Not Anti-Social

Dragonfly IMG_1136

I gave myself a one month reprieve from social media. Let’s call it restriction. Or social media lite. I promised myself I would visit Facebook only to post for business and not to scroll and share videos. I would post only to Instagram for personal use – maybe a photo or two a day – and I would endeavor to blog on the daily and post from WordPress to Facebook.

How did I do?

  • I blogged every day but five. I wrote every day but 2. Sometimes it’s better not to post than to post crap. My personal standard.
  • I was able to get in and out of Facebook with little conflict, but did get a little sucked in on my birthday.
  • I didn’t post to Instagram as much as I expected, which tells me a lot (we’ll get to that).
  • The cravings went away after about a week.

Here’s what I have observed in that month:

My compulsion to pick up my phone and scroll has more to do with wanting to distract myself from the multitude of conversations competing in my head than with wondering what’s going on in the world. When I am in creative mode, I often wander to the kitchen or back porch or grab my phone to steer my thoughts away from the problem at hand. It usually works and the solution materializes, but using more content isn’t the answer. Instead, when I grab my phone to scroll I lose sight all together of what I was noodling in the first place and I am sucked into the couch never to fully recover creatively.

No one asked me where I was. No one wondered why Allison wasn’t posting sloth videos anymore. This was less troubling than confirming of what I postulated would be the result of my absence. We have lost the ability to wait, to be patient, to allow thoughts, ideas or even people to surface in our minds. We are victims of the media. I know that sounds ominous, but think about it: We respond to what is right in front of us. If my friend Mark posts a ton, I have very specific opinions about him based on what he wants me to believe about him. Also I think about him more than some of my closer friends because he shows up in front of me more often. Do I really care what Mark is doing? Only if he pops up in my feed. I wouldn’t actively seek him out. Conclusion: If it’s in front of us we feel compelled to respond, if it’s not, we don’t think about it at all. This is a problem. This is a loss of critical thinking. I know it’s just a portion of the time we are walking around talking and breathing, but it is reshaping us.

In reference to the above Instagram comment: I didn’t post as often I thought I would. I thought I loved to take photos, to capture moments and magic to share. It felt noble, like I was reminding everyone of the beauty of the world, a force for good in the sea of Chicken Littles. Turns out I’m just as attention hungry as the next guy. Because, overall, there is less engagement on Instagram it is somehow less gratifying. Which led me to just one conclusion: I’m doing it for me. I suppose this shouldn’t be revelatory, but it was informative nonetheless.

I used Facebook differently in my time off. I didn’t scroll and that felt like a win and key, but I did go on other than to post for business. I went to specific friend’s pages to see what they were doing. I know a few pregnant ladies so I checked in to see how they were; a friend was traveling and camping and I knew there would be beautiful photos of the mountains so I spied a few times; and I checked in on family. It all felt reassuring and like the correct use of Facebook for me.

In the time I wasn’t scrolling I was able to maximize my time. I continued to organize and purge my home – a commitment I made to myself at the beginning of the year. I wrote more, as I mentioned, and I had meaningful conversations with friends. Actual talking on the phone – can you imagine?! I spent time at stop lights observing what was around me – mostly people on their cell phones, and I read more actual books.

Now what?

  • I am going to continue to blog often, I’ll keep that everyday goal right in the front of my brain so I can come close.
  • The notifications will remain off on my phone so I am not driven to see who is doing what and who is liking my posts.
  • I will use Facebook as a means to check-in on, and engage with, people I know and love. A scroll here or there for a set period of time perhaps, but not as procrastination from my real work.

Overall I feel I have learned something about myself and about the culture of social media. At least for my generation. It was a worthy experiment and I can see a lot of value in continuing to honor the boundaries I set. It got me focused on writing again so I’m hopeful to get back to those book ideas, perhaps in lieu of blogging a few times a week. Or more. I like my brain on writing.

Now, about texting…




Drawers of Rocks


So much secret stuff.

I began on my back patio, seated on a glider at one end I simply looked around. On the whole there’s a lot of empty space to walk around the furniture, but there are silly things lurking inside some of the pieces that have drawers and other hiding places.

I counted all the furniture, potted plants, lighting (lamps that could be moved, not hard-wired fixtures), wind chimes, hanging tea light holders and gas grill. All pretty reasonable. I could probably do without the bar stools, hutch and small desk. I don’t need the grill, it was given to us and we’ve never used it, it should go to someone who will appreciate it.

As far as decorative items go, I have some cool pieces from Bali and other exotic places, but most were procured from a design firm/store I worked for and not from my own travels. Still, there are some keepers among them. For now.

Now for that hidden treasure…

Aside from all the furniture things can sit on, there are three pieces that contain mysterious items inside. Let’s take a look.

In and on the Teak hutch:

  • Balinese dragon cigar cutter – big wooden painted awesomeness
  • Old Indonesian pots
  • Old Indonesian house part – some carved wood thing that used to be on a house
  • Big ceramic cat
  • Wooden vase with curly willow and eucalyptus
  • Plant pots (terra cotta, metal, etc.)
  • Buddha head
  • Laughing Buddha statue
  • Kokeshi dolls
  • Tibetan temple bell
  • Small wooden elephant from India (my travels)
  • Indonesian tube thingy – carved and cool, but no idea what it really is
  • Small glass bowl
  • Incense holder
  • Ashtray – This is a terra cotta donkey “ass” tray. Cracks me up. Still one friend who smokes.
  • Candle holders – so many
  • Decorative rocks – seriously? Why? Two drawers full. Full. Small drawers, but still.
  • Small Buddha tea light holder
  • Candle snuffer – what century is this? Not one, but two.
  • Glass and silver plated coasters
  • Cork coasters
  • Essential oils
  • Eye dropper for oil
  • Ceramic lizard
  • Oil diffuser for light bulb
  • Small metal donkey – admittedly I have a thing for donkeys
  • Balancing kit for ceiling fans
  • Large iron plant hooks
  • Small iron plant hook
  • Loose tiles (for hot pots on the glass table. Maybe)
  • Random pieces of bamboo – for?
  • Chopsticks (pair), because?
  • Random drift wood
  • Heavy iron cauldron under the hutch. Pretty cool if you’re a witch.

In and on the Desk:

  • Bird puppet
  • Indonesian metal bird
  • Bag of tea lights
  • Citronella candle
  • Witches balls
  • Big ornaments
  • Wooden lizard from Jamaica
  • Lighter
  • Decorative turtle
  • Decorative frog – 2 just because
  • Cat toys – big with trapped balls
  • Unused seat cushions
  • Iron lizard candle holder
  • Bee catcher
  • Small rusted bird bowl
  • Soft pad thingys that get nailed into furniture feet – because we wouldn’t want to scratch the concrete

In the bench seat:

  • Hose nozzle – 2
  • Mosquito coil – 2. I don’t even know how these work, if they work.
  • Old metal paint bucket
  • Random candles – so many candles
  • Old rag – lovely
  • Old scrub brush – even nicer
  • Light bulbs
  • Rocks – what is with the rocks!
  • Remote doorbell
  • Bamboo stick
  • Old sock (rag, I hope)
  • Battery operated push light
  • Macrame Tibetan bell door hangers
  • Plastic grocery bags – so many. We don’t even use these anymore.
  • Paper bags
  • Part of a gutter guard screen – ripped and mean

In all the 675 square feet that is my back patio oasis, holds 366 items. Not for long.

I have to say, if someone came along and stole everything on my patio, I would be okay. There are no sentimental items or precious pieces. I love my patio and spend a lot of time on it, so I would miss somewhere to sit, and obviously some of the items, but I’m not at all attached. Good start. It’s not all gonna be so easy.

I know there will be some sticky places and some things will take forever to count – I have been making jewelry for over 15 years and playing with art and photography forever – but I’m committed.

Mostly I am curious to see what I learn about myself and what I’m ready to let go of. And really, how I will feel with less stuff. I’m imagining lighter, but I’ve learned the heartbreak of anticipation and expectation too many times, so I’m open to whatever the experience is here to teach me.

Here’s to a year of purging, playing and practicing mindfulness.

Oh, I forgot the curtains – make that 382.




Where to Begin…


Okay. So I’ve made this decision: The Year of Living Mindfully or Consciously. Or The Year of Counting All My Stuff. Or The Year of the Purge. Now where do I start? How?

As I meander from room to room in my not at all large home I become overwhelmed with all that I know is hidden. Desks, chests, cabinets, closets, even vintage suitcases are home to “things”. And some stuff is flat out mocking me by boldly sitting out for all to see. I have to start somewhere.

This is where most people get stuck. Where I am in danger of procrastination.

The whole mess put all together, especially if I start thinking about the black hole that is the garage, pushes me backward onto the couch in analysis paralysis. I look around for clues. Stare blankly at a plant. Gaze outside hoping for a distraction. I can clearly see the organization necessary, the putting back of things. I see that this needs to go here and that needs to go there, but the thought of pulling stuff out of their secret little hidey-holes and exposing them to daylight makes me sleepy.

I could start the old-fashioned way: pick a drawer or small closet to tackle first. Use a timer so I don’t overwhelm myself. This would be the advice of the Fly Lady and countless other organization gurus.

I could take the advice of Marie Kondo in the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, and compartmentalize my stuff. Start with clothes first, then papers, books, etc. Her strategy is to pull all the pieces of one category together, touch each one, hold it up and ask yourself if you love it, or something along those lines. I did this with my clothes, books, papers, then shifted to spaces like the kitchen. Mostly it worked but I got a little stuck when it came to art supplies, artwork, and memorabilia.

Or I could use the Minimalists tactic of boxing up everything I own. Everything. And as I need something take it out of the box. After a month or two, whatever I didn’t pull from the boxes gets donated or otherwise released.

Or I could simply keep researching the best way and avoid the actual work.

I need to think and start small, the garage IS NOT the place to begin, or even look, until I get this project underway.

I will start with my master bedroom. It’s a simple space. Clean. I’ll begin with the contents of my bedside table drawer. I never open it except to retrieve my Nook charger. But there are other treasures in there.

Or, no. As I contemplate this I am sitting on my back patio. The weather is perfect, there’s a breeze and my bird friends have come to sip from the makeshift bird bath on top of the table. The table, birds and bird bath are all outside the screened enclosure, but the patio itself, inside the screen, is home to 675 square feet of hiding places. THIS is where I’ll begin. Stay tuned…