We're off and running with our 2015-2016 school year. This is an exciting time for our family as we transition to a Charlotte Mason approach to homeschooling for our younger two using the Ambleside Online Curriculum. I was first introduced to Charlotte Mason and her methods as I read Educating the Whole-Hearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson about a year prior to beginning our homeschooling adventures. I connected with the ideas of learning through living books rather than dry textbooks, spreading a feast of ideas before children and letting them take what they will, and leaving afternoons free for "masterly inactivity". I've got a lot to learn about the ins and outs of a CM education, but we're off to a great start!
Several years ago I found myself facing the possibility of a colonoscopy as my doctor and I searched for the reason behind my recently discovered iron-deficiency anemia.
At that point, I had been on medication for high blood pressure since the birth of my first child (12 years) and Prilosec for chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease since my 2nd pregnancy (8 years). I had a family history of cancer with my dad having passed away at the age of 39. We had also watched family members suffer the devastating effects of strokes, heart attacks, emphysema and other lifestyle related diseases.
My gastroenterologist casually mentioned studies showing that long-term use of Prilosec could inhibit the body's ability to absorb iron properly. Yet, even with this knowledge, he did not suggest that I stop taking the medication. He suggested a colonoscopy.
I asked if it would be reasonable to postpone the colonoscopy until I had done a trial off of the Prilosec. He agreed and instructed me to return in 3 months to recheck my iron levels. And guess what? It worked.
I knew from that point it was up to me to educate myself, to stop taking medications that were simply masking symptoms and get to the real root of the problem. This led me to take a look at what I was eating, what it was doing to my body, and what I could do better.
I read books, studies, articles, listened to audiobooks and watched documentaries. The documentary Forks Over Knives, which promotes a whole-food, plant-based diet, really rang true to me. This led me to many other resources including the Happy Herbivore website and Meal Mentor meal plans (getmealplans.com) to which I currently subscribe.
It has been a long, slow journey learning a new way to eat and a new relationship with food. There have been plenty of times where I have veered way off course and I've had to truly hold on to the mantra "progress not perfection". But I'm both proud of and surprised by the progress that I have made, the small changes that over time have become new habits.
I’m not a nutritionist, a chef or an athlete … I’m a wife and mom with a family to feed EVERY DAY, a recovering fast food addict who is learning a new way! My hope is that by sharing my journey you might find inspiration for yours.
It has only been a short time since I resolved to break my social media habit and delete my Facebook account, however, the difference it has made is simply astounding.
So much of my mental space has been freed up. Just like that.
This is by far the most remarkable difference I've noticed. It's like I've unstrapped a 50 pound pack from my back, dropped it on the road and walked away. And I never want to pick it back up. I'm not sure exactly how many "friends" I had, several hundred or so if I had to hazard a guess, but I'm more convinced now than ever that we just aren't meant to know that much about that many people. I don't believe we were made to operate that way, and it took more of a toll on me, mentally, than I realized.
I don't miss it. At all.
HUGE surprise here. Especially considering how much hand-wringing the thought of leaving Facebook caused me initially. I don't feel left out, or out of the loop. I've had no problem staying in contact with others through email. And I realize now that social media is not even close to being a necessary part of life as I was beginning to believe it was.
I have more time in my day.
Less distraction means more time to build Legos with with my little guy, to chat and laugh with my teenager, and to snuggle up and watch a TV show with my daughter. I have realized, as a homeschool mom who chooses to be with my kids all day, every day, I was using social media as an opportunity to veg out, to escape when my brain needed a break. Now I'm finding ways to take that break that actually refresh me, like reading a good book, watching a TV show, or kicking my feet up for a short nap.
I'm starting to regain what was lost to a lifestyle of distraction.
I'm remembering goals and dreams that had been pushed to the back burner. Things I want to teach the kids and adventures I'd like to have as a family. I've stopped whatever I was doing at the moment to look a child in the face and really listen to what they were saying. I've gone to bed earlier. And instead of spending so much time reading articles about life hacks, recipes, parenting tips, and all the rest, I'm focusing my time and effort on actually living the beautiful life that is right in front of me.
Five years ago the question would have seemed totally absurd. Nevertheless, I found myself asking it.
Can I actually delete my Facebook account?
I'm afraid I'm going to be so out of the loop if I do it. I'd miss being able to scroll through my photo albums and take a walk down memory lane via my own profile page. I'd miss the easy and instant communication with such a large number of people. I'd miss the connection with those whom I'd otherwise probably have no knowledge of things happening in their lives. I'd miss all the helpful articles that come across my news feed daily. Also, does the fact that I help organize a homeschool co-op in our community obligate me to remain on Facebook, to help carry that load of responsibility and communication?
There were so many things to consider before doing something "crazy", but one thing was for sure; Facebook and other avenues of social media and communication were stealing too much of my time. Stealing my focus. Stealing me from the people right in front of me. I was also becoming painfully aware of the example I was setting for my children. They saw me with head buried in my phone, swimming in distraction, more often than they should. They saw my immediate obedience to every beep and whistle from my device. They saw me walk away from face-to-face time with them in favor of answering a call or text. Those are hard words to write. But I believe that change has to start with telling the truth.
So, I'm planning to unplug.
I'll start with Facebook and go from there. Not because I don't want to connect with people. Because I want most to connect with those who sit around the breakfast table with me each morning. Because I can only read so many self-help articles in one day. Because my world needs to become a little bit smaller.
If you are feeling that same pull, let me throw you a lifeline. Here are some books that have been extremely helpful and inspiring: