Cutting Off Social Media

When Apple introduced Screen Time, the feature that shows you how long you spend on your phone everyday, my mind was blown. Ya’ll, do you KNOW how much time we use our phones E.V.E.R.Y.D.A.Y?!?! It’s crazy. After I realized that I was spending upwards of 6 hours on my phone daily, I decided to make changes. I deleted Instagram and Facebook off my phone, and my usage went significantly down. On average, I use my phone about 2 hours a day now, and a lot of that is spent on Google Maps, so it doesn’t REALLY count, ya know? I learned more than just how to cut down on screen time though. Here are 5 lessons I’ve learned since eliminating social media from my phone.

#1. Be present

My husband often would complain that I wasn’t present because of how much time I was spending swiping through my phone, or trying to get the perfect Instagram story of our meals. When I stopped using my phone so much, I realized I was more present. I heard what people were saying, and interacted with humans more. I laughed more, and learned more. My time with my loved ones became more meaningful because the whole time was spent conversing with each other, and enjoying each other’s company.

#2. Stop comparing yourself to others – compare who you are today to who you were yesterday

I would often scroll through Instagram, oohing and aahing at the lives of others. Wow, that girl got FIT! Dang – look at how fun that vacation looks – I wish I was there. These were thoughts that often ran through my head. Since deleting these apps off my phone, I find myself reflecting more on myself, and my own growth. It’s fun to peer into the lives of others, but the only one you should give that much attention to is your own. Think about the time and energy you spend caring about how the lives of others are going. Imagine if you used those hours and energy into bettering yourself and reflecting on your own life. You would be so much more fulfilled!

#3. Everyone gets the same 24 hours – use them accordingly!

Prior to deleting these apps off my phone, I always felt like I didn’t have enough time in the day. My time after work would fly, because I killed so much of it scrolling. I didn’t do much of anything that was productive. Now my afternoons involve a nice walk with the husband, spending time present while I prepare and eat my dinner, some study time for my real estate license and reading time. I feel like my afternoon routine is SO much more productive. I feel like for the first time in my life, I have taken control of my own time and have used it in a way that makes me feel productive at the end of the day. It’s true that we don’t get to control how time goes, but we can control what we do with the time we are given.

#4. Use social media in a positive manner

I am by no means saying you should never use social media again. In fact, I continued to allow myself to use Facebook/Instagram on my phone but I made a few changes. I also limited my time on there, and was able to catch myself from mindlessly scrolling for hours. Facebook is a great resource for information. There are endless groups out there for all interests, and I have continued to utilize it to ask questions and get information I am looking for. For example, my community has a Facebook group where you can discover what is going on at the moment. This type of Facebook engagement keeps me up to date with happenings. On Instagram, I unfollowed a large amount of people who weren’t adding to my understanding of the world and added a bunch of accounts that would improve my life with information. I also continued to utilize social media as a way to communicate with my friends and family. I have learned to be intentional with how I use it all!

#5. Your highlight reel should be for you

Scroll through your Instagram feed. It’s photos of people celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, and promotions. Photos of people getting engaged and married. Sunny vacations on the beach and fancy dinners. INSTAGRAM IS A COLLECTION OF THE BEST MOMENTS. This goes back to lesson 2 – don’t believe that people have perfect lives. No one is going to photograph the fight they had with their best friend, or the parking ticket they got. People are posting the good. While it’s fun to see other’s highlight reels, it’s important that you remember that your highlight reel should be for you and your own memories. Take photos. Post. But don’t do it to get other’s jealous. Do it so you can reflect on your own time. Maybe even create a negative reel, so you can reflect and think about the lessons you learned over the years. Make it for you though, not for anyone else.

Overall, I’ve enjoyed my detox from social media. When winter break begins, I will probably re-download these apps, but will remember the lessons I’ve learned over the last few weeks. I think I have completely changed my mindset on how I can use my phone and social media to improve myself and my life, and that is a lesson I am so glad that I learned. Have you ever tried to “detox” from social media? What did you think?

Sparking Joy

Things That Have Brought Me Joy This Week (edition 1)

I read the book Spark Joy a few years ago and it didn’t really do anything for me. Okay, I get it – have things that make you happy, not just for the sake of having things.  Yada yada yada. 

Recently, I’ve revisited this idea and think that I’m finally ready to embrace joy. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with feeling joy from material things, especially when they increase your health, your knowledge or just make you feel happiness. There’s a lot in this world you can’t control, and a lot that just brings you down, so I feel that it’s important to surround yourself with people and things that bring you joy. So here’s the first edition of things that have brought me joy. 

#1 Nucifera Balm 

I’m not one for beauty products, and especially not since discovering how harmful most can be. My current “beauty” routine consists of washing my face with salt and black soap, and maybe washing my hair. I use coconut oil as a moisturizer and lotion. While I was out shopping with my mama the other week, I saw this in the clearance bin. LOOK AT THESE INGREDIENTS! My heart nearly skipped a beat. It’s listed for $30ish on the website but ya girl nabbed this baby up for $6. Talk about a stealio. I’ve used it a few times and it is delectable. The scent is yummy, and it’s rich enough for winter skin. 

The ingredients! So clean, so fre$h! 

#2 THIS Blazer 

So I call myself a psuedo-capsule wearer. I wear black, grey and white 90% of the time. The other 10% is my favorite color ever – mustard (see photo below). However, I do like “staple” pieces that bring fun to an outfit. I found this killah in Anthropologie last week, and couldn’t resist it. Even better – it was on SUPER sale. Ya girl is not about to throw $200 on a blazer, but I sure will spend $25! I’ve worn it to work once this week and one of my students told me I looked “fly,” so I would say it’s been a pretty solid look for me.

#3 Lion’s Mane Mushroom

I follow the Paleo diet loosely, but focus on eating real food and getting my nutrition that way. My husband is really into supplements (strange thing to be into, but if you saw our cupboards, you’d understand my wording). His recent love is mushrooms and he introduced me to this about a month ago. I frequently struggle with brain fog, especially when I don’t get adequate sleep, and this has helped immensely! I mix a teaspoon in with my coffee and collagen every morning, and I can’t even tell that it’s in there. I can tell that it’s working though – I think more clearly on the days that I use it. Definitely try it out if you struggle with brain fog too! 

#4 My dad learning how to use GIFs

There’s not much to say but ya’ll, my dad is the cutest. He’s 86 and obsessed with his iPhone, because the fact that it has a BUILT IN CAMERA is incredible to him. I taught him how to text a few months back, and he recently discovered GIFs all on his own. Texts from my dad always bring me a whole lotta joy.

#5 Billie Eilish

Damn beautiful music. I’ve been playing on repeat ALL WEEK. Also Billie Eilish radio on Pandora is bombdotcom ya’ll. Check it out. Music is so interesting to me. It has the ability to completely change your mood, or keep it as is. I’ve been feeling chill vibes lately, and this matches perfectly. 


Dream Forward

What do you dream about? What do you find yourself thinking about through the day? Are you thinking about things that have already occurred, or are you dreaming forward? I had never thought about this until recently, when I read a passage about dreaming forward in a book. 

So many people dream backwards. They use their energy and thoughts to think about “woulda, coulda, shoulda” scenarios. It’s okay to think like that sometimes. It’s beneficial to you to think about what you’ve done and what you could have done differently, and how you will react when similar situations present themselves in the future. But constantly dreaming backwards will get you nowhere.

I want to go places. I want to see the world, and experience it. I want to be in the moment and working towards my future. I choose to dream forward. I believe that when you stop dreaming forward, and focus on dreaming backwards, your life is over. When all that you have is in the past, what’s the point?


Coffee is More Than a Drink

A hot coffee and fresh pandesal is what I think of when I think of my grandpa. Every  morning, he would bike 30 minutes to the local bakery on his tricycle, and buy fresh pandesals, ensymadas and hopia. These would then be carefully placed in a glass container by my grandma to be sold throughout the day in their convenience store.

When grandpa would get home with the baked goods, he’d take two out onto a plate, make two cups of instant coffee (with far too much cream and sugar), and call me down. I’d wake, groggily but then with energy as I knew what was waiting for me. Coffee, pandesal and my grandpa.

My grandpa and I shared coffee and pandesal most mornings that I was in the Philippines. We didn’t have much to say, due to our language barrier, but we both understood that these moments were precious.

Since then, coffee has been a part of my daily routine, or ritual, if you want to call it that. This has changed over the years. My high school years were filled with cups of  bitter instant coffee, and my college years were filled with stale K-cups. Thankfully, my taste in caffeine has developed over the years. My semester abroad introduced me to the sophisticated Americano. Then, I went through a period where the Nespresso was my preferred method of consumption, but too many articles about the damaging effects of aluminium made me give that up. I enjoyed a french press for a while, until I got fed up with cleaning the damn filters.  These days, I’m a fan of the pour over, yanno, so my coffee can bloom appropriately. Needless to say, coffee has grown up with me.

Coffee isn’t just a drink. It’s sacred to me (ask my husband what happened the last time we ran out of coffee beans). It is a drink that I share with others over heart felt discussions. It’s what I drink every morning as I plan my coming day. It’s something that I prepare in a ritualistic manner the night before – the grinding of the beans before bed signals to me that I have something to look forward to in the morning. It is a constant.

What makes this consumption a ritual, rather than just a routine? A routine is something you do in sequence, almost automatically without any thought. A ritual is a solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order. A routine is something you don’t think about, while a ritual gives you meaning. A ritual allows you time to think and reflect. Anything can be turned from a routine into a ritual, as long as you think about it as such. Over the years, I have turned coffee from a routine into a ritual, and it has brought me so much joy.

Next time you prepare coffee, think about it. Think about the flavors you will taste, and the warmth that will fill your belly. Think about the process that brought that cup to your mouth. Imagine the conversations you can have over it, with yourself and with loved ones. Think about how handing a cup of coffee to someone can change their day.

In a world that loves automation, it’s a relief to be able to have rituals. Coffee is one of mine. The incredible thing is that all that separates routine from ritual is what you make of it. Make brushing your teeth a ritual. How about showering? Damn it, you can make throwing out the trash one too. It’s all about what it means for you.


Why are Instagram museums a thing?!

My curiosity got the best of me. This weekend, I went to wndr, an Instagram museum. If you go to the website of wndr (intentional lack of capitalization), you’ll see that it is described as a place “where beauty and the imagination meet.” WHAT ON EARTH DOES THAT MEAN?!

I’d seen several other “museums” like this pop up, and I saw a bunch of cute photos from them. Could this wndr place make me look super cute? Was it magical? I HAD TO FIND OUT.

A friend from out of town was visiting, so on Saturday, she and I moseyed on over for our 12:30 reservations. As we scanned in, I noticed that I had purchased tickets for the day before. Thankfully, the woman checking guests in let it slide. First impressions? Sensory overload. I teach special education, and let me tell you that I will not be planning a field trip there anytime soon. It was colorful, and aesthetic and full of millennials.

The whole thing felt a bit odd. We went through the “museum” and were slightly amused. We took pictures, but it all felt strange. The one nice thing was that there was no shame asking other people to take photos of you, since that was LITERALLY what people were there to do. So here are a few of my photos at the “museum.” Clearly, there was no magic about wndr that made me into the gorgeous model that everyone appears to become there. Boo.


OKAY SO – WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH MY HANDS WHEN I TAKE PHOTOS? Overall, I’m glad I went to wndr and experienced an Instagram “muesum.” I will not be paying for an experience like that ever again. I didn’t like how inorganic the experience felt. I felt underdressed and overwhelmed by the stimulus of the “art” and scent of Bath and Body Works. I recommend it to you all at least once, so you can feel the level of awkward that I felt posing in front of lord knows what.

This experience made me rethink what social media is, and what it is to me. Social media used to be a place to catch up with friends who lived near and far, and a place to see what everyone was up to. Recently it appears to be a competition of sorts – who travels the most, who eats at the fanciest restaurants, who has the best apartment views. So maybe I should send wndr a thank you note, for allowing me space to think about what social media is and how far removed it is from real life. So thanks wndr, cheers to day one of my social media cleanse.


The Journey Begins

I just  had a full on 24-year-old tantrum about how I am not where I should be. Let me clarify that I do not believe that the world should be handed to me, but I do believe that I am a capable human being who is not currently living up to their potential. So here is my journey – one to fulfillment or at least striving towards it. I am not sure why I am writing this blog, what I will write about or if a single soul will read this (other than my dad, because yanno, he’s my dad and he HAS to. Also he loves googling me – it makes me feel famous ). Maybe this will just be an accountability blog for myself. SO HERE IT GOES. I, J-dawg, will be on the journey to self improvement, happiness and a worthwhile life, as of today, December 2nd, 2018. Oh yah, Happy Hanukkah. I guess today is a damn good day to start this.