Friday, May 16, 2014

Period of introspection.

For almost the past week I've been taking a break from Facebook. It's been refreshing in a surprising kind of way. Since I'm cut off from being able to distract myself by peeking in on other peoples lives via my news feed, I've had to do some very real work looking at myself and my life and my own beliefs and priorities.

Six months ago we moved to a new home, and in almost every way it was a very positive move for our family. We're now in a much safer and more family friendly neighborhood, the children are growing up surrounded by animals and gardens and nature instead of pavement and dead grass, and they can run and play and use their imaginations and roam outside and do all of the wonderful things that little boys can do, without being limited by the restrictions where we used to live. Today while talking with a friend, I suddenly realized that here we feel comfortable sleeping with the windows open after a hot day, while at our old place I couldn't sleep without checking that they were all locked. So it's been a very positive thing for our family. But we have been a one car family for the past five years, and moving farther out from town to a nice rural area meant that I lost the ability to just load up the kids into the stroller and walk down Main Street to do whatever we felt like doing.

I'm a Sagittarius. I'm a wanderer, I can't help it, it's just who I am. I get terribly restless and require changes of scenery to keep my brain and my body active. A great deal of the support system I'd built for myself, building up our new home and new life out here in California, was based on what I was able to walk to, so within a mile and a half or so from where we lived. Not only was I the fittest I've been in my adult life, with all the walking, but I had a steady stream of stuff to keep us busy. Play dates at the playground, story and craft groups and children's yoga at the library, iced coffee and conversation at my favorite coffee shop, cheap produce-of-the-day at the little corner grocery store. You get the idea, it wasn't anything super exciting or elaborate, but it was what I kept myself and the kids busy with every day.

But out here at our new place, I've been busy for the past couple of months throwing myself a giant pity party. It's very quiet and peaceful out here, and there are gorgeous walks around the neighborhood and horses and dogs to visit and lots of wildlife to see, but I've let myself get stir crazy out of regret for what I don't have anymore. I miss the things that I used to do, but it's gotten to the point where that has interfered with my ability to be peaceful and present right here and now. So a few days ago I decided that I've had enough, and I cut myself off. I posted a status saying that I was taking a break, it was nothing personal to do with anybody, just something I needed to do, and I signed off. I deleted my shortcuts and deleted it from my frequent pages list. And it's been good for me.

Over the past few days I've been realizing that I often use negative words such as "boring" or "slow" or "same old" to describe my life and the things I do, but that's not true at all. However, when I spend my free time scrolling through my Facebook feed and seeing posts about people traveling to interesting places, dining out at places that don't have a children's menu, or - to be perfectly honest - even just being able to load up in the car and go run errands without needing to wait for their significant other to get home, I can't help but start to compare what I'm doing with what they're doing. And it's not right, and not fair to myself or to my family and friends, so while I do miss seeing the updates about what my loved ones are doing, and all the beautiful photos of babies and special moments and loved ones, I realize that I truly needed this time to get myself in check.

This is MY journey, this is not anybody else's journey, and I can't compare myself to anyone else because this story is only our own. A year ago it was still a struggle to keep enough food in the house and we were still visiting the food pantry from time to time for some extra help, so to spend so much time feeling sorry for myself for not having a second car was unreasonable. We're finally in a position where, for the first time, all of The Man's income covers all of our expenses. We still have to be more tight in the grocery budget than I particularly care for, but we can feed ourselves without help. We don't have the fastest speed of internet available but we don't have to choose between paying the internet and paying the phones anymore. A couple of people I have great love and respect for have told me that I'm pushing too hard for something that's not ready to happen, and it's true. So even though on some level I truly believed that I needed to check in on Facebook every day to see all of the latest updates, I've discovered that life has gone on just fine without me knowing what's going on.

It's not permanent, but I'm not sure when I'll go back on and start reading my news feed and sharing posts again. There's not really a particular goal I'm striving for or any concrete way to measure the results of my Facebook hiatus, but I figure that as long as I'm content and able to distract myself out of the desire to sit and scroll through the latest posts, I'll just stick with it for another day. That's really where I am with it at this point, one day at a time. I'm remembering that my life isn't "boring" or "slow" or "same old" at all, and there are very important reasons why we've made the choices we've made along the way. Why we've decided that me being here with our kids right now is more important than having vacations or expensive dinners or new cars. And my wonderful husband has been here, while I've been in my funk feeling sorry for myself, pointing out that the things our kids have learned in their lives, they've learned from me. The way they are proud and confident, kind to animals and to other people, trusting, intelligent (and lots of questioning authority, does that sound like anyone you know?) And he's been reminding me that even though they haven't gotten to their playgroups or the playground for a few months now, they're still here with me and getting all of the care and love and nurturing in all of the ways that are very important to our family.

So this is me, retreating into my little bubble, focusing on my beautiful children and our home and my close circle of friends and family outside of Facebook. And our part of the state has been scorching with an intense and early start to wildfire season, so it's been tempting to go on there as an easy source for local news, but then at the same time I realize that my anxiety peaks during intense and scary situations where I keep on reading stories from other people who are freaked out. The hysteria builds easily, and just because it's over a social networking site doesn't make it any less of a crowd mentality situation. I've been getting my information about the fires directly from the Cal Fire website and sometimes going directly to the CBS website for news summaries, and keeping in touch by phone with local friends. My anxiety, after spending the past couple of months slowly building up as I spun around in frustration, is finally melting away and I'm finding my peaceful place again, so being aware of Facebook being a possible trigger for that is a huge deal for me.

This time has been helping me regain some much needed balance and grounding in my life. So while I am sending love to all of my friends and family, I'm still not quite in a place where I'm ready to get back into it, and I'm finding each day that I have plenty to do to keep myself very busy. This time has been good for me and it's been good for my kids, and at the end of the day, in my own life on my own journey, those are the things that matter the most.

Plus, I'm taking the time to work on my writing. Real writing, several different projects, and I'm feeling very fulfilled by that. And I had a great time organizing my Pinterest boards! You can't go wrong with productive writing sessions and Pinterest.

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