Action Woman finds a new “Best”

One week in and social media free. I’m liking this.

The withdrawal symptoms have lessened. The insatiable itch to check what’s going on in the outside world whenever my inner world is shaky has subsided.

I feel a lot more steady and clarity is beginning to emerge.

Let me back up a bit.

Two months ago I felt like I was having a midlife crisis. It felt like nothing was working and I had no clue what I wanted.or what direction to go in next. I was taking loads of action for the fish farm and The True You Project, because, as Action Woman, that’s what I do best. But the money wasn’t coming in, and I didn’t know why I was taking all this action any more.

OK, I kind of knew why: Obligation. And because I had gone down those roads for so long, I felt I couldn’t turn back.

That wasn’t the only action I was taking. Since there wasn’t any, or at least a sustainable amount, of money coming in, I was also working weekends at a restaurant waiting tables and dreaming of a simple life where serving nice people, nice food, in a nice place, was enough. Everybody’s smiling, the bills are paid, and I can write and create on the side.

Except would that be enough? As attractive as it sounds, that didn’t feel right either.

And let’s not forget that I’m 37.5 and there’s no kids in sight. I thought for sure by now there’d be diapers to change and toddlers to chase after. Or at least a bump to rub? Maybe even a dog and a house with a white picket fence? For sure I never anticipated this childless pebbledash bungalow that has permanent diesel stains on it from the fumes of all the cars and trucks that whiz by our house at 60 mph even though it’s a 30 mph zone. I can hear them in my bones and I don’t like it. Their tremors remind me of a life that I’m not fully satisfied with, and I don’t like that either.

Hence the crisis.

Fast-forward to today. It doesn’t feel like a crisis anymore. You know why?

Action Woman has traded in her superpower. She is now Queen of the Pause.

I’ve slowed down everything, to the pace of one big drip.

Instead of scurrying around, trying to make up for what feels like a 6 month catch-up game for the fish farm, I’m stepping back and responding to what is.

Instead of trying to carve out the path of The True You Project with a garden spade, I’m letting the waters that are already flowing, run their course, and finally floating along with them.

I am still waiting tables, and enjoying each divine encounter that I have with nice people, eating nice food, in a nice place.

Do you know what I found in all of that space? Something that feels slightly forbidden. A Pandora’s Box inside of me that’s been holding my deepest longings and desires.

I’ve carefully tiptoed toward it, enamored and curious. And slowly, very slowly, I’ve started to open it. Slowly, because, afterall, I wouldn’t want the screaming chaos that I’m pretty sure has been locked away inside, to be let out too quickly.

But then, as the box starts to crack open, I wonder if perhaps I’ve got it all wrong. What if, instead of that box housing my misery, it is housing my delights? What if, by keeping that box shut tight, I am actually creating my own misery?

What if, in being taught to be grateful for what you have instead of reaching for what looks delightful and intriguing, that forbidden and dangerous fruit, we’ve denied ourselves our deepest longings and cravings? And in trying to keep ourselves from reaching for that thing that just might fulfill our soul’s desire, we get damn good at keeping ourselves busy. Stuffing our lives, sometimes our faces, with anything and everything that will silence the empty echo of our hearts.

Including social media.

This week has sealed the deal. Or actually popped open the seal of my own Pandora’s box. It’s contents feel familiar. The wind must have blown the curtain back just enough for me to make out a soft aura of deep purpley blue. And the thing inside must have cunningly stretched and popped the lid open just enough for me to catch its yellowy-orange glow.

The heat of excitement would rise within me. I’d feel energized by my full heart. But then I’d turn on my phone or open a browser, and the noise of all that I’d encounter would bring me crashing right back down. The lid sealed once again, the curtain stiffly hanging. And so I’d continue on with what I was doing, without blowing on the embers of my soul.

This week I had the space to blow. It was only a few puffs here and there, but enough to let a few embers catch flame and burn bright for more than 5 minutes at a time.

There is a part of me that wants to tell you what is catching fire. And there’s a part of me that is worried it’s too soon. What if I tell you and then the flame dies? What will you think of me then? Back to the old start-stop Kendra who can’t seem to stick with something long enough for it to actually take off.

Here’s what feels different this time though.

I had a conversation with my Self earlier this week that basically kicked my ass.

I was told by my Self: I am allowed to dream big. I am allowed to desire and be turned on by all that has been stuffed away and trapped in that box. Those are gifts are for me, and me only. So be a courteous guest, take off the friggin wrapping paper, open the box, and let them into your life!

BUT!

And here’s the big BUT.

I CAN NOT receive them from a position of Doing.

I MUST receive them in a position of Rest.

I am the conduit, not the Messiah.

I am the vessel, not the Light.

I am the human, not the God.

My mission, should I choose to accept it, is for me to be me, and let the Messiah, the Light, the God, be just that.

AND, I must keep them on speed dial, because TOGETHER shit happens.

On Being Human and Social

It’s Day 2 of no social media. So far so good. It helps having the apps off of my phone. It also helps that I can’t remember my passwords for most of my accounts so if I try to log-on from a browser I’ll have to go through that whole rigmarole to log on. #grateful that I’m the type of person that usually can’t be bothered.

There’s a couple of dilemmas though. I’m feeling a sense of obligation to tell people I won’t be checking my accounts and so if they need to get in touch with me, email me. It’s mostly about Facebook. I don’t have enough action on Insta or Twitter to warrant a heads up.

Last week I thought I’d do a FB Live to let people know. I was mulling over what to say, and strategically planning when I would/wouldn’t wash my hair so that I’d look somewhat with it on camera. Then March 31st came and I just really couldn’t care less. I took care of some admin for an upcoming event, and as I logged off, I said a prayer of Trust that the right people would be at that event whether or not I logged on daily to see if anyone left any comments or questions on the event page.

Sometimes this letting go and Trust thing feels careless. I ask myself, if you really believe in what you’re doing and want people to benefit from it, wouldn’t you be banging on every door and shouting it from the rooftops? In facebook terms, wouldn’t you be posting about it on a constant basis? Share it in every relevant Group you’re part of? Maybe even make a few ads?

That is definitely the voice of reason. But it doesn’t feel like the voice of my Self.

The other dilemma I have is that on Saturday night I had a sneaky peak at my messages and I saw I had a couple new ones come in. I didn’t have time to read and respond, and then Sunday started my hiatus. Crap! Ignoring them and blaming my ban doesn’t feel right. Nor does logging on to write back. I think I’m going to email them to say, let’s talk over here, or even pick up the phone and catch up.

OK problem solved.

So this was pretty fun. Yesterday we collected some seaweed while the tide was out and started gathering rocks on the way back. We found these funky speckled rocks in blue and reds that kinda looked like painted Easter eggs. Pretty cool, considering it was Easter Sunday.

And that’s when I clocked what I actually like about social media: I can share that moment of divine joy with others so easily. Snap a pic, add a caption about our ‘Easter egg hunt’, and then move on.

I’ve been wondering, why is that so gratifying? Why not just enjoy the moment with my husband and let that be that? Or tell the story to my friends over dinner at some point in the future when it’s relevant to the conversation? What’s the actual point of sharing it on Instagram with people who I don’t even know what their real names are?

And I think it comes down to this: If it brings me joy, I want to share it with you. Even if I don’t know you.

So then I have to ask myself, if it brings me sadness, do I also want to share it with you? What about if it brings me anger? Or guilt? Or confusion?

I’m pretty sure the answer is yes. I mean, I don’t want my instagram page to be covered with sad or angry pictures… I still opt for beauty; but, yes, when I’m inclined to post it’s because I am feeling something, and I want to share it and perhaps connect with someone else who can relate.

I’m pretty sure that’s called being human.

PS These are the rocks. Pretty cool huh?

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A Social Media Hiatus

It’s April 1, 2018. Easter Sunday. The first day of my social media hiatus. I just deleted the Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and FB Messenger apps from my phone. This is not a joke.

You see, I noticed an addiction forming that looks like this:

I’m bored. Check facebook.

I’m lonely. Check facebook.

I don’t know what to do with my life. Check facebook.

I feel like basking in some beauty. Open Instagram.

I wonder how my good friend Sally’s doing. Stalk her on both Facebook and Instagram. (I don’t have a good friend Sally but if I did, I’d be stalking her too.)

It used to be food. Now it’s some digital conglomerate of zero’s and one’s that have become a substitute for being with what’s real.

I’ve had a couple good lines:

“I’m not a social media junkie. I only really use social media because…

It’s good for business.

I don’t live near my friends and family so it helps me keep in touch.

It gives me a creative outlet. When I write something I have people to share it with.”

I’m calling bull shit on all of that. Here’s the God’s honest truth.

I had no idea what Facebook was until about 4 years after it started catching on. I only joined it so I could nurture an imaginary budding relationship with a guy I met on holiday. I was into him, and the only way it was suggested I keep in touch was via Facebook. I didn’t have internet at my flat at the time, and the website was blocked at work, so I spent some hard-earned pounds at an internet cafe (remember those!) to create a FB account.

I friended (is that a verb!?) a few key people before friending him so that I didn’t look desperate (ha!), and then attempted to start a very nonchalant conversation, carefully weaving in the fact that I don’t have constant access to the internet so don’t expect an immediate reply.

I thought I could walk away. Make contact and then not think about it for a few days, maybe a week, and then perhaps when I had a few moments with nothing else to do, I would find another internet cafe just to be polite and not leave his response unanswered.

Well, you know where this is going right?

I’m on high alert. Eyes wide open, pupils dilated, raised eyebrows, and fiercely set jaw, as I scurry through the evening commuters that don’t seem to have anywhere better to be as they exit the train platform.

Out of my way! I’ve gotta get to the cafe, log on for a quick 15 minutes, and then get home so I can go for a run before dark.

And of course there’s no reply.

Good thing I found my sister on facebook. I could catch up on her life and message her instead without completely losing face.

Lonely. Love-starved. Ripe for grasping on to anything that would fill the void. Completely susceptible to the addiction.

To be fair, I didn’t become an addict right away. I’d say I’ve been on the lower end of the hours-lost-on-Facebook bell curve. After I got over this guy, I could go days without it.

Then I started meeting people in real-life that were also on Facebook and it became an easy way to connect. Easier than accepting that fact that if we tried to have a real conversation, we’d probably both be itching to go after ten minutes or so.

Then old highschool friends that I lost touch with started friending me, and all of a sudden my life had meaning again. They missed me! I was important to them!

And then of course, I was checking it daily.

When I took a break back-packing and didn’t have constant access to wifi, I’m happy to report I didn’t have withdrawal symptoms.

But then I attempted to start my own business and that’s where it all went pear-shaped.

I’d post something that was slightly edgy for me… a story about my past, or an invitation to sign up to one product or service or another…

Something where I was highly attached to how people responded because I was measuring the value of my thoughts, my products, services and Me, based on how many Likes, Comments, Shares, Follows, or Purchases there were.

Again that jaw clenched, eyes dilated, and constant refresh of the page, wondering why my post hasn’t gone viral yet. Why my fans aren’t loving me as they could and should.

I give myself a pep talk. “Keep going, this is the only way to land clients and customers. It’s the only way people will find you.”

Survival mode.

Too bad the data shows that only two of the dozens of clients I’ve coached were because of a Facebook post, most of our customers come from personal connections we’ve made, and most of those connections have come through other connections with businesses, referral sources, or from being human and do things that humans do…. Like participate in a world that is made up of protons and neutrons and electrons, not just zeroes and ones.

So why is it only now that I’m taking a break from social media?

Because I’ve been afraid.

Afraid to let go. What will happen if people don’t hear from me for a whole month? What if I lose out on a chance to make some money? What if I miss out on something really important that happens and Facebook is the only way for me to find out about it?

Afraid of those things, and totally afraid to Trust.

Trust that the right people at the right time will come into my life. Trust that financial provision will continue to come in ways I don’t always have control over. Trust that if something important happens, I will find out about it in time.

I’ve also been afraid of the blank space. That nano-second in time where I am feeling bored, lonely, disconnected, sitting with more questions than answers and creeping towards the edge of uncomfortable uncertainty. Thank God for Facebook, Social Media, Email, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Twitter… anything to reassure me that I’m not alone anymore.

Except after the initial high wears off, I am back to where I was. Or worse, spinning into action fueled by more fear. This time, of being left out and being behind the curve (because in life-according-to-Insta-and Facebook, clearly everyone else has their shit together.)

So I thought, “Right, no more of this crap. Get yourself together and start listening to your Self.”

Now, you may already know this, but what I’m about to tell you is news to me.

Your Self and my Self, is different to yourself and myself.

I know it seems like the only difference is a matter of hitting the spacebar and shift key, but turns out they’re different (and fyi I didn’t learn about this on social media).

It helps me to think of my Self as something tangible; physical, like another being. Like an Elf. Or a fairy. Like Tinkerbell.

My Self is quietly unassuming (ok maybe not like Tinkerbell). It sort of watches my life from the sidelines without interfering too much. Every now and then, my Self opens its mouth (I never know if it’s gonna be a He or a She), and says something that is wise, kind, and usually profoundly simple. Usually it’s so simple, I find a hundred and one reasons why that level of wisdom, kindness, and simplicity just won’t work out here in the real world.

So my Self shrugs her shoulders (this time it’s a She) and says, “OK. I’ll be here when you need me.”

So I do it my way, and then (again), this quiet unassuming voice just kinda drops a blip of truth into my head. Sometimes it feels like a bomb, but it’s not. It’s definitely more like a blip. Or a bloop.

And then I’m left staring at this blippy bloop and I think, “Shit!! Why didn’t I see this coming!? This is going to take so much effort to clean up this mess I’m in!”

And then Self says, “Or not. You could always leave it to me.”

“Leave it you? Ha. You can’t clean this up as good as I can.”

“Wanna make a bet?”

Ugh. I really do! Like, really really do. I want to show you and prove to you that my way is better. That I’ve got this. I’m pulling from decades of experience, and hundreds of books I’ve read, and  piles of manuals that ok, maybe I haven’t read (who reads instructions these days!), but I could always Google it and figure things out if I get stuck.

“You do remember that I’ve been around long before you and your Google, right? It’s fine though. Do it your way.”

And I do. And then life gets messy. And then Self drops another blip-bomb, and we have this same conversation, until finally, finally, FINALLY, I start to listen.

Which takes me right back to where I started; my social media hiatus.