Today is the last day of the decade and I’ve been awake for hours thinking about EVERYTHING. Somewhere around 5:36 AM, I decided that I need a break – might seem ironic when I haven’t blogged since June – and that I better succumb to consciousness and get my thoughts down before I start my 21 Day Fast tomorrow. In rambling sleep-deprived order, here is what led me to this decision…
21 days of prayer and fasting
My church is doing 21 days of prayer and fasting. If I’m being honest, this hasn’t been my richest year of prayer. I was a Children’s Leader in Bible Study Fellowship until the end of April so for the first few months of the year, I felt close and connected to God and was in the Word every day. I also attended a Bible study on Wednesday mornings and felt filled. Then, my Dad died. You don’t really know how deep grief will affect your life until you go through it; I’m still going through it and seeing the effects play out. Just yesterday, I was struck by this:
This gave me such comfort, specifically about blogging. I enjoy it so much but just haven’t wanted to blog since April and I have felt like I’ve let people down because of it. Let myself down too. I missed doing my annual recap post, my Fall call to avoid fast fashion, November’s Closet Minimalism Game, December’s Dressember… I fell off the Project Thrift 365 posting wagon. Just pull yourself up by the bootstraps! Get back on that horse! Write something about fashion or life or cocktails or food! Life goes on!!! But my heart wasn’t it.
We interrupt your regular programming…
My trip to Canada when my Dad passed away disrupted regular programming. I missed a few weeks of BSF and finished the year behind and disconnected. Did I mention that my husband and youngest kids were in a collision while I was in Canada? They only had minor injuries but the vehicle was totaled and that meant that as soon as I returned, we had to shop for a new vehicle that we couldn’t afford and we are still waiting for compensation. I resigned from my job at the time then treaded water till the school year ended, grateful for the coming respite. Looming over May and June though was the necessary task of planning a memorial, writing a eulogy, dealing with executor duties. No one can prepare for these heavy tasks of adulthood. We went to Canada as a family in July for my Dad’s memorial and my sister’s wedding and it was wonderful and sad and draining and lovely to see our friends and family and the mountains and the prairies. During this time, I secured a new job which wasn’t exactly straightforward and would have been a sign if I had any capacity to see. We landed back home in Houston at 1pm on Monday and I reported for work at 9am the next day.
A new job isn’t always a good thing.
In retrospect, this was not good timing. I needed a stable job with defined responsibilities. Instead, I landed in an unstable environment which was invigorating in a sense. I learned new things and kept on my toes and rolled with the tide. I proved myself successful and I loved my new colleagues, talented amazing women whom I now call friends. BUT. I could not endure the underlying toxicity, especially when it was targetted at me. And so I concluded my contract before Christmas. This is relevant to the 21 Day Fast, I’ll explain later.
Just when you think things can’t get any worse.
Amidst the new job, the ongoing grief, I faced another challenge. My oldest son had a difficult transition to high school and my husband and I put all our energy outside of work into helping him be successful and protecting him while making sure we didn’t neglect our other children. The effort was worth it because, within 6 weeks, things turned around and were looking up. THEN the hammer dropped. On October 9th, we learned he had an “abnormality” in his spine that might be malignant. I can’t even write that without crying. Time stopped and blurred. Loss upon loss. Grief upon grief.
We did what most parents do, what most people do when blindsided by things that can happen but you never really think will happen: we rose to the challenge. There’s really no choice. I have shared some of this journey on Instagram and Facebook, shamelessly asking for prayers, grateful for every prayer and word of support uttered in our names. On December 1st we learned that his tumour is benign. To say I wept with relief does not adequately describe the flood of emotion. It was quite literally the best news of my life. My son is not out of the woods. He has an Aneurysmal Bone Cyst that requires treatments every 8 weeks and he has irreversible damage to one of his vertebra BUT we are praising God. We know prayer made a difference. I am humbled.
What comes next?
Medical expenses are still foreign to this Canadian and they were a major factor in sticking with my job as long as I did. But sometimes faith means stepping into the unknown and trusting that a solution will come. That’s where I’m dwelling right now and that has contributed to my decision to take a 21 Day Fast. You see, I’m pondering – AGAIN – what kind of job I should look for? Should I pursue another social media role? Should I amp up my blog again? Should I strive to become an Instagram influencer? Should I throw myself into reselling? Should I try to utilize my OT experience in some way? Should I work at the liquor store amongst my favourite spirits? Where does God want me?
For almost two years, I have been beholden to social media for work in one way or another and I’m simply tired of it. It was different when it was just a hobby. There’s a freedom that comes with doing something for the sheer enjoyment of it with no ulterior motive. Now, it seems almost everyone has a goal for their social media accounts and it takes supernatural strength to resist the temptation to compare and buy into the numbers game, even when it’s mostly hobby. I know social media marketing is a passion and/or necessity for many people and I respect that. Many people don’t have the luxury of taking a break. I, however, am in transition and I can.
The other issue besides using social media for work is the addictive nature of it. That’s where the fasting comes in. You see, I’m not addicted to much – in the sense that I can’t stop. I enjoy wine and cocktails but I can and have stopped drinking for weeks and months; no big deal. I like coffee and chocolate but can stop consuming them anytime, give or take a headache or two. I love thrifting but could stop if not for the therapy it affords me. But to stop using Twitter and Facebook and Instagram? I cannot remember fully disconnecting in my almost-8-years of blogging other than when we went paddling in the wild and had no service.
I know plenty of people that live perfectly fulfilling lives without sharing much of it on social media. In contrast, I’m weary of people sharing their acts of charity, bragging points, or other intimate details of their lives. I know, I know. I myself am an oversharer so I suppose it depends on your definition of intimate. Maybe the problem is that the current social media landscape has skewed the definition of intimate. I have learned about diet culture this year and have seriously considered unfollowing anyone who posts anything pro-diet culture. Repeat after me: WE HAVE BETTER THINGS TO TALK ABOUT THAN YOUR DIET AND WORKOUTS. Then there’s all. the. news. I am quite sensitive by nature so to constantly consume news about politics, the climate crisis, people’s issues, world affairs… it gets to me. It had me asking myself at 3:30 AM, “Then why do you do it?” My first response: to keep in touch. Might there be another way? Of course. I can send messages or emails or even phone people to keep in touch. My second response was for entertainment. There are many inspiring and funny posts out there that I enjoy immensely. But they don’t come without the flip side, the burden of the words and images I scroll through to find the gems. Anyway, there are lots of forms of entertainment that exist outside of social media – books, movies, TV, visiting with friends, games when I can force my family into playing.
21 day social media fast
For those who are not active on social media, 21 days might seem like no big deal but to me, it’s a first. During these 21 days, I will focus on prayer and I will fast from social media – from Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. I’m still around. You can text me or email me. I might even still blog if the mood strikes me, I just won’t tweet about it. You may jump ship and forget about the Spirited Thrifter and that’s okay. I might lose some followers and that’s okay. I might miss something and that’s okay too.
My hope is that these 21 days will serve to reset my habits and refine my use of social media going forward. Three weeks to break a habit? Three weeks to change the course of a new decade? We shall see.
PIN this post to your 2020 board and remember to follow The Spirited Thrifter on Pinterest!
Nicole I don’t even know where to begin. You have experienced triumphs and tragedies this year. Incredible despair and immense joy. Your heart has been broken into a million little pieces, and made whole again, or at least is on the mend. You have been given more than a lions share of “stuff” to deal with … and by the grace of God, you have come through to see 2020 in the near distance. You will forever be in my heart and my prayers. Love and miss you my sweet friend.
Thank you for your kind comment! A month into 2020 and I see God’s goodness everyday! It will be a better year! Miss you too!
I took a week off of social media last year and loved it. Just this week I was thinking I should do something like that again. Good luck with your 21 beautiful days! I can’t wait to hear how it goes! You are wonderful and amazing things are coming your way—of that I have no doubt. Big love to you, sista! Happy new year!
I am so behind but plan to post about my experience TODAY while everyone else is watching football LOL! Thank you so much for your kind words and support! They mean so much to me! xoxo Nicole
Thankful to know you ~ excited to see more of you in 2020.
Likewise! 2020 will be a better year for both of us!! xoxo
I’m so glad to see you are back–I’ve missed you! However, I’m so sorry to hear about how bad the rest of 2019 went for you; at least with your son’s diagnosis things are now on an upturn.
You asked what you should be doing. My question is: “What do you LOVE doing?” Then that’s your answer.
Besides drinking, I’m thinking you love thrifting and spreading the word about thrifting. So, if that’s where you end up, how about spending some time to write the definitive book about thrifting (including clothing and housewares), then position yourself as the Thrifting Expert. Maybe organize an annual “Thrift-ganza” with all the thrift stores in the area participating (perhaps you can get a food truck selling spirits to attend???). Then get on your local media newscasts (they always seem to be looking for positive human interest stories to balance out the “hard” news). You can promote the “Thrift-ganza” while also mentioning your blog and your book without being blatant about it. That can be parlayed into some talk show and blog visits promoting thrifting, which is important to you and to the world too. It’s win-win for everybody! But that’s just one way to go. What speaks to you?
Since you are trying to break a bad habit, may I recommend an excellent book which uses science-backed advice to help you do just that? It’s called “Atomic Habits” by James Clear. It’s great. I got a copy from the library, but it’s really worth buying it’s so good. I believe it’s on the New York Times Best Seller List, so it should be easy to find.
Thank you for the book recommendation! I am waiting for the library copy and will try to thrift a copy! I appreciate your ideas about where to go from here… I do love cocktails (!) and I do love thrifting but my recent jobs with social media/marketing have definitely showed me that is NOT where I want to focus my future work. I have considered a book, organizing thrifting meet ups, swaps, trying to engage the local media, trying to link up with the sustainable community in Houston… In many cases, it is already being done by others, and somehow, hustling to monetize my hobby taints it (though your confidence in me is a huge compliment!). During my break, I gained some insight into what to do next and will be able to share about that soon. I’m feeling good about the tentative plan and being able to maintain all things thrifting and blogging as the hobby I have grown to love and find so therapeutic! Thank you for taking time to comment and share your thoughts – it truly means so much to me. xoxo Nicole