Digital De-Clutter Re-Cap

dog computer

The whole idea behind this project was to help me align my social media habits with my values.

Here is my personal Manifesto which I wrote a few years ago during my Winterlude:

Be human

Be calm

Be mindful

Seek flow

Be kind

Express gratitude

Extend your abilities

Risk vulnerability

Engage with the world

Make conscious choices

Restore yourself

These are the things I aspire to. This is the kind of person I want to become. These things may not be values in and of themselves, but they express my core values.

If I go back to engaging with social media in the same way I did prior to this media fast, I would endanger “calmness.”

If I go back to engaging with media as I did before, I would not be making “conscious choices” but voluntarily submitting to manipulation.

Because I would be in a constant state of agitation and fear all the time, it would be a lot harder to be kind, especially towards people who don’t share my world-view.

I also wouldn’t have time to “extend my abilities” because I would be dithering around, wasting lots of creative moments engaging with info way beyond my locus of control.

Since I am always looking for ways to hack into the flow state, social media has to go because it is flow kryptonite.

Sometimes FB, etc allow me a platform to express gratitude, and if I use it that way (exclusively), it would align with my manifesto/values. But most of the time I don’t use it as a platform for gratitude expression; I use it to confirm my hair-trigger negativity biases.

Is social media a way I might “engage with the world?” Might that be a justification for continuing to use it?

Well, if I’m honest, I really don’t “engage” as much as I simply act the voyeur.

I do like saying Happy Birthday to people, as corny as that is. That one interaction with others has been the single thing I’ve missed the most this month. I also like hearing about engagements, and happy relationship status updates, and seeing pictures of new babies and grand babies. I like extending congratulations when good things happen. I like being part of a crowd of people making a “joyful noise.”

And when someone dies, or needs support, I like knowing about that, too, so I can extend condolences or provide some real-world support.

But that’s it.

I can’t post political junk anymore. I can’t foment outrage anymore: Did you see THIS??? (“This” being some outrageous political decision, or some gut-wrenching planet-endangering disaster.)

No. I just can’t do that anymore.

So here’s the plan going forward:

I’m not going to reload FB or Twitter on my phone. It’s just too much.

I’m also not going to reset notifications. I don’t need to be “notified.”

I’ll check the socials: FB —but just notifications. I don’t need to troll through my entire, often bot-infested feed. I’ll graze around in Twitter occasionally.

I’m going to be happy to reload Instagram, however. I like pictures, and I miss seeing the pics of the people I follow there.

I am going to go back to reading the NYTimes and the The Washington Post online. Unless, I find that they disrupt my equanimity too much, or I find the content I read there bleeds into my life too deeply, or spikes my cortisol to the point that I have trouble down-regulating it.

This is going to be the tricky part.  I’m going to have to be really careful here. But shifting reading news to the late afternoon, rather than the morning, will help. (I hope.)

That’s it. It’s been a revelatory month. I’m glad I did this. Thanks to Cal Newport for suggesting it. I hope he posts his findings. I’m really curious about how the others made out this month.

I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about my journey. I am super curious to know how other people manage the time-suck of social media, so if you have any tips, or just want to commiserate, let me know in the comments.

Digital De-Clutter Day 1


I’m sitting here suffocating in calendars and planners. It’s not a bad way to die, actually.

Today is New Years Day and I’m a little hung over from too much champagne last night, but before I went to bed I remembered to delete from my phone: Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

I also deleted The New York Times and The Washington Post apps, and stopped all notifications to my watch. I will not get a haptick everytime Trump tweets something dangerous or insane.  Probably for the best.

The last email from Cal came on Thursday. Here’s the gist of it:

  • Don’t log on to any social media accounts during the experiment.
  • Don’t read news online.
  • Don’t use the internet for entertainment. (no web surfing, YouTube videos, etc.)
  • Restrict Text messaging if you’re a heavy user.
  • No blogs, but you can live-stream movies and listen to podcasts.

Here are my adaptations. Social Media is gone, except for a daily Facebook check-in (notifications only) so see if anyone has inquired about yoga classes.

Today, Day One, I already had to jump on FB briefly to promote today’s Power Yoga class, and upload my monthly newsletter, but I got off quickly without checking anything else.

(So proud.)

Online news reading is gone, and I have to confess I missed it with my coffee this morning, but I’m into a good novel, The History of Love, so the pain of not having an Opinion piece to seethe over was assuaged. Somewhat.

I have decided to allow myself the Morning Joe podcast. It’s only 40 minutes and it will meet my need to know what’s going on in the world a little.

I’m really happy this cleanse allows podcasts because they’re the source of so much intellectual stim for me.

I’m not a big TV watcher anyway, nor do I use the internet for entertainment, (if you don’t count FB and Twitter and Insta) so that’s no hardship.

I also don’t read blogs, but I have committed to posting to this one every Monday for the year, so I’ll allow myself this indulgence.

When I got up, I checked my weather app. I looked at my Gmail inbox. And that was it.  It took me like, 5 minutes.

I can do this. I can.


34 Pounds of Flour and Waffles

Yesterday we cleaned out the freezers. The one attached to the fridge, and the chest freezer in the basement. In the process I discovered I had 34 pounds of flour.

And I rarely bake. What am I doing with all this flour?

Oat flour, quinoa flour, Pillsbury Unbleached while, Bob’s gluten-free baking flour, Superfine rice flour, coconut flour, King Arthur’s Flour. Arrowroot, and yellow corn meal.

I must have acquired all this flour during my IIN training when every week I was trying a new way of eating. I tried Vegan and Macrobiotic, and Paleo. I tried Vegetarian and Pegan and Atkins and Whole 30 and Clean. I tried every diet known to human kind. That must be why I have quinoa flour, and spelt flour and teff flour.

The other morning when I was complaining to Vince that breakfast was hard for me because I am allergic to eggs, he gave me his gluten-free waffle recipe to try.

(He’s kind of obsessed with waffles.)


Yesterday he posted this on Facebook about consensual sex.

And then he commented this:

Waffles are not tea. But waffles are waffles. And waffles want to be eaten.

I do not assume that everyone wants tea who once wanted tea, but waffles are for the world. The world needs waffles.

I don’t know what “Waffles” represent here, but his recipe turned out great.


I Need to Friend Waldo on Facebook

Imagine what would have happened if the artist who drew Where’s Waldo? had put just a little more space around Waldo?  We would have picked him out immediately, right?

When there is just a little more space around things, they come into view; we can see them. They can move and breathe and make choices.

Today when I opened my email after returning from my evening yoga class, there was an email from Facebook with the subject line: Kathleen, You have notifications pending.

What the…

On Saturday it will be a week since I’ve been on Facebook. I am taking a deliberate break from Facebook, a media fast, if you will. I didn’t announce it, or notify anyone I was doing it, I just stopped going there. That’s my perogative, right? What does Facebook care?

Then the body of the email went on to tell me about all the stuff I have been missing: Friend requests, Notifications, Messages, complete with thumbnail pictures of some of the people I follow.

How did Facebook even know I wasn’t there? I’m more or less a “lurker” there anyway. I spend most of my time “liking” other people’s status updates, or making a little comment here or there. I don’t post photos, I don’t promote this blog, I just read it, like I would read the newspaper: to find out what people are up to, thinking about, obsessing over.

But lately Facebook has been cluttering my consciousness with too much stuff. I was feeling the need for a little space so I could feel articulated, seen, like Waldo might be seen if there was more space around him.

I needed space to just be, without the clutter of other people’s concerns reverberating in my head all day. Is that too much to ask, Facebook?

Why do you need to hunt me down via email? Tell me about all the stuff I’m missing?

I’ll be back, but in my own time and on my own terms. I need time to figure out how to be with you in a way that there is articulated space around me for other things.

I need to find Waldo, and create a little space around him. Some space for a friendship to grow.

The Problem with Facebook

Thanks to my power juice, and rest, and lots of reading, I think my bout of the crud is on the way out.

I felt energetic enough this afternoon to go to Wegmans and re-stock the fruits and veggies.

In the Nature’s Marketplace section I ran into one of my friends and yoga students and people I follow on Facebook.

It was weird because even though I have only been “off Facebook” for one day, when I saw this person, I wondered: Is there anything up with him that he expects me to be “up on?”

What if he had posted something momentous and expected me to know about it? And what if my not mentioning it would lead him to think that I didn’t care about his momentous thing?

(Holy shit. Facebook is complicated.)

I knew that somewhere in our conversation I needed to tell him that I was on a media fast and was not going to check Facebook for this week, just so he wouldn’t think I was ignoring his momentous thing.

(Not that he posted a momentous thing, but just in case.)

My confession of my media fast, turned into a very interesting exchange about how all this social media has changed out interactions with one another.

I made him swear that he wouldn’t go home and report that he had seen me in the canola oil aisle at Wegmans.  (He promised, but of course there is not way for me to check on this unless I cheat and go on Facebook tonight, which I am not going to do.)

But it made me think that this was what I really LIKE about Facebook. I like it when I run into someone at Wegmans, whose life I follow on Facebook, that we can engage each other from a place of already knowing “the backstory” of at least some aspect of each other’s lives.

Because when you don’t keep up with people on social media and you run into them, your interchange tends to be of the “Hi, how ya doin'” variety and it just ends there.

But if you know that they have just come back from a trip or are putting an addition on their house, or whatever, you can then engage them more meaningfully, and maybe say: Hey, that addition is really super!”

And I like that.

What I don’t like about Facebook is that it sucks me down into itself for longer than I would like, and when I I finally re-surface, the time that I would have to liked to have spent reading or cleaning or or moving my many on-going projects forward, has been frittered away on Facebook.

And that makes me cranky.

It’s something I have to figure out.

Sitting on the couch, reading.

So just in time for Spring Break, I am battling some kind of upper respiratory thing. (greaaaat..) Nothing like a garbage-y cough and a woozey head to start the weekend.

My first day of Facebook-less-ness went off without a hitch. Don’t even miss it.

It was so easy, I gave up Pinterest, too. I am checking my email and reading blogs on my Google Reader, and that’s it.

This morning I  thought about hitting up Wegmans for some organic goodness , but truly did not feel up to it, so I finished my February book instead, and started and almost finished my March one.

My March book is a rogue read that infiltrated into my pile as a result of hearing an interview with the author on Buddhist Geeks.

I HATE strength training with every (muscle) fiber of my being, but this guy’s book is about making strength training a contemplative practice, so my interest was mucho piqued.

As I’ve been lying on the couch all day reading this book (yummmmm…..) my predominant thought has been: this is YOGA!  This is how I strive to do my practice. Everything he is saying about strength training could just as well be applied to yoga. What he does with weights is what I do on my mat. So why did it never occur to me that I could bring the yogic mindset to weight lifting????

It’s a very cool book, but man, it could have really used an editor. Reading his sentences is like driving on rumble-strips. Some people have no “ear” for the flow of idea-music, ever notice that? But his content is solid, so I am putting up with the atonal, mind-jarring style.

Tonight we turn the clocks ahead. It’s only 8 PM as I write this and I’ve already done it. I love this time of year. I don’t understand Daylight Savings Time AT ALL, and it’s not something I seek to understand. I just accept it as part of the predominant cultural wackiness.  All I know is that tomorrow at 6:30 PM we will have the same light as today at 5:30 PM, and that is just fine with me!  Let the light shine!

People complain that they lose an hour’s sleep.  Really? Really?? C’mon. Let’s be honest, here. Don’t you just sleep until you wake up? It’s Sunday, afterall. No place to go, really. Just sleep in, people. Quit your bellyaching!  It’s almost SPRING!!

Media Fast

I was talking to Emily the other day, and the conversation turned to what we are reading these days. Em always has a book or two going, and she was telling me that her employees are all voracious readers, too. When they are on break at work, they all sit and read.

She loves that about them. I love that, too. (I always picture people on “break from work” either texting or taking a cigarette break.)

I am still reading my February book and here it is almost 10 days into March. I was cruising Facebook today and it suddenly occurred to me that in the time I was doing that, I could have been reading my book.

Today starts the university’s Spring Break which means that G heads down south with her team. I will be here with Boomer, holding down the fort and teaching my classes. I am thinking that a little media fast might be in order. I think I will give up Facebook this week, and instead, put my face in a book.