Thursday, December 22, 2016

Day 9 of the News Fast

In the last week, I've been completely disconnected from everything. I've stayed off the computer, kept the radio on music, and basically only exchanged pleasantries with strangers when I was out and about. 

 For the first four days of this last week the weather was warm and gorgeous and I spent the days outside. I had a Purpose and a goal. I was committed to finishing a big project, so there was no time for surfing because I was working (and had left my phone in the house). 

When the weather turned cold for a few days, I stayed inside and found that I had broken the habit of checking in to Facebook (WOO HOO), but was instead curling up on the couch  binge-watching TV shows on Netflix....nothing wrong with that if you just do it now and again, but I put in three days of it AND I wasn't doing anything while I watched. 

In the four days of outdoor work I had realized two things about me and my computer....I was sitting down at the computer or pulling out my phone every time I paused for physical rest or between tasks, every time my head went bored or blank. I was also spending inordinate amounts of time on the computer when I got up of a morning and didn't have a plan. I was filling every void with news and Facebook. I had stopped allowing myself to be quiet, still, and mindful. 

Yesterday, we celebrated the Solstice...just JC and I. We had breakfast out, went to the movies, shopped for books, did our evening chores, and had one of our favorite dinners while watching a movie. All the voids were filled, no urges to curl up and waste the day in front of Netflix streaming endless drivel, no need to see what everyone else was doing on Facebook. We had a plan and a Purpose (spend the day together).

This News Fast has had some unexpected results already....some revelations I wasn't expecting, so I'm going to push it another step and next week I'm going to give up Netflix TV shows. 

17 in the queue
There are 21 books on my bedside table (I think I've read 2 of them already and I'm reading 2 simultaneously). Next week's focus: no news and less screen time. 

NOTE: I am writing these posts here as rough drafts, please read them as such.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Day 2: Better Sleep?

I just got home an half hour or so and I had thought that I wouldn't sit down to write tonight as it is late for me, but after my shower I've got enough energy to recap today, Day 2 of the News Fast. 

First of all, I slept really well last night for the first time in weeks and weeks. Usually I wake up to go to the bathroom and then lie awake for hours fretting and thinking until, just before time to get up, I doze off again. Last night, I got up; I laid down; I fell right back to sleep...that never happens. Of course, it might not have been the reduced screen time and the lack of worrisome news, but just the fact that I was tired because I worked hard yesterday.

Today, I did not even have to fight any urges to check Facebook. None. I was surprised by that...I was also ass deep in dead, brown, dusty plants that needed to be removed from the garden beds. I set out to get the garden cleaned up and I did it...all tidy. So tonight I suspect I'll sleep well again and tomorrow we still won't know if I'm sleeping well because I'm so very tired or if lack of fret-worthy fodder is allowing me to turn off my head at night. 

Whole Garden: Pano (Isn't my greenhouse cute?)
Tomorrow I'm going to be making mulch, spreading mulch, and hauling mulch. I have plans and things are getting done, so for now I'm going to credit the reduced screen time for getting all of this done and I'll keep you posted on the rest....

The Longest Row

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Day 1: No News is Good News

Whew! I strongly suspected that I had an unhealthy attachment to Facebook in particular and surfing in general and today proved it. I'm going to tell you the truth, but I'm a little embarrassed. 

Apparently, I must check Facebook dozens and dozens of times each day. I say this because that is how many urges I had to pick up my phone or open my computer today. Literally beginning just minutes after my alarm went off I had to remind myself that I wasn't looking at Facebook or the news for the next month....WHILE I WAS STILL IN BED, y'all. That is embarrassing. 

Another sad and embarrassing thing...apparently, Facebook friends keep me company when I eat all my meals and snacks. Yep, every time I made a meal or a snack I headed for my computer...every.single.time. 

Also surprising was the number of times I considered checking Facebook on my phone while on the potty....I'm just straight up ashamed of that one. Really?

I also had to go to the dentist today and they were running late and I had to practically sit on my hands to keep from reaching for my phone...that was just boredom.

Despite the repeated urges to sit down at the computer or get my phone, I didn't break. I swear. I read a magazine while I ate breakfast and lunch. I watched Netflix while I ate dinner. During the day, while working outside I found that leaving my phone inside was the best policy because yep, I had the urge to just "rest for a minute" and I'd reach for my phone. 

I also found myself thinking in Facebook pictures and posts. I "took" pictures and "wrote" captions in my head as I know, the kinds of things you post on Facebook. 

I was proud of myself for not breaking, but ended up feeling kind of pathetic (on the potty, really??). 

Harry Hou and his girls making more compost.

When I found myself sort of feeling anxious and out of sorts this evening and the urge to open the computer was strong, I dragged out my Wreck this Journal or my "Wrecking Journal" as I call it. I sketched the husk of a cotton bole and started on some ornamental pear leaves.
Wrecking the Wreck this Journal (by Keri Smith)

I suspect this will actually get harder the longer I go. I tried to be mindful and listen today when I felt the urges to "check in"...It seems like every time I paused in a task, I reached for something to fill the pause. That is my observation for today. Tomorrow, I'm going to work on WHY I'm doing that...

The News Fast: Breaking my Addiction to Facebook.

For the past month or so, I’ve been down…deep, deep down. It’s really nothing new for me to feel melancholy as the days get shorter in the fall, but this year has been different. In addition to my “normal” seasonal blues, I’ve been deeply affected by the recent election and the Pandora’s box of ugliness it released. I’m finding that I fret too much. I worry. I regret. I feel helpless and hopeless. I forget to eat. I cry too much and I scream too much.

I find I cannot stop myself from reading the news and my reactions run between intense sadness and an unhealthy rage and everything in between. With every new item I read I pick up a few more pounds of burden…please understand that for me emotional burden is just as heavy as physical burden (such are the perils of chronic depression and anxiety). I literally feel like I am being crushed to the ground by the weight of the world. 

In addition to the weighty burden of bad news, I find myself more and more at my computer, researching, reading, posting, reacting. I’ve begun to feel like the I might be a little addicted to the newsfeed…compulsively checking my Facebook page a zillion times a day…scrolliing, scrolling, scrolling…too much bad news, too many things I can’t ignore. It's a little paralyzing. And while I don’t want to ignore what is going on, I feel like I need to isolate myself for awhile to heal, to think, to process. 

I need some time to find balance again…I need some emotions other than sad and angry. I need my time back too.  

So, I’ve decided to begin a News Fast….just for a month…from today December 13th until January 17th. I’ve made some rules for myself, but really the goal is to free myself for a bit from all the negativity so I can come back stronger, better, smarter, kinder in the new year. 

As I’ve been thinking of this News Fast for the past few days I can feel the time opening up for me…I see time for yoga, and walks, and books, and paints, and fabrics, and recipes, and experiments that I will have time for when I close my computer. 

Don’t get me wrong…I’ll still have to use the internet…we don’t have TV service, so I get my weather online…and you are out of your head if you think I’m giving up Netflix!, but I just want to shut off the bad news for a bit. I’m thinking I can limit myself to Pinterest, ADDS (weather) and Netflix for the month, necessary research (ie. addresses or business hours), and of course, shopping. 

I’ve been making a list for myself for this month and I’m generally excited for the first time in a long time:
  • go outside, walk
  • be creative, 
  • work hard, 
  • finish projects, 
  • make things, 
  • collect leaves, 
  • watch birds,
  • hand gin the cotton
  • make a rag doll
  • make oak gall ink
  • write on the blog
  • take photos
  • try dying fabric with food
  • get the garden ready for spring

My goal is to write about the experience here and we will see how that goes because I don’t want to “over-schedule” myself…