quitting facebook

Unsettled. And It’s a Good Thing

Please excuse this stream of consciousness – it’s the middle of the night and I am processing.

I am unsettled.

It’s 2:30 am and I am lying in bed in a hotel in Chicago. Having worked Tuesday night, I went home and slept two and a half hours, then hopped in my car and drove the long and boring five-hour drive from Louisville to Chicago. I was able to get to bed early in preparation for the conference tomorrow, but I woke up at 2am. My sleep is off, my brain won’t shut down, and my heart is unsettled. I am living another part of my dream – when we sold our house and moved to Louisville, I told my husband one of my dreams was to attend the Storyline conference again, this time from the perspective of a writer. So I signed up for the whole works – dinner with Don Miller, the full conference experience, and an extra day with a workshop on how to tell a better story.

Since the first time I attend this conference (almost two years ago), so much has changed. I’ve seen old dreams die, and new dreams come true. I started two blogs, I have started writing again, and we have moved across the country, far from our friends and family, and are slowly building a new community. In preparing my heart for this conference, I’ve been reflecting a lot on the past years, particularly since the last conference.

Before that conference nineteen months ago, there were seeds planted in my heart. The speakers I heard and the things I learned watered and nurtured those seeds and I saw them sprout and start to grow.  My dream of retiring and becoming part of a close neighborhood community was reborn into a dream of buying an old house in downtown Vancouver where people could come, gather around the table, or sit with a cup of coffee and talk about life in a safe place. That dream died, or at least changed. We left our family and friends and moved 2300 miles away. We now have the house and the table is waiting for guests, but we are tasked with bravely building a new community from scratch in a city where we knew no one. Those seeds were planted, and it has been amazing to see them grow and change.

This year, I feel I am getting ready to harvest some of those dreams. As with the last conference, seeds were planted long before I got here.

And as I am typing this, I feel the tension of a new dream being born. And that scares me, but it’s also thrilling. And scary. And even more scary.

I feel big changes coming. Haven’t I had enough big changes this year?

In getting my heart ready for this conference, I looked again at the “Creating a Life Plan” curriculum from Storyline. I love this exercise – I would like to take the whole world through it! After writing my positive and negative turns and plotting them on a timeline, the theme was so evident. Through childhood, restless youth, and  a broken and restored marriage. Through miscarriages and infertility, the loss and restoration of a prodigal son, and through the season of empty nest. As a wounded member of the church and the Church, and now with this move and huge life change – it is evident.

He rescues and restores us from a hopeless place.

That is so evident as the theme of my life in this season. And I know God is going to use our story, as he has in the past, to bring hope to those who feel hopeless. To bring light in the darkness of despair. To help those who are so blinded with the inconsistencies of what they see in the Christians who are so engaged in political and moral self-righteousness that they have forgotten the core of Christianity – Love one another – I want to help shine the light. And I know this is part of my story. But here I am. Unsettled again. Feeling the labor pains of a new dream being born.

The next part of Creating a Life Plan involved looking at the roles in your life, and defining them, then setting a goal or ambition for each role. This, along with identifying a theme of your life, is meant to help provide a focus and a filter. Aside from my role as a spiritual being, the five roles I identified were: Wife, Family member (broad, I know, but it includes mom, daughter, sister, daughter-in-law, and niece), Friend, Neighbor (includes my immediate physical neighborhood as well as work and extended family), and Creative (writer, etc). Narrowing these roles and identifying goals for each helped to confirm the message that has been poking at my heart.

I don’t remember when, but in the past year or so I read about the wife of a prominent worship leader and author who had been a popular Christian blogger and I believe a speaker as well. She had multitudes of followers on social media, but after some events in her life, decided to leave it all behind. She closed her popular blog and basically left social media to focus on her community. Not her community of followers, but her actual physical community – her family, her friends, her church. Something about this really appealed to me.

Then recently I was listening to author Shauna Niequist speak about something similar. She is a popular Christian author and speaker, but she felt that things had become unbalanced. She decided to reevaluate her time and energy, and to keep her family and her close community a priority, even if that meant disappointing her larger community (social media, and her agent). Basically she said – if I am not as loving and present with my people as I am on stage or with my social media community, what good is that? I am not explaining it clearly (thank you, sleep deprivation), but hearing her talk about her change in priorities only served to confirm what has been on my heart.

I want to love my people better.

And to do that, I am thinking I need to close my circle.

By that, I mean concentrating on my five roles, and my goals in each of those roles, and letting everything else go.

What will that look like? I don’t know, but I am getting some clues. I think it is going to mean a big change in social media. I love keeping in contact with friends, co-workers, and family from back home. But how much of my energy is going to maintaining a relationship with friends from high school or people I worked with ten years ago. I enjoy that, but in terms of a greater purpose, what does that mean. Not to mention the time I spend on social media. If I want to concentrate on my ‘small circle’ and really love them well, what will that mean? How will things change? Am I spending more time reading an ex-co-worker’s blog or being part of a Facebook group of 10,000 dreamers than I am loving my next door neighbor who had surgery yesterday, or practically loving my sons who are living in all corners or the world, or writing a card or letter to my brother on his anniversary, or finding time across the miles and time changes to talk to my best friend on the phone? Don’t misunderstand me – I’m not saying that my co-worker’s blog or Facebook group are not good things. But are they the BEST things at this time in my life? I do not want to sacrifice best things to good things.

With limited resources of time and energy, how can I best build and love my tribe, my people, my small circle?

And if I am looking to focus on my small circle, what does this mean for my dream to write?

I don’t know that answer. But I have a feeling I will get closer to the answer this weekend. Unsettled is a good thing.

 

 

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Somedays You Just Show Up: Or Why I Haven’t Been Writing

On October 1 I started a 31 day writing challenge. It was exhilarating. I had my most popular post ever. I was participating in a great blogging community, and learning new things about blogging and writing every day. I knew that I had some busy days coming up – traveling, going out of town, and I had already granted myself grace that I would not be able to write every day. Things got busy, and I was able to write one post in the middle of things. And then I hit a wall. I wasn’t only finding myself too busy to write, I was AVOIDING writing.

Today, I told my husband that I’ve been rebelling against myself. I know I need to start writing again, and the best way I know to sort through all of the thoughts swirling in my head is to write about it. My heart is in turmoil, life continues to happen, and rather than dealing with things, I am just letting them swirl in my head and heart, which does nothing to help. So here, in no particular order, are the things that are on my heart.

I’m showing up, and that is about the best I can do today.

1. I loved the writing challenge, but it was a lot of pressure. Especially because as I was writing about finding balance, challenging myself to write every day was actually pushing things out of balance because:

a) time on Facebook takes away from my quiet and contemplative time, and one of the things I had been looking forward to was getting off of Facebook for a while. However, one of the best parts of the challenge was connecting with others on the FB site, and publicizing my blog on FB

b) I started a series and didn’t want to finish it. I have one more part to the series, and then I can move on to what is really on my heart. My last part of “Finding Community” was about the importance of fun in friendship, and I was finding the whole thing boring, and not fun at all to write about.

b) I had my most viewed post ever. Going from about 20-50 views a day to over 600 in one day was encouraging, but then I started watching stats – which is something I did NOT want to do. I don’t want to have to analyze and over-edit every post. I don’t want to care about word counts. I don’t want to watch new views and visitors. I just want to write to myself and anyone who happens to decide to walk with me. (Like I said, I have an issue with balance – I’m a recovering all-or-nothing type of person.)

2. I was out of town having fun with friends at Disneyland, and then at a hospice and palliative care conference. Not excuses, just my truth. I did not want to take time out of having fun with my friends, or take time away from learning OR from the beautiful solitude and relaxation of Lake Chelan, where the conference was held.

Campbell Resort at Lake Chelan, Washington by Kristin Meador

Campbell Resort at Lake Chelan, Washington by Kristin Meador

3. I really wanted to watch Doctor Who and the season premiere of the Walking Dead. No apologies. So there.

4. There are some possible changes coming up in my life – and the changes could be major. (Jobs, homes, kids, finances – a lot of possibilities brewing)

5. I miss my kids. My oldest moved into his own home this fall, my youngest is 3,000 miles away, and my middle son is home but never here. It’s all good – they’re supposed to fly, right? But my nest is feeling big and empty. And my sweet young friend who lives with us is getting married in less than a month, and I am going to miss her desperately.

6. I spent this afternoon watching a funeral on live stream. A friend of the family died this week. She was 37 years old.  She had fought this amazing fight against a brain tumor for ten years. TEN YEARS. This was the kind of story I used to encourage others who were fighting cancer, and the kind of story that encouraged me as a hospice nurse. She had a positive attitude, researched alternative treatments, and loved and trusted Jesus all throughout this journey. This week her story changed, and she finished her race valiantly.

I think that the grief for her loss, for her husband and two young sons who are left behind, and for her brother and mama and papa who walked this path with her has hit me more than I anticipated. My heart is broken for all of them.

And I am reminded (which I know as a hospice nurse) that grief is cumulative. I wrote about this on my hospice blog, The H Word, in an essay called “Vicarious Trauma: When Your Heart Can’t Hold Any More Stories“.

I think about my own sister, who was killed in a car accident at the age of 19 almost 27 years ago. I think about the babies I lost years ago through miscarriage. I think about all of the patients I have lost over the past ten years. I have had three close friends diagnosed with cancer in three years. Grief upon grief, story upon story, they never leave you.

And sometimes the grief leaks out and takes me by surprise.

Photo credit: sethoscope creative commons

Photo credit: sethoscope creative commons

7. Another thing I am grieving is a broken relationship that needs mending. My heart is struggling between being healthy and forgiving and loving and setting boundaries versus feeling unsafe or allowing myself to continue to be victimized. What is the most loving thing? As I listened to the funeral today, one of the young woman’s friends spoke about the importance, even during the worst of times, of remaining “soft and obedient”. I don’t remember the exact words, but my prayer today is this:

How can I be a loving, soft, brave, and obedient warrior?

SQUIRREL! Are You Chasing Distractions?

On my search for balance in my life, I found that there are multiple areas out of balance, and it’s hard to know where to start. So I asked myself – WHAT IS ‘IN MY FACE’ THE MOST? What are those things in my life that are distracting me from the most important work I should be doing – finding balance?

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Just like the distractable dog, Dug, in the Disney-Pixar movie ‘UP’, I  often end up chasing squirrels.  Squirrels are distractions, or for me, anything that is moving or shiny, or seemingly more fun or interesting than the task at hand. (Or just not as boring.)  Please notice that I am not saying that I am just distracted by these things, I am actually chasing these distractions.

Let me explain: When I am distracted by something, it might look like this: I’m in the middle of a conversation and I get a phone call. I’m reading a book and the dog wants to go outside. I become distracted by those things.

The issue I am talking about is much bigger that just being distracted by something. I can deal with that in a matter of a few minutes. The real problems are the distractions that I’m chasing – that I purposely CHOOSE to run after. The squirrels that I’m chasing may be different from the ones you choose to chase. Those things that keep me from my goal for hours at a time.

Here are some questions that help me to determine the distractions in my life:

  1. What do I choose to do during my unproductive time, or my down time?
  2. What interrupts or prohibits me from starting important projects?
  3. What do I do when I want to avoid a chore or project?
  4. What do I do when I want to ‘escape’?
  5. What activities in my life might sometimes be described as a waste of time?

First let me say that just because you enjoy doing something on your ‘down time’, or as an escape, does not mean that it is necessarily a bad thing. But I know myself. In my first post about my search for balance, I wrote about my tendency for all-or-nothing. For instance, some people might enjoy reading a book to relax during their down time. However, my natural tendency is to read a book from cover to cover, and ignore anything else I should be doing. Sometimes the ‘good’ things we chase are distracting us from the BEST things.

So as I look at the questions above, it’s really not a mystery. I think each of us knows what distractions we chase that may be causing some imbalance in our lives. But I’m going to go ahead and answer each of these questions – maybe I’ll learn something new.

  1. What do I choose to do during my ‘unproductive’ time, or my ‘down time’?  Watch tv, binge watch something on Netflix, read or post to Facebook, eat, sleep, go to happy hour with friends, go on internet rabbit chases into the wee hours of the night (searching or researching something that lasts for hours but goes nowhere), go on a blog reading spree
  2. What interrupts or prohibits me from starting important projects? see above
  3. What do I do when I want to avoid a chore or project? see above
  4. What do I do when I want to ‘escape’? see above, plus plan a trip or go to Disneyland
  5. What activities in my life might sometimes be described as a waste of time? all of the above

Okay, so no surprises – I didn’t identify anything new. I know that each of these areas are distracting me from healthy balance in my life, and I also know that many of these are out of balance in and of themselves. All of these activities are acceptable, especially in moderation. I don’t do moderation. At least not yet.

In honor of my new search for balance, I’m stopping here. I would love to stay up for hours and dissect each distraction, looking at the positive and negative aspects of each, and what would balance look like in each of these areas. Black-and-white thinking: pros and cons, good and bad labels, all-or-nothing. I can’t tell you how difficult it is for me to go to bed without making a table and categorizing each distraction.

(And dammit. I just remembered that I wanted to write about coherent breathing first. I wrote about distractions, and now I’ll be accountable to do something about them.)  Ah well, each in it’s place. Good night for now.

Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony. Thomas Merton

My Search For Balance

Including TTFN Facebook – by Kristin Meador

photo credit: Creative Commons - Ozan Hatipoglu

photo credit: Creative Commons – Ozan Hatipoglu

It’s time to step back and take a break again. It may be my ADD, or my history, or my dysfunction, or just my personality style (likely a bit of all of these), but as much as I hate to admit it, I am often and all-or-nothing, black-and-white type of girl. All my life, the concept of balance and the discipline that balance requires has eluded me.

When I really started exercising, I could not start slow. I started running and loved it so much that I would jog every single day, and ended up injuring my knee to the point that I can no longer run.

If I read a book, I can’t just read a chapter a day. I read the whole thing over a weekend. If I love a tv show, I don’t just watch an episode at a time – I binge watch a whole season in one weekend.

If I clean my house, I can’t just straighten it. I have to CLEAN each nook and cranny, every drawer, every corner. (And I usually will do it clockwise.)

I am the same with the issues in my life that plague me – my unhealthy eating habits, my lack of exercise, my disjointed time management, my broken relationships. I either need a strict plan of action, or I fail miserably. All or nothing, black and white.

Sometimes this serves me well, When I am passionate about an issue, a project, or a relationship, I am ALL IN. But it’s also exhausting, And it prohibits any semblence of normalcy in most areas. I would rather be going on a 6000 mile road trip – or sleeping all day. Everything in the middle seems too hard. Or stressful. Or boring.

I’m 50 now. I think it’s time to grow up a litte and get some of this figured out once and for all. So my search for balance is going to include another break from Facebook, for one thing, A few weeks ago I deactivated my Facebook, and although I missed everyone’s coming and goings, there was a sense of peace and freedom that was very surprising. I will probably write a few more posts this week, and then if you want to follow me in this process, you will have to find me here at This Beautiful Holy Mess. So where to start? Find out here.

5 Reasons to Take a Break from Facebook

photo cred: SimonaR Pixabay

photo cred: SimonaR Pixabay

There are many things that I enjoy about Facebook. I like connecting with people that I haven’t seen for a while, or that I might not otherwise connect with. I like hearing about life events – marriages, new babies, graduations, vacations, new jobs. I like being about to pray for or otherwise help people who are going through a tough time – illness, loss of job, death in the family. However, sometimes the benefits outweigh the burdens, and that is the point I have come to today. This is something I have thought about for a long time, and I just decided today was the day.

Here are my reasons:

5. Too many friends. And I really don’t mean friends. I have too many ‘friends’ on Facebook that I would not stop to talk with in the grocery store. Do I really want to share my life with these people?  I accepted most of the requests I received, and now I feel badly taking them off of my friends list.

4.Too much politics. There is too much politics on FB – and it’s only going to get worse as election time draws near. I really dislike hearing from both extremes. Yes, I could just hide these people from my feed, but I love most of them and I want to see the other things they’re posting. And rather than talk to them in person and find out what is behind those beliefs, I just start to dislike seeing that and want them to go away. I am particularly hurt when people post things that mock my faith – that stings. And though I usually understand where they are coming from, and I may even agree, when people are disrespectful of something that I hold deeply, it is hurtful. And I don’t always know how to respond in a rational way.

3. Too much drama. I had heard people say that FB had too much drama, and I never understood what they meant. Until the past couple of years. I have seen grown people act like they are still in high school. I have seen family members shame each other. I have seen angry people post ugly, passive aggressive messages (or even outright aggressive messages) without a thought of how that will look to others, or how it will reflect on their kids. I have seen people manipulate posts to hurt others. And unfortunately, I have participated in each of the things I have mentioned. Maybe I am just not healthy enough to use social media at this time. I know I am not healthy enough right now.

2. Too much time. I spend too much time on FB. I tend to be a semi-addictive type personality anyway, and I don’t want to miss anything! First thing in the morning, and last thing before bed, I am checking Facebook. I have even started thinking in “status updates’. How sick is that? I learned on vacation that I needed to enjoy the moment  before rushing to snap an iphoto and post it on FB. But that is a hard habit to stop, especially for this ADD girl. So since I tend to be all or nothing at times, I think my best choice for right now is nothing. At least until I learn some balance.

1. Too much in my life. There is too much going on in my life, demanding my time and attention, and I want to weed out any unnecessary distractions. I read an  article about a blogger who had a huge following, speaking to large groups of women, a leader in her circle, who decided to just STOP. She decided one day to DECREASE her circle of influence, and focus on the most two important circles: her family (her kids were still young) and her friends. I am not a famous blogger nor do I have influence over a large group of people. However, I have watched as my circles have gotten bigger, but my relationships have not gotten deeper. In a few instances they have – I have some amazingly wonderful women friends, and I am very blessed. But how much richer might my life be if I were to spend some of the energy spent on uselessness – material things, television, FACEBOOK – and used that energy in my relationships for good, even great things?

So as of today, my personal Facebook page in inactivated. We’ll see how long that lasts . . .