Posted in life

How Facebook Made Me Lose Ground

For the past six months I’ve been off of Facebook.  It has been with its ups and downs.  I’m sometimes out of the loop (not always a bad thing.)  I’m sometimes starved for interaction and attention by people who are over the age of three.  The longer I’ve gone, the easier it has gotten, but some days I miss it like I miss other things I’ve given up.  But missing something doesn’t always mean it was good for you and that you should invite it back in your life.  You can just miss it and that’s okay.

Yesterday evening my husband shared a thread with me on Facebook concerning the Superbowl Half time show.  The comments were entertaining and I felt a longing.  An absence.  A true loss for my friends and family that I rarely if ever talk to anymore.

“Maybe I should get back on,” I said. I tossed the idea around a little while and then before you know it, I logged back into my account.  “I’ll just lurk,” I said.  “No one has to know I’m here.”  Because after all, the addiction for me came with the attention I received from comments or status updates.  I was always wanting to check and see if I had a notification.  Had someone liked something?  Had someone commented?

I began my reintroduction to Facebook by reading my news feed; which was uneventful.  Then I jumped around to different people’s pages to see what they had going in their life.  One thing I saw would make me want to check out something else and I was reading and lurking to my heart’s content. It literally sucked probably two and a half hours of my evening from me.  Two and a half hours where I would be doing something else.  Something, quite frankly, that mattered.

The dishes didn’t get done.  My daughter didn’t get put to bed until way late and was hyped up like no other.  I didn’t write in my gratitude journal.  (something I’ve been diligent about) nor did I read my devotion.)  It seriously wrecked my evening.  I was out of sorts.  Yet I still told myself that it was harmless and I’d just keep my account activated anyway, and try to control it. I wouldn’t let it get out of hand.  I would only be a lurker.  For a while anyway.

Leaving the Facebook story, but I’ll be back:

For the past six weeks I’ve been really trying to retrain my thoughts.  There has been quite a bit of “stuff” going on in my life.  I have been sick since before Christmas and then the day after Christmas, Ashlynn was put in the hospital again, three hours away from home.  I was with her, which meant I was away from my family and it was brutal on me.

During this time, I became mad at God but needed something to help me.  I was feeling lots of toxic emotions that weren’t serving anyone.  I reacquainted myself with Louise Hay, a woman who has helped many with healing and positive philosophy.  If you’re not familiar with her, and are interested in what I’m about to say, I would recommend you look up her website or check out her book You Can Heal Your Life. Basically her ideas follow along with the Law of Attraction; simply what you think, say, and believe is what will be manifested in your life.  She teaches you how to become very aware of your thoughts and to notice how many times you berate yourself or are pessimistic or critical of yourself.   Something I was doing a lot.

A person thinks between 50,000-70,000 thoughts a day and usually they are the same ones over and over, day after day.  Instead of criticizing yourself:  I’m too fat.  I’m lazy.  I never finish what I start.  That will never happen for me.  I never have enough money etc, the idea is to change these negative affirmations to positive affirmations and your life will change, because the Universe will bring you what you say.

So I’ve been doing it y’all.  Diligently.   I tell myself I love myself everyday.  I approve of myself.  I am a capable person.   I speak positive things when I catch myself being negative or critical of myself or others.   My affirmations change daily because what I feel changes daily.  So sometimes I may repeat over and over “I deserve to be happy” and another day it may be “doors are opening for me”.

When I began,  I truly shocked myself by the amount of negative and critical thoughts that rolled through my mind; about myself and others. I can tell you that I believe it has helped me.  It has helped my self-esteem, my attitude, my level of contentment.  It has given me a new perspective.

After delving into Louise Hay, I then started exploring related teachers.  The next one being Wayne Dyer.  His teaching follows along with the same idea of what you put out into the Universe will come back to you, good or bad.   I happened to have his book as well.  From where it came, I do not know, which to me was just a sign that I am heading in the right direction.  The book I currently read of his is called Wisdom of the Ages.  It is a compilation of insightful and enlightened teachers from the history of the world and their writings.  People like Michelangelo, Francis of Assisi, Buddha and Jesus Christ.  It covers topics of the heart:  hope, meditation, wisdom, love and what these teachers from the past had to say about them that is still relevant to us today.

Now, before I go further I want to stop here and say for all those that are concerned about my soul and that I am on the road to hell, may I reassure you I’m okay. I am not lost.  I know that this post may sound a little “out there” and even my sister has gently encouraged me to not turn into a kook and get too weird.  I’m no longer mad at God.  The truth is I couldn’t NOT talk to him.  I love my Lord Jesus. But my spiritual walk is broadening, I like to believe.  I think there may be more out there than what I’ve been brought up to believe.  Not that the Bible is a lie.  No way. But that perhaps denominations have put their focus on rules rather than love.    Scriptures have been taken out of context and too much emphasis has been put on sin and repentance, rather than love and acceptance.  I believe the Bible speaks of the law of attraction as well. Ask and it shall be given, knock and the door shall be opened, seek and ye shall find.  The power of life and death is in the tongue.  You reap what you sow.

Louise Hay compares the process of changing our thoughts to seed planting.  That if you were to plant a tomato seed, you wouldn’t expect it to have tomatoes the next day.   It takes time and you have to tend it.  It’s the same with the thoughts.  Even if you don’t believe the thoughts at first, still say them. They are seeds you are planting. You can’t say a thought once, and fill the rest of your day with toxic thoughts and expect positive changes.   You expect a seed to produce good fruit, and in the same way, your positive thoughts will produce good results.  After planting the tomato seed, when the sprout comes up, you would never go to your garden and stomp on it, you are delighted with what has produced from the seed.  So when good things start happening in your life because of your positive affirmations, don’t stomp on them, don’t let doubt in by saying things like “I can’t believe that worked” or “this will never last”.   Continue in the manner and be grateful for what you have.

Now I return to my Facebook story: There are studies out there claiming Facebook can make us unhappy.  That is causes us to feel worse about ourselves and lowers our level of life satisfaction.  Although I’ve read these studies, I don’t know that I even believed them wholly until I experienced it first hand.

Last night, after I had spent hours wasting time reading about other people’s lives, I finally pulled myself out of the recliner and went to get ready for bed.  As I was changing into my gown, I looked at my body in the mirror and BAM, there was a negative thought.  I noticed it right away because during the last several weeks I have become very aware of the thoughts I have. Following that negative thought of my body image, my mind immediately thought of a picture I had seen on Facebook of someone I barely know doing something I think is remarkable. I immediately felt jealous of this person whom I barely know doing a remarkable thing, a thing I secretly want to do.  I am sure I felt jealousy earlier when I saw it initially, but was too busy scrolling to acknowledge my envy, although I did point it out to my husband.

And then…….to top it off after my negative thought of myself, and my jealousy thought of a practical stranger, I began to criticize her and compare her situation in life to my own.  My thoughts went something like this.  “Well, she’s not stuck at home all day with a 3-year-old.  She doesn’t have a job.  What does she do all day?  If I had the whole day to myself, I could accomplish so much more as well.”

Friends, all of this happened in a very short time.  It wasn’t something I dwelled upon.  In the amount of time it took to put a gown over my head, these thoughts had bombarded my brain.  Taken over.  Reigned supreme.  I went from self-hate, to envy, to criticizing others, to comparison.  None of which was beneficial to me.

“Whoa.” I thought.  This is unreal.  I really couldn’t believe that my time spent on Facebook after six months of not being on Facebook could derail my progress like it did.

After I realized the impact it had on me, I couldn’t deactivate my account fast enough. I am my own case study.  I’m not here to slam Facebook.  I know that it serves a good purpose much of the time, but for me, it is like a sip of whiskey to an alcoholic.  I just don’t want to go there again.  Not that I won’t ever, but I like myself better every day.  I love myself more every day.  And those around me. I miss my Facebook  friends.  I even miss the practical strangers.  But last night, I experienced something profound.   A true learning experience and I would be foolish not to pay attention.

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Posted in Dear Diary, Faith, Family

What happened when I quit Facebook

I quit facebook.  It was huge for me.  I think either today, tomorrow, or the next day marks two weeks.  Two weeks!

I don’t even know why I did it, except that somewhere in the past few years, months, weeks, or days, when it happened I’m not sure, but at some point, I kind of lost myself.  It’s not face book’s fault, but just a combination of my choices.  Maybe it’s never happened to you, but I got to the point where I just found myself sick to death of everything, including myself.  So I pulled the plug.  I can’t pretend it wasn’t hard.  Within moments my mind was racing with pathetic thoughts. The first thing I worried about was that if I died, while not on Facebook, no one would be able to visit my wall to eulogize me and tell my loved ones how much they missed me.  Or give a nice story.  Or even know I died at all.  That thought process right there may be indicative of the health of my mind at the time.

The next thought, after the death one, was that my sister’s birthday was coming up in a couple of days and just how was I going to handle that?  Usually it was an ol’ happy bd fb post, but now I would need an alternate method.  To the card store I went.   It got me thinking that I didn’t receive one card in the mail on my previous birthday, except from Bealls, the local department store, with a friendly $10 gift to use toward my purchase.  I may not have received a card for my birthday, but I know I probably got more than a hundred fb messages.  What is that saying about us as people?  Anything at all?  Sending cards will soon be filed away in the same archaic vault as sending a lock of hair to a loved one.  I almost sent one to my sister, just for old times sake.

Then over the next few days of my fb fast, I would catch myself thinking “I should put that on Facebook”.  Or wondering about certain people who I only kept in contact with through that venue.  It was comparable to a grieving process, how for a brief moment you  pick up the phone to call your mom or your dad, only to remember they’re no longer living.  But as the days passed, it became easier and better.  I haven’t really missed it.  Except maybe, a little.

I did want to post Ashlynn’s first day of 10th grade, so here it is:

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Isn’t she lovely?  This was the day after she was released from the hospital with yet another stomach blockage due to adhesions.  It had been a while since we have had to deal with this, and it was downright scary. She spent three days in there feeling terribly.  Normally, I would have been straight on fb for prayer, because it is a great avenue for that.  My sister kept the Facebook world updated and many prayers came for healing and I am much appreciative. I know her healing is from God and I know the many prayers of friends and family reached the heavens.

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Friends helped keep her spirits up.  She developed a nasty cough right afterwards, but about has that whipped now too and is on to smooth sailing.

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So here it is nearly September, and we are squeezing the last drops out of summer as we can.  We went and took Emma out on a paddle boat the other day and found ourselves way too far out with just a few minutes to get back.  Our thighs were burning trying to get back to the dock in time.  Emma was crying in the beginning, she is such a cautious child and really tends to get anxious at new things, but she was all smiles in no time.  A package of m&m’s might have helped.

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She’s a full blooded two and a half year old now and keeps me laughing.  She’s so good and a true blessing and joy in all of our lives. I really need to write down more of what she says because they’re just so darn funny.

All in all, since my fb sabbatical (and my deletion of all other social media, save pinterest and words with friends) I am feeling much more light hearted.  I’m finding my focus, which primarily should be on the people who live under my roof.  Other than that, each day is just a repeat of the previous.  Sometimes it’s drudgery, sometimes it’s chaos, but there is always beauty to be found when I pause long enough to look around.

The big things are still the same:  I’m still trying to find my purpose in life and  still trying to grow my bangs out, both of which might take to the end of my days.  And in the event the end of my days might come, you might have to go to the card store to send a condolence.  Go ahead and stick a lock of hair in their too, okay, just for old times sake.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Life in the Real World

I have an addiction to Facebook.

Before that I had an addiction to MySpace.

And before that, I had an addiction to different community forums like exercise and teaching ideas where I could converse with others and learn from them.

I guess it’s not the worse addiction you can have, it’s not terribly expensive, but like any addiction it controls my mind and steals my time.

I remember when the internet was invented, yes I do.  I was at my sister’s house, she was showing me around the World Wide Web and it was a confusing mess with its browser buttons and home page.  I remember thinking I would never understand it and why would I even need to.

Then, for me anyway,  computers were for writing college papers and nothing more.  A fancy typewriter that didn’t need correction tape.  There were no such things as digital photos or downloadable music.   We had 35 mm film and a cassette player.  What more could we possibly need?

I have grown to love the internet, in the most unhealthy of ways.  If I counted the hours of my life that has been, dare I say it, robbed by sitting in front of the computer, I would be riddled with guilt.  It is my Encyclopedia  Britannica.  My source of information at my fingertips.  It is my friend finder, connector to others and relationship builder.   And with my blog, it is my voice.

It’s not all bad.  The internet has taught me much.  Where would my brain be without all the useless knowledge with which I’ve filled it?   It has brought me closer to others.  In the last few years of my dad’s life, we grew to know one another  in a deeper, more personal way.  A way in which we never would have experienced if left to our own conversational abilities, of which neither of us are considered stellar.   And I cherish that.  But with the invention of smart phones, the connection to the internet has gone overboard for me.  Even though I want to believe it is enriching my life, I often wonder if it is in reality sucking the life out of me.

Two weeks ago I deactivated my Facebook account.  Like an addict, I can say today it has been 14 days since I’ve drunk in Facebook, snorted the comments of others, inhaled the sometimes hateful, sometimes loving, sometimes funny, sometimes snarky remarks and jokes of friends and family.

I ain’t gonna lie, I’ve missed it.  It is the first thing I think about doing when I wake up, and throughout the day I catch myself wanting to write on my wall and cyberstalk others.  But it’s been one of the best things I’ve done as well.  I long for the connections with others, but I tell myself that anyone who gives a rip about me has my number, knows my address, maybe has my email and can find me if they truly want to.  It’s nice to have been missed by a few, but for the most part, I’ve discovered my “friends” are merely “acquaintances”.

Will I be back?  Who’s to say.  I’m working on my real-life relationships instead.  Trying to improve my real-life self and draw meaning from this place called life.

So if you’re reading, thanks for stopping by.

I wish you’d say hi.

I probably miss you.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Angel Unplugged

Yesterday I did something radical.

I unplugged.

I spent the day (well most of it) with no connection to the outside.  Newsweek published an article in their August 10th edition entitled Technology:  Is it making addicts of us all?

It went on to say “Next year, for the first time, “Internet use disorder’ will be listed in the appendix of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.”

So now it’s a disorder.

I love technology.  I love the internet.  I love that the whole world is at my fingertips.  I am a knowledge seeker and I think it’s cooler than crap that I can just google something and instantly know the answer where previously I would have just scratched my head in curiosity and went about my business.  But if I want to know if EK is developing on target.  Bam!  If I want to know how to finish a seam without a serger.  Bam.  If I want to know how much money is in my bank account.  Bam.  If I want to know how many calories I’m supposed to eat and be able to lose a pound a week.  Bam.

The internet has helped me raise chickens.  It’s helping me raise my kid.  It finds better words for me when I’ve used the word helped too much.  With the internet I can put my thoughts out there for the world to critique and I can pay my bills on time with online bill pay.  And then there’s the whole social networking thing.  Yes, I’m speaking of Facebook.  Before that there was myspace, and before that there were chat rooms and forums.   It helps me have friends on my own terms.

So yeah, I like technology.

I’m on my computer a lot.  And if I’m not on my computer, I’m on my phone.  But I don’t want to be addicted.  I don’t want to be mastered by it.  I do not want to have a pathological relationship with my devices.  According to the Newsweek article, internet addicts are considered those who are online more than 38 hours a week.  That’s about 5.5 hours a day (and I didn’t have to google that).  In addition, brain scans of these people can resemble those of cocaine addicts and alcoholics due to a shot of dopamine the reward center of our brain receives each time we receive instant gratification of a text, tweet, email alert etc.

Internet addict?  That’s me.

So I asked for my husband’s help and told him my plan of spending a day unplugged.  I sweetly asked him to take my phone and my computer with him when he left for work the next day.  Yes, I’m that weak.  Well, guess what?  He didn’t.  So yesterday morning, I was faced with the moral dilemma of “should I really go through with this or wait until another time?”  I decided to forge ahead and standing on a very tall stool, I grievously put my “devices” in the top of my bedroom closet and began my day.

I’m not going to lie to you.  It was tough.  The first thing I wanted to do was check the weather on my weather app, but instead I stepped outside.  Brilliant idea, huh?

I couldn’t call anyone, I couldn’t text anyone.

At one point, I thought I smelled a grassfire. Like an Indian brave, I scanned the horizon, sniffing the wind.  I got nothing.  Oh well, guess I’ll evacuate when I see the flames.

Throughout the day, my mind was “online”.

But it was oh-so-good for me.

  • Emma and I had a fun day because I wasn’t distracted a bit by anything else.
  • During her naps, my house got a wee bit cleaner.
  • I had supper cooked by 3:00.
  • I wrote this blog out long handed and awoken my middle finger callous.  He’s been sleeping way too long anyway.
  • I prayed longer and more often.
  • I spent more time outdoors, despite the wind.
  • I held my baby and tried to imagine a few years down the road when she won’t want to be held and I’ll wish I had this day back.

I felt refreshed, lightened, un-cluttered.  So much so, that I’m going to try to make it a once a week occurrence.

J-Dub returned home around 4:30.  He claimed he hadn’t forgotten to take my devices, he just knew I could do it.  Then arose the question of “when is my unplugged day over?”  Is it when my husband came home and theoretically brought my devices back to me?  Is it 24 hours front the time I decided to do it?  Is it at midnight?  I decided for no good reason, that at 8:30 my unplugged day would be over.

And I got my fix.

You want to know what I discovered?

I hadn’t missed a thing.