Hello and Happy July!

June has absolutely flown by. I remember sitting down at my parent’s kitchen bar what seems like days ago, patching together summer plans. Now, summer is half-past! It’s madness!

This morning, I sat down with my Monk Manual and Sacred Ordinary Days Planner to think about what I want out of July. The resounding theme that’s been bouncing around my mind lately is presence. It’s come up in so many different ways over the last few months, really, since the quarantining first began. All across the Internet, people were prompting others to reframe our idea of what makes a life and what this strange, topsy-turvy time could offer us, as a whole. I saved many of those posts to remember that positivity when things seemed anything but.

Throughout the active “lockdown,” I felt pretty good about this idea of slowing down, taking stock, and being resourceful and responsible. As the doors started to reopen, however, it became harder to keep up those habits and adhere to those ideals. Life started returning to normal.

One of the things I really wanted to commit to over the lockdown and summer was writing more. I had already signed up for a membership to The Habit and I started taking the summer class, Writing with Flannery O’Connor, as well as participating in some book clubs through The Habit, The Yoga Abbey, and The Poetry Pub. I rediscovered a love I had for writing fiction and, especially, poetry. I became enthralled by Brian Doyle and Malcolm Guite and checked out The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady because I had become fascinated with nature journaling and sketching after discovering John Muir Laws. All of these various things were all telling me the same over and over again: pay attention.

Like most of us living in this very busy century, I’m easily distracted. What I want to do tends to get overridden by other things (that I suppose I want to do more, even though I don’t want to want to do them more). For me, those other things tend to be online shopping and browsing social media. Perhaps you can relate?

And so, when it came time to reflect on my past month and think about new habits and values I wanted to live out in July, those were the two current habits I decided I needed to defeat. Beginning tomorrow, I’m instituting a Social Media Sabbatical for the month of July. Also beginning tomorrow, I’m putting myself on a “shopping ban” for the next 60-90 days. I have a few rules and “exceptions,” of course. I’ll continue to use YouTube to keep up with Dr. Campbell’s COVID updates, Yoga with Adriene, and Caroline Williams Yoga, as well as for music. For the first few days, I’m going to let myself finish out Jessica Rose William’s June Vlogging, since I’ve yet to miss a day. I’ll also do a weekly check-in with the aforementioned Poetry Pub’s book club (as it occurs on Facebook). Other than that, I’m deleting Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube from my phone for the month. I’m also considering deleting things like my mail app for the month; anything that I lay in bed piddling with rather than getting up and starting my day or compulsively check at stoplights and in lines.

As far as shopping is concerned, this isn’t a true “no-spend” like you sometimes see bloggers do. I’ll buy shampoo if I run out and if J and I decide to make purchases for the house or ourselves, we’ll do that together (we have a few things we want to update in the near future, such as our chair covers, TV, and some of our cookware). If I need something for work (like ink), I’ll pick that up as well. But, I’ll be deleting all of my shopping apps (which are a lot! Amazon, Mercari, Poshmark, ThredUp, Ebay, etc…) and not visiting them at all for the next few months. I won’t be buying clothes, self-care items, or random odds and ends. The only exclusion I may make is buying books, although I want to be more selective (especially now that the library is open again). This is mostly an experiment in contentment, which I tend to run afoul of with regard to clothing, accessories, self-care, and home decorations. If it’s a shopping decision I would normally make without talking to Jason at all (because it doesn’t involve him), I won’t be buying it.

This is a “do not” type of goal setting for the month and I’m hesitant to institute “do” goals in their place. I’ll continue to do what’s needed for my online work outside of social marketing, but I’m not adding anything to that. Mostly, I’m just hoping to open up some space for other things. I hope that will result in more time to write, more time for poetry, maybe time for nature and sketching. But I don’t want to set goals for those. I suppose I want to see what naturally inhabits the space that I’m clearing out when I remove those habits.

I’ll do my best to check back in at the end of the month with an update. This also reminds me of the list of habits I listed back in January that I hoped to work on each month. For January, I worked on daily yoga, reducing sugar, and starting my capsule wardrobe. March and April saw me unintentionally working on and succeeding at reducing processed foods and reducing alcohol intake. During May and June, I tried (and failed quite spectacularly) at waking up earlier. So, for July I suppose I’m on numbers 10 and 11: reduce spending and reduce screen time. I suppose I’ll see if any of those do habits I listed start to take their place.