Surrender 10: Bathing in Sunlight

Sundays are date days, time spent alone with my inner artist, my creative child. I am watching the Golden Globe Awards tonight, something I know my creative side enjoys.  That was also my intended surrender for today’s journey, as I lost myself in the fantasy world of movies and television. 

However, that’s not where the flow of life took me today. I was invited, instead, into a different surrender this afternoon. 


I was engaging in a favorite activity, puttering around the house. I’m in decluttering mode, and spent the early afternoon cleaning out closet space and drawers in my creative studio. And then my attention was drawn to the windows. 

During the winter months, as the sun sinks toward the western horizon, sunlight floods my home through the windows on the southern side of the house. I love this time of afternoon! I paused in my clearing to appreciate that beautiful sight. 


The sunlight spills across my favorite recliner in the living room, and suddenly, that chair looked so inviting. As I contemplated stretching out in the recliner for a few minutes, my heart began to beat faster. I was, truly, being invited to rest, in the golden warmth of the sun. I’ve noticed this year that when I am in the flow, and drawn a particular direction, that my heart rate increases slightly. How amazing is that? I have a built in surrender-meter, that guides me!

I did not hesitate. In moments I was snuggled beneath a comforter, bathed in sunlight. I closed my eyes and engaged in sun gazing, turning my face to the brilliance. Vivid colors appeared behind my lidded eyes…red, orange and yellow. I understood why my cats seek out sunny places to nap. I felt deliciously warm, and very drowsy.

As my body relaxed, I allowed myself to totally surrender to the moment. Rest. Relax. Sleep. I woke up an hour later, totally refreshed. 

I’ll still enjoy the Golden Globes this evening. Because what child, inner or otherwise, finds taking a nap fun? However, I am grateful for the pause in my day. And the invitation to surrender to the radiance that filled my home. 


Journey 127: A Gift to Me

gift of rest

It’s been a busy week. This afternoon, in between showing property this morning and appointments this evening, I found myself lagging a bit, physically. I took a stroll in my beautiful, peaceful garden. After showers this morning it practically sparkled in the sunlight peeking through the clouds. I felt restored.

However, back inside, I tried reading, and then massaging away what I call a “storm headache”. When we are experiencing stormy weather, the pressure in my head seems to shift with the changing barometric pressure outdoors, creating a stuffy head and pain. At last, I decided to gift myself with a rare treat for me….a nap.

I don’t like to sleep during the day. I’ve never been a nap person…just ask my mom! Even when I’m battling a cold or the flu, I work it off or at the most, drink hot tea while watching a favorite movie. To take a nap during the day is foreign to me. However, I found myself nodding off while attempting to read. I gave in. I’m learning to listen to my body and eat when I’m hungry, go to bed at night when I’m sleepy, walk or exercise when I feel restless. This afternoon, my body and mind were crying out for rest.

And so I did. In a surprisingly short time, I knew I was drifting toward sleep, resting comfortably in my chair in the living room. I couldn’t quite bring myself to lie down. When I awoke, I felt refreshed and my headache was gone. I was shocked to see that only 20 minutes had gone by. It felt like a much longer nap. I also felt a bit guilty, to be resting in the middle of the day, and spent a few moments examining that emotion.

I looked up the word “rest” to see what the root meaning of the word is. I discovered the root word, restan, which is Old English, and of German origin, means “league or mile, referring to the distance after which one rests”. My word for this year, journey, means the distance one can travel in a day. The two seem connected…Journey….Rest….Journey…Rest. The guilt melted away.

I gave myself permission to be okay with resting during the day, if I need it, and apparently I did. I gave myself permission to just rest, and not question it. I gave myself the gift of rest, because I could, without taking away from anything else that I needed to do, in that moment. I gave myself the gift of self-care and love and tenderness.

I was reminded, as I pondered, of a quote from A.A. Milne, who wrote about the adventures of one very wise bear. “Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” Winnie the Pooh.

Excellent advice, indeed.

gift of rest blocks

Day 177: Evening Retreat


This has been a busy week with several long days of work and a day spent at the hospital while my stepdad had a lengthy and risky surgery. Thankfully, he is recovering well. And it’s also been an interesting week of firsts, as almost every day has seen a shift away from the planned first and the arrival of something unexpected. Today, in between showing property to great clients, I drove my grandson, Dayan, to a dental appointment and then to a friend’s house.  We were discussing my busyness and how my firsts had all changed this week. He asked what my first for today was, and I answered that I had not decided yet. “Yaya” he said, “It’s 1:30. You should know what your first is!” I love this young man and how he holds me accountable!

And then this clever teen proceeded to come up with my first for today. Dayan suggested that I have a quiet, peaceful time in my garden. That alone would not be a first, as I have spent many peaceful evenings in the garden. However, Dayan added that to lie down and gaze into the sky, while doing nothing else, would be a first.  What a lovely idea for a new experience. As I finished another longish day, I decided Dayan’s suggestion was perfect.

As the sun began to set, I gathered a variety of candles and placed them on the brick patio, near my metal containers full of sweetly scented petunias and blooming lavender. I lit candles in the meditation area and also in the Japanese garden and hosta garden. I started a small fire in the fire pit. And lastly, I placed a thick quilted throw, in shades of cream, yellow and blue, on the brick patio and added a couple of plump throw pillows. My beautiful, serene retreat area was ready.


A cool, fresh breeze stirred around me as I settled onto the quilt. The warmth of the bricks radiated upward through the quilt in gentle waves, making the space surprising cozy and comfortable. I stretched out and inhaled deeply, enjoying the scent of the nearby flowers and herbs, and felt tension and fatigue leave my body as I exhaled. Bliss. The fire crackled and the candles, deep within their glass containers, cast a warm glow. Overhead, the sky turned a dark velvety blue and the first stars and Mars, the red planet, appeared. As I did when I was a child, I made a wish on the first star I saw.

Starlight twinkled above and below, flitting about the backyard, fireflies answered with twinkles of their own. I spent a very peaceful hour enjoying this sanctuary and allowing the busyness of the past two days to slip away. Before I put my things away, I sat on the quilt and held a few yoga poses, stretching, breathing, opening. Resting there a moment more, several other possible firsts came to mind that would allow me to enjoy the backyard further.

I am very grateful to Dayan for suggesting this restorative first. How important it is to my soul to seek solitude and quiet my mind so my spirit can soar. Mark Buchanan says, “Most of the things we need, to be most fully alive, never come in busyness. They grow in rest.” I agree, wholeheartedly.


Day 136: Deep Relaxation


My planned first for the day was a line dancing lesson. As I wrapped up the day close to 7:00 pm, finishing up a showing with a delightful young couple, I knew that wasn’t going to happen! Deciding to save line dancing for another time, I now had to come up with a first, relatively late in the day. At home, browsing through possibilities, I realized my body was drawn toward deep rest. One thing I’ve learned during my journey these past few years is to listen to what my body is telling me. For my first today, I practiced intentional deep relaxation.

I regularly practice meditation and frequently include relaxation as a part of that practice. It is very easy to allow stress to build up in the body and settle into the muscles, creating tension and pain. When I’ve been overly busy, or have had too many long days and short nights, stress and tension accumulate in my neck and shoulder muscles. A painful stiff neck or shoulder is my signal to relax and meditate. Taking 15 to 20 minutes to consciously relax the muscles and allow stress to drain away restores and refreshes me physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Tonight I tried a deep relaxation technique suggested by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk who writes and teaches about mindful living. He says that deep relaxation is an opportunity for our bodies to rest, heal and be restored. As we relax, we send love and care to each part of our bodies, holding that part in our awareness as we breathe in and out.

I wanted to be very intentional about relaxing, so I created an environment to support and encourage it. Candles were lit throughout my darkened bedroom. I combined dried lavender, white sage, sweet grass and a bay leaf to create a soothing and cleansing potpourri to burn on a small piece of charcoal. And I had 40 minutes of soft, meditative music playing on my phone. I was ready to relax!

I don’t normally lie down to meditate, as I will too easily slip beyond relaxation and into sleep. I decided this evening to get comfortable lying down and that if deep relaxation took me into slumber it was because my body needed that rest. Lying on my bed, snuggled beneath a heavy blanket, candlelight flickering and music playing, I closed my eyes and focused on taking long slow deep breaths. Beginning with my toes, I held them in my awareness and said, as breathed in and out:

Breathing in, I am aware of my toes

Breathing out, I smile to my toes

This is mindfulness. This is bringing my attention to myself and willing myself to relax my muscles. I moved my awareness up my body, mentally cradling each part, repeating the above statement about my knees, my liver, my arms, my heart, my shoulders, all the way to the top of my head. Sending love and care and gratitude to each part of me, smiling, spending a little extra time being mindful of any sore spot, I relaxed so deeply. Muscles unknotted, my breathing grew deeper and I felt myself sinking into sleep. I let go.

I didn’t sleep long, and waking slowly, I felt wonderful. I could have rolled over and slept until morning and will return to pick up where I left off shortly. Thich Nhat Hanh says, “When you direct the energy of your mindfulness to the part of your body that you are embracing with love and tenderness, you are doing exactly what your body needs.” This was exactly what I needed tonight and I’m grateful that I listened to my body. This was self care at a high level.