Sunday, October 7, 2018

Social Media Break Pt 3 + A Meditation Invitation

I didn't intend to interrupt the last of my internet hiatus recap with something so sad, but such is life. Thank you, thank you for your sweet words of comfort about our Ed - everyone has been very kind and understanding about our loss, and I'm so grateful for all of it.

Today I finally want to get to the point I've been trying to make for a couple weeks now (in Part 1 and Part 2), and that is - where do I go from here?

While I want to make some changes in my daily life, I don't necessarily want to completely overhaul the things that I do - including this blog. I like Enrychment. It's so ME. There's years of family updates and memories here, and a whole lot of fun and enjoyment. But I have this craving to dig into something a little different right now - something a bit more woo woo, spiritual, and self-care-ish. And that's where you come in.

You know that community survey I kept asking all of you to take for me? (Thank you for that, by the way, and the information is still helpful so you're welcome to take it if you haven't, yet. Prize is forthcoming!) Well I finally have the results for you.

Check it out:

+ When it comes to visiting Enrychment, you guys are tied at 38.5 % for visiting my URL directly, and reading post round ups via email.

Top 5 Favorite Post Topics
1. Fashion/Style and Home Decor/Decorating (tie)
2. Favorite Lists/Currently Surveys
3. Recipes
4. Health/Beauty & Kid-Related (tie)
5. Matilda Jane & Day In The Life Posts (tie)

+ When asked about the best things about my blog and one thing you would change, both topics mostly revolved around Matilda Jane. Almost all of you said you either visited to see how Matilda Jane fits or is styled, or to see my every day life, and a handful of you asked to see more MJ posts.

+ My most followed social media is Facebook, followed by Instagram.

+ 28.6% of you that responded know me "in real life", and the other 71.4% of you do not. Funnily enough, those were the EXACT same percentages for the question of whether or not you are a blogger yourself (28.6% of you are, 71.4% of you are not).

+ Most of you found me by googling Matilda Jane! Not surprised ;) Type in Matilda Jane and then the name of any women's item from the past 3 years, click on Images, and you'll see me ;)

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That was super fun to see and helped me focus a bit on what exactly you come back for.

And because of that, I realized that getting a little extra woo-woo is proooobably not going to fly with you guys. I know that some of you are interested in things like yoga, meditation, crystals, and manifestation. But as the survey shows, most of you are not. It didn't even break the top 5 topics.

And in an effort to not scare you off, I've decided to take this little woo woo project of mine "off site". But not without inviting you to it first!

Meditation Exploration

Basically - I'm about to embark on a self-imposed challenge to meditate every single day for a year.

A YEAR, ya'll.

And because I have one of the busiest brains around, I'm in hot pursuit of the type of meditation that works best for me. Did you know that there are at least 36 known types out there? I just learned that recently myself. They share similarities, but they all have different aspects that suit all personalities and individual needs. They originate from vastly different types of cultures from all over the world, which I think is super cool. They can be so different and yet so similar.

If you don't want to do the meditation with me, that's cool. I'm happy to just have you follow along on my journey, and maybe hearing my thoughts on all the types will be enough to inspire you. Even if you don't have a desire to meditate and you're just curious - come along!

It's being hosted on a little side blog that I used as a spiritual journal. And for now, it annoyingly has the "blogspot" in the address because I'm not ready to invest in the cost of dropping that.

Go HERE to read my introduction, HERE to see what the deal is in FAQ style, or HERE to sign up for the challenge newsletter.

I hope to see you there!

And as for Enrychment? It'll still exist as is, though likely with less frequent posting until I get my footing back. My October Jane Parade is still coming - I'm waiting on back ordered pieces that STILL have not arrived!! (Gir!)

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Tuesday, October 2, 2018

One week without Edward.

Last week, in the middle of our grief, I tried to write out the full story of how we lost one of our beloved family members. I got overwhelmed with the details and the way things unfolded, and while writing it out helped me process, it turned into an overwhelming post that I didn't think anyone would want to read.

So simply said, we lost our Edward last week. And as of this writing, it's been exactly one week since he left us. This morning is rainy and dark the same way that morning was - a setting that lends itself to hurting and crying.

And some might say that it's ridiculous to mourn a cat the way we are, but he was family...a fixture in the group that made us "us".

He was one of us, and now he's not. We lost one of our rank.

The short story is that he got sick. He started showing symptoms in July, and we tried everything to find the root of his problem, only to get results that all said everything was fine. The vet declared it neurological (narrowing it down to a stroke or a brain tumor), and we watched him decline for weeks and months. We said goodbye to him as a family - we cried over his failing body and showered him with love.

A steroid shot (as a last resort) gave us one night with our Edward. The Eddie Busaghetti we knew and loved. For the first time since the summer had started, he asked us for help coming up on our bed (by tapping a paw on the side of our mattress), and he snuggled in for a night like nothing had changed. We were joyful. We had hope. But more than anything we had gratitude to share an evening with the kitten that helped us make this house our home - that grew into the cat who acted like he was just one of the brothers.

The shot wore off over two weeks, and on his final days he started to loose the ability to walk. Soon that deteriorated even further - into stillness. He was breathing, and he'd shift his eyes to look at us, and we could feel him try to purr. But he was otherwise stuck in his body...eerily still wherever we laid him to try and make him comfortable. We knew his time was coming to an end.

On his final night with us, our other cat (and oldest pet), Odin, jumped onto the recliner where Edward was resting to cuddle with him. Soon it evolved into grooming, which to us looked like Odin was helping and saying goodbye in the only way he knew how. I grabbed my camera and snapped as many pictures as I could while tears streamed down my face. I took a video so I could cherish the love and heartbreak of watching loss happen - you can hear my depressed sniffles in the background.

The next morning, things were much the same. Edward wasn't moving, his limbs and tail were strangely still. I called the vet. Despite being full of appointments they asked us to rush him in. I called Matt, who'd already left for work, but Jake was still sleeping at home and I didn't want him to see whatever was going to happen.

While Matt was on his way, I knew the 15 minutes I had to say goodbye had arrived.

I pet his silky fur and told him I loved him. I thanked him for loving us, for being in our family, for tolerating three busy boys, for spending his evenings cuddled up with me, for helping to fill our home with love. I said sorry over and over again. I told him how sorry I was for how he suffered and hurt. I told him how sorry I was that he'd only gotten 8 years. And then I told him that I wouldn't be selfish and try to keep him with us anymore. I could see he was trapped in a body he'd outgrown, and he needed to be freed. I told him it was okay to let go, and that I would always love him.

While I was talking to him, he slowly turned his eyes towards me and gave me this intense gaze that I can't really describe. There was something in his eyes just then, like everything he ever wanted to say to me was waiting there. I can't articulate it, and yet I somehow know all the things he was trying to say. The way his green eyes bore into mine in that moment is seared into my brain, and onto my heart. I think about it all the time. I think about it and I hurt as much as I love.

i took this 10, maybe 15 mins before his seizure.

Matt arrived, and I helped him lower Edward into the cat carrier. I knew it was the last time I'd ever see him...I knew it, and I hated it, and my heart started its long break. I reached in for one last desperate pet, and then Matt walked out of the house with him. I said, "Goodbye Eddie," towards the door before I fell over the spot where he was laying to cry some more. It was still warm. I knew it was the last time I'd feel his energy.

I obsessively checked my phone for news from Matt for the next 45 minutes. He normally sent me updates of all kinds while he was there - decisions to be made, what the vet thought. There was just silence.

He walked in the door a little while later, and when he saw me he just shook his head. We fell into each other and cried. He told me that Ed had a seizure on the way to the vet, and he was already gone by the time they got to him. Which sounds awful - like he could have hung on just a few minutes longer. The vet is very close. But I know that wasn't meant to be. Edward was ready. And he did it in the classiest way possible. He took the hard decision off Matt's shoulders, and he waited until he was away from the kids. Small consolations, but they were blessings I know he intended to give us. We always joked with him, "Why are you all dressed up, Ed? Going to a fancy party?" because of his tuxedo coat. We should have known he'd carry that class with him until the very last moment.

Telling the kids was awful. They were at school when it happened and they came home to one less family member. They knew it was coming, but it didn't make it hurt any less. Henry was a wreck - he and Edward had been particularly close. His reaction was more intense and a little different than I expected. He was in denial for some time, and I held him while he sobbed for nearly an hour. The hardest part of it all was watching his heart break.

I was kind of a disaster for two full days. The weather was with me - dark, dreary, sobbing. There were still groceries to buy and school pickups to do, so I had to reapply my make up 3 or 4 times a day. My head throbbed with the stress of constantly crying. My heart ached. My nose was always sniffling.

On the third day, I had yoga. We started class with a practice about hurting and compassion, and I silently sobbed all over my yoga mat. Tears filled my eyes again during savasana. After class, I helped gather up candles and I walked out with my instructor (that I adore), and we talked about the whole thing. She hurt with me. She reveled in the beauty of the situation - how we had a final night with the real Ed, how we had time to say goodbye, how our other cat loved him in his beautiful way, how he left us with class. She told me how she thought cats were our guardians against negative spirits, and I told her of a myth I once heard of that believes a pet or a beloved object will sacrifice themselves to save the people who love them from something worse. I thought about those things on my drive home, and I cried some more. I thanked Edward for whatever he may have bravely took on for us (and he was such a classy hero that I know he would have).

And by the time I made it home, I finally felt a little different. I walked into the house to see my kids in their pj's, snuggled in their beds, and their Dad was reading them a book. It hurt my heart to not see Edward curled up on the floor of their bedroom (where he normally would have been), but I felt gratitude and warmth for that moment anyway. What if the reason he wasn't there is because he made it so that all of us could be?

His remains came home on Saturday. I don't know that in all of my long history with pets that I've ever chosen to keep their remains, but something about Edward said that we should. Matt had him cremated and purchased a container with his name on it. We haven't decided exactly what we'll do with it, but for now, he sits on a high shelf, just a couple feet from the place where he last laid, overlooking all of us. And I can't explain why, since it's not really him anymore, but it feels better knowing he's home.

This has been the most beautiful heartbreak I've ever experienced. Which is such a strange thing to say, but it's also very Edward. I hate that it's been a week since he left us. I hate that it's only going to get longer and longer. I hate tearing up every time I see the picture of him that Henry printed out and taped next to his bed the night Edward died. I hate seeing something black with a speck of white out of the corner of my eye and thinking it's Ed. I hate how empty saying his name feels now. I hate that he had to leave us to feel free in his body again.

We miss him. With our whole hearts. Every single day.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

What Happens When You Take A Social Media Break (Pt 2)

It turns out, I have so much to say on the topic of my social media hiatus that I couldn't wait another day to continue sharing my thoughts! Yesterday's post was largely about the social impact my break had on me, and today I want to specifically discuss social media and technology. What was it like being off the grid and in the dark for 15 days? Did I have bad FOMO? Did I loose friends or followers or customers? Was life better or worse without the influence of social media?

Welllll, let me attempt to cover it, but be warned - there's a lot to unpack here.

You might be surprised to hear that quitting social media cold turkey was easier than you would assume it is. It was a little painful, messing up the order of apps on my phone and dumping them into a folder with a stern instruction for a title. And on the first day - groggy and busy and somewhat overwhelmed, I caught myself looking for my apps to get a little hit of brain numbing oblivion. But truthfully - it only took a single day for my fingers to not automatically reach for my time sucking apps.

How it went when I took a 2 week social media hiatus despite running an online business (spoiler alert: the world did not implode) |

I'm not sure why that was so easy, but perhaps it was the calm of knowing that "checking in on things" (which is what I tended to call my indulgent social media usage) wasn't an option. There was no chance I'd stumble on something controversial or annoying or disheartening because I wasn't going to be looking at any of it. Peace, calm, restful.

Breaking the trance made me realize that I didn't want to risk seeing something that would give me that unnecessary adrenaline rush in the pit of my stomach when I scrolled past something with an attitude.

It was so restful to not be prompted to "check in on things" over and over again, all day long.

Which made me wonder: why do we zoom right to all those notifications and dings on our phones?

Because we want to be easily accessible, right? If we are, then we can be quick to answer a question, quick to jump in and help, quick to snatch up a sale or the best available option of any given thing or situation. We live in an Amazon Prime, instant gratification world. We are the best at what we do if we can offer that service to others...even though acting impulsively and instantly isn't necessarily a healthy way to operate.

And what does it award us with? Well if we are fast, perhaps the first, to answer the questions and take the position and nab the deal, then we can make the friend, make the sale, make the purchase that gives us a little social or emotional boost. We think that because we manipulate how we answer, we are in control of it all. We get to choose what to say, who to answer, when we answer, what tone we use when we answer, what punctuation, what emoji, what platform to use. But this is a lie we tell ourselves to make it all seem productive and worthwhile.

In reality, the fact that these apps and platforms can reach us with their dings and drop downs and bright red numbers means that we're not in control at all.

Take an iphone break!

They strike us with little bits of dopamine that make us feel like we're part of something bigger and we've got our crap together. They know how to make us feel liked and in demand. And by doing so, they bring us into their hypnotic world so they can cash in on their advertisers' money. We swim in the soup of simulated socialization and believe we're winning at life because we delivered an instant witty or intelligent response. We won the friend, the sale, the shirt, the approval of a wide audience. And despite our disillusions that we are in control of it all, these platforms are altering the trajectory of our lives.

Since I'm a rebel, realizing this made my skin crawl. I didn't like seeing how controlled I really was. I think we can all easily say that we spend too much time on our phones, but it's also easy to say that we have it under control since we get to make micro-decisions about how we use it. But what about that anxious feeling you get when a notification shows up? What about that need to see who is contacting you and to clear that little number off your app?

Did you know that research shows that even having your phone in the same room as you while you're working decreases your productivity? I'm sorry that I don't have a source here to back that up but I heard it on a podcast. Knowing that a number of apps can tap us on the shoulder with delicious information or opportunity at any moment means that our focus is never completely on the task at hand. This was the most immediate realization I had on my hiatus. My mind wasn't any calmer (it was maybe more busy), but it was able to see its way around things more efficiently and to make more clear observations. You aren't truly controlling when you're checking social media unless social media isn't calling your name. If it's sending out a call that you're immediately answering, who is in charge?

About 3 days into my hiatus I knew that I would not be turning my notifications and badges back on when it was over. There was no way I was going to be nudged, poked, dinged, pinged and prodded over and over again. You'd be surprised how peaceful it is when you make it stop. So that's the first major change I've decided to make now that I'm back.

I also realized what value (or lack thereof) Facebook has to offer me. I'd become numb to how annoying the algorithms and groups and advertisements are. It's just where everyone hangs out, right? So you roll with it. You deal with whatever it gives you and you learn how to get along with it. You wade through the garbage posts and the sponsored crap for those spaced out hits of news from actual friends.

I realized towards the end of my break that I'd missed hearing about a death in a close friend's family and I felt awful about it. I texted her privately and thankfully we were able to have a meaningful and still timely exchange, but it was a lesson in knowing that I needed to overhaul the way I use Facebook. I want to see those things and use Facebook as a tool to be a be a good friend, and I don't want the ads to deter me.

Upon my return yesterday, I went into my settings to narrow down my timeline to my nearest and dearest. I did leave a few people beyond my inner circle (mostly related to the kid's school or Matilda Jane), but I tried to be wildly ruthless. Not because I didn't want to hear anything specific from anyone in particular, but because I needed the information available to me every time I visit Facebook to be narrowed down to the nitty gritty of importance. We can only spread ourselves so thin.

We only have so much space in our lives, and yet we tax our poor minds with the details and drama and opinions of every last person we've met. It's not that I'm not interested in people's lives - I am. I'm rabidly curious about people. But I realized that exposing my eyes to the lives of that many of them was zapping my will power, using up my energy for true socializing (which gets used up quickly for us introverts), and overwhelming me with details that I didn't really need to know. It's really hard to unfollow someone that you like or find kind or funny....and equally difficult to realize that you're going to be out of the loop about a lot of things. But I felt like if I expected my time spent on social media to mean something, I had to take some drastic measures. I no longer wanted my time spent on these sites and apps to be a method of numbing myself from my own every day life.

Before I go any further, check out how easy this is to do.

How to edit your Facebook timeline down to just your ride or die |

On your main timeline screen (on a computer, not on the app), click on the 3 little dots next to "News Feed" on the left-hand side. A little drop down menu appears - select "Edit Preferences".

Narrow your FB timeline down to your innner circle and change the way you use it forever! |

This screen then comes up - use these two features I circled to completely customize your timeline. Unfollow as many people as you can bring yourself to (knowing that they won't know you did, and that you can always follow them back later if you change your mind), and then prioritize your ride or die so that you know you're getting their info first without having to wade through a pile of garbage to get there.

Isn't that interesting? That this process is SO simple and completely changes the feel and usage of the entire thing? The same is true for the apps on our phone. We just let default settings be what they are, giving them permission to control us the way they are designed to. A few quick trips to the settings screen and the whole experience changes.

(BTW, I'm doing the same on my's just more time consuming because there's no batch way of doing this.)

Some other things I learned during my break were a few specifics about which apps contribute to our daily lives, and which ones make it worse (or alter our moods in a negative way). This seems like it should be common sense, but considering this was researched and stated in a clear cut way, it somehow makes the information easier to pay attention to. That said, the apps that cause the most unhappiness are: social media, dating apps, and games. The apps that either have no effect or can contribute to happiness are: weather apps, navigation apps, music apps, book and podcast apps, and fitness or meditation apps. Additionally, we spend 45 mins - 1 hour per day on each social media app that we use regularly. If that time is dropped to about 10 minutes per day per app, our mood is relatively unaltered by its usage.

(Most of this information, as well as some information I shared earlier in this post came from the podcast Stuff To Blow Your Mind - episodes 1 and 2 of The Great Eyeball War.)

I also heard that social media users that post a lot more than they scroll are happier app users. (This also came from a podcast but I don't remember which one.) So it seems like if we pre-plan our posts, maybe latergram more than anything else, and then not zone out to the oodles of excess information, using social media is likely less harmful to our daily well being.

So I've also decided to only use social media for a specific purpose. Some examples might be....when I have a question that I know I'll find the answer to on a specific platform, when I have something to share for Matilda Jane or my blog, when I need to talk to someone specific, when I need to look up something about an event, when I'm looking for a recipe, when I have a reason to crowd source for an issue, and things of that nature. The key is to not sit and scroll.

What You Learn On a Social Media Detox

Yet....I also don't want to be a one-sided user. I don't want to declare that I'm only ever going to put things out there and then never be available to chime in on a recommendation, or to wish someone a happy birthday. So in order to contribute to the community aspect of Facebook and Instagram, I need to have guidelines for being able to scroll within reason.

I'm still not settled on what that will be, but for now I think I've decided on when not to use these apps: first thing in the morning, and once we're settled in our room at night. I think that one of the most unhealthy things in social media usage is to start your day with comparison and negativity, and the same can be said for the time when you're meant to be winding down to rest. I also want the evening time between when my kids go to sleep and when I do to be focused on my husband, self-care, and reading - so this is a way to help insure that.

I've also decided that I will set a window of time for when I respond to things for Matilda Jane or my blog. I'd usually check in over and over again to make sure I'm not missing anything, but now I think I'll keep "office hours", in a way, so that whatever questions or needs arise within the past 24 hours will get dealt with during that time. This is one of the hard things about running a business that's largely online and in your own home - there's no separation. I never even tried to create any because being available at all times increases the chances of success, right? But it drove me crazy and left me feeling like I was always being used for every last whim. That's how we feel as moms with our kids, right? Every request for a snack, every complaint about homework, every "I'm bored". We're already constantly on call for the needs of others - why was I allowing myself to do that outside of my family?

So while I have these guidelines and I haven't really come up with any hard and fast rules about when I AM allowed to use social media, I think that when I decide to pick it up, I will first set a timer for a short amount of time so that I'm prompted to get off before things get ridiculous. As a rebel, I likely won't immediately listen to the timer, but it will kick off feelings of guilt that will get me to put it down shortly after.

At the very least, I view it all very differently now, and my habits have dramatically changed for the better! In yesterday's post, I mentioned that I had a big decision to make that I would announce next time. Wellll I didn't expect to be back so quickly, so really I'll talk about it next-next-time. ;) I'm still mulling the options over, and I'd love any feedback you can offer me on my blog survey to help me make this decision!

Until next time, friends.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

What Happens When You Take A Social Media Break (Pt 1)

Hey, there. My hiatus is up.

And I have so many thoughts.

If you're wondering if 2 weeks without social media and blogs makes your head clearer - it doesn't. Not if you're like me, anyway. It removed some of the most unnecessary noise, for sure, but all that did was make room for my brain to shout more loudly.

I found myself mentally exhausted every single day. There's so much to process when you're not numbing your brain with delicious, cozy, effortless social media.

My daily tasks were completed more efficiently, and I was taking in a lot less negative influence. I also felt a lot less guilt because I didn't have to navigate around doing things I was asked to do. (I don't have a problem saying no, but that doesn't mean I don't feel bad when I do.) But no one was asking me much of anything over these two weeks. That was nice.

My thoughts would get poured into novel-length emails to a friend before the sun rose every morning. I'd made a habit of grabbing a giant mug of black coffee and sitting in my dimly lit office, illuminated only by my computer screen and a string of twinkle lights, and I'd tell her all my thoughts, recaps of my wild dreams, my struggles, my plans for the day, and how I felt about this interesting experience. She'd decided to join me on my unplugged journey, which was wonderful and amazing and I'm so grateful she did that. She did it for herself, naturally, but feeling like you're walking a different path with a friend along for the ride turns it into an adventure.

Those early morning emails became our journals. It was a daily processing of information that filled the void of blogging and of digesting what everyone else was doing. It helped us look inward while still being part of a community. A community of 2, but it was all we needed for this quiet, personal work.

Guys, I have so much to report. I don't even know how to organize it all or how to share it. I'm up to my eyeballs in worldly, social observations.

The first, I guess, is to share that taking this break garnered a very interesting reaction. If I didn't have my Matilda Jane business to run, I don't think I ever would have mentioned that I was taking a break. I just would have taken it. I plastered my plan everywhere, though, so that my customers would understand I was taking a proactive mental health break and not just being a crappy trunk keeper. I didn't want them to be disappointed, or held up waiting on anything, and so I shared my plan.

Doing this, however, sparked a lot of interest. I had people email me and text me on the day of my announcement to ask me if everything was okay. While this was sweet and touching and reminded me of the big hearts in the people I've collected as friends over the years, it also made me aware of a social behavior. When someone has grown up with the internet and spent a fair amount of time there, taking a break is just not normal. And if you do it, there must be something really wrong.

Maybe not everyone thought this....but many people did. Their concern spawned genuine conversations and I'm grateful for them. It was just not a reaction I was expecting. I didn't realize I'd be sending up any red flags...I just wanted to not be ruled by notifications from Facebook and dings from texts coming in at 1am.

I am not a flamboyantly dramatic person. I just had too much noise in my life.

I had a handful of people either tell me that I was brave, or that they're can't wait to take a break like mine. It's interesting how just a tiny deviation from what's normal can be seen as brave - but it is, because it's hard to do! It's hard to not pop over to Instagram when a random wonder crosses your awareness. It's hard not to click over when Facebook emails you and tells you that you have 98 notifications waiting for you. It's hard not to spontaneously text a friend when you stop at Home Goods with all your extra time and are disappointed by the lack of Rae Dunn there is to find. It's hard not to take an Instagram story of your kids being cute in the apple orchard for the year's first fall outing. I didn't even want to put my apps into the "don't touch it" folder because it was going to mess up the arrangement of my apps and I was actually going to have to look for things instead instinctively knowing where they were. Even that little change was daunting! It's hard to stop deeply ingrained impulses that we've been programming into our psyches for years and years.

And yet, it was all blissfully, beautifully quiet.

I have so much to say. So, so much to say. And I'm a bit torn on how to say it. I need to share my blog's community survey results with you so that you can understand my conflict. Some of you love to hear about this sort of thing, but most of you don't. You're here for the clothes and the impulsive Target one spot pieces that I sprinkle around my house. I love those things, too! I love that you love them and that you come here to see them. I just don't want to bore you to into a coma with the tales of my social-media-free adventure.

While I work out exactly how I'd like to share the rest of my story, I'll leave you with a list of things that stood out to me, made me happy, and really made this trial adventure something special.

  • Our sick cat has made a miraculous recovery. He is not healed, but he is wildly improved and no longer scaring the crap out of us. We had a tearful evening at the start of my hiatus that involved us saying goodbye to him as a family, and since then we've had 2 weeks of improvement and blessed extra time with him that is nothing short of a miracle. This situation also brought us all closer together, and helped Matt and I learn more about the true nature of our children. (I didn't think we could love them more, but we do!)

  • With my eyes not trained on my phone, I made a point to smile at more strangers. When faced with the decision to acknowledge people and not, I usually chose not to because I'm a private person and didn't want to invite any unnecessary socializing. (I know that sounds terrible, but as a textbook introvert, every interaction drains the battery a bit more. I need to save lots and lots of battery life for my kids.) I made the decision to acknowledge people instead so I handed out smiles like I never have before, and I had the privilege of watching some people with scowls or RBF transform their faces into a lustrous return grin. I felt it right in the heart chakra every time.

  • On the first day of my hiatus, I received a sweet email from a wonderful blog reader that I truly treasure! It even had a book recommendation in it (be still my bookish heart) that immediately made it onto my GoodReads list. It was unexpected, and kind, and sweet, and I adored it. You know who you are - thank you :)

  • I spent a full 3 hours writing in a Starbucks one day on my break, and for once, it wasn't for my blog! I got to write for fun, and to play with a story that had been floating around my head, and I loved every second of it. I loved the people watching, too, and I made friends with a sweet old man who needed help with his phone. When he left he said, "you have a great day now, and an even better one tomorrow." I adored his little catch phrase and the sincerity of it, and I will carry it with me always.

  • Maybe it was the fact that social media had actually left me enough social energy to interact with actual humans, but I gathered the social courage to make amends with someone that I felt mom shamed me recently. I found a time to talk to her privately, and not only was it a great conversation, but I've run into her a couple times since, and she's more friendly with me than ever before.

  • My daily emails with my friend who unplugged with me were my favorite. Though it was electronic, it felt like opening a handcrafted letter from the mail every day. There's more time and thought and consideration in an email than anywhere else on the internet (except for maybe blogs, but these are not single-person-focused the way an email is). They were like little gifts every day, and the most exciting thing in my inbox.

  • I got through SO many podcasts, and they felt cosmically aligned. One of the few apps I allowed myself during the break was the podcast app, but I only used it while doing mindless or daunting chores. The interesting thing was, most of the podcasts that played (and I was playing them in order, not picking and choosing) were centered around social media, technology, and mindfulness. It was like I was being given research and data to support what I was doing without even having to seek it out. I was so aware and connected during this time, too, that something would pop up, and the very next podcast would discuss it. For example, our oldest son is really struggling with homework. He whines and moans through it the entire time, and we've tried explaining to him that whining makes it harder and take longer. I put on my podcasts while I was making dinner that evening, and it was one by Stuff To Blow Your Mind about the science of whining! They even discussed a study where people tried to complete math problems while listening to one of six sounds, one being whining, and it was shown to slow people down the most and cause them to create the most errors. TWICE as many as people listening to the sound of a saw!! I had our son listen to that part of the podcast, and it helped! It was weird how aligned things were!

Now that I'm back, I have some major changes to implement. I'm going to work on that today while I prepare for the next Matilda Jane release and try to get my post-hiatus life in order. I'll be back with more this week, and in the mean time, if you haven't filled out my blog community survey, I'd love it if you did. The data is helping me make a big decision that I will share next time. Thank you!!

I've missed you!

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Monday, September 10, 2018

A Two-Week Hiatus.


The start of the school year has been a rough one for us.

Nothing terrible has happened (well, relatively...though our cat is very sick). It's just that, sliding into a new normal is tricky for me every year, and after being on a crusade to slow down and step back since our round with the flu this past February, I feel particularly icky about it.

I've already stepped down from some of my jobs, and I thought that just skimming something from the top would help me juggle what's left. Truthfully though, it hasn't been enough.

My real problem lies in constantly being available. My job with Matilda Jane requires me to be around pretty much 24/7, and while it's a harmless thing, I get asked questions at all times of the day, when I'm doing any number of things. I try to limit myself to how often I check in or how quickly I jump to tackle something, but there's no good separation from my job. It exists online, and in my house, and at all hours of the day (with releases happening at midnight and 3am) through devises that I'm turning to constantly - over and over again. And I want to be good to my customers - answering their questions quickly, sharing info as soon as I'm allowed, entering their orders and helping them with fit and styling. But at the cost of having no space that is uniquely mine.

My phone updated recently, and the new software makes my phone unable to hold a charge. I've been charging it anywhere from 5-7 times a day, and that has made me pay a lot of attention to why it's draining so quickly. (I mean, it's the phone's problem for sure, but if I wasn't using it, then it wouldn't have anything to drain.)

My 4th grader now has a violin to practice every night, and reading and math practice, spelling and math homework - his workload has officially become legit. I have to drive my preschooler back and fourth 3 days a week now (as opposed to 2 like last year), and while my 2nd grader has always been a bit ahead of the curve academically, I have to help him nightly, too, so he can hang onto that. We've been tackling home repairs and organizational projects constantly to try and get our home ready to sell. These project always take longer and cost more than expected. Matt's traveling again soon. And one of our cats had a stroke and has been given a grim prognosis.

In the mean time, I've lost the time to blog and read and create the way I'd like to - the way that makes me happy. Instead they feel like stressors to add to a sprawling adulty to do list. And while I try to wade my way through this, I so desperately want to shut out the noise from the outside world.

I know that I can't do this completely, so I'm only doing it for 2 weeks.

I won't be blogging, I won't be reading your blogs (not because I don't love you!), I won't be hanging out on social media, and I won't be chatting on messenger. I'll be deleting messenger on my phone, and moving all of my social media apps into a folder that won't get touched. (I'd delete them, but I don't know my passwords so I don't want that headache in 2 weeks lol.) I'll be turning off app badges and most notifications. I'll be doing even more yoga than normal, I'll be attempting to meditate every day, and I'll be turning to books and crafts in my down time.

Meanwhile, I will be checking my email once...maybe twice a day. Email is not demanding in the same way everything else is, and it has that hygge feel to it of slowing down to hand-craft something, like electronic snail mail. If you need me or you'd like to say hello, that's the place to do it. Jenn @ :)

Until September 25th!

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