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.
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