Begin Anyhow: Living with Discomfort

Begin Anyhow: Learning to Live with Discomfort

Begin Anyhow: Learning to Live with Discomfort

Art credit: Lisa Congdon

Lately I’ve been having a lot of new ideas. Ideas for my business, ideas for redoing our backyard, ideas for new knitting projects, the list goes on. I’m great at ideas!  New ideas are fun and creative and give me a ton energy.

Something inevitably creeps up between the idea stage and the action stage: discomfort.

At its best, this gnawing feeling of discomfort can be mildly annoying, persisting in the background of daily life. It’s something you can choose to ignore, to push away.

Discomfort will also show itself in the form of self-doubt, fear, uncertainty.  Every decision is difficult. You start to feel unfocused, scattered, and overwhelmed.

At its worst, this discomfort can become terrifying and paralyzing. It will jump onto your back and cripple you with its weight.  It stops you from moving forward in your daily tasks with any ease.  Your mind is anxious, wrestling with the excitement of your idea and the uncertainty that wants to crush it.

I have felt this way before every major thing I’ve created or changed in my life. 

Two years ago I had the first inkling of wanting to start a podcast for creatives. I held the idea close to my heart for months, too afraid too even tell anyone about it.

Starting a podcast was an idea that I couldn’t shake; I thought about it all the time! The creative spark had been ignited, and I was having constantly having new thoughts and ideas for the podcast.  Looking back, I know that was my intuition trying to get my attention, to counteract the self-doubt that was starting to creep in.

You see, I was SO afraid of putting myself out there in a new way.  Discomfort would follow me around and assert its presence at inconvenient moments, reminding me of my insecurities.  The thought of sharing my ideas and opinions over live audio was scary!  I didn’t know where to begin or what steps to take.  I worried no one would listen.

These fears and uncertainties followed me for months until it just started to feel silly.  Eventually I knew that the discomfort of not knowing how it would go or what I would do wasn’t so bad compared to the idea of not trying at all.

I needed to feel the discomfort and begin anyway.

I took action and sought out supportive mentors, found tutorials for starting a podcast, and reached out to my first set of guests. Suddenly it didn’t feel so scary anymore!

Every uncertain step I took in the direction of my dream to start a podcast added momentum, and eventually I was running forward, too inspired to look back at what I was so afraid of!

I recently put out the Season 2 finale episode of my podcast, featuring an interview with artist Lisa Congdon. Getting to speak with such interesting and inspiring creatives has been such a joy; I can’t believe I almost let discomfort hold me back!

Don’t let fear or uncertainty stop you. Let it motivate you.

It’s good to pay attention to that feeling of uncertainty and fear. But it is in this moment that you have some thinking to do.  You can let it stop you, or you can feel it, work with it and let it propel you.

Somewhere along the way, this discomfort is something that I have learned to live with.  I started asking myself if the discomfort would be something I could live with if I never took the risk. I use discomfort as a tool to tap into my intuition, to ask myself: is the risk I am about to take worth it?  Would I regret not going for it?


Is there a time you pushed through discomfort to discover something great?  The more you do this, the easier it becomes. Share your wins below so we can celebrate with you!

Creativity, Self-Care & The Mama Advantage

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I recently had the honor of joining my business coach Megan Flatt and fellow Mama CEO and writer Parrish Wilson on a new podcast: The Mama Advantage.  Megan’s premise for the podcast is that as women, mothers, and entrepreneurs, we bring added value to all of our roles. She’s exploring this idea alongside some very rich topics. I can’t wait to see what’s next!

Listen in to Episode 2 to hear each of our stories of rising up and starting our own businesses while also having young kids. Parrish and I share what creativity and self-care mean to us, and we even share our own Mama Advantages.  I dive into my views on the role of creativity and the value of self care in my life; and I enjoyed hearing the other women’s views as well.

I’d love for you to give it a listen and let me know what you think!

Click here to listen to the podcast. 

Thoughts on self-care & why I eat standing up

Thoughts on self-care & why I eat standing up

Thoughts on self-care & why I eat standing up

Some days it feels like the needs of my children are incessant. From the moment my eyelids open into the 5am darkness to the moment their little bodies succumb to sleep, they NEED.

They need love, snuggles, attention, comfort, and reassurance. They also need pancakes cut up just so, a cup of juice -no, I SAID WATER!, poopy bottoms wiped and then balanced on the “big” potty. They need latex gloves put on both hands and fire truck ladders extended. They need me to listen and offer feedback. They need me to basically bear witness and be available to assist them every second we’re together.

Which, in some ways is totally fine. That’s parenting, and meeting their needs is my job.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t times where I hide in the bathroom pretending to poop for 10 minutes so I can take an Instagram break. Or that I don’t join them at the table because the second my ass hits the chair someone needs me to get something or wants out of their chair.

Occasionally, on the really tough days, I sit them at the table facing the tv while they eat.

I eat standing up in the kitchen, in plain view but far enough away to not trigger the Need button. I hunch over the plate scooping forkfuls of leftovers into my mouth while scrolling through Facebook, eager to accept my Mother of the Year award.  But I am okay with it, because on some days, this is one of the only peaceful moments I get. Some days, this is what self-care looks like for me.

Motherhood is made up of these messy moments, times where we’re doing the best we can. And as much as my kids need of me, I need me too.

What does self-care even mean, anyway?!

To me, self-care means practicing self-love. It means connecting with my self in a space that is free of outside distractions, and treating myself super well.

When I say self-care, I’m not talking about a full on day at the spa (although that would be amazing!).  I’m talking about finding small pockets of time to be alone with yourself and your thoughts. Time to focus on the habits that bring you a feeling of calm, healthfulness, and strength.  Sometimes that looks like eating standing up while your kids watch tv so you can catch your breath.

I can hear some of you thinking:

“That’s all well and good, but isn’t that a little selfish?”

“Self-care is totally indulgent.”

“Easy for you to say!”

“I don’t deserve it.”

Whew.  I hear you. In fact, I’ve said all of those things to myself!  But I would never ever say them to a friend. So, why are we so judgmental with ourselves?  Why don’t we deserve to treat ourselves well?

Listen to me when I say this: You cannot afford not to practice self-care.

Still not sure?  What if you replaced the word “self” with “health”?

Health-care isn’t selfish or indulgent or unnecessary.

This subtle shift in perspective really opened my mind to possibilities. Because healthcare isn’t selfish, it’s necessary!  I have to take care of myself to be around for my family and my business.

If you thought of self-care as a form of health care, what would it look like for you?


Over the next few weeks I’m going to be sharing a bit of my journey back to me. I’ll be exploring heath, self-care, parenting and making changes in my business.

I hope you’ll join me and share some of your thoughts along the way. Thank you for being here.

On Wanting to be a Writer

On Wanting to Be a Writer

I always wanted to be a writer.

As a child I filled notebooks and stacks of printer paper with my writing and drawings. When our family got its first word processor, I was in heaven.  I could write to my heart’s content, without cramping my hand. Plus, once I printed it out and put it in a report cover with a hand-drawn illustration, it looked like a REAL book!

Writing came to me in a way that seemed fluid and natural.  All through school, I sailed through essays, devoured books, and set my sights on being an English major in college. I wanted to be a capital W writer.

And even though I enjoyed writing and words and language, I never really felt like one of the “smart kids”.  I wasn’t in National Honor Society or getting straight A’s. Sure, I took a couple of AP classes, but I never really felt like I belonged.

When I got to college, I was determined to find my people and belong to something meaningful.  I started out as an English major.  My advisor was a Real Author and capitol W writer and intimidated the hell out of me.  He had a serious disposition and kind eyes;  I always anticipated and feared what would come out of his mouth in equal measure.

The other kids in my literature and writing classes were often the serious types who got all the literary and historical references that seemed to go right over my head. I quickly grew insecure about everything I didn’t know and doubted myself at every turn. I thought everything that came out of me was worthless and not worthy of sharing with the groups.

I changed my major and tried to forget that I wanted to be a Writer.

About 10 years later I started a blog and started enjoying writing again.  It was something simple and low-pressure. I would write about my knitting and other creative pursuits to share with other crafters. It was a safe space of my own making, and I didn’t put a lot of pressure on myself. At that time, it didn’t feel like there was a lot of judgement back then, even if your pictures were kind of crappy (mine totally were).

But over time, I started to really enjoy the process of writing, and that yearning to do it more seriously crept back into my consiousness.

So here I am nearly 20 years later, still longing to be a writer, still questioning whether I have something worthwhile to share.

It’s something I think about nearly every day.  Writing writing writing writing. Clearly something is pushing its way out of me, I just need to give it the time to come out.

What you focus on expands. You make time for what is important to you.

Writing is always on my list of unfulfilled dreams, a thing I often say I wish I did more of. And yet, when I have space to write in my day, I often fill it with other things.  Which leaves me with a continued sense of yearning.

Back in the fall I wrote about spending 15 minutes a day on something.  I typically choose to spend my 15 minutes reading or writing. After beginning this practice, I quickly noticed that after just a few days, my mind felt brighter and more eager, new ideas flowing in with ease.  I had tons of ideas for new blog posts, and even a little nugget for a book. Scary and thrilling!

It felt so good. And yet…

Sometimes I still procrastinate writing or getting really vulnerable and honest by doing other things that feel more productive.  I think I fill the space I could spend writing because I am afraid.  The more I avoid getting real on the page, the more this sense of yearning grows. And along with that yearning, a mounting sense of self-doubt.

If I want to write so much, why don’t I just do it?  Is it that I am afraid I don’t have anything to say?  Or is it the opposite: that I’m afraid I DO have something to say?


Knowing that we’re not alone in our insecurities and overwhelm can make such a difference in mindset.  What do you yearn to do?  Have you taken small steps to get closer to that goal?  I’d love to hear from you!

 

Eating to Feel Better : One Part Plant

I’m not one for diets or labels when it comes to my food. I like to eat.

I like to eat good food that I know is good for me, and food that makes me feel like crap.  I get just as excited about a big greasy cheesburger as I do a paleo bowl at Laughing Planet.  Green smoothies and milkshakes. Avocado toast and nutella toast. yum yum yum!

For a long time I accepted that the way my body was feeling is just how it was now.  I didn’t “get” the food body connection.

I’m learning that the more I eat food that is good for me, the better I feel.

This is something I’ve known intellectually for some time, but it wasn’t until my well-being was really challenged that I saw how true it was.

  • kidney stones
  • inflammation
  • joint pain
  • fatigue
  • upset stomach

These are just a few of the symptoms I struggled with in the past few years.  They crept on os slowly that I was usually able to attribute them to something else that was going on in my life.

Super tired all the time?  Weeeell, I do have a toddler and a business.

Hands ache all the time and having trouble opening jars of nacho cheese?  I’ve probably just been knitting too much.

And on and on.

But deep down, I knew.

The first change I made just to see what would happen, was trying a 30-day vegan challenge.  This was incredible for me. I felt lighter, had more energy, and was sleeping better. But I wasn’t prepared to make a lifestyle change of that magnitude. So after the 30 days were over, I committed to not eating meat.  I knew that “too much” dairy also had an affect on me, but i wasn’t willing to go there.

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Being meat free lasted about 3 years. I did “sneak” the occasional steak and would feel horrible about it. This is one of the reasons I don’t like lifestyle labels, btw.  It leads to guilt and shame and this feeling of wrongdoing around food, which isn’t healthy.

During my last pregnancy with my son, the intense cravings for red meat were Real.  I dipped my toe back into eating meat regularly, and it seemed like just what my body needed at the time. Like, I needed all those cheeseburgers…

But after he was born, I didn’t go back.

In fact, my eating probably got worse for a bit.

And so did my joint pain and fatigue.  Hmmmm.

Enter the lovely Jessica Murnane into my life via the One Part Plant Podcast.

I discovered the podcast quite by accident when someone else I followed was on the show. I loved Jessica’s casual yet deep interview style, and I was immediately hooked. And over time, her message of eating just one plant-based meal started taking root in my soul.

I started to feel invested in taking care of my physical body again.

Green smoothies, returning to a regular yoga practice, cleaning up my skin and makeup routine, even making a damn vision board: I can attribute it all to my girl Jessica.

So when she announced that she would be writing a cookbook, I was thrilled. I knew her story of going from a junk-food eating kitchen avoider to a plant-based cookbook author was real.  If she could change her lifestyle to feel better (she suffered from Stage 4 endometriosis for years), then so could I.

Jessica’s new book, One Part Plant , is being released next week on Feb 21st!  I happen to have an advance copy and can tell you it is so beautiful.  The layout and photography are stunning, and I can’t help but drool when I look at the recipes.  From dips and spreads to salads, and hearty main courses, Jessica has you covered for that one plant-based meal a day. Including dessert.

I’ve been incorporating more plant-based meals into my daily life, and I feel so much better for it. I’m not saying I’m vegan or not, vegetarian or not. After all, I still love those cheeseburgers!  But I know when I’m not eating much sugar or dairy or meat, my body feels more energetic and strong.

And that’s a good thing, whatever you want to call it.

Pre-orders are available on Amazon now and include a little discount.  Of course you can also head to your local bookstore next week to pick one up. 

Bonus: I’m thrilled to share that Jessica Murnane is going to be a guest on the very next episode of MY podcast!!!  I was super excited to have the opportunity to sit down with her and hear more of her story.  What is it really like to write a book?  Did her husband join her plant-based eating adventure?  Does she ever struggle with what to make for dinner?

Tune in on Monday for a brand new episode of the Stash Podcast. Subscribe via iTunes or your favorite podcast app, and you will automatically get new episodes as soon as they are released!

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I’d love to hear from you how food makes you feel. I know this is a big, complicated, messy topic. But I think in our gut we know what makes us feel good and what makes us feel not so good.


 

The Bliss {and Blisters} of Nursing a Toddler

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My son and I are breaking up.

Our breastfeeding relationship of 21 months is coming to an end.  This is something that seems to have happened gradually and then all of a sudden. Which means I feel both relieved and devastated at the same time.

We’ve been winding down for a couple of months now. I decided when he was about 18 months that we’d move into the “don’t offer/don’t refuse” phase of nursing. We naturally transitioned into an easy rhythm of nursing at bedtime and in the mornings, and occasionally during the day.

We fell into this easy rhythm, and it worked for a while.

And then he stopped asking as much. Or when he did ask to nurse, it would often be fitful and distracted.

Things are getting more and more physically uncomfortable when nursing my toddler. From finding a way to fit his long, energetic body onto my lap and into my arms, to his distracted nursing style.

As difficult as nursing a toddler can sometimes be, there are moments of pure bliss.

At bedtime, I ask him if he wants “num nums”, and a quick smile breaks across his round face. “Num num nums!” he agrees, ambling over to where I sit in the glider rocker. He quickly scrambles up onto my lap along with his soft red and blue blanket and a lovey so putrid and fragrant it has secretly earned the name Stinky Tofu.  He has a specific place for each of these things in our nursing setup: Blankie goes between his knees and up onto his stomach. Stinky Tofu gets draped over his shoulder and is purposefully clutched in one hand. His right arm shoots out between us, searching for the space between the side of my body and the chair. He likes to tuck it there, and it feels like he’s giving me a sweet little side hug.

Finally, we are ready to nurse.

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In the early days, breastfeeding was difficult for us. It had been long enough since my daughter nursed that I felt uncertain about how to hold his not-so-little head and how to help him latch on. His bottom lip seemed to be permanently sucked in under his upper jaw, making a wide open latch near impossible.

We spent what felt like hours working through the learning process together. My shoulders and wrists ached from holding him close for hours on ends. My skin was hot and tight under the pressure of all the new milk. And my poor nipples felt like they were permanently chapped.

But one day, it all clicked. His squirmy little newborn body found its place in my arms, the place where everything just worked. We fit together in only the way we could, filling in each other’s gaps and squishing together in an intimate embrace. His little noises, snuffly breathing and eager, regular swallows and sighs, became the soundtrack to my evenings and nights. It became a time I longed for, even when I was staggeringly tired or hotly frustrated or completely touched out. That moment we found our two selves melding into one and sighing into a familiar rhythm.

We fit together in only the way we could, filling in each other’s gaps and squishing together in an intimate embrace.

Now, as I feel the days of our breastfeeding winding down, and the frequency of those peaceful moments is less frequent, I cherish them all the more. Daily it seems I feel the hot sting of tears coming to my eyes when I watch him nurse. If I close my eyes and let my mind go quiet, it’s almost as if he’s a tiny newborn again.

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Two is still so little – hell, he’s not even really two yet, but I’m rounding up, trying to brace myself for the emotional blow when he does turn two.  He’s still so little in this big world, and yet he’s changing so very quickly.

At 21 months he is an incredibly active, sparkly-eyed little guy. He walks, jumps, runs, and climbs on everything. He is talking up a storm, and seems to be adding new words every single day. He likes to zoom toy trucks, buses, and tractors on any stationary surface. And the boy can eat.

On Halloween he went trick or treating for the first time. He walked up to the doors behind his big sister and confidently thrust his little fist into bowl after bowl of candy, choosing his favorite thing. Even though he didn’t really know what candy is, he quickly got into the routine of walking from house to house, anticipating the swift opening of a new door and the promise of a colorful treat.

In those moments I can see both the little boy he is becoming, and the baby he once was. That night he went to sleep without nursing, the stain of chocolate around his little lips.

I know that he’s doing everything he should be doing at this age, and more! And yet.The end of our nursing relationship signifies the ending of his babyhood. The thought of him not being this small forever makes my heart ache. I know how quickly these moments will pass, and I want to hold on so tightly.

We waiting so long and went through so much to have our kids. At this point we know there will not be any more babies. This is one of the reasons I want to hold on to these last nursing moments as long as possible.

Like so many moments in motherhood, this one is filled with complex and contradictory emotions.

At the end of a busy day, the nursing ritual is a touchstone for us. It’s a moment that all is still and quiet in the world, and we connect in such an intimate way. As this part of our journey winds down, I find myself knowing that we’ll find new touchstones and moments to connect. And I’m not going to lie: I am more than a little excited to have my boobs back.  Yet the idea of being finished breastfeeding is also a difficult one to wrap my head around.

How did your breastfeeding journey wrap up?  Any suggestions for new evening routines?


 

Yarn Along :: Modern Lovers

 

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My knitting has been a little sparse lately. An irritated thumb and sore wrist have kept me from spending much time at the needles.  And I’ve noticed the less I’ve been knitting, the less I feel like knitting…kind of a bummer given the season we’re heading into!

I did cast on a pair of Prairie Glass Mitts for the Stash Yarn Story Collection knit-along, though.  A row or two a day is about all I can manage. At this rate maybe they’ll be ready for Christmas!

I have been reading a ton, however. And the opposite has been true here: the more I read, the more I want to read. So much so that I’ve already read 4 books this month! #humblebrag

I just finished up Modern Lovers by Emma Straub.  This is a book whose premise sounds like so many indie dramedies, one of my favorite genres:

Friends and former college bandmates Elizabeth and Andrew and Zoe have watched one another marry, buy real estate, and start businesses and families, all while trying to hold on to the identities of their youth.  Now nearing fifty, they all live within shouting distance in the same neighborhood deep in gentrified Brooklyn, and the trappings of the adult world seem to have arrived with ease. ~From Goodreads

Essentially it’s a character-driven story, with a few plot spikes here and there. I found it compelling and charming and relatable (hello lesbian protagonist!) and a pleasure to read.  I enjoy Straub’s dry, insightful voice and was happy to play along  through the ups and downs of the characters over one eventful summer.

What have you been reading and knitting lately?

It feels good to be joining Ginny and the Yarn Along community again!  

Create a new habit in just 15 minutes a day! via www.peacefulknitter.wordpress.com

15 minutes a day

 

Create a new habit in just 15 minutes a day! via www.peacefulknitter.wordpress.com

Morning rituals. Habit trackers. 10,000 hours. 21 days. Lifehacks. The Four Habits.

There’s so much advice out there for how to create new habits that help you achieve your goals.  I’ve considered many of them, and they just haven’t worked.

They haven’t worked because the chunk of time required seemed out of reach.  I’m a business owner and mom of two young children!  I don’t have a lot of open spaces in my day, and when I do (usually at the end of a full day) I often choose sleep or cuddling on the couch with my wife and the remote.

A lack of perceived time is a convenient excuse, and one I’ve leaned on a lot in recent years.

But the fact of the matter is, the time and space for achieving my goals is already there. I just haven’t been taking advantage of them.

It’s all too easy for me to spend 15 minutes in between activities scrolling through Instagram, checking my email, or browsing Pinterest.  At the end of the day I often wonder where I the time went. But it was there, hiding in those 15 minute increments.

At the end of almost every day I wished I had gone for a walk or done some writing.  I spent more time consuming content than creating it.

So, instead of wishing for it, I’m making myself do it.  15 minutes a day, first thing.

I’m sitting down at the laptop and writing whatever comes out of my head, for 15 minutes every morning.

Here’s what I’m doing:

  • committing to writing 15 minutes a day.
  • writing directly into a Google Doc so I can add to it or access it from anywhere.
  • setting a timer on my phone and making myself write until the time is up.  And sometimes I keep writing beyond the 15 minutes!  (high fives self)

It has been a beautiful practice.  A simple practice. And I feel so good about spending some time on an activity that I have been longing to make space for.

I don’t know where it’s going, and I’m not worried about that. The whole point is to begin. To not censor myself or edit as I go, or think about the content’s usefulness in my life or business. Just writing for the sake of writing. And it feels so good.

The more I commit to one 15 minute habit, the more space I’m seeing in my day for other habits.  The thrill of this practice has me thinking of the other things I’ve been longing to do. Those things that repeatedly tug at my attention, whispering You should do this…

I think meditation is next, probably at the end of my day.

What’s one thing you could do for 15 minutes a day? Let me know in the comments below!

Ask Yourself: How can this be Unconventional?

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One of the reasons I started my own business was because I couldn’t picture myself chasing someone else’s dream.

I had jobs working for everyone from small business owners to a major corporate bookseller, and I had seen it all. It felt good to learn from people hustling their creative ideas and putting out into the world. And it was valuable learning how the corporate retail world was structured.

But at the end of the day, I had to get out there and do my own thing.

And in the beginning it was thrilling!  I was also terrified every single day.  It takes guts to put yourself on the line, and I felt so uncertain and vulnerable in those early days.

I had a lot of experience working for other people, but putting your own ideas out into the world is an entirely different beast. It was exciting!  I was in control and could do whatever the hell I wanted to create the business of my dreams. But at the same time I was often nauseous and anxious, paralyzed by all I didn’t know.

I quickly found support in the form of an online mentor and a local group of women running their own businesses. The idea that other people had walked this path before me and were walking it alongside me was hugely reassuring.

Aside from the practical advice (WordPress Plugins, POS software, and Inventory Management), I gained a huge amount of confidence and support from just being around other dreamers and doers.  This support emboldened me to try new things, blaze new trails, and stay playful with my ideas.

These people weren’t just talking about all their great ideas. No, they were creating them and sharing them with the world.

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One person I have found immense inspiration and support from is Jason Zook.  He’s done some zany things to build businesses, earn money, and connect to his creativity. I admire anyone who has the guts to take the path less travelled, and that path is where Jason lives.

Last year when Jason launched his biggest project ever, Buy My Future, I didn’t have to think twice. Jason has proven himself to be not only a person with big, unconventional ideas, but a person who takes action. He is a collaborator and a maker.  He is someone I want to work with, and I didn’t hesitate to plunk down the cash to buy his future.

Ask yourself: How can this be unconventional? How can this be unique ~JZ

This has become a guiding question for me as I contemplate any new project or idea. Sometimes it feels as if the rest of the world is operating on the assumption that the way it’s always been done is the only way.  I don’t believe that’s true, and I want to align myself with others who are striving to be unconvetional.  Like JZ here!

So what are some of the things Jason has created?  What is he working on next?  I’m so glad you asked, because it’s a lot!

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What a deal!

I’ve personally taken advantage of several of his past projects and have plans to dive into a couple more this fall.  I find Jason entertaining, inspiring, and motivating, and cannot wait to see what he comes up with next!  It’s a thrill to be along for the ride.

I’d like to invite you to take a leap of faith, invest in yourself, and purchase Jason Zook’s future.

It’s okay if you don’t know exactly how you’ll use the many benefits of buying Jason’s future… myself and the BuyMyFuture community are here to help and support you.

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can also buy Jason’s future, check out all the details here. *  Act fast, though: there are only 200 new spaces available this time around and sales end October 4th 2016.

*Here’s some fine print where I’m supposed to tell you that this ibecerra_photography-2s an affiliate link.  That’s how much I believe in investing in yourself and in people who are doing great things in the world. So when you click this link, you are doing just that!  Oh, and I’ll benefit from the sale. This is cool because it will help pay for my own spot in Buy My Future!

 

On Taking a Social Media Sabbatical

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Toward the end of 2015, I was feeling a little on edge.  My mind was unsettled, anxious even. It felt like there were so many things pulling at my attention; from the important to the mundane to the downright egocentric.

Fear of missing out and comparing myself to others are two strong feelings that come up for me regularly when I’m in the throes of a good binge on Instagram.  I often find my mind swirling with thoughts like “I wish my house were that tidy and white and stylish” or “I wish all my kids wore adorable handmade bonnets all the time” or “I wish my business had 50,000 followers” or “Why doesn’t my creative space look like that”, “wait, do I have a creative space?!”, and on and on and on.

Often times I’m scrolling in the dark, my face and mind aglow with so many of these depleting thoughts.

All while I’m nursing my beautiful, healthy baby boy. Who’s wearing a hand knit sweater. In the home we own. After a fulfilling day at work in the business that I built from the ground up.  I mean, get a grip lady!

So I quit and took a social media sabbatical for 14 days.

My specific problem was this: I was distracted by what everyone else was doing on social media.  Constantly scrolling through Facebook and Instagram, I was repeatedly bombarding myself with beautiful images of what other people were doing.  I love a lot of things about social media: the connection to others, the inspiring imagery, the access to new information.

But in spending too much time on social, I was letting feelings of envy, self-doubt and FOMO creep in.  Worst still,  I wasn’t making anything myself.  For all that time spent consuming other people’s content was time NOT spent with my own creativity.

Specifically, it was time NOT spent reading, writing, baking, sewing, knitting, staring at my nursing baby, or simply being alone and quiet with my thoughts.

I was checking Instagram almost reflexively throughout my day.  First thing when I woke up. While I waited for the coffee to brew.  While I brushed my teeth. At stoplights.  In line.  While I ate my lunch.  While I nursed my son.

This last one was the kicker.

One night, as I was nursing him before bed and mindlessly scrolling though those beautiful little squares on Instagram, I had a moment.  He had stopped nursing, and who knows how long it was before I noticed. When I did eventually look down at him, he was smiling up at me with those big, beautiful eyes of his.  And I nearly missed it.  Missed it because I was looking at someone else’s perfectly curated pictures of motherhood.

To call this a wakeup moment is an understatement.

Shortly thereafter, I made the decision to quit social media for a bit.  A social media sabbatical, I called it.

For two whole weeks, I stayed off all my personal social media accounts.*  

I was expecting this to be a difficult time.  Seriously, so many points in my day were marked by checking in on Instagram and Facebook, that I didn’t know how I would feel without them there as crutches.

That’s what social media had become for me: a crutch. A way to decompress and be distracted from my own thoughts.  A way to not be alone when I was feeling lonely.  And instead of taking notice of those feelings and doing something about them, I was distracting myself from them.

Now this isn’t always a bad thing.  We need a break from ourselves sometimes, for sure!  But when it becomes a mindless, habitual, mind-numbing thing, it’s time to take a look at what’s really going on.

So, what happened during my 2 week Social Media Sabbatical.

Nothing.

I didn’t miss a thing.

But I did learn a few valuable things about myself.  The big thing is this:

I enjoy creating content to share with others.  I enjoy consuming the content made by others.

But one has to happen more than the other.  In other words:

In order to feel grounded and connected with my best creative self, I need to be creating more than I’m consuming.

In order to help set myself up for success, I’ve placed some boundaries around my social media consumption and sharing.  I developed some new boundaries around my personal & business accounts, and have a new strategy for what I will (or will not) post.

Some of the habits I developed during my social media sabbatical:

  • Leaving my phone in another room
  • Reading an actual book, from start to finish, while nursing and before bed.
  • Logging out of Facebook and deleting the app from my phone.
  • No longer taking my phone into my baby’s room at night.
  • Not checking Instagram first thing in the morning.

Two weeks went by really fast, and for the most part I didn’t miss social.

I had to stretch outside my comfort zone a bit in those moments when I would normally be scrolling.  Oftentimes I would challenge myself to settle in and let my mind wander; this is something I had no problem enjoying before social media!  Other times, I would simply choose a different activity.  I got so much knitting and reading done in those two weeks!

My mind felt clearer, and I was less distracted.  I felt more grounded, present.

When the two weeks were up, I was a bit reluctant to log back into my social media accounts.

Ultimately I did check in on what a handful of friends had posted on Instagram, but for the most part I hadn’t missed anything earth-shattering.

And because people knew I wasn’t on social, they told me about their stuff in person.  Amazing!  In this age of social media. it’s all too easy to assume that everyone knows (or cares) about what you’re posting, tweeting, sharing, and gramming.

Now it’s been a few weeks since I’ve returned, and I can already feel myself slipping. Checking my phone idly while I have 2 minutes to wait for something.  Feeling like I “need” to post something.  Wanting to feel distracted for a moment.

And that’s okay.  The point is, I got some clarity and know what it feels like to be creatively grounded. And I can return to my mantra again and again when things feel shaky.

Create more than you consume.  Create more than you consume.

How about you?  Have you ever taken a social media sabbatical?  Have thoughts about creativity and consumption of other people’s work?  I’d love to continue the discussion with you in the comments!

*I did have to log in to my business accounts, but I would post or check for questions, and then back out quietly.  No scrolling.  No distractions.