I don’t know much.
I have a degree in Russian. Ask me if I could translate for you so you could converse with a Russian diplomat? I’ll tell you no. I can speak conversational basic Russian and could ask questions like, “which Metro would I need to take to get to the Kremlin?” But that’s about it.
I by no means am proficient in Russian.
I decorate for people. I’ve gotten quite good at it, and do it purely by referral. I am self-taught, and although I went back to school for Interior Design when I had 3 babies, I never finished. I have no certificate or formal training.
I am quite the expert painter. I refinished cabinets and furniture for about a decade of my life. I can answer just about any painting question you may have. But again, I have no piece of paper authenticating my proficiency.
I cannot talk politics. I do not read newspapers. I do not know world events. I can barely name all 7 continents and can’t come even close to knowing my geography. I am not the most well- read person, though I consider myself quite street smart.
So I admit to you here that I do not know much.
But I do know a little about a lot of things.
I know how to write.
I know how to patiently raise teens and to help them from getting too entitled.
I know how to love deeply.
I know how to give birth to babies.
I know how to play the piano (again—not proficient here)
I know how to eat right.
I know how to throw a great party.
I know how to smoke a turkey.
I know how to sew.
I know how to garden in the desert.
I know how to potty-train a child.
I know how to alleviate the pain of an ear infection.
I know how to make a killer peach pie, sour cream mashed potatoes, and homemade wheat bread.
I learned to survive double acute pneumonia.
I learned how to beat leaky gut.
I am learning how to combat Epstein Barr Virus.
I learned how to navigate through deep depression and high anxiety.
I learned that you can live in this world Gluten Free and survive.
You see, I do know a little about a lot of things.
So let me share with you here what I have most recently learned that I feel is worth sharing.
Though I have tried desperately to avoid the pitfalls of Social Media, I have gotten sucked into that world until it started to leech the very soul out of me. I would love to say that I got on every once in awhile, but truth be told, it became a very unhealthy outlet as I perused the accounts of so many others. At first I just enjoyed reconnecting with old friends. Then I found myself checking it every single day. Then I got off. Then I started an Instagram account. I kept it manageable with just 20 friends and family members. But people kept popping up and I started looking at everyone else’s life. Then I started a business account and became obsessed. The decorating. Oh man! The decorators of this world are just amazing. Instead of it being an outlet to just peek at, I found I was spending far too many hours each week, scrolling and drooling and then I’d be at the weekend and cursing that I didn’t get enough done during the week.
And I was becoming extremely ungrateful.
Photo credit: my oldest daughter. Taken at Phoenix Art Museum
As I became immersed in the pitfalls of Social Media, the dialogue in my head began to change. My house wasn’t pretty enough.. I’ve got so much more work to do. I wish I had more money to decorate the way…… That couch is amazing!!!….. heart heart heart, like like like, comment comment comment.. I engaged in conversations regarding decor, and pretended to have friends that really were just people who lived all over, who happened to be followers.
I found that all too soon, I started to feel hollow, and empty, and very very ungrateful. I was determined to figure out how I could stay on Social Media and just be a little happier.
And then?? And then?? You are dying to learn the “little” that I know aren’t you?
I attended a Conference for Women for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It happens only once a year and believe me, my ears were perked up. But when Russell M. Nelson spoke, I listened intently. He challenged us to take a 10-day Social Media fast and write our feelings about it while we were doing it. I not only took the challenge but did it for 22 days. Boy did it feel good.
Was I tempted to jump right back in? Yes a little. But let me share with you how I overcame it.
It has to do with giving up on Imitation Love and reaching out to those that offer me Real Love and accept me on my good and bad days, on my tired and sick days, and who think I’m amazing when I do nothing at all.
Aside from my husband’s constant adoration, I reached out to women. Not the women found in squares and in chats, not on Facebook, and certainly not in Likes.
I started a feast of Marco Polo conversations with 3 sisters and my mom. I have fallen in love with life again. Wanna know why? Read below a sample of some of my Marco Polo interactions over the last few weeks to better understand. It’s a little lengthy, but stick with me and you’ll understand why I share it.
1—As I have daily interaction with my sister, I see her face. I hear her laugh. We share many of the same concerns and loves in life. We connect more than we ever have through text, email or phone conversations. She may live in a different state, but we are as connected as ever because we hang out all the time. I went to lunch the other day by myself. I sat outside in the sunshine and sent messages back and forth to her and considered that I had just had lunch with my own sister. It was fantastic. In one day, we found over 8 things that we were doing exactly the same, at almost the exact times, down to eating the same food and even sitting in a dark car waiting for kids to get done with sports.
2—I cried to my other sister one day when my health was getting the better of me and told her how crummy I felt. She sent messages of hope back to me. We chatted about possible solutions to get me back on track. She expressed genuine love for me and told me the uplifting messages I needed that day.
3—Above sister reaches out to my mom and tells her my woes.
4—Mom sends me Marco Polo messages. We have lengthy conversations and just talking as if everything was okay and normal, and that I’d get through it, was so comforting. We end up sending Marco Polo messages back and forth for over an hour. Because we live in different states, it made it feel like she was right in the room with me.
5—Sister in law (who lives 20 minutes away) and I have become fanatical about sending Marco Polo messages. Most of the time I have no makeup on when we talk. I feel love and accepted by her. We share similar challenges of raising teen sons and we pump each other up and commiserate together. We plan when to get together, what we should make for dinner, when are we double dating with our husbands, and when the kids can have a sleepover with cousins, etc.
6—Sister sends message to check in on me and makes sure I’m doing okay. I send message back that I don’t want to be labeled with my illness. She sends message back that she would never think of me as the illness, but sees me as the strong, successful woman and mother that I am. She tells me I am her best friend.
7—Mom messages me and asks what I think of her new hair color and tells me a funny story. We go back and forth about the day and how I’m feeling. She is encouraged to see me doing a bit better.
8—I message my sister to tell her that I’ve had five really good days and that I’m gonna put my Epstein Barr to rest if it’s the last thing I do. She messages that I look and sound really good and she is happy that I’m out of the house running errands.
9—I message sister while I’m at Target and she shops with me and helps me pick a workout outfit for her because she doesn’t have a Target in her small town. (Travesty) The next day she messages and offers to buy me a darling sweater at a local boutique in her town.
10—I message sister-in law and ask about her health. She messages that it’s a struggle but that she’s getting through it. We celebrate something big that just happened in their family. We talk back and forth about kids and schedules and when we are going to see each other again. We validate some of each others’ concerns and end our conversation on a positive note.
Okay. I’ll stop there. This is just a glimpse of my last 2 weeks off of Social Media (And by off I mean I don’t get on and scroll. I post to my business IG account and then I’m off)
Look at these ten examples. Do you see pretty decorated houses? No. Do you see that my life isn’t perfect? The behind the scenes isn’t pretty. Do you see their imperfect lives? Do you see any hearts, thumbs up, or Likes?? Does my life look perfect to you? Do you see that there are mounds of clothes to be folded or a sink full of dishes that I’m happily trying to avoid?
Then answer me this: Why do I feel so darn happy? Why is my emptiness gone? Why does life just seem to be grand, and deep, and gorgeous, and oh so perfect when it’s still filled with struggles and realities and……..?
And I’ll tell you why!!! Because I am connecting with REAL PEOPLE!! I am connecting with those that LOVE me exactly the way I am. I am not boxed in. I am experiencing hardships yes, but with others going through it with me, I feel validated in my frustrations. I hear of their life trials and I see that I’m not alone. We give each other advice that is real, and uplifting and deep.
I do believe that women need women in their life. I do believe that when we validate each other, buoy each other up, and lift when needed, that we are doing God’s great work. We can be HIS voice and love each other through it!!
Do I believe ALL SOCIAL MEDIA is bad? No I don’t. But I think that it is a tool of the devil and I advise anyone reading this to get off of it if you feel you have an unhealthy addiction to it. If you feel hollow, empty, and ungrateful, then Social Media is your culprit.
Do the following things to start:
1–Remove your Social Media Icons from your phone. Having easy access to them is part of the problem.
2–Turn off ALL NOTIFICATIONS!!
3–Add the Marco Polo App to your Home Screen
4–Send messages to sisters, moms, mother-in-law, sisters-in-law, or close girlfriends.
5–Start an open conversation. Be RAW, VULNERABLE, WEAK, NOT PRETTY, SICK, FRUSTRATED, ANGRY, SLEEPY, COMBATIVE, SPIRITUAL, CONCERNED, CHAOTIC, and SILLY.
6–LAUGH, CRY, TALK, and HEAL.
7–Then stop and write down how you feel after each day you aren’t on Social Media. You will gradually begin to notice that YOU DON’T MISS IT!!
I am so grateful for that media fast. I am so grateful for Russell M. Nelson. I am so grateful for three sisters and a mom who helped me get out of a slump!! I am grateful to God and Jesus Christ who are the authors of TRUE JOY!
I am currently reading a book called “The Happiness Trap–How to Stop Struggling and Start Living” by Russ Harris. So many of the sentiments I just shared are also expressed in this book.
“ A hundred thousand years ago we had only a few members of our immediate clan to compare ourselves with. But these days we only need to glance a newspaper, magazine, or television to instantly find a whole host of people who are smarter, richer, slimmer, sexier, more famous, more powerful, or more successful than we are. When we compare ourselves to these glamorous media creations, we feel inferior or disappointed with our lives. To make matters worse, our minds are now so sophisticated they can conjure up a fantasy image of the person we’d ideally like to be—and then we compare ourselves to that! What chance have we got? We will always end up feeling not good enough.”
“….the far less common meaning of happiness is “living a rich, full, and meaningful life.” When we take action on the things that truly matter deep in our hearts, move in directions that we consider valuable and worthy, clarify what we stand for in life and act accordingly, then our lives become rich and full and meaningful, and we experience a powerful sense of vitality.”
Photo credit: my oldest daughter. Taken at Phoenix Art Museum.
I for one am determined to live a full, rich, and meaningful life. And one not limited to a square, a page, or a place of judgement.
Restore Yourself, friends.
To view the talk by Russell M. Nelson, you can watch it here.