Here is where I tell you what I learned from Experiment #4: Quiet Time.
Slow down for one week. Do only necessary work. Be as quiet as possible. Do not initiate any movie nights or put on any music. Stay away from social media and news. Spend lots of time ouside, and rest.
What I Did
Sunday: I went to Mass with my family. I followed our usual after Mass routine of eating a meal while watching a week’s worth of Frank James You Tube videos. I skipped other videos that I usually watch, but that my family does not enjoy. Next, I posted homeschool curricula for sale online. I sold some and prepared them for shipping. I sat on the deck reading meditations and planning out the week. Then I did some more questionable work (necessary or unnecessary?) to please my daughter Sarah. Rachel and I helped her put together her new bed and bedding. I spent time praying and journaling. I made dinner. I prayed the rosary while talking a walk outside. At night, I watched a movie with Bobby that he initiated and chose. Then I ironed Bob’s clothes and made his breakfast for the next day. When I had trouble falling asleep, I looked at homeschool curricula on my phone in bed.
Monday: I woke up 15 minutes before my alarm went off (unusual) and started the day on my phone again. I was looking at Home Bunch, a website that I use to get decorating ideas for my home, or maybe as a distraction, or as a reason to snuggle under the covers longer. I wrote in my journal: I get scared if I don’t sleep enough I’ll get sick. I had trouble falling asleep – uncomfortable – and woke up early. I hope my new “strategy” is not too busy. I already feel rushed in my “slow down” week. I’m planning unnecessary work. I went to a 7:15 AM Mass, prayed the rosary in the van, and returned empty cans at a grocery store while waiting to meet my mom and sister for breakfast. I dropped a package off at the post office, then stopped at the Home Depot to purchase some electrical items for Sarah’s room. I read one of Sarah’s novels aloud to the girls, then took a two hour nap. I picked up and cleaned the house all afternoon, made dinner, went to a meeting on Zoom, then watched a movie with Bobby and the girls. I was up late again reading something on my phone.
Tuesday: I woke up sick. I changed my plans to staying home all day. I spent time journaling, praying, reading more of Sarah’s The Chapstick Chronicles to the girls, talking on the phone with a friend, and then I felt worse. I thanked the Lord for really slowing me down. It was more quiet than I had planned and I believed that he chose what was best for me. Bobby brought us take-out for dinner. I watched a movie with the family at night. All I had to do for it was sit still on the couch.
Wednesday: Too sick to do anything. No reading, no writing. No work. I watched two movies. Probably initiated them. I tried to pray a little.
Thursday: I felt a little better. I shopped online, started thinking about homeschool planning, read The Chapstick Chronicles, and spent the afternoon on the deck doing a crossword puzzle. It was beautiful out. Then I did laundry, cleaned the kitchen, and made dinner. I was busy and unaware of God’s Presence. I started looking into history curriculum, showered, shaved, went to a Zoom meeting and watched a movie with Bobby and the girls. At bedtime, I was up coughing and couldn’t get comfortable so I shopped online for Hannah’s summer reading books and read some news articles. When I realized I said I wouldn’t read those this week, I read the Intro to Consoling the Heart of Jesus into the early morning.
Friday: Still sick. I journaled a long time. Guess I had a lot to say. Read meditation books and some scripture verses and more of The Chapstick Chronicles. I started the Consoling the Heart of Jesus: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat. Good times on the deck. I watched a show with Bobby at night and prayed and journaled before bed. I had the bedroom to myself because Bobby’s been sleeping upstairs in a non-germy room.
Saturday: Prayer and meditation, journaling, continuing the “retreat” and blogging.
What I Learned
- I am not in charge. Unfortunately, I keep forgetting this one. But on the other hand, I did accept that things were not going the way that I had planned. This time.
- God knows what’s best for me. And He gave me another reminder of this. Remember all of the unnecessary work I did on Sunday? Remember on Monday I was already feeling rushed during my “slow down” week? I might not have rested at all if I was feeling well.
- I want to try to do one thing at a time. Multitasking makes me feel hurried. So often I listen to talks while working, I eat while watching shows, I think, plan, figure out… while doing other things. I am not in the present moment. This getting things done can get compulsive. I get anxiety about not wasting time. If I slow down, by doing one thing at a time, (and thinking counts as an activity for me) I can be present to what I am doing or feeling and be aware that God is present with me.
- I want to watch what is going into my mind. I’ve talked about this before. If I’m going to be limiting the amount of information that’s going in, (because I’m doing one thing at a time) then I better raise the bar on the content. Is it true? Is it honorable? Is it worthy of praise? And so on…
- I want to watch what is coming out of my mouth. I failed at being as quiet as possible this week. I think I forgot that was even part of the experiment. Did I really need to give everyone unsolicited updates on my sick symptoms? Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?
- God gives me encouragement. As I was thinking that some quiet time would benefit me, I read this in Jesus Calling, one of my current meditation books: “You need a buffer zone of silence around you in order to focus on things that are unseen.” It goes on to say that overstimulation blocks out awareness of the unseen world. Encouragement.
- Put First Things First. Yet another principle that I already know, but struggle to put into practice. I read about it Friday in my “retreat” book. He explains how when we want to detach from something, (Let’s say noise from busyness, talking, movies or media.) sheer acts of the will are the wrong way to go about it. They don’t work… for long anyway. The reason is that focusing on the attachments puts second things first. The only way to detach is to keep the focus on the first thing. He gives the example of St. Peter walking on water until he takes his eyes off Jesus and sinks.
So, I did slow down this week. I didn’t do it exactly as planned. Actually, it wasn’t at all like I planned. But I’d still give this experiment two thumbs up. Look what I learned again! So many good things. Today, I’m not planning anything. I’m just doing one thing at a time, and being quiet, and listening for direction.