Silence is Golden

Silence is Golden

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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

Goals: A Blueprint for Change

After reading a post at Lein’s Frugal Life in which she listed out her goals, I decided it would be good to actually put some goals in writing. Seeing what I am working towards on paper will probably help me to be more accountable. So here it goes.

Instead of lofty goals, I have written smaller goals I feel like I can achieve and get some momentum going for the more lofty ones. I don’t want to be overwhelmed  and quit so I’m only starting with a few.

1) Reeling in my temper.

In a previous postI wrote about my adult temper tantrums! I often feel that my anger is justified and often, without thinking, spew and rant and then later, feel really guilty for being a jerk. There is a story floating around the internet about a boy with a bad temper and his father’s solution. The father has the boy hammer a nail in the fence every time he loses his temper and then pull one out when he is able to hold his temper. Eventually he is able to control his temper and pull out all of the nails. However, he is made aware of the holes remaining in the fence.

Words in anger do leave emotional scars. I have read that eventually those wounds can  be healed and the scars can fade, but I’d really like to stop inflicting them. So, for the month of September I will open my tool box and start hammering….or not! I’m hoping that the thought of having to hammer a nail in my fence and leave a hole will make me take a breath and calm my emotions before spewing. I should also get back to my book Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses.

2) Complete my 52 Weeks of Thanks project:

I started this project in 2015 and made almost no progress……talk about procrastination!! I been blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life who have been loving or kind, who have inspired me or encouraged me, who have welcomed me and accepted me, and who have been there during good times and bad. I really want to express my gratitude to them and do so in writing. I started this project a long time ago and sent only one letter and have only just recently completed my 2nd letter. So starting in September, my goal is to send 1 written expression of gratitude a week for my remaining 50 weeks. I bet I can even use an app on my phone to help remind me.

3) Nutritional related goals

I love good food, but don’t especially like to cook. Living out in the sticks, doesn’t provide a lot of options when eating out or grocery shopping, so I wanted to learn to make healthy choices and cook simple meals that would benefit my family, my health, and my waistline. One goal was to meet with a nutritionist to get started. I have had my first of 4 consultations at Advice for Eating. My homework is to write down everything I eat for 3 days. I tell you, it’s a pretty sad list. Especially since I am making the transition from stay at home mom to working mom as the school year gets started. Let just say, the cupboard was almost bare. Fish sticks anyone??? I have also noticed that I need to drink more water. Some days the only liquid I consume is coffee, soda and the water I guzzle before bed because my body is screaming for it. I am very aware that if I don’t bring a lunch to work, I will pick up Taco Bell or Burger King – cheap and fast and not healthy at all. So for the month of September, I will increase my water intake and bring a lunch to work. More nutrition goals to come after my second consultation.

4) Write at least 2 blog posts a month.

I have about a dozen unfinished blog posts hanging out on my computer and making time to complete them is all I need. Sometimes I need time to do more research or just time to type it all out. I have time, I do. Unfortunately, its often wasted doing unproductive activities. (I’m working on that post for next time.) I would also like to start adding one of my own photos to each post, especially since photography was my outlet for so long. Beginning in September, I will carve out a chunk of time several times a week to finish these posts and maybe a chunk of time to set out with my camera.

5) Take even a short road trip once a month.

Oh, how I love a good road trip! I love the open road with “off the beaten path” stops along the way. Texas is vast and diverse in history and culture and climate so unlike my eating options in my small town, my big state is a cornucopia of opportunities for adventures on the road. My son’s current requests are The Bluebell Ice Cream Factory in Brenham and  The Dr. Pepper Museum in Waco. I’m ready to hit the road! As I write this I can almost hear crinkles of a roadmap – does anyone remember those days?

Please share your favorite road trip destinations!

6) Read the Bible again.

I love, love, love to read. I joined a family member and began a New Year’s resolution to read at least one book a month. I started out pacing myself pretty well and I have read 13 books since January. (Three of those are chapter books my son and I have read together. It’s been such fun re-reading books from my childhood.) Then things got crazy and I am now in the middle of 3 books and my Amazon wish list keeps growing. I am at a point of being overwhelmed trying to read them all. So what I would like to do is get back to just reading one book and make it “The Good Book.” Someone once told me they thought the Bible was boring. Having already read it once, I can tell you its got more drama than a whole season of The Real Housewives! This living book has provided me with guidance and understanding to so many of my big questions. YouVersion has a great app that will guide my reading journey. I also love the “P.O.W.E.R. tool” you can download over at Biblical Minimalism. I will be using this to track several of my goals.

I have been delighted to see how far this blog has reached all over the world and so curious to see what goals y’all (I’m a Texan!) are working to achieve.  Please share your goals and your progress.

Until next time, Be Well!

Coming soon: Waste Not Want Not: Time, Money, and Trash