Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Just One of Those Weeks




I am not SuperMom this week...and it's okay.  I want to keep it real here.   
I am tired.  I have slept for 10-11 hours a night, and am still yawning all day long.   I took a nap when C was at preschool, instead of doing something “productive.” 
I don't feel strong.  I ate Halloween candy and potato chips.  
I am kind of cranky and irritable.  I can’t seem to handle much of anything.  I feel spacey and out of it. 
I feel like I need a break.  A day to just lie in bed all day and cry. Or read.  Or listen to the sound of silence.  
I feel uninspired.
I had been feeling really good for the last month or so.   I was motivated, happy, and upbeat.   But I am human, after all, and I have bad days.  Sometimes, my brain just needs a “reset.”   Or maybe my body or mind needs to process something big.   I am honoring that.  Though others may not understand, I am choosing to give myself grace.  This too shall pass.  It always does, doesn't it?
I am committed to my goal of “accepting imperfection,” so I am rejecting guilt.  

We humans all have our days (or weeks or months).  We are not perfect and it's okay.  Let's rid our minds of the idea that we should be perfect.  Are you with me?
Life is good.

Mommy Brain #1


 
I’ve never seen a truer info graphic.  Mom brains are especially “insane.”  Juggling tasks, meals, a home, and activities for several people is a lot of work.  Then, when you add in information overload, and top it all off with some good old fashioned ridiculous expectations and mommy guilt, the ol’ CPU is running at full capacity.  I believe this is what they call “mommy brain.”   I’d like to give you a snapshot of how a mom’s brain looks. Please  enjoy this segment of “Mommy Brain.”

I feel like such a slug. I had 2 1/2 hours to myself today with no obligations, and I'm still wearing my clothes from yesterday. That I slept in. These fleece lined leggings are sooo comfy, though. I didn’t clean much, and was not productive today at all. Well actually, I did make those Oatmeal Cinnamon Raisin Balls I found on Pinterest. Although, I didn't use cinnamon or raisins.  Plus, the oats weren’t gluten-free oats, so they are likely contaminated.  If the kids get a tummy ache, it’s my fault because I served them sub par oats.  What kind of mom does that?  The chocolate chips were a good idea, but then they melted.  Yeah, these balls suck.  Anyway, I guess I wasn’t totally unproductive because I did manage to fit in two episodes of House Hunters Renovation.  AND, I fast forwarded through the commercials, so I totally saved time.  That was smart. But now I really have the urge to fix up my house.   I totally need a cute printed roman shade above my sink for a pop of color!  But window treatments are sooo expensive.  I bet I can make one myself! 

(peruses Pinterest for 38 minutes) 

Crap.  It’s time to pick up 5yo from school.  I wonder if they will notice I’m wearing the same clothes as this morning.  And yesterday.  Maybe I'll change my shirt so it looks like I'm wearing something different.   I can’t wear the same shoes as yesterday because then it will be totally obvious. But I read somewhere you can't wear gym shoes with skinny jeans.  It’s a fashion faux pas. Do leggings count as skinny jeans? What about Converse low tops? Are those considered gym shoes?  Screw it. I don't care what anyone thinks.  Maybe I'll just wear a hat.
Life is good.

Chocolaty oatmeal ball anyone?

Can you relate to this post?  Leave me a comment!

Healthy Finds for Less at Aldi


I'll admit, I never really gave Aldi much of a chance until more recently. I just assumed everything there was cheap, and full of junk. And a lot of it is. But some of it isn’t. Aldi has recently added an organic line, as well as a new gluten-free line of foods. Who knew? I’m super excited to see more stores adding items with less chemicals and unnecessary ingredients. Our dollars are votes!

I try to buy organic when I can. Our bodies are so overloaded with toxins nowadays, I just feel I need to do what I can (within reason) to not add to that burden. However, the new gluten-free line, Live G-Free, is what got me in there. The kids’ recent allergy tests showed that we should probably stay away from wheat and dairy for a while, as well as a few other things. Panic started setting in. What am I going to feed them? They are typical picky-eater kids. So, I set out to find some gluten-free replacements to their favorite foods and snacks. I couldn’t believe how expensive they were!

One day I ended up at Aldi and was pleasantly surprised. Hidden amongst the typical junky foods, were decent substitutes for A LOT of the items we buy all the time…for A LOT less! Below are a few of the items I started buying at Aldi.


Organic Grass Fed Ground Beef - $5.99


I usually buy this from a farm cooperative, but if I run out, this is a great alternative. With the beef prices skyrocketing, this is a good price for a pound of this quality of meat.



Fruit Spread - $1.69


I typically buy something like All Fruit with no extra sugar added. This little guy fit the bill perfectly.



Organic, Unrefined, Cold-pressed Coconut Oil - $4.99


Super healthy oil.  Good price. 



El Milagro Tortilla Chips - $2.39



I normally only buy organic when it comes to anything corn because of GMOs, but if you are in a pinch and don’t have time to go to another store, these are GMO-free, and restaurant quality.



Organic Crushed or Diced Tomatoes $1.49


I prefer to buy any kind of tomato product in glass jars because the acid causes the BPA to leech from the can liner, but these will work if they are not available. Great for chili!



Organic Fire Roasted Tomatoes $1.29


I also use these in my chili. That Fire Roasted part gives it a really nice flavor!



Fruit Cups - $1.69


Eating the whole fruit is WAY better, but I will get these for the occasional lunch box treat or snack. They are not organic, but neither are the ones you buy at a regular grocery store, typically. Aldi has a few varieties that are in 100% juice: peaches, tropical fruit, mandarin oranges, and pineapples. Avoid the stuff in the syrups- yuck.



Unsweetened Almond Milk – $2.49

 
This is the same thing as the name brands, but cheaper. This is great for protein shakes, in coffee, or in cereal. I noticed they just recently added coconut milk, too. If they get an unsweetened version, I’ll be trying that, too.


Organic Salsa $1.99


We like mild. It tastes similar to Tostitos salsa, but it’s organic and cheaper. Win-win.



Gluten-Free Coco Loco Bars - $2.49


These are gluten-free, soy-free, egg-free, dairy-free, and nut free…but not taste free, surprisingly. The kids say they taste like a brownie. These are perfect for an occasional portable treat. They also carry two other flavors.


Organic Pasta Sauce $1.79


Tastes good!



Organic Pumpkin Flax Granola Cereal - $2.79


While not as cheap as their other junk cereals, it’s organic and has good fat and protein. It’s a small box, but it’s very dense and filling. And it’s delicious.

 


Organic Apple Juice - $2.49


Apples are higher in pesticides, so I am glad to find it organic. We add a splash of juice to the kids water.



Brown Rice Spaghetti - $1.89


A must have if you are avoiding gluten.



Lunchmeat – Uncured, No Nitrates, No Antibiotics - $2.99


This is a pretty good price for this type of meat. Applegate lunchmeat will run you $4.99-$5.99 per package.



Dark Chocolate Morsels - $1.79


60% cacao. Same ingredients as the “better” brands. Made in a nut-free facility.


PRODUCE

Aldi will typically have a small selection of organic produce. If you buy a lot of produce every week, and you want organic, you may have to supplement somewhere else.


Organic Grape Tomatoes $2.49


We use these on salads and in my son’s lunch.



Organic Baby Carrots - $1.29




Organic Gala Apples - $4.69


Apples seem to be getting more expensive, so I was glad to see this cheaper bulk bag



Organic Raspberries - $2.39


This is a good price for organic.


Bananas - $1.54


Aldi does sometimes carry organic bananas, however, I typically buy conventional for bananas. Check out the list of the “Dirty Dozen” most pesticide-contaminated fruits and vegetables. This list will help you to determine which produce items are the most important to buy organic. Aldi does carry a decent selection of conventional produce.


Bag of Cuties (Seedless Mandarin Oranges) $4.99


These suckers are getting really expensive, too. This is not a bad price for this whole bag.


These are just a handful of the items that you can find cheaper at Aldi. There are also hundreds more commonly-used items, such as spices, baking staples, personal care products, meat, frozen foods, canned and dried beans, dairy, and even wine/beer. J While I do still need to visit Costco or Whole Foods for certain things, I can make these trips a lot less frequently now. Why not give Aldi a chance and save yourself some green?


UPDATE:
Since I wrote this post, Aldi has exploded with quadruple the amount of organic and gluten-free items!  Go check it out!!

Easiest 5 Minute Faux Roman Shade Ever!

 
Really?!  5 minutes?  Well, okay, it may take a little trial and error to get everything exactly the way you want it, but if you're lucky...5 minutes. And NO sewing required! :)

Here's what you'll need:
  • Fabric of your choice  (I needed a focal point.  The way my kitchen is designed, there is NO wall space at all to hang pictures. I chose something with a pop of color, since I really couldn't add color anywhere else!)
  • 2 tension rods
  • Several pins
  • Measuring tape
First you will need to measure the width of your window space to make sure you buy fabric and tension rods wide enough to fit.  You will want your tension rod at least a little bigger than the opening so that you have enough "tension" for it to stay up.  You will want your fabric AT LEAST 8 inches wider than your window opening, since you will be folding the edges over on each side.  You will also want the fabric much longer than the actually "shade" will be, since we will be folding edges over, as well as draping it over two rods.

Here we go...

Fit your tension rods to the window.


Put your fabric face-down on the floor with one of the tension rods underneath.
 
 

Fold each side of your fabric inward until your tension rod ends are showing a tiny bit, adjusting as needed to make the folded parts even on each side.

 
 
 
Once it is where you want it to be, use the pins and fasten the fabric going down each side.  Every 6 inches or so should be fine. Try to be inconspicuous with the part of the pin showing on the front of the shade.



Fold the bottom of the fabric up to create a clean bottom edge.  Pin.  Fold the top part of the fabric over the tension rod. Pin.

 
 
 
Place the top rod, with the shade attached to it, in the top of the window space.

 
 
 
Place the 2nd rod several inches lower, in front of the fabric.

 
 
 
Pull fabric that is between the two rods forward with enough slack to drape over the bottom rod.

 
 
Make adjustments to your taste.  Voila!

 
 
You will most likely have to play with it a little until you get a look that you like.  Once you get it the perfect width, you can also buy a little bonding tape or Stitch Witchery to secure the edges better, then remove the pins.

Enjoy the new addition to your room! :)

Life is good.

17 Things to Help When You are Feeling Down, Tired, or Unmotivated


 


Recently, my friend Heather DeGeorge, posted a question to her Facebook page. She asked people what helped them when they were feeling out of sorts. The suggestions came pouring in.  Yes, yes, yes! I thought, as I read each one.  I even added a few ideas myself.   Those ideas all work for me, so I wondered, Why do I forget to do them when I am feeling down? The answer was:  because I simply can’t remember them when I’m lost in the haze of a funky, foggy mind.  So, I decided to make a list for future reference, and I wanted to share it with you. 

Coffee
Need I say more?  I don’t even drink caffeine, but my morning just doesn’t feel complete without a warm cup of decaf with almond milk.  If you drink leaded, just having that shot of caffeine can definitely serve as a pick-me-up.  Coffee or tea sometimes just feels like a comforting treat.  In the summer, I like to do an afternoon iced coffee as a little treat.  Yummmm. 


Gratitude

Happiness is not what makes us grateful, it is gratefulness that makes us happy. - David Steindl-Rast

Being grateful can shift your mood dramatically.  It focuses your attention on what is already good, and takes the focus off of problems and obstacles.  According to the Law of Attraction, what you focus on the most is what will come to you.   As Marci Shimoff says "Gratitude is a way to incline your heart toward joy." 

Practice gratefulness by creating a gratitude journal.  Every morning, night, or whenever you need perspective, write down 3 things in your journal you are grateful for that day/moment. You can always find something you are grateful for...even the tiniest thing.  It won't take long for your state of mind to shift towards a more positive place.


15 Minutes of decluttering

Just a short stint of decluttering your environment helps you feel accomplished and helps clear up the chaos in your mind!  SET A TIMER—this keeps the task small, so it doesn’t feel overwhelming.  Just start anywhere.  Don't over think it.  Clean up a desk area, make your bed, or clear off the kitchen counter.  Decluttering anything helps my motivation, and makes me feel ready to take on other tasks. I should do it more...just ask my husband.


Making Lists & Plans
To me, this is also a form of decluttering.  It transfers the to-dos from the mind, onto the paper.   If I don’t do this, I forget things.  I feel overwhelmed with all the things I have to do that I can’t even remember.  Just creating a to-do list alone is so powerful.  Don’t worry if you don’t get everything on your list done.  Just crossing off a few things feels good.  You can even go a step further, and create a schedule.  Schedule some of those to-do items into your day so that you have something to cross off your list later.  Creating lists, plans, and schedules helps me feel more confident, in-control, and on top of things.


Getting dressed
This is HUGE for me, and I don’t do it enough.   Even on my most depressed days, when I feel completely “off” and sad for no reason, just taking a shower is a huge step that can get the ball rolling.  The water and the act of doing one little thing for myself, energizes me enough to feel like I can face the day.  If I can, I will even do my hair and put on a little makeup.  This makes me feel even better about myself, and feel like I accomplished something.  It sounds so simple to many people, but if you are in the grips of depression, or even a temporary funk, even the most basic tasks feel like an impossible feat.


Music, music, music!
Ahh, music.  This is something near and dear to my heart, so I’m going to go off on a tangent here.  Since my hubby and I are both in a band, people often ask, “So, do you guys have music constantly playing in your house?”  The answer is, “actually, no.”  I’m not really sure why, but I think part of the reason is that we have 2 boys.  There is plenty of chaos and noise surrounding us at all times.  Adding music to the mix sometimes just feels, well...stressful.  The other reason, is that, we just never think of it.  It hasn’t become a habit.  However, I have noticed that I LOVE the music in the background at other people’s houses, or when we have someone over for a BBQ or bonfire.  It really enhances and even changes the mood. 

So, why not when it’s “just us”?  We don’t have to play stressful or busy music like death metal, or Rush (sorry, had to).  We can always throw on some chilled-out music, like Bob Marley, Norah Jones, or John Mayer, right?  Or, we could be total rebels and blast some classical music.  According the Classical Forums, “Classical music affects the brain’s organization and abilities, through its melody and rhythm. The rhythm raises the level of serotonin produced in your brain.”  How ‘bout them apples?

Also, for many, watching live music is incredibly energizing!

Another aspect of music that can REALLY help you out of a funk is singing.  I know a little somethin’ somethin’ about this.  I used to have an hour and a half commute to and from work each day.  I would leave the office feeling tired, hungry, and pissed off every day.  I spent my whole ride home singing along with whatever I was into at the time, or whatever I was learning for my band.  I kid you not, I would walk in the door a completely different person.  I had a spring in my step, and my hangry attitude had totally turned around.

To me, it feels like a meditation of sort.  You are concentrating on the words, the melody, the breathing, and the pitch, rather than thinking about the to-do lists, or the person that totally irked you that day.  Research shows that singing can help lower your heart rate, decrease blood pressure, reduce stress, reduce pain, increase lung capacity, relieve asthma and its symptoms, improve posture, boost energy levels, and increase feelings of relaxation.  It can also be beneficial for Alzheimer and other dementia patients.  So sing your little heart out!!
I am thankful that I am at a stage in life that I can sing in the car again around my kids.  When my oldest was younger, he would say “mommmm, stoppppp!”  When my youngest was younger, he literally had the saddest crying episodes when I sang.  I’m talking full-blown, quivering bottom lip, huge tears, just-lost-your-best-friend kind of crying.  It was funny and a little heartbreaking all the same time.  Anyway, I am taking advantage of this small window I may have to belt it out in the car.

The same goes for playing an instrument. Playing an instrument as a child keeps the mind sharper as we age.  "Music-making is linked to a number of health benefits for older adults," said Suzanne Hanser, Berklee College of Music in Boston. "Research shows that making music can lower blood pressure, decrease heart rate, reduce stress, and lessen anxiety and depression. There is also increasing evidence that making music enhances the immunological response, which enables us to fight viruses," Hanser said.  So there you have it.  Music rocks!

Relaxing Bath
A warm, comforting bath can really be a mood-changer, especially if you are stressed or angry.  Add some candles, and relaxing music for an even better experience.  (Or earplugs.)

I occasionally like to do detox baths to support the body in flushing toxins. 
Detox Bath:
1.        Add 5 – 10 drops of essential oils (lavender is great to support relaxation) to 2 cups of Epsom salt. 
2.       Fill bathtub and add salts.
3.       Add 1 cup of baking soda.  This helps to neutralize the chlorine and chemicals in the water, and also helps the body absorb the minerals in the salt.
4.       Immerse as much of your body as you can for at least 20 minutes.
5.       Since you may feel a bit lightheaded from detoxing, make sure you rest and rehydrate by drinking water when you are done. 


Nature

Nature is amazing. It’s healing.  Sunshine.  Fresh air.  Trees.  Plants. Water.  Negative ions. Any kind of nature positively affects energy and mood.  New research from the Netherlands shows that people who live near a park or wooded area experience less depression and anxiety, and a study from the UK found that a walk in the country reduces depression in 71 percent of participants. Scientists have also known that sunlight can ease depression -- especially SAD, or seasonal affective disorder, in winter.

There are many reasons nature is so effective in lifting people's spirits.  Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical well being, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. It may even reduce mortality, according to scientists.

Google “Forest Bathing” and “Earthing,” too.

Exercise
Yeah, I know.  It’s really, really, reeeeeeallllyyyy hard to exercise when you are down in the dumps and unmotivated.  However, if you really want to fight your way out of it, exercise will definitely not hurt.  And several studies confirm that exercise improves mood.  Research also suggests that moderate exercise can positively affect even long-term depression.  Doing something good for your body will also give you a confidence boost, and help you feel  that you’ve accomplished something worthwhile.  This doesn’t have to be a major undertaking…just a simple bike ride or a 30 minute walk is helpful.  Exercise also encourages being in nature.  Win- win.


Read something inspirational
Have you ever read something inspiring that made you think hell yeah!!?  Ok, maybe that’s just me.  Ahem…anyway, this will be different for everyone, of course.  For some people it’s poetry, but for others it could be biography, The Bible, self-help, or even fiction.  What type of reading inspires you and energizes you?  Keep this material on hand for when you need some motivation!


Self care
As parents, we often put ourselves last, which can leave us feeling neglected, resentful, and...frumpy. This is why self care is important.  A mani, pedi, massage, or getting your hair done can be uplifting.  It makes me feel more confident and put-together.  Take some me time--meet friends for coffee, go for a walk, attend a girls night out, take that bath, or read a book. Take a break. It doesn't have to be expensive, just make yourself a priority so that you can be rejuvenated and present for your family. Getting some alone time or more sleep should also be considered self care.  Nap, anyone?


Creativity
Many people just don’t fulfilled unless they are creating something.  I tend to lean towards this category.  There is something calming about creating.  I don’t feel like I am a super crafty type person, but I love writing.  I love making spreadsheets that calculate things to make life easier.  I like having an end product that I created from “nothing”.  I love taking an old, ugly piece of furniture and making it beautiful and unique.  Some people love painting, gardening, drawing, making jewelry, or organizing!  What is something creative that makes you happy?  Time to pull out the crayons!


Meditation or Prayer
Meditation doesn’t have to be a big undertaking.  Just simply sitting still in silence, and trying to empty your mind of thoughts, can have a profound effect.  It becomes easier, too, as you become more experienced at quieting the mind.  You don’t need a mantra, or crazy poses.  You can just sit at your desk or on the couch.  Start with just 5 minutes and work your way up. 

Research shows improvements in mood, pain threshold, immune system activity, and bronchial and arterial smooth muscle tone. The studies also show a decrease in stress hormones and a reversal in the effects of chronic stress.
Daily practice offers the greatest benefits. By meditating on a regular basis you can train your mind to relax and release stress.

Prayer is also showing the same benefits as meditation.  Focusing on God and gratefulness, instead of focusing on our mood, is beneficial to our well being.  Several studies have shown that prayer and other spiritual practices reduce or alleviate depression. (The American Journal of Psychiatry).  And we can never have too much God in our lives. :)

Energy balancing
Our heart produces and energy field.  Our body runs on energy.  There are many factors than can cause this energy to become unbalanced, blocked, and stagnant in certain areas.   There are also several techniques to help re-balance your energy.  Yoga and deep breathing is helpful.  Reiki is another form of energy work. My chiropractor does kinesiology and unblocks stagnant energy.  For DIY energy balancing, try Donna Eden’s 5minute energy routine or the Morter March/M Power March exercise.


Essential Oils
Essential oils have amazing properties!  They support the body, and many have very uplifting aromas.   Essential oil is the lifeblood of a plant.  All living things, including the human body, have a measurable energetic frequency.  Essential oils start at 52 MHz and go as high as 320 MHz. A healthy body typically has a frequency ranging from 62 to 78 MHz, while disease begins at 58 MHz.  In one study, the frequency of two individuals, the first a 26 year old male and the second a 24 year old male, was measured at 66 MHz each. The first individual held a cup of coffee (without drinking any), and his frequency dropped to 58 MHz in 3 seconds. He put the coffee down and inhaled an aroma of essential oils. Within 21 seconds, his frequency had returned to 66 MHz. The second individual took a sip of coffee and his frequency dropped to 52 MHz in the same 3 seconds. However, no essential oils were used during the recovery time, and it took 3 days for his frequency to return to its initial 66 MHz. 
Essential oils have countless benefits in supporting the body. I love them and use them every day.  Make sure to only use pure, high-quality essential oils.

Help Others
Believe it or not, helping others makes you feel good!  It’s a satisfying feeling when you have assisted someone else, or cheered someone up.  It also takes the focus off ourselves and our thoughts, which is sometimes just what we need.  Write someone a letter of encouragement. Help someone with a chore.  Give someone a genuine compliment. Smile for no reason.  Be a good friend.  Shovel the neighbor’s sidewalk.  Buy someone behind you in line a coffee.  Pay it forward.  Go the extra mile.  The person you are helping will not be the only one feeling good!  Another win-win.

Talk it out
I am mostly an extrovert so I usually love to talk.  Unfortunately, my hubby really isn’t a big talker.  I tend to stew about things, and then feel sorry for myself because “no one understands.”  However, if I can talk about it, everything comes into better focus, and I can usually process the feelings.  If you have a friend or therapist that you can talk to, do it!  Sometimes just getting our feelings out instantly provides clarity, and makes us feel better.  Bonus if you have a friend who is positive and energetic.  It’s contagious!

 
If you are really down, and some of these ideas seem too overwhelming, just use the 15 minute rule.  Set a timer for ONLY 15 minutes.  As FlyLady says, you can do ANYTHING for 15 minutes.  Pick one and get going!  Just the activity of doing something will usually kickstart your journey out of the funk.  Most likely, you will feel  so motivated by what you’ve accomplished in that short amount of time, that you may want to keep going.  If so, go ahead!  If not, stop at the 15 minutes and feel good because you accomplished something!
Life is good.

~~~~~~~~~~
Sources:
http://www.classicalforums.com/articles/Music_Brain.html
http://healthylivinghowto.com/1/post/2012/01/detoxification-part-i-healing-waters.html
http://www.naturalmomsblog.com/singing-improve-mood-raise-energy.html
http://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/enhance-your-wellbeing/environment/nature-and-us/how-does-nature-impact-our-wellbeing
http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/12/exercise.aspx
http://younglivingoillady.com/home/frequency-of-essential-oils/
http://www.care2.com/greenliving/meditation-boosts-mood-eases-pain-and-stress.html
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=104310443
http://buildingabrandonline.com/glen/prayer-changes-your-brain-in-4-simple-ways/

Disclaimer:  I am not a doctor or therapist. Any information contained in this article or on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease.

Gratefulness




They say you can't really be in a rotten mood if you are focusing on being grateful.  In fact, many people have a gratitude journal, in which they write down 3 things they are thankful for every day.  I think it's a great idea!  However, let's be real here.  There is not much I can commit to doing EVERY SINGLE DAY besides maybe taking a pee and sleeping.  So, I decided to just write down a bunch of random things I'm thankful for in one sitting.  Here goes...

God
Earplugs
Slippers
Beer
Hot water
Waterproof bed pads for kids
Coffee
Fall leaves
Love
Therapy
Freedom
An open mind
My boys
My boys' bedtime
My bed
Family
Christmas
Facebook
Pinterest
New baby smell
Xanax
Essential Oils
Kids who say "w" in place of "r"
My health
Online shopping
Coupon codes
My phone
My husband
Sticky kisses from my 5 year old
Spanx
Legos
Chocolate
Heat
Sunshine
Electronics (ooo. I love AND hate this one.)
Clearance racks
Babysitters
Money to pay babysitters
Friends
Makeup
Hugs
Wine
Electricity
Air
Dishwasher
Pizza
Indoor Plumbing
Breezy summer nights
Forgiveness
Music


Life is good.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Facebook: Friend of Foe? My Love/Hate Relationship with Technology, Part 1




Gosh, I REALLY love my phone.  I mean, how awesome is it to be able to look up anything you want at any time you want and get an answer in a split second?  Or have your favorite songs at the touch of a button, no matter where you are?   I love the convenience of sending my hubby a text and knowing he’ll get it…even if he’s in a meeting.  And who doesn’t love the time-wasting games at your disposal when you are stuck in a waiting room, school pickup line, or really boring family party?  And then there is social media.  Wow--when I joined Facebook, I thought I had died and gone to Heaven.  I connected with friends old and new.  I loved seeing pictures of everyone’s kids or travels, and being able to keep up a little bit on everyone’s lives.  As a stay at home mom, that made it a little less lonely.  I felt a tad less isolated, and a bit more connected to people. I found all kinds of awesome bloggers that were so encouraging to someone in my season of life.  I realized I wasn’t “alone” in this thing called motherhood.  And I was equally happy that I could vent, or share a funny story that might brighten someone’s day.   The cherry on top was the distraction it offered me from the mundane days of cooking, cleaning, refereeing, and wiping butts on repeat.  I was happily addicted. 
Well, up until more recently…  Then, I realized I was just plain ol’ addicted, but not really happy about it.   I started to inquire about what had changed in the past 5 years, and I realized it was quite a bit.


Trying to Keep Up
I realized that I wasn’t that excited to see what was on Facebook anymore, but only felt stressed because I didn’t want to miss something.  I had subscribed to so many things that were of interest to me, that I couldn’t keep up.   Don’t get me wrong, they are all great things that teach me, encourage me, or make me laugh.  However, it got to the point where I could never get to the part of my newsfeed where I last left off.  That left me with a little nagging, incomplete feeling.  I knew I was missing friends posts because I was too busy reading EVERYTHING ELSE.  And then there was the stress from all the articles I didn’t have time to read, or that I said I’d read later.  Just the sheer INFORMATION OVERLOAD was starting to take its toll on my brain.

Inferiority
There is also the aspect of social media that I didn’t think affected me.  The dark side.  The part that makes you feel inferior in some way.  I told myself that it didn’t apply to me.  Nope, I just LOVE learning and I love seeing what’s going on in other people’s lives.  I guess I was a little bit in denial, because I would never want to have to give up the gift that is Facebook. 

Most people are putting their best face forward on Facebook.  I am guilty.  My intention is to try not to post only good stuff, because I really want to keep it real.  However, when it comes down to it, you are only going to want to share the good pictures, not the ones with the double chin.  You are only going to want to share the funny or cute stories, not the one where you cried in your pillow because your kid acted like an a-hole and you think he might end up in jail one day and it’s all your fault because you didn’t implement 1-2-3 Magic early enough.  It just happens. 
The problem is, that without realizing it, you start to compare other people’s lives with yours.  You see how well-dressed Mary’s kids look all the time.  You see how Dick and Jane seem to have date nights all the time.  You see how Lucy manages to go to the gym 5 days a week.  Or how Tom seems to have all this money to go on vacations all the time.  Or how Sally manages to work full time and still has well-behaved kids.  Or how in-love Bob and Nancy are.  Or how smart Ned seems to be.  Or how well decorated and clean Harriet’s house looks, etc, etc, etc.  You start to feel as if everyone else has it all together.  Their lives look so perfect. “Why can’t my family get along like that?”  You start to question and doubt yourself.  “Why doesn’t my house look like that?”  You start to think your situation should be different.  “Why doesn’t my husband do those things for me? “ 
There is a saying I heard somewhere that says “Don’t compare your everyday life with someone else’s highlight reel.” Or something like that.  And that’s exactly what Facebook and Instagram is—your highlight reel. 

Distraction
Wait, I thought the distraction was a good thing?  Well, it was, and it can be…sometimes.  The distraction can also detract from other important things in our lives.  How often do we get lost in our phones and not hear our child or partner asking us something? Or don’t even look up…just say “just a minute.”  We have all been guilty of this.  Sometimes wasting time is good, but what if we are wasting time that could be spent with our kids, or developing meaningful relationships? 
This distraction also saps our productivity.  I have found myself caught up in reading articles and blogs for an hour or more sometimes.  So what are we neglecting when we are doing this?  Doing things we love (instead of just reading about them).  Cleaning our houses.  Building our businesses.  Cooking healthier meals for our families.  Connecting with friends and family (in person).  You get the idea.

Too Many Opinions and Too Much Information

As I mentioned above, I love learning.  I also pride myself on having a pretty open mind.  I am able to consider other people’s viewpoints.  This is typically a good trait, but it can also be detrimental in some ways.    Sometimes, too much of other people’s interests and beliefs are not in your best interest.  Let me explain what I mean.   Many people can take in loads of information and viewpoints, and take it all with a grain of salt.  They can absorb what information they want, and discard the rest of it.  Done.  Some people, however (including me), have a harder time doing that.  I absorb it all.  I soak it up.   I save it to re-read later.  I want to know it all.  “How to organize your entire house and life in 16 easy steps.”  “How to be a better parent.”  How to be a better partner.”  “How to cook only super-healthy organic meals and never eat fast food again.”  I want to do it all.  I want to be perfect…and that’s a problem.  Not only does this lead to some mad chaos in the brain, but it also leads to some serious guilt.  No one can do it all. Or read it all.  Or follow it all. Or keep up with it all. Or be perfect.  I finally realized that all this chaos, and information, and pressure, was not in my best interest.  I unsubscribed from everything that was not a true, positive, major interest for me.
Judgy-ness
Face it.  No one likes to be judged.  We judge ourselves enough, so to have someone else do it to us makes us feel the lowest of the low.  Facebook can be and is often used as a weapon.  We’ve all probably seen those folks that use their comments or posts as a passive-aggressive jab to another person or group of people.   It’s so easy to sit behind the protection of a computer screen and pass a semi-cryptic judgement about someone else.  It happens ALL.THE. TIME.   People share personal information about others.  People start rumors about others that can be devastating to someone’s life and family.  It’s disheartening.  OK, this next part will make me sound like a real hippie…  Everyone is on their own path, on their own journey.  So why can’t we all love and support one another, no matter what path we are on?  Sometimes it’s hard, but we have to understand that many people are guided from a place of fear.  Or by deep pain.   Many people are operating from a place of abundant knowledge, and some people from a lack thereof.   All of us are guided by a love for our children and families.  We are all human.  My wish is that we can all operate from a place of love and respect for the entire species, and not just our own families.  End hippie rant.  And that leads me to…

Spreading of Fear and Hatred
I love the freedoms that this country was built upon.  I love that we have freedom of religion and freedom of speech.  I love the internet.  It’s an incredible tool.  But we know that some of these freedoms come with a dark side.  I wish that technology could only be used to spread love and forgiveness and tolerance and knowledge, but unfortunately, our freedom of speech allows those to spread fear and hatred, as well.  This has never been more prevalent.  My fun, light-hearted, supportive, encouraging newsfeed slowly morphed into one of negative news stories & images, judgy-ness, and downright hatred.  This increased spreading of fear and negativity is the very same reason I stopped watching the news, and is now the reason I have cut down my Facebook browsing by about 85%. 

Cutting back on the social technology outlets may sound impossible.  Though it can be a little uncomfortable at first, it really does end up feeling amazing.  I will still post a cute picture of the kids, or something positive here and there, but won’t waste away my days getting caught up in article after article...or stewing for 8 hours about something someone posted.  If I need to find something, I’ll go to and find it.  I won’t browse for 2 hours and feel guilty about all these Pinterest-y projects I never got around to.   I feel a sense of freedom from the Facebook shackles.  I’m more productive.  I’m giving the kids more of my undivided attention.  I’m feeling better about myself.  And best of all, I’m feeling a lot less guilt.  And guess what?  I don’t really miss it. Win-Win-Win-Win-Win.  
If you're feeling like I was, why not give it a try?
Life is good.