I’m back folks. I took a break after my year of shopping detox. And I am happy to say that a lot of what I learned has stuck. I’ve made a few splurges, but even those have been well thought out and slowly done so as not to fall back into that “impulse buying” thing I tried so hard to shake.
And now I want to go even deeper.
It begins with an alarm clock.
I believe I came face to face with the reality of my addiction to media…no the need to change it… the moment I clicked on the link to a video of Simon Sinek talking about Millennials. Apparently I am not actually a Millennial, but close enough ( I was born 3 years too early…but no worries, they just came up with a term for us too: Xennials. We sure do love our labels). I mean, I was aware of my over-use of media, and starting to discover my unease with it, but this hit home. Especially his little comment about the excuses we use when defending why we can’t set our phones aside. He states that we should be charging our cell phones in our living rooms, and the excuse that it is used as an alarm clock can easily be remedied by buying an actual one for $8.
I encountered this video months ago, but then after the initial jolt of inspiration/self reflection it gave me, I let it slide. Today, the video was shared again on social media, a handy reminder from the universe to get back on track.
I know I’m addicted to my smart phone and the media it allows me to access because, despite fears that my proximity to cell phones, and thus my little ones’ exposure to it as well, will adversely affect my health is not enough to get me to put it down. The fact that my husband and I find little time together and when we do, space out side-by-side looking at our screens rather than talking, is a problem. I find myself compulsively checking my phone for post acknowledgment, “how many likes did I get? Oooh! An actual comment”.
Now, this break from starting this new blog-documented challenge was initially to help me focus my idea, lay out what I want to achieve before diving in. But then the “break” turned into simply the result of delay tactics. In my defense I can say that I have been very distracted by starting up my photography business- it has definitely been the priority. Along with that, the biggest problem I came up against was: How do I distance myself from media at the exact time I am relying heavily on it to promote my business/keep my family in Canada updated on our lives? How can I step away from it when I need to be attentive to it so that I don’t miss out on customers/ cut family off from seeing their grandkids/nieces grow up?
I actually don’t have the answer to that. But I realize that that should not be the thing that stops me from going ahead. No more excuses. That’s what an addict does, right? Makes excuses? And coming back from that addiction is messy and a learning process, right? I’m going to have to figure things out as I go.
So here I am, I am launching this challenge with no clear path, other than that I know what result I want: Significantly less contact with mindless media and a lot more time spent paying attention to the things that matter: family, personal interests, spiritual growth, and creativity. My girls are in a precious developmental time of their lives. I need to be there with every ounce of my being. I don’t want to be that mom staring at her screen sending that non-verbal yet powerful message that they are not as important as the screen in front of my face. I want my girls to know deeply that they are my everything and nothing else is more captivating and meaningful to me. (I know, I’m hearing some groans: “but you have to have a life, Sharolyn. You love your kids, but they can’t be your everything, take care of you”. I agree, just remember that I’m talking about staring at media for my fix of dopamine rather than uplifting myself through other, more real means ie meditation, presence, interaction. My cell phone is not life, that’s distraction, not to mention a terrible example to the kids on how to deal with tiredness and stress. I still plan on setting the example for my girls of taking time out for me, reading books in their presence and doing creative projects with and without them).
Another point not to overlook, (which is also the true catalyst for all of this) is that when I allow myself to be pulled into social media, I not only get depressed by the barrage of news (which also ultimately freezes me rather than spur me to action which is needed) but I also become impatient and agitated which then spills over onto the girls. This is unacceptable and I mean to change that.
So, what are the first steps?
Well, I’m not kidding, there is a “new-to-me” alarm clock on my dresser (I think I got it for something like $5 at a thrift store). There’s also a stack of books I will now have time to read rather than lose time sucked into the media black hole, right beside my altar of stones and precious objects that help bring me back to a peaceful state. I also downloaded the TED talks app. If I am going to access media, it had better be positive and contribute to my positive mental state (I had forgotten how much I enjoy listening to stories while I work).
I’m going to have to be disciplined. I need to line up the things that are good for me, made readily available, so I don’t cave. The charger is already set up in the living room.
What it is all going to look like, I am not sure. But I hope you will follow along and provide your insights and support (I promise I won’t obsess over how many comments I get!!).
With love, attention and gratitude,