Deciding to Live in Color

Making a career change had been floating around in the back of my mind for several years; but, I had a good job with a secure paycheck, it was my security blanket. It seemed reckless to think about giving that up. Unfortunately, my security blanket was starting to suffocate me. In the middle of my 20th year as a speech-language pathologist in the public schools, the stirring in my soul for something different became uncomfortable. My job was lacking in providing me any creative outlets and as a supervisor, I was working less with the students and more at my computer churning out reports and preparing paperwork for meetings. Much like the man in the short film “Alike,” I felt like I was turning gray.

My career had been a good one. I enjoyed the people I worked with and the students I served, but I couldn’t ignore my desire to write and connect with people about issues other than speech and language disorders. I needed a place to dump all the words and ideas from my head and send them out into the universe. Like Rachel Hollis says in Girl, Wash Your Face, “So I have two choices, I can write down words and send them out into the world and hope they find a home. Or I can hide my light under a bushel because I’m too afraid someone won’t like the glare.” I wondered, “What if God has given me a light to share with others?”

It was a big decision and a big move, so I prayed for guidance. I was excited thinking about writing. It would allow me to be creative, interact more with my writing groups, have a flexible schedule, work from home, and take better care of myself and my family. I prayed for God to send me signs to know if I was making the right decision and folks, its started raining signs.

First I got this in my Facebook feed and then I came across the same quote on an actual sign in a store!

and I started reading this…

and then I came across this…

Maybe the Heavens thought I wasn’t getting the message kinesthetically or visually and I needed a sign in audio! In this podcast, Emily P. Freeman discusses ending her career as a sign language interpreter to write and she references Greg McKeown’s book!

I pondered……”What is essential? What is the next right thing?” I was feeling pretty certain that it was time for me to make a change, but I was scared. For several months, I let fear push me around like a playground bully and all the “what ifs” took over. What if I make the wrong decision? What if I quit and end up regretting it? What if I fail and let everyone down and look like a fool? What if….what if……what if? It was making me crazy until I changed my perspective with the help of Emily P. Freeman.

The Next Right Thing was being published as a book and I was accepted to the launch team. This gave me the ability to read the book before it was released. The information I gained was invaluable in helping me make my decision.

After a lot of pondering and thoughtful prayer, I finally made up my mind and got my husband’s blessing since writing isn’t always a lucrative career and I wouldn’t be bringing home a steady paycheck. Even then, I sat in fear, scared to turn in my resignation and seal the deal. What got me moving was something I read in The Next Right Thing. Emily writes, “If God has something to tell you, and you continue to place yourself before him, he won’t let you miss it. As you take your next right step today, trust that God won’t let you miss your own future. Follow the arrows.”

I trusted God, followed those “arrows” and I did it! I will not be returning to my position next year. It still doesn’t seem real. I’ve never not worked at a job where you clock in and out and have a steady paycheck since I graduated from high school almost 30 years ago. (Um….except for the 6 months when I opened an art gallery which was a total blast creatively, but a complete failure financially.) You can read about that here. I lost money but I gained so much more and have no regrets about that adventure.

Its been only weeks since my last day of work; yet, I can already feel color washing over me, filling me up. I’m coming alive again! I want this color to overflow to my son, my husband, and others around me. My husband, who is a mostly serious man, likes to say I live in a world of bubblegum and bobby socks. I guess I kinda do; but, I LIKE it here! I think we should all try to LIVE IN COLOR!!! I’m not saying throw caution to the wind and your responsibilities out the window. I’m just saying, don’t let years pass by before you stop the color from draining. Find a way to do whatever it is that fills you with color.

By the way, I’d love to know what that is and if you’re not doing it, what is holding you back?

Until next time……be well!

Lori

Just wanted to let you know that Be Well Heart and Soul participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. When you click on a link and make a purchase it allows me to earn a little commission without any cost to the reader.

Why I Canceled My Subscription Box Service

Today you can get a subscription box for just about anything. Companies will deliver meals, clothes, books, pet supplies, beauty supplies, shaving supplies, toys, crafts, and more to your door monthly and charge your account without you even having to think about it. While it might seem convenient and economic, there are drawbacks that you might not notice right away.

I have been what I call a “minimalist in training” for almost a decade. I’ve read Marie Kondo, Cait Flanders, Tammy Strobel, Courtney Carver, and Joshua Becker. I’ve watched Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things more than once, and my favorite websites have the word simple or less or purpose in the titles. I KNOW how to practice essentialism and minimalism, but from time to time good marketing has caught me off guard. I’m not saying subscription box services are bad or trying to trick you or swindle you. There are probably a lot of people who love them and find value in the service. I’m just not sure if you are trying to live a life with less that this is the way to go. Here’s why….

After being enticed by multiple adds on social media, I tried a meal plan subscription. I thought the service would save me time and money and might even make cooking fun. The plan was customizable and I could change delivery dates if I didn’t need a box one week. I thought I would eliminate waste not having to throw out expired goods and moldy produce from the grocery store. However, there was a lot of waste. The huge box and packing material filled up half of my huge outdoor trash can. The recipes were not always easy or fun and my family was not impressed with the meals I created. The plan also required me to be online quite a bit trying to decide which meal plan and recipes were best and scheduling and rescheduling deliveries. Eventually, I decided it wasn’t worth the money, time, or trash and quit.

Years later, I came across another service that was very popular on social media, so I gave it a try. I found all kinds of eco-friendly household products with prices comparable to a grocery store. Again, I thought this service would save me time and money and help save the planet! I got free shipping, numerous discounts, and even free products with each shipment. However, I was soon spending at least $20 each month on items I really didn’t need. I found myself scrolling through pages of products deciding which ones I should “try” and adding them to my cart. I was feeling happy cleaning with a delightfully scented product and I was doing something good when I bought toilet paper made from bamboo. It was not long before happiness was replaced with anxiety as products were starting to spill out of my cabinets. The “high” was wearing off and I realized these products were not really making me happy or bringing any real value to my life. I decided to cancel. I anticipated simply clicking a button to delete my account, but it was not that easy. I had to deactivate the service at one website and also go to my Pay Pal account and delete the subscription service from there as well.

In the end, there was really nothing those services provided me that was helpful or purposeful or that added value to my life but I can tell you what I lost.

  • Time – I was spending time scrolling through pages of products or meals rather than simply adding items I needed to a grocery list. I was spending a lot of time planning my online purchases or checking to see if I earned a free product.
  • Money – I was adding items to my cart on an impulse and making excuses for why I should purchase it. I kept saying, “Its only $20.” While $20 might not be a lot, I could have used it to share an experience with friends and family or to learn a skill. For example, I recently used what I would normally spend on a subscription box service and signed up for an online painting class. I’m loving it way more than my scented soap.
  • Space – All those cabinets I took time clearing out were again crowded and cluttered and my garbage can was overflowing from all the packaging.
  • Contentment – I was starting to feel that I needed all these items but soon felt guilty as I looked at the free hand lotion that I didn’t like or the cleanser that ended up not smelling good. Additionally, the bamboo paper towels didn’t tear easily and the free dish scrubber brush needed replacement scrubbers. I soon began to feel mad at myself for somehow going back to the clutter and chaos that I had abandoned long ago.

If you are considering a subscription box service, ask yourself:

  • Is this service really convenient? Are the products readily available at a store I shop at frequently?
  • Is there a service fee, shipping fee, or annual fee? Sometimes these are charged to your account without notice.
  • Why are you making the purchases? Is it something you really need or are you adding things to your cart on impulse because they are on sale, or you just want to try it out?
  • Are you using what you purchase or are products starting to pile up because they are not what you expected?
  • How easy is it to return an item? Consider the time and money it might cost to return an item (e.g., printing out labels, driving to post office, paying for postage).
  • How easy is it to cancel?

I am happy to report that I am subscription box free and feeling much better. I’m using up the last of the products and have given several items away. I am returning my simpler and happier way of living…..with less.

I’d love to know if you use a subscription box service or have in the past. What did you think of it?

Until next time…..be well!

Lori

Letting Go of Fashion Trends

When you are searching for what brings joy to your life, sometimes it can be helpful to take a look at what doesn’t bring you joy and let it go. For me, that would be shopping for trendy clothing. Actually, shopping of any kind drains me of joy, but for this post, I’ll focus on clothing.

When I was a child, in the 70s and 80s, there was a clothing brand called Granimals. Each clothing item had a tag that you matched together to form a color coordinated outfit. Tiger pants went with tiger shirts, lion shirts went with lion skirts. It was a no fail system that made shopping easy, gave you several options , and elimiated decision fatigue. My dream is for Granimals to return with a similar system for adults!

All my life I have stuggled with fashion and style. Until about 8th grade, my style was determined by my mom and there were plenty of battles. If I was brave, I would post my 7th grade school picture and you could get a good laugh. I wore a giant plaid bow around the collar of my discount Ralph Lauren oxford and my new hair style was far overdue for a cut. My 8th grade picture was a little better. I had a fresh hair cut and was allowed to wear make up. My outfit was from the mall, chosen by me. It was a only one of a few of outfits over many years that I really liked and felt comfortable in.

As the years went on and I was given more independence in choosing my clothes, I never seemed to figure out my style, which made me very self consious. Style only got more challenging and confusing as I got older. My high school class had over 600 students and there was a myriad of style groups, the cowgirls, the modern girls, the nerdy girls, the beachy girls, the girls that wore big bows, the ones that wore all black, and then there was me. I really never fit in with any one group although, I tried almost all of them. I remember one year I got a pair of white boots with fringe. I thought they were awesome and proudly wore them to school. My self-esteem was quickly deflated when a group of girls made fun of what I thought was trendy and cool. Just more evidence that I was not cool and really didn’t fit it anywhere when style was concerned.

You know, that part of your brain that puts together cute outfits and accessories? Mine is almost non-functioning. I want to look put together, but shopping for clothing is not at all fun for me, it’s torture. The sheer volume of options overwhelms me. I remember one year when I was in my 20s, my mom took me on a shopping spree, we went to boutiques, the mall, and outlet stores. She was surprised when I was ready to throw in the towel after only 8 hours! My sister shares my mother’s enthusiam for shopping and putting together outfits. Going to TJ Maxx, combing through all the racks, and putting together an outfit is exhilarating to her. Whereas for me, its like a visit to the dentist (I’d actually rather go to the dentist!). Luckily, my sister has taken me under her wing and been my shopping companion for many years. But a year or two ago, I found something that saved me….the capsule wardrobe and Project 333!

I first discovered the capsule wardrobe on Pinterest. I was able to see a lot of examples; however, my closet was so out of order after years of buying random items that were on sale or well advertised and I didn’t know where to begin. I tried to pair down to only a few items but was still overwhelmed. I then discovered Courtney Carver‘s Project 333. It was the plan I needed on how to make it all come together. Having only a few items in my closet that you could mix and match was something I could go for. I took her microcourse called “Dress with Less and Create Your Capsule Wardrobe” and since then, my closet has had a major overhaul. It’s still under construction, but most items are ones I love wearing and I feel comfortable in. If they start to become uncomfortable I know they are either worn out or I need to cut back on the cookies!

Because summer is coming soon and I won’t be working, this is a great time for me to complete my closet project. I’m not including winter clothing because I have already packed most of it away. I’ll revisit that in the fall.

Here is a breakdown of what is in my closet right now:

  • Accessories: 4 pair of earrings, 10 necklaces, 3 bracelets and 1 purse.
  • Shoes: 20 pair. I live in the country and its really dusty and sometimes muddy, and then there is the cow poop. This is the reason I have to have a set of shoes that can get dirty and a set that stays clean. Cowboy boots (a weakness) 5 pair, Sneakers: 4 pair, Sandals: 2 pair, Dress shoes: 5 pair Flats: 3 pair, Rain boots: 1 pair.
  • Dresses: 3 – 1 little black dress, 1 summery dress, 1 dressy dress
  • Pants: 4 Pair. I hate pants unless they are jeans. I only wear these to work and I hate them. I haven’t found any pants that I like. Did I mention I hate pants!!
  • Jeans: 7 pair. I really only wear 3 pairs regularly. I have found that Gap jeans fit me better than any other jeans I have tried. I can go in and find my size or order them on line and know that when they will fit.
  • Shorts: 4. 2 casual and 2 very casual. It’s actually time to get new shorts.
  • Jackets/Cardigans: 6. I’m always cold, but I don’t know that I really need 3 black cardigans.
  • Shirts: 30
    • 7 graphic t shrits
    • 12 button downs
    • 6 Casual tops:
    • 6 Knit tops
  • Suit: 1. I bought this years ago for a job interview. I don’t even know if it still fits.

So here is my plan: Pull everything out and try it on. If it doesn’t fit, its out. If it is worn out, its out. If I don’t LOVE it, its out. If I haven’t worn it in 3 years, its out. That is an easy way to start.

I still have some work to do pulling it all together but I feel so much better not trying to follow a trend and feel like I have developed my own comfortable style that I can dress up when needed. I no longer search for items and try on 15 things when I’m getting ready in the morning. I get up pick out what I want to wear for the day and and if I want to dress it up, I have found that red lipstick is a great accessory!

If you are like me and shopping and fashion aren’t your thing, Don’t let fast fashion and mass marketing make you feel like you don’t fit in. Declutter your closet, only buy clothes that you think are beautiful and that are comfortable and fit well and I bet you will end up finding your style one step at a time.

Until next time…..Be Well!

Lori

Ballet Slippers and Combat Boots

Before hope*writers, I had written a short children’s book and it sat in a box year after year for more than a decade. I read it many times over those years, envisioning how the words and illustrations would look on each page. Being a speech-language pathologist and working with small children for 20 years, I thought about how a simple little story might help preschoolers and children with special needs learn about shapes and colors and even sequencing and rhyming. Having it published and come to life was simply a dream.

Not long ago, I Googled “how to publish a children’s book.” It was daunting and did not look promising. I wanted to write and I was writing, but I wasn’t writing a children’s book. I became discouraged, and during a day of purging paper and clearing space, I wadded up the story, and tossed it. I can still hear the words I was thinking as the story flew into the trash, “You will never publish a children’s book.”

Then one day I heard about Emily P. Freeman’s podcast, The Next Right Thing which is now a best selling book on Amazon! (Click here to check it out.). I scrolled through the episodes and stopped at one called “Quit Something” and hit play. Emily shared a story about her career as a sign language interpreter and how she was dreading telling her boss that she was quitting. Then I heard her speak these words, “There’s something strong I can’t shake, something I think the Lord is drawing me to. ‘It’s time to write,’ I hear on the level of my soul. I’m excited and also terrified. Yellow is dancing around in my head, writing is yellow, the things that make us come alive always are.” I thought, “Is this lady a mind reader?”

As I drove down the road listening, I could not believe it. I was a speech-language pathologist, my job was helping others communicate, much like a sign language interpreter. I also was considering leaving my current profession and also felt a calling to write. Additionally, she referred to the book, Essentialism by Greg McKeown which I was currently reading. I thought maybe God is really trying to tell me something. It was defintely a turning point.

From there, I followed a garden path and ended up finding hope*writers, co-founded by none other than Emily P. Freeman! This amazing group has been a foundation for my growth as a writer. It has led me to a family of writers who are not just willing, but excited to guide me. Since becoming a member I have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge about writing and also the much needed confidence to continue writing. Thanks from my heart, hope*writers!

Then enter, Rachel Hollis 2.0! Rachel’s first book, Girl, Wash Your Face, really got me thinking about where I was and where I wanted to go. Her second book, Girl, Stop Apologizing, gave me a plan. Where Emily is the like pink cotton candy, holding your hand and encouraging you with her warm, soft voice, Rachel is like firey red hots, all up in your face, kicking you in the pants, encouraging you to leave your pity party, get up and go after what you want. These ladies have totally different styles and I need them both. I feel like they are little angels sent from Heaven to guide me. Emily in pink ballet slippers and Rachel in combat boots!

So Emily and Rachel…..I’m following your words of wisdom. I made a decision to make some big changes in my life. Emily, I’m not going to let fear push me around, I’m going to “do the next right thing in love.” Rachel, I’m saying out loud that I’m going to publish a children’s book. (Eeek, that was so scary!) Thank you ladies, for giving me the tools to make a hard decision and encouraging me to dig deep and not apologize for my dreams. Thank you for helping me realize what those dreams are. Thank you for sharing examples from your own lives to help me better mine.

And as for that little story that I threw away, I have read it so many times I have most of it memorized and I can start to fill in the missing pieces. Who knows? The second version might even be better!

If you have found yourself at fork in the road, or even what you think is a dead end, I sincerely recommend checking out the books by these two amazing and brave ladies. I could list a thousand inspirational quotes from the books, but I think it’s better if you read them on your own and let the words speak to you wherever you are on your journey. I will share this quote from Emily, because it was the one quote that really let me put my fears behind me and step forward. “If God has something to tell you, and you continue to place yourself before him, he won’t let you miss it.”

Until next time…..be well.

Lori

Just wanted to let you know that Be Well Heart and Soul participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. When you click on a link and make a purchase it allows me to earn a little commission without any cost to the reader.

Journaling

The word “journaling” brings to mind a collection of colored pencils creating dreamy words in calligraphy with flowery doodles in the margins. It also makes me think of stacks of journals piled up in a corner waiting to be read and read again. This gives me a little anxiety since I’m a minimalist in training!

I used write in a journal quite a bit, but found I only wrote when I was mad or hurt and I sure didn’t hold back my feelings when I wrote. There were some pretty strong words on those pages! Occassionally, going back and re-reading those words helped me to resolve issues but mostly, it only brought back the hurt. I certainly did not want to leave a legacy of a sad or angry person if I died and someone read them!! Additionally, I didn’t want all that negative energy sitting in my home. So one day I gathered up all my journals, had a little ceremony in my backyard, set them on fire, and watched as all that negative energy was set free.

“Ways to Journal” was the topic of the most recent episode of one of my favorite podcasts called 10 Things to Tell You by Laura Tremaine. Even though I haven’t kept a journal since my fire ceremony years ago, I listened to the podcast and was surprised that I do journal just not in the traditional sense.

Mirriam Webster defines a journal as “a record of experiences, ideas, or reflections kept regularly for private use.” Turns out, there are a multitude of ways to record those experiences, ideas and reflections. Laura shares 10 of them.

Here is how I journal:

I make lists to document things I am grateful for.

I keep a book of letters. When I found out I was pregnant, I bought a simple composition book and started writing letters to my baby who at that point, was the size of a blueberry. While I don’t write in it everyday like I used to, I have 3 notebooks full and I have kept writing these letters for over 7 years. Sometimes its words of wisdom, sometimes a list of his physical traits and his favorites, sometimes it’s words about the joys and the struggles of being a mother, the disappointments and mommy guilt and learning how to give grace to not only others but ourselves as well. Mostly, its about how much joy he brings to my life and how much I love him.

I use what author Julia Cameron refers to as “morning pages.” I don’t always do them in the morning and its not always the 3 pages as specified, but I do sometimes just spill words onto a page without rules like spelling, grammar and punctuation. Its nice just to dump all the thoughts from my brain, even if they are jumbled. When I complete my writing I review it, jot down anything that might be useful and then toss it in the trash. Yep. I just throw it away.

I blog. This blog is very much like a journal except that it is not only for my private use. Its a document of my journey I want to share. I’m hoping others will share their journey with me and I might learn a little about myself along the way.

Currently, I’m very interested in what Laura refers to as affirmation journaling. This is writing down statements that you want to happen in the future as if they have already happened. There is a section for this in The 5 Minute Journal, and Rachel Hollis talks about this in her lastest book, Girl, Stop Apologizing. By the way, if you have not read this book yet, girl, go get it!!! Nobody gets me fired up like Rachel Hollis. I just finished the Audible version, but it was so good I might have to just see it in print. I do, however, recommend the audible version becuase Rachel doesn’t just read the book, she puts all her energy into each word. Im ready to get focused!

Do you journal? I’d love to know why or why not.

Just wanted to let you know that Be Well Heart and Soul participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. When you click on a link and make a purchase it allows me to earn a little commission without any cost to the reader.

Spring Fever!!

Welcome again to Sundays at the Lake!

Here, I share what is bringing me joy or making life easier.

In the house: I have been hearing and seeing advertisements for Grove Collaborative everywhere. I finally clicked on a link from my yoga instructor and I’m not sorry I did. I have found some great products and just placed my second order. My favorite items so far are the paper products made from bamboo and sugar cane, the Grove Collaborative European dish cloths, Mrs. Meyer’s lemon verbena mulipurpose cleaner, and the Grove Collaborative pomegranate & red currant candle. These products smell so good they have actually made cleaning somewhat enjoyable, yep, even the toilet!! Click here to get a free 5 piece set!

Health: In one week we have gone from winter coats and freezing tempertures to shorts and 70s. There is also a layer of yellow pollen coating everything which has my allergies going wild.

I have managed to be flu and strep free even though I am surrounded by hundreds of children carrying these nasty little germs. My son got by with only a 48 hour fever. Others weren’t so lucky and at one point his class of 19 was down to 6! I heard another campus sent home 80 children!! The only fever I’ve been suffering from is Spring Fever!! I have one glorious week to sleep in and catch up with family and friends. Now that brings me joy!!

Movie: I stumbled across the movie “Made for More” on Amazon. This was a documentary type film that followed Rachel Hollis as she prepared for and presented her 2 day RISE event. It was uplifting, encouraging, and powerful. I would love to attend next year. Here are some of my favorite quotes:

“Motivation is about making yourself do the thing you don’t want to do.”

“If you want something and it doesn’t exist, make it yourself.”

“Maybe you have been given your mountain to show other people that it can be moved.”

Music: My taste in music is varied as you will see. I recently discovered Tasha Layton on my Instagram account and have become a big fan of her music. Sound of Heaven is her newest release and I’ve added Love Lifting Me to my “Joy” playlist. If you are feeling down, this song will definitely lift you up. I just don’t think you can listen to it and stay sad. It might just make you get up and dance too! I also discovered Carly Bannister, and her song Whiskey. Carly is the sister of Ellie Holcomb who sings one of my favorite songs, Red Sea Road.

I have also been listening to a lot of Tesla, a band I first saw at a concert on the beach in my hometown in the in the late 80s or early 90s. I happened to hear one of their songs on the radio the other day and asked Siri to “play Tesla.” I had forgotten how much I enjoyed thier music. I think they might be somewhere between Southern rock and hair band!

Blog: I’ve been working to post on my blog more frequently. This is good because I have lots of words in my head that I need to get out. Thank you to everyone who is reading it. I hope you are finding it enjoyable.

Books: There are so many wonderful books out there and I’m finding most of them on Instagram. I recently came across the book When I Pray for You by Matthew Paul Turner and purchased it on Amazon. It was so popular, they ran out and had to print more copies! It is a precious book that you can enjoy reading to your children now and for years to come.

In a previous post, I mentioned that I am on the launch team for Emily P. Freeman’s, The Next Right Thing and even better than a sneak peek, we have now been given access to the entire book before its release on April 2! Anyone that preorders, gets some pretty great bonuses including a free audiobook read by Emily and access to her online course “Discern and Decide.” If you are having trouble making a big decison or have descion fatigue in general, let Emily guide you and support you with a plan to find your way. Here are some of my favorite quotes:

“As you take your next right step today, trust that God won’t let you miss your own future.”

“When we don’t take time to reflect and reevaluate, then we may fall into the habit of doing things simply because they’re what we’ve always done.”

“That’s one thing about an intentional no: it can open the door for a life-giving yes. When you focus on what’s missing, its hard to see what’s there.”

I mentioned the book Soulful Simplicy in my last post and wanted to let you know he Kindle edition of it is now only 1.99!!! How can you pass that up?

Well I’m off to begin my Spring Break. I’m hoping it will be the start to a season of silence and restoration. I hope that you too are able to find ways to take moments of silence and open your hearts and souls to joy.

Until next time……be well.

Lori

Silence is Golden

Disclosure: Be Well Heart and Soul participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. When you click on a link and make a purchase it allows us to earn a small commission without any cost to the reader.

Sometimes when I am in need of something in my life I get signs, lots of them. Right now that message is about silence and stillness. I am feeling bombarded with input. Some of it has been helpful and insightful, but some of it has just been visual and auditory noise. Unfortunately, I’m feeling like I might be somewhat addicted to it, I might actually have a problem!! I’m old enough to have lived many years without immediate access to media but think I have conditioned my brain to “need the noise.”

Case in point. The other day my yoga class was unexpectedly canceled and I had an hour to spare before picking up my son at school. I drove down the street to a park with a walking trail. It was a beautiful day and I had time to get in a couple of miles. I soon realized I did not have my earbuds with me, and I kid you not, a wave of anxiety came over me! I was going to have to walk for one hour in SILENCE! No podcast, no audiobook, no music, no phone. I almost thought about just sitting in my car and listening to a podcast. It was an awakening to a sad state of affairs.

“This is ridiculous!” I thought. I got out of my car and began walking, only not in silence as I had expected. I had forgotten the sweet noise of nature. I could hear the crunching of leaves and rocks under my feet, I could hear my breath, the sound of the mowers getting the park ready for Spring. I heard the birds, I noticed the different kinds of plants and trees blooming. I actually looked into the eyes of another human and exchanged greetings rather than being lost in my own world. I felt the warmth of the sun on one side of the path and the wind on the other, unzip jacket, zip jacket, unzip again. As I looked ahead and surveyed the winding circular path, I thought, “I bet I could run this loop.” I set out listening and being mindful as my pace picked up. I could hear my breathing and began to focus on it, making sure to keep a rhythm as I ran. As breathing became a little more challenging, I focused on keeping it steady. I focused on my posture and my arms swinging back and forth as I picked a spot and ran to it and then the next and the next until I had completed the half mile. If a smile could make a noise, I would have heard that too! It was only half a mile, but I hadn’t even run across the street in a long time! I didn’t push myself to do more, like I thought I should, I just let myself enjoy the accomplishment and walked another mile.

Why have I been avoiding moments of silence? Only months ago, I felt so focused and enjoyed long stretches of clarity and now I’m feeling lost in the chaos in my head!! It might just be that I’m moving too fast and taking in too much, trying to store it, and not ever processing it. I think my brain might look like an episode of Hoarders. Can you relate?

For the sake of my heart and soul, it is time to declutter, refresh and restore.

Emily P. Freeman says in her book, The Next Right Thing, “The silence serves as a colander, helping me discern what I need to hold on to and allowing what I don’t need to fall gently away, making space to access courage and creativity, quieting to hear the voice of God.” She advises to “find small cracks of time to be silent and still.”

Similarly, Tsh Oxenrider, host of the podcast “Simple,” shared 3 reasons she thinks silence is important: to think, to hear the world around you, and to hear from God. On episode 183, “Writing + Silence,” she also describes her visit to “The Quiet House” in central Texas. This cabin is so remote you can only get there in a vehicle equipped with special tires able to go over rocks and through a river. There is no cell reception and the only connection to others is over a walkie talkie. Interestingly, The Quiet House reservations are needed a year in advance due to popularity! I guess I’m not the only one in need of silence! This is a place I would definitely like to experience in the future.

For now, I’m going to begin a few simple acts of silence in order to bring peace and clarity back into my life.

  • Hide the phone!!  After walking in the door I can put my phone in a drawer to reduce the temptation to check it.
  • Use a real alarm clock. I recently purchased this one and have really liked it. This allows you to enjoy the silence of the morning and not be tempted to check social media before your eyes even adjust to the light.
  • Schedule silent time.  I’ll start with 5 minutes and just breathe and stretch. Then I can add time each day or each week. In her book Soulful Simplicity, Courtney Carver refers to this as “habit stacking” and explains that a “slow build helps you ease in and makes your new routine sustainable.”
  • Take a walk without electronics, even if just for 15 minutes. I can increase my awareness of the sounds around me, my thoughts, and the way my body feels as I take each step.
  • Write in a journal.
  • Throw birdseed out in your yard, sit silently, and see what happens.
  • Write down 5 things that I am grateful for.
  • Read an actual book that I can hold in your hands and enjoy the sound of each page turning. As I mentioned, I tend to hoard information and not process it, so maybe a fiction book might be a nice change. I can read for enjoyment rather than to gain information to give my brain a break.
  • Schedule activities that don’t involve a phone. I could get a massage, have lunch with a friend, visit a museum, buy a canvas and some paint and go to town with no purpose, just for the enjoyment.

If you too are drowning in the chaos of noise and information, I hope that these simple acts of silence will end up being acts of kindness to your heart and soul and soon you will find yourself feeling refreshed and restored.

Until next time……be well.

Lori