Reflecting on Rest and Setting Goals
I surprised myself. I came home from a slow and relaxed vacation and one of the first things I did was clean out my refrigerator. 😳 I hate cleaning my fridge. HATE IT. But I was inspired by how empty it was and how relaxed I felt and went with that feeling. It actually felt good to clean my fridge! I couldn’t believe it.
I took the task slow. I intended to wipe down the shelves and take stock of what we have so I could make a meal plan and go grocery shopping. But once I wiped down the shelves, I wanted to take everything out and wash each shelf in the sink and wipe down each container and condiment in my fridge. I wanted to purge what we weren’t using or what I felt guilty about tossing in the past. I used my feelings as a clue to what my intuition wanted and what would make me happy. And I let those things go and appreciated all of the things that were left.
And you know what? I felt a creative inspiration to use that spicy ketchup to make sloppy joes, something I’ve never made for my kids but was comfort food for me growing up. And I could clearly see everything left in my fridge and felt excited to cook again. I’ve been in a bit of a slump this past year, so this inspired space felt really good.
How Did this Happen???
While on vacation I read from Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea. This book came from the authors practice of solitude in the midst of mothering in 1955. Reading this book has been a great centering practice for me in the past. It feels like a great big hug. I especially appreciated her thoughts on simplification in the second chapter:
“Plotinus was preaching the dangers of multiplicity of the world back in the third century. Yet, the problem is particularly and essentially woman's. Distraction is, always has been, and probably always will be, inherent in woman's life.” (p 22)
“The bearing, rearing, feeding and educating of children; the running of a house with its thousand details; human relationships with their myriad pulls - woman's normal occupations in general run counter to creative life, or contemplative life, or saintly life... [The problem] is more basically: how to remain whole in the midst of the distractions of life; how to remain balanced, no matter what centrifugal forces tend to pull one off center; how to remain strong, no matter what shocks come in at the periphery and tend to crack the hub of the wheel.” (p 23)
“What is the answer? There is no easy answer, no complete answer. I have only clues, shells from the sea. The bare beauty of the channeled whelk tells me that one answer, and perhaps a first step, is in simplification of life, in cutting out some of the distractions. But how? Total retirement is not possible. I cannot shed my responsibilities…
The solution for me, surely, is neither in total renunciation of the world, nor in total acceptance of it. I must find a balance somewhere, or an alternating rhythm between these two extremes; a swinging of the pendulum between solitude and communion, between retreat and return. In my periods of retreat, perhaps I can learn something to carry back into my worldly life.” (p 24)
And that is exactly what happened for me on this vacation. This period of retreat from my everyday life allowed me to carry new energy and perspective back into the very same tasks.
We spent 11 days on a tropical island living like locals in other people’s houses. Being in someone else’s space offers a unique perspective on your own. There is a self-awareness that emerges. You come to understand what makes you comfortable can be so different than someone else. You can see who loves to cook and who eats out most of the time. Who values sleep and who likes to adventure and go, go, go.
Coming home is so sweet when you are away. I found myself taking pride in what I had intentionally acquired, appreciative of the choices that I made and wanting to care for my things in a different way.
The Power of Intentional Thought
Over the past year, I’ve been playing around with directing my thoughts to create the feelings I want more of in my life. Setting an intention each year wasn’t enough. It helped me make progress on things I care about, but I wanted to turn up the dial. I want to juice every ounce of goodness in my life and stay in that juicy space for as much of my day as I can; and I know that my circumstances or the people around me are not what determine my mood or attitude (as much as I’d like to blame them).
Practicing meditation and studying the Enneagram taught me that I have choices I didn’t see before when I operated on automatic. But watching myself forget to make better choices is so frustrating and creates a shame and blame spiral that isn’t helping me out of those yucky feelings.
Last January I worked through The Desire Map to determine the feelings I want more of in my life. I even created a little book to visually remind myself of those feelings each morning and to appreciate how they already are in my life. And that helped me so much more than my word of the year ever did.
This year I wanted to crank up the dial even more, so I worked my way through the Like Your Life course and bought myself a Cultivate What Matters intentional goal planner. I pondered my purpose, hoping to connect to a deeper why that motivates my intentions and will carry me through. I gathered materials I needed to do a sugar detox and started setting 90-day goals.
But I am finding that I am back in an ‘efforting’ and striving headspace that doesn’t feel good. My intention for this year is to create ease and to focus on following my intuition and taking good care of myself. So I am taking a step back and making sure that I don’t take action until I am in a better feeling space. Because I have found that when I do, everything seems to flow much easier and I am open to new things I couldn’t have planned for or imagined.
So I am pressing pause and waiting to hear from my intuition what the next right step will be. I am playing with the power of using my conscious mind to direct my feelings and focusing on reaching for the next good feeling, trusting it will lead me to the actions that will get the results I desire. But it does not come easy for me, so I am spending a lot of time being quiet and checking in with myself. Which, perhaps, I should be doing anyway…
Note: I was introduced to many of these ideas in the Flow With Intention Online class, which is starting for the last live round on Feb 5th. You should join if you are curious and want to explore this further.