. May you live it to the hilt!