Beach, Please.

My friend invited me and a few of his friends to go surfings three weekends ago on the Oregon Coast. Oregon is not known for its warm beaches and is not people’s first choice for surfing. While there definitely are surfers in Oregon, they are not like the kind featured in my favorite teen surfer movie Blue Crush- with board shorts and tribal tattoos. In fact, when Oregonians brave the waters they wear 3mm thick wetsuits, masks, hoods, booties, and gloves. That is because Oregon coast waters are polar and the beaches are rainy with winds blasting sand so hard in your face it feels like being stabbed with needles. I am not being overly dramatic, honestly.

The weekend turned out to be unseasonably warm- as if God purposely wanted a clear view to watch me drown as I attempted to surf. I pulled on my wetsuit (which smelled like old urine) and it squealed in protest as I tried to pull it up my thighs. We all made our way down the narrow steps to the beach and that is when I saw what I thought was piles of multicolored pebbles washed up on shore. As we got closer, I realized it was not pebbles, it was plastic. Little pieces of blue, red, black, yellow, and white plastic. There were chunks of styrofoam, shreds of bottles, and even plastic bands of watches littering the whole entire beach. The photo above is just a section of what the whole beach looked like.

Oregon is my home. Arguably, one of the most beautiful states in U.S. with mountains dusted with snow, evergreens sprinkling the whole state, and of course, the frigid but beautiful beaches. Almost everywhere you drive looks like a postcard. It is the perfect place to raise kids, or in my case, my 95 pound puppy. One can only imagine how it felt seeing my Oregon beaches resembling a dumpster.

I am one (fairly average and insignificant) person. I claim to “care” about the environment, but let’s be honest, I do do more harm than good. As a human I create waste; we all do it. By just being born we impact the environment. If you were born in a hospital just think of all the disposable medical equipment (gloves, for example) it took to deliver you safely (and hygienically) into this world.

As the wise Helen Keller once stated, ““I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everythingbut still I can do somethingand because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.” Here is what I can do: I can mindfully choose more environmentally friendly options when going about my life. There are people more dedicated to an environmental friendly lifestyle (looking at you people who use “washable toilet paper”. Yes it is real, you can buy it on Etsy or make your own……). I am not quite there as far as dedication. I am going the route of baby steps, per my usual M.O. I meet goals one wobbly step at a time. Once I meet one small one I titrate up to more. For the next 30 days, I am going to do five things to reduce my waste:

  1. Less disposable coffee cups. According to Earrthday.org 16 billion disposable coffee cups are used each year. These are coated with plastic to laminate the inside of the cup and then there are the plastic lids on top, so they are non recyclable nor compostable. I have a great coffee Hydro Flask (not sponsored, I wish..) and I will be using that anytime I get coffee to go. A lot of coffee shops give a discount if you bring in your own cup. This includes Starbucks, which gives 10 cents off in America.
  2. Less plastic grocery bags. According to Earth Policy Institute,  a trillion (!!!!) single-use plastic bags are used each year, which is nearly 2 million each minute. Plastic bags are one of the top polluters of our oceans. I do not know about you, but I have reusable bags coming out my eyeballs from events and God-only-knows where, so I will be using those not just to grocery shop but for any type of in-store purchases. I even got a bag that folds up tiny and can fit in my purse for emergency shopping trips.
  3. Less Styrofoam. Styrofoam is basically “the devil” (as Bobby Boucher’s mom from The Waterboy would say….) There was tons of it on the Oregon coast and it definitely does not biodegrade. According to Green Dining Alliance, the world produces more than 14 million US tons of polystyrene (plastic foam) each year. It also notes that just Americans alone throw away around 25 billion Styrofoam cups every year. The culprit for me is takeout containers. I love leftovers, but I notice that when I ask for a box I am usually brought a styrofoam one. For this, I intend to bring my own container for leftovers and leave one in my car and if need be, put it in my purse. This way I can say “boy, bye” to styrofoam hopefully forever.
  4. Less food waste. Guilty. The biggest thing for me to work on will be wasting less food. I have a habit of buying or making things and then forgetting about them in the black hole that is the back of my fridge and leaving them to rot. Just the other day I bought a yellow squash and forgot about it and then found it too late. According to the USDA, in the United States, food waste is estimated between 30-40 percent of the food supply. This corresponded to approximately 133 billion pounds of food and $161 billion worth of food in 2010. Fuuuuuck! There are people starving all over the world and here we are wasting 133 billion pounds of food. I am sure the number has only gone up since 2010….
  5. Less new clothes. According to PBS, Americans throw away 13 million tons of textiles — about 85 percent of their clothes — each year, accounting for 9 percent of total non-recycled waste. Not only do we throw away clothes which creates waste, but then our clothes come in non recyclable packaging. According to Sciencemag.org over half of the world’s plastic thrown out in 2015 was plastic packaging. That’s over 141 million metric tons! I know packaging also includes food and other packaging, but still. Let us also not get into the unfair labor and fossil fuels it takes to make our clothes…. With websites like Poshmark and Ebay where you can buy and sell gently used clothing online and of course, brick and mortar thrift stores, there is no need for me to buy new clothes for the next 30 days. Not to mention it is better for my budget to buy used than new.

I know there are way more ways to improve the planet and maybe even better ones, but these are the ones I believe I can attain for the next 30 days and then hopefully I can add more and work my way up to living in my own self-sustaining treehouse community. Still not going to do the “family roll” (the formal name for reusable toilet paper) thing, though. Sorry, not sorry.


30 Days of Yoga.

The goal for living a life with more meaning in 2019 is to complete different goals for 30 days at a time. The month of January was for yoga. My intention was to do yoga every single day for 30 days and to see if it added any value to my life. For the past 30 days I have stuck to that goal and practiced on my mat each day.

I did not go into January thinking that yoga would alter my life significantly. I had done it previously and knew it was a great way to unwind and a decent workout. I was not expecting the immense change that took place in just four weeks. What changed was gradual, sneaking up on me like a predator to its prey. There were days in this challenge when I REALLY did not want to do it. I had days when I had so many other things going on that it was hard to find time. Yet, I made the time. Even if it was 15 minutes instead of the 30 minutes I was planning. I promised myself that I would stick through something for 30 days and I kept it.

At the end of my 30 days, after completing one of my yoga videos, another video started playing (typical YouTube) and it was about the science of yoga. Almost instantly, I became enthralled in the video and watched it until it cut out and told me I needed to sign up on their website to get the rest of the video….(not very yogi in my opinion, but whatever). The 20 minute clip solidified what I felt had changed in my body, mind, and spirit. I felt lighter, happier, and (let’s be real) like less of a bitch. After the challenge was over, I had time to reflect on what things had changed:

  1. Less Anxiety. By the second week in, I noticed I was less anxious. My feelings of panic hit me like a freight train, usually at night, and it can keep me from being able to come back down. I start having shortness of breath, I lose focus, and terrible thoughts consume me. Throughout my yoga practice, I noticed I was having less panicky thoughts. I felt calm and able to relax both during the day and at night and took things as they came instead of instantly freaking out if something felt out of my control.
  2. Better Mood. Prior to yoga, I felt like it took very little to set me off. I could feel perfectly chill and then something inconsequential would happen and I would lash out in rage. I felt despondent; all I wanted to do was lay in bed and sleep. Little tasks or work was enough to send me to tears. While I did cry one time at work during the 30 days, I know that it would have been more frequent without yoga. At week three I could feel myself waking up happier, a sense of calm over me as I tackled the day. A sense of peace washed over me on my way to work that felt foreign and it has continued with me since.
  3. More Self-Esteem. I have not always felt good about my body or my abilities. There are times when I feel so fat or ugly that I want to stay home and times when I feel so incompetent and out of my element that I break down. I am very hard on myself. I still have those insecurities, but yoga helped lessen them. The more I practiced, the more I saw improvement in my strength and flexibility. I noticed my body could do things it was not able to previously and I felt a sense of strength. The more I spent time connecting my breath to my movement, the more I reflected on how lucky I am to have a body that can move the way mine could and I started looking in the mirror and seeing a strong body instead of a flawed one.
  4. Improved Flexibility and Strength. I sit on my butt for the majority of the day at work. This causes my legs and hips to be extremely tight. I have also been told I have the strength of a nine month old baby by my husband because I cannot open jars on my own. No joke. With each day I practiced, I felt my hamstrings, hips, and quads loosen up and I was able to touch my toes by the end of 30 days without pain. When I was young and did ballet, I could go into splits no problem. By the end of the 30 days I was back to being able to do it. I may still have trouble opening jars, but I noticed improvement in my arm strength (and legs) with the 30 days and started to even see definition in both.
  5. Improved Sleep. Not to be Garfield the cat or anything, but I hate mornings. I have never been an early riser and I could not remember the last time I woke up feeling refreshed. It may have to do with my problem looking at memes on my phone all through the night, but also I felt burned out with work and life, which made getting up hard to do. Just 30 minutes of yoga a day improved the way I slept. I went to bed feeling relaxed, was able to fall asleep and stay asleep, and after week three I was waking up at 6:30 on the dot awake and ready. This did not mean I did not lounge in bed until after 6:30, but still, I felt awake.

Yoga is not the cure all for all of life’s problems. It was not the sole cure for really any of my problems. It is an outlet for me to connect my mind, body, and spirit; to nourish them. For me it is time set aside specifically to stay in the present, to connect with God, to strengthen my body, and to calm my breathing. These are all ingredients that in combination help improve my outlook and attitude and sticking with something for 30 days even when I did not feel like it made me stronger. If you are willing to give yoga a try, please ease into it and stick with it because the rewards are so worth it.

Toxic.

Less than two weeks into the new year and I am still going strong on my resolutions to:

  1. Be kinder and
  2. Take steps to create a more purposeful life.

In order to have a more meaningful life sometimes you add things to it and sometimes you take things away. This includes: people. You can still love and care about someone, even if they are toxic. Just because someone hurt you or does not add value to your life, does not mean you cannot care about what happens to them. In order to grow we need to let go of what is stunting us. Some relationships fill us up and some drain us. In the recent years for me, letting go of toxic relationships has pertained to friendships.

In all honesty, there are times I have been the toxic friend. The friend that is super negative, co-dependent, or too self-involved, even the friend that ditches out on their friends when they get into a romantic relationship. I have been the bad friend, the one who did not really listen when my friend needed me or did not stand up for them when I should have or even talked badly about them behind their backs. I wish I could say that I have never been a bad friend, but that would be a lie.

People have kicked me out of their lives, and rightfully so. I have gone through many phases in my almost thirty years on the planet and not all of them were good ones. The way I learned how to be a good friend was when I lost nearly all of them in High School and did not have any for a time. I learned to build friendships from the ground up. I have had many years to reflect and learn how to be a good friend as well as when to recognize when someone is not being one.

More recently, I had the unfortunate task of telling a friend that I was distancing myself from them because I felt their actions were hurtful, inappropriate, and overall toxic. As a lot of women I am sure, I was taught to “be nice”; To “play along”, “not make waves”, and not hurt people’s feelings- even if meant they trampled all over mine. This was grilled into my brain from a young age and is still ingrained into American society. Society sees a woman who stands up for herself as a bitch. When really standing up for yourself and others is the opposite of being a bitch, it is being kind. The truth can be hard to speak, but when we are honest with ourselves and honest with others it lifts this invisible weight from our shoulders.

As much as I love the idea of honesty, I hate the idea of confrontation. Confrontation is like a pap smear: really uncomfortable, but necessary. Also, once it is over it gives you a peace of mind. There is nothing I worry more about than hurting people I love, which is why I do not want to have to tell them the things they are doing are affecting me negatively. On the flip side, if I was hurting my friend and I did not know because they did not tell me then I would feel worse.

Being vulnerable and bringing up uncomfortable topics is hard. Staying quiet and being treated poorly is also hard. Sometimes we have to make a choice of which hard we are going to deal with. We should always be honest, but let us not interchange being honest with being cruel.

There is never an excuse to be cruel, even if the person “deserves it”. When opting out of a relationship that is depleting, telling a person how you feel should be well-intended. Nothing is more hurtful when someone says a cruel comment and then follows it up with “I am just being honest.” The person you may be revealing your feelings to may not even know that what they are doing is affecting you, so why be a dick about it? If you are a good friend then you should be able to reveal your feelings from a place of love. Being able to say honestly what and why something is bothering you with intention instead of frustration will clear the way for either a relationship to be mended or for a clean break. If the response to your heartfelt feelings is silence, defensiveness, or continued bad behavior then it is your cue to walk away and move on without that person.

I am done apologizing or making excuses for people’s poor behavior. The fear of toxic relationships in my life outweighs my fear of confrontation. If someone is doing something to harm me or others, I am going to speak up. If nothing comes from me revealing my feelings in a heartfelt way then I do not need to feel guilty for not bringing that person into the next chapter of my life. There is the cliche saying that “Life is too short.” Well it is. It is too short, too wild, and too damn precious to waste on someone who drains the joy out of it.

Sometimes working on the relationship is what is best and sometimes letting go is. Minimalism is about rigorously selecting what we take into our future to create a better life. This includes shedding the things and people who create a negative environment instead of a supportive one. Friends are of the few choices in life we get to make, so let us choose wisely.


New Year, Who Dis?

Year 2019 has began, meaning that 2018 is a fading memory. The new year brings with it hope and resolutions for the future. Vows to get in shape, travel, volunteer, change careers, meet someone or leave someone, learn a new skill, etc. are made as promises to ourselves that this is the year will be different and we will become our best selves.

I try not to make any sweeping declarations of what I intend to change for the upcoming year. Usually when I do, I end up failing halfway through the first day of January. Example is telling myself I am going to stop eating junk food and workout, but then end up spending the day on the couch, nursing a hangover with a burrito the size of an infant.

In this moment it feels as though nothing in my life has changed the past year, but when I pause and really think about where I was January 1st, 2018 I realize so much has. I quit my dead-end job and opted for one that is pushing (and sometimes shoving) me out of my comfort zone. I nourished relationships with acquaintances this past year and those people are now some of my closest friends. I have also started being more honest and setting boundaries, telling people if/when they hurt me and separating myself from those who do not care that they do. I have also challenged myself to try new things and have stuck with those challenges and pressed on, even if it was hard (ahem, hiking to Everest base camp for example).

In 2018 I chose to forgo social media for 30 days. In this short span I noticed changes in my attitude and mental health stemming from cutting the excess that was making me feel inadequate. After discussing what I learned with a friend over brunch, she encouraged me to try to add or eliminate more things from my life for 30 days at a time. She even agreed to join me on the journey. So this year, I will do multiple challenges for 30 days at a time to either introduce things into my life that will add value or take away things that weigh it down. These challenges are meant to be (baby) steps into creating habits that will enhance my well-being and aid in curating the life I want.

The month of January I will be doing yoga every day for 30 days straight. There is a Youtube channel I subscribe to that does “Yoganuary” for the past two years in January. The instructor releases a new video every day for the month of January with yoga power, flow, or even just meditation sessions.. This allows me to do yoga in my living room where only my dog can judge me. There will also be some classes in my community that I will join throughout the month so I can experience yoga with live instructors and other humans. I just completed today’s Youtube session in my living room and am looking forward to the next 29 days of yoga. For this month I can honestly tell people that I do yoga instead of just pretending I do yoga but really just wearing yoga pants while watching Netflix on my couch.

So cheers to the new year and all the victories (and spectacular failures) it will hold. May you be taking steps, big or small, towards curating a more meaningful life this year. Please follow me as I stumble and fall flat on my bum, attempting to live this year with purpose. There are bound to be many incidents, but nevertheless I (and I hope you as well) will get back up and keep moving forward. Cheers to 2019!

Gratitude.

Advertisements use trendy words to help market things that will supposedly improve our lives. Some of the words are: “minimalism”, “mindfulness”, “happiness”, “wanderlust”. Not that this is a bad thing-hello, the title of my blog is one of those words. What I mean is that the intention of the word gets diluted and is used as a marketing ploy. How many advertisements have I seen with the word “minimalist” to describe their product or design. How many apps and classes are marketed to help people become more mindful? Answer: Too many to choose from.

One word that I do not usually see advertised is: Gratitude. Being grateful for what we have and not buying stuff we do not need is the opposite of what advertisers want someone to choose. How will they make money if people appreciate what they have and stop buying what they do not need?

For me, being mindful and being grateful for what I already have takes effort. I have to force myself to pause and be in the present and to stop and think about what I have already before buying something that will make me “happy”. As embarrassing as it is, advertisements have a way of persuading me that I need more “stuff” to feel fulfilled. It is funny that I find myself trying to justify buying things to make me more of a minimalist or tell myself that I will start being grateful and will not need anything more if I just get that one item.

If you grew up in a Christian household in the 90’s-early 00’s then you may be familiar with the Veggie Tales movies. If you grew up in a household that allowed you to watch other videos that did not include singing vegetables, then you may have no idea what I am referring to. Veggie Tales were a series of 30-minute movies that had talking vegetables (and some fruits) that sang songs, quoted bible verses, and every story taught a moral lesson.

In one movie, there was a blueberry that lived in a tree house (why she lived in a tree house is beyond me-as blueberries grow on bushes, but whatever) and she tried to buy happiness with stuff. She bought so much stuff that it started to weigh her tree house down and the tree finally bent over and ended up dumping all her stuff into the river and then ruining her house. Before her house incident, she walked by a little green bean who was poor and only had a piece of apple pie (which is basically a form of cannibalism, but whatever) and was singing a song about how grateful she was for her apple pie (still after 20 years I remember that damn song. You can listen for yourself: here). Madame Blueberry (the blueberry’s name) realized after her house was destroyed that she had a lot to be grateful for without all the stuff and joined the little girl in singing the song.

Why did I just ramble on about a materialistic blueberry? Because like the blueberry, I get obsessed with buying happiness that I forget to be grateful for what I have. I get so focused on the future-wanting an immaculately decorated Hygge-like condo instead of the house I have, not realizing that some people are wishing right now that they have a house like I already do. Unfortunately, being grateful does not come easy, especially when we are groomed by society to want more, bigger, better.

Sometimes I do not have a grateful heart. A lot of the time I get something I want and then almost immediately upon receiving it I move on to pining over the next thing I want. I get on the hamster wheel of chasing my wants instead of stopping to appreciate my privileged life. I was born middle-class, white, American, and into a loving family. Right there I started the race of life with more of a leg up than most people in the world. Yet, I still catch my thoughts telling me that I need more.

This holiday season I did not ask for gifts, but I still received one from a very thoughtful friend: a gratitude journal. While I do not recommend going out and buying something to help you be more grateful (oh, the irony), I have found so much value in taking the time each day to write down the things that I am grateful for. This journal has helped me spend a part of the day reflecting on the wonderful things in my life instead of focusing on what is lacking in it. Instead of buying a journal, just writing down on a notepad three things a day that you are grateful for will have the same effect.

With the new year approaching, I intend to keep journaling and focusing on the positive and daily working towards giving the advertisers that say I do not have and am not enough the middle finger. Enough is enough and I definitely have more than enough.

It’s the End of the Year as We Know It… and I Feel Fine.

Daibutsu (giant Buddha) in Kamakura, Japan

December is the bookend month. The month to reflect the months before it. The close of the year. For me, it also represents another year around the sun, also known as: My birthday. Like a new years resolution, every year I promise myself that I am going to do something great by the time the next birthday comes around. I vow to run a marathon, write a book, learn Mandarin, land my dream job, etc. Then comes December and I am hit with a gut full of regret, feeling like I wasted the year before me, wishing I could start again from the beginning. Birthdays and the end of the year are a reminder for me that I am not where I thought I would be- where I want to be. 

Reflecting on this last year I can get stuck on the things I have not done, but if I pause my worries and let myself reflect deep enough, I see baby steps toward the things I have done-the changes I have made towards my goals. I started a blog this year. This has been a teeny tiny step in allowing me the space to write my thoughts, as well as keep me (semi) on a writing schedule. I did not run a marathon, but I trained this year and was able to run my fastest mile ever. I did not learn Mandarin, but I traveled to China two times since my last birthday and that is when I figured out that Mandarin was the language that wanted to speak and I found online lessons for when I am ready. I did not land my dream job, but I quit a job that was unsatisfying and took a chance on a job more rewarding and is pushing me out of my comfort zone; teaching me skills that will benefit me for the next step in my work career. 

I can beat myself up over the fact that I did not complete all the things I wanted to accomplish, or I can acknowledge that overall I had a pretty great year and did a bunch of different things that I enjoyed and that pushed me to be better. I get caught up in what I am “supposed” to be doing by accounts of what Pinterest and social media quotes think I should be. Pins and Posts tells me to “follow your bliss” and “find your passion”, but what if I have no idea what my bliss or passions are? What if my bliss is just a day at work where I do not have a panic attack? What if my passion is laying in bed with my dog, eating cookies, and watching re-runs of The Golden Girls? The “follow your passion” mentality is such horse shit, to put it kindly. No one is constantly passionate about what they do, even if they say they love it. I enjoy writing, but sometimes it makes me want to bang my head against a wall and I feel insecure posting my “white girl problems” for the world to judge. Even people with the best jobs and lives have hard days-it just is not something that gets advertised.

Recently, my husband, Paul and I were taking a drive, which is usually when we have our deepest discussions. We were chatting about life in general when I brought up the fact that I felt stuck. 

“Everyone else seems to be happy and capable of pursuing multiple things and I can barely take a shower without feeling exhausted and spend most of my time working a job that gives my more grief than joy, instead of following my passion and going on adventures. Just seems compared to everyone else, I am lost, and it makes me feel inadequate and unhappy,” I complained. 

He did not even pause before replying matter-of-factly, “Of course you are unhappy. How can anyone actually be happy with these ridiculous expectations we have created-as a society-for ourselves? We are constantly told that we have to buy more and be more. Living outside our means, up to our eyeballs in debt, trying to chase the lifestyle we are told we “deserve”. Just to prove to people that our lives are impressive. Who can be happy forever chasing the unattainable?” 

I nodded, reflecting on his words. “I feel like I am forever trying to be someone I do not have the capacity to be in order to have feel like I have a fulfilling life.” 

I may never be the person who wakes up when the sun rises to workout, who can wear a white shirt without getting some part of my lunch spilt on it, or who has the energy, money, or photo editing abilities to make my life appear like it is put together. Most likely, I will never be more than middle class. Which is a blessing in itself to be middle class, but will mean my house will not end up in a magazine, I will not find the cure for cancer, and my vacations will not be to the Maldives. That does not mean that my life does not have value or that I will be deprived of happiness. 

Why is happiness and passion the ghosts we are always chasing? As if happiness and passion are concrete instead of fleeting; as if it can actually be bought. It is seen as a destination instead of a product of a well-lived life. If you go out and interview thousands of people on the streets, asking them what they wanted most out of life, I bet you they would reply with “to be happy” (or to be rich, which they think will make them happy). Yet, each person defines “happy” differently. Reading makes me feel happy, but to Paul it is misery. Golfing makes him feel happy, but it is one of the last things I want to spend my day doing. It is assumed once we get to the state of “happiness” that life halts. That’s it, we made it, and we no longer have to try. The pursuit of happiness is future oriented. I catch myself saying, “once Paul is out of school and we have more money and time together, then I will be happy” or “once I land my dream job that I am passionate about, then I will be happy.” If we are always happy then it loses its magic. Like daylight savings, we spend the winter praying for summer and revel in the light once it comes, but if it were light all the time, we would become desensitized and would take it for granted.

So my goal for this next year around the sun is to stop pining and punishing myself for not having the life I wish I had and to stop waiting to be happy. Instead of trying to “find my bliss” I am going to work hard towards things that bring meaning to mine and others’ lives. Hopefully when I look back next year I will have made progress curating the life I want and will also have no “ragrets.”


30 Days Social Media Free

socialmedia

For the whole month of November, 2018 I took a hiatus from social media. For the past year it has become increasingly obvious that I had a problem with overusing social media apps and they in turn, wreaking havoc on my mental health. The moment I opened my eyes in the morning I would reach for my phone and just start scrolling. I put off chores, workouts, and other obligations in lieu of watching people post pictures of their breakfast or post about their 5th pregnancy. At night, I would turn the lights off and stick my head under the covers (so my husband would not see the light from my screen) and keep scrolling until I passed out (phone still in hand). I constantly woke up feeling tired, unrefreshed, and my mood and self-esteem were consistently low.

I did not make the connection that the reason for my fatigue and mental “fog” was due to my overuse. The blue-light screen plus hours of viewing other people’s lives instead of living my own is a potent combination. The weekend would come and I would have plans to clean, take the dog to the park, or have brunch with friends and instead would get sucked into my phone and then half the day would be gone. I would also find myself in despair after seeing all the exciting things people posted about their lives, homes, travels, and then I would feel inadequate about my own. Instead of getting off the couch and feeling inspired to create a life that I wanted, I would feel discouraged and spend the rest of the day moping around thinking “My life is never going to be that good, so why even try?”

The most memorable comparison I recall was being in Shanghai, China and was scrolling through social media and saw someone was in Patagonia, Chile and I thought to myself: “Wow, I wish I was there.” I was in the arguably the most vibrant, exciting city in the world and yet I was longing to be somewhere else just because someone posted how incredible their trip was going. Not to mention I was spending my trip on social media instead of soaking in the present city. I had to scold myself when I realized I was jealous of a person I barely knew’s trip when I was on a trip some people will only ever dream of.

That is when I decided I had enough. I decided to put a stop to feeding my spirit with things that were causing more harm than benefit. I decided for 30 days I was going to end the cycle of abuse I created for myself. I decided for the month of November to delete all my social media apps (including Pinterest and Poshmark, both of which I spent hours mindlessly scrolling through) off my phone and to not use them at all for 30 days.

The first week was the hardest for me. At night I wanted to come home from work and escape with social media. I went on a trip to Seattle the second week and had to stop myself from putting the photos I took on my feed. In the first two weeks, I constantly felt “the itch”. The itch was the feeling of need to reach for my phone and click onto my apps, which occurred multiple times a day. My hand felt almost naked without a phone in it (however, my thumb pain from scrolling improved). It was a habit I created that did not want to die.

Finally, around week two, I started noticing the benefits. I was sleeping better and waking up more refreshed, because previously I was up odd hours of the night on my phone. I started to feel less despondent about my life and more grateful. I really did not have a lot to compare it to so the choices I made or the things I experienced were not influenced by what the rest of the world was doing. I was more present with my husband and friends because I was not too busy playing on my phone. By the last week, I did not even miss being on social media. There are still apps I currently have not logged into since I deleted them.

Social Media, like most things, has its perks and flaws. Its perks are that is allows us to stay connected with the people we love, to market businesses, to share art, to meet new people, etc. Its flaws are that it keeps us from enjoying the present, distracts us from getting things done, encourages us to compare ourselves to others, to buy more things, and it promotes FOMO (fear of missing out) when we see with one click what everyone else is doing at that exact moment and wish we were there instead of here.

Life is not always sitting on a beach in Cancun, drinking margaritas topless. Sometimes it is standing in the messy kitchen, wishing for a nap, but instead yelling at your dog to stop barking, threatening that if he does it one more time you are going to throw him in the street. Sometimes it is sitting in your cubicle at work all day, trying to get through the hours so you can go home, flop on the couch and scroll through Netflix. Life is not always glamorous. For the most part it is not social media worthy. So why do we make it seem like it is?

Seems to be so much effort to make it look like life is a constant orgasm. We buy things we cannot afford to make it seems like our lives are more luxurious than they are. We travel places only to take pictures to show others that we went there and to make them jealous that they are not. We spend our time editing, brightening, styling, and cropping our lives so that they fit in a tiny square photo waiting to get approval from others by the amount of “likes” received

It is okay that sometimes I spend Friday nights watching television with my husband on the couch while other people are out at concerts, dancing and drinking with their friends. It is okay that I am not always #livingmybestlife and am riddled with anxiety and my house is a mess and I have a pimple the size of Texas on my chin while at the same time other people are in Spain on a yacht, making love to a buff guy named Enrique. It is okay because it is my life- real life. Sometimes real life is just okay, and that’s okay. Frankly, I am just glad to finally be living it.