I am laying on my back on my yoga mat with a knit blanket over my torso, writing these words after a restorative yoga practice this morning. And the message that came through to me today is: guided.
I can’t help but feel guided lately. Guided to trust. Guided to align. Guided to breathe. Guided to release. Guided to slow down. Guided to soften my worries. Guided to love.
Sometimes when unexpected things come up, it’s because we are being guided by divine love. At least, that’s how I choose to see it. Don’t make things more difficult than they need to be. Everything will be okay.
Today’s theme was floor. One thing I have noticed about myself is that my mind never stops. Living so much in my head jumping from thought to thought to thought can be exhausting.
One of the reasons I am on a break from Instagram, deactivated Facebook again, deleted my Twitter account a year and a half ago, and never bothered to make a Snapchat, is because I know myself, and I know what technology is capable of doing to the human mind. These mediums can be wonderful tools, but for me personally, there are consequences to using them. I have to be super mindful and super balanced with how I approach use. These platforms are purposefully designed to be addictive.
This look within has been good for me so far, but it also has brought up something: a longing for community and deeper connections. One of the main pillars of health of those who live long and healthy lives is having community.
In a way, I think this was the value, or perhaps perceived value, that social media gave/at times still gives me. It’s quick connection – a quick tap into communication at a distance. There are certainly upsides and downsides to that too.
I notice that the lines are easily blurred between feeling valued, connected, and validated by way of communicating with friends online and not really getting much out of those interactions at all. Much of it is superficial. Much of it is short and fast. And with a quick click, I liked your photo, and with a speedy scroll, on to the next message and the next and the next. Consume, consume, consume. And tack on all the never-ending messages of all the products and services we ‘need’ to be happy, to simplify, to be beautiful, to be better. Is this the way? Is this valuable? Is it helpful? Is it necessary?
So what happens if we peel that all away? Well, for me, that means I need to be with myself more, in that mind that never stops. And maybe that’s why I need to slow down and just exist without too many distractions more than ever.
I believe part of the reason why I turn to snacking or comfort eating when I am “bored” or “lonely” is because I am really hungry for connection in that moment, a meaningful conversation. I am also really hungry for grounding myself and living in the moment – not tomorrow, not yesterday, but right now.
Most of the time, I live in the future in my mind. And today’s yoga practice of connecting to the floor was surprisingly helpful.
Find community. Ground yourself. Love and live today.
Today’s yoga theme was flexibility. This got me thinking about how flexible I am (or not) when unexpected obstacles arise or when I’m in an environment with circumstances outside of my control. How flexible am I to adapt to unique situations or a blip in my own expectations?
For me, this yoga practice is quite emotionally and spiritually self-reflective. I am typically an impulsive person within certain aspects of my life, and I have always known that this is a weakness for me. As I reflect, and work on expanding my mind, taking more pauses, and not rushing through things, I am realizing that achieving more mental flexibility is not only possible for me – it’s necessary.
Pause. Wait. Breathe. Think it through. You will be okay. Expand.
Most often, letting go is simple but yet it’s quite difficult. Letting go of physical and emotional ties can be scary and bring up fear and doubt. We hold on to the familiar comfort of what we know (or think we know), because it is easier than breaking the routine and changing. But what’s on the other side of that?
Today’s yoga theme was trust. During my meditation, I reflected on how I trust my body, I trust myself, I trust God, and I trust the universe. I trust.
When in doubt, remember, you are never alone. Trust.
I took a leap (albeit a small one, but an important one), and decided to do 30 days of yoga this January 2018. Yoga with Adriene is hosting a free yoga journey called True, and I invite you to participate, if that speaks to you.
Today, January 2nd, was day one, and it was my first yoga practice in a long time. After moving and breathing for just 24 minutes, I can say two things definitively:
1. Hell yes.
2. Adriene’s style is refreshing and authentic. I really like her teaching approach, and I feel blessed to have found her channel.
As I was meditating on my intention, a theme emerged that will guide me in 2018: Love and Acceptance.
Today’s yoga theme was motive. For what seems like my whole existence, I have been too focused on the result or the expectation of the result, rather than nurturing the act itself. This could be big things like body image and physical performance or little things like brushing my teeth.
But presently, my motive or true desire to act is to embody love and acceptance for myself and others and spread that energy to anyone who needs it. (And I know a lot of us need it.)
For me, acceptance is twofold. It’s about accepting myself as I am and knowing that I am enough, and also accepting situations I cannot change.
I cannot control external circumstances or the actions of others, but I can look within more, breathe more and let go more, and within that, I can live more freely and peacefully.
There is nothing inherently wrong with social media websites, but for those of us who mindlessly allow our lives and minds to be sucked into a vortex of time-wasting, it might be beneficial to revisit our online behaviors and make positive changes. For me, that was Facebook.
I am currently on day 7 of a 30-day deactivation process of my personal account. If you are reading this article through my Sprout & Blossom Facebook page, my blog posts automatically post there when published. Trust me, I realize the irony of potentially reading a blog post about giving up Facebook that you saw posted on Facebook. Haha. I am still considering whether or not I will keep my Sprout & Blossom FB page. For now, it is fine.
There are many reasons why I chose to deactivate my personal Facebook account for 30 days, but here are a few of the things I have noticed about myself:
1. I felt overwhelmed by an ongoing stream of content/opinions/messages after using it.
2. Overall, I did not enjoy it, yet felt it difficult to just stay logged off.
3. It was a time-suck for me. I would end up passively reading the news feed during precious downtime when I could have been reading something to educate myself or participating in something more productive.
4. I have an abundance of watered down relationships with acquaintances. It is important to me to cultivate more meaningful relationships with my close family and friends. This means phone calls where I actually hear the person’s voice and learn more about them (not just passively see updates through a screen), taking walks, meeting for tea, and writing handwritten letters and cards (yes, snail mail. I miss the joy in that simple act of sending mail to others, and now I have more time for it).
In fact, I was so excited about getting back to handwritten cards and letters again, that I finally got myself a p.o. box. I can receive mail now in this beautiful antique p.o. box. Quite the little historical treasure.
Sidenote: Please feel free to send me snail mail. I will be starting a new *read mail with me* segment on my sprout & blossom youtube channel where I will read letters and cards and open packages while I talk about life. I would love to hear from you!
mary harris, p.o. box 635, ocean gate, nj 08740
The first few days were a little challenging, and the ‘fear of missing out’ (FOMO) makes a sneak appearance every now and then. But so far, I am much happier without my personal Facebook account. I have more time for reading, writing, and photography, and realize those are things I really enjoy. I’m ready to take on week #2.
How You Can Give It a Try:
If you face similar struggles with any type of social or digital media (it does not have to be Facebook; we all have our triggers), then here are my top suggestions for letting go or at least improving your quality of life:
1. Consider a reasonable time frame for staying offline. You can always go back.
2. Make a game out of the challenge. You can even document your experience.
3. Most people are afraid of missing out on something. The truth is, in life we always miss out on something. We cannot be everywhere all at once. We will never know everything that is going on everywhere with everyone (nor should we want to). We will miss things. But along with that, we can make more time for the more important things. This replaces the fear and anxiety.
4. Remember that in the grand scheme of things, Facebook is fairly new. It is just a website, but one with a lot of power; it has changed the ways we think, feel, and behave. It has changed our way of communicating in such a short period of time, for better and for worse. Remember back to your pre-social media days. How did you stay in touch with the ones you love? Now, more of that.
In closing, if this is something you have been contemplating, just go for it. You might be surpised what you learn about yourself.
Please comment and share: Have you ever struggled with using social media?
This is a blog topic that I have been researching, writing, and editing for weeks. I spoke to a variety of people on the subject of friendships, and there were a lot of mixed emotions shared. For now, what I can definitively say is that writing about friendships is a delicate subject.
If you are a loyal, sensitive, compassionate, and empathetic person, you will probably really relate to this post. I have found that living in my little part of the modern world where technology has transformed friendship management (and not always in a good way), it is sometimes a challenge to process thoughts regarding friends and acquaintances – and there’s a big difference between the two.
As the years have gone on, I have found it quite interesting how my life became less about how many friends I had accumulated but rather on the quality of the friendships that I had. I think this comes with maturity and also a self-awareness; I realize how I would like to spend the limited free time that I have and who I would like to spend it with.
Sometimes it is just best to get to the point where you accept that people are strange and even sometimes selfish and you don’t even attempt to figure them or their actions out anymore. Sometimes there are no good explanations for things. It’s a freeing realization to say the least. When you detach from expectations and things you cannot control, it helps to eliminate disappointment.
However, if you subscribe to the idea that we are all one, then compassion, acceptance, and peace can be combined with the latter approach.
Recently, I asked myself: “Who in your life elevates you and brings out your happiness and sense of humor?”
When I sat down and actually wrote this list out, it was shockingly short. I mean – shoooooorrrrrrt.
Once I realized how small my list was, (I mean – smaaaaaaallllll),
I realized that this was okay, and I shouldn’t place judgement on it.
When I got to thinking about each of those people I had written down on my notebook paper, I realized that they are all special in their own way. The one thing they did have in common, though, was that they all had a great sense of humor and a fun way of keeping things light and dealing with life’s challenges like champions.
The next thing I did was I wrote down all of the attributes that I appreciated about each person. This helped me to conceptualize what qualities I value in others.
I then thought about my actions and behaviors toward these people who supposedly make me so happy. I looked inward and asked myself: “What kind of a friend am I to them? Am I reciprocating their kindness, generosity and happiness? Or, am I wasting time on other relationships that may be cluttering my life and weighing me down?”
It was a little of both.
The Tale of Friendships Past
I know many people who have remained best friends with the people who they grew up with. I unfortunately did not develop close friendships at a young age. I was always nice to everyone, but I never really fit in with any particular group. I also spent a lot of time alone.
My Mom once told me a story of when I was in elementary school, and my class was outside at the playground. My Dad had come to pick me up from school and he was disheartened to see that I was sitting alone in the sand underneath a slide watching all of the other children playing together. I was not crying or upset, I just was sitting there, alone.
Sure I had friends that I spent time with here and there outside of school, but they were usually just people to pass the time with. They did not grow into lifelong friends.
In high school, that is when I started to develop a couple of closer connections but that was the extent of it. I was still nice to everyone, but I never fit into one cluster or clique. I kind of feel my teen years were more enriching because of that; I could see others as individuals rather than as labels or groupings. This is something that I have carried into adulthood.
I played on the high school soccer team, but I did not development any close friendships with any of my teammates; the same goes for student council, and French club, and band. It seemed that everyone else in these groups were getting to know each other outside of school. I typically served in leadership roles and was always willing to lend an ear to hear others. I did spend time with friends outside of school (moreso when I got my driver’s license), but overall, I was only truly myself around two friends who I met during the beginning of my freshman year of high school.
It was surprising to me when I was voted prom queen during my senior year before graduation. It was a fun experience, and I was grateful. I was surrounded by wonderful people and lots of friends, or at least people I was friendly with. However, there weren’t many people I was truly close with. I would talk to anyone and everyone and I respected everyone, but I was never part of a specific grouping, as is the case with most high school students.
Then came college and life-after college, marriage, and now at age 30 I have experienced a whole lot of happiness and even some very real disappointments when it came to friendships – even including the friends I held nearest to my heart. In retrospect, having those experiences (especially the hurtful ones) was character-building and enlightening for me.
I have never really felt like I “fit in” fully in any environment or with any group of people. As the years have passed, I have come to realize that this is okay and lots of others have felt the same in their own right. I have also grown to love time to myself for reading, writing, and reflection.
Through it all, I have basically taken away five truths:
1. Friendship is a two-way street. It is important for us to reflect on how our friends treat us, but also how we treat them. Do you reach out to your friends just to say hello, do you send cards, or happy texts? Or do you only reach out when you are having a personal problem?
2. Quality is better than quantity. It’s better to have two wonderful people in your life than 100 crappy ones.
3. Evolving and growing apart from past friendships is okay. It’s a normal part of life. And if you’re spiritual, like me, you might even believe in soul contracts where people were meant to pop into your life at a specific time for a deeper reason along your unfolding path. It’s okay if they are not meant to be there from start to finish, just as you might not be there for their full story.
4. Sometimes it’s the things that people don’t say or don’t do, that hurt the most.
5. Animals are the greatest friends. They are so innocent and loyal, they never judge, and they teach us unconditional love. They truly are gifts from God.
Sifting through the Clutter
So with the large population pool of possible people to get to know, how does one decide how to branch out and who to invite in? One thing I recommend is being mindful of the clutter and understanding the qualities that you value in friendships.
Using technology and social media to maintain relationships is okay, but it’s never a replacement for a phone call, a dinner, a game night, a road trip, or simply a face-to-face conversation filled with laughter.
I would also recommend working on being your most authentic, brightest self in all areas of your life, so you can attract like-minded people. Friendships are like gardens, you have to cultivate them, care for them with love, and see how they grow.