These are weird times. I'm going to say that again... THESE ARE REALLY WEIRD TIMES. At first, I will admit, I kind of enjoyed the Covid isolation. It's good to get a reset, focus on whats going on in your four walls and just recharge your mind. Wiping my crazy calendar of soccer games, meetings and social responsibilities wasn't so terrible in the beginning. In small doses, it makes you more intentional with your time and more conscience of your choices. In large doses, it makes you want to run screaming down the street, to bang on the doors of a closed and empty pub. Can anyone relate?
This second, third, fourth, oh, who the hell is counting anymore, lockdown has required us to rely more on social media, technology and virtual sharing. I obviously love to virtually share, or I wouldn't be sitting on my couch right now, looking like a tired Britney Spears on bad day, writing this post. This blog has been an outlet. Nowadays, I find myself migrating to my computer to write when I am feeling really high or really low. Writing has become my virtual counselor. It's funny you don't consciously go to your outlet, your brain just moves on auto-pilot towards what it needs. All of the sudden I have a cold cup of coffee at my side and the steady clicking of my keyboard starts to dance in time with whatever band I am feeling that day. (CCR, Fleetwood Mac, Leon Bridges, Elton John, The Beatles most days.) It's comforting to talk things out in my head, I admit it. My inner dialogue is enough to both scare and amuse given the subject matter, for today its being social when being social means being unsocial. (Pour a drink, I will explain.)
Since our move I have experienced the many pluses of being social on social media. First, I found my writing outlet again. Huge plus. We also have managed to keep in regular contact with both friends and family, even across 7 time zones. Those who have vowed to stay in touch have really risen to the challenge, getting up early or staying up late to catch up. Our conversations may last late into the night, but I always feel recharged getting to hear how everyone is doing back home. Another huge plus. Most surprisingly, technology has connected us to our NEW neighbors. After moving in, we were invited to a highly attended weekly game night, virtual style. We have started to look forward to it every Friday night. What has been even more heartwarming is that our new neighbors try to throw in questions that even the silly American's may know, just so we don't feel like the biggest losers every time we play. (We still manage to blow some questions... Zac is not yet over misjudging the year Zelda came out. In fact, he may never get over it.) Lastly, being a bit more on social media has encouraged me to do more research on developing my app. Understanding virtual analytics, delving into user stories and looking at social media from a business sense was something I thought I would NEVER care about. Never say never I guess? What I had not foreseen was that being virtually social can sometimes hinder my state-of-mind and ability to connect socially with my own crew at the Cherry Tree Cottage. So what do you do when you need to really unplug from your social outlet? Imagine yourself putting both feet on the wall, grabbing the cord tightly in your hands, and pulling like you are playing tug-o-war. Sometimes it is tough, but necessary.
I realized a few days ago that I am developing some unhealthy social habits, some that are causing me more friction than freedom. In the morning, before my feet hit the floor, I have started checking emails, messages and accounts to see who needs a response. I watch a few videos and try to catch up with anything big I may have missed the 6 hours I was sleeping. Which in the last few weeks, I will admit, has been a lot. I carry my phone with me to the coffee pot, where I make a cup of coffee for Zac, and then a cup of coffee for me all while I scroll through my feed. This is where it gets hairy. By the time both cups of coffee are brewed and frothed, I have somehow found myself looking at Melissa So-and-So's Easter pictures from 3 years ago. Why? Anyone go down the same rabbit hole? From that point on, for rest of my day, between parenting and professional duties, I jump on an off social media. Every time, it is never straight line to what I intended to do, I will almost always find myself looking at nothing of any importance for a time period I can't recall. If I am honest, it starts to infiltrate my self-talk. I'll see a picture of a model looking chic with a sassy haircut and sharp styling. Hmmm, I say, I think I should cut my hair and start dressing more polished. Two hours later, some add for jewelry pops up that is smattered with the faces of sun-kissed beachy beauties framed in long flowing locks and I immediately respond. Hmmmm, I say, I think I need to let my hair grow out and butter myself in tanner. Hell, maybe I need extensions? I then proceed to look up the prices for hair extensions and realize there is not a damn beach bum out there with extensions because its way too expensive and not good in salt water. Liars! This can best be described as a"Dr. Jekyll, Mrs. Hyde-My-Strechmarks Complex" It isn't so much negative self speak, as it is wayward self speak. I am further from figuring out who I am. Which may actually be worse, because my hair is going to pay the price at some point.
When I am not inundated with how I should look, I am smacked in the face with how I should feel. How everyone is feeling... the highs and the lows of all those that enter my social media stratosphere. In a time when everyone's opinions are high, the stakes are high, and we are able to express ourselves with the click of a button, it grows ever so hard to decipher what is motivating and what is fractious. It effects my mood, my hope and my outlook. The very thing that is giving me connection, is also leaving me void of connection to myself if I allow it. Please tell me I am not alone.
While I am appreciative that during this umpteenth Covid lockdown, social media has kept me a part of the bigger conversation, it has brought to my attention that I need some boundaries. So in recent days I have had to reclaim some things, change my thinking and do what I like to call, "mental curating." It goes a little something like this...First, when I get out of bed in the am, I am taking a deep inhale and thanking God for another day to walk the planet. This is a much better start to my day. When I brew our coffee, I write down my list of goals for the day and I mentally tell myself that it's a good day to be a good day. I then connect with the people in my house FIRST. I watch my kids getting ready, in awe of their fresh independence, and I shower them with hugs and kisses and words of affirmation to start their day off right. I serve hot coffee to the one I love to spoil and I tell him he is going to crush his day too. After everyone is off and running, is when I take time to answer emails, respond to friends and connect with people who add value to my world. Little by little, I have started to curate my social media feeds, following people that make me laugh, inspire my creativity, motivate me in my goals or support me when I need a sounding board. What we put in front of our eyes matters. Now, I'm not trying to go full ostrich and bury my head in the sand, but if a person is constantly posting inciteful or negative things, I put them on pause. I need the boundary during isolation. My mother would always say, "Just because someone invites you to their party, doesn't mean you have to go." I don't go.
It's true, sometime this means I pause well-meaning people, people who I like. While this tactic sounds strange, I tried it a few years ago at the suggestion of a dear friend and it got me through a tough spot. At that specific time in my life, Zac was in the midst of serious training and was never around. When he was home he was either exhausted and needed to decompress or so mentally stressed with responsibilities that we weren't connecting as easily. At that exact same time a certain loved one in my life was traveling the world with her service member, meeting him in ports of call, exploring Europe and partaking in an epic adventure as a couple. Did I love her? Absolutely. Was I excited for her? Hell yes! Was I in a place to not have the wind taken out of my sail when seeing every fine detail of her picturesque love saga? Nope. I needed to work on that. Every time a picture crossed my feed I caught myself looking at my current situation through a more negative lens than was my actual reality. I had to recognize my low, reassess my shifting perspective, and work on being happy for someone who was exactly where I wanted to be. This is the human condition. Until I could get there, I hit pause. Even though I loved them both, and knew in my head that I was excited for this chapter in their lives, my heart, which can be easily deceived, was fraught with envy. A short time after stepping back and digging into the root of those feelings, I changed my tune. God changed my heart, and worked on my spirit so that I could scroll through their adventure and feel joy at their opportunity.
So, what does this all mean? And if you think like me, "Why is a girl who is writing a blog, steering me away from social media: the very platform she is using to communicate this post?" Touché. If this place brings you laughter, escapism or motivates you to put thought to paper, or to take an adventure. Great! I am glad you are here. But if you are endlessly scrolling, looking at Melissa's Easter pictures from 3 years ago, and or about to take scissors and hack your hair because you want look more like them, and less like you. Step back. You can hit pause. There is no shame in that game. You can even hit snooze on the people you like if its causing you to go astray from the road you are walking. It's not for a lack of love, but a desire to be self aware and work towards your best. There is no crime in recognizing where you are and adjusting your dial to be able to experience social media at its finest. (Inspiring, motivating and connecting.) Even good things need boundaries, or just like the beautiful vines of the Wisteria plant, it will slowly choke you out and cover up the real you beneath it all. Jealousy is not cute on anyone.
So. Hold my beer... I've got out the weed-wackers and I'm slowly trying to cut and curate what I put before my eyes on daily basis. I'm hitting pause on the things and people that don't evoke motivation, mindfulness or laughter. Laughter is important. As I scroll through adds and posts, whether it's a chic model or a trendy blogger with a picture perfect life, I am able to see it through a healthy lens when I'm investing in the real that is my life. Real is rare. When the sun light beams through my window in the morning, it won't find me checking emails. It will find me sprawled out like a kid jumping into a ball pit. Arms wide and ready to hug on my people, invest in my own success and take on whatever "real" awaits me outside my bedroom door. No bunny ears here either! I stay away from social media rabbit holes by setting a timer and when that timer is done, I am done. I am even going to attempt, wait for it... making my Sunday a day of social media rest too. I am interested to see what happens when my phone is only for phone calls. Mind-blowing to think our phones use to just be for that purpose. I am still connected and social, but also unsocial when it comes to checking the connection with the people in my four walls. It's all about finding the balance.
So cheers my friends! I hope that you find motivation, inspiration and laughter here, if you don't, and you need a pause, please take it. These are really weird times, no judgement.
Love from across the pond,