disengaging from social media

One of my goals this year is to disengage from my phone more. Late last year, my phone completely broke down and black-screened, falling into an inescapable boot-reboot cycle. Customer service quickly threw (okay, diligently packaged and carefully sent) a phone in the mail for me (incidentally, Project Fi is awesome – that’s my referral link if you’re interested), but there was still a weekend’s worth of lag time. I didn’t realize how tethered my habits had become to my phone until I didn’t have it anymore. I couldn’t roll over in the morning and silence my alarm and then immediately check email or my RSS feed. I couldn’t watch Netflix while I was cooking or listen to podcasts while I was getting ready. I couldn’t text people throughout the day. It was jarring to realize how often I reached for a phone that wasn’t there. And then it quickly became liberating because I was actually able to focus on what I was doing without buzzy notifications diverting my attention. It was a pretty great weekend actually.

Now, to be clear, I’m not planning to divorce my phone. But I’ve realized that I’m in a pretty unhealthy co-dependent relationship with it. I feed it electricity (and personal information, let’s be honest), and it gives me the internet and dopamine drips. Overall, I think carrying a computer around that has all the information is amazing. BUT. The pattern of my phone use needed changing. So I uninstalled Facebook and Twitter, I turned off most of my notifications, and I set up specific silence times where my phone doesn’t transmit ANY notifications so that I can have regular uninterrupted stretches of time.

Even then, I was still surfing reddit before bed. I was still watching YouTube videos to fill the silence. I was still reading Twitter (via browser now, of course) for the outrage and righteous indignation as much as for any useful info. It was a visit to my childhood home that prompted me to go even further. During that visit, instead of having face to face conversations and reconnecting as, you know, people, my family mostly sat around on devices (sometimes two devices at once) and ignored each other. It was baffling. Then it quickly became frustrating and infuriating. Sure, sometimes they were reading news or responding to urgent emails. But most of the time, it seemed like they were surfing Facebook or scrolling through various text convos instead of having actual conversations with the people sitting in front of them. (This is apparently called “phubbing,” which is a word I hate almost as much as the act itself.)

Continue reading

next year’s words await

I’ve started viewing resolutions differently than I did before. I used to conflate resolutions with goals and treat them the same, but I think that having a distinction between the two is helpful.

A resolution is a decision, a firmness of resolve. A goal is something discrete that you aim at and that you can break down into smaller chunks of progress.

This year, my resolutions are things that I think will move me more towards the person that I want to be. In no particular order, here are my resolutions for 2018. (The header on the dedicated post page is a snapshot of my journal/planner spread for this – yep, I got sucked into the world of bullet journals.)

  • Resist entropy.
    • Always know why I am doing something.
    • Focus on process and refinement.
    • Keep distractions at a minimum.
  • Be healthy.
    • “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” – Michael Pollan
    • Focus on movement and feeling rather than numbers.
    • Eat with joy and savor each bite. Don’t eat to feed emotions or in avoidance.
  • Embrace kindness.
    • Learn how to treat yourself well.
    • Approach things with openness and good faith.
    • Be honest, with yourself and with others, about what you need. Trust others to respond in kind.
  • Create anyway.
    • There is no mood or muse, only the war of art. Some days will be hard.
    • It’s okay to be envious. It’s not okay to be jealous.
    • Let go of extrinsic reward. Focus on improvement.
  • Have courage.
    • Find community.
    • Don’t let fear or complacency keep you from what you want.
    • Stare into the deep. Name it. Then let it go.
  • Live joyfully.
    • Cultivate mindfulness.
    • Stop. Appreciate. Feel gratitude.
    • Own what you love without shame.

Within each resolution, I have goals that will move me closer to the state of being I want to achieve. And then I can break each of those goals into smaller steps that I can work on.

For me, I think the “resist entropy” command is going to be one of the more important things. Particularly the minimizing distractions part. In the last couple of months, some of my routines got a little sloppy and I wasted way too much time lurking on Twitter, watching YouTube videos, or just generally mindlessly looking at internet. A lot of it is about identifying a bad habit and then figuring out how to change your environment or mindset so that you can break that habit (a good framework for this is in The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg).

So I’m building some disconnected time into my morning routine – no internet stuff before 2pm or so.

I’m working on being more mindful of that prickling “fear of missing out” that makes me check my phone for texts or new posts or whatever – I’m going to let myself sit with that, name it, and then let it go. I’m turning off the notifications on my phone. Rarely is something so urgent that I have to check on it immediately; most things can sit for a while until I’m ready to attend to them. I’m largely sure I’ll be okay if my phone isn’t within arm’s length all the time.

Finally, I tend to keep books around me pretty much all the time. So if I find myself mindlessly interneting and wasting time, I’ll pick up a book instead (more on my absurd TBR later).

I feel ready to move things forward, and I feel more prepared than I have before. Here’s to 2018!

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language

And next year’s words await another voice.

– T. S. Eliot

for last year’s words

A quick and dirty 2017 retrospective.

Memories
Leaving medicine was the hardest and easiest thing I’ve ever done. I did something I thought was impossible, for all the reasons that you would imagine, and changed my life. And it was literally one of the best things.
– At the end of my stint in medicine, I took a trip to Berlin. Wandered around the city by myself looking at art, sketching in my book, thinking about my life, and generally learning how to be by myself again. My mom joined a few days later, and we had an amazing time reconnecting. I think our relationship improved substantially because of it.

IMG_20170616_162245.jpg

horsebutt

– I read kind of a lot of books. (The “Year in Books” feature on Goodreads is pretty fun – got these images from there.)

CaptureCapture1

Successes
– Developed a pretty good daily framework through a series of refinements.
– Became more self-aware through a lot of (sometimes painful) self-reflection as I was trying to piece together a life.
– Made some kick-ass macarons. And generally experimented with and made a lot more food.

Completed Inktober.
Won NaNoWriMo.
Wrote the first draft of a novel!

Works in Progress
– When I’m feeling discouraged about something, I lose time to unfulfilling, distracting dopamine drips. Mostly in the forms of the Twitter and YouTube. I do this sometimes as procrastination too, particularly when I’m not sure what the next steps are. (And given that all of this is somewhat uncharted territory for me, I’m never quite sure what the next steps are.)
– I get too focused on ritual and get side-tracked from process.
– I let myself get away with fulfilling the letter instead of the spirit of a thing.
– I’m holding onto a lot of self-loathing that needs to be confronted and addressed.

Lessons

  • Holy shit, I can do things. And I can do many things well. This is something I need to remember when I’m being mean to myself again.
  • Happiness is important.
    • And it’s a privilege to be able to prioritize that right now.
  • Process is constant. And process does not equal ritual.
    • Constant re-evaluation and reflection is necessary and critical.
    • The creep of entropy is relentless.
    • Let go or keep things for the right reasons.
  • It’s easy to forget the progress you’ve made if you only look forward.
  • Shifting from extrinsic to intrinsic is hard (but not impossible).
  • Change starts with honesty and kindness.

2017 was hard for a myriad of reasons and in pretty much all respects (social, cultural, political, personal, etc.). But even still, I’ve made a lot of progress.

Today is the last day of the year, and it also marks the end of six months living this new life. I’ve been amazed at and grateful for the support I’ve received. I feel different in this new place – lighter, freer, more open. And all I want to do is take this momentum into the new year and start keep kicking ass.

nanowrimo completed

I finished the first draft of my novel yesterday. It ultimately clocked in at 59,722 words.

nanowrimo 2017 stats

My feelings right now are still pretty mixed. While the first draft is done, the novel itself isn’t actually done. So that weight is still there.

On the one hand, like I’ve said, I’m proud of having done this thing. Actually drafting a story like this from beginning to end was something that I had convinced myself was impossible for me to do. I believed that for a long time.

On the other hand, what I have now is a garbage pile of words that I kind of want to set on fire. I’m told this is a normal headspace to be in. I kind of never want to see this project again. Although I’ve told this story from start to finish, it’s missing a lot of things. I know that the first pass revision is going to involve extensively rewriting the whole thing, and it’ll basically feel like writing an entirely new story. Maybe. I mean, I guess I don’t know that, but that’s what it feels like from this myopic emotional distance.

Here’s some of the stuff I do know:

Continue reading

trying

It’s almost the end of October, so now is a good time to pause and reflect on the month. This October has been particularly meaningful to me because I re-focused on my personal goals and admitted some personal truths to myself. It was a month where I was more conscious of my jerkbrain (the part of my brain that’s terribly mean to me and tells me I can’t do things) and the various ways that I (used to) set myself up to fail. One of the most insidious ways is how I used the word “try.”

I imagine this is how pretty much all of us are raised. I use it liberally, sprinkled into the promises I make myself and the promises I make other people. And it seems like such a small, harmless little word. So easily inserted into something to prove how earnest you are. We’re all taught not to make powerful statements for fear of falling short, so we add in this small verbal tic to make things sound sweeter and more gentle.

How little we realize that we are semantically encoding failure into our thought processes.

Continue reading

looking at some numbers

I’ve been doing a lot of reading over the last couple months. Just devouring and devouring books upon books almost indiscriminately. Sci-fi, fantasy, horror, biographies, cookbooks, romance – bits and pieces of everything (I read a tad broadly…). I’ve been drinking these words in and swimming in them, luxuriating in them, indulging. It feels like I’m gorging on them, barely even choosing, heedless of genre (or sometimes quality). For the past two months now, it’s felt hurried and frenetic, and I didn’t stop to wonder why.

Continue reading

it’s leviOsa, not levioSA!

A post from BookRiot came up in my feed today: a suggested 20 book reading list for Ravenclaws. (Turns out there’s one for Hufflepuffs too, and then a more general list of recommended books. Presumably Gryffindor and Slytherin specific lists are forthcoming.) After perusing the list, I felt gratified that the books listed were either ones I’ve read or ones on my TBR list (definitely counts). Should I feel gratified because a random internet list confirmed my kinship with an imaginary group of people? Answer: who cares. And also, embrace the whimsy in your life.

Hogwarts Castle

cue John Williams here

Continue reading

moved

I spent the bulk of my morning today rebuilding my website. I was hosted at Weebly, but decided to make the move back to my tried-and-true WordPress.

(If you’re coming from Salt & Subtext, the stuff below the cut is the same as what’s posted over there.)

Continue reading