Monthly Letter, January 2021
I'm always surprised by the January sunshine. Winter is notoriously dark in Seattle, WA, but for the last two years, January has hosted a number of sunny days. As I write my letter for this month, the sun is shining on my feet, warming them through my thick wool socks.
I've made a life change this month. First, I want to acknowledge how it seems a bit unpopular at this time to be making "New Year's Resolutions," due in part to the global pandemic that persists, and perhaps because of the guilt and frustration that inevitably follows an abandoned resolution. I'm so glad to see just how many people have embraces a gentleness with themselves this year. And in the name of gentleness, I resolved (loosely and with generous self-compassion) to make an adjustment.
I've set some boundaries on when I will watch TV, movies, and when I will use social media. I love all of these things. Sometimes I think that love particular to therapists, as we are easily absorbed and fascinated by the lives of others, and by the psychological and sociological themes explored in the best films and televisions shows. It's so stimulating! What with its colors, music, facial expressions, and curated scripts. As for Instagram, it is like one giant social experiment flush with diversity, art, and information. I could enjoy it for long stretches without noticing the time.
I also know that these screens exhaust me. When I'm in a habit of consuming media regularly, I find myself feeling scattered, tired, anxious, and distracted. Basically, screens take me away from the present moment. And how nice it is, sometimes, to be ushered away from the now by a beautiful story or captivating images. I'm not surprised that so many of us spend so much of our time in these screen worlds. You'll never catch me calling these things "bad." I'm just wanting a bit more balance. For me, balance required more of my mind to be in the here and now and less "plugged-in" to my technologies.
This month, I relegated my sweet and delicious screen time to the evenings. Goodbye morning media scrolling. No more Great British Baking Show over weekend lunch. Sometimes I still open my apps unwittingly, or begin my shows a bit earlier than I planned. Big shifts come from small changes, and change is easier when it's gentle, slow, and bite-sized.
I'm not saying goodbye to screens, and I'm not sure I'll ever want to. What I can say is that I've been drawing more. New recipes have crept into my culinary repertoire. Rediscovering the sightless magic of music has me dancing more days than not. This is the kind of effortless creativity I've been craving, and suddenly I have space for it. All without sacrificing my blissful entertainment.
Happy January, sweet peas.