Trading in my telescope for a magnifying glass…

Time for an update:

I am taking my health quite seriously. A small, credit card-sized heart monitor has joined my daily fashion for a month, and any irregularities are transmitted via land line phone to my heart specialist. The guess is that I may need another surgery for arrhythmia, but we will know much more when/if the monitor catches anything. I have been feeling OK physically and my other cardiologist says he is optimistic. I’ve just begun walking in the mornings after my oldest gets on the school bus. My hope is that the exercise will strengthen my weakened heart muscle as well as boost my mood. Speaking of…

I have an appointment with my general practice doctor tomorrow. The meeting is specifically to discuss my depression and anxiety and attempt to form a plan for recovery. I have been wary of adding medications to my routine, as I jumped from two pills per day last year to now nine (all additions as a result of the discovery of my heart issues). But I have been learning that it is normal for heart patients to experience depression, and that it makes even more sense that I would struggle with it since I was prone to mood disorders before my problems arose last October.

As for the Facebook experiment, well, I am failing. Sorta. The parameters that I set for myself initially allowed contact with friends via Facebook Messenger, but I have found myself also reading my News Feed in the past few days. What jumped out at me was, “Wow, there is a LOT of crap here that I don’t care about or want to know at all.” Since I was already on the site, I edited my Friends List by unfollowing most people. The majority I chose to follow were friends that have made the effort to contact me over the past few weeks, friends that I would consider close, and friends whose posts inspire me or always make me laugh. In other words, I am choosing to invite positive, meaningful relationships into my daily life (when I officially return to FB, of course). I did not unfriend anyone. They will still be able to see my posts if or when I return to posting my own content, and I can look them up specifically if I want to get caught up with their lives. I also weeded out about half of the businesses that I had liked.

I have also decided to take a break from job hunting. The search has been fruitless for months, and I think it is a major contributor to my growing depression. Instead, I have been taking that energy and pouring it into the development of a realistic family budget, the drastic pruning of our expenses, and the discovery of new ways for us to save on necessary purchases. We withdrew a chunk of money from retirement and paid off a large amount of credit card debt. The rest has been transferred to cards with zero interest. In our efforts to save monthly, I was ready to cancel our Hulu Plus subscription… until someone told me about how to earn a free month of the subscription with Bing Rewards. I rid us of that expense, which makes our cord cutting feel like it is even more freeing. I found the app, Price Cruncher, which allows for grocery price comparison. One (long!) Saturday of shopping at seven different grocery stores was eye-opening, and shopping the weekly ads has become a new habit. I’ve also been baking more bread, hanging our laundry out to dry, and making homemade versions of peanut butter, Nutella, laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, and shampoo. Our chickens should be ready to start laying eggs within a month or two, and that should give us a source of small income. Of course, we will also have an abundance of eggs for ourselves, so I have been collecting egg recipes to use for our hen berry harvest.

All of this shows me how important it was for me to walk away from social media for a while, at the precise time at which I did. My focus was waaaay too broad for my own good. I was spending excessive amounts of time trying to take in as many details of the online world as possible, while living in denial and ignoring my own needs. But in the last several weeks, I’ve walked away from the telescope and picked up a magnifying glass. I have chosen to focus on the small little corner of the real world in which I live. That world is messy and broken and ugly and breathtakingly beautiful. So now, I hug my loved ones and get my work gloves on, because there is some hard work to be done.

Life’s Most Valuable Resource, wasted. This is sobering.

My Facebook Fast was briefly interrupted last weekend as I had an ER visit and was kept for observation. That event is for another post on another day, but I did reach out to about 20 close friends on Facebook at that time. I’m now back on the bandwagon and not missing it a bit.

However, facing a serious health crisis while lying in an ICU bed tends to make one think of mortality and how one’s life is spent. Am I living life well? What would my young children remember of me if I were suddenly gone? Would they remember me hugging on them, cooking with them, doing adventurous things with them? Or, would they remember seeing my face buried in a laptop or phone, attempting to communicate with faceless “friends” in unknown places?

Most people say that Time is life’s most precious resource. It is given to all of us, but we never know how much we have. And when it is gone, it is gone. You can’t get it back. I have been squandering my time away like I have endless stores of it, but my recent health issues have reminded me that my account does have a limit.

Back in January, Facebook celebrated its tenth anniversary. TIME.com posted an article at that time on their Tech page, entitled “How Much Time Have You Wasted On Facebook?” After linking your Facebook profile to their site and estimating how many minutes per day you typically spend on Facebook, a counter begins. You can sit and watch the minutes, hours, and days accumulate as the app scans the timestamps on your Facebook posts and activity. It also shows a counter for how many things you have posted on Facebook since joining the social media site.

I am embarrassed to share mine. What a terrible waste.

Screenshot 2014-07-24 11.03.20

This simply has to change.

I don’t know how many days I have with my husband. With my children. I have faced some serious health issues in the past ten months, and this app now tells me that I have given almost that much time to my computer.

If I am drawn to Facebook primarily out of a need for relationships, then this same need is the exact reason why I should walk away from the site, possibly forever.

In the past couple weeks, I have figured out ways to seek out connection with the important people in my life. I don’t need Facebook to do it for me. When I see the people that matter to me, we actually have real conversations because we have not shared every sordid detail of our lives with each other online. The hardest part has been reminding those still active on the site that I haven’t read their timeline and they have to remember to tell me about things they’ve shared. But all in all, these are very doable adjustments.

I’m so flustered by the Wasted Time Clock pictured above that I can’t even figure out how to end this blog post. Please, be gentle with any judgement you may be tempted to dole out because of my poor time management. Instead, may I suggest that all of us examine ways that we are not present with the loved ones that surround us, and that we try today to eliminate a distraction or two so we can see them and love them, right here, right now.

Because time is ticking away.

Withdrawal is Fading

I’m not quite a week into my 99 days without Facebook, but I’m already beginning to notice my dependence fading.

This morning, I stumbled out of bed and cooked blackberry pancakes for my children. My seven-year-old is home for her first day of summer vacation since she finished a local day camp program, and she has been begging me to make pancakes with some of the blackberries we have in abundance on our property. I usually hesitate to make pancakes. They aren’t my favorite breakfast food, and I swear I am the slowest pancake maker in the world. From getting out the mixing bowls to taking the final cake off the griddle, it took about an hour.

But, I cooked them for my kids, mostly because my older daughter is old enough that she is making memories. Do I want for her to look back someday and remember me saying “no” to things, over and over, or for her to remember the times I said “yes?”

They scarfed down breakfast and asked for seconds. As I refilled their plates, I thought to check my calendar for today… but where was my phone??

My phone was still on the charger, an hour after I awoke for the day – something that never would have happened if I were still obsessed with staying connected via social media.

Usually, my phone would be in my hand before my feet even hit the floor in the morning. I often spent ten minutes or more reading posts or status updates online before rolling out of bed.

But today, I didn’t give my phone a single thought. Instead, I fulfilled the wishes of my daughter and invested in the relationships of three little souls that have been entrusted to my care.

Totally worth it.