Intention

Intention: Now With Extra Action

During April, my word - intention - took a decidedly action-oriented turn.

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At least . . . if you can call "inaction" "action." ;-)

On April 1, I launched myself into a 30-day digital de-clutter, à la Cal Newport's Digital Minimalism book.  (You can read my original post about my digital declutter here.)  I wasn't THAT bad when it came to my digital habits.  I mean . . . I'd already removed Facebook from my life (which brought me much happiness and no regrets at all).  But there were a few tendencies that I wanted to disrupt; bad habits I wanted to break.  (And I will admit to being shocked at how much time I DID use my phone every day . . . when I was finally brave enough to really look at the stats for my screen time!)

This digital declutter meant I had to be very intentional about how I was going to use my phone and the rest of the digital tools at my disposal (my laptop and my iPad).  I set up rules for myself.  I removed the most troublesome apps from my phone.  I committed myself to . . . just leaving my phone in its pocket in my bag.  It also meant I needed to be very intentional about what I would do instead of picking up my phone.  (Always having something handy to read really helped here.)

Every single thing about my digital declutter has been intentional.  And now that I'm at the end of it, I'm going to be equally intentional about what I allow back into my digital life.

Here are some highlights from my digital declutter:

  • I reduced my daily phone use to under an hour each day.  According to my at-the-end-of-the-digital-declutter screen time stats, I now only pick up my phone to use my camera, to check the weather, to meditate (I use an app called Insight Timer), and to communicate (text or phone).  And that's . . . pretty much it these days.  

    Now that the digital declutter is over?  I want to keep it that way!

  • I have completely disrupted my tendency to "Google everything."  (My kids used to call me Google Mom.)  Seriously, before the declutter I would pick up my phone and Google any "I wonder" thought that popped into my head.  (We're not talking Useful Information here.  We're talking Really Stupid and Inane Things that I don't even really care about, but that were mildly interesting in a passing way.)  I have learned to let this stupid stuff just . . . go.  

    Now that the digital declutter is over?  I don't see this tendency making a return.  I'm just not interested anymore.

  • I took email off my phone completely.  Turns out that checking my email . . . was my "gateway drug" to using my phone.  I'd check my email "real quick" . . . which would lead to a scroll through Instagram, then maybe checking out what Pinterest was recommending for me to look at, and then a scan of today's headlines -- where I would probably click in to a story or two (or three or four).  And then, well . . . maybe I should check my email again???  Total. Waste. Of. Time.

    Now that the digital declutter is over?  I'm leaving my email off my phone, unless I'm traveling.

  • I took away the "headline news" feature on my phone.  I cannot even begin to tell you how much this has boosted my happiness.  And it's not like I'm living in a cave now, completely unaware of what's happening out there in the world.  Now I pick up my news through once-daily digests from my favorite news sources.  I access the information when I'm ready to check the news, and I find that I am more than adequately informed.

    Now that the digital declutter is over?  No news headlines.  Ever. 

  • I took the Instagram and Pinterest apps off my phone..  They did remain on my laptop and iPad, but, like I discovered with Facebook a couple of years ago, I found that I just didn't access either of those sites very often during the 30 days.  (I think I never looked at Instagram, and I know I pinned two things to Pinterest from my laptop.  But that's it.)  

    I do miss Instagram.  A lot.  I miss seeing what my friends are up to, and I miss sharing photos.  What I don't miss?  People I never should have been following anyway.  (No surprise there.)  

    What I miss most about Pinterest is having it available as a reference.  I pin a lot of "inspirational" ideas that I like to access in my art classes or when I'm sketching or when I'm with my friends and want to share things I've seen  -- and not having access on my phone is a pain.  Somehow, I need to balance the handy reference feature of Pinterest with my tendency to scroll to see what ELSE is out there.

    Now that the digital declutter is over?  I'm putting both apps back on my phone.  I'll begin engaging on Instagram again tomorrow, but on a limited basis (maybe just once every couple of days).  I'll also "unfollow" people who make me roll my eyes.  As far as Pinterest goes, I'm going to have to be really careful.  I'll monitor my use, and if it becomes a problem for me . . . I'll have to take it off again.

Bottom line?  

I did this digital declutter to take control - with intention - of my digital tendencies and habits; to get my digital use "in line" with how I want to spend my time.  The declutter was super valuable for me in doing just that!  I disrupted tendencies and patterns of use, I broke habits, and I gained a TON of perspective.  You know what else?  I discovered that I have so much time for DOING . . . when I'm not glued to my damn phone.

From an intention standpoint, it was an ideal exercise for me.  I will be more purposeful and deliberate (more intentional!) about the digital parts of my life from now on.

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How about you?  What did you learn from your word this month?

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Also -- be sure to check back on Friday!  I'll be . . . Asking Questions!  
(Are you curious????)

 

 


Digital Unraveling

In November 2017, I decided to rethink my relationship with Facebook.  I was a very regular Facebook user back then. . . posting and like-ing and sharing pretty much every day.  But I got disgusted.  With myself . . . for spending so much mindless time scrolling.  And with Facebook . . . for being Facebook.

I didn't completely let go of Facebook, but I did remove the app from my phone.  I figured I didn't want to give it up completely -- but maybe I could get that scrolling habit under control if it wasn't available on my phone.

The first few days were hard.  I got antsy . . . just wanting to scroll.  But it only took a couple of days, and I found I wasn't missing Facebook at all!  In fact, even though it was still available to use on my laptop, I just . . . lost interest.

Like completely.

And it was a simple decision for me to deactivate my account once the Cambridge Analytics story broke.  (After a year, I reactivated because I thought I wanted to be part of a "group" -- but found I never even looked at it.  So I've deactivated again.)

Anyway.  I proved to myself that (1) I wasn't missing anything by not spending time on Facebook, and (2) it was easier to break that scrolling habit/addiction/tendency than I thought it would be.

Which may explain why this book appealed to me so much. . . 

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(This is how I read library books --- with post-it flags.  The number of flags indicates how much this book resonated with me.) (I ended up with a 9-page Word document of notes I took with this book.)

This book is not . . . anti-technology.  It does not bash smartphones.  It does not recommend getting rid of all your apps.

It does, though, explain the obvious -- that "new technology" has changed our lives dramatically in the past decade.  It explains some of the reasons why.  It points out a few of the rather devious practices employed by social media companies to get us to use our smartphones even more.  But mostly, it encourages us to examine our own technology use (and especially our smartphones) . . . to see how, exactly, we're using them.  Where our time goes.  And how to make our technology WORK FOR US.

The author, Cal Newport, recommends doing a 30-day "digital declutter."  Nothing drastic or draconian -- just a 30-day break from "optional" technologies.  And the first step is . . . to determine your own rules.  You get to decide which of your technologies are "optional."  Then, after the 30-days, you get to re-evaluate.  Which of the "optional technologies" do you want to reintroduce for yourself -- and under what conditions or rules?  (It's sort of like a digital version of the Whole 30 concept.)

I started my own "digital declutter" on April 1.  My goal is to cut down on mindless scrolling (which still happens, of course, even without Facebook).  Here are my rules and conditions for my 30-days:

  • I removed the Instagram and Pinterest apps from my phone.  (Although they are still on my laptop, I don't plan to access either for my "declutter" time.)  (Yep.  That means no Instagram or Pinterest for 30 days.)
  • I have de-activated email on my phone.  (I tend to constantly check my email on my phone, but I never reply unless I'm at my laptop.)  (So why am I checking it on my phone????)
  • I removed all news headline apps from my phone.  (These are a great source of click-bait for me . . . and it never makes me happy.) 
  • I have blocked certain websites (from my phone and laptop) that just distract me mindlessly.  (I'm looking at you Tom & Lorenzo.)
  • I have set up my own rules for using Ravelry.  While I can still use it for adding projects (should I finish any during the 30-day period) or to look up a pattern I already own, I will not allow myself to scroll through the "hot right now" patterns for 30 days.

I also set up my own rules for which apps I can still use.  (Most of these are useful, not optional, or for whatever reason don't tempt me to keep scrolling.)  (Banking, for example.  My meditation app.  The weather.  Evernote.  Goodreads.)  Other not-optional activities for me:  texting, calling, blogging, and listening to audiobooks.

(It's all very . . . intentional.  Y'know???)

It's Day 3 of my "digital declutter."  And I'm not missing a thing.

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How about you?  Have you ever thought about doing a "digital declutter?"


Your Life is Your Life

(With special thanks today to Juliann . . . for hosting a monthly one-little-word check in over on her blog . . . . and for keeping the conversation going all year long.)

your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
    --- Charles Bukowski, the laughing heart

Intention.

It turns out this is the perfect word for me . . . right now, this year.
I'm having a great time exploring and thinking and connecting with my word.

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Three months into 2019, where has intention pulled me?

  • I've been doing a lot of thinking about why I do what I do.  (Knitting, for example.)
  • I've become much more aware of "Future Kym."  (Like . . . how she's not a stranger at all, and how I ought be making more of my decisions with her in mind.)
  • I'm discovering that wellness (in a holistic sense) is key to "living my best life."  (For the rest of my life.)

I've also begun compiling an "intention journal" filled with quotes and images and ideas that resonate with me as I explore my word.  This month, I added 3 poems.  This one, by Charles Bukowski, particularly fits my word . . . for me.

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the laughing heart. charles bukowski

your life is your life
don't let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the odds will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can't beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

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How about YOU?  What are you learning about your word this year?  I'd love to hear about it.

 


About That . . .

Back in January, I wrote a post about how I came to choose my word for the year (intention), and in that post, I made the rather bold statement that I wanted to . . . live my best life every day.

And ever since then, I've been asking myself . . . what does that even mean???
And ever since then, I've been thinking about it.

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Because I don't mean that living my best life is sitting in my garden with a glass of wine and a book, sighing with contentment and thinking about poetry and travel and my next spa treatment.  (Although that does sound pretty good.)  

Rather, living my best life is more holistic for me.
Longer term.  
I want to live my best life not just today -- but every day.  Now and into the future.

For me, living my best life = feeling good.  
Being healthy, grounded, balanced, challenged, connected, engaged.  
Living with a fullness that comes from . . . a holistic sense of being well.  

"Wellness is the complete integration of body, mind, and spirit -- the realization that everything we do, think, feel, and believe has an effect on our state of well-being."    ---Greg Anderson

Eureka!  That's it!

I've discovered that a focus on wellness (in an overall sense) will help me live my best life . . . today and every day.

So.  Strap yourselves in.  We're going on an adventure. 
(I hope you won't mind.)

 


Inspired Documentation

Each year, after I choose my word, I try to find physical ways to keep it close to me.  I figure that if I can see it, I'll think about it more.  It's an awareness thing.  If I'm looking for it, I'll find it!  If I'm open to it, my word will continue to bubble up in meaningful ways.

One thing I always do right away . . . is set up some sort of journal to document my experience.  It's a great way for me to capture my thoughts and reflections and, ultimately, my "learnings" about my word.  

For the last few years, I've used a little cardboard album with binder rings that can (conveniently!) expand to hold any number of pages.

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I nearly always begin my journal with the dictionary definition of my word for the year, and a collection of quotes that I find particularly inspiring. 

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After that, well . . . it's a crap shoot!  I'm a visual person, so I like to collect little bits and pieces that resonate with me about my word.  By the end of the year, this binder will be stuffed with all kinds of goofy stuff --  images from magazines, photos I've taken myself, postcards, jottings on index cards, post-it notes, poems, lists . . . whatever comes my way.

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The entire thing usually ends up looking like an overstuffed vision board by the end of the year, but it's always fun to look back at what has inspired me.

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Inspiration!  That's the whole point of having a word, isn't it?

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How about you?  How are you inspired this month?

 

 

 


Into the Future

Have you ever thought about yourself . . . in the future?

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(This photo has absolutely nothing to do with today's blog post.  But it's lovely, isn't it?  A new cyclamen plant. . . Here are some tips for getting a cyclamen plant to re-bloom.) (So.  Maybe this photo IS related to today's blog post after all.  I'll let you decide.)

I don't mean what you'll look like in the future.  (Although there is that. . . )  I mean what life will be like for you.  What you'll do with your time.  How you'll spend your days.  How you'll feel.  That kind of thing.

In this, my year of intention, I've been thinking a lot about my future self:  Future-Kym.

Turns out that most of us have unrealistic notions about our future selves.  It is human nature to believe that tomorrow will be different for ourselves.  We'll have more time.  We'll be in better physical shape.  We'll have enough money for retirement.  We'll knit ALL the yarn in our stash!

And while, yes, our lives will continue to change and evolve (because the one constant in our lives is change), we are not going to become totally different people.  You know. . . healthy and fit people who have time for learning new languages in preparation for trips around the world while knitting all day and never eating sweets with perfectly organized photo albums and a sparkling clean house. 

Unless we start working on it today, that is.

Consider this blog post fair warning:  You're going to hear a lot more about Future-Kym this year.  As I work through my goal of living with intention, I'm going to have to bring her into the spotlight!

How about you?  Have you given much thought to Future-You?

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Don't forget:  If you'd like to be included in the drawing for yesterday's Stash Giveaway, let me know in the comments this week.  I'll be drawing a couple of names on Friday!


Creating Space

As I begin putting my plans and goals together for the year ahead, one thing that keeps bubbling up is . . . 

More doing.  Less thinking about it.

This can apply to lots of things in my life.  Because I am a bit of a day-dreamer.  I like to think about and plan and consider . . . sometimes so much that I actually run out of time for the doing!

And sometimes when I'm ready to start the doing, I can't.  Because my space for the doing is in such a state of, well . . . unreadiness . . . that I need to get over that hurdle before I can begin.  Really.  This is how it works for me.

Take my "art room" -- which is Brian's old bedroom, now luxuriously converted to my dedicated art space.

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It's wonderful space to have.  But it tends to fill quickly . . . 

with glitter supplies from my glitter-balls project at the holidays
and glass discs from another holiday project
and sketch books
and drawing supplies
and painting supplies
and bits and bobs that have inspired me in some way
and random pieces of this or that that I might be able to use in some way

And when life gets busy, I don't take the time to Just. Put. Things. Away.

And that means that before I want to do ANYTHING related to drawing or sketching or painting or . . . even more glitter, I need to dig out and put away and create space.

(This happens in my sewing space, too.)

(Is it just me?  Or does this happen to you sometimes, too?)

Anyway.  This is my year of Intention.  My year to do what I set out to do.  On purpose.  Deliberately.  And that means creating (and maintaining) the space to DO.

I spent the weekend clearing out and organizing my art room.  

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I am ready for the DOING now.

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(And NEXT . . . I'll tackle my sewing space.)