Why I (sort of) Quit Facebook

I have been a loyal Facebook user since it launched.  You know, back in the days when you had to have an email address associated to a college or university to login.  Back before Newsfeeds and selfies and hashtags and social media as we know it today.

The purpose of this post is not to bash social media or Facebook in particular.  It is simply to explain the revelation I had and why I’m happier not using Facebook as much anymore.

I did a social media blackout experiment about a year and a half ago.  That was mostly about wanting to back off my constant need to check my phone and my social media accounts.  I wanted to be more present in my day to day life, so I gave up social media for a month.  What I learned from that experiment is that I didn’t really miss social media once I got used to not using it, though I still couldn’t bring myself to pull the plug completely.

More recently, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and soul-searching about life, what’s truly important, and what I can be doing to better myself and my surroundings.  This is in part due to The Happiness Project, a book I’m reading by Gretchen Rubin, who did a year-long happiness project to see if she could make herself happier.  After some evaluation, I realized one of the small changes I can make quickly and easily is to start censoring social media.  When I really sat down and thought about it, I probably got more negative feelings from Facebook than positive.  I like seeing updates from family members, pictures of friends’ kids, or funny anecdotes from friends’ lives… but there is a lot of other stuff people post that bring me down.  Finger pointing, complaining, religion, politics, mom-shaming, memes stereotyping entire groups… I could go on and on about the stuff that I was allowing into my life that only brought me negative feelings.  So why was I allowing it?  Because I was afraid of missing something important?  If there’s really something that important, I will find out another way.

DELETE.

Okay, so I really only deleted the app from my phone.  I still have an account- so I can post pics of L for family members and friends who live far away and still need their L fix (though I post to my Instagram account and it posts to Facebook for me).  Also, it comes in handy for planning events and keeping in touch with groups of people (local police wives, women in my community who are a great source for business recommendations, etc).  I probably login via desktop every other day to check my notifications and do a run through the first 3-5 stories in my news feed, but that’s it.  And guess what?  I feel so free and unburdened of people’s negativity.

I also got rid of my Twitter account, which I hadn’t used in months anyway.  I kept Pinterest (because, duh) and Instagram, but on Instagram I stopped following a few accounts and started following some accounts that post positive quotes and pretty sunrise and sunset pictures.

I am making a conscious choice to remove the negative and surround myself with positive.  The social media is a very small step in that direction, but it’s one that has definitely made a difference.

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Halloween and Life in the New Neighborhood

So, I’ve never been huge on Halloween, but it’s one of those events that has taken on new meaning since having a kiddo. Over the past few years, I’ve rediscovered the fun of dressing up and have had fun coordinating costumes with L. I’m trying to take advantage of it for as long as I can. I know there will be a time in the not so distant future where she’ll pick something I’ll have difficulty coordinating with… or worse, she won’t WANT me to coordinate with her. So, this year I took hers shopping and let her pick which costume she liked. She picked the bumble bee, so I naturally had to be the beekeeper. Fortunately for me, this was relatively easy (I like to coordinate, but I’m also lazy so I’m not the type to spend hours planning and crafting an outfit). I already had rain boots and a straw hat at home, so I ordered a painter’s suit and mosquito netting off Amazon (seriously, I have an Amazon problem… Prime has been worth every penny). Here is the end result:

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While this wasn’t L’s first Halloween, this was the first year we took her out Trick or Treating. We probably could have taken her last year, but she was just as content handing out candy, so we didn’t bother taking her around the neighborhood. Now that we’ve moved, there are a lot of families in our new neighborhood, including our neighbors who have 2 little boys around L’s age. So, we made plans with them and another one of our friends with 2 kids to go out together.

As suspected, L followed the lead of the other kids and picked up on the concept pretty quickly. She followed the others up the driveway and I watched as she politely held up her bag, then gleefully ran back down the driveway to show us her treat. “Mama, look!” she cried as she opened her bag so I could see, “I got candy!”

“That’s great, honey!” I replied, almost equally as thrilled. Her excitement = my excitement.

She ran to the next house, and the house after that, and the one after that. This trend continued for the next few blocks, until she had a half-full bag of candy, which is quite a bit for a kiddo her size.

We headed back to the house, and our neighbor set up his fire pit in the middle of the cul-de-sac and blocked off the street so the kids could run around safely. The adults enjoyed pumpkin beer while the kids had a blast goofing around with each other till L was so exhausted she asked to go to bed (parenting win!)

There’s something about this new neighborhood that makes me feel like our family found the place we are meant to be, live, grow… like we are finally, truly home. Without siblings of her own, nothing makes my heart more full than watching L play with the other kids in our neighborhood. As for JD and I, we’ve made some pretty good friends of our own. We had amazing neighbors at our old house (who we are trying to convince to follow us to our new neighborhood), but now we have a community of people we love.

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Let’s talk about how long it’s been since I posted.  I had to reset my password on my WordPress account because I couldn’t remember my login.

Yikes, guys.  It’s been a while.

Here I am, 6 months after my most recent post, wondering where time has gone and how I’ve gone so long without posting.

So what have I been up to? Traveling to visit family and friends. Enjoying my summer. Enjoying my new house. Recovering from traveling and my summer and the move into the new house. Avoiding the internet and the trolls who post hateful, hurtful things about our LEOs. Spending my evenings in survival mode as I continue to muster through a very stressful year at work- opting to completely check out with a glass of wine (oh, so much wine).

I miss the blog, I really do. The thing is, I just truly haven’t had the energy or the inspiration in months. All of that energy was being consumed by other things, and I had to reserve what little I had left for my daughter, for my family, and even sometimes, just for myself.

Part of me feels like this was the time I should have been stepping up and posting. This was the time that we as LEO supporters needed to come together, to speak out, to know that we’re not alone. We needed people to voice positives instead of the negatives. We needed people to speak truths instead of rhetoric and lies.

I’ll admit, there were times I wanted to tell JD to quit. To let someone else take on that burden. Our officers are being attacked, hunted, and gunned down simply for wearing a uniform and a badge, not just on the job, but sometimes in their own homes. And just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, this happened and I felt broken on a whole new level. She wasn’t just a member of the LEO community. She was a mother– a mother who didn’t get to take her baby home from the hospital. Every time I think about it, my heart breaks all over again.

But, we are not a community of quitters. We are passionate about what our partners do; we recognize their calling. We agreed to this knowing the sacrifice, the struggles, and the worry that would come with it. We acknowledge the need for our good men and women to stand strong and represent our community, even when it seems the good stories aren’t the ones being shared. Even when it feels like the tides have shifted and we’re viewed as the enemy.

We’re still here and I’m still here. So now feels like a good time to hit refresh- on the blog and on life. For now, I look forward to life getting back to the mundane, for a quiet holiday season spent at home, and hopefully a blog post once in a while.

Moving Up and Moving On

Quick update: we sold our house.  (I know, I know.  Once little sentence, yet such huge implications.)  To some, it might seem like it came out of the blue, but it’s an idea we’ve toyed with for the last year.  Then, one day, we found a house we loved online and just like that, we we decided it was the right time.

To say the process has been a roller coaster would be an understatement.  There was the initial high of finding a house we were excited about, the tedious work of getting our house market-ready,   the pressure of showings and getting feedback (some good, some bad), the relief of going under contract, the excitement when our offer was accepted on the new house, the frustration of repair negotiations (for both houses), the stress of our timeline and for everything needing to fall exactly in place with both our buyers and sellers for it to all work out.

When we bought this house, it all seemed so easy.  We found something we liked, put in an offer, asked for a few repairs, and closed a month and half later.  But the process of buying and selling a house at the same time is…. well… awful, quite honestly.

When we found the house we wanted, we were NOT ready to put ours on the market, nor were we prepared to carry two mortgages, but houses where we live are selling quickly, and in order to get an offer in on the house we wanted before someone else snatched it up, we needed ours on the market ASAP.  It took 3 weeks for us to get new carpet installed, get the house power washed, have someone come in and paint upstairs (the dogs had scuffed up the walls and with our vaulted ceilings we couldn’t do it ourselves), and get half of our belongings moved out of the house and into a storage pod.  This meant daily work for both JD and I- cosmetic work around the house, packing, and cleaning.  If we weren’t at work, we were working on the house.  We were afraid that after all the work and decluttering, it would make us want to stay and not even move at all.  But the funny thing is that once we made all of the changes, it didn’t feel like our home anymore.  It was time to get the thing sold.

Our realtor suggested we list the house on a Thursday so we could get a lot of showings in the first weekend.  Of course it worked out that JD was on night shift on our list weekend; luckily, we arranged for him to sleep at a friend’s house, a LEO on the opposite schedule.  That left me on my own to deal with the showings.  To save myself a lot of extra work cleaning up after and wrestling 3 dogs (+ a toddler) in and out of the house, we boarded 2 of the pups for the weekend (probably some of the best money we’ve spent in the home selling process).

We had 2 showings Friday night, and neither of them went very well.  Your home is very personal, and when you put it out there for the world, it’s hard not to take some of the feedback harshly.  It sounds ridiculous to say we were discouraged after only 2 showings, but every minute we couldn’t put an offer on the new house was a minute we felt someone could snatch it away from us.  People tried to tell us “there are plenty of other houses out there” but we just knew that this was the house for us.  Besides our expected needs (an extra bedroom, more storage, a fenced in yard for the dogs), we were adamant about getting a nice lot, while not moving too far from our current location.  We live in suburbia, so finding a spacious lot is hard, and the house we found has over an acre that backs up to protected woodlands.  This house was a rare find and we knew we wouldn’t find another like it.

Saturday, we had 4 showings.  I woke up, did the last minute prep work, vacated the house for the day, and crossed my fingers.  The feedback Saturday was more positive, though by the end of the day, we had no future showings scheduled and were getting worried again.  But Sunday morning, we received an offer, and were able to negotiate and go under contract.  Though it felt like an eternity, it only took 2.5 days; I wasn’t kidding when I said houses in our area are selling quickly.  And by some miracle, the house we wanted was still Active, so we were able to put in an offer and we reached an agreement with the sellers on Monday.

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We breathed a sigh of relief thinking the worst of the process was over, but we didn’t anticipate how frustrating repair negotiations would be.  I won’t get into the gritty details, but I’ll just say that our buyers were asking for more than we thought was reasonable and our sellers were pushing back on what we thought were reasonable requests.  We probably would have gotten screwed by both sides if it weren’t for our awesome realtor.  It took a lot of stress and a few tears to get there, but we finally landed in a spot we were comfortable with for both the buyers and sellers.

So that’s where we are today.  Repairs are finalized, the Due Diligence period is over, and as long as there aren’t any unexpected catastrophes, we should be closing on both houses in 4 weeks.

Of course, the light at the end of the tunnel has always been the house we call our dream home, the house we plan to call home long-term.  Meanwhile, though we always knew our current house was a starter home, there has been the surprising sadness of knowing we’ll have to say goodbye.

There were a lot of firsts here.  It was the first home we lived in as a married couple, the place we found out we were going to have our first baby, the first place we brought her home to, first smiles, first steps, first holidays, first birthdays, first bike rides.

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It was the little house that survived a (small) tornado.  It was the house that brought us some of the greatest neighbors ever, who we could always count on for a fun evening of drinks and grilling, or to keep a key handy for lockouts, or to come over and mow the lawn, unsolicited, when JD was post-surgery and out of commission.

It was also the place where my mom lovingly painted the mural in L’s room- the one thing I’m really struggling to let go of.  I remember when we came to look at the house and we walked into that bedroom.  The late afternoon sun was shining through the windows, and I said “this would be a great nursery.”  It was a great nursery.  It became my favorite room in the house by far, and I have to say goodbye (with a secret prayer that the mural gets to stay).

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Most importantly, it was a place of love.  It was the place that busted at the seams when we had family visiting from up North (though no one seemed to mind since we were all together), the place where a young couple made memories, and the place that same young couple became a family.

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Love.  So much love.  We’ll carry the love and memories with us and hope that we’re passing it on to another family who will create their own loving memories here.

Thoughts on Body Image and “Skinny Fat”

Let’s talk about body image for a second. I saw something posted on Facebook recently that used the term “skinny fat.” I think it was trying to sell “health” (i.e. crash diet) shakes or something. Honestly, I was so irritated that I scrolled right past it. I don’t know if I can adequately explain how much I loathe that term and all it implies. It’s supposed to reference people who appear to be skinny, but actually have a lot of flab on their frame. On the surface, I believe it’s meant to point out that the number on the scale doesn’t paint the whole picture and there are many aspects to health. I actually whole-heartedly agree with that thinking, but I find the term itself offensive. The term is a term of vanity, not health. It’s saying “hey skinny people, even you should feel bad about your body!”

What I wish is that we would all stop aspiring to have the “perfect” body and really take a step back and honor our own unique beauty. Instead of fad diets and unhealthy pills, I wish we could listen to what our bodies are telling us, and focus on how we feel from the inside out, not the number on the scale or the measurement of our waist.

Our unhealthy obsession with weight was never more apparent than in the months after I had L. I resented society’s pressure for women to bounce back to their pre-pregnancy weight, as if any woman who doesn’t make it back to that exact number is a failure, as if all the changes her body saw needed to be undone. And instead of kindly telling me “you look great” after I returned from maternity leave, one co-worker boldly asked the loaded question “are you back to your pre-pregnancy weight yet?” (What I wanted to tell her was not HR approved)

I hate the women who feel pressured to be a certain way and try to drag you down with their insecurities. I recently had one woman asked me where I bought jeans, but once I engaged in what I thought was going to be a simple fashion discussion, I was quickly dragged into a conversation about sizes and how she’s frustrated that she can’t fit into her 4’s anymore and she has to wear 6’s and “isn’t it awful?” She referenced me somewhere in the conversation and I think I was meant to hop on the bandwagon and complain about my size too.

I wanted to laugh in her face and tell her that I don’t think I’ve ever been a 4. Maybe for like a day in high school. But my body wasn’t built to be a 4, I would probably look sickly at a size 4, and last I checked, being a size 6 (or larger) doesn’t make you fat. I am proud of my body (I like to refer to my figure as “athletic with curves”), and it always surprises me when someone seems to imply that I shouldn’t be.

I am a firm believer that being healthy requires nourishing your body, stimulating your mind, and honoring your soul. I believe that happiness requires you to love yourself, and I think that overall well-being requires a bit of indulgence. Translation: I need bread in my life. And cupcakes. This is my version of “perfection.”

Where Have I Been?

Well, well, well. Where have I been?

I could give the usual answer- we’ve been busy. Busy with work, with a toddler, with vacations, severe seasonal allergies, and… well… life.

Here’s the thing though. Yeah, I’ve been busy, but I could have found time to blog if I’d really wanted to. I just wasn’t feeling motivated. When I first started this blog, I wanted to be A Blogger. I wanted it to grow. I wanted it to be a thing. I wanted it to be a place where other moms and police wives could come and relate. The one thing I didn’t want was for it to be forced, for me to blog for the sake of blogging, and that’s what’s kept me away for the past few months.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy blogging, because I really do. Sometimes, I’ll feel inspired and the words will flow. Lately, not so much. I think I’ve just come to a place where I want to focus on certain things in my life (family, friends, personal relationships, and work) and let the other stuff just be.

As for the blog, that falls in the category of “just be”. I don’t want to shut it down or say “I’m done!” because I don’t think I am done. I’m just not going to feel obligated to it anymore or let myself stress if it’s been a while since I’ve posted.  It’s going to be more organic than that.  There will probably be ebbs and flows, and I’m okay with that.

I’m not sure if I even have anyone left reading this, or if anyone will stick around to see if I ever decide to post; I just wanted to share, just in case.

For those of you who may want to be caught up, here’s a picture recap of the past few months:

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My Experiment: Social Media Blackout

Remember when I vowed to stay off all social media platforms (including the blog) for a month?  Here’s how it went…

 

Day 1: All social media apps have been removed from my phone.  It actually makes me a little anxious to be making this commitment. I feel like I’m going to be MISSING SOMETHING. I have to remind myself to be rational. We were all just fine before social media. If someone needs me, they can always call, text or email me (novel concept, I know).

I pop dinner in the microwave and instinctively reach for my phone to pull up Facebook or Twitter. It reminds me why I’m doing this. Social media is a borderline addiction, and it’s sad that I can’t wait patiently for 60 seconds. I’ve gotten into the habit of occupying every second of my day.

 

Day 2: JD is working this evening. I look down at my phone, ready to select a social media app. Realizing there are none and I’ve committed to a month long blackout, I feel… almost… alone. I wonder if social apps genuinely make me feel less alone, and more connected to other people when JD is working nights.

 

Day 3: JD has a sudden clutter attack and wants to sell a bunch of stuff in the attic. He is a pack rat, so I want to take advantage of his sudden change of heart. Doing so means downloading the Facebook app so I can post to a local buy/sell group and keep up with anyone who expresses interest in buying.  I am slightly disgruntled that he is already making me break my commitment, but I legitimately log on just long enough to post the item for sale.

 

Day 6: I’m finding that I don’t miss social media much. There are occasions where I’m bored and tempted to go online and peruse some feeds. There are also times where I want to turn to it for a fix after a stressful day or to fulfill that guilty pleasure need. It’s like a gossip magazine in that way. You hate to love it, but you do. And there’s something both wrong and completely satisfying about reading it, but I haven’t cheated. I’ve come close- very close- to opening up Facebook to poke around “real quick,” but talked myself out of it.  For me, this isn’t just an experiment, it’s a test of willpower and I’m determined to prove I can do it.

 

Day 10: JD posts a picture of me and I get an email notification. I log onto Facebook to make sure it’s not a horrendous picture that I need to untag. I don’t count it as cheating, although I do accidentally start scrolling through my news feed and have to stop myself.

 

Day 11: I go to my local police wives group to post regarding a July event. (Still not cheating, I knew I would have to use Facebook for some events.)  I don’t scroll through my news feed, but can see the first few posts before I pull up the group page. Two posts, both braggy, both annoy me. For the first time, I’m really relieved to not be using Facebook, and realize this experiment may result in me changing how I use it going forward.

 

Day 18: I cheated today, and I’m okay with that. I’d had a long day. JD was on night shift and the baby was asleep. I was relaxing, sipping on a glass of wine, and I wanted something mindless, gossipy, a guilty pleasure satisfaction. I initially resisted, but eventually decided I was okay with the cheat. I checked Pinterest and Facebook. It was glorious, no guilt. Totally worth it. But what’s more important is that the main objective of my experiment is still working. I’m avoiding social media as a compulsion, as mindless way to pass the time. I even cut back on the blogs I was reading, realizing I read so many of them for the sake of reading them, not because I found them particularly interesting or relatable.

 

Day 26: When I look down at my phone and see the date, I realize I only have a few days left of my experiment.  I’m enjoying this time, so it’s almost sad in a way, but I’m really glad to see that I’m not so desperate to get back that I’m counting down the days.

 

Day 32: A friend has to remind me that it’s August.  My month is officially up and I hadn’t even noticed.  I’m in no hurry to get back, but am looking forward to writing some blog posts and sharing some pics of L.

 

Conclusion:  I truly enjoyed my social media-less month.  The beginning made me realize how addicted to social media I was, and my hiatus forced me to do exactly what I wanted- be more present in my day-t0-day life.  I wasn’t distracted during a conversation with a friend or while L savored a spaghetti noodle.  Going forward, I will continue to use social media to stay connected with friends and family, but I’m going to commit to only using it at certain times of the day, not obsessively.  And if things get out of hand again?  I have no problem taking another break.