Monday, March 14, 2016

Catching The Days

The beauty of people who write down their words is how they can come over for coffee anytime even when distance separates. I don't know Annie Dillard, but it's as if she's been at my home, speaking to me these days.

Annie said this too, "How we spend our days, is of course, how we spend our lives."

She seems to be a woman with an understanding about the importance of how she spends her time.

I'm not sure that I've ever done extremely well at how I spend the currency of my time, but this season, in particular, time seems to be slipping through holes in my purse.

I'm naturally a spontaneous idealist who spends concentrated amounts of time alone so I can spend concentrated amounts of time with people. Chaos and whim are close friends of mine.

For almost a decade my course has been altered by the realities of age and passing the baton to a younger generation in many ways. There was cancer, my mom's sudden death, my ministry focus being flipped on its head trying to land right side up and our youngest child getting married and moving away.

And I quit my perfectly amazing job, with the best bosses ever, where I got paid way too much for what I did ––so I could have more time.

At the risk of sounding presumptuous, I felt like the Lord was moving me into something different.

Yet, last year was perhaps one of my worse for living intentionally.

I think it's honest to say I've lived through a 'more-than-half-way-through-life crisis.'

So now, an entire year later, what is my excuse for not being organized and task-oriented with bullet points on daily lists that stretch out horizontally to well scheduled months and a solid five-year plan?

Even if that isn't what life will ever look like for me, I have some dreams and boxes full of scribbles on snippets of paper with ideas and half-whispered prayers.

My desk? Well if you've seen a picture of it looking fabulous, it was staged.  On a normal day, the clipboard system I use for projects is randomly stacked three layers high with no flat surface visible.

Of course, I pretend to know where everything is.

Recently I was whining about my days disappearing like peanut M & M's. (Which are a favorite snack.)

A friend  suggested a Personal Retreat Day. She sent me a simple outline based on a 9-hour day to help refresh and get more organized.

This Saturday, it happened.

It could be difficult for some people to do this retreat at home, but for me, being at home was such a gift.

I had to make a few rules, because I'm easily distracted by laundry, dishes, etc.

So this is how I did the retreat:

Part One: (2 hours) The Personal Day Retreat suggested beginning with a short physical workout and a long spiritual workout.

I got up early. Put on my yoga pants, made coffee, did a few dishes and threw in a load of laundry. (Yes. I know. But keep reading....)

At 7 a.m. I was in my office reading, praying, journaling.

At 9 a.m. I did a 20-minute workout on my mat with the window open and the birds singing. I had beautiful music and coffee. This alone was enough reason to do this again.

Part Two: Calendar organization (1 hour) The suggestion is to look at how you've spent your time, and look at how you plan on spending your time in the next month.

Since I haven't done this well all year it took me a little longer than everyone else in the whole world. The beauty of doing this part? Freedom. It was like the blood began to circulate in my mind again. Next time I do a Retreat Day, this will probably take me much less time.

Part Three: (2 hours) Upcoming speaking and writing schedule. It was so good to actually spend time praying and thinking through as well as organizing what I will be doing in the coming months. It also helps me know I need some boundaries with what time is not spoken for.

I took a walk with the neighbor about this time. It was good to take a break and get some fresh air.

Part Four: (1 hour) Honestly evaluate your life. Spend time grading yourself on every component of your life. The areas suggested were: faith, marriage, family, office, computer, ministry, financial, social, attitudinal life, author life, speaker life, and physical life. 

This part was telling. I actually prayed that the Lord would speak to me about these areas. I certainly have ideas about where I fail and where I do better but there were some areas that He brought to mind that surprised me. Some were just hard but good. So good to know that God always, only, shows us our stuff for redemption, not condemnation.

Part Five: (1.5-2 hours) Writing, reading, something to stir the soul. 

This was refreshing. I was able to do a little bit writing, reading and lots of stirring of my soul.

Part Six:(0.5-1 hours) Dream 

I prayed more during this portion of my retreat. It was good just to dedicate my dreams to Him. We'll see where all this goes.

I actually spent closer to twelve hours doing my first ever Personal Retreat Day. At the end of this time, I had even cleared off my desk, backed up my computer and deleted all the clutter.

What I felt was a sense of peace.

My Personal Retreat Day has taken the hurry out of my head and my soul.

The Personal Retreat Day helped me peel back personal life layers and ask the Lord gut honest questions. It has given me a sense of partnering with God instead of just going through my motions of another day.

My struggle has been to align priorities around relationships and activities that will have a lasting impact. I needed to take a look at what I'm doing well and what I'm not. To see in  black and white print what I want to cultivate and what I want to weed out of my life.

It was a time for self-reflection and God-reflection.

A one-day holy break.

This was not a day to figure out how to do more but how to go deeper in what is important.

The next Personal Retreat Day is already on my calendar.

I've got a few ideas to incorporate into the schedule.

Of course, this is an ongoing project to implement a daily schedule for a person who's an impulsive stargazer that has traveled more than half way through this life journey.

It feels like I've cast a net to capture some of the days that lie ahead.

I would love to hear how you recharge and refresh. 


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© Rhonda Quaney