Well, I’m back. There was not enough Internet to go around at Shalom Hill Farm–which, in many ways, only adds to its greatness as a retreat center–so I didn’t get a chance to do any blogging. Here’s what I did instead:
Talked myself hoarse in late night conversations with clergy friends old and new. And by “late night”, I mean as late as 10 PM. It was crazy up in there, people. Off the hook.
Ate delicious local food. Spinach salad with strawberries and slivered almonds. Piping hot vegetable soup. Bread fresh from the oven. Pasta primavera with generous helpings of broccoli, cauliflower, and squash. And speaking of generous helpings, I made sure to sample every delicious dessert.
Sat outside, without a coat, reading an Agatha Christie book. Was it actually too cold to do this? Yes, but only by a few degrees. Was I supposed to be taking a walk during this time? Yes, but sometimes reading a very silly mystery novel is just the right “wellness practice” for me.
Tried various wellness practices. Here was my favorite, which will surprise no one: journaling. Yes, the one where you sit quietly and write. Rochelle Melander, who will be our coach for the year, gave us this great assignment: envision your best possible self ten years from now. Describe your professional and personal life, filling it with sensory details. Who do you hang out with? What is your house like? What are the tastes and sounds and smells?
The idea was not necessarily “if you can believe it, you can achieve it.” Instead, it was more along the lines of, “writing happy things makes you feel happy.” And it did! After twenty minutes of describing my amazing house (a cross between two of the houses on the TV show Parenthood, because why not, right?), vacations, friends, family, pastoral call, and life in general, I felt amazingly refreshed.
Even better, my assignment is to do it three more times over the next week. I look forward to seeing what funny desires this exercise unveils. So far, I have learned this about myself: in my perfect future home, “there’s always something yummy in the fruit bowl.”
As I described my big, sunny kitchen, with its window over the sink and its gorgeous pottery dishes, I was surprised to find myself writing that sentence about the fruit bowl. Most days, our fruit bowl contains a few bananas. The apples, oranges, and grapes are in the fridge. The bowl itself is often hiding behind the inevitable counter clutter. (Inevitable for us, anyway.)
I’m not sure what made me include a full fruit bowl in my vision of my best future life. Maybe it’s the idea of having enough and more than enough. Or maybe I just like the idea of a clean kitchen with a pretty bowl of fruit on the table.
I invite you to try this exercise, too! And, if you like, report back on what surprised you in your own vision of your best possible self.