The diary of a writer cut off from social media and TV... for 10 days.
Where to begin? Last weekend, Easter weekend, I was listening to a religious broadcast and the speaker, President Russel M. Nelson, said something about rooting out the debris from our lives. That thought, as they often do, started worming through my mind. In essence, I feel like my subconscience was trying to determine what debris could be removed. It's a lot like deframenting a hard drive when the thing get sluggish. It takes awhile, but in the end, you're happy with the new improved performance.
My writing has felt sluggish for weeks, maybe longer. I'm willing to admit to weeks... And my social interactions have felt that way as well. I wasn't... connecting. Now with my MS, sometimes it does create that feeling for me. I have old lesions in the frontal cortex of my brain. Psych 101, Phyneus Gage... Anyone? Beuller? Okay, so we know from the aforementioned Phyneus Gage that personality, mood and that ability to connect with other people is in the frontal cortex. When my lesions get etra ooey-gooey blistery it tends to show in me not connecting, feeling depressed and a part from life and general displeasure with things. I do have an MRI coming up so I thoughta bout waiting for that, but a thought hit me. Likely inspired by heaven... I decided to do a 10-day break from social media. I've done it before and was impressed by the results. Granted, I didn't write those results down and it's been years... so here we are. I'm not only cutting out social media, but all my streaming on my phone as well. OIY!
To keep myself accountable, I'm keeping a diary of my experience here. Even if I'm the only one who ever reads it, at least I wrote it down for once.
Day 1 Monday April 5, 2021
It was harder than I want to admit to erase Facebook, Instagram and Twitter from my phone. But even harder than that... I took off Hulu, Netflix, and Prime Video as well. I've gotten in the habit of turning on a show to play in the background while I do mundane tasks like folding laundry, cooking dinner, gardening... you name it. I hadn't thought much of it until I went to start cleaning the table and reached for my phone. I immediately thought of my break and put it down. I kid you not, my brain was like, no Hulu? How about Netflix? And I picked up the phone. Eyeroll. Come on, brain... we've been over this. I set it down and set to work without anything.
Just me and my thoughts.
To quote my character Finley from Shards of my Heart, "When you're quiet, I'm left to my own thoughts, and let me tell you, they're bleak!" So, I learned the first thing... I've self-medicating and escaping this crazy world by falling into tv shows instead. Can't really be judging Wanda at this point, can I? I know that doesn't sound like a revelation of some great wonder, but to me, it was. I knew I was escaping the world, but I didn't know I was escaping me.
Monday April 5, 2021
Same day, but in the afternoon.
A cool thing happened. I got a call from someone at church. I've been meaning to reach out to her but I've been busy (see the previous paragraph for what I was actually doing...) and I haven't. She needed to talk and ask I if I could call. I followed a moment of inspiration and said, I've got some time on my hands for a couple hours, how about I come by an visit.
Now, I won't share the visit with y'all because privacy, but suffice it to say, I left feeling like for once I was in the right place doing the right thing. I also had the strongest feeling that if I hadn't been on this break from my jajor distractions that I might not have had that opportunity.
A thought popped into my head on the drive home.
Think of who you could become if you were like this all the time.
Well if that's not a ton of bricks...
It gives a gal something to think about.
Day 2--Tuesday April 6, 2021
First thing I used to do when I woke up in the morning was check all my social media platforms. My hand still grabs my phone in my total sleepy stuppor and goe through the motions. Wonder how and when I'll break that habit? At least for now the icons aren't even an option on my iphone. My only remaining ritual is to go through my junk mail folder on my email. Side note... it is super cleaned out now.
I have this list of projects that have been looming over my head for quite some time. I am refinishing a part of our patio that is wooden. It needs one more coat. I have work to do on my garden so it's not such a snake trap. The rattlers are coming, people. I have the front yard, the back yard, bark to lay down, etc. Now, I have had all these things for months and keep saying, "I know... I ran out of time. I'm so busy." Now I look back in time with a narrowed eye and say, "Really Nellie? You're busy? Are you sure?". My creentime monitr tells me I spend (this sickens me by the way) 2-3 hours a day on my phone on social media and 3-4 hours on streaming services. That means, I could have a full-day's work between the two each day. Barf. Look at all that wasted time.
Well, today I decided I needed to do something about it. At the back of our garage we have a pretty path leading to the back porch. On one side it's flowers and on the other side it's grass (well, weeds that we cut short to look like grass...) It's gotten way out of hand while I've been busy (i.e. doing things that don't really matter) and I thought, I need to work on that. The ground is uneven and really tall witht he gras so mowing wasn't an option. Instead, I got trimmers and started cutting the grass back. Of course my horse Jack opted to join in and promptly worked on disposing of most of the greenery. Good boy, Jackson. I cleaned all the way to the flower garden and thought, well that looks nice. So, I grabbed a few bags of the mulch that have been waiting for me and started filling in the bare ground around the flowers because summers here are HOT. They need all the protection they can get.
That looked really nice. So, I set to work on the over grown part of the stairs. Then I did the part against the patio. Then I got the lawnmower and started doing some finshing touches. Normally, I think I would have bailed after an huor and said, that's good enough. But what was I going inside to do with no social media or TV? Clean house?? No thank you. I wasn't just finishing cleaning up when I turned around to see my husband home and standing on the back porch looking at our newly groomed backyard. To say he looked shocked would be a gross understatement. We sat on the back porch for awhile, just soaking up the good vibes and beauty.
I do admit I glanced at his phone when he pulled up social media, a little too much jealousy in my eyes, but I'm so stinking blind without my glasses it wasn't much more than shapes and blurs. The addiction isn't broken but hey, I was pretty darn productive today.
Who knew this little warrior had it in her?
Day 3--April 7, 2021
Still trying to shake those morning habits. Instense eyeroll. I didn't get a lot done around the house today, but I did manage to get all my errands done on my break time. I even had a second to run to the dollar tree. I was looking for somthing else, but inspiration struck and I got the supplies to build a pretty spring wreath for the front door. Just $7 and two glue sticks. Not bad. I have to admit, in the past I might have bought the supplies and then never made it. But, what am I going to do instead? Clean the house? Nope, not today. Let's craft.
For church, I work with an outstanding group of girls in the youth program. I had them over for a planing session. I've had a hard time connecting with them and I have been blaming having to meet over Zoom for the last year, and that is likely partly to blame. But during the meeting I felt like it was easier to talk and laugh and tell them stories from my wild teenage years. I connected. I was really glad. It's worth giving this stuff up to get soemthing better in return.
Also... my MS was very angry with me for yesterday. Smirk. I was falling asleep everywhere, but I made it through. That's a victory.
Day 4--April 8, 2021
I grabbed my phone when I woke up, but mostly because I saw a text message. I didn't scroll to see the social media icons because for once I remembered I was still on a break. It's not breaking the habit, but at least I'm remembering reality. Smirk.
For weeks I have been trying to get back into regular scripture study. Easter was a great chance to fire that up. I love the four gospels in the New Testament and I really enjoyed sharing that last week of Christ's life through videos and words with my family. Today, I picked up my scriptures and ate my oatmeal while I read. In the recent past, I got into watching a show (or two) while I ate breakfast. This feels like a better habit to get going.
Also, writing is getting easier. Being alone with my thoughts is less bleak, and instead, I hear the characters talking again. Scenes are being written, the story is unfolding, it's better. It's not great yet, but it's better.
Debris feels like the right analogy for what I'm clearing out. It feels like every time I get the junk out, I turn around and find five more little chunks of bits from it all. I have habits to undo and it's not easy, but it's surprising me how much interference I'm still clearing out. It's kinda like driivng with a dirty windsheild. Sure, you can see fine. It's dusty, there are some bugs, but it's not bad. Every now and then you take some swipes with that dirty communal windshield wiper squeegee from the gas station and figure it's good enough. But then one day you actually take window cleaner out and clean the outside AND the inside and WHAM! You can actually see. That's what it's starting to feel like.
I'm starting to actually be able to see and feel way better.
Day 5--April 9, 2021
It's official. I stopped picking up my phone when I wake up. That feels like a real victory. But as in life, while there are victories... there are failures. Maybe not failures. But hard truths in this case.
Today, I reached burn out. I've been going and going, becoming so productive every single day... and today... guys, I'm tired. I'm really tired. While vegging and relaxing while scrolling social media or watching tv may not have been good for me... resting was good for me. It's as though some times I forget about my roomate MS, until MS makes me remember. Go, go, go gets a lot done, but it also makes my body give out after about four days.
I read a book today. A whole book. Spider Heist by Jason Kasper. I really loved it. I took a nap after because I couldn't keep my eyes open.
Today, I learned moderation. Being productive is great. But there's a place for resting and recharging too.
Day 6 April 10, 2021
We worked on the fire pit dig out today. What does that mean? It means digging five inched into REALLY hard clay. Thankfully the tractor did most of the work, but then I was in there with the rototiller breaking it up and smoothing the ground out so we can level it.
I'd love to curl up on the couch and scroll mindlessly, but instead I worked on my latest book until Imposter Syndrome took over. Writing is hard, guys.
I super need a nap.
Day 7, April 11, 2021
I had a long night being a mom and a wife and taking care of folks, so today I'm a walking zombie.
I also realized that the Amazon Ad School challenge starts tomorrow... on facebook. I signed up weeks ago and totally spaced these would overlap. I decided that I will only do what I need to do for the class. No scrolling. No checking notifications. Bare minimum.
This actually feels harder. Everything will be right there, and I can't look.
3 more days.
I hate that this is hard. So much of my life happens online these days though. It's weird not talking with people or seeing their pictures.
I really need a nap today. 4 hours of sleep is not cutting it.
Day 8 April 12, 2021
I did it. I folded laundry without a show.
That was not easy, and I did not like it.
Not giving that habit up any time soon.
Day 9— April 13, 2021
I haven't done any of my homework for ad school. On one side, I've been worried I won't have the self-control to not scroll a bit through social media. I'm a stickler for staying with the rules on these worts of challenges. I like to tell myself that I'm the one in control. But meanwhile, I'm probably behind. But since it's my second time through the program, I think it's fine. I'll play catch up on Thursday.
The other reason I didn't do any ad school today— KDP just announced Kindle Vella. I'm really excited about it. It's writing, but in episodes. I"m not sure I can do it justice, definitely google it. It's not open to readers yet, I think they'd like to stack the deck with authors and books before they invite anyone else to the party. I've had a great time putting together some pieces I've worked on in the past but never finished and even one that I wrote for a SteamPunk fairy tale anthology that was denied when she said she loved it, but it didn't fit the theme of the other stories they took. I've been sitting on that one for awhile trying to figure out what to do with it. With Kindle Vellas, it has a home. But, if you're looking for it under my name, you won't find it. Check out (in three months lol) E. L. Davis, my pen name for science fiction and dystopian writing. But you will find a Vella under my name. This one is called, "When Lightning Strikes". I wrote the first 500 words for an anthology competition, but again, it didn't fit the theme. It was the super super sweet, only holding hands kind of romance. And while mine is certainly not over the top romance, there is passion in my clean romance. I decided to finish that one for Vellas.
That's where my day went. I don't think I had a spare second to think about social media (except to wonder what all the other authors think about Vellas) and watching Tv. And since I was so focused and not distracted, I got quite a bit done. It's been a nice, cleansing project.
Day 10 — April 14, 2021
Last day folks. I'll admit, there was a moment today when I said, I want to relax and veg out and no one would ever know that I was cheatingon my challenge. But then I watched a writing seminar instead. Definitely more productive.
It's been an interesting 10 days. I've learned that I use distraction to cope with my anxiety, but ironically, it makes my anxiety worse because I'm not dealing with it— I'm masking it. I also get really mad at myself for wasting time that I could have done better things. This also hurts my mental health.
I do feel like I'm connecting to people better. I think I naturally pull back from people because of who I am and the peace and quiet I desire, but then at least when people are talking, I am listening. I'd like to keep that.
At first I thought, wow, look at all this free time I have... but then I just filled it. That's human nature. We're like gas in a space. If we have time, we will fill it.
This has helped me feel more centered and more in control. I do have to say that there were expereinces I might have missed if I hadn't been doing this challenge. I"m grateful for the inspiration that led me to do it.
Laundry gets to have a show. That's just coping because laundry is so so so so boring. And there is so so so so so much of it, I swear. It's like tribbles, multiplying in the air vents. Star Trek reference, sorry to all the young readers.
But I don't need the mindless scrolling, surfing, watching. I need to cope with life in healthy ways and face my problems head on instead of stuffing them under thelaundry I don't to fold. (Snicker). It's not easy, but most things worth doing aren't.
I don't know if anyone will ever read these ramblings, but I hope it inspires you to take inventory of your own life and find some balance. Our phones have an uncanny ability to take over our lives. I'm determined not to let that happen.
I hope you are too.