A Social Media "Fast" + Lots of Insights ensue. . .

I’ve been on a self-imposed social media break since July 21st. For me that means I’m not engaging with or using Instagram or Facebook except when absolutely necessary. Trust me, in today’s day and age there are times when I HAVE to use social media - especially since I’m running a small business that at least partially relies on some social media use. Any other social media that I use is either so minimal it’s not a factor, or is simply me pushing content over from IG or FB. 

   at the Alameda Point Antiques fair earlier this year

   at the Alameda Point Antiques fair earlier this year

So. I just checked the calendar and I see that it’s been a two week break so far. And all I can think is “It hasn’t been long enough.” My intention when I started this break was to go for a month. At this point, I don’t think a month long break will be a problem. I’m also not being strident or absolute about it. I plan to pop into both IG and FB tomorrow or Monday to post about this blogpost. I want you all to know what’s going on with me. I want to share my thoughts on this social media break as I’ve seen other folks do because I think that the insights I’ve gleaned are important.

It’s been, and this is without hyperbole or exaggeration, quite startling to see how much stepping away from social media engagement is changing things for me. (And two weeks in, all I can think is, “this is just the tip of the iceberg.”) My time feels more expansive. I am accomplishing what I want to in the course of a day more easily. I’m feeling more focused. I pick up books to read more often. I’m finding it easier to read a whole email from start to finish without going into “oh I’ll just skim it” mode. I am less distracted. 

Although I should probably stop right there. For while I am less distracted, this little experiment has shone a very bright light on one little yet big distraction: my phone. It beckons to me when it need not. I can be in the middle of a very good lunch, reading a very good book and I will need to “check my phone.” In the middle of conversations I have the urge. I will be at my workbench, in the middle of drilling holes in several handmade components and I’ll think “just need to check my email.” Do I need to check anything in these moments? Probably not. Almost certainly not. I’m starting to think that in many ways our phones are the newest addictive substance we’re consuming on a daily basis as a culture.

That is to say over the last two weeks, one things has become abundantly apparent: I want more of this using my phone less. I have no desire to go back to how I was doing things. I want to watch one of my favorite shows on Hulu or Netflix and not “distract” myself by checking IG every 5 minutes or so. I want to see and feel and hear and taste the details in my life again in a way I have stopped doing. I plan on taking my email app off of my phone. I don’t want to be able to check email unless I am at work or at home sitting in front of my laptop and intentionally sitting down to work. I will definitely return to social media engagement once my month-long break is over, but I plan to set guidelines for myself. I want to make it work for me. And I think, the minute it starts to feel like an addictive substance that I can’t live without, well, I think that will usher in another social media break. 

I know I just wrote about some unintentional social media breaks that I took earlier this summer in my last blog post. I’m almost certain that those small breaks helped fuel my desire for a longer break. Also a break that is taken while living my regular ‘ol day-to-day life. The other, smaller breaks, were both taken while I was on trips. (One work related and one mostly for fun.) I wanted to see what it would feel like to live my life, my as I already stated “regular ‘ol life”, that can sometimes get boring and sometimes feel like drudgery (honesty here). There’s so much to say here, it almost makes me cry with the profundity of it all. I need the boredom. I need the drudgery. It fuels my creativity. It fuels my drive. It gives me beautiful little moments where I’m able to slow down. 

Does anyone else ever feel really strange and sort of “buzzy” after a few too many minutes spent scrolling through IG? I’ve always felt like that afterwards. Spending time on social, unless I handle that time with great care and purposeful intention, always leaves me feeling drained. Disconnected. Spacey. What it hasn’t been is a moment to slow down. Usually, after “falling down the IG hole” I am appalled by how much time has gone by. My phone feels truly capable of stealing my time away. . . if I give it the power to. It’s like a cryptic, modern day fairytale. 

I think maybe the most sobering part of all of this is that we all know that we need these things: that we need boredom in our lives. That if we really want to be connected in conversation with someone we can’t “just check in” with our email during conversational lags. That if I actually want to enjoy my favorite show on Netflix I can’t interrupt the viewing every 5 to 10 minutes with a quick IG scroll. That if I want the colors in the sky to truly thrill me, the smell of the fresh baked pizza to actually intoxicate me, if I wan to sincerely lose myself in moments - in moments that add up to my life - to a lifetime, I have to be engaged most of the time. 

And I haven’t been. 

Now, this isn’t meant to put all of the blame on my social media use. I am human and therefore I am innately an expert at distracting myself from what is directly in front of me. But I want to change that. In that desire I believe lies the real root of my decision to take this social media break. I want to examine all of the ways I am taking myself out of the present moment, and I’d like to work towards putting myself back there. 

I used to think that the documenting of my life was adding to it. That it was putting more color and flavor into my day. When I think about the roots of it all (um, hello, My Space?) I do think that initially it did all ADD to my life. But the newness and the notoriety of it all has worn off. I’m seeking a more intentional and useful way of using social media; not one that has me falling too easily into comparison traps. And I’m seeking a more minimal and pared down way of using my phone.

Regarding some practical matters: to keep all of my Tangleweeds collectors, fans, friends and family up-to-date I’m going to make an effort to keep this website much more up-to-date. I know this year I have not always posted about my events on my Events page, and I certainly haven’t blogged much. But given that I haven’t decided to go 100% off the technological grid, I do want to make an effort to keep the folks who care about Tangleweeds informed. I suggest bookmarking my website as a way of staying up-to-date with my goings-ons (both professional and otherwise) if you like. I will also continue to send out at least monthly newsletters. If you prefer staying up-to-date that way you can sign up for my newsletter here.

A year ago I couldn’t have imagined doing this, but now that I am I’m so grateful I took the leap and made the decision to take a break from social media. It’s shinning a light on my life in ways I could have never anticipated. 

Lastly, I’m incredibly curious: what have been your experiences with social media use? The good the bad and the in-between. Have you ever taken a self-imposed break? If so, what did you get out of it? If you haven’t taken one, are you considering it? Leave a comment below if you like. 

Life’s a crazy journey and really just one big experiment if we all let it be that.

Let's Wabi-Sabi this thing called life

And just like that, my blog got reeeaaaallly quiet this year. 

It’s all the usual reasons, life gets busy and things get prioritized and re-prioritized. I know you all know how it goes. But even when things are busy, my blog is always there in the back of my mind, reminding me that I REALLY like writing over here and that as soon as I can make the time to dive back in, well, I’m diving! So, I’m back =). But not with an exact purpose. Mostly to catch all of you up on the goings-ons with me and Tangleweeds. 

me vending at the annual Whole Earth Festival in Davis (this year)

me vending at the annual Whole Earth Festival in Davis (this year)

The month of May marked two years of living in Vallejo. Those of you who follow along with my blog, may remember this post, Moving Hiatus, when I first announced that I would be moving to Vallejo. Since then, I’ve moved my studio space twice, ultimately settling in with a workshop at home in my garage. I’ve pondered where I see myself settling more permanently in the years to come and have definitely decided that I won’t be staying in Vallejo too much longer. Where exactly I’m headed next will depend on many things, but I’m hoping to find a way to move back to Oakland. 

Downtown Oakland

Downtown Oakland

With the current prices of housing that is a TALL order though, and may or may not work out the way I hope it will. This year I’ve put a lot of energy into really cleaning up my finances and taking a long hard look at how I spend my money. I’m hoping to combine this energy with the momentum I’ve gained with Tangleweeds over the last two years towards a healthier financial life for myself. (If you haven’t picked it up I highly recommend the book Worth It by Amanda Steinberg.)

I’m also open to the possibility of moving away from the bay area too though, and in this way I am simply trying to keep myself open to possibilities that I may not have considered. 

Dolly exploring her newest toy. I adopted this affectionate and loving gal at the very beginning of 2018. 

Dolly exploring her newest toy. I adopted this affectionate and loving gal at the very beginning of 2018. 

This is all to say, that while living in Vallejo has really given me many things I need: a home of my own, a secure place to park my craft fair-loaded car overnight, a workspace at home, a yard and outdoor space for my cats to roam around in (and all of this at a price I can afford) it hasn’t really proven to be the community that I need at this time in my life. I know that many people are very protective of Vallejo, and may object to the way I perceive it. And I can relate. I feel VERY protective of Oakland at times, what with the way the city is portrayed on the news. But what I know matters to me is the simple fact that Vallejo does not feel like the place I’m meant to call home for much longer. 

My workbench in my home studio

My workbench in my home studio

By this time next year I hope to be taking the steps towards moving somewhere that speaks to my heart. 

Sometimes, as I’m working towards making big changes in my life, I’ll consider what a younger me might think of the decisions I’m currently making. And I think a younger me would find a way to move MUCH sooner. Three months of living in a city that doesn’t feel like home would feel like an eternity to a younger me, let alone a year! But a younger me was also much more stubborn and much less willing to see the good that came out of frustrating circumstances. That is all to say, that there is much good that has come out of my time in Vallejo, and there is more good stuff to relish in the year to come. 

One of the HUGE benefits of moving my workspace home has been the fact that this guy wanders in and out of my garage studio pretty much all day long =)

One of the HUGE benefits of moving my workspace home has been the fact that this guy wanders in and out of my garage studio pretty much all day long =)

And in the meantime I intend to start dropping in here more often. I don’t have much of an agenda right now. I’ve written many series for this bog, from my Creative Tenacity posts for fellow creatives to my Listening-Wearing-Making posts to my Handmade Love series where I featured fellow creatives’ work. While all of those series are fun for me to write and were created for one simple reason: these were the things on my mind that I wanted to share with all of you, currently I’m in a more reflective and organic place. Which means, at least for the time being, expect more “wabi-sabi” like posts. A Tangleweeds journal in the truest sense of the word.

Thanks for reading and I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!


This Life: Journaling

Life changes. Some changes are big and significant, some are small and not-so-significant, but many more are less easily defined as “big” or “small.” I find that many of the changes in my life that have affected me most significantly do so in a way that is often mysterious. I often don’t see the change that is coming, both in myself and the effects that the change has on the day-to-day minutia. For me, if I don’t find a way to slow down, reflect, ponder, obsess, analyze, and just think on the things that are transpiring in my life I often feel left behind in my own life, like things are happening to me rather than with me.

My tool for slowing down, for the better part of my life, has been journaling. I started my first journal when I was 6 or 7 and I’ve kept one, on and off, since then. I think part of my connection to journaling stems from my love of the written word. (Way back in the day, long before I contemplated having a handmade jewelry business, I wanted to be a fiction writer.) Journaling allows me to pick something apart as much or as little as I like. I often come to realizations I didn’t see coming, through my writing.

The author Ann Patchett, in an interview I heard on one NPR show or another, once said that for her, if she doesn’t write it down it’s sort of like it didn’t happen. (I’m paraphrasing here of course.) She is a renowned fiction writer, but in that comment she was referring to keeping a journal. There is a part of me that resonates with that statement. I feel more whole and more alive when I am pausing to write about and reflect on what is happening in my life.

A few years ago I went through a period where I rarely wrote in my journal. Nothing tragic was happening, in fact, lots of good stuff was happening, life just sort of swept me along and I stopped taking those pauses to write, breathe and reflect. Over the course of the last year I’ve found my way back to journaling, granted not as often as I once did, but I’ve developed a habit of sweeping all other obligations aside when I feel that urge to just sit down and write. 

Besides the HUGE benefit of slowing down and reflecting that writing gives me, there is another benefit though, one that has slowly revealed itself to me over the years, and it’s simply this: I can’t lie to myself as readily. That’s the indirect benefit that comes from my taking the time to journal. I find that I must be more honest with myself about all aspects of my life when I’m taking the time to stop and reflect. This might sound strange, but I can be the QUEEN of lying to myself. Life gets busy, I get in my “go, go, go” mode and I kind of stop really being mindful about how I’m feeling. Journaling makes me stop and see all the sparkly little facets of life. 

If you like, share a little bit in the comments about what you like to do that helps you slow down and reflect. I know everyone has their own thing, and I always love to hear what others do that help them “show up” for their own life more fully and completely.

Full Circle ~ It's Been a While

It's been a good while since I've dropped in on this blog! Quite frankly, the month of March proved, well, challenging to say the least. Many things do seem to come in threes, and that was sort of how March went. I was juggling too many things as the month blew in, then family came to visit and the juggling went from elegant to frantic. Then, amidst it all, my computer's hard-drive decides it's time to CRASH. Lastly, right as I'm trying to get back to work, new computer hard-drive installed (along with increased memory), I get sick. And not just "oh, I've got a little cold sick" but full on fever and all the yuckies that come along with it sick. 

I spent the last week and change chilling out at home. After an initial attempt at going back to work too early, I realized I was only going to get better if I gave myself over to rest and recuperation. I read a bunch, worked on my current weaving project (but only a bit as even this proved a bit exhausting) but mainly I rested, drank buckets of tea and cuddled with the kitties. 

And I had lots of time to reflect. Leading up to getting sick, during those weeks of juggling priorities and to-do lists, I just kept finding myself thinking "I really need a break." But I just kept on keeping on, kept on waking up early everyday even when all I wanted to do was sleep in, kept on with all of my goals and to-do lists when all I wanted to do was go take in a matinee at the theater down the street from my studio. When I look at it all, it starts to make sense that I got sick. It was the only way I was going to give myself the rest I so sorely needed. 

The only takeaway I have from all of this, is a reminder that I need to always put my health and well-being first. Even when it feels like I might not meet a self-imposed deadline, or blog enough, or list those new pieces on Etsy, or whatever it might be. I feel like this is a lesson I've had to learn time and time again, and that with each turn it sinks in a bit more thoroughly. 

I'm back on the horse, so to speak today, and it feels good. I'm 98% better, and taking it slow today with lots of breaks and moments to pause and rest. Being my own boss does make that a whole heck of a lot easier! 


(a small collection of nature-ephemera I found laid out at the Berkeley farmer's market last week ~ a little reminder to pause, breathe, and enjoy the everyday magic that's all around me)