For me, gratitude is much more than going around the table at Thanksgiving to list a couple things (though that’s neat!). It is the choice to say that even if I’m in a hard place, God is good. He does not abandon us. It’s saying “thank you God for all I have” instead of “God, why don’t I have everything I want?”.
Want to know a little way I’ve grown in gratitude? Head over to Everyday Ediths to learn about the little way I forced myself to be more thankful.
I don’t know about you, but my head has felt on the verge of exploding lately. Like many millennials, I’m on social media and enjoy the interaction. But scrolling through Facebook makes me feel restless, and often frustrated with the world (especially lately). I know I’m not the only one who feels like that, because many acquaintances have recently decided to delete various accounts.
But don’t freak out! I’m not suggesting we all up and leave social media and form a compound where we can create a perfect world. In fact, I think we should keep our social media accounts. Here’s why.
We’re called to be artisans of culture.
Now I can’t for the life of me remember who said that. I think it was JPII, but can’t find a reference. Anyway, how are we supposed to promote the good parts of our culture and challenge the bad parts if we run away from it? We have to be in the world, just not of the world. Unless your vocation is to join a cloistered religious community, chances are we’re going to have to continue dealing with whatever the world throws at us. So we might as well be smart and informed about it.
BUT, being informed doesn’t mean we have to know everything about everything.
We’re plugged into news 24/7. It’s easy to get sucked into that and scroll through Facebook or Instagram until 1am (*AHEM* ask me how I know). I think we have to remember that’s not a requirement. We can put our phones down. And it’s okay to not know every single pop culture reference. Trying to stay up on everything is just too much. Has there ever been a time before this when people knew about every single world event within minutes? No! It’s a recent development with the internet.
Trying to stay on top of every single thing makes me feel insane. So here are a few specific things I find helpful to maintaining sanity:
1. Create a morning routine where checking your notifications isn’t first.
Have you noticed how much this sets the tone for your day? I find that if I ignore my phone before work and make intentional time to pray in the morning, life is just better. If you struggle with this too, you could try using an old fashioned alarm clock instead of your phone so that it’s not the first thing you reach for. Or you could disable wifi and data until later in the day.
2. Pick and choose who you follow and what you click when you’re digesting your newsfeeds.
I sorted my Facebook friends into three lists: family, school friends, and then other people I care about seeing things from. Instead of just scrolling my newsfeed, I click on the friend list and only see things from that group of people. This means I don’t see updates from a lot of my “friends”. When I’m being smart and actually follow my own rule here, I don’t see updates from pages on Facebook either. I don’t really care about many pages I liked in the past, so it’s a win for my sanity.
On Instagram, I don’t automatically follow people who follow me. I’m following a little over 100 people right now, and have been needing to narrow that down.
One feature that helps with this is the “save” option on Facebook. When I see something interesting during the day, I usually save it for later instead of clicking and reading it then. When I have time to look at it later, it often isn’t interesting enough to read. Win for my sanity! Be ruthless about what you choose to click. If there are people or pages that ruin your sanity, just unfollow them. #SorryNotSorry
3. When something makes you mad on social media, stop and think before you respond.
Did your distant relative just post something stupid about Trump? How about vaccines and global warming and religion and politics and all the other things that make people mad. It’s okay to not engage, especially when we know the person isn’t interested in actual dialogue. Will this conversation bring both of you to a deeper understanding of each other or the issue? Think before you type. And I’m telling myself that too (LOL so much). I’ve participated in my share of Facebook debates and know how they can go…
4. Find things offline that refresh you and bring you joy.
I enjoy cooking and reading and have been loving local trails for hiking. I met some new friends at a brunch recently, and have been learning calligraphy. So fun! Things like this always refresh me and restore my hope in the world. Find what does that for you.
5. Whatever you do right before bed, make sure it’s offline.
. . . to which we all cackle, because who doesn’t check their phone before trying to sleep. Guilty as charged. But I have to say: putting away my phone, laptop, and tv for a while before bed makes me feel so much more refreshed than scrolling till my eyes droop. Try journaling, praying, reading, or something creative.
Our culture has some major problems, but I don’t think the solution is to run away. Please stay on social media to the degree that you can keep you sanity! The world needs your reasonable voice to challenge it. And we need to protect our sanity so we can be those reasonable voices. Let’s transform our culture together.
[But first, coffee. We gotta stay sane, right? 😉 ]
How do you keep your peace in the age of social media? Have any tips or tricks?
Have you seen all the memes about finally waving adieu to 2016? Most people seem to be counting down to saying goodbye to an eventful year. It’s certainly been quite a year for me, with lots of changes and things I haven’t blogged about. So for posterity’s sake, and because I miss this place, here’s what 2016 looked like for me.
The end of Christmas break saw me going back to Kansas for my final semester of college. I was beyond excited to be done with formal schooling. But at the same time, there’s so much to say goodbye to when college ends. I can now tell you that it’s quite possible to be crazy excited and terrified at the same time.
For the fourth time in college, we packed up a ginormous group of people to head to the March for Life in D.C.
Buuuuuut then the morning of the March we turned around and headed back to Kansas early in order to beat a crazy huge storm. It was a hard call to make for our bus company and group leaders. Ultimately, though, I think it was a good decision. The road we had to take heading west was the road many buses got stranded on just hours after us.
I treasured many “lasts” of college as the semester went on. At the same time (late Feb/early March??), I discovered that the job I had expected to step into after college was not going to happen. It hadn’t been for sure, but this made the next couple months crunch time to find a job. I was not keen on the idea of graduating without a next step. Anyway, you can imagine what that’s like for someone who likes to plan.
My role in the campus pro-life group senior year was receiving calls from families in need in our town and then delivering items directly to those moms and babies. That was such an enriching experience. I got to literally meet people where they were at and help them through more materially difficult times than I’ve ever experienced. I am so glad that I stepped back from being President that school year to work hands-on with people who needed us. I spent many Saturday mornings outside the closest abortion facility too.
I had a lovely spring break trip with some of my college girlfriends in snowy Colorado mountains. We went inner tubing and just had a blast. The job search continued. And I passed my senior comprehensive exam. Thank you, sweet Baby Jesus.
Things started to get REAL at this point with impending graduation. Applying for jobs got old fast. I do not envy anyone who is job searching, because at least in my experience, it was horrible. There’s the hope of seeing new opportunities and then after submitting your application you never hear back. I actually really appreciated the rejections I received, because at least it was an answer.
Part of the reason this was such a struggle for me is because with my Business Management degree, I was going to be qualified for any number of jobs in the business world. I know I am capable of doing much in the business world. And going home to Silicon Valley you might think that was my ambition. But I didn’t want to work in the corporate business world. To me it felt cold and impersonal and basically purgatory on earth. In my opinion it’s driven too much by money and other things I don’t care about. I wanted to work with non profits that were either related to my faith or the pro-life cause.
Though I didn’t have a next step yet, I started throwing away paperwork and notes from classes that I didn’t need anymore. Sweet freedom was on the horizon.
On campus our Memorial of the Unborn was unveiled. This was such a wonderful moment for the campus pro-life group, because students had been working on the project and raising money for it for many years. There had been many setbacks, and I was so proud to see it finally installed after much hard work.
It’s in a memorial garden in a nice spot on campus. Here’s what the statue looks like (with some rain on it). The rock wall behind it is a great height to sit and think, and it’s right off of a walkway with a bench directly across from it.
We hosted a baby item drive where all proceeds go to the ministry I was managing of helping local families. It was wonderfully successful and made me happy to leave the ministry in good hands with resources to work with.
Toward the end of April (I think – sometime around here), I started facing the reality that it didn’t look like I was going to be working in the fields I was most interested in. And I was like “FINE, GOD, IF YOU SAY SO”. Letting go looks much more like that sometimes than a feel-good Hallmark movie. It felt like I was standing on the edge of a cliff and had no idea what was coming. I applied for many jobs that in my opinion looked lame because it was time to be an adult even if what happened wasn’t ideal.
Then all of a sudden, life worked out.
In the couple weeks leading up to graduation, I had interviews with both a prominent pro-life organization and Ignatius Press where I work now. It’s funny because I had sent my resume to IP about 6 weeks prior to this, I think. They didn’t have any job listings up, but I figured it didn’t hurt to send my resume around and see what happened. Since one of their staff members was moving on at the end of May, they contacted me. And two days before graduation (I kid you not), it was official. My goal all along was to have a job before graduation. Of course it would have been nice for things to work out a couple months prior. But I just had to laugh at the way it turned out. God is good. And I had a next step after graduating.
I graduated a said bittersweet goodbye’s. At some point I’ll have to write more about college. My cap said “Believe there is good in the world“.
Then I moved home to California, started training for work 4 days later, bought a car and BAM. I am officially a real adult.
There’s a lot that goes into big transitions like this, and I felt that. Work was a steep learning curve at first. Taking public transportation was a nightmare the first few days before I got the car. But I have a job and I was thankful.
June – September
I adjusted to my new normal, which included a commute of about 1:40 or so each way. Fortunately driving the hills of San Francisco was just fine. After school started (for OTHER people, mwahahaha), it took over 2 hours to get to work in the morning. I listened to Catholic radio, said the rosary, sometimes jammed to music, and avoided accidents in crazy Bay Area traffic.
My first nephew was born and I visited him (and my sister and brother in law) and summer was great. My other older sister and I began looking for an apartment together once both of us had things in order. That was an interesting process!
We found a place, were accepted, and moved at the beginning of the month. It really had only taken a couple weeks of intense looking, visiting, and applying to find the right place, but it felt super long. The hardest part was finding something affordable, because local market price is about $3,500/mo for rent. Thankfully we found something under that and have enjoyed it ever since. One of my favorite walls is this gallery wall I’ve been slowly adding to:
Craigslist has come in handy for many furniture pieces, including that awesome chair and bookshelf 🙂 The crucifix is one of my favorite parts, and this phrase from Mama T.
November – December
Since then life has been moving along as per usual. We had a pretty crazy election. If you’re wondering how I voted, you can read this. Oh yeah, my transmission failed right before Thanksgiving (THANKS semi-new car). That was fun! Thankfully it was under warranty.
It’s nice to have my own place and a job to learn from. But I definitely miss the hustle and bustle of everything I did in college. It was so easy to pop across campus for this or that activity and go to events and volunteer my time. The world is so much bigger and takes being much more intentional now. I’m still looking for volunteer opportunities and social groups and figuring out good ways to spend my time. Oh! One awesome way I’ve spent some time is exploring trails around here. There are so many and I love them.
It’s been a year of figuring things out, making lots of decisions, and taking big steps into the world. I am thankful for much and looking forward to whatever the new year brings.
Did you make it this far? Congratulations, that was was long. Cheers to 2016! How was yours?
Until checking recently, I had no idea it’s been nearly 3.5 months since last sharing something in this space. There’s no excuse because there’s no requirement for blogging, no apologies because I was still living my life. Instead, there’s an older me, another semester under my belt, more life experience, and finally a new blog post.
Now that senior year is here (and half over!), everything is different. Life post-graduation is an impending reality. Friends will be missed, college will be reminisced, but I’m beginning to appreciate that there’s so much to look forward to this year of transition as graduation, jobs, and moving out of my childhood home become a reality.
Last year I chose “abandon” as my word of the year. The idea was to let go of the “perfect” plans I made for myself and abandon myself, surrender those plans and timing of them, to God who knows what is best for me. Easier said than done, I tell you.
Getting over the variables and accepting that everything’s going to work out somehow is something we probably all struggle with to varying degrees at different times. But I finally do feel an immense sense of peace about the future. I came to appreciate that God does not abandon us. He will not leave me hanging or homeless. I won’t automatically have a job I hate. What I will always have is a God who loves me and looks out for me.
And there’s not much else I truly need.
So this year I’m not making a bunch of silly goals that won’t happen. I’ll work on being healthier, reading and writing more, and my prayer life . . . but mostly I’m going to work on trusting God more.
2016 is my year to work on trust.
It’s going to be a year of huge transitions. People are going to come and go. Situations are going to change. Many things will be new. It will be hard sometimes, exciting at others. But through it all:
I am hopeful for this year because it doesn’t all depend on me. I don’t have to perfectly plan every last detail of my life because there’s a master plan already. It doesn’t give me license to be lazy. No way. Hard work is the only way to go. But you’ll find me praying and working harder to give my trust to the Big Guy who not only knows everything about me, but knows about my future too.
Through trust, I can choose to let go of worry and control and let my faith be bigger than fear.
Have there been times in your life when you let go of situations, trusted that God had a plan, and things surprisingly (ha!) worked out better than expected? Share away in the comments. Let’s talk about trust.
With all this talk about becoming a saint lately, I figured I better actually get started on that. It’s hard to know where to start when you decide to really chuck bad habits out the window and develop better ones.
But the important thing is to just get started.
These last couple weeks I’ve started by taking a few incremental steps to clear my head and get priorities straight. Here’s a taste of what that’s looked like:
1. Silence in the car going to/from work.
This isn’t to take joy out of life by not turning on music, but to give myself time to not be entertained, to actually think or just be. Yes, sometimes I turn into my own radio. But mostly I am quiet and just enjoy the scenery. I am capable of giving up 20 minutes of being distracted each day.
2. No laptop after 9pm.
Right now there are no excuses for not getting enough sleep. I realized that reading articles (or other “constructive” ventures) was a big part of my staying up late, so BAM. Get rid of the cause. I am capable of doing things beside being on the internet late at night.
3. Exercise consistently.
Okay, do you know how awesome it is to be sore? It makes me feel like a boss to know I worked hard. And it’s good for my health, go figure. I don’t work out to get a bikini body because I wouldn’t ever wear one, but I do work out to be healthy and strong. I am capable of devoting 30+ minutes of most days to exercising.
4. Get up earlier.
I was chatting with a few friends, and we all were talking about wanting to get up earlier. So guess what? We decided to get up earlier. Go figure! We text motivational quotes on weekday mornings. And I have a daily meditation book my goal is to whip out every morning. Even though I’ve fallen back asleep while reading it a couple times, I am capable of getting up (and staying up) at a reasonably early hour.
That’s not everything, but enough for now.
What’s made each of these possible is to get over whatever silly excuses and just do it. It’s true, that’s not terribly motivational. Who in the world wants to put in the effort? Who wants to force themselves to do good things instead of what’s easy?
Yeah, not many people.
It’s true for me too. Binge watching a tv show is way easier than flipping on a workout DVD and getting down to business. Lounging on the couch reading Buzzfeed articles and eating cookies is way easier than using internet time intentionally.
But if we’re being honest with ourselves, don’t those things leave us terribly unsatisfied?
I am satisfied at the end of the day when I can look back and know I tried, that I gave my all. And that only happens when I make an intentional effort – when I choose awesome. That is something each of us is capable of doing.
So, let’s do it. What are you going to do to take that first step and change things you want to change? Those little things add up, my friend! Tell me, and let’s help each other out!