Thursday, April 5, 2018

Goodbye Social Media

I got my first smart phone when we moved to Arizona in 2011. Russell had a great new job that provided him with a new iPhone, and I felt like I deserved one, too! I headed to the mall and got a brand new iPhone 4. It didn't take long to discover the joys of smart phones, ha ha. Games, pictures and of course, social media. I got the Facebook app, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Linked In. I found Pinterest, too, and we all know what a black hole of awesomeness Pinterest is, ha ha.

For the last SEVEN years, I've been active on Facebook and Instagram. Sporadic on Twitter, and rarely on Linked In. Snapchat was used pretty much for playing with filters, and an occasional message to a friend or family member. Snapchat's always good for a laugh. And Pinterest sucked me in big time for a while, but then I kind of burned out on it.

In this period of time, my kids went from little kids to teenagers well on their way to adulthood. They've watched me on social media, they've watched their friends on social media, they've BEEN on social media.

Over the last few months there's been a lot of talk about what affect all of this is having on us and our children. Study after study confirms that it's more negative than positive for most of us. Psychologists are dealing with more and more depression, anxiety and suicide attempts than ever before, and they're blaming social media. The issues of comparison, jealousy and the feelings of inadequacy are no joke, and for the last several months I've been trying to figure out how to deal with it all.

The fact is, my generation of parents are the first to have to do this. There simply is no precedent for the all-day access to information (good or bad), the photo editing software that allows us all to "fix" ourselves right in the palm of our hands, the never being "out of reach" from our work or friends, all of it.

And I asked myself "Do I want MY family to be the guinea pigs for this?"
And I finally answered myself 
"no".

I'm not sure what the future holds. I would never go so far as to say that I'll never have social media again. I'd love a good way to keep up with family, especially as my kids leave home and start families of their own. Instagram would work, it's just that it's overrun with users, and it's hard to restrict it to family only. Anyway, I do want to figure something out for that, since I have seven kids and they're likely to be spread out all over the place.

I've spent a lot of time trying to convince myself that I'm able to focus on the good things that are found on social media. And that's true, to an extent, but I'm not immune to the feelings of inadequacy that come when I've had a rough "mom day" and I get on Instagram and see beautiful pictures of loving, happy moms laughing with their kids. Rest assured, I know social media. I know how it works, and I know most of those pictures are staged. Please know that this knowledge does NOT make you immune! You still see what you see with your eyes, and those images are powerful!

 If you're feeling that self-doubt, or worse, PLEASE try going without social media for a while. Just give it a chance! I can't explain it, but just making this decision has been freeing to me. I feel a power that I didn't feel before, and I have hope for amazing things to come!

I don't know how often I'll post here, I'm not very reliable, but I have no intention of shutting down my blog. There was a time when I found a lot of joy in posting here, and just maybe I'll find that joy again, now that my time isn't being sucked up watching other people live their lives! 

Can't wait to see how this simple decision changes me, friends!




Sunday, February 4, 2018

My Story-Pt. 8 A New Beginning


Goodness, this IS a long story! I'm nothing if not thorough, ha ha.

So, here we are! A good eleven years after this whole fight with (what I assume is) depression began. I believed I was given two great gifts: to sing and to be the best mom there ever was. Maybe I was too prideful, I don't know. I just know that I've been humbled, brought to my knees, as I've felt those gifts slip away. As I've dealt with feelings of inadequacy and guilt.

But now I'm ready to heal. I'm ready to find my way back to a place of peace. I certainly don't have all the answers, and if I'm being honest, I'm kind of terrified that I'll fail, but I'm ready to try.

There are two reasons I decided to tell this story and bring you all along with me.

The first is because I want to be accountable. I want a place where I can document the CHOICES I make, and the effect they have. Sort of like a journal, I guess, but public, ha ha.

The second is because I know that I'm not alone. I know there are so many others out there who are struggling with the same sorts of feelings. I want to cheer YOU on, because we CAN do this! 

I am a daughter of a loving Heavenly Father, and this isn't the life he wants for me. He wants me to have joy and laughter, to feel worthy and clean and whole. The thing is, I KNOW that a lot of the reason I feel the way I do is because of choices I've made. 

"Our decisions determine our destiny" -Thomas S. Monson

I don't pretend to believe it'll be easy. Habits are hard to break and hard to form, but I'm determined to do what I can to CREATE the joy I long for.

In the end, I'm hoping to be able to find the path that Heavenly Father DOES have in mind for me. To go where He wants me to go, and do what He wants me do do. These are a couple of the things I need to do, for sure.
1. Rededicate myself to an honest, daily study of the scriptures and the words of latter-day prophets.
    To not just read, but apply. To learn, to pray, to ponder things of the spirit. And to listen and obey.
2. Take better care of the body I've been blessed with. To feed it well and give it the exercise it
    needs to be strong and healthy.
3. Create a home for my family that is conducive to the spirit, so that when my family is here (or
    when others visit) they can feel that there's a special spirit here. A spirit of peace and love.

These are my most immediate goals. Of course, they can be broken down into smaller steps, and I'll get to that. For now, I just thank you, beyond words, for being here. If you'd like to follow along join me on Instagram, because most of this journey will be documented there.
Let's do it!
(@ashley_nineringcircus)
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