Trimming Out Distractions

We live in weird times. I watch period films and envy the simplicity of their lives…the reading rooms in homes actually used for reading. I’m grateful for medical advances and the fact that women are now encouraged to exercise, but I’m not exceedingly thankful for social media, online advertising, basically everything that snares us into thinking we don’t have time for the important stuff.

We just put in day 1 of potty training bootcamp with Skylar. I’m not supposed to share that (according to the book I read “Oh Crap! Potty Training“) because then people will share their opinions and may curb our potty training efforts. But screw it, if we fail to complete potty training this week, I don’t care if anyone judges and will welcome advice. That’s not the point of bringing up potty training. The point is…

Day 1 of potty training entails a naked toddler who doesn’t know when she’s about to go/is going. It takes some hyper vigilance on the parents’ part to be sure the little pooper finds the pooper before she’s standing in it. This morning, I peered down at my phone to read a “long” (probably 150 words) inspiring Instagram caption. I had been looking down for maybe 17 seconds and I heard Skylar say “peepee”. I was too late. I shouldn’t have looked at my phone, for 17 seconds.

Phones, right? They’re our best buds when seated alone at a restaurant but our mortal enemies when we look at the clock and feel cheated out of the hour of sleep Instagram stole from us. Or those ads that pop up with the exact high-waisted jeans you’ve been lusting after but have been strongly resisting because you know they’re too expensive. Then, the Facebook ad catches you off-guard after hours and you make an impulse buy that feels so good in the moment but then causes much remorse the following day. Christmas awakens this passionate consumer within me each year (I blame America) and it takes a while for me to come back to my senses and stop looking for gifts…for me.

With another new year approaching, I’m thinking about changes I’d like to make in 2019. I really don’t want to make any false promises to myself. But if I were to lay out a pie chart of how I spend my time these days, I think I’d be sad. There are so many distractions from the stuff that matters.

Distraction: a thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else.

FULL ATTENTION. I want to be better at giving my full attention to you, to Skylar, to Matt, to whomever I’m with or whatever I’m working on. I think the Gen Z-ers (and many of us Millenials) don’t read as much because they are not willing to give their full attention to a book.

I’ve always been talented at procrastination but a life of procrastination is not a life well-lived. I just listened to the eulogy given by George W. Bush at his father, George H.W. Bush’s funeral.

George H.W. put off college to be a combat pilot in WWII. His son said the stories of his heroics in the war didn’t surface until his life as a politician forced them out. That stuck out to me because we humans are naturally proud. If we do something heroic or praiseworthy, we usually want someone to take notice. Even if our heroics are simply cooking dinner and doing the dishes. We crave recognition. And if we’re feeling underserved emotionally, we post something likable on social media and try to fill up our emotional tank that way. Because we all know that’s the ticket to lasting happiness…(Not totally dissing the ‘gram! I actually do find lots of soul-feeding inspiration there. You just know that’s not the bulk of the content).

I miss the days of human interaction. When your reputation wasn’t dependent on social media following but on how you treated other human beings. I wish we all spent beautiful weekends outside with each other instead of on the couch, being poltergeisted into our phones.

I wish I could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone would eat and be happy. JK. My longings were just reminding me of that gushy “she doesn’t even go here” girl from Mean Girls. 

Social media has taken hold of us and I see its grip tightening. What a HUGE distraction from what’s important. It’s just fortifying the idea that YOU are the center of everything.

What mark do you want to leave on the world? A wicked awesome collection of selfies on Insta? Me neither. But geez, it’s hard to distinguish what is important in our tangled image-is-everything times.

“Love is not possessive: it is neither anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance.” 1 Corinthians 13:4

Is it just me or does that sound like exactly the type of “love” we’re often after on social media? 1. Anxious to impress. 2. Full of self-importance.

“In this life we have three great lasting qualities—faith, hope and love. But the greatest of them is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

In 2019, I’d like to seek to grow these three lasting qualities. Nothing else endures. So rather than make a list of resolutions, I’m going to make a list of distractions. Below are a few areas I’d like to trim back to create more useful space.

  1. Social media (You can set “screen time alerts” to keep you aware of your time spent on certain apps and even semi lock you out of them.)
  2. Late nights. Because late nights lead to grumpy mornings without my sacred 6:15-7 a.m. quiet time.
  3. Anxiety regarding others’ opinions of me. I love this quote from Mother Teresa (particularly the final line). I want to be living for an audience of One.

     People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.

            If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.

            If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.  Succeed anyway.

           If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.  Be honest and sincere anyway.

            What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  Create anyway.

            If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.

  The good you do today, will often be forgotten.  Do good anyway.

 Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  Give your best anyway.

         In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.

Annnd, I can’t top a Mother T quote. Happy 2019, friends!