Distraction Kills Dreams

My social media fast experience went amazingly well.  It made me realize a few things about my life. It has been months and I believe that the impact of this challenge on me may be bigger than I ever thought.  I honestly didn’t know if I could do it.  It started off hard for the first few days but became easier with each day that passed.  I didn’t realize that social media had become a mindless addiction until I was forcing myself to live without it.  I also didn’t realize how much of my day that I was losing to it without even making a conscious choice.  I had no idea how much time I waste on silly things that do not really matter and are not bringing me any closer to my goals.  I decided to go through every aspect of my life and take some time to decide if I wanted to continue to choose to include that in my life.  It was a long tedious job.  It took me some time to return to this site which was not my original plan but it had to be carefully considered as well.  I have decided to continue with this site because it is part of the life I see for myself and I truly enjoy it.  I love having a creative outlet.  While I did use Instagram and twitter, my Facebook feed was my number one offender.  I have returned to using social media.  I now set limits for myself and make a conscious choice about what time I spend on it.  I no longer allow myself to stare hypnotized at my screen for hours scrolling through my feed.

Until I took away the distractions I did not notice how unhappy I was becoming.  I didn’t know how bored and boring I had become.  I was honestly very shocked by this.  I had always been the person who was doing something.  I had many hobbies just a few years ago.  Had the mindless noise of social media and television really drowned out all of my hobbies?  What I had done was pick up a few unhealthy ways to appease myself including being envious of other people on Facebook and Instagram, playing video and computer games, and watching more television than I have my entire life.  I had become addicted to technology.  I never expected it but it happened.  By facing my addiction to social media I opened the flood gates.  I had been mindlessly hopping from distraction to distraction.  I had successfully removed anything and everything that provoked deep thought from my personal life.  But why?  That was when I started to become aware of my unhappiness.  I have all these dreams and I was not doing anything to get closer to achieving them.  In fact, I had found ways to avoid even thinking about them in any realistic way.  The distractions I had become addicted to were killing my dreams.  The distractions make it so much easier to ignore them.

Ok, I’m going to get super honest here.  I am afraid that if I try my hardest, really give it my all, that it will not be enough.  I am simultaneously afraid that it will be enough and my entire life will change.  You always hear of these people who achieved their dreams and their whole life changed.  They always seem happier but still…Change is scary too.  What if I get what I think I want and it is not what I thought it would be?  What if I fail miserably and then I lose the beauty of the dream?  Is this what stops most people from attempting to live their dreams?

If I want to change something in my life I have to take the action to do so.  I figured out that if I put my mind to it I could take steps to get closer to that crazy dream life I desire.  My dreams are a little different but they are mine.  I am willing to put in the time and effort to achieve my dreams.  I am also willing to finally face my fears.

A Week Without Social Media

I am one week into my social media fast.  It has been an eye-opening experience.  In short, I have been more present in my everyday life.  I feel calmer.  I do not have that feeling of nagging urgency for no reason.  I underestimated the amount of time I was spending on social media, mainly Facebook.

I have spent more time talking to my girls.  I have spent more time talking to my parents on the phone.  I texted my mother a couple of pictures so she could show off her grandbabies.  I took the time to look up articles and topics of my interest instead of spending time reading articles that popped up on my Facebook feed.  I made a couple Valentine’s Day crafts with Isabella (7 years old) and spent a considerable amount of time playing on the floor with the baby.

I found myself reaching for my phone many, many times over the last week.  I’m really glad that I deleted the apps off my phone or I may have mindlessly opened Facebook without even thinking it through.  I never realized how much I do that until there was nothing there to open.  It has become very apparent just how addicted to Facebook I had become.  However, this has not been difficult.  I had all these reasons why it would be so hard to live without social media and so far none of them has been an issue.  I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything.

I’m interested to see how the rest of my 30 days go.  I have begun thinking about starting a home project or reading a new book.  I’ll update again in a week.

Social Media Fast

Am I addicted to Facebook?  Do I spend too much time mindlessly scrolling through my Facebook feed?  The simple answer is “Yes.”  The project of dedicating a year to life takes me by surprise again.  I never really thought about the impact that social media was having on my life and family as a whole.  While considering what kind of lifestyle I wanted I began thinking about how much time I spend on my phone while at home.  I have spent a lot of time thinking about what things in my life are making a positive impact and what is not.  Social media in its current capacity is making a negative impact on my daily life with Facebook being my biggest offender.

I think that Facebook (and other social media to a lesser extent) has a place in my life but I think it needs to be a much smaller place.  We have family and friends that live far away that it helps us stay up to date with.  My work mates use it for group messages to get together and to plan days that we all bring stuff in for birthday parties or meals.  Friends and family use it for party invites, especially kids birthdays.  Those are the positives.  Now here come the negatives.  It is a time suck.  I think to myself “I’ll just do a quick notification check.” That turns into “I’ll just do a quick scroll of my feed to see how everyone is doing.” The next thing I know I have spent a half hour or more doing nothing.  Or on some cases it is worse than nothing.  The perfectly edited Facebook feeds that hide reality is not good for any of us.  The art of the modest Facebook brag, the mostly useless shares, the whining, the “too perfect” couples, the sad news stories, the fake news, the rants, the political opinions practically screaming back and forth, and the endless memes are all just becoming too much for me.  It is so easy to get sucked into that world.  I find that it is all a little overwhelming.  I am curious to see how this choice impacts my family, my life, and my mental health.  I am part of the last generation that actually remembers life before social media took over.  I long for the days of phone calls from loved ones and being able to get together with friends without anybody staring at their phones. I miss the times that people were actually social. 

I did not delete my accounts or even put a hold on them.  I just removed all of it from my phone so that it doesn’t live at my fingertips anymore.  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even Facebook messenger apps have been deleted from my phone. I have decided to take a 30 day social media fast.  I started yesterday.  March 13th will be 30 days.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

The Debt is dropping!

This week we paid off the remainder of my car loan! I am still in shock that I will no longer have to go pay it at the end of the month.  We had already paid off two credit cards so far this year too.  We just have to keep this momentum going!  A big part of our dedicating a year to living project was getting out of debt.  I honestly didn’t think we could make such a huge impact so fast.  We know that it will be easier to work on our long-term goals and dreams without the debt monkey on our backs.  Our long-term goals involve travel and a move to a warmer climate, possibly Florida or Texas.  This has been a dream of mine for a few years.  Our oldest does not want to move until after she graduates so we are looking at 3 more years.  If we continue at this rate we will be in great financial standing by then.

One of our other goals for the year was to spend more time together.  We have been spending more time at home lately.  That also helped with our goal of paying off debts because we have been spending less.  We spent a weekend evening having a taco and game night that turned out to be a ton of fun!  We played one of the board games our middle daughter received as a gift so we only spent money on taco supplies.  We have had a couple of movie nights this year.  They were redbox rentals.  We had popcorn and M&Ms for snacks.  The whole night cost us less than $10 each time.  We had a day outing on one of the girls off days and went to a book store. Each girl picked out one book.  This came in under $20 and it encourages reading.  The big girls spent the evening reading their books.  We have spent some evenings doing crafts with supplies we already had, coloring, cooking together, and playing.  We have had a lot of fun spending so much time together.  We basically have been doing all those things that we had picked up supplies for and never had the time to do.  This year has been all about spending time doing all the things we had been putting off.

I’ll update again soon on where this crazy project leads us next.

New Perspectives

We are a month into our project, “Dedicating one year to life.”  I am shocked by the difference a month has made.  The family has made huge progress toward our goals.  The kids are adapting to the changes.  We have been trying to make the changes at a slow pace to give us all time to adapt but sometimes I feel like we are on a freight train barreling down the tracks to a completely different life and there is simply no stopping now.  Maybe this is a good thing.

I have high-functioning anxiety.  I have for as long as I can remember.  It got much worse after becoming a parent.  It is something I hide and never speak of.  I even tried to hide this in the middle of a paragraph with a disclaimer at the beginning when I wrote this.  I have gotten very good at avoiding things that make me uncomfortable.  I have big dreams and I am honestly afraid to live them.  Just admitting this to myself was an issue.  Writing this is giving me palpitations.  I am trying to be brave.  I keep telling myself that I don’t have to hit publish.  I could just delete this and nobody will ever know.  I know I need to confront my fears.  I know that many of them are irrational.  I am afraid that if we continue to do this project that I am going to be confronted by some big things.  I am more afraid that if I stop now that I am going to be a bitter old lady that let fear ruin her dreams.  I have overcome some of my fears over time and it has always been for the best.  I have a list of excuses about why I can’t live my dreams that I have been hiding behind.  This project is breaking down those hurdles. 

I have grown as a person as I spend more time thinking about what I truly want in life and perhaps more importantly, what I don’t.  I always read these articles or hear these stories where the people “gave it all up” to travel the world.  I will admit that I am down right envious of those folks.  I often feel like I “gave it all up” to live the American dream.  You know the one.  A nice house in the suburbs full of crap that you don’t need.  The two cars, two fulltime jobs, kids in a good school kind of life that you didn’t know came with fun add-ons such as debt, stagnation of dreams, an ever-expanding waistline, and boredom.

I have spent a lot of time getting to know what I really want.  I have always known that I have some very big dreams.  I also always knew that there was no way that I was ever going to do any of them.  It was just one of those unspoken things between my husband and I…or so I thought.  Because of this project I found out that when my husband said that he would do any of those things with me and he thought that we could do them, he was being…SERIOUS!  I had no idea.  This information has been a bit of a shock.  I took the time to go over all the crazy things I have tucked away for someday.  I am planning, truly planning, my five-year plan based on things that I actually want.  Our list of things stopping us from living our dreams gets shorter everyday.

I’m still scared but I’m ready.

New Position at Work!

As part of my project of “Dedicating One Year to Life” I want to spend more time with my children and lower my stress level.  I have been working as a night shift nurse for a local hospital for almost a year and a half.  I accepted a new position on the same unit as a day shift nurse.  It is a different work flow and was a significant pay cut but I needed this.  Actually, my whole family needed this.  I was working 12 hour shifts and I am now working 8 hour shifts.  I now work 4 days a week instead of 3 also.  We are trying to pay off all of our debt so the pay cut and addition of daycare stinks but the stress of working night shift with three kids was hard on all of us.  I am now home to make dinner, help with homework, and do the nightly/bedtime routine daily.

While I am very excited for the change, I grossly underestimated what switching shifts would do to Octavia (7 months old) and my body.  I am currently sick and so is the baby.  She started daycare this week which was hard emotionally.  The complete flip of schedule took both of us by storm.  I am not surprised that we ended up sick with all of this going on.  Hopefully it doesn’t last long.

My husband and I started setting priorities for paying off our debt.  We have decided that my car payment is a logical first choice because the payment is almost $300 a month and it is close to being paid off.  We will be using that extra money to pay off our credit cards next.  We are simply paying them off in the order for least to most owed.  Paying off all of our debts is a big step toward the life that we want.  We have a desire for less stress, more simplicity in our day-to-day lives, and the ability to travel more.  Our long-term goal is to do a RTW and move somewhere warmer near the beach.

We only did a little work on our home this week because we were so busy.  I bought new pajamas and socks for the baby because she was outgrowing hers.  I got rid of the ones she had outgrown and also boxed up some of her clothing that she grew out of.  Instead of replacing all of these items we decided to minimize the amount of clothing she has.  I was surprised that she had so much when I took the time to think about it instead of just buying things because baby clothes are super cute and tiny.  She only needs enough to get her through  a week.  Any less than that is a hindrance because I would have to do laundry more often.  She uses special soap so I cannot throw her stuff in with everything else.

Our goal for this coming week is to use the food we currently have in our kitchen instead of shopping or going out to eat.  This will help us to use up some of the almost forgotten items we found when cleaning out our kitchen in week one.  We can also use the money we typically would on groceries to further pay off our debt.  Our grocery budget is normally $150 a week.  My goal is to spend less than $50 this week on basics like bread, milk, eggs, and we have to buy dog food.

I will update you on our journey again soon

First Week of 2017

During the first week of 2017 we started working toward our goal for a happier and more relaxed home.  We went through our kitchen.  We moved some things to new places that make more sense with the way we use the item or the space it is in.  We also got rid of a lot of things.  I was surprised to find that we had such an odd assortment of items crammed into those cabinets.  The kitchen is tidy and much easier to use.  Since making more dinners at home was part of our goals for a simpler and more functional family life.

I also finished my last night shift.  We set up daycare for our youngest so I can start my new day shift job.  I set up a daily family schedule to help us to keep the basics done.  All of this is going to be a major change.  We will evaluate each change and the impact that it is making on our family as a whole after each change.  Some changes will take more time to assess the impact of than others.

I also have decided that I want to make more time for things that I enjoy.  I would like to start writing more often.  My long-term goal would be to write daily but I do not think I am in a good position to achieve that goal.  I am going to set a realistic goal to write three times a week.  I also want to spend more time taking photographs and reading.

We have also started to get together a list of our debts and started working on a budget.  Paying off all of our debts is something that my husband and I both agree would make a huge difference in our lives.  We have our mortgage, two care loans, credit cards, student loans, and doctor/hospital bills.  We are still in the very early stages of this.  I will update all of you on this as time goes on.