Reflections on Lent Fast 2017: MediaApril 16, 2017 - Author: KishaLynn Elliott
Oh man it was awesome. Far better than I imagined it would be. Media-free life, how I loved thee. Let me count the ways…
1. Dramatic decrease in stress levels. Just ending the deluge of socio-political bad news and taking a break from the day-to-day reality of a Trump presidency was enough relief to make me never want to look back…almost. But hiding is never a good way to face the challenges in life. The fast must end, but so must the stressing out.
2. More sleep/rest. I went to bed earlier most nights, and napped whenever I could. It was glorious!! Some say sleep is overrated. I say, ZZzzzzZZZZzzzz….!!!!
3. More things done, professionally and personally. Deadlines met. Emails responded to. Calls and meetings scheduled, conducted and followed up on. Amazing focus and productivity are possible when I am not allowed to let my mind wander to the Facebook notifications, the Reddit front page, and Google news headlines. I came into Lent with a lengthy to-do list, and I accomplished quite a lot on it. Doctors, appointments, financial planning, taxes, chores, meditating, organizing projects, and LOTS AND LOTS OF WRITING!
4. More entertained and informed. I didn’t totally give up media. I traded endless hours of Facebook and TV for reading books, listening to music, watching films, and playing games. By doing this, I discovered new things to love. I was not just seeing/hearing/reading the same thing everyone else was discovering via viral media. I still used Google and other websites on an as-needed basis and very mindfully/intentionally, for work and essential educational/research purposes. It was nice to remember what the internet is supposed to be used for. It’s so powerful to be able to have access to real information at my fingertips, whether it be directions to a friend’s house, instructions on how to fix my wifi network, or recipes for a yummy dinner using items I have on hand.
5. More conversations. I am way more tuned in to the people I am with when I am not scanning through social media every few seconds. I spent time talking to people, using my actual mouth. And I liked it!
6. More connection to my wife. This was the best benefit of all, and worth a lifetime without TV or social media. Those TV- and phone-free after work chats amounted to deeper, more interesting discussions and far more connection than we’ve have had in a while, and certainly in the year and a half since Simeon became a real part of our lives in pregnancy, and now in his first year of life. I am somewhat desperate to keep that joy going once my wife no longer has to keep the TV turned off when I am around. It was an impressive show of solidarity on her part (which she has already informed me WILL EXPIRE when Lent ends.) Maybe I can try negotiating for a few TV-free nights a month. Wish me luck with that!
7. More engaged in motherhood. I set up a play date for my son. I took my son to so many library story times and park playgrounds. We went to play dates with La Leche League. We took naps together and played with toys, and read books. We took a hilarious Mommy and Me Yoga class. I learned how to make baby food and cooked (Yes, I COOKED) a variety of healthy breakfasts, lunches and dinners for Simeon with my own two hands. He gobbled them up! I gave him the attention I would normally be offering to my phone by default, posting to or scrolling through media.
8. More engaged in life. Just because I was offline doesn’t mean I was unplugged. I stayed plenty busy. I even did something completely random, like tried out for a fashion show in which I was cast as a plus sized model for an event this summer. I had a peanut butter and jelly with mimosa beach picnic with Miki Vale. I hosted a party. I saw an ocean sunset with my family. I LIVED and loved these moments.
9. Less money spent. This largely is due to the fact that my wife and I ran a simultaneous spending fast with Lent, during which no money could be spent on anything other than groceries, gas and essential expenses like the rent and bills. No dining out. No casual shopping. And politely declining events and activities which cost money. But the Media Fast notably contributed to my relative ease in not spending, because I wasn’t constantly being bombarded with advertising and other enticing invitations to spend. It was especially fun to find no-cost ways to love life, like going to the park, or chillaxing at a friend’s house.
10. More awareness. It was so apparent to me during Lent how truly tuned out most of us are most of the time. Everyone is looking down, at their device. Scrolling and clicking. Meanwhile, my head was usually up when I was around others, watching the world and patiently waiting for everyone in it to return their attention to me and their other surroundings.
It’s not like I spent the whole month and a half in the dark. Pieces of bad news still managed to get to me one way or another, whether it was updates on people in my closest inner circle, or things happening in the county (Trump dropped a bomb and there was a school shooting), or the world (chemical weapons in Syria). But somehow I was able to be more receptive to it all when my eyes, ears, and spirit weren’t being beaten up with it virtually every hour of the day.
Unlike my other fasts of going without alcohol, Facebook, candy/soda/gum, processed foods, cursing, sleeping in, sugar/dairy/grains, this lent fast gave me far more than it took away. The things it did take were things I don’t necessarily want back. The question now is–what now? How do I re-engage and maintain my sense of inner peace, mental clarity, and hopeful optimism? What boundaries can I put in place around media consumption that won’t turn me back into just another tech-zombie, stumbling through my life thumbing my phone?
I guess that’s a question to answer tomorrow (Easter!) and in the days ahead!
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