November 14, 2011 § Leave a Comment
It’s been two months since I announced that I was “leaving” Facebook and Twitter and taking a social networking break. And let me tell you, it’s been miraculous. I never thought that making such a simple decision could be so life changing.
It all started when I realized that I had began to use my phone as a means of entertainment and constant distraction when I was on bed rest for the first trimester of my pregnancy. When Trever found work in August and I, once again, became Audrey’s source of fun throughout the day, I had to face reality: The iPhone wasn’t going to cut it.
At first, I blamed it solely on my iPhone and social networks. I figured that if I got rid of my smart phone that was sapping my relationship with my beautiful little daughter, all would magically become right with the world.
After a bit of processing and self-discovery, I realized how untrue this perspective was. It wasn’t my phone or my silly account, it was me! That started the journey of figuring out what I could do to turn something that I needed from unhealthy to healthy. Like going from codependency to interdependency in a relationship without abandoning said relationship. Makes sense.
I wrote a post about it and gave five ways to disconnect–become less codependent–with the cyber world. Of course, I was really writing those steps to myself. Here’s what I’ve done in eight weeks:
1. Delete Accounts: I went on an account deleting rampage, partly because of social unnetworking and partly to have a more simplified and zen life. I deleted two email accounts (leaving two) as well as my accounts under Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, Instagram, Pinterest, Yelp! And sadly, countless others. I feel free as a bird! I update my Google+ maybe once a day, but not always.
2. Slim Down: I have two emails. One for my blog and one for personal stuff. That’s all you need.
3. Automate: I automated every bill possible and wish I could automate Google+. Ha!
4. Create a Schedule: I turned my iPhone/Internet use around. 360. I stopped messing with it countless times a day and started only using when I needed to. I will use it for writing down to do’s, taking photos, looking up the weather, emailing, limited social networking, and making recipes when Audrey is awake. But I do all of my blogging, reading, and research when my loved one’s are asleep.
5. Come Down to Earth: This view point revamp has totally helped my overall quality of life improve. I’m so glad it hit me when it did. Audrey is interacting with me and others more, learning tons, talking, and just shining like the bright star that she is. I’m glad I’m no longer missing it by starring at my handheld.
Overall, it’s been a fantastic change. It’s helped in so many of my relationships/friendships also. Instead of checking Facebook or uploading photos, etc. when I’m with loved one’s, I feel more present. I check my phone periodically when with others and reply if it’s Trever or if it’s important.
And as many of you have noticed, I reactivated Facebook. What can I say, I missed you. After month off, I’ve created clearer electronic boundaries for myself and felt ready to do so.
Want to create some electronic boundaries of your own? Check out this other sweet post for more on that.
Community Discussion: What changes have you been inspired to make in regards to social networking over the past couple months? Do share!
Photo: Less social networking = more time for snuggling.
October 3, 2011 § 4 Comments
I believe all things in life require us to have boundaries. Some boundaries are easier for us to follow for ourselves than others. Even more so, it can be more attractive to create one’s that benefit our inner personal lives or our relationships to our advantage. But what about when it comes to inanimate objects, like our computers, smart phones, cars, and the like?
Since boundaries are usually a lifeskill that our parents teach us, it’s funny to imagine my mother giving me lessons on having self-control over surfing the Internet. Although I do remember getting in trouble for using chat rooms in secret at age eleven. Yet the rule was: don’t do it. Not “this is how you create an electronic boundary.”
So here I was, 27, and feeling all alone with these desires to constantly be looking things up, gaining more knowledge, reading other people’s blogs, checking my social networks and email, playing Words with Friends, seeing if anyone had commented on my status, replying to comments posted on my blog, listening to voicemails, adding things to my to-do’s, editing and uploading photos, putting things on my calendar, searching for new apps to create more distractions. Sadly I could go on. All day, in fact.
My smart phone–my beloved iPhone–had become an addiction. I used it as my BFF rather than actually connecting with those around me. Please note: most of my blogs are my personal convictions and confessions of realizing really how retarded I was being and my discovery and growth out of that. Not how I think you should do things, or live. Rather revelation I feel compelled to share with you.
Now that we’re clear on that, let’s understand where this addiction led me. After being on bedrest for the first ten weeks of my pregnancy, I became very used to being on my iPhone. I didn’t realize I wasn’t giving Audrey all the attention she deserved, as I have mentioned before. This realization led to a pendulum swing of needing to rid myself of said device in order to one, lower our cellphone bill and two, solve my problem.
I spent about two weeks processing my use of my electronic device; writing down numerous ideas, going to the AT&T store to check options, discussing it with Trev and other friends, writing out more thoughts, and taking fasts from even looking at my phone. I deduced what I used my phone for–meal planning, blogging, photo/video purposes, and communicating–and concluded days later that in and of themselves those were not bad things.
After speaking to the hubby about bill-lowering ideas (the man had ideas he was hiding) and lowering them the following day by $200 per his suggestion, we finally achieved our goal of having “almost” less expenses than income coming in. Shocking, I know. And thrilling at that.
This released a lot of pressure from my weary soul of my love/hate relationship with my iPhone. I allowed myself to see the good things about it and search myself for what I could do differently if it was going to stick around. This is sounding more and more like a relationship. And then it hit me! I needed boundaries with this silly device. So what did I do?
• Day 1: I only used it when I needed to (not even picking it up when it rang)
• Day 2: I checked my social networks when Audrey was napping
• Day 3: I discovered that I would only save $30/month by not having an iPhone on the cheapest AT&T Go Phone plan
• Day 4: I focused on Trever and Audrey and used my phone for the Whole Foods recipe app
• Day 5: I created a “schedule” of when I could use my iPhone: morning prior to when Audrey wakes, during afternoon nap, after my loves go to bed, and in necessary communication times and emergencies.
What does this mean? In a week I designed a system of boundaries to allow myself to view my gadget as healthy rather than abuse it and be codependent with it for my own selfish purposes. I think this can be done with anything or anyone. It isn’t healthy, but we do it. Perhaps my story has helped you a bit. I’m starting to be more and more grateful for what I have, what I can afford, what we choose to spend our money on, and accept that even good things can be used inappropriately, but that doesn’t mean you have to cut it off. You can also create a thought shift and, in my case, some electronic boundaries.
Update: I wrote this blog prior to discovering on Saturday with Trev that we could shift some of our AT&T wireless stuff around and save $45/month. Thank you sales rep Reyes who’s looking out for the little guy.
Photo: This lil thing is worth creating electronic boundaries for.
September 9, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Yesterday was one of those days that I’d just as soon like to forget. It wasn’t all bad. Just the part that was awful will linger in my memory for much too long. If I could put it all behind me, I would. I’m trying to. A sleep has helped. Yet I’m not 100% quite.
Before I got together with Trever I was very little sentimental. From ages seventeen to twenty-three, I had a total of 279 photos on my computer. The only reason I had any from my three-month stint in Cairo is because a snap happy cohort gave me a disk at the trips end. I just didn’t care to save many memories from my college years. It was a difficult time and I went in and out of a lot of stupid relationships that I don’t care to reminisce upon to this day. I disliked carrying a camera around with me and seldom downloaded digital photos or had prints made.
In the summer of 2007, I got together with Trev and the digitized memories began. We took photos, got a little video camera, and even printed off emails to save for the future just in case. I can’t even tell you how many I now have on our family computer. But I do know it’s more than three-hundred.
On the said Thursday, I lost tons of videos and photographs of my Audrey and Trever as well as events with family and friends. You see, while Audrey and I were at the library, my iPhone 4 decided to shut off as I was about to reply to a text to her papa. It was about 1:00 o’clock in the afternoon and I was getting hungry. I was trying desperately not to panic even though my tummy was rumbling. “I’ll just plug it in and it’ll be okay.”
After winding down our library fun, checking out books, and walking home, I made us lunch and tried plugging my phone in. Fifteen minutes and no avail. So I plugged it into my computer. It decided my phone did not even exist. The only other option I could think of was to take it to Apple. So I walked back the mile to the mall in the 90 something degree heat, hoping they could help and would have an appointment fairly soon.
I was seen by a genius fairly soon, but he and two others were completely stumped.
“Sorry, it looks like your phone is dead. Must be the battery or something. Your only option is to buy a new one.”
“I have no money for a new one. I’ll need to call my husband and think about it.”
In those minutes that I contemplated my life with an iPhone, I considered my real love of all the stupid apps, the social networking, and all the other distractions and benefits that come with it. I started imagining what I had on my phone–trying not to cry about what my newly sentimental-self held dearly–and how stupid such a device really was.
“Why do I need all these things? It’s so impractical. I don’t even like tweeting. Or having a gazillion accounts every where. I want to simplify. My phone is the opposite of that.”
Right then and there in the Apple store, I was having an existential meltdown.
After much thought and a quick phone call, I decided to take the now steeply discounted deal (Cliff the Genius figured out I was serious). My phone is my one luxury; I can take memories with it, blog, find my way places, search the Internet, play music for Audrey, and so much more. And since I don’t have cable or Internet at home, it’s worth it.
What did I learn about myself though? Sometimes I can even clutter my own mind with too much stuff. Social networking is that for me in a lot of ways. I have a Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Google+, Myspace, and more. And I don’t even use them. I need to continue to evaluate this. Maybe a sleep or two more. But I’m leaning towards making my life even more zen by a deletion or break from them.
This goes along with what we were discussing earlier this week on Monday and Wednesday. It’s a clearing of the mind clutter. And it can be just as, if not more, rejuvenating than decluttering the material stuff. Mental clutter can take up so much space that you can’t even see the junk around you.
So how can you start clearing it out? Ask yourself:
• What makes my stomach twist?
• What triggers me or sets me on edge?
• What do I keep avoiding?
• What keeps me up at night?
• What bothers me even though those around me normalize it?
• What causes me to not think clearly?
Start there and I can guarantee you’ll have a list. A counselor once told me a good rule of thumb is to keep your “work on” list to 20 things. It can become too overwhelming otherwise.
We can do this together. What’s on your mind clutter list?