Five reasons I’m signing off social media in February

Five reasons I’m signing off social media in February

I’ve had a love-hate relationship with social media since I first created a Facebook account nine years ago. Most of the time, the good side of social media outweighs the bad for me. I love being able to stay in touch (although superficially) with people I haven’t seen in a long time. I love hearing about the highs and lows of people’s everyday lives.

But I go through stages — and I’m in one now — in which social media causes me way more harm than good. I’ve known for a while that I need to take a break, but I’ve been arguing every reason in the book why I don’t need to give it up. For one thing, it’s part of my JOB to update social media. I can’t just shut down my account.

It’s the same feeling I had a year ago when I knew I had to give up watching TV. I didn’t want to do it. I couldn’t do it. It wasn’t so bad, really, was it? All of that internal arguing was a sure sign that I was holding on way too tightly. If it’s THAT hard to give up, that could be telling me something.

The time has come. I’m giving up social media in February, and here is why.

  1. Significance. I spend too much time caring, worrying, wondering what people think about me. Am I funny today? Interesting? Did my kids do something awesome? In short, I get too much of my feeling of significance from the likes, comments and reactions on social media.
  2. Comparison. I spend too much time comparing my life to other people. Why is she is so happy, popular, pretty, perfect? Why am I so lame?
  3. Inauthentic relationships. A friend texted me recently and said, “How are you? Everything looks great according to Facebook.” It made me realize how easy it is to think I can just click on someone’s Facebook updates and assume I actually know what’s going on in their lives. It’s like the sugar of relationships. It’s a quick fix. It has no depth. And it’s not even real. Relationships take time and effort. They take real conversation.
  4. Animosity. Honestly? The whole political conversation on Facebook is pushing me to the edge. I find myself so often feeling angry or hostile toward people because of what and how they are communicating their views on social media. I just need to walk away.
  5. Time. How much time do I spend in a day just scrolling? How much time do I lose with my family because I’m distracted? How many books could I read if I wasn’t scrolling? How much more productive could I be without scrolling? I’m going to find out!

I mentioned in my last post that as I look at my months and what I need to give up, I also want to add in something that’s the positive polar opposite of the thing I’m giving up. For me, I’ve known that I need to seek the good sustainable protein of the truth. Instead of using social media to find significance and meaning, I need to look into God’s word.

Wouldn’t you know it? Just as I was trying to decide what to do, I “randomly” stumbled across a blog that described so perfectly what I wanted to do that I know it was meant to be. So, I’ll be going through the book,I Am: A 60-Day Journey of Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is”.

I’ve also had to work through the fine print of how my social media fast will work. So, here are a few details:

  1. I will still be blogging. As I thought about why I need to give up social media, I don’t feel blogging is causing me the same negatives as social media. However, 99 percent of the interaction I get with my blog is from sharing the link on Facebook. So, I will have to deal with basically blogging into the wind. 🙂 If you still want to read, please make sure you subscribe (just put your e-mail in the box to the right) or check in once in a while!
  2. I will still be updating social media for work. I’ve been on a Facebook fast before, so I know how to update The Sanctuary social media accounts without checking my own.
  3. I’m still allowing myself to use Pinterest and to check Snapchat (if necessary) only to see what my kids are posting. In case you haven’t heard, Pinterest is becoming the new Google. 🙂 I use Pinterest to find ideas and resources that are a positive in my life. I will monitor the time I spend mindlessly scrolling Pinterest, but I’m not banning it completely. I won’t be posting anything on Snapchat, but if you have teens, you understand why I want to check their stories from time to time.

I really wrestled with whether I should still allow myself to update my blog during this month. I love writing and this is such a great creative outlet for me. I know it will be weird to look at my stats and see that no one is reading (since almost all of my readers come from posting the link on Facebook)! So, if you want to still read, I hope you will pop in once in a while.

Even better, let’s get together in person for a real life conversation.

**

So, how about you? Is social media a positive or negative factor in your life?

 

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January: a month of challenges, growth and other stuff

January: a month of challenges, growth and other stuff

I know we still have two days left in January. But because Sunday was the last day of my Whole 30, I feel like the month is over. For me, January wasn’t just about changing my eating habits, so I thought I would give an update on what happened this month.

This first month of my year of being “intentional” was definitely one I will look back on. It included some challenges, a few wins, stepping out and some disappointment. I’ve been trying to figure out how this whole idea of being intentional would play out in 2017, and I feel like I learned a few things from dear ol’ January.

Just as I took control of my love for food and started exercising regularly in January, I want to find one thing to give up and one thing to add in future months. The thing I give up would be something that has become a negative factor in my life. The thing I add is something that is its opposite. So, get rid of the negative, add the positive.

Here’s how things went in January:

  1. I finished the Whole 30! I gave up many of my favorite foods by eliminating all grains, sugar, dairy and legumes. I feel such an amazing sense of accomplishment that I DID IT! I will admit that around Day Nine I was thinking of every reason in the book that this was a bad idea, and I should quit. I’m so glad I didn’t give up. I feel so much more in control of my food choices. My body is feeling well fueled. And I did end up losing three pounds. (I’ve been really sick the past five days, so I can’t really say if I have more energy.)
  2. I started exercising more regularly. I’ve been working on my couch to 5K progress and doing a couple of strength training workouts via the Internets.
  3. I decided to face my fear of falling and go for something that I wanted to do that was just for me. I’m typically very cautious of committing to anything beyond my wife/mom/work/church duties. But this seemed like something that would help me grow in an area that is a passion of mine. Guess what?!? I got REJECTED! Guys, I actually got a rejection letter! (It was an e-mail, really.) I was really bummed for a few days. I think it’s just hard to think about doing something fun that is just for you, getting excited about it and then hearing that rejection. In the end, I know it wasn’t meant to be. The rejection actually was a confirmation about what I need to do in February, so I’m trying to be thankful for falling.
  4. I also completed a big personal project for the month. I uploaded all of our photos from 2016 to Shutterfly and organized them into photo albums. It took two albums, with the maximum number of pages! I start this process almost every year, but this is the first time I actually completed it since 2011. I am really, truly going to try to work on my photo book at the end of each month in 2017. I barely took any photos this month, so it shouldn’t be too difficult.

Well, I’m excited about February. I have a big challenge for myself. I know what I’m going to eliminate. I know what I’m going to add. And I know what project I want to complete. This is going to be a tough one for me, so I’m glad the month has only 28 days! 🙂

How about you? How did your January go? Do you have anything you are trying to accomplish in February? I would love to hear about it in the comments!

 

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working on hand lettering

working on hand lettering

If you’ve been reading my blog for long, then you know I have a thing for chalkboards. I love writing new words and phrases on my chalkboards to decorate for the seasons. But I often would “cheat” on my handwriting by cutting out a stencil using my Silhouette and using that to create pretty letters.

Well, recently, I stumbled upon a blog that gave some great tips for improving your handwriting on a chalkboard. I’ve always loved to try to mimic different fonts in my handwriting, so I decided it was about time that I paid attention to an expert’s advice. Here are a couple of tips that I learned for becoming a better chalkboard artist.

  1. Sharpen your chalk.

Ugh. I didn’t think I would be able to do it. My worst nightmare is the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard. I couldn’t imagine sticking a piece of chalk in a pencil sharpener. I was so scared to do it. Guess what? It was absolutely not a big deal. It didn’t bother me one bit.

2. Write an outline of your word in your regular handwriting.

I had to do this a few times to get the word to fit the space in which I wanted it to go. That’s the great thing about chalk. Just wipe it off and start over until you like it.

3. Thicken your lines, only on the downstrokes.

4. Then, color in the lines. This gives your writing more of a “faux calligraphy” look.

5. I added the rest of the words in lower case block letters and did the same thing: Thicken the downstrokes and color it in. I also added some serifs to the words. It’s not perfect by any means, but I’m making progress!

I tried the same technique on another chalkboard, but I ran into trouble because my chalkboard paint is starting to peel off. To get around that problem, I dipped my chalk in water before writing with it. My lettering still needs a lot of work on this one, but I did like the effect the wet chalk gave to my writing.

It was much more difficult to get all of my letters uniform in size on this one. But, oh well! It’s a chalkboard, right?!

You might remember a few years ago that I decorated for Valentine’s Day for the first time ever. That was actually the first time I really decorated for any holiday other than Christmas! So, here are a few shots of the rest of my Valentine’s Day decor. It’s not up for long, but it makes me feel like spring is on the way!

I wrapped these oversized letters in yarn a few years ago. I love them with the milk glass dishes that my grandmother gave me.

I’m still crazy about this six panel window frame that I bought last year. I need a Valentine’s wreath to go on it, but I can’t find one that I like. (You might know how I feel about red!)

I did allow this tiny bit of red in the house. Plus, it was fun for my daughter to hang the hearts on our branches.

The snow globe is one little hold over from Christmas. And yes, the truck is red. I skipped completely over my winter decorating from last year.

And finally, this “love never fails” sign was my first ever painting project using my Silhouette! I’m ready to update this sign now that I know a little more about what I’m doing with the Silhouette and painting projects!

I’m going to keep working on my hand lettering skills so you will probably read more about that in the future. I actually found a 31-day challenge to improve my hand lettering that I’m planning to try. Let me know if you want to do it with me!

So, what about you? Does anyone else love chalkboards like I do?

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Ten more days

Ten more days

That’s it.

I can’t believe I only have ten more days until I’m done with the Whole 30.

When I began, I thought my emotion at approaching the end of this 30 day journey would be joy and excitement. Instead, I would say I’m nervous for it to end.

Once I passed the half-way point, my experience changed dramatically from the first few weeks. My new way of eating has become routine. I don’t have to think expend tons of thought and energy into how I will prepare my next meal or what I will eat. I have made it through withdrawal of so many things I used to love: sugar, diet soda, sugar, dairy, sugar and chewing gum.

I’m afraid to go back to my world of choice. I don’t want to return to my previous life where I had to decide how many cookies I could eat or whether to have a bowl of ice cream. I love having protein-fueled energy, and I don’t want to go back to the highs and lows of my sugar addiction.

So, trying to decide what my boundaries will be at the end of the 30 days is occupying a lot of my mental energy right now. But until then, here are some of the things I’ve experienced my first 20 days on Whole 30.

  1. The biggest change for me already is an improved relationship with food. It was so hard at the beginning to go to a restaurant or movie theater and find myself surrounded by the smells of delicious meals or hot buttered popcorn. At the beginning, I had incredible cravings for something — anything — sugary to eat after dinner. Now, I’m OK. I’m not constantly thinking about food or craving certain foods.
  2. I enjoy tasting real food. Before I did Whole 30, I covered much of my food with some type of sauce. This had already been reduced significantly since I went gluten free, but I still used ketchup, A-1 sauce, Tamari sauce, honey, butter, sour cream and salad dressing to add flavor to my meals. During the past 20 days, I haven’t used any of those. We have a joke in our house that the kids call any type of meat, “chicken.” I think what they really mean is “sauce.” Now that I have a greater sensitivity to what different types of food taste like, I can make choices on what veggies, fruit or herbs I can throw into my meal to improve the taste.
  3. I love the energy I have from eating real food. Instead of craving processed, pre-packaged food, I’ve started feeling an aversion to it. I actually feed bad watching my kids eat bread or cereal, knowing how much more energy they would have if they were eating eggs or another form of protein.
  4. I love being in control of food. It feels so good not to be addicted to sugar. I could just type this line 100 times.
  5. I can now do real push ups. This doesn’t actually have anything to do with Whole 30, but during this month I have been exercising most days. I alternate between doing the “couch to 5K” on my treadmill and doing a couple of strength building programs via the Internet. I’ve always done “girl” push-ups, but I can actually do REAL push ups. (OK, only 3. But still!) People! This is huge for me.
  6. I have lost zero pounds. That’s right. Not one single pound. You aren’t supposed to weigh during Whole 30, but that is the one rule I’ve broken. I’m addicted to the scale. My goal was to lose six pounds, and I really hoped that like 95 percent of the people who do Whole 30, I would shed a little weight. Nope. I could argue that I’ve actually gained weight because at one point I did lose two pounds, but I gained it back. The amazing thing is that even with my obsession with the number on the scale, I would still do it again. I really feel that all of the gains have been worth it.

I guess one thing I should add to put all of this into perspective is that from May to November of 2016, I have had an ongoing and very challenging struggle with my health. During that time, I have constantly been fighting the effects of an auto-immune disease: lethargy, exhaustion, brain fog, joint pain and other unpleasant stuff. Just the fact that I have been healthy enough to try an eating plan like this has been a huge step for me.

When I started, 10 days sounded like a long time. But with only 10 days left, I can’t believe how close I am to the finish line. Of course, the truth is, I’m never finished. Now, to decide what’s next!

**

What about you? Did you try something new in January? How is it going for you?

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Fear of falling

Fear of falling

As you probably know from reading this blog, one of the ways we enjoy winter around here is on our backyard ice rink. I say “we” because it’s not just the kids who get all of the fun. I love strapping on my skates and blasting my tunes on our portable speaker and heading out to the ice.

The only problem is that I have a major fear of falling. It’s with good reason.

I break easily. Throughout my life, I’ve actually broken each of my arms twice. From the age of 5 to the age of 27, I broke both wrists and both shoulders. I wish I could say it was from some dramatic daredevil adventure, but I pretty much just fell down each time.

As a result, I try really hard to stay upright. I don’t like to fall.

Skating on a homemade ice rink isn’t quite as glamorous as going to an indoor facility with its big Zamboni and manicured ice. Our rink is subject to the ever changing weather, and we rely on warmer days and rain to help smooth out our ice. Our homemade Zamboni (think PVC pipe, hose and towel) only works so well.

So when I skate, it’s with quite a lot of caution.

Earlier this week, I went out in the evening with my girls. We were laughing and goofing off when I felt myself start to teeter. I was sure I could stop myself. I held out my arms. l tried to move in the opposite direction. But my teetering became a full blown totter.

“I’m going down!” I told myself.

My legs literally flew out from under me, and I flopped flat on my back. I just laid there, staring up at the dark blue sky.

I waited.

Hmmmm…. no burning pain.

I can still move.

I think I’m still in one piece!

Next, I had to confront my second greatest fear. I’m always worried that if I do fall, I won’t be able to get back up. The backyard ice rink doesn’t have any walls to use for balance or anything at all to grab onto when you are lying flat on your back.

Somehow, without even thinking, I just leaned forward and popped right back up.

Amazing!

I will admit, my legs were shaking from the experience. I stayed out on the ice another 40 minutes after that, but the pain in my back start setting in later that evening.

Strangely though, as I was rubbing my sore aching neck the next day, I really started feeling good about that fall. I realized that I wasn’t nearly as afraid after I got back up as I had been before I fell.

I also realized that my extreme fear of falling applies to many areas of my life.

It’s only the second week of January, and I had already given up on a couple of ideas I had for this year, because of my fear of falling. Unlike my fear on the ice, my everyday fears are usually made up of three components.

  1. Fear of being critiqued. I’m often afraid of what people will think… Of being judged… Of people criticizing me for something when they don’t really know me or understand my heart…. Of being misunderstood.
  2. Fear that I’m not good enough. I’m not smart enough, talented enough. I’m too old, not cool enough, not popular enough. All of those. You know the drill.
  3. Fear that anyone else who tried to do the same thing would be way better. Basically, playing the comparison game. Everyone else seems to have more friends, more fun, more likers, more amazing photos on Instagram, more of everything that seems to define us these days.

Oh, but laying there looking up at the twilight sky in the middle of our ice rink, I realized that falling isn’t really so bad. Yes, I’ve been rubbing my sore neck all week, and walking a little slower since the fall.

But I didn’t break. I got back up. I didn’t let my fear keep me from blasting my music and skating with my girls. I’m glad I went out there, and I plan to do it again. And the best part? I’m not nearly as afraid of falling now.

**

What about you? Do you have a fear of falling, either literally or figuratively?

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