Sunday, April 14, 2019

One week left: steering clear of social media (most of the time)

I'm one week away from completing the Challenge I Never Thought I'd Take: giving up social media for a whopping 40 days.

Does it seem a little dramatic to call stepping away from social media a "challenge?"

Yes. It does.

Even though my work has included social media for the past 10 years, it's still a think of taking a 40-day break as, well, a break.

But whether I like it or not, I've come to grips with a few truths since making this decision the night of Fat Tuesday:
  • The same principle applies to personal life as does to corporate accounts: the conversation is happening, and I can participate or not -- that's up to me.
  • Some things are, in fact, worth sharing. A few examples I've learned are:
    • recipes
    • workouts (so.much.encouragement!)
    • random smiles throughout the day
    • quotes -- I'm a sucker for a good quote 
    • good sales (amirite, y'all?)
  • Some things are not do-or-die in term of sharing. For instance:
    • random things I see (is a beautifully framed image really viewed if it's not instagrammed?, is a meal really prepared and eaten if not shared socially?, etc.)
    • I occasionally -- the instances have notably decreased, thankfully -- feel as though I need a little verification of how I'm feeling. (I liked that sunset, but do you? -- definitely the weirdest thing I've admitted to date ;-) 
  • And some of my traits may not be, as I originally suspected, inborn:
    • ADD -- this is not my making light of this disorder; this is my thinking all these years that I may have had a disorder and then having it affirmed...but only by the presence of social media. Whether or not ADD or ADHD was present in my life prior to social, semblances of it certainly are now.
This collage of Ringo spectacularly depicts my reactions to many aspects of social media. Love it! Hate it! Over it! What is it? Etc.

Also, while I have popped onto social a couple of times during my intentional intermittent season (hey Michael's bday + a couple of work instances), I have tried to keep myself from looking at notifications. I didn't think this would be major, but guess what! Other People's Opinions are a big part of the "social" in "social media" ;-)

But because I am unfortunately not superhuman, in spite of my absence, I have automatically veered to that little red number indicating who's saying what about my social presence...or lack thereof. And even when it's not what I'd prefer, I definitely have strong feelings about people having fun without me. (Hi, have you met me? I thrive on social instances...for better or for worse. :-P) 

A friend asked just recently what I'd do after Easter...if I'd rather ease back in or jump back in. And I'm honestly not sure. 

Since I don't have to be on 24/7, I may limit myself to once a week. Or, as I've already seen in my intended short intentions to jump back on to check one thing, I could wander and browse for 30 minutes before I realize what I'm doing.

Either way, I have one week left of assured reduced screen time and increased reading efforts. We'll see. ;-)

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Confessions of a Social Media Addict

The night before Lent, I decided to give up social media for 40 days and nights.

I've considered it in the past, but since this is the first time in 10 years that being socially present isn't a necessity for my job, I could actually go through with it.

Y'all. I wasn't prepared.

A few epiphanies 9 hours in:
  • I think I have legit, full-fledged Attention Deficit Disorder. This is not a drill. I'm serious. Why else would I do something for a little while -- let's say an hour, max -- and need to jump on another website or app to see what's happening while I've been away? 
  • If a photo is not posted socially, was it ever really taken? #facepalm It's startling to realize how many of my life's snapshots are being captured with the primary intent to share rather than for my own preservation.
Photo by Rachael Crowe on Unsplash
More revelations one week later:
  • I spend a lot of time on social media. Like...a LOT. Exhibit A: in the past week, I've read four books. That doesn't count podcasts listened to or articles consumed.
  • I hadn't even thought about social media as a sharing outlet until my friend asked what outlet I was using during this fast. At the time, my answer was either "I'm not," or "Talking to people in real life." Today, I'm finally starting to feel an itch to write. I think that's a good thing. (Speaking of, and for the record, I also don't see blogging in my case as social media unless I obsess over comments or analytics, which I haven't had a problem with in the past.)
  • Speaking of categorizing social media, did you know that iPhones put texting and Facebook in the same group? That's weird to me. I mean yes, I'm interacting with people, but I'm also choosing specifically who I want to share things with.
  • I have been getting my news from Twitter. This actually became clear a couple of hours in when someone was talking about a current event that I had no idea had happened. Once I downloaded a few news apps and turned on some alerts, I then realized that I was itching to see what this reporter or that commentator had to say about news items. Weird.
And at the week-and-a-half mark:

  • Today was probably the first structured event I've attended post-social fast. My typical M.O. is to capture great shots, tag appropriately, hashtag as needed, and share ASAP. Guess what? That's not requirement! (I know. Shocking.) So here's how said event went: We went. We talked to people. We walked around and saw the sights. We ate. We laughed. I took a few pictures when a view really struck me. We left. We ran an errand. We came home. I glanced back at my pics, but only to see if I got some really good ones, and even then I didn't share them with anyone (yet).

    No tagging businesses, people or event venues. No making sure I included all relevant hashtags. No picking up my phone at random during the event. 
All of this is freeing, and a little disturbing, and an extremely curious experiment of psychology and sociology. And a week and a half in, I'm thinking I'll adjust my social exposure much more, even once Easter comes.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Progress, not perfection: lessons from #last90days

I’ve been thinking about the progress that I’ve made during the #last90days effort I started in October.

Unfortunately, I don’t have double digits of weight loss on the scale to show for it, but I honestly think what I have learned is worth more than looking my best in Christmas pictures. (And that's saying a lot.)

Image result for demotivational quote posters
Theory I do not subscribe to ;-)
  1. Renewed sense of effort. Trip-ups don't completely stop me anymore -- or at least not for long. Turns out that when I'm focused on being the best version of myself, there isn't a lot of room for mental and emotional self-mutilation. Who knew?!
  2. New love for motivational quotes. No, they’re not for everyone, but I love them. And good news: no one is making the people who hate them follow me! What has been fun is having people I've known my whole life and people I haven't met come out of the woodwork saying they needed some encouragement right then. Happy to help!
  3. Education on habits. I don’t want hard or harsh lessons to apply to me, and yet... they do. So when I heard Rachel and Dave Hollis talk about how to break bad habits, I gave it a shot. And I’ve learned — and am learning — that when I do stop and think about how I react to triggers and make a conscious choice to take a different action than what I’ve taught myself, I am starting a new habit. A better habit. I can’t change *what* makes me reach for chocolate, but I can change how I react to what has always driven me to reach for chocolate.
  4. Less concern about what other people think. As a chronic people-pleaser, this may be something I'll be working on for the rest of my life, but even baby steps have been HUGE for me. I'm not sure where I got the idea that making others happy equated kindness, but it's deeply entrenched in everything I am and most of what I do.

    But the fact is: happiness is temporary. Circumstantial. Fleeting, even. And because everyone is different, it takes something different to bring happiness to others -- especially when you surround yourself with a wide range of personalities and skillsets. So my not making sure every person in my life is happy with every interaction every second of the day is not rude. The only person I can truly please is the only person whose expectations and sources of joy I implicitly know inside and out. And that's me. So when I'm showing up for myself and becoming the best Rebekah I can be, the people around me will benefit, too. Long-term. 
So yes, I still want to lose weight as a result of exercising and eating right and drinking water like a fish. But I'm learning that the end result isn't where the valuable nuggets are learned, and that I can love myself in the journey.

Progress is a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

My week with 41.

The week before George H. W. Bush died, I looked forward to our chats every time I got in my car.

I mean, I was only listening to his audiobook of letters, but still. That sequence of events had me feeling oddly close to our 41st president when I heard he'd passed away.

My interest in presidents' lives was piqued after I read an article about Bill and Hillary's communication style years ago. Since then, I've read a little on Reagan, Obama, W., and FDR. I realize I have several to go, so I'm working my way down -- or up -- that list, in no particular order.

And that's what lead me to listen to All The Best, George Bush -- a collection of letters and diary entries from the former president from the time he celebrated his 18th birthday and enlisted in the military to the early 90s, when he was still meeting up with Ronald Reagan for lunch anytime he was near L.A.

Something about this book struck me, even before this recent news of his death.

You hear phrases about "the last gentleman politician" and "the last of the greatest generation," and y'all, I really think there's something to that.

His cadence, his tone, even the vocabulary used in those readings were so incredibly...respectful. It took me back to conversations with Pop Ball, the Air Force Colonel who entered our family by marrying Nan when I was in high school.

I've been trying to pinpoint the difference between the underlying tone of what this generation said and did, and I honestly feel like it's respect. I admire sarcasm with the best of them, but man -- even GHWB's humor was in check. Fun but not biting. Cheeky but not self-promoting. Happy without being jaded.

This definitely isn't an "Our generation is the worst, the world has gone to pot"-type post. I love technology. I will voraciously consume whatever (sarcastic) humor Tina Fey and Amy Poehler and Mindy Kaling throw out into the world. And Lord knows we are all always learning that we do, indeed, have to look out for our own selves.

But 41 did all that, while keeping respect for others (and patriotism and satisfaction in a job well done) at the base of all he did. And wow, did he ever do a lot.

I was encouraged last night while watching 41 on 41, a documentary that features his friends, family and even former competitors voicing their experiences with the senior Bush. (And this was made before he died, so it can't be chalked up to the posthumous sainthood we're so inclined to give the deceased.)

Clinton became friends with him -- or rather, he sought friendship with Clinton -- after Bush lost the presidency to Clinton. Obama doesn't have a bad word to say about him. Members of the opposite party still respect how he handled compromises, and decisions, and communication.

His children and grandchildren respect him, and in my most humble opinion, Jenna Bush Hager and Pierce Bush (and maybe others) have inherited or learned his and their grandmother's firm but gentle communication style.

I'm not petitioning to take our world back 20 or even 40 years ago, and certainly not 80. But these widespread, consistent reactions to the death of someone known for his respect and honor are certainly encouraging.

I don't hate social media or smart phones or geomapping. But I am encouraged, more than ever, to use the innovations of today to uphold what's good and right, and to make the world a better place. I know why Bush's generation was called the greatest one -- and it was for good reason.

But we can be known as a compassionate, strong generation, too. For using technology for good. For finishing the job. For humbly accepting when we win, and honoring our team. For laughing at ourselves when we don't win. And above all, for our love.

As the Navy tweeted, we have the watch. Thank you for your example, 41.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Last 90 days, 30 days in

Last month I joined in on #last90days -- an effort that Rachel and Dave Hollis do every October -- and I'm happy to report that one month in, I'm still here for it!

The idea is to finish the last three months of the year the way most of us like to start it: working toward becoming a better version of ourselves.

Thankfully, we're not left up to our own devices on "resolutions" in these last 90 days of the year, but we're invited to join in committing to five preferred habits each morning. They call it Five to Thrive, and since I already *should* be doing most of them anyway, they're not terrible to follow.

So the Five to Thrive daily recommendations are:

  1. Get up an hour earlier than you usually do and use the time for yourself.
  2. Work out for at least thirty minutes.
  3. Drink half of your body weight in ounces of water each day.
  4. Give up one food category you know you shouldn't be eating.
  5. Write down ten things you're grateful for every single day.

Admittedly, I was doing a few of these already -- namely the water and getting up an hour earlier (most days) -- and I had been working out pretty regularly, so it wasn't like jumping five hurdles at once. But having a prompt, a commitment to these five items has certainly been a game-changer.

Have I done all five things every single day?

Do I ever go off the rails?

Do I feel better when I am doing these things?
Dadgummit, I DO. 

And I hate to admit that. I really do. Because please for the love of all that's good and holy believe me when I say that I want nothing.more than to lay on the couch in my PJs and eat chocolate 24/7.

But sadly, that just doesn't offer the results...endorphins...accomplishments that these blasted Five to Thrive do.

So I'll keep trucking on, here on this first day of November, and see if I can make it through the next 60-ish days (which incidentally include the holidays. Convenient, eh?).

Also, great news -- if you're interested, you can totally start today. None of us need to wait for a Monday or the first of the month or even tomorrow to start ANYthing.

Jump in! Thrive with me.

Monday, October 29, 2018

#ShareFourSomethings -- October edition

Once again, I'm joining in on Heather's Gerwing's #ShareFourSomethings -- a monthly post to share:

  1. Something Loved
  2. Something Said
  3. Something Learned
  4. Something Read
October is my most favorite of all the months, and something I loved about it this year was the time I had and intentionally took to breathe it in and really enjoy it. 

Yes, it's the month I was born in, but maybe that makes me appreciate it a little more? It probably also helps that here in the deep south, "fall" is such a foreign concept that I celebrate any change in leaves' colors -- even if that means they're dead. 

Even now, with a few days still left in the month, I'm savoring chatter about Halloween and costumes, and looking forward to the holidays with excitement.

Something that was said that is still resonating with me will probably seem small or silly to anyone else, especially anyone with different character traits. But I've been doing a lot of hard internal work during the past year or two, digging into some of the whys and hows that affect and contribute to the whats and wheres of my life. And so with that, I've come to realize some things that weren't so obvious to me before, but that are incredibly important to me now.

One of those concepts that keeps ranking higher and higher for me is being still. 

Calm. Content. Peaceful. 

These are not words commonly used to describe me. 

I'm pretty sure I've been a ball of anxiety since the day I was born, so when I ran into an acquaintance from years ago who said I "seemed very chill, so peaceful," I pretty much took it as the best compliment I could ever receive. (Thanks, J!)

Something I learned in October? How to narrow it down...there's so much. As part of the difficult internal work I mentioned above, I've been doing a lot of listening. Not just to IRL people in my world, but also to audiobooks. So in true trendsetter fashion, I finally jumped on the podcast bandwagon that's been rolling around for a decade or more now. I find that I still can't focus well if I just randomly try to listen, but if there's an author I love who only has four books and I've breezed through them, I can see if he is interviewed on any podcasts, and hear more of his communication style. (Again, breaking news on the Something Learned front, I know.)

Do you have a favorite podcast? Since I'm now in the know, I'll be taking recommendations from here on out!

Now for the really tricky one...something I read.

I love reading, and have been devouring more books  than ever lately. From inspirational to fiction, there's a lot to choose from, but I'd have to go with the autobiography co-written (and co-read, if you're into audio) by Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush: Sisters First: Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life.

No matter what your political views are, I recommend you check this out. From stories about living in the White House to the basic human ties of sibling love and rivalry, the book is a great one. I particularly adore everything about the Bush girls relationship with their grandfather.

Did you learn, hear, love or read something in October that stood out to you? Comment here, or if writing's your thing, link up to Heather's blog with one of your own.

Happy fall!

Saturday, September 29, 2018

#ShareFourSomethings -- September edition

I'm participating in my friend Heather's #ShareFourSomethings concept -- a monthly post to share Something Loved, Something Said, Something Learned, Something Read.
In September:
Something I loved was...

...getting to be with my family on my Daddy's birthday.
We kicked off the month with a visit to Mississippi for (and on) my dad's birthday. All the stars aligned so that everyone was off work and available to be there. Even though it was rainy, we had such a nice visit.

Something that was said was...
"'re doing a great job."
Simple and to the point, no flowery language, but still so heartfelt and so very needed. I appreciate being appreciated -- and knowing that I am contributing.

Something I learned was...

...a little more about the Enneagram. This new-to-me personality assessment isn't rocket science by any means, but it does require some digging in, and it seems that the exploration could last forever. (I'm still not rock solid on which of the nine types I am, but I'm leaning toward nine itself.)
And something I read was...

...all the things Kelly Corrigan publishes.
I don't know why it took me a while to come across her, but her writing style is up my alley, and I love her insight on life, death and all the things in between.
Although I love all of her books, the first one I read is The Middle Place, and I can't get enough of it. 
If you're interested in linking up your #ShareFourSomethings post, feel free to visit Heather's blog! If you don’t have a blog, feel free to comment with your own four somethings are. We all have four somethings to share!