I am Now Two Weeks Removed from Facebook…

Two weeks ago today, after a very-early-morning toilet moment and subsequent epiphany, I uninstalled the Facebook application from my phone and tablet after turning off all notifications. And today, I can tell you that I haven’t logged back in, not even once, and I genuinely feel like my life is better off for it. I wanted to share a few thoughts with you from what this last couple of weeks have held for me.

The usual disclaimer: I’m not judging you. Plenty of you are able to consume/use social media without negative effects/addictive behaviors. Also, I’m not guaranteeing that I’ll stay off Facebook forever, either. I’m still on Instagram (for now), and I’m still allowing my Insta photos and blog posts to share over to FB, so please know that I’m not against social media entirely.

But, I am against something that’s supposed to bring joy and entertainment becoming a huge time suck and causing stress and dissatisfaction with life. And, with as short as our time here on this earth is, I’m not a fan of something I can shut off and stuff in a pocket dictating my happiness and how I spend my free time. I’m rapidly approaching middle-age, and I don’t want to look back and see that a huge portion of my life was spent staring at a screen (of my own choice).

So here we go: the good, the bad, and the ugly (which is really just the bad, right?)

The Good:

  1. I’m less irritable in general! Since leaving the melee of Facebook, I haven’t seen a single political or theological rant, and no one has tried to sell me something, and it’s glorious.
  2. I don’t feel as bad about my life. It’s still a little shabby, a little overweight, and a lot infertile, but now that I’m no longer barraged with others’ carefully-curated social-media lives, I can maintain a proper perspective about my own little corner of the world.
  3. I’m reading REAL books. I bought a refurbished Kindle Paperwhite for this purpose, so I’ll be able to have several books at-hand but not feel like I’m staring at a blue screen, and I’m currently plowing my way through Walden. I also went to the local library this past Saturday and got a new library card so we can make use of our tax dollars. I haven’t read much since my Master’s program (I had some SERIOUS burnout after two or three novels a week for almost 3 years), and I forgot how much a book feels like an old friend.
  4. I’m staring at screens less in general. The good thing for me about Instagram is that there’s simply not as much to see. I follow a few friends, some celebrities, and some watercolor art and adorable animal accounts, but that’s pretty much it. Once you’ve scrolled for a few minutes, you’ve seen it all. Without Facebook to flip over to, I’ve just got to put the phone down and find something else to do.

The Bad (and Ugly):

  1. I never realized how much I shared random thoughts with everyone. Sometimes I miss it, because there are things that crack me up that I want others to find funny. But then I’m also faced with my own narcissism; do I really think I’m hilarious enough that other people need to see it constantly?
  2. FOMO is real, ya’ll. I’m missing scrolling through my comedy pages and seeing what some of my more distant friends are doing.
  3. People tend to talk to you like you should automatically know what’s going on via Facebook. And when you don’t, they assume you’re being sanctimonious.

But even the bad things aren’t that bad, really. I haven’t felt an urge to go back yet, and as a result, I’ve managed to pare down one more thing that’s causing life stress. It’s much easier to cope with stress when you simply have less stress to cope with.

More to come on this de-stressing, simplifying journey!

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The Burden of Social Consumption (aka: Why I am Ditching Facebook (for Now at Least) and I’m Back!)

I let the blog go for a very long time this time between posts. I hate that; it just seemed that, every time I wanted to write, I felt overwhelmed by the blank page, or like I didn’t want to add more to the already loud world of the internet. But here I am, back in this space of mine, and I think I’d like to ponder a bit about social media and the reasons I’m returning to blogging.

Joey and I are in the midst of what’s probably the most stressful couple of years in our lives. Last year, we took over duties as caregivers for his terminally ill aunt, all while working through the process of getting ready for an adoption. We honestly thought we may be parents by the end of the year, but such is not the case. She passed at the end of last year, and through her generosity, we now own her home. It is an amazing gift, but one that came at the cost of a great deal of sanity, as managing someone’s palliative care in-home is overwhelming.

“Overwhelming” has been the theme of the last 18 months, it seems. Between life stress and job stress, I’ve found myself withdrawing from friends, picking at my arms more, and spending waaaay more time in front of the tv and on social media than is probably healthy. And it all came to a head a couple of nights ago.

I was plagued by insomnia, talking to the Lord and trying to hash out some things with Him and plead for some answers, and I got up to go to the bathroom, taking my phone with me as usual (TMI, but there’s a point). It’s quarter after midnight, and I check Facebook (as we all do while on the throne, right?)….and see that I missed my cousin’s birthday. I’d failed to write “Happy Birthday” on her wall, and I was disappointed in myself, and all of the sudden overwhelmed when I realized I’d been forgetting a lot of “Happy Birthday” posts lately.

I finally made it to sleep around 3 am and was back up at 5 for work, and once I got to my desk, in the silence of the office, I was struck by the insanity of it all. Why should something I voluntarily use for entertainment cause me such stress? Why am I liking people’s status updates just because I believe I should; why do I think people need to know if I’m currently watching American Ninja Warrior?

Over the last few months, I’ve found myself typing a status, only to delete it, either because I came to my senses and realized it was something inane, something passive aggressive, or an opinion that may be inflammatory when I simply don’t have the energy to argue with people about it. And I’ve found myself irritated by posts about religion or politics, and began to wonder if I would feel less antagonistic toward those people (who I generally like) if I were not subjected to their inflammatory posts. I found myself feeling increasingly dissatisfied with my own life with every view of others’ carefully curated “social media lives.” In short, I was beginning to find Facebook completely overwhelming rather than fun.

Later that day, I was catching up on Tammy Strobel’s blog (Rowdy Kittens), and worked my way back to her post on breaking up with social media (sorry Tammy! I didn’t realize Feedly didn’t update to your new Squarespace feed!). And I realized it was time to let Facebook go.

What if this season of writers’ block is largely due to my consumption of social media without leaving myself enough blank space to think…and actually write? It’s easier to flip over to Facebook and see who’s up to what or read some ridiculous clickbait article with the same pictures I’ve seen a hundred times. It wasn’t making me happy.

Now, a few things, just to be transparent. I’m not judging anyone; plenty of people genuinely enjoy Facebook without negative ramifications. I’m not being sanctimonious, and I don’t have privacy concerns; we have no privacy on the web, and our conscious decision to use social media means we’re willingly giving that away. I’m also not against social media in general; I’m staying on Instagram (for now, at least), as it doesn’t leave me with the same level of stress. I’m not deactivating my Facebook, and my photos and blog links will continue to share over there. But I won’t be there.

Instead, I’ll be taking advantage of the freedom of not being overwhelmed by every missed birthday, every happy picture of a lifestyle I can’t have right now, every angry political rant I don’t agree with. I’ll be using that “free space” to learn more about being a better horseback rider, to exercise more, to plan more epic hikes, to work on hand-lettering (something I’ve wanted to learn for a while), to talk to the Lord, and to WRITE. To create more than consume.

Life is stressful enough. We shouldn’t be needlessly making it even more stressful for ourselves.

So, I’ll be here more often, hopefully, and I’d still love to interact with you. Drop me a comment, find me on Insta. Send me an email. But also, shut off your phone for a while.

Good Morning, 2015

We brought 2015 in among great company last night; our “Shenanigans” crew gathered for snacks and games and I got to watch the ball drop with some of the people I love best (now, if we could have figured out how to get Shannon/James/Levi and John into the mix, it would have been perfect!).

shenanigans

We came home around 2 and hung out with Indy for a while before hitting the sack.

This morning, we’re enjoying copious amounts of coffee (and someone’s enjoying a giant beef knuckle courtesy of Grandma and Grandpa) before venturing out into the world to have an adventure (which, honestly, will probably just consist of Petsmart and maybe Target).

I’ve been thinking about my 2015 goals for the past couple of weeks.  I’ve got three larger goals, and then a few smaller ones:

  • Get rid of about 50% of the “stuff” we’ve amassed over the last seven years.  Our house is a wreck and we’ve got one room that we can’t even use right now.  It’s got to go.  We’ll sell whatever we can, then donate what’s left that’s not trash.
  • Cut our debt in half.  While we’re not fiscally irresponsible by any means, we’ve fallen into wasteful spending in several areas.  If we cut those out, we should be able to wipe out a lot of our debt.
  • Reach a healthy weight and fitness level.  I made strides with this last year, losing 32 pounds and walking a 5K in September.  As long as I’m diligent, I should be able to get where I want to go.

Small goals:

  • Stop biting my nails
  • RUN the NC Troopers Foot Chase at the end of March
  • Get paid for writing at least once
  • Read 2 new books each month
  • Learn how to knit colorwork
  • BLOG regularly (more than once a week)

I’m planning for the blog to take the direction of sharing my decluttering/frugality/weight loss journey.  I’m sure it’ll be a little embarrassing here and there, but I’m hoping that seeing someone else’s struggles might help you feel like you can make changes too.  I’m the laziest person I know, and if I can do this, I know you can.

I hope today brings you relaxation and a bit of fun.  Time for more coffee here!

coffee

Walking Away From it All

yeah, i really didn’t mean for that to sound as “final” or “foreboding” as it does.  i’ve been struck the last few days with this urge to detach from “the system.”  it’s a moot point, because there’s really no way to detach anymore; we’re numbered, inventoried, and surveilled wherever we go.  and, to be honest, i really like my cable tv and smartphone, so it’s not looking to be in my future.  but i still want it.  what i want is to NOT want my smartphone and tv and the myriad of other things that make my life so very comfortable.  i want not to be so tied to them because, if somehow the opportunity arose for us to actually live a more analog, off-grid lifestyle, i would want to jump out on faith and take that chance.

wpid-IMG_20111120_090325.jpg

i promise, I’m not trying to romanticize “the good ol’ days” where people were forced to do without modern luxuries (i.e., the Great Depression), but sometimes i think that we’ve been victims of our own success, and i can’t help but feel these days like a big “reset” is about to take place…whether by natural means, or vulnerability of our power grid, whatever it may be.  it just seems that the world has become such a volatile place so rapidly and that it’s all coming to a head.  of course, the fundies are either freaking out or salivating with joy because they think we’re on the cusp of the end of the world.  we’re such a short-sighted, chronocentric people.  these things have happened over and over throughout the ages…we struggle, become successful, become victims of our own success, and then the pendulum swings and we’re back to the struggle again.

camping

part of it may be because i didn’t get a chance to unplug this past year.  i changed jobs, so we couldn’t take a long enough vacation to justify taking the camper.  the weekend that we did tent-camp, we had a horrific storm come through which culminated in our desperately trying to pack up the tent in the pouring rain and lightning while i had a panic attack.  also, my health has been pretty piss-poor the last four months of the past year, and it’s not getting better as quickly as i would hope/like.

we’re going to give gardening another shot this year.  with the price of food rising, i think we need to be able to mitigate some of that cost ourselves.  and, i’m just enough of a conspiracy theorist to think that it’s no accident that we’re getting sicker and sicker the more that the government gets involved in our food.  the best solution as i see it is to do what i can to keep them out of my food as much as i can.

i do hope that someday, before it’s too late to do so, we’ll be able to move out to an area that’s a little more rural and secluded, a little out of the way, and that we’ll be able to unplug a little bit more, enjoy God’s creation a little bit more, stress a little bit less, and try to bring things in our corner of the world a little closer back to how it should be, in spite of the political, societal, and religious unrest that seems to be rapidly spiraling out of control.

 

 

 

Sunday, Sunday Sunday (to be read like a wrestling announcer)…

Another Sunday is drawing to a close.  It was a relatively nice day despite some frustration at church over a couple of different things.  I gave my parents a bound copy of my thesis; it was a win:).  My parents got me lots of nice clothes for my birthday (Wednesday), which are much appreciated since I’m sorely lacking in clothes that fit me at this size.  They also gave me the most hilarious card EVER.

That was from the graduation service at church…I didn’t drive up to school to walk since I did the program online and didn’t know anyone.

So, I’m still feeling pretty frustrated and restless with the way we’re living right now and wanting to live more simply and peaceably…it hit me again at church this morning during the music.  I’ve been having a pretty rough time with music in general since Phil died.  I haven’t listened to it that much (except for a solid month of the Monkees after Davy died), and I’ve lost a lot of my joy about singing altogether.  I used to get really excited when I was asked to sing something.  Now, I just feel kind of blah.  I’m hoping it’ll pass, because I do know that Phil wouldn’t want me to quit just because he’s not here to give me confidence anymore.  I thought about him a lot this morning because 3/4 of the music this morning was stuff that I’d connected with him over the years.

Anyway, enough of that.  I think some changes are afoot, though, because I’m finally feeling frustrated enough to start taking action.  I’ve always been like that…when I was a kid, it would take me foreeeever and ever to get frustrated enough with my room to actually clean it (shut up, Mom and Dad!!! ;)), but when I did, I really went on a spree.  I’m finally getting frustrated enough with all of the “stuff”…the clutter, excess, the diversions and distractions, the emotional roadblocks.  I’m not feeling quite so isolated at work anymore, so I’m pretty much out of the woods as far as mental angst goes at this point.

So, I’m going to make a list of things to accomplish this week (because I always used to love making lists), and then maybe get to it and maybe, just maybe, finish a thing or two;).

So Much to Think About These Days…

So, now that I’ve finished my Master’s, I’m a little bit at a loss these days as to what to do with my time.  Unfortunately, for the most part, it’s been vegging out on the internet and in front of the tv.  I’m hoping that I’ll snap out of it soon now that I’m starting to get back in the swing of not having to spend every waking moment reading, writing, editing, rewriting, revising, submitting for review, crying, and starting the process over again.

I have started back reading my simple living blogs and prepping blogs and it’s turned my mind back toward trying to live a more analog life.  It’s tough to think about that since I’m just as dependent on technology as most people; I have a smart phone, netbook, laptop, and tv with cable, and I don’t really know what I would do if all of those items were taken away from me, but I do know that I’d like to be able to look at them as luxuries and not necessities anymore and to be able to live without them without feeling stranded or lost.

I was talking to a girl at work last week about the gas shortage that we had in 2008 and how Joey and I ate out of our well-stocked pantry for nearly a month because we couldn’t do much driving at all, so I went back today and read my blog post about it and remembered how much more frugal our lives were then.  As much as I promised myself that I wouldn’t let our lifestyle increase with my increasing salary, we’ve done just that.  Some purchases have been worthwhile (the camper), but the little things (tons of takeout) make me quite angry at myself for letting us get into this routine.  And my health has definitely mirrored the excess of our lifestyle, which has made me more disappointed in myself.  I’m getting back on track, though (3.4 pounds down!).

I also found this old post on Authentic Living vs. Virtual Living and realized that we haven’t had a good dinner by a bonfire in a long time.  Some of that has been because of the ebb and flow of friendships and relationships changing/people moving away, but I miss a good night by the fire “solving the world’s problems.”  It’s a little hot for that right now, but I hope we can reconnect with old friends or build relationships with new friends so that we can do that some more in the fall/winter.

This past year has been incredibly challenging and we got so off-track trying to survive that now, it’s going to be a very slow and deliberate process to start building back (and forward) to the lifestyle we want to have.  And for me, that needs to look like a return to simpler times.

Lots to think about in Weaver-land.

 

Thoughts on Ungratefulness…

I can be an ungrateful person sometimes.  I like to think that, for the most part, I’m pretty aware of those around me and I appreciate the things I’ve been given, both by other people and by God.  I have great parents, a great husband, and a great kitty.  I’m not one of the ten-plus percent of this country without a job.  I’m in relatively good physical health, and although I’m not in the best mental health right now, I’m neither suicidal nor homicidal, and I can manage to convince myself to get out of bed every morning (if for no other reason than to go to work so we don’t end up in the street).  I have a home that’s not more than I can afford, and I have the luxury to have a “food tantrum” when I don’t know what I want for dinner.  We’ve been blessed with enough money to pay for our needs and a few “wants” as well.  I’m incredibly thankful for all of this.

But, I also know that I’m not immune to ungratefulness; I get irritated when there’s nothing I want to watch on the 120 channels we currently have, when less than a year ago, we only had twenty.  I wonder why we couldn’t have even a 1200-foot house, when I should be grateful for the 1100 square feet I do have.  I get resentful when we can’t go out to nice restaurants when we have enough money to afford our groceries.  When I think about these things, I’m ashamed of myself and of my attitude.

So often, though, I’m confronted with ungratefulness without shame….people who complain about their wealth and the “burden” of it.  Seriously? If your wealth is so burdensome that you find yourself exhausted every day because you just can’t seem to find enough ways to spend it all, then you should take some serious time to think about what that says about you as a person.  If it’s so exhausting, then why not give it away (try suggesting that and see what kind of reaction you’ll get!)?  It always amazes me that ungrateful-and-shameless people never think twice about complaining about their wealth to people who don’t have nearly as much.  And I don’t think twice about rolling my eyes when someone complains to me about what a burden it is to keep up a 4000 square foot home.  Really?  Think about how ridiculous that sounds.

So, my irritation with “rich people” and their “rich people problems” today brought me to the place where I realized my own ungratefulness, and I think it’s time for a big lifestyle shift.  While I am by no means wealthy, I am affluent according to the global definition; I have a roof over my head, electricity, running water, a toilet in my house, food in my fridge, a car to drive, a tv to suck my brain…and on a more fundamental level, I have hands and feet that work, eyes with which to see and read, ears to hear music, and a voice to speak and sing. 

I’ve always been interested in simple, sustainable living, but the events of the day have sealed it for me.  Stay tuned.