growth + wellness spirituality

Unplugged

January 31, 2012

Will the world still turn if I don’t stay connected?

This weekend I culminated a 3-week long fast. This was the longest I’ve fasted, outside of Lent‘s 40 day fast, which I observe each year. Typically when I fast, it is in observance of a church-wide fast that only lasts 1 day or 1 week at a time. I often struggle with various spiritual and personal issues that require more focused devotional time with God, and fasting helps one draw closer to God by withdrawing from self. But it’s hard to be connected spiritually when I’m “too busy” being connected to everything else.

You see, I’m not really too busy to make time for my spiritual rejuvenation. It’s just… I’m allergic to staying focused and on task. I lack discipline in my fitness goals, academic goals, and especially my spiritual goals. I dedicate a small portion of each day to reading devotionals (often times forwarded to me by good friends, which I’m thankful for), but I know that I don’t put in the same amount of time into my spiritual relationship as I do other things in my life. But like any other relationship, its necessary to make the intentional effort to spend quality time so that the relationship can grow and flourish.

So when an older friend of mine from church asked me to join a group of people to do a “start of the year” fast, I immediately agreed. I knew this would be my chance to have a real life “come to Jesus” moment,  to regain focus in my commitment to my spiritual relationship and my other neglected priorities.

To do this, I not only fasted from certain foods (meat, white rice/pasta, soda), I fasted from major distractions. Yep, I gave up my beloved Facebook, Twitter, television and even gchat during the week.

To be perfectly honest, the food fast was the easiest. While the smell of a good hamburger or perfectly fried wings was tempting, I found new and tasty vegetarian/pescatarian recipes to indulge in. Giving up social media, however, during a time when I used it the most–AT WORK–was soooooo hard! Detaching myself from the very outlet that allows me to think aloud, share ideas, vent, or just be foolish for foolishness sake was probably one of the most difficult tests of discipline I’ve ever encountered1!!

It was a bit of an ego bruise to face the realization that the virtual world does not revolve around me and life indeed goes on whether I’m plugged into the machine or not. I struggled not to login to collectively wish my sorority sisters “Happy Founders Day” or to read the reactions to my YouTube debut2. But I was committed (or resolved, if you will) to my fast and to what it signified. I wasn’t going to cheat for a brief, fleeting moment of satisfaction.

So, after I got over this desire to just be in the virtual “know”, I became immensely productive and learned to really enjoy and appreciate my new found free time. I had so much more time to do my work (had a grant proposal and manuscript to write), to exercise and pay attention to my diet, to read leisurely (currently reading A Feast for Crows), and most importantly to spend in devotion, mediation and prayer. I felt good about my new found discipline and the benefits that came with it.

The fast gave me a renewed sense of purpose and appreciation for the many blessings I’ve received and will receive. By giving up a few of the things that have prevented me from achieving the discipline and focus I craved, I **wait for moment of revelation** gained the discipline and focus I craved. Funny how that works, huh? 🙂

Being unplugged from the noise allowed me to be plugged into myself and my Creator. And that feeling is priceless. It feels good to step outside of my comfort zone3 and actually hold myself accountable for my actions. I’m far from perfection, but God is still working on me. Now that I’ve reopened the path to communication, me and the Big G can keep working things out.  I look forward to fasting again for Lent and finding new ways to connect by disconnecting.

Are there things you need to unplug from? Do you spend more time in your distractions than you do in your priorities? Do you ever take time out for an extended period of time to just focus on yourself and your goals (i.e. through fasting)? What are some things you do to retreat from the noise of the world around you?

Plugging back in just a little,
Gemmie

—–
1 No lie, it was sheer torture initally. Wall sliding and fiend-like behavior occurred frequently during the first week. Social media withdrawal is a real life condition (lol).
2 Looking back, its a bit ironic that I gave up certain media distractions but not ALL such distractions. I managed to develop an addiction for many of the “sh*t ____say” YouTube videos. I mean, I watched my favorites EVERY day, MULTIPLE times a day. And to make matters worse, it kilt me not to be able to share my new addiction with others via social media. SMDH. I have a problem. #iNeedFree
3 I know, I know, it’s sad that social media is my “comfort zone”. But in my defense, I do have a REAL life outside of the internet, that is highly social (lol). I’m actually one of the most social persons I know. I just so happen to also love my virtual social ties. *shrug*

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20 Comments

  • Reply Wu Young, Agent of M.E. January 31, 2012 at 6:25 am

    -Are there things you need to unplug from?
    There are tons of things that I should just leave alone. Right now I’m ignoring the GOP debates. There’s no need to feed into the hype b/c I’m not voting for any off these a**hats. They aren’t that funny so why bother. I need to go on a full twitter shutdown too. (I have noticed that with depression you have to be careful how you unplug from things. The darkness tells you to unplug from things you like and not come back.)

    -Do you spend more time in your distractions than you do in your priorities?

    Yeah. My attention span is for sh*t these days.

    -Do you ever take time out for an extended period of time to just focus on yourself and your goals (i.e. through fasting)?

    You know I’ve never fasted or given anything up for lent. I can’t let my physical vices go. I am considering giving up beer for a time though.

    -What are some things you do to retreat from the noise of the world around you?

    When I can’t stop my mind from going I either grab a book, reach for my headphones, or get the hell out of the house for some time. I find being somewhere else helps a lot.

    • Reply gemmieboo January 31, 2012 at 11:21 am

      isn’t it crazy how you get sucked into the GOP debates? i mean, you want to know what the other side if talking about, but its infuriating all at the same time. smh…

      I have noticed that with depression you have to be careful how you unplug from things. The darkness tells you to unplug from things you like and not come back.

      interesting.

      I can’t let my physical vices go.

      cant? or wont? doing it on my own, my attempts at discipline are for naught. its like, if its just me holding me accountable, im likely to give up before i start. but through fasting, im actually more inclined to stick with my program and not slip up too much.

      i feel you on grabbing a book or some beats to zone out. that me and art time is key!

      • Reply Wu Young, Agent of M.E. January 31, 2012 at 12:46 pm

        Getting sucked into the debates is like arguing with a stupid uncle.

        I’m selective on letting things go. Depression has made it easy for me to be dismissive about things and if I unplug I often worry that I may not come back.

        “cant? or wont?”

        Mostly won’t. I could do a better job when it comes to vices. Some aren’t needed and some are actually addictions. ahem. coffee.

        I am impressed with people who fast. I’m a first class sonofabitch when I don’t eat enough.

      • Reply gemmieboo January 31, 2012 at 3:01 pm

        i feel you. it is REALLY hard to break habits, esp bad ones. smdh

        im impressed with ppl who do a total food fast. i like food and my mood is highly contingent on my nutrition, esp early in the day. a hungry gemmie is an ANGRY gemmie. how can you be tryna get your Christian sanctification on and you’re just evil??

  • Reply fourpageletter January 31, 2012 at 11:16 am

    It was a bit of an ego bruise to face the realization that the virtual world does not revolve around me and life indeed goes on whether I’m plugged into the machine or not <-this comment right HERE?!?!?!?!?!

    i believe all these social networks are making us more narcissistic, egotistic and self-centered. we think people care about the meals we're eating, shows we're watching, blogs we're reading. and sure, some people do, but truly WE care about presenting a certain life more than anything else. and when you take a step back and unplug, you realize..oh. people aren't waiting/looking for me or those things. *sad panda face*

    the great thing is, when you unplug, you realize there is more and reconnect with what is important. i can't remember the last time i read for pleasure (ok, it was the help), and it's something that i miss. whatever you say you don't have time for, you do – you just dont want to give certain things up to get it.

    do what ever you need to do and whatever it takes!

    kudos to you!

    miss ya lots!

    • Reply gemmieboo January 31, 2012 at 11:26 am

      i believe all these social networks are making us more narcissistic, egotistic and self-centered.

      i think for me, its not so much about being on some “im so great that everybody wants to hear what i have to say” but more like “im an important piece in whatever conversation is going on because i always got some ish to add”. not that my life is so fabulous and so interesting, but that i do bring an interesting twist to the table. and while that may be true (i like to think so, anyway lol), me NOT being around to tweet about any and everything isnt going to make much of a difference one way or another. and thats (O_O) wow.

      whatever you say you don’t have time for, you do – you just dont want to give certain things up to get it.

      egg-zact-ly!!!

      thanks for all the support kbeezy. love ya sis!

      • Reply fourpageletter January 31, 2012 at 2:52 pm

        well i for one believe that my life is so great and tweet worthy. lol.

        but how you put it was pretty much what i was trying to get at.

        i had to realize that i always wanted to be part of the conversation, when there are plenty of times when it’s just not necessary. and like you said, a slight slap to the face when you realize conversations happen and are cool and fun without you.

      • Reply gemmieboo January 31, 2012 at 3:03 pm

        well i for one believe that my life is so great and tweet worthy. lol.

        lmbo well i do too sometimes. but more than ANYTHING i like just being in the know, and in the middle of some sh*t, esp if somethin is about to go down lol #goonalldayallnight

        im nosy and LOVE to blab about any and nothing so social media is PERFECT for ppl like me. lol

    • Reply Cheekie January 31, 2012 at 2:05 pm

      “whatever you say you don’t have time for, you do – you just dont want to give certain things up to get it. ”

      This comment right here hit me in the gut. In a good way. I needed that wake-up call. KB to the rescue once again! LOL

      • Reply gemmieboo January 31, 2012 at 3:03 pm

        aint she like a big-boobied buddah?? #KeishaBrownsBosomBeKnowin

  • Reply Cheekie January 31, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Major props to you Gemmie for doing this! You realized you needed the unplugging and despite the torture, you followed through. That is truly admirable, to say the least! Glad you felt better after doing so and glad to see you back. *thug hugs*

    • Reply gemmieboo January 31, 2012 at 11:27 am

      thanks for the support, Cheeks!! im hoping the time off will also allow me to focus my writing more and get back in the blog world with my buddies 🙂

      speaking of which…. *heads over to pinchmycheekie.wordpress.com*

      • Reply Cheekie January 31, 2012 at 2:04 pm

        Yeah, I may have to do one of these in the near future because focus is what I’m lacking these days. And thanks for the plug. 😉

      • Reply gemmieboo January 31, 2012 at 3:04 pm

        girl we all lack focus apparently LOL. its crazy how productive you get when you peel back the distractions.

        and im happy to plug–esp since your post from yesterday was ON POINT!

  • Reply Phidelity15 January 31, 2012 at 11:51 am

    I have never fasted, not for Lent or any reason. Not a juice fast, tech fast, nada. Sometimes I go missing on twitter or facebook, but that’s mostly because sometimes I just don’t have anything to say. Sometimes I’ll just tweet watch, but others I just don’t even bother with social media because it becomes annoying and repetitive. I can’t read or be apart of a repetitive conversation…that joint irks my last nerve.

    But I did have an epiphany about myself. Your question was do you spend more time in distractions than priorities…guess what? I don’t. Its totally opposite. I spend so much time doing everything I’m supposed to do; being responsible, helping others, working and all that jazz, that I don’t get much time for distractions. Not the major kinds that I want anyway.

    For me I think my priorities are the hinderance..and I plan to unplug from that and get more focused on enjoying life with a series of breaks and vacations. All the fun stuff that I’ve been avoiding…I think I’ve earned it.

    • Reply fourpageletter January 31, 2012 at 2:58 pm

      all about balance my dear and yes do it! you’ve earned it!!
      *cough, cough.. come visit toronto, cough, cough. 😉

      • Reply gemmieboo January 31, 2012 at 3:11 pm

        even if i dont get to TO before i move, i absolutely plan to come visit. like within the next 30mos or so. BET ON THAT!

      • Reply Phidelity15 January 31, 2012 at 4:10 pm

        I will definitely try and make it further north this year. But my first stop is Vegas. I have never traveled to the west and for my big 3-0 this needs to happen. After Vegas, my calendar is open…lets just hope my funds keep up with my travel plans.

    • Reply gemmieboo January 31, 2012 at 3:07 pm

      I spend so much time doing everything I’m supposed to do; being responsible, helping others, working and all that jazz, that I don’t get much time for distractions. Not the major kinds that I want anyway.

      TEACH ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      but seriously, i never thought about this in the opposite light, being more focused on your priorities and responsibilities that you dont take time to enjoy yourself or the fun things life has to offer. hmmm thats deep girl!!

      well you know, when i have my birthday/graduation/going away party, yo ass better VACAY to pittsburgh and party it up with us! i promise, just one hour with me and you will know what its like to put 100% into foolishness 😉

  • Reply samantha February 4, 2012 at 1:11 am

    samantha…

    […]Unplugged « That's What GEM Said[…]…

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