Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Restorative Practices

Celebrating my 150th Post...

Restore--verb (used with object), restored, restoring.
1.  to bring back into existence, use, or the like; reestablish:  to restore order.
2.  to bring back to a former, original, or normal condition, as a building, statue, or painting.
3.  to bring back to a state of health, soundness, or vigor.

Summer is a time when restoration can have a foothold and balance begins to happen.  During the school year, the busyness and hectic pace doesn’t allow me to enter into that slower heart space.  Yesterday I participated in a restorative yoga practice.  Over one-and-a-half hours we sustained three totally relaxed poses.  In that quiet space, my heart began to speak.   As I listened to my heart, I realized that during summer, when time is more of a lush, I practice in a number of ways that brings restoration.  Here are some of my ways I restore (they work during all times of the year, but seem to be more accessible to me during summer.)
  1. Be in nature.  I just returned from South Carolina where I spent a week in nature.  Nature restores me.  I feel joy when I am in nature.  I begin, just by being in nature’s presence to notice small parts of nature surrounding me…the breeze, the lull of the ocean lapping on the shoreline. Sand particles on my feet squishing between my toes.  The South Carolina lowland vegetation hanging low and green.  The humming of insects in nighttime.  A wild thunderstorm dance across the beach.  Noticing nature in all of her forms, makes me wonder and gives me wonder.  Nature restores me.  It brings me back to an elementary place where I fit in with my surroundings.
  2. Do something physical.  On my vacation we rented bikes.  I have not ridden a bike (except for stationary bikes) since I was in my 20’s.  Riding bikes scares me.  I have a conceived notion that my size doesn’t support bike riding.  So I haven’t ridden.  Until this past vacation.  My son told me he would ride behind me.  So with one fall, and wobbly legs that got less wobbly, I rode a bike.  On the first day we rode on the bike trails and on the last day of vacation, we rode on the hard sand of the beach at sunset.  This was a stretch for my body, and it gave me a boost that is restorative on many levels.  Swimming does this for me too.  Sweat and body movement is restorative.  It ignites a vigor that makes me feel more fully alive.
  3. Write Morning Pages.  A year and a half ago, I went to a Julia Cameron workshop and was introduced to morning pages (three full-sized pages in a notebook, written every morning in stream of consciousness).  This practice is not easy for me to do during the school year because of my early start.  I have found that as I have given myself the time, this writing brings up things that I am not even aware of as I am in the act of writing.  Sometimes I solve a problem.  Sometimes I write a dream.  Sometimes I write about not knowing what to write.  The act of writing first thing in the morning, when sleep is still warm and crusty, makes my day take a new focus.  By writing in this way, I feel me coming back, restored.
  4. Setting an intention.  I do this at the end of my Morning Pages.  A sentence that gives my day a direction.  Self-intentionality, in its naming of purpose, is restorative.
  5. Journaling Just for Me.  In the past two years, much of my writing has been for an audience.  This summer I have begun to write in my journal in the evening.  Just. For. Me.  Its purpose is not for sharing.  Its purpose is to be a place for me.  To do and say whatever I want.  Creative or not.  Good writing or not.  A place of my own.  Bringing me back to a place of my own.  Restoring me.
  6. Taking time to create.  I would not call myself an artist.  (Although I would have when I was in 4th grade--another story for another time).  When I take time to create, I take time to see. I take time to savor.  The act of looking closely to see what is restores.  I recently wrote about this in my blog.  You can read more about this practice here.  Savoring is restoring.  
  7. Take a class to learn something new.  I am taking a poetry class this summer.  During the school year, I have not found the time to delve into an art form just for the sake of doing it.  I am looking forward to doing just that this summer.  Just for the sake of it is restoring.
  8. Read.  I read novels and books beyond the professional for restoration.  This summer I have already finished two novels and am building up a list of books I want to read.  Not to close read or to learn.  But to enjoy.  Words in books restore me.

These are a few ways that I am choosing to restore this summer.   Each of these practices involves slowing down.  They involve noticing and enjoying.  Summer for me is a time to reestablish, to bring back to a state of health, to restore.  What are some of the ways you restore during the summer?

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for dedicating space and time for teachers and teachers of literacy to come together to share ideas, practice and life experience.


  1. Love this post. Just finished my first year of retirement which was definitely busier than I anticipated. I love summer's slower pace, although I've traveled so much in the past six weeks that it hasn't felt slower yet...thanks for great ideas!

  2. The things you have mentioned are things I am slowly embracing in my retirement. I think it took me a year to "unwind", and now I am enjoying expanding into new territories of relaxation, rejuvenation and growth. Even though I'm not headed back to the classroom, summer does give you even more "room to relax"! Thanks for reminding me of a couple more things I want to try!

  3. I felt restored myself reading this! So many reminders of the things that bring us peace and happiness and how we need to connect with them. I always feel restored and renewed looking at the ocean. I need to look at it more often.

  4. Good list for any season. I like the balance of physical and mental, taking in and creating, outdoor and indoor. I understand what you mean when you say it is harder to make the list happen during the school year. Take full advantage of the summer.

  5. Like Terje above, I like the combination of the physical & the mental. I do love being outdoors, any time really. Congratulations on 150, Deborah. More to come!

  6. Wonderful ideas! Sounds like a relaxing, productive summer.

  7. Why is it that we do for others or our job, but rarely "just for me." That is the key for restoring your energy for life. Good for you getting out on the bike! I've been spending quite a bit of time reading books for fun, because they appealed to me. Congrats on 150 posts, keep writing!

  8. Deborah, summer restoration time sounds fabulous. I was taking restorative yoga classes until I tore my rotator cuff. Since you are involved in poetry this summer, perhaps you would like to join me for my next gallery: Summer Splashings. Information will come out soon now that I unveiled Spring's Symphony Gallery.

  9. Your list of restorative activities is similar to mine. For me, walking each morning gives me a chance to clear my head and enter into that "slower heart space." Your poetry class sounds wonderful. Looking forward to hearing more about it! Congratulations on your 150th post!

  10. I felt restored just reading your list and feeling like I was there with you in those moments... Thank you for sharing and inviting us to consider what restores us! Yoga, morning pages, meditation, pleasure reading, 20 minute power naps, fun outings with friends (especially if they're spontaneous), night-time walks... these are a few of my favorite things! And, big congratulations on your 150th post! That is great!! ;-)