Life’s Work

In today’s highly connected, technological world, it is so easy to become discouraged. Social media creates the illusion that, it seems, there is a life out there we are not only missing out on, but that none of us can ever live up to. It is a conundrum for me. I enjoy engaging with folks who have similar interests as I do; I love sharing what I am doing; but I detest the inevitable discontent it breeds.

I am a creative person and all of my hobbies, in my mind, become possible business opportunities. I allow this mindset to suck the joy right out of everything I do. I am constantly pursuing validation through the work of my hands.

This morning I read this verse:

God in heaven appoints each person’s work.

John 3:27

No, I don’t believe God finds us our next job. But I know that we are all created with a certain set of abilities, gifts and talents along with the personality to use these things for good. In my case I am a nurturer. Though I never became the teacher or the mommy I always wanted to be, but all of the strengths needed for both of those were put to work in every area of my life.

I became a medical assistant so I could work in a doctor’s office; several years later I became a licensed nurse which led to working as a school nurse. I stopped working and came home when my step daughter’s mother died and I was needed here. That led to many years of nurturing her and then her children. And now, we have our oldest granddaughter living with us as she navigates her place in the world.

At sixty-four I spend much time analyzing where I’ve been as I look to where I might go next. It is clear to me that God appointed me as a caregiver to the next generation. One day when my work inside my family is done I will step out once again and care for the children and youth in need in my community. I don’t know where or how, I just know that God put that work on my heart and it will be my work for life.

May you find and know your worth and purpose; it comes from God and no one can separate you from it.

~Sheryl

K.I.S.S. Day Three

Following my my enlightenment (Social Dilemma – see yesterday’s post) I have been very mindful of my screen time, what I click on and even hesitate over while scrolling. What I am noticing is a bit disconcerting.

Just like with any other addiction I am suffering from withdrawal symptoms. And, while unlike the purging of nicotine from my body, I won’t ever be one hundred percent screen free; however, I must be in control of what, when and how that screen time enters my brain.

One of the things I have noticed is that I am sleepy during the day. It isn’t physical tiredness; it is my brain. My hypothesis is that without the stimulus of games or the ever-flowing stream of images from Pinterest or Instagram my brain doesn’t quite know what to do with itself. Never have I been the kind of person who gets bored. Even as a teen I always found a way to entertain myself. Now, without the stimulus of the screen I find myself sitting and wondering what to do next. All the activities that used to satisfy me suddenly hold little to no interest. I feel confident that the desire will return, it is just that my brain has to figure out how to function without this artificial stimulus again. My three step plan is in effect: Evaluate, Extract, Eliminate.

You’ve Got Mail

Who can resist that intoxicating little message? Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks connecting via a chat room in the early days of the internet. Anticipation. Delight. Disappointment. A full range of emotions follow them as they check their inbox for a message. Movies and television are full of examples: Ralphie waiting for his decoder ring in A Christmas Story; Charlie Brown opening the mailbox hoping for a Valentine or Christmas card. Most of us love the anticipation of receiving something in the mail. It means that someone took the time to think of us. We have value. This little fact of human nature was not lost on Mr. Bezos when he created Amazon. But how can we maintain excitement over mail when all we ever find is junk mail and bills? I find that is what my email has become. So, why be disappointed and overwhelmed by things that hold no value or meaning to me?

I am overwhelmed and feel out of control by the sheer volume of accounts, emails, and personas I have created. I cannot blame big tech for this problem. This is all Sheryl. Step one is to evaluate what I have, what I really need and what I can eliminate and not regret.

I have five email addresses. A personal account and four “business” accounts. I am not actively in any one of those businesses. I don’t know if I ever will need them again, so I don’t want to give them up quite yet. As of last night I had a combined 2,947 emails unopened between all the accounts. It has gotten easier to just ignore them than try to stay ahead of them. I deleted them all. It took a while, but they are gone. This morning my initial screen time was spent unsubscribing from lists and deleting the messages that arrived overnight. This will become my morning routine until I am only receiving what I really want to receive and read. Once that is done I will evaluate the addresses themselves and keep visible only that which I use regularly and feel I can control.

Not Alone

I must say writing all this down, knowing it will be read by people who know me makes me feel like a weak link in the chain of humanity. The illusion is that I am alone in this problem, that somehow I am lesser of a person because I struggle with addiction and emotional issues. That’s the thing. It is so easy to become isolated and believe that we are alone. I am not alone. You are not alone. We have been seduced and drawn into a very intricate web. Be aware and take charge. You’ve got this! See you tomorrow for Keep It Simple Stupid day four.

~Sheryl

K.I.S.S. Day Two

The internet is an insidious and seductive mistress. It lures you in with promises of knowledge, fun, connection, and entertainment. All the while it is slowly and deceptively spinning a web of control. Then suddenly, one day, we wake up to realize that we are mere shells of our former selves addicted to the little rush that comes when a notification hits our screen.

The only two industries that refer to their customers as ‘users’ are the illegal drug trade and software companies. Let that sink in.

Social Dilemma

Upon the recommendation of a friend I recently watched a docu-drama on Netflix called Social Dilemma. This was powerful life altering information. Much of it I kind of knew but had chosen to ignore. After all, I am in control of myself and my internet/social media usage, right? Maybe not as in control as I once thought.

I generally don’t care for docu-drama type shows. But the acted out parts of this really helped give a visual picture to the concepts being presented. It allowed me to see myself in most all of the situations and I began to realize how information is given, manipulated for monetary gain, and how we are the commodity.

The people being interviewed all worked for one of the big tech companies, many in the infancy of social media. What they have to say is informative, frightening, and yet empowering to us, the products being bought and sold.

Solution To The Dilemma

Of course, my first instinct is throw out everything and live off grid where no one can spy on me. A typical knee jerk reaction and not at all logical. So, I set about doing the next best thing. Evaluate, Extract, and Eliminate. I had to have a plan for using my online resources while doing what I can to not succumb to its power over my brain.

I know many who read this are going to think, I don’t have a problem. I know what they are doing and I don’t care. Or, this is all a big conspiracy theory and this woman is nuts. You are certainly entitled. I do ask that you watch the program and then judge for yourself. I thought I was an educated user of the internet and the myriad of apps that clutter my phone and iPad. I now know better. There is more I can, and am doing.

Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter are all pimps and we are the whores. Let that settle in for today. Tomorrow I will share how I am dealing with this in my life and why it is going to have a huge impact of my mental health, creative, social and family life.

Until then…go watch Social Dilemma and meet me back here tomorrow.

~Sheryl