Thoughts from Days (mostly) Unplugged

There's something to be said about simplicity, isn't there? Slower, less demand, fewer moving pieces--I've found that it is something I greatly desire for my life and my family life. Too many activities and commitments=higher stress & less enjoyment for me. I keep a Google Calendar (What did I do before Google Calendar???? How did I keep my life organized???) and last year, I started to also post a weekly calendar in our kitchen where everyone could see what the week ahead looked like. Some people love have a busy schedule and something planned every day of the week. Me? I need at least two days each week with nothing major/social planned.

I haven't always lived life this way. It might surprise some of you to hear that I was quite the social butterfly in high school. Yes! Me! But then college came along and my first two years (and parts of year three) had some experiences and relationships that deeply damaged my feelings of self worth, my confidence, and my ability to fully open up to people. Let me tell you---it takes a while to come back from that. Those years certainly had a lasting impact on me. I started dating my now husband at the beginning of year three and God has used him to help restore much of what I had lost. My husband has always been a homebody and desires to live a slow, relaxed life. During the years of healing, that has absolutely rubbed off on me and became something that has been essential to me being able to live my life in the best way possible. But as we have moved into different stages of life--new parents, parents of two, parents of a school-aged child--that intentionally simpler way of life feels threatened. How do we adjust to the changes of life while also not letting something so valuable to us be lost in the shuffle? For me, it's become all about re-evaluating as we go along. Some things are fine for a season and some things just simply don't flow with our current rhythm.

My family and I just returned from a week away in northern Michigan and it was wonderful. You know what ended up being the best part about the vacation? No/very limited internet! Our vacation rental didn't have wifi and I have a very tiny data plan on my phone so aside from quick email checks each morning and a few FIT4MOM Grand Rapids Instagram posts, I was unplugged. I didn't miss it one bit. I actually felt a substantial decrease in the weight and pressure and expectation of me keeping up with everyone else's lives. Sure, part of me wondered if perhaps I was missing out on someone announcing some major life event but should those wonderings trump my precious time & energy that I could be using to live my OWN life? One hundred and ten percent NO. I think it was a big wake up call to me about how much time I spend on social media. It was something I strongly desired to work on before vacation but having it basically inaccessible for a week gave me a major reality check. I was faced with the reality of how much time I am wasting observing someone else's life highlights instead of living my own life. I mindlessly scroll through memes and political opinions and company ads and recipes for food I'll probably never make. Now I'm certainly not saying that I think social media is bad or pointless, but I do think it is a waste of our time when we aren't properly managing our use of it. In my own life, that has meant a drastic decrease in time spent on Facebook and Instagram since returning from vacation a week ago. This might sound bizarre but when we walked into our house (welcome back to wifi!), the thought of sitting down and just scrolling, scrolling, scrolling through social media feeds filled me with so much anxiety that I knew I needed to remain mostly disconnected from all of that for awhile. Have you ever had that happen to you? You know you need to make a change and you just keep putting it off and then BAM. You're faced with the undeniable evidence that you need to choose a better path. So...it's been two weeks (mostly) disconnected from Facebook and Instagram. The tricky part is a major aspect of my role with FIT4MOM Grand Rapids is posting on Instagram and Facebook but so far, maintaining social media use via the business accounts has been going fine. Oh, and I couldn't handle disconnecting from the Our Village Facebook group so that's why you still see me posting on there. :-) This change has felt like the necessary step at this time in life for maintaining the slower, more intentional lifestyle that I desire.

Disconnecting from social media has been overwhelmingly positive for me. As I mentioned earlier, I do still have some moments of wondering if I have missed someone announcing some big life event and I also have noticed, understandably, feeling more socially disconnected but I think a major part of that is not attending Stroller Strides very often during the summer. I don't want the school year to begin again, yet I am definitely very excited to be able to attend classes on a more regular basis! As for the positive impacts I have felt--man, there are a plethora: clearer head, fewer anxious feelings, less comparison, more productivity, happier, more time to do more important things, fewer headaches, and better sleep. I'm writing more, reading more, & discovering new musical artists again. (Did you know that I discovered Colbie Caillat on MySpace Music before she had any songs playing on the radio? Just sayin'...) Oh, and I don't have to charge my phone as often. :-)

I had one small fear in sharing all of this: that everyone will think that all I did with my time was look at Facebook & Instagram and neglected my family. This could not be further from the truth but, judging by the wonderful changes I have noticed during the last two weeks, I can unequivocally see that I was hindering myself from being the woman that God has created me to be. I have so many dreams and desires and ideas but when your mind is so overwhelmed and cluttered with useless junk, how can you adequately embrace the life you were intended to live? I constantly come back to Mary Oliver's quote--"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild & precious life?" I fully recognize that not everyone will, or needs, to follow what I have done. I don't have a timeline in my head of how long this will last and to what degree but it's easy to see that a change needed to happen. I do want to challenge you, though, to check out your life and check out your desires for your life. Something holding you back? Something unworthy taking up your valuable, precious time? Now is the time to make the change.

We aren't getting any younger but hopefully we are getting wiser. Don't waste your one wild & precious life.