Tag Archives: social media addiction

Exercise is my medicine

19 May

4:41 pm

Or, maybe I should say, putting my body into motion, out of doors!  (of course, I am talking about outdoors in a warm climate; yeah, I used to suit up and go jogging in the snow…in my early 20s, when I was too broke to afford a gym/didn’t know any better–haha)

Long story short, I have been thinking about thinking lately–well, a lot; obsessed with it, actually.  Is it called, metacognition?  I think that might be an actual area of study, and I am FAR from being in a place of that much understanding when it comes to what I think and why I hold onto my thoughts.  I have been tempted for many, many months to stop writing altogether, including in my journal–I wonder, is focusing on bringing the chatter, the negativity, the maybe-meaningless observations to life in the form of words and sentences only serving to perpetuate a state of stagnation, of wallowing, of confusion?

Most of my life, and especially as someone who likes to write (or, let’s face it, a writer; I can’t not write, and sometimes I think that is 100% compulsion, not desire); I have put value on both my thoughts and analyzing my thoughts–as if they were important, or held some key to the meaning of life, or at least the meaning of MY life.  After getting sober and writing about the process, which, admittedly involved a LOT of thinking and thoughts (haha); then moving into more longer-term sobriety, where the thinking and thoughts have become more like incessant chatter and less like answers to the problems of the universe–I don’t really know where thinking and thoughts fit into my overall picture of mental health anymore.

Anyway, today, I drafted a long post, discovered that much of it sounded, well, insane, and was like, GAH, I need to walk away from this.  I suited up in my running gear and went out into nature.  And I swear, all the chatter stopped.  And, it was glorious.  This is why I run, walk, or swim, or do yoga–always in constant motion, it seems.  It just soothes my mind; quiets it.  I mean, as I was gliding along, I just looked around at the trees, the hillside with different patterns of shadows and sunlight coating the asphalt, the multicolored homes of different angles, shapes, and sizes–I looked around and asked myself, so, are you thinking anything when you look around at nature, when you feel the sun on your shoulders?  Yes, but no.  I am thinking, but it’s more of a one-tone feeling of peace, of rightness, or nothing-good-or-bad-it-just-is.  I don’t judge the world around me, and most importantly, it doesn’t judge me (or, I don’t believe it does).  It is not thinking toward me, and I am not thinking toward it.  I just feel this uplifted feeling, and it is simply positive.  Not necessary to think anything; just necessary to be, which is easy out there, in the natural world.

There is something about being around other people that is incessant chatter-provoking.  I would say, being in the natural world, generally, is thought-provoking (the good kind of thinking; the big thoughts that help you solve a problem or see something more clearly).

I just love exercise; I always feel better, less thought-full, literally.  And, rejuvenated, especially if I’ve exercised outdoors.  I guess I can say that exercise is my medicine; my anti-chatter “pill.”  And, these days, I am beginning to wonder if MOST, if not all, of my thinking is chatter…  Which begs the question, what does a writer write about if most of what she thinks she considers useless chatter?

On the dog front, our girl is plugging away, better than she was a few weeks ago when her left hind leg gave out.  It seems to have gotten less lame–she can walk on it now, but not that far.  Good news is, she can go on walks, usually only one per day, if that.  Bad is that, even though her left hind seems better than non-functional, both her hind legs are very weak; I have to use the harness for most of the walk these days to help her stand, walk, and um, pee and poop (let’s face it, she poops sitting down almost all the time now).  Her mental faculties are there, and she is still fierce and funny; it’s just…I can’t forget that her time is short.

And, I am still off the ‘book (Facebook), five weeks as of yesterday.  While I don’t necessarily miss anyone’s updates, or the noise; I am starting to feel a bit…isolated, or out of it.  So…that’s that; I’ll probably go on soon, but it’s nice to be in my bubble a little bit longer to continue to collect myself (so that I can go back out there, into the external world, and give of myself while also stay centered and sane).

Staying on track

13 May

3:21 pm

Like (probably) a lot (or at least some) of us, I am starting to feel the pressure of time to myself.  I am grateful for people who are working the front lines of this pandemic; and sometimes, I feel sort of guilty that I have free time that I could, if I wanted, use to do something to improve things.  But, I’ve only been furloughed for five weeks, and I am just trying to enjoy my free time…for now.

Speaking of time, I have a lot of “now that I have time, I should do this”-type of projects that have been on my radar for years; and, partly because these are pulling me in different directions, and partly because I am struggling to stay focused these days, I am starting to feel mentally overwhelmed.  How do I spend my time?  I know this not-working thing is not going to last–and, it’s a good opportunity to start planning for the future, in case I don’t get my job back in July–am I spending my free time well?

Out of necessity, I try to maintain a sense of structure to my days, which is a habit of having worked for myself for almost a decade.  What I’ve been practicing over the past eight years of working remotely–as in, alone all day, just me and my to-do list and my work–is staying on track.  What does that mean?  To me, it means, focusing only on what needs to be done, no matter how “small” it seems.

Getting what needs to be done, done, is easier if I make a to-do list.  It is especially important now, during this very freeform pandemic, where, if you’re not working or you’re working from home and not used to it, it SEEMS like you have no structure and all the time in the world–which can cause you to go crazy with panic, unable to focus on anything; before you know it, the day has passed, you’ve done laundry and snacked way too much, and, you are beating yourself up…giving you more anxiety.  And, if you’re someone like me, who has issues with control and perfectionism and anxiety and depression–well, it can start to feel VERY overwhelming when you want to get 15 things done, have gotten nothing done, and, should probably have expected to get only one or two things done in the first place!

I am here to tell you, staying on track is not a mandate to “get shit done.”  It’s more, for me anyway, stay focused and in the moment by getting only what needs to be done, done.  If you do the most important things today, what more can you ask for?  Honestly, some days, I don’t get anything done…but, I manage to journal and feel grateful (for, well, my sobriety, my “family” here, and then, my health).  On the days when my mind starts to wander to, let’s say, my long-form writing project(s), which take commitment that I may or may not have, EVER; or my passion projects/areas of career focus, which I’ve been neglecting for a long time (due to one, having had to prioritize earning a living and two, just being tired or burnt or lazy or just evolving away from said passions); when my head goes to the edge of the cliff and looks down and sees a huge, gaping hole of canyon needing to be filled with water…?  Well, I stay on track.  I take myself out of my head, stop thinking about all those other things I “should” or “need” to do, and focus on the task at hand.

These days, I don’t have a lot that I have to do–but, I have a lot of pre-projects; like, I am only just sort of thinking about a lot of things, and while I want to put them into project form, I can’t.  I mean, I am struggling with what to write about next, and how much time to further devote to this blog.  I am thinking about what to do next, as in, returning to a few passion areas of my life that I haven’t revisited since 2014–and, at the same time, feeling a sense of guilt, of dread over how much time I’ve been away from these things, that I let them go in the first place.  Why?  Can I catch up?  Do I want to?  What does it all mean?  And, then, of course, I’ll need to log some time looking into them to figure out where they might fit into my future, in a real sense (a job?  a volunteer assignment?  just read books about these things?).

On a different note, our dog took a turn for the worse last Friday.  One of her back legs gave out, and she can barely stand on her own anymore, let alone walk.  She keeps trying, though, and can still get up and down and go for short, stumbling jaunts; she even went on a walk yesterday, which overjoyed me!  Of course, we have to use a sling to help her hold herself up, which is awkward and kind of trips her up more than her lameness.  We wonder if she has “doggie ALS,” since she is part German Shepherd (that’s one of the breeds that is more genetically predisposed to a degenerative muscle disorder in dogs similar to some cases of ALS).  I think it could just be a break, maybe a joint that’s finally given out–she has a very bony protrusion on this leg around her knee area, and a part of me hopes that if we took her to the vet and got it set or whatever…?  Sigh.  Even if they could fix it, the rest of her spine and limbs will just keep getting worse.  So, we are at a new normal again.  We’re just taking it day by day.

And, of course, an update on Facebook:  it’s been a whole 30 days since I’ve been on Facebook!  Woo hoo!  Actually, I logged in for the first time in four weeks on Monday, with the sole intention of deactivating my account…but I just couldn’t do it.  I did end up starting to scroll/troll (is there a difference anymore these days?), and quickly realized that I needed to get off before I got swept back in.  It was a “slip,” let’s say; however, I had to log in to (try to) deactivate my account.  I’ll try again to extricate myself in another month, if I manage to not log in for 30 more days (which I intend to do)…

All this time to do it all, or nothing

7 May

5:17 pm

Doing it all.  I never use that expression because, well, I think it’s ludicrous.  Of course, no one can “do it all” (or “have it all”), certainly not working mothers (that’s what I automatically associate with the phrase “do it all” or “have it all,” but I suppose these can be applied to anyone living any type of lifestyle).

During this lockdown period–the “opportunity” to do whatever I want, all day long–which also happens to coincide with not working–I was furloughed from my normally-remote job for three months–I have felt the joy of being able to make a long list of things I want to do…and then felt the frustration of never really getting more than one or two things done in a day.  You know why?  Because I am an optimist.  Haha.  (I read that optimists are always late because they’re trying to fit too much in/have no sense–or refuse to have a sense–of realistic timing and scheduling.)

I am always trying to do too much–and always feeling like I am never getting anything done.  It’s not true that I’m not getting stuff done, it’s just that I get done what a normal human being can fit into one day, factoring in fatigue, being lazy, maybe something even spontaneous (gasp!).  I think it’s worse when you work full-time and then, have a bunch of time off–especially when you have a lot of things you like to do.  Every day, I want to do it all, everything that I never get to do during the daytime, now that I have time off.  I want to do it all, but I can’t–however, that doesn’t mean that I don’t try!  It can get a bit overwhelming, the sense of, man, another day, and I still didn’t get that done!  On the other hand, it’s kind of like a first-world problem, and I know this.  It doesn’t take away the frustration, though.

On another note, I am almost FOUR WEEKS off Facebook, and, while I have wondered here and there about a few people–oh, I wonder how she is; or, what’s he been up to?–I am simply 100% NOT TEMPTED to go on the site and check.  I have checked a few public pages–our government house and power company, for instance–to watch for updates that they don’t post anywhere else.  In addition to my groups’ postings, some of which do involve things that at least seem to matter (!), like my career and hiking through the Western desert–haha–that’s what I truly miss.  The rest?  Eh, I think I am over it.  I think I could very well be at the point where I could deactivate my account and one, not feel like I’m missing out on other people’s lives (which makes me feel friendless, lonely) and two, not feel like I’m being forgotten by never posting about mine.

I have a lot I want to do, so that helps to keep these niggling and useless thoughts from becoming anything worth noting or holding onto.

Crazy, COVID times, eh?  I am not looking forward to the world being set into motion again, but, thankfully, it will be slow and steady–enough time to get used to the grind-as-normal.  Meh!  I like the fact that I am finally, somehow, getting to the point of being OK with sitting in a chair and reading pulp fiction for hours on end…

Two weeks off social media–do I really exist?

27 Apr

3:55 pm

Well, I’ve been off social media–Facebook specifically–for two whole weeks as of today.  And, I gotta say, I really don’t miss it, at all.  Like, I almost forgot about the entire affair until I ran into someone I knew last night (who I am not FB friends with) and thought, man, I should Facebook friend them.  And, then I thought, oh, wait, I’m NOT ON Facebook!  Haha.

No, for real, I don’t miss it.  Maybe I’ve just gotten lazy in these COVID times, but keeping up with my groups and news feed seems sort of futile–who cares if I miss something, right?  Of course, I am following the news on individual websites, and it’s hard to miss the mainstream news if you turn on your TV, ever.  However, I really couldn’t care less about what I may have missed when it comes to posts in my groups and by my friends.  I meet up with my friends here, of which there are a few–and, that has been totally enough.  I am not craving to know what they’re “doing” on Facebook; I feel like I am literally missing nothing.

That’s a relief!  I thought I would feel like I was missing out–and, frankly, it’s made me wonder about something that was in the back of my mind that this break from Facebook helped to precipitate:  is not sharing about your life on Facebook (or, in real life, too) the same as, not sharing your life?  And, is either necessary to live a good life, however one defines “good”?  Do I truly exist if I don’t share about my life on Facebook, or with anyone in the real world?

I have a roll of photos that only I have seen; I have tons of videos of our dog, but yet, NO ONE but me knows, really, of her life and times.  Is that fair to her, to have no one remember her because I didn’t share?  Am I depriving the world of something (my light, my perspective?) if I never share what I’m doing?  I mean, if I moved to an island and disconnected from everyone, how would my family and friends feel?  And, when I died on that island, would it have been a wasted existence since, except for me, no one else knew anything about it?

Two weeks ago, the thought of stopping sharing posts or photos of my life gave me a bad gut feeling–a feeling of fear, anxiety, dread; of, what will happen TO ME if I stop sharing about my life?  It’s mostly gone now, surprisingly; however, I am 45, an introvert, and sober (as in, I have had years of feeling sort of like, an explorer in the Arctic, totally clear-minded but alone as fuck), so I wonder how strong this fear is for young people, who grew up on social media, whose entire sense of self/personal reality are intertwined with “existing” on social media?

Is the hardest part of leaving Facebook (or Twitter, or Instagram) not really a fear of missing out, but a fear of being forgotten, or, worse, never having existed?  Maybe.  Of course, we can share photos with people in real life, but, this aspect of the entire world being able to know us–a little piece of fame, maybe immortality–is appealing on such a base level.

Anyway, after two weeks, I definitely feel like the noise has stopped.  I am receding into a quiet, perhaps naive, bubble of my small, but real, world; and it’s calming.  I don’t feel overwhelmed by the bumbling thoughts and misperceived slights bouncing around in my head; I don’t feel overdone by the incessant headlines, most of which I can’t read (for lack of time and effort) and can’t do anything about anyway (stories about elephants being abused in Thailand, for instance!).  I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on my actual friends’ lives; we have gotten quickly caught up in person when we have seen each other.

In fact, if I was job searching, writing, or reading (most of which I am doing, but um, not doing all that much of, I have to admit), I would probably be getting a lot done with all the noise gone and focus back!

On another note, our beaches re-opened last week, and this has been a glorious development!  We’ve been a few times; yesterday was a perfect beach day, and it was the first Sunday Funday anyone has had in a long time–it was a good day.

Our dog is hanging in there; the vet told us that there wasn’t much more she could do, however, she thinks our girl still has time.  Every day is a good day with her; every morning is a great morning to see her sweet almond eyes staring up at me, or her skinny back legs running like a horse in her sleep…

We’re just waiting, like everyone, for normalcy to return; and, while I said that as an introvert, I love me some lockdown solitude–even I am longing for things to start their upward swing soon.  It’s getting a little too quiet in here!

Facebook-free 2017

8 Jan

11:23 am

Well, I’m doin’ it.  Finally.  It’s been 1 week and almost 4 days since I logged onto Facebook.  Like, I literally have not logged in.  I decided that “deactivating” was not the route I wanted to take (in quotes because one, do you really disappear on the back end, and two, all you have to do to “reactivate” your account is log back in!).

And you know what?  I feel good.  Like, really good.

Yes, I feel out of it; and, I’m not sure I can maintain such a distance from my professional sphere for THAT long–personal and professional are intricately intertwined in journalism, and probably other metiers, too.  I don’t mean or want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  I don’t want to disappear–I still want a career, and to be present in said career.  And to be present in the world of information is to have it, and to dish it out.

That all being acknowledged (obsessively, over and over), I’m learning to let all these fearful thoughts go because, well, I feel better.

I must admit, I feel that sort of righteous self-satisfaction that is similar to how you feel when you get sober.  I also have this sense of a load having been taken off; I am no longer burdened with YOUR LIVES.  Other people’s lives.  So many other lives to ping me, enrage me, give me joy–I guess it was just too much, and I took it home with me.  Now, I just have this sense of relief, this screaming cheer in my head that keeps saying, I don’t have to take my friends home with me!  Haha.  I get to focus on MY life.  Sure, it’s boring as shit sometimes, but… it’s my life.  Isn’t it worth as much appreciation–time and effort–as I’ve been putting into other people’s lives?  (And, now I really do see how this is related to drinking to drown out:  you tend to put yourself second, then you feel un- or under-appreciated; not to mention, you have ZERO actual connection, and reciprocity, in your relationships if they are primarily virtual ones…all stuff that drives us to drink to soothe, fix, drown out, douse, hide from!  I say, No shit, sherlock, now, but back then, how everything was connected and impacted my drinking seemed so…inaccessible.)

I also think it’s given me the head space, literally, to start digging in on some personal writing projects.  And that digging in entails a lot of things that you forget, as a writer, are necessities to the creative process–one being the time and well, empty-headedness to actually think.  Or not think, as it were.  To conjure memories.  To dream up random plots, or have deeper thoughts that may have been buried, drowned out by all the incessant noise.  The chitter-chatter is gone, and it’s a relief.  The endless drone of increasingly source-less information (i.e., why the eff is THIS in my feed, and is it even real news?), over.

I decided NOT to deactivate because to me, that’s like giving the bird to your friends.  I mean, it’s rude.  It’s like, NO ONE keeps in touch via phone or email anymore, we all know this; so if you’re going to ghost but don’t mean to, at least have the courtesy to give people your “off Facebook” contact info.  Otherwise, you’re just ghosting.  That’s not what I want to gain from this–as it is, I feel guilty just “abandoning” some of my friends, i.e., not keeping up…  I just can’t anymore, is all.  And, it feels good, albeit a little scary, to let go.

I don’t know for how long this will be; maybe long enough to clear the cobwebs from my head, maybe longer.  I’m just going to keep going, and see where it takes me.  (Kind of like getting sober, no?)

Violet Tempest

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