Hello my friends!
How are you doing? Things here are going very well. I'm knee deep into my Readers Studio presentation. Today, in fact, I worked on the Powerpoint presentation. Putting together Powerpoints is such fun for me. I figured out how to include movie clips and gifs, which makes me happy.
Before the Powerpoint, I make a very detailed outline of the presentation and rehearse it through a few times for flow and for timing. Now that the Powerpoint is done, I will continue to rehearse and edit from now until the grand event. It will change a lot over the next few weeks, but it is all refining. The heavy lifting is done.
When I'm not working, I've been continuing to work on art. Tomorrow is the last day of a six week watercolor course I am taking through Wet Paint. So far I have nothing that I am willing to show anyone, but that doesn't matter. There is a great, eccentric YouTube video teacher who says, "Relax, you aren't necessarily making art that will change the world, but the making of it just might change you."
Speaking of watercolor, Lisa and I saw the most wonderful and unusual watercolor exhibit at the American Swedish Institute, the Watercolor Worlds of Lars Lerin. If you are in the area, the show goes until May 22 and is highly recommended. If you go, do make sure to watch the video...so interesting. Part of what is interesting about his work is the size. It is hard to do watercolor so large, so his huge pieces are unusual.
Here are a few examples:
Making marks on real paper is a theme lately, as evidenced by my letter writing. I've written to almost everyone who sent me their address and have gotten some wonderful letters in reply. It's kind of funny how much I look forward to the mail these days. I love the intimacy in letters, both the writing and the receiving of them. It's such a pleasant way to visit with people. I enjoy it so much, I even joined the Letter Writers Alliance. For $5, I got a lifetime membership, a nifty patch to sew on my backpack, and two new pen pals.
Art is becoming an important theme in my life lately, even more actively than it was before. In fact, it is spilling over into my professional work. I can't share all the details yet, but a friend and I are getting ready to launch some awesome workshops that incorporate art and tarot starting in May. I'll announce them first via my newsletter, so if you are interested, don't forget to sign up.
Some people said that they are interested in the next Through the Looking Glass Retreat, I'll have news on that soon as well. All kinds of wonderful, in-person, fabulous tarot experiences are in the works!
Finally, how am I doing not being on Facebook or any other social media? Great! There is one small hiccup. When you deactivate your account, to reactivate it, all you have to do is sign back in. I've not signed in but my account still was reactivating. I'm not sure why but I think it is because some websites say "Sign in with Facebook." I used to do that, so I think that when I go back to those sites, because I originally created my account with them through Facebook that it somehow signs me back in. I don't know for sure. So I've had to go in a few times are re-deactivate it! Even though I saw all those notifications, I didn't check anything. The first time it happened, it was hard. But the last time I had to re-deactivate, it was not tempting in the least.
I don't feel like I have tons of extra time now...because I'm busy reading and writing letters, making art, living life...but I feel less distracted, less stressed. I'm not as upset about the world or about people being mean...because in my actual life, the people I interact with aren't mean. It's nice to have the space to breathe and be.
May you, my friends, have the space you need
May you, my friends, have the peace you need
to enjoy your space
to breathe calmly
to think deeply
to create richly.
“Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”
Two weeks ago I deactivated my Facebook account and closed my other social media accounts. I explain why HERE.
As a magical practitioner with some shamanic understanding, you’d think I would have prepared myself better. You’d be wrong. Because sometimes I’m really dense. Facebook has been a huge part of my life for about six years. I was unplugging for almost purely energetic reasons. Did I prepare my energy body for this major disconnect? No, I did not. Let me be a lesson to you: if you cut something huge out of your life, be smart and prepare yourself.
Within a few minutes of deactivating the account, I felt gutted…actually physically and energetically gutted. In shamanism there is a practice of cording, or actually de-cording, where you remove all the cords that have developed between you and others. It’s not a huge deal, just a part of good energy hygiene. With Facebook, I had about 2,300 friends. I removed that cord, made up of over 2,000 small cords, and it was definitely noticeable.
Luckily, my sister was bringing her 3 month old baby over shortly, so I sat by the window trying to hold my guts in. There is nothing like holding a baby or petting a dog for good, grounding energy healing. At least for me.
The first five days or so were hard. I felt lonely and left out, forgotten. And a bit like an addict. I was pouty and childish and angry. The FOMO (fear of missing out) was so intense that I could hardly bear it.
Another challenge for me was that people kept telling me how brave I was and that made me feel good. Which was part of the problem...I like when people think highly of me. It is probably my deepest flaw and one of the hardest thing about not being on Facebook. With so many sweet and kind friends, I could always count on nice comments. This is very embarrassing and hard to write about because it is like my ego consumed all those lovely words. My friends say nice things to feed my soul and my heart. But my ego gobbles them up and it feels like it demeans the nice messages, which is so unfair and yucky. Luckily, I'm reading a lot of Thomas Moore right now and getting the importance of soul nourishment in perspective.
During the Iowa caucuses, I wanted to be on Twitter like you wouldn’t believe. I hardly ever used Twitter, but every once in a while, it seemed like the best way to “know what was going on.” It seemed so important to know what "everyone else" knew was happening. All I had was news articles and some clunky "live blogging" sites. Finally, I just gave up and waited for the morning to find out what happened. When I did, it was kind of "meh." So what was all that angst about? A desire, a NEED to know NOW and then when I did find out, it was no big deal? It is just so interesting to see how twisted up I was (and to be honest, still am) in social media.
I found myself checking the “News” app on my phone a lot, which I had never done before. It gave me something on my phone to check besides my email. I clicked on some stories and read fewer but longer articles. I was somewhat interested but eventually that faded. Yesterday I only checked the News app once and didn’t click through to a single story.
One thing that surprised me is how much time I must have actually spent on Facebook. Not only blocks of time, when I consciously checked on friends and groups, but those smaller “filling in the gaps” scrolling, like if I had 5 minutes here or there, or when whoever I was with at the bar or restaurant went to the bathroom. What filled those moments before Facebook? Now I have to consciously decide what to do. Zone out. Think about something. Make some notes. Doodle. Read a book or magazine. Play with my dog. Clean out a drawer or cupboard.
Another thing that surprised me is how much I am in the habit of "self-interrupting." Even when I was sitting a reading for pleasure, I'd pick up my phone and stare at it. When I realized what I was doing, I was kind of disgusted. Two weeks in, I still do it but thank goodness it is becoming less frequent each day.
I can feel the need for constant information or stimulus (because, really is most of what is on Facebook “information”?) waning. I’m getting used to my world being defined by my actual physical world. But I still want to touch my phone all the time. Last night I was reading a menu online for a restaurant I will be going to, simply because I wanted to stare at my phone screen.
I trust that will wan, too, as time passes. I am shifting from pouty/angry/lonely to noticing the benefits of this decision. In the past week I’ve created a ‘zine (something I’ve always wanted to do), written a bunch of letters, and overall felt less overwhelmed and emotionally reactive.
This week I also participated in Infomagical (read more about it HERE) because it focused on being conscious of your information consumption, which was one of the energetic aspects affecting my decision. Yesterday’s suggestion was to have a conversation (in person or on the phone) for at least seven minutes. The daily podcast explained why seven (you can listen if you click that link and scroll to Day 4 Magical Connection) minutes. I didn’t know who to call. It didn’t seem in the spirit of the task to talk to Lisa or one of my sisters, so I picked someone who I know from the tarot community and Facebook, who I think I’d really like if we spent more time together, and whose work I admire. I called her and she actually picked up the phone even though her caller id didn’t show my name. The happiness in her voice when she heard it was me touched some part in me that I forgot existed. Magical Connection, indeed. I explained why I called and it wasn’t too weird. And then we had a lovely conversation.
It is interesting how my experience of daily life is changing. I’m no longer thinking about taking pictures solely to post. I am not thinking in short “post length” bursts. Instead, I’m thinking of ideas more deeply. Instead of posting a blurb to “everyone,” I consider who might be interesting to talk to about the idea and then write them a letter. One of the goals mentioned in my initial post (HERE) was to connect with fewer people more deeply. That is indeed happening.
I still miss Facebook and socializing in that way. I don't miss being emotionally freaked out by some terrible memes or hateful posts or becoming obsessed with the latest "who said what about whom" drama.
If you want a letter, send me your snail mail address!
Those of us who identify with the Hermit love to spend time alone. The Hermit, after all, goes off alone up a mountain, into a cave, or across the desert; sometimes he just withdraws into his own mind. It doesn't matter where he goes; what matters is keeping his own counsel. He does come back to his tribe from time to time to teach and share and probably to get a Starbucks and maybe a pizza.
Many of you know that this is the year of the Hermit (as reckoned by adding the digits of the year together 2+0+1+6=9=the Hermit). So I didn’t think much about it when the Hermit card kept coming up for me over the past few months. Turns out, he wasn’t just stopping by to say “hi” or get directions to Starbucks. Nope. He had a bigger message for me.
The first threads of the message started over a year ago when I read The Philosophers’ Secret Fire: A History of the Imagination by Patrick Harpur. This paragraph really stuck with me:
Hermes is also, I suspect, behind the ‘information revolution’. He is, we remember, the god of crossroads and boundaries, of mediation and of communication. If we revere him he gives us hermeneutics, insights, and wisdom; if we do not, he deceives us (he is a great Trickster) through messages that seem true but are really false. Since he travels, uniquely among the gods, from Above to Below, from Olympus via our world to Hades, his dimension is depth. We relate to him through the depths of soul whose movement is slow, labyrinthine and downwards towards death. If we deny Hermes his vertical movement, he begins to spread horizontally, to speed up, until he is girdling the Earth like Puck (who did it in forty minutes). Hermetic revelations become literal signals, from satellites above to cables below, whose transmission criss-cross the globe, growing faster and more garbled by the minute in a wild attempt to return us to that knowledge of eternal things which can never, alas, be cobbled together by no matter how many trillions of bits of information strung across the world.
Those words have been growing louder in my memory, sometimes shouting as if in warning. For the longest time, I ignored it. Instead, I kept scrolling through my Facebook feed. I had a really bad case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). I always want to know what’s going on, what people are doing, what’s exciting and interesting “out there.” So much so that I forgot that I need to pay attention to what’s exciting and interesting “in here” <points to head and heart>.
So much of what I read on FB fills me with ideas and questions and fuels my curiosity, which is great. Except that all I really do is make a note of it, but the note in this big box of notes that I have, and move on to consume the next great idea. I don’t actually pursue the ideas, seek out answers within myself, or follow my curiosity deeply. One idea that kept skimming the surface of my consciousness is for a novel about a young woman who takes herself offline. I kept thinking about it, not realizing at the time that I was imagining my own future.
My birthday was January 16. The night before, as I was falling asleep, I had this clear thought “You must remove yourself from social media.” I told that thought it was nuts. How would I run my business? How would anyone know about my readings or my classes. And a really quiet, honest voice asked “how will I know who I am?”
The next morning, I was journaling and pulled a card for the year (a birthday tradition of mine) and almost fell off my chair when I saw it was the Hermit and the voice that spoke last night kind of laughed and murmured something about the Universe and a 2 x 4 and my thick skull. I swallowed my fear and entertained the thought.
It was finally time to admit it. I needed to energetically cut my cords to social media. Not just check it less, but deactivate my accounts and metaphorically depart on a Hermit’s journey, taking the time to explore all these ideas and possibilities that I’ve been gathering. And I need to find out who I think I am when my beautiful, kind, and generous Facebook friends aren’t telling me who I am. Don’t get me wrong, I love who they say I am. And I think that’s really who I am, only older and not quite so sparkly pretty. But I need to find out for sure.
Also, I’m interested in connecting with fewer people more deeply. Which means I’ll be doing more blogging. Hopefully people who are interested will stop by and see what I’m thinking about and share what they think via email or the comments. I am not going off the internets completely, just all forms of social media. I’m not sure for how long, either. It’s all a bit of a mystery to me.
Another interest of mine right now is paper…with handwriting or hand made marks on it. So if you send me your mailing address, maybe I’ll write you a real letter sent with a stamp and everything!
This is important: I do not think anyone else needs to do this. There is absolutely no judgment here (you all know me well enough to know that, right?). I don’t think social media is bad or evil. I actually love it. But sometimes a gal’s gotta do what a gal’s gotta do. I hope you all keep the party going while I’m gone and I really hope my Hermit trek doesn’t take that long so I can join you again soon.
So, in honor of the Year of the Hermit, in honor of the crazy voice in my head, and in hopes of curing myself of FOMO, I will deactivate my Facebook account at the end of the day on Friday, January 22. Yikes. I’m kind of scared. And kind of excited.