The last month has reminded me of something very essential about myself. That sometimes, doing hard things makes me stronger and ultimately capable of accomplishing the things I set out to do, both big and small. As I show up and do the things I’ve said I would do or wouldn’t do, I began to recognize my excuses and fears for what they were— an easy way out of the hard work required to reach another level of self-mastery.
At first this social media detox was hard. I was fumbling inside myself for an anchor fearing I had none or had lost it forever. Eventually, I rediscovered it within myself and in my writing, painting, the woods; in long walks and reading. So many healthier options rather than the overconsumption of information overwhelming my brain and soul.
We are creatures of habit. And what this month has taught me is that habits are not as hard to break as I once thought. Especially when I replace the bad habits with habits that are much more nourishing. I’m glad I did it and am low-key nervous about my return. But I have a plan on how I intend to reintegrate social media in my life, which I will share tomorrow. My plan will be the opposite of what it was before. Much more minimalist, much more value centered. Far less time. Who knows I may go longer than 30 days. Whenever I do decide to log on, I will be more mindful than I was before I got myself into this mess, because nothing is worth your peace of mind.
One of the things I’ve been enjoying is reconnecting with my painting practice. Alongside my 30-day social media detox, I have given myself a 30-day painting challenge. I started a few days after the challenge so right now I have twenty-four, 6X6 water color and gouache paintings.
In the past, I’ve had so many big unfinished paintings. And for the longest I couldn’t understand why it was so difficult for me to finish. After many years and lots of self-examination, I learned that one of the reasons is that I often overwhelm myself. I love creating and sometimes my ideas are BIG. But there are many instances when I don’t have either the time, the skill or the stamina to finish. And this challenge helped me to finish things. To finish a painting, regardless of size. Bigger doesn’t mean better. And a deeper truth is that the subconscious mind doesn’t care about size. It cares about DONE. It also cares about consistency. Because what you do (or don’t do) creates who you are and will become.
This evening I went for a walk alone in the woods. Well, technically I wasn’t alone, I was surrounded by life. The hundred maybe even thousands of trees, if you count the baby trees who are just a decade or so old. But as for human kin, there was only me. I love the woods. I usually either go with my kids or a friend. As a result, I’m used to my kids filling up the space with their shrieks and laughter. My son lets loose the most outrageous animal sounds stating “THIS (being loud and wild) is what the woods are for!” He’s on to something.
But today, I myself was very quiet. I usually never have earbuds in. For me the whole point of going to the woods is to unplug. After about five minutes walking along the trail, I realized the forest isn’t really quiet at all. There are sounds everywhere. The wind moving the trees’ leaves against each other. The sound of falling acorns. The cracking twigs and decomposing leaves beneath my feet. The chirping of birds. The scurry of squirrels and chipmunks. The brook beside the path creating a soundtrack for a section of my walk. And the sounds of my footsteps moving me through it all.
Below, I’ve shared some sounds I gathered from the woods today. Enjoy!