I have been struggling with what to post for the past two weeks…going on three.
There are a myriad lines of thought going through my head, none I’ve been able to make coherent enough to write down.
I guess I will attempt it now. I hope it is not too jumbled, so bear with me, please.
I have not given up on this challenge. There are 52.143 weeks in a year, I’m more than half way done. I continue to consider each item I bring into my home. Admittedly, my home is no less cluttered, despite the curbed spending on non-necessities and the purging of extra or wallowing items via donations and selling through my facebook sellers pages. It’s clear there is more work to be done, but I am also recognizing that as a household with two kids, this house will never look clutter free. And I accept that, because it is definitely more homey to be surrounded by the evidence of their fun and imaginative play than imposing some austere, limited environment on them. Of course, there are also limits, kids don’t need to drown in toys either…so I keep that in mind. So long as all of it can return to it’s “home” in a basket or on a shelf, then we are A-Ok.
Because of this, the requirement that all things have a home, I have felt the need to work on a side project whereby I create a book nook for my girls in their future shared bedroom. The one thing I don’t limit is books, we love books. The girls have two dedicated shelves just for them on my one book case in our living room. So, as it is overflowing into baskets in my eldest’s room, I thought, why not give her her own bookshelf. And then it morphed into, ‘why not a book nook where she can cozy up and “read” her books (she’s 3, she doesn’t actually read, but she does look at books alone for upwards of an hour at a time!)?’ It has taken months and months. I wanted to gather the necessary items on the cheap. Namely a cozy rug, shelving, and to paint her nook in some magical way. Well, the paint was easy…Home Depot does samples for $3 each, so I got the primaries and filled in the rest with my own existing acrylics. I scoured, like an addict, my facebook sell pages, until I got an amazing deal on a thick cotton rug for a mere $20 and in exactly the motif I had hoped for. My aunt thoughtfully gifted the Ikea light and giant leaf I had had my eye on as I was planning the project. We are not done, pillows need to be made…but I am kinda hoping that my mom will want to take on that project the next time she visits!
But now here comes the thing I have been wrestling with: What happens after my 52.143 weeks? I don’t believe that much will change. I don’t think I will be going on a buying binge. I feel like this exercise has changed me for sure, has made me aware of my own source of desires, helped slow me down enough to question. But on that other level, what happens to this blog? As with all my past internet based endeavours, will it just lie fallow? What happens to this digital detritus? Am I just adding to the digital junk pile? How much of it is out there? How many failed blogs, dead Myspace profiles…
It really got me going down this thought path about why is it that I feel the need to put myself out there? What is the payoff?
There is a video currently going around the internet about Millennials and social media and our addiction to it. I am not a Millennial…I’m about a decade too old apparently…but it still rings true for me. In examining myself, I can see that while my blogs are definitely a creative outlet that is on one hand of great benefit to me…there is also another aspect of it that is the ego stuff, the “likes” junkie, always hoping for a response or feedback, a conversation starter…the pipe dream of one day going viral.
And then what? Really, for what?
So, I can see addictive egoic behaviour is involved in this. I have also really started to feel uneasy with this whole “look at me” kind of culture. I think it started when I tried to enter the world of Twitter. Bite sized updates by individuals ranging from the boring to the outrageous, but always or mostly about themselves…or desperate attempts at drawing attention to themselves or to somehow draw out a response from a celebrity ( I could feel the palpable desperation of the fans trying to get their idol to acknowledge them ). Yet another medium for rejection. It all seemed so desperate. I started to feel desperate. And yes, I am well aware of its power for good, that revolutions have been started via this medium…as with all things, if we can use it as a “tool” we can get some good from it. Unfortunately, the majority of us are just using it to tune out while “tuning in” to a virtual world ( often while in the presence of real people in the physical world who might be interacted with if we’d only look up.) with the potential, we think for adulation or recognition…our one chance to get noticed on a large scale if only we can crack the code of what it is that makes something go viral. Only there is SO much out there. So many voices clamoring to be heard …so many giving advice and how-tos ( when they probably shouldn’t and probably have no real authority on a subject), so many showing only their best selves ( a false narrative that only serves to one-up and cause envy). As media consumers, how much can we possibly put our attention to? What should we put our attention to? For all the thousands of stories or memes that do get major attention how much junk is out there. How many of us content creators are just shouting into the wind? Adding to the negative rather than the positive? There is an aspect of despair and discouragement in all of this if we truly are in it just hoping to be recognized. I have definitely felt that longing to be seen, that hope that I will, that disappointment when I am not. But am I making a valuable contribution? What is my true intention…not the surface reason, but the underlying one?
Thus, recently I started a semi media ban…namely not clicking on links related to politics for a while…nor those rubber necky types of posts about the misfortunes of others. If it uplifts, I am all for it. The reason for this selective media ban is mostly because I was losing all hope as the whole presidential election fall-out started generating a frenzy of content that, while informative, was also overwhelming and affecting my mood deeply. I definitely feel fear and despair and I know I am not the only one. But I needed a break ( I have literally had dreams of fleeing with my family via a mountain range a la VonTrap family). My family needed a break from being the secondary recipients of all that bad mojo.
I could go on. But the basics are this, I am still using all my media outlets (but not Twitter!) (at this point in time I cannot give up posting family events on facebook, nor abandon this blog) but I am going to try to re-frame them for myself to clarify their purpose. I am not to lose sleep over them nor become a shitty parent and spouse as a result of them.
For one, I am going to take that advice from that video about Millennials and charge my cell phone outside of the bedroom, and yes, buy an analogue alarm clock so that I don’t use that as the excuse to have my phone there. When I post on facebook I will continually realign myself mentally with the purpose of it, which is to provide my family in Canada with a window into our life and the growth of our girls, nothing more. This is especially hard, because there is a pride that goes into being a mom, I am completely obsessed with my kids and think they are the bomb. The key is to not expect others to think so and thus comment about that. The comments and the likes are not the point, Sharolyn!
My blogs. I need to get real. I am not destined to be a respected writer via some kind of sudden interest by the global internet community in what I have to say. Mostly I am just writing a personal journal, a cathartic exercise and creative outlet for me. I deeply appreciate those who do read what I write because gosh knows, there’s so much out there that to even be read by one person is a small miracle. So thank you. But for me, I need to keep that straight in my head. This is not about being “discovered”. If I want a career in writing, well then I should work towards that with true effort and intent.
And I need to do more real life stuff that uplifts me. That mostly means just being more present with my kids. I have slipped into glancing at my phone in my kids’presence, which is something I had vowed not to do right from the start with my first born. I started to justify it by comparing it to how in the past parents might read a book or a newspaper in front of their kids and it only demonstrated literacy at work…only it doesn’t. What it demonstrates is addiction, because a phone is more than a digital book, it’s a computer…and while computers can be excellent tools, they can also be a time sucker, an addiction conduit. I knew I was in a downward slide when my kids started reaching for my phone and pressing it’s buttons…what was on this thing that demands mommy’s attention? By that same token, even this laptop, as I write on it and stare at the screen.
So, if I want to demonstrate literacy, I will read a book in front of my kids. If I want to space out and gorge on media…I am going to have to do it on my own time (and debate the merits of binging vs getting sleep). The key is to be honest with myself and not try to rationalize it or spin it. I have a minor media addiction and I need to moderate it, step back from it and engage the real world.
I also have been inspired by this book:
I picked it up over the holidays just as I was instituting my selective media ban, because I was at a real low. This is such a good book! It really does show us a path to joy, but it is clear that it must be cultivated, and a piece of that is compassion.
And I realized that the things that were helping lift my mood was trying to see other view points and feel compassion. Over and over I kept slipping back into disbelief, anger and frustration…but to then remind myself that other viewpoints exist, it is a fact and not something I can control. So the only way through that, without anger or fear, is to feel compassion. From that, hopefully springs love, and ultimately joy. Life is tough folks. There will always be injustice, grief, struggle. It’s how we face it, frame it, use it. I hope that I have the strength to face whatever life has in store for me. I know that there is so much potential for fear, especially now, but will that do for me?
So I am choosing, at every moment at present, to try to be more generous and loving with those around me, choose to not judge as much, choose to re-frame how I look at others’ differences and to try to practice the art of compassion.
And finally, I need to acknowledge how blessed I am. This Christmas was a time of abundance, in food and in gifts. I live a charmed, beautiful life. So much so that sometimes I find myself falling into fear that something will happen to change it. But, to enact what I am trying to learn, it is inevitable that life, real life will happen, whatever that is, and it is upon me to frame it in a way that allows for joy.
I am so grateful for the love I receive on a daily basis, via my kids, via my family far and near. From friends. I struggle sometimes to feel worthy of all I receive and hope that I, in turn, am giving enough.
Love to all.