Day 64 – Why I Deleted Facebook Off My Phone

Two days ago in an attempt to organize my chaos, I made a schedule of where my hours go in a week.  Needless to say, I was shocked, dismayed and disappointed at how my weekly schedule of have-tos illuminated in multi-colored blockiness how little free time I actually did have.

Shocking revelation #1

I work at 40-hour week.  You’d think I’d know how many hours I work, but I am a self-employed medical transcriptionist who sets her own hours and never really bothered to keep track.  Now, I know.  I’m full-time.  I lost 5 hours I thought I had.

Shocking revelation #2

I couldn’t figure out where to fit in family time…the whole reason I work at home was to be here with my family, and I couldn’t figure out a time to create memories as a family where everyone was home.  Yes, the most special moment between individual members are often not planned and just happen, but how do you have those great family “do you remember” reminisces if you never actually find time to have an adventure together (adventure don’t have to be complicated…just trying the new pie place down the block is an adventure).

Shocking revelation #3

Where the heck was MY time?  Where was my meditating, blogging, learning, reading and dreaming time going to fit in?

Sigh.

These were the top three of my revelations.  There were many more.  I know there are many others who work 40 hours and manage a family, but I’ve never been very great at multitasking or living life without a fair amount of margin to handle gracefully the unexpected.

However on the flip side, there was a positive effect to the construction of my calendar.  I began to be aware of how I spent my most valuable resource of time and asked myself how I could spend it more wisely.

Inspiration #1

I noted how much time I wasted taking “breaks” during my work and also when I was transitioning from one task to the other how often I would pull out my phone and surf Facebook.  Surfing once or twice a day would not be an issue, rather a well-deserved coffee break, but my conscience knew it was more than that…quite a bit more.  With sadness, Facebook on my phone got the boot.  I could still check it on computer, but it was a little less accessible.  I also banned myself from “breaks” during work and instead allotted myself a firm schedule.

Inspiration #2

Errand Day.  One afternoon to run errands requested of me by my family.  No little last-minute trips to pick up vegan bread, get a hair cut or drop into the hardware store.   This felt very freeing as I was feeling somewhat resentful of all the last minute requests and times that by 5 people and a multitude of pets, and you spend a lot of time running errands.

Inspiration #3

Cook only on my dinner night.  In our family of five, we have managed to divide the cooking duties over the week and assign everyone a dinner night.  Helps so much, but often as not, I would find myself cooking the two spare days, as well as helping people out during their meal times (people pleaser!).  I’m getting tough now.  I’m cooking the same number of nights as everyone else.  Everyone is perfectly capable of finishing up leftovers or whipping themselves up something simple on those two spare nights.  Today I had a 20-minute nap with the dogs while my son cooked.  Blissful!

Just those three inspirations have freed up a significant amount of time, and I have figured out how to fit in some time almost each day for me and for my loved ones.  There is still tweaking to do.  I haven’t figured out the social life thing yet, but Rome wasn’t built in a day and my calendar won’t be either; however, right now Rome seems the easier build.

I highly recommend the process of charting your time every now and then.  Setting work hours firmly has helped free my brain from having to think about work beyond those allotted times and has brought me back to a place of prioritizing what’s important in this season in my life.

flat lay photography of calendar
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Day 63 – Depression and Unmet Need

While having my fun scrolling Facebook, I happened upon this video on depression featuring Johann Hari, author of Lost Connections.  

He talks about how there is the belief that depression is a result of a chemical imbalance, but actually much of depression is a result of a human being’s unmet needs.

This seemingly little revelation caused me to gasp out loud with both surprise as I’ve never heard depression termed in such a way before and a feeling of rightness as this concept holds a lot of truth for me.

rear view of a boy sitting on grassland
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I have been guilty of sharing that depression is a result of a chemical imbalance to my loved ones, but it never seemed to tell the full story.  It was a trite explanation for an immense issue which was meant to alleviate shame and guilt around suffering from depression, as well it should; however, I still didn’t feel like it covered the heart of the issue and made the solution feel more like a crap shoot in finding the right tools and the correct dose of medication so an individual could function.

The concept of unmet needs resonates strongly as it changes the locus of “fault” from a defective brain (internal) to an emotional, environmental and/or societal reason (external affecting internal), and instead of medicating, talking therapies and mindfulness practices being the only tools in our toolbox for managing depression, perhaps more clarity into the unmet needs of our fellow humans would allow us to take a more individualized wholehearted approach on treating depression, one which not only makes someone function in society, but gives someone a purpose-full life.

I know the reality of this is a long way in the future, and while I feel heaviness for those who are alone in their battle with depression, those who have loved ones with a deeper understanding of depression being a human being’s unmet needs, the more hopeful I am that strategies that treat the heart of a human instead just focusing on releasing more or less chemicals in the brain may make this a better world for those who suffer.

Note: I am never anti-medication.  As in all treatments, they have their time and place.

Day 62 – White Space and Writing

My goal to blog every day for 365 days has been difficult as I imagined it would be, but what I didn’t foresee is that it would burn me out.  My writing dwindled and dwindled until the point where I almost decided to give it up.  It seems blogging and finding time to learn about blogging has been a bigger challenge than I would anticipated.  Apparently when you have a family, they insist on having some of your time…who would have thought?!

However, the embers of this challenge were still burning, albeit pathetically.

fire camping coals embers
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One thing I have learned this week about the writing process is that it requires white space…that margin of time where you are neither writing nor thinking of writing, but just focused on something you enjoy doing.  For me this week, it was gardening, catching up on a few bloggers I enjoy reading about and giving in to my addiction for a good fix of wisdom from my self-help book collection.

As a result of my white space this week, I return with a fresh batch of ideas, some focus and direction for the week ahead and renewed vigor for the continued practice of my writing.

I encourage you that if you’re feeling that something you love isn’t fun anymore because you’ve over-committed, are spending too much time thinking about it or feel it has become a duty or obligation, take some white space.  I won’t guarantee you’ll come back to your commitment, but the mental space away will at the very least help you reevaluate priorities and just maybe make you miss it enough that you reconnect with the fun in your personal challenge.

Day 62 – Over and Out.

person holding white ceramic teacup with black coffee
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Day 61 – Fear and Momentum

There is much fear in my world.  I hide it I think well.  After 40+ years of life, I have honed my skill of hiding my fear(s) fairly well, but there it resides inside my head ready to bubble up unpredictably and give me yet another broken night of sleep when it feels like it.

However, with the bad comes the good.  Fear can equal momentum.  It can take me from complacency and comfort to facing a challenge head on.  Fear teaches me that I can rely on myself for answers and trust my instincts.  Fear can strengthen, not incapacitate.

Fear and ruminations = panic and hopelessness

Fear and action = power and hope

Such are my ramblings for Day 61, now I’m off to bed.

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Day 60 – Happy Mother Day

I’ve been reading a barrage of Happy Mother’s Day Facebook posts acknowledging all kinds of moms for the hard work they do and the selfless love they shower on their children.

It struck me that Mother’s Day has the same feel to me as our elected officials voting themselves a raise…the uncomfortable feeling that all the energy in this day is perpetuated by the same people being honored.  Hey, I’m guilty.  I love a good dose of appreciation of my sacrifices as much as the next mom and have no issues about asking for it if I have to.

However today, I’d like to flip Mother’s Day a little bit and instead thank the ones who made this all possible…

To my kiddos,

Thank you for picking me as your mom.  Whatever in the cosmos dictated that you were to be our souls to care take, I am forever grateful.  If I had the pick of what children I would have had , I don’t think I would have picked three lovely individuals as yourselves, and my life would have been poorer for it (I don’t have a great imagination).

Thank you for every glass of juice you spilled after I just mopped the floor and every T-shirt I wore that you utilized as Kleenex.  You stretched me to be more patient and to put people ahead of cleanliness.

Thank you for every artistic sketch you drew on the wall and every carving you made into our table.  You taught me perspective, what constitutes real art and that stuff is just stuff.

Thank you for noticing nature and bringing my attention to it.  You taught me to stop and smell the roses and have admiration for all creatures…even the ones with eight legs.

Thank you for having personal challenges.  You taught me empathy for others and to be less judgmental.

Thank you for making me feel sadness and fear at times for each of you.  You taught me faith in a higher power and strengthened my beliefs.

Thank you for allowing me to share your pain.  You taught me to trust in your ability to heal and marvel at your resilience.

Thank you for arguing with me and for challenging my decisions.  You taught me to examine what I believe, to lose what just didn’t make sense for us and to stand firm in what did.

Thank you for accepting my imperfect parenting.  You taught me humility and to ask for forgiveness.

Thank you for having a sense of humor.  You taught me the importance of emphasizing joy and that laughter is the best kind of medicine.

Thank you for loving and caring about me.  You reminded me that I am worthy of being loved and cared for, despite my flaws.

It is indeed a Happy Mother Day.

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Day 59 – Anxiety Hurdles

Two days ago, I joined a weight loss program, and if that wasn’t enough, I challenged my anxiety by attending one of their meetings at a local church.  I felt I needed the accountability a group could provide; yet, my introverted self would much rather have participated in an incognito online program.

Now if you suffer from anxiety to any degree, perhaps you could understand that each step was difficult, and I have found for myself that to deal with anxiety when facing an unknown situation, the best thing for me to do is to break the challenge down into smaller steps…a series of hurdles to the finish line.

Each hurdle involves a choice…cut my losses and run or deep breath and stand firm. Admittedly, I have done both, but the longer I battle anxiety, the more I find a feeling of regret accompanies a decision to run…except from social functions.  I have very rarely experienced regret when fleeing from a party social situation where I know no one, and another reason I have given myself permission to attend no more of these types of functions, but I digress.

Each hurdle faced also involves a personal check-in and a pep talk.  How am I feeling right now?  You’re doing great.  Just see what happens.  You can go at any time.

Here’s my hurdles broken down.  A glimpse into my anxious self with rating as to anxiety level.

Hurdle One:  Finding the location and parking – mild.

Hurdle Two:  Getting out of the car – high.

Hurdle Three:  Asking a Bible study group where the meeting was held – high.

Hurdle Four:  Entering the door to find a huge lineup of women waiting to be weighed and greeted by the organizer – high.

Hurdle Five:  Getting weighed – moderate and shocking.

Hurdle Six:  Finding a seat and attending meeting – moderate.

Hurdle Seven:  Answering when put on the spot as to why I joined…umm, jump-start modelling career? – moderate

Once I reach that finish line, I suffer from both exhilaration from facing my fears and also exhaustion.  It takes a lot of energy to be anxious…too bad that doesn’t translate to weight loss.

I could choose to be frustrated with myself that these things are so hard for me, yet not a big deal to so many others; however, I choose to be proud in these little accomplishments.  I think they translate into resilience currency, and I’m working on building up my reserves.

To all my fellow anxiety sufferers, a high-five if you challenged that anxiety a little today.  It’s not easy.

Day 58 – Hypocritical Adulting

While my intention is not to use my blog as a platform for ranting, there is one issue which I am especially sensitive about…hypocritical adulting.

I realize that this is an imperfect world filled with imperfectly-perfect people; however, let’s own our imperfections and be authentically flawed rather than dumping the mantle of our insecurities on the younger humans in our care.  These inconsistencies are weakening our sphere of influence and impede our sharing of wisdom.

What does hypocritical adulting look like…this week?

  • Complaining about children and screen time online.
  • Posting quotes about how children need to be outside more in all weather from the comfort our plushy sofa.
  • Describing the younger generation as entitled, lazy and disrespectful.
  • Telling our youth to get good grades in order to get a good job and then complain to our spouse about the “good” job that is sucking our soul dry.
  • Lamenting bullying in our schools and then taking a photo of someone hogging two parking spots and posting it on Facebook.
  • Telling your child to pay attention and then looking at your phone while they are talking to you.

So let’s flip it…what would authentic adulting look like perhaps?

  • Sitting down next to your gamer child and letting them tell you what is absorbing their attention online without judgement after you have turned off the internet for the whole family for a few hours.
  • Getting yourself and your family out in nature.
  • Supporting our youth so they can be their amazing selves and giving them reasons to feel less anxious out in the world.
  • Encouraging all ages to challenge themselves and follow their interests while also following our own.
  • Demonstrating true power by owning our mistakes and moments of unkindness.
  • Listening truly to the real human in front of us…and putting down the damn phone.

Trust is earned when actions match words.  – Chris Butley