Facebook Free July

Last summer I took a Facebook break after an online posting battle with someone, whom I love very much, left me rather ashamed of myself (not ashamed of my opinions and views, but for hashing them out in such a public forum).  The break was a liberating experience, and I posted about it here and here.  I learned a lot about myself from that break, and I decided that I would take another month-long break this summer.  This time the break is less to learn about myself but more to focus on myself.

This break has been a lot easier than last summer.  I didn’t have to “detox.”  I haven’t logged in a single time to check on anything.  I haven’t felt the need to unfriend anyone.  None of that; it’s been a fairly low-key event.  I did have a work friend ask me if I was mad at her when she discovered she couldn’t post anything to my wall – I had to laugh because there is nothing she could do that would anger me.  It’s just a break.  I’ll be back.  How else will I keep in touch with my family and friends spread across the country?  I hate talking on the phone!

I’ve once again missed numerous July birthdays and other important events.  Lesson learned: I need to rely less on Facebook to inform me of important dates.  Hm… maybe this is where a calendar would be useful?  Novel idea.

I am taking a Mindfulness class this summer, and today our instructor sent us a really great article on using social media in a mindful manner.  The article, written by Lori Deschene, is found here:  Ten Mindful Ways to Use Social Media.  I’ve reposted it below.  Definitely some good tips in it.

10 Mindful Ways to Use Social Media by Lori Deschene

  1. Know your intentions.

Doug Firebaugh of SocialMediaBlogster.com has identified seven psychological needs we may be looking to meet when we log on: acknowledgment, attention, approval, appreciation, acclaim, assurance, and inclusion. Before you post, ask yourself: Am I looking to be seen or validated? Is there something more constructive I could do to meet that need?

  1. Be your authentic self.

In the age of personal branding, most of us have a persona we’d like to develop or maintain. Ego-driven tweets focus on an agenda; authenticity communicates from the heart. Talk about the things that really matter to you. If you need advice or support, ask for it. It’s easier to be present when you’re being true to yourself.

  1. If you propose to tweet, always ask yourself: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?

Sometimes we post thoughts without considering how they might impact our entire audience. It’s easy to forget how many friends are reading. Two hundred people make a crowd in person, but online that number can seem insignificant. Before you share, ask yourself: is there anyone this might harm?

  1. Offer random tweets of kindness.

Every now and then I ask on Twitter, “Is there anything I can do to help or support you today?” It’s a simple way to use social media to give without expectations of anything in return. By reaching out to help a stranger, you create the possibility of connecting personally with followers you may have otherwise known only peripherally.

  1. Experience now, share later.

It’s common to snap a picture with your phone and upload it to Facebook or email it to a friend. This overlaps the experience of being in a moment and sharing it. It also minimizes intimacy, since your entire audience joins your date or gathering in real time. Just as we aim to reduce our internal monologues to be present, we can do the same with our digital narration.

  1. Be active, not reactive.

You may receive email updates whenever there is activity on one of your social media accounts, or you might have your cell phone set to give you these types of alerts. This forces you to decide many times throughout the day whether you want or need to respond. Another approach is to choose when to join the conversation, and to use your offline time to decide what value you have to offer.

  1. Respond with your full attention.

People often share links without actually reading them, or comment on posts after only scanning them. If the greatest gift we can give someone is our attention, then social media allows us to be endlessly generous. We may not be able to reply to everyone, but responding thoughtfully when we can makes a difference.

  1. Use mobile social media sparingly.

In 2009, Pew Research found that 43 percent of cell phone users access the Web on their devices several times a day. It’s what former Microsoft employee Linda Stone refers to as continuous partial attention—when you frequently sign on to be sure you don’t miss out anything. If you choose to limit your cell phone access, you may miss out online, but you won’t miss what’s in front of you.

  1. Practice letting go.

It may feel unkind to disregard certain updates or tweets, but we need downtime to be kind to ourselves. Give yourself permission to let yesterday’s stream go. This way you won’t need to “catch up” on updates that have passed but instead can be part of today’s conversation.

  1. Enjoy social media!

These are merely suggestions to feel present and purposeful when utilizing social media, but they aren’t hard-and-fast rules. Follow your own instincts and have fun with it. If you’re mindful when you’re disconnected from technology, you have all the tools you need to be mindful when you go online.

Lori Deschene is the founder of @TinyBuddha on Twitter and tinybuddha.com, a multi-author blog that features wisdom and stories from people all over the world.  From Tricycle magazine.

I’m a Bad Mom and a Bad Wife and a Bad Friend and a Bad Employee

At least, that is how I feel lately.  I am seriously struggling with this medication switch.  I have zero patience, everything is personal, and I’m going into bitch mode more and more often.  I can’t even begin to name the number of times I yelled at Lucy yesterday, or let something small blow up into something huge in my head.  Is this what I would be like unmedicated?  I don’t know how people with anxiety and depression coped before medications came about.

I have a follow up this week.  I can get through this.  In the meantime, my husband needs to understand I’m not acting this way because I want to.  And I need to make sure I take a breath (or seven) before responding to my daughter and her four-year-old-ness.  Because she is only four.  She acts like a four year old.  She reacts like a four year old.  She is selfish like a four year old.  She is unconditionally loving and forgiving like a four year old.  She needs a calm, happy and loving momma.

“Religion Is Like A Penis…”

I’ve wanted to post something along these lines for such a long time. It’s been a long process, but I’ve finally accepted what I know I’ve always felt and it has been so liberating to allow myself the freedom to admit it. A Momma’s View has put into words what I’ve always been terrified to write about. I commend her bravery and appreciate her honesty.

A Momma's View

“Religion is like a penis. It’s fine to have one and it’s fine to be proud of it, but please don’t whip it out in public and start waving it around…”

Oh my! Did I really just write that???

Please do not take any offense when reading this post. I only share my thoughts with you. I am only telling you about how I feel in regards to religion and the way it is handled and lived by certain people, by certain groups. I am not telling anybody out there what they should do or shouldn’t (well, as long as you don’t force anything on me).

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Dependence

I’ve struggled with dependence for a long time, but not in the way you might be thinking.  I struggle with allowing myself to be dependent on someone, something.  I hate not being in control or having at least some degree of control.  I will punch you in the face if you try to pick me up.  Even when I would drink “a little too much” in my earlier years, I was still the soberest drunk in the bunch.  This is also the reason I’ve never tried illegal drugs – I have the feeling that I would like them WAY too much.  I mean, I like caffeine WAY too much – can you imagine how crazy I would get on meth or crack (though I’ve always thought I would be more of a coke kind of girl)?!  But in all seriousness, this is the reason I refuse to use narcotic pain killers.  Luckily I’ve never been in a place where I really needed them, but the one vicoden I took after I broke my foot made me realize that I need to avoid the vicoden.

My husband and I are both very independent people.  We have our “together” things, but we have plenty of our own things as well.  And we are both okay with the other pursuing those other things.  I’ve never been worried, or jealous, or insecure about what he is doing when I am not around, and vice versa.  This isn’t intended to be taken to mean that I am not dependent on him at all.  I’ve loved him since our second date when I was 21 years old.  I’ve loved him through the happy times, through the four years we were apart, and every day since we found each other again.  I will never not love him.  

Growing up I learned that if I wanted something done, I was going to have to do it myself.  Many hard lessons were learned this way, but I am glad of them.  My parents never hovered over me or distrusted me (at least, I don’t think they distrusted me).  Even through the crappy 19th year of my life they let me declare my independence and make a LOT-LOT-LOT of stupid mistakes.   And this isn’t intended to be taken to mean that they left me to flounder.  They let me learn those life lessons, and they bailed me out on occasion, because they love me, and because they knew I needed it.

I am dependent on my family, my friends, my baby, my job… these are not things that are difficult to be dependent on.  They are privileges, and I am happy to give myself up to them. 

There is one thing in my life that I am absolutely dependent on that I hate being dependent on.  If I forget to take my Zoloft for one day, things are okay.  Two days, things start to irritate me.  Three days, I am a total bitch who can’t handle anything that isn’t status quo and just wants to sleep.  And if I let myself get to that point (I really am insanely forgetful – “mom brain”), then it is no longer that I forgot to take it and more that I start fighting the dependence I have on it.  I’ve always managed to snap myself out of it and start taking the damn pills again, but holy crap, why do I let myself get to that place?  There is nothing wrong with needing medication, and I am a huge advocate of taking that step if it is going to help you.  And I obviously need it.  And it obviously helps me.  

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A Month Without Facebook {and what I discovered}

I managed to go approximaely 36 days without Facebook.  I did log back in (briefly) once to check out some photos that were mentioned to me, and another time to do some “cleaning”, but I deactivated right away.  Well, we’ve decided to host a gathering at the end of the month, and so I decided to reactivate for the ease of inviting people.  I’m not going to lie – I rely on Facebook to communicate with most people outside of my few close friends and family.

The first few days were tough.  It took some time on my part to stop thinking in terms of Facebook updates.  Sometimes I still do, but I no longer have the desire to actually post them.  I probably missed a few birthdays, but I’m sure no one noticed my lack of “happy birthday” posts on their wall.

I wish I could say that without Facebook I was a more productive person, but that would be a big fat lie.  Facebook was merely substituted with other forms of time suckers – Pinterest, Instagram, WordPress, craft blogs, online shopping…  In this regard my experiment was a failure.  Facebook-free does not equal a more productive Caroline.  

It did equal a happier Caroline, though.  Not having a barrage of information about politics, social welfare, news, religion, etc. was incredibly liberating.  I freely admit that I don’t purposely seek out news information.  This isn’t because I am uneducated or because I don’t care, it’s because I care too much.  If I know what is going on in the world, I stress. Stress makes me unhappy.  I don’t like being unhappy, so I don’t go to news websites or read the paper.  We don’t have cable or basic stations, so I don’t have news via television either.  I would usually get my news updates from Facebook, and not having that made me feel so much better.  More ignorant?  Yes, probably.  But happy.  Ignorance really is bliss.

In this regard, I also felt as though my blood pressure remained at a healthy level.  I didn’t have to read anyone’s rants, and I didn’t post any of my own.  This is probably the most important result of my Facebook hiatus.  For me personally, Facebook is not the place to have an opinion.  It is the place to see my friends’ beautiful babies.  It is the place to rejoice in my friends’ happiness and support them in their sorrows.  It is a place to connect, but it is not a place to hold court.  Some people might be capable of having stimulating, productive, meaningful conversations on Facebook.  I am not one of those people.  

So there it is.  I am now back on Facebook, and I am a much wiser person after my break.  I am now an observor, not a participator.  I will be the first person to “like” your first day back to school pictures and wish you congratulations on the birth of your baby, but I will not be sucked into drama and I will not let Facebook make me unhappy.

Don’t Count Your Chickens… But Absolutely Count Your Blessings

I’m overwhelmed.  My department of three is reduced to a department of one for the next two to six weeks.  Unplanned illness and planned surgery swept through our department, and I am the one left standing.  I do have someone helping when she can, which is greatly appreciated.  I will never refuse help.

I’m also halfway through my horrible statistics class.  The midterm was brutal.  By far one of the most difficult tests I have ever taken.  I managed to get a B (yay for weighted curves!) but I am so unmotivated to buckle down and finish.  I need to just do it.  Just finish.

So instead of focusing on the overwhelm, I am going to focus on the happy.  There are so many people, places, things, and thoughts that make me happy.  It is too easy to overlook them when life gets rough.

Lulu.  She is my sun.  My blonde haired, blue-eyed, sarcastic, hilarious, beautiful, and frustrating world.  Everything begins and ends with Lulu.

Husband.  I’ve loved him since our second date in 2002.  12 years of knowing, 8 years of dating, and 5 years of marriage later – I still love him.  And when I want to punch him, I think about some of the other husbands I know, and then I only want to smack him.  Also the best father in the world.  We aren’t perfect, but it works.

Mom and Dad.  They made me.  They raised me.  We all survived those first 18-22 years of my life (barely) and I am a good person because of them.  It wasn’t always easy and fun, but they never gave up on me.

MIL and FIL.  They made Husband.  They raised him.  They all survived and he is a good person because of them.  They are amazing grandparents to their three grandkids.  They are kind and generous.  They accepted me into their family since day one.

Nieces and nephews.  They range from 6 months to 13 years.  Nephews are smart and funny, and love Lulu so much.  I don’t get to see nieces as often as I want, but their photos and videos always light up my day.  Just knowing those four amazing little girls exist makes my world a better place.

Linsey and Alysha.  My best friends.  I can’t wait to grow into old ladies with them.

Family and friends not mentioned above.  They are my support network.  Nothing would work in my life without them.

Iowa City, lately.  Not my favorite place during winter, but so so nice the other four months of the year!  Sometimes I remember to just look around, at the trees, hills, creatures, farm fields, and old houses.  It is so different from what I grew up knowing, and I am constantly in awe of it.

My job, and the people who come with it.  It’s the first job I’ve ever had where I feel like I have a future.  Despite being overwhelmed because of unforseen circumstances, I do truly enjoy coming to work every day.  A really amazing support network resides here, and if it weren’t for work I would never have applied to grad school.

Grad School.  I don’t know if it will prove a blessing or a curse, but grad school is something exciting on the horizon that I am looking forward to. It is my second chance to prove to myself that I am that smart girl who existed so long ago.

Fabric.  Cutting it up and sewing it into something beautiful and useful and cherished is delightful.  I like to imagine the pretty things it will become.

Books.  All sorts.  And when all else fails, I can escape reality through the words of Austen.   

Writing.  I am not a great writer, and I have no aspirations of ever having a well read blog, but writing is my personal therapy.  Perhaps deep down a pet dream would be to have a blog like hers, but I am realistic (and not remotely as talented as she is).  

Modern science.  Without it, I would probably be a raving lunatic!

And, since everything begins and ends with Lulu,…

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Thinking Outside the {Facebook Status Update} Box

Today marks Day 2 of my Facebook detox (as my best friend called it this morning).  Facebook detox is the perfect way to describe it.  Especially after the eye-opening realization that came to me yesterday:

Facebook = Crack

I never realized how much I relied on Facebook in my down time.  Need a quick break from working?  Facebook!  Waiting in line somewhere?  Facebook!  Walking from point A to point B?  Facebook!  The kid is watching Jake and the Neverland Pirates for the 765th time this week?  Facebook!

I also never realized how many Facebook status updates I composed in my head throughout the day.  I certainly never posted every thought that popped into my head (unlike some people who seem to think every thought is worthy of the FB status update) but I definitely constructed them in my mind.  The kid did something funny?  Facebook!  Something pissed me off?  Facebook!  Read an article?  Facebook!  Saw a good deed?  Facebook!

Facebook = Crack

(I would like to note at this point that I have never used crack.  I do not actually know from firsthand experience what the effects of crack are on the human body.)

My friend was listening to NPR on her drive in to work this morning, and there was a story about stress and anxiety.  Most of the people polled said news media and stories were the main sources of their stress and anxiety.  The main blame was social media.  I would love to find the print article or listen to the story.  I did a quick Google search, and millions of articles came up about the effects that social media has on stress and anxiety.  Millions.

 

social media

 

I browsed a few, but I certainly don’t have time to read 48 million articles.  I am guessing that many of these articles are actually about social anxiety disorder, without the media part of it.  I wonder what the implications of social media are on those with social anxiety disorder?  That would be a discussion for someone much smarter than me.

I hope that as I continue my detox I can stop thinking about status updates and what to do in my downtime and start focusing on being present in the real world.  The real world with all of its random, crazy, ugly, beautiful and exciting chaos.

EDIT:  My friend sent me the news article I mentioned above:  Bingeing on Bad News Can Fuel Daily Stress

The Pit of Emotion

I internalize what goes on around me.  If a co-worker is cranky, I get cranky.  If my husband is stressed, I get stressed.  If my best friend is sad, I get sad.

I internalize the things I read, the websites I visit, the conversations I overhear.  If I read an upsetting news article before bed my brain will refuse to shut down for hours.  I have a love/hate relationship with social media – Facebook, Pinterest and the like.  These things are chock full of perceived reasons to feel dissatisfied with your own life.  Even if those reasons have no basis in reality.

I’m pragmatic.  I know that life is not a beautiful Pinterest board, that children are not always well-behaved, houses are not always clean, news is not always good, and people around us are not always cheerful and happy.  So WHY do I take all of these external forces outside of my control and embody them to live and fester and create this gaping pit inside of me?  I feel like I exist with a swarm of butterflies in my stomach.  I’m always slightly on edge, slightly nauseous, waiting for something to happen.  The past few months have been awful in this respect.  Good news followed by bad.  Death, birth, sadness, worry, excitement… it’s all there, inside of me, churning away.

I’m working on finding ways to chill out.  Day 1 without Facebook is helping.

Maybe cutting back on caffeine would help, but then I would be bitchy instead of anxious.  And believe me, nobody wants that.