Social Media Fast

Day 1 Sunday 9/26/19

The second I deleted the social media apps off my phone, I felt a moment of panic.
“What did I just get myself into?” I shook my head and deeply sighed…but there was no going back. It’s hard to back out after a public declaration, precisely why I made it so in the first place. 

All day, I caught myself reaching for my phone in order to try to check social or to post to my Instagram story but realizing I couldn’t. I felt a little lost about what to do in my spare time. It was the first time I objectively understood how much I relied on social media for something to do in my spare time or to “unwind.” 

Day 2 Friday 9/27/19 

I worked the entire weekend, Friday to Sunday. Not having Instagram as a distraction at work was a downer, especially when the clinic was slow going. Instead, I started reading Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave and caught up on evidence-based nursing articles. 

Day 5 Monday 9/30/19

I had a day off! I woke up bright and early at 6am. My mom came over shortly after to hang out with Zoya. My grand plan was to clean out my closet, go through all the containers in my basement and get out my winter clothes…as well as finally get rid of all the clothes I had been hoarding for years in bins in preparation for that garage sale I would have one day. Without the constant interruption of notifications on my phone, I was able to get everything in my closet perfectly hung and folded by 9am. I spent the next hour and a half going through all the bins in the basement, separating what I could possibly consign and what needed to go straight to Goodwill. Zoya was napping by then, so my mom helped me carry giant  packed garbage bags of clothes to my car. I drive a sedan…but that thing was packed to the brim! Seeing how much stuff I had been holding on to was equal parts shocking and shameful. I could only imagine how much money and time it all amounted to…not to mention the sheer excess. 

At 11am I drove to Crossroads Trading Company in Evanston and consigned what I could. Afterwards, I took the rest straight to Goodwill and broke a sweat loading it into their blue plastic wheelie bins…but it felt so good to say goodbye. Kind of like breaking off a bad relationship. I rewarded myself with an iced tea and pastry from Collectivo Coffee (sustenance is vital, after all!). 

Without losing momentum, I also cleaned out our office and recycled a bunch of old paperwork that I had been saving from the era of nursing school. Another giant box of stuff gone. 

My legs were buzzing by the end of the day but I felt so accomplished. I know for a fact that if I had been allowing myself to take “breaks” to watch Instagram stories, I would have never been as productive.

Day 8 Thursday 10/3/19

I made it one week! My withdrawal from social media was officially gone and I decided to keep going for a bit longer. 

Thursday was date night, planned by Vlad. We had his mom come out and stay in the house with Zoya while we went out to Found Kitchen and Social House. It’s a really cute small plates and cocktail restaurant with eclectic and bohemian decor. We cozied up on a loveseat and ate lamb meatballs and truffle fries and talked. No phones in sight, no documenting on social media…just quality time. 

Day 9 Friday 10/4/19

I was reflecting on my social media break while taking a much deserved shower after an  intense workout. Aren’t long, hot showers some of the best places to ponder life? Not having social media accounts to check and post to every day, multiple times a day was truly liberating. My productivity level skyrocketed in these days. I was more intentional and mentally present while spending time with family and friends. I also wasn’t sharing my life moments on my Insta feed, which made me realize how accustomed I had grown to doing that…and to seeking validation through my sharing. When I needed someone to celebrate a life win with, or someone to comiserate with about a rough morning, the easiest solution was to post about it to my story. I knew my post would generate several responses in my inbox. I could get the instant gratification of just about anything in my life being publicly affirmed with just one snap of the camera. 

It’s less vulnerable than prayer or talking. It’s also cingey and hard to admit, even in the solitude of the shower.

There were also good parts of social media that I really missed, like being able to keep up with my friends in other parts of the world. And seeing everyone’s silly, sarcastic Instagram story posts. 

I began to see clearly that it’s not the social media that’s the problem, it’s the misuse that becomes unhealthy. The mindless scrolling, the low-key affirmation fishing, the comparisons – those are the issues. 

That’s a lot of deep thought for one shower!

As my social media fast comes to an end, I am grateful for the desire I had to do it in the first place. Giving something up is never easy, even if it’s outwardly superficial. Removing myself from social media gave me clarity on how easy it is to become dependent on it, and the faulty tendencies within me. Hindsight is always truly 20/20. 

Going forward, I hope that this experience will serve as a gauge for me. I want to maintain a healthy boundary with social and seek to connect with people in an organic fashion.

I want to be comfortable with my choices simply because I made them, not because my Insta friends sent me a clapping hands emoji.

Certainly, I won’t be perfect. Figuring out how to balance technology with in life is a challenge everyone faces in the world today. For every amazing advance and incredible new platform, there are so many possible pitfalls. 

I’m no exception. I’m just happy to be learning. 

Resolutions for a More Intentional Life

It has been two months since I last wrote, not because I haven’t wanted to, but because I needed the mental break. I wanted to spend the end of summer enjoying our little family to the fullest, not agonize over posts and editing. I also took a purposeful step away from the pressure of “delivering content” to reaffirm within myself what it is that I want to write about. This blog was started with the vision of authenticity, not posting to keep up a following or attain sponsorships. 

Lately, I have been taking very similar steps back in multiple areas of my life. I am uncertain what brought this bought of introspection on; possibly a mix of having a baby and turning 30. 

This is such a cliche, but time really does speed by once you exit your twenties and have kids.

Zoya recently turned ten months and is actually fun to hang around with so my days no longer drag endlessly. In fact, Vlad and I both agreed the other night as we were performing our nightly ritual of cleaning the kitchen, time is now running at the clip of an Olympic track star. 

Given the speed of its passing, these past two months I have been contemplating a lot about how I want to use my time. I want my days to amount to more meaning and purpose than simply getting by. Taking a blogging break was one way to pare down for a moment. It has become apparent to me that there are certain unhealthy habits I need to let go of and certain life-giving ones that I must prioritize much more.

What better way to keep oneself accountable than by sharing on how I plan to use my time with more wisdom and intention in my thirties? 

First, for the habits I want to ditch:

Social media.

Let me just say that there is nothing wrong with social media in its purest form. I think its an amazing way to keep up with friends and an avenue for creativity. But guys, we all can acknowledge that it can be such a time suck. Not to mention all of the insecurities that arise from the unrealistic standards social media purports, and the superficial sense of being connected. Some are better at controlling their usage than others. Admittedly, I am not one of those “better” people. Vlad has called me out countless times and I am finally at the point where I am done making excuses. In fact, I cringingly admit that I am a somewhat irresponsible user who habitually and mindlessly scrolls through social at any point when there is a perceived lag in the time. I don’t even want to know how many hours I’ve wasted looking at other people’s lives instead of living my own. Having said that, I am going on a one week total social media fast (gasp!) in order to detox. Once the week is over, I will resume usage in a (hopefully) more curtailed fashion. 

Netflix.

Again, nothing wrong with it on its own. Vlad and I love to watch psychological thriller or crime shows together after Zoya goes to sleep. It’s a fun way to indulge together…but I also tend to mindlessly watch shows in my free time during the day. I typically find myself flipping on the TV during Zoya’s naps in order to fill in the void of silence and end up half-watching a few episodes while simultaneously scrolling through Instagram, of course (face palm!). Before I know it, an hour has passed by. It’s neither productive nor is it truly restful. Therefore, along with my social media fast, I am also doing a one week personal streaming services fast. Here goes nothing!

Shopping.

OK, so this is a big one for me. Going into stores to browse as a recreational activity is one that I have really started to question lately. It wastes my time. It wastes my money. It feeds into the consumer driven cultural lie that buying something or treating myself will lead to a deep, satisfying and lasting joy. Reality is, all it leads to is piles of stuff that was a great bargain or I thought would be needed one day cluttering up my closets and basement. 

I was recently reading on blogger Meg Hall’s pledge to No Shop ‘19, a year in which she doesn’t shop for any new clothes whatsoever and only buys new toiletries when current items run out. You can read more about her decision here. It’s really inspired me to re-think my buying habits. I don’t know if totally not shopping is a feasible feat for me, but being more intentional with my purchases is possible. This resolution will hopefully not only free up our funds for other types of spending (or saving, cause that’s cool too) but challenge me to stop seeking contentment in a shallow place. 

And now the habits I want to cultivate:

Quiet time: 

I made a whole post about the importance of a regular quiet time, yet I am still on the struggle bus! The reason being not lack of desire, but lack of hours in the day. I am excited to see how cutting out Netflix and social media will impact my ability to really dig into the Word and having quality prayer on a daily basis…and how that will, in turn, affect my spiritual growth and walk on a practical level. 

Reading.

I used to be one of those kids who came out of the library with a giant stack of books every week. Reading helped me learn English as a second language, opened up my worldview and given me a passion for writing. There is so much research available on how sitting down with a good book is so, so good for you. Since getting married, having Zoya and going to grad school, which sucks all the fun out of books, making time to read for fun has been increasingly difficult. I’m not counting non-fiction books I have read on theology for small group and personal growth. The most time I have spent reading for pure fun has been on beach vacations, which we don’t take all that often. That’s just sad. It’s time for a change, so I have been taking time in the evenings after Zoya’s bedtime to just sit and devour a good book. My most recent one has been We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter; it made me laugh and cry and feel all the feels. Hopefully my next one will be just as juicy.

Exercise.

I already work out on a regular basis but not having shopping or social media to serve as distractions will free me up to be a more focused and committed gym member. Crossing my fingers for this one, guys.

I am planning to keep you all posted of my progress and inevitable mishaps via this blog. Once my week-long social media and Netflix fast is complete, I will be putting up a dear diary style post of how the detox went and all the things I accomplished with my free time. I am also gearing up to do a major closet and storage clean-out in order to pare down to a more capsule-style wardrobe and will be documenting that adventure as well. 

It’s going to be radical. 

Until next time! 

A photo of me spending time partaking in a worthy activity: eating spicy fried chicken!

Self Care on a Sunday

Confession: I had a little bit of a meltdown the other day.

There was no particular trigger. Instead, tiny little details took up residence on my shoulders, wearing me down until I broke. Work, figuring out dinner, sleep training, my phone constantly buzzing with brand new text messages coming in from well-meaning friends…suddenly it was all so overwhelming and exhausting.

I came home wailing to Vlad that I needed a break from life. I did the thing I promised myself I wouldn’t do – grin and bear it all until I could no more.

As a extroverted introvert, I love to be around people but ultimately, when I need rest, I have to be alone. I guess I didn’t realize until this very moment that being home alone with Zoya didn’t constitute as true alone time. It’s not like we were having deep soul conversations for hours on a daily basis, but caring for a human depending on me for her every need was pretty depleting. I would try to stop and take a break during her nap times (they are pretty epic and can last as long as 2 hours). Yet, somehow, sitting on the couch surrounded by teething toys and thinking of the pile of dirty dishes in the sink was not very restful. Do you catch the sarcasm there?

I needed to intentionally take time away. From Zoya, from Vlad, from my IPhone.

Self care is so important – this I knew and proclaimed from a pedestal to others, yet I had a very hard time putting it into practice. Looking at things objectively, I had an irrational guilt about leaving my fully capable husband at home with our daughter while I went and did “me”. I cringed at the thought of being thought of as selfish, unproductive or inattentive.

Finally confessing all of this to Vlad in a tearful jag in our semi-lit kitchen at 9pm one night helped reaffirm that not only were my anxieties just that, but that self-care is imperative. It’s like putting on your oxygen mask on first before helping those around you. And it looks a little different for everyone. Together, we made a plan that I would take intentional time away on a regular basis in order to breathe and re-center myself, whatever that meant.

Through this experience, I was also reminded that the ultimate self-care comes from outside oneself. I don’t want to get all cheesy women’s Bible study here, but regular time in the Word coupled with heartfelt prayer renders within me what no amount of candlelit baths or pedicures can. It feels like letting out a sigh of relief. Or putting your head on a familiar shoulder and closing your eyes.

I admit that prior to having this little introspective moment, I had been struggling to find time for a quality quiet time. If Jesus is the living water, and fellowship with Him through prayer and reading the Bible is the way believers can drink of this water, then I was literally running on empty.

“Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.”

That verse is Psalm 119:49-50. This particular psalm paints a beautiful picture of the beauty of dependence and delight in God’s Word. A cure to a lackluster Bible reading experience, if you may. The psalmist confesses to having strayed away at one point and implores God to open his eyes so that he may find true delight in the Word. He then points our numerous reasons the Word is to be delighted in. Reading it has been so relateable and relevant, I may as well have written it myself.

A few weeks have passed since I hit the reset button. I’d love to say that since then I have achieved perfect marks in having a quiet time and generally pausing for some self care. Reality is, it’s still a challenge for me. However, I consider just being mindful of my need a win. Little steps lead to big accomplishments, after all.

As for Vlad, he is ever supportive and encouraging. Today, after a great Sunday morning at church and spending time with sweet friends, he told me to get out of the house. I got in a great workout at the gym and then drove to our local Panera Bread, where I am now sitting and drinking a lemonade (or spilling on myself, depending on which point you catch me at). Also involved was an almond croissant, flaky and delicious. I can honestly say that I feel recharged and excited to come back to the hamster wheel that home can sometimes be.

It’s not an elaborate spa day…but who ever said it had to be?