31 Days of Introspection: Week 3: Relevant vs Irrelevant Information

Heya,

So…the oddest thing to think about is the fluidity of life. My thoughts from one week to another. The way things change just by a few well  timed words. It’s all incredulous and I’m in awe at how things turn about.

From last weeks summary, I remember an emotional rant about perception and deleting my Facebook because of my inability to externalize the opinions of others. This week, my guy and I were out on our upstairs porch, him standing with one hand tucked in one pocket, the other balancing a thick cigar between two fingers, and I, sitting on the roof with my knees pulled up close to my chest, two boxes of matches jammed between my sock and the edge of my sweats, my cigar dangling from my fingers.

We chat about life. Our goals, as if we aren’t already aware of each other’s aspirations, and any emotional hindrances from the week. It’s not until rain starts to patter on the porch, chasing us inside, silently down a flight of stairs (so as not to wake baby Naomi), and onto our screened in porch that we get to the meat of it all.

This is something we regularly did, him and I, before Naomi was born. It wasn’t just cigars. Often times we’d go out to hookah lounges, or our favorite cafe that serves hookah, and we’ll spend hours entwined in each other’s legs, our thoughts mingling. This night, we discuss minimalism and how I’m on this new journey of decluttering and keeping only the things that “spark joy” and how he’s a natural minimalist and doesn’t even know it. He tells me how appreciative he is that I’ve taken this huge leap to make our house more of a home. That it’s safer for Naomi to scramble about on fawns legs because I’ve gotten my shit up off the floor and gotten rid of piles of useless, unread books. There’s a compliment in there somewhere.

Our convo, now that we are in the throes of Our Time, turns to what he calls Relevant and Irrelevant Information. I tell him how I want to delete my social media. How it all just makes me feel like shit. Why do I need justification? Why do I need people to “Like, Comment, and Subscribe” (Blah blah blah)? Why can’t I just get on and happily watch cat videos without thinking no one cares about me? That no one loves me? That their opinions cut so deep without them saying anything? And yes, we are long since working on my aforementioned abandonment issues from childhood, but this is a deeper level of questioning. This isn’t just the want to understand. This is the want to change.

He flicks the ash from the end of his cigar and turns to look at me. I don’t know if it shows in my face, as I gaze back at him, but I need to know. “You can never change the perception of others,” he says. “It has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. Their opinion, negative or positive, is just that. Their opinion.” I nod but my mind wanders and I think about all the “branding” lessons I’ve learned in business and how it makes a difference when showing “yourself” to clients or employers/employees.

What he’s talking about is different. “If you knew someone didn’t like you, Jade, you’d want to know why…” he knows me so well. I’d have questions, internally at least. “I don’t want to know why,” he said. “It doesn’t matter to me. Even if they were  to tell me, what would I do with this information? I wouldn’t change myself to suit their needs. So why?” This -another thing we discussed at length- might make him sound arrogant but as someone who knows and loves him I can tell you, he is not. But that sentence right there tells you how much I care. What he was saying made sense to me though, or maybe it’s because we have a bond. He cares what Naomi thinks, I think, and the opinions of his parents but there’s little else that can shake him. I’m strong like that, but definitely not in the area. I care a little too much.

Later, when our cigars have burned down and I’ve had to pinch the lip end of mine with both hands so as not to burn my lips as I drag, I tell him an experience I once had with perception. “I once had this girl tell me she didn’t like me because I was too happy. Seriously, she was mad because I always walked around happy for no apparent reason.” Now, this was before the pregnancy losses, before the attack in college, before adult life chewed me up and spit me out again. I had a rough childhood. An angry one, and in that sliver of between time that was the last two years of high school, I had gotten to a place where optimism and light were my unspoken motto and she stomped all over it.

“So…” he flicked his cigar again, “ what did you do with that information? Be less happy?” He had that sly, sideways look. With one corner of his mouth tilted up and one caterpillar-like eyebrow raised.

“Right?” I smiled ruefully and handed over the scorching hot butt of my cigar. I folded my legs beneath me and tilted my head at him incredulously. Because I’d never thought of it that way. Yes, I always remembered that mantra that force into you as a kid ‘be who you are’ and ‘it’s okay to not be liked’ but I never took ownership of my own feelings in the matter. Responsibility of the part I played. I did dim my light for her. I remember seeing that chick in the halls and feeling like I couldn’t smile. Like I couldn’t be happy.

“See, the problem is that people aren’t honest with themselves. Be honest, Jade. You want people to like you. You want everyone to like you. Most people do.” I wasn’t offended but I did feel attacked. Damn, Bear (my nickname for him).

“Well,” I said. “It’s not that I want everyone to like me.” I took in a deep breath and he lifted an eyebrow. “I don’t have a problem with people not liking me! I don’t! I just…want to know why!”

”But it’s not Relevant Information,” he said. He went on this long monologue about how Relevant Information is the Information you get that you can actually utilize. Mostly from those you genuinely care about, and vice versa, and secondary players in your life that still affect you- like a boss or mentor. It’s constructive criticism. It’s when people build you up. It’s kudos. It’s even when someone is giving the harsh truth that might make you WAKE up, ask the hard questions, or the feedback that pushes you to strive harder toward your dreams.

“Irrelevant Information”, he says before taking a long drag on the remnants of his cigar and expelling slowly, “is all that information from the unimportant people in your life that you can’t use. it’s the opinions that serve no other purpose than to bring you down.” It’s what that girl said about disliking me because I was too happy. Was I supposed to dim my light? Why did I? What did I gain from that except heart ache! What did she gain except satisfaction — then she probably promptly forgot who I was. It’s the information from people who aren’t a part of your life, they don’t matter.

Now, it’s not to say negative information is always irrelevant. Like I said, if someone says something that does hurt you, but it pushes you to work harder, be stronger, move higher, then that is Relevant Information. It’s all crazy and feels like common sense, but me thinking of it in this way was like a light bulb moment. I was finally able to just let go of all the old friends, the sordid past and start over.

Keeping those people around will harm you, destroy you, dim your light. I realized I didn’t need this repeated social hiatus- not for this reason at least. I just needed to change my circumstances. I needed to change the audience. Get back to what my social media intention is really about— why I use it in the first place.

Minimalism. Declutter, not Deactivate.

I went from around 530 Facebook friends down to 32. (seriously? Old high school classmates that didn’t even like me back then and don’t talk to me now? Random people I met and never connected with again? Hundreds of people I’m dishing my soul out to and expecting them not to trample on it? Yeah. No.) I kept only the people I felt I truly wanted to keep. Then I deleted a few dozen more. As my guy suggested, join groups you like and the people who are into those topics will fill your page. It’s kind of like keeping the things that “spark joy” only…virtually.

I want my social media – my feeds – to be about Books, Writing, amazing places Traveled, and philosophy. Instead of my hiatus I’m re-tailoring with honesty in mind.

Week 3 Summary

Since you stuck around after that whole thing, thank ya thank ya. I’ll keep my summary of this week brief.

I met up with the Black Moms group for my area yesterday and it was amazing. I really feel like I might have found a community here that can help me and provide fun events that aren’t so solitary. I met several cool women with age variety – and a surprising amount of twin moms. We sat, had tea and cackled over all things culture. I definitely want to make it a point to attend more events in the future.

It really sucks not having a laptop. I honestly don’t know how I’m going to do the business, writing and editing, university work, and freelance work from my IPad. If anyone wants to gift me a laptop, I’d love it. I’m laughing but boy am I serious. Har har har. We’ll figure something out eventually. We always do.

I’ve read almost 118 books this year. My goal was 100 due to the baby and switching universities. Most of those were in the second half, and a ton of that can be thanks to audio books. I use Overdrive which is a free app you can link to your library card. Oh man, I’ve read/ listened to so many in the last three weeks. Y’all should check it out.

Lastly, I’ve been keeping the apartment clean!!! Yaaaaaas! I’m so happy because now that I’ve made it into this routine I can clean so much faster and so much easier. I’m loving this minimalist life and I know I still have more to get rid of but the hard work is done.

One more week of Introspection, guys! Then I’ll spend the last 3 days of December reflecting over the month. Cherchez La Vie is the last Sunday of the month. That’s the real holiday, I can’t wait to look over the last 6 months and set goals and plans for the next 6. Things are turning out better than I thought and I’m feeling like a better, mentally healthier, and lighter person already.

Don’t forget to let me know in the comments your thoughts, goals or aspirations. Are you a minimalist? Interested? Yogi? I want to know it all, let’s chat.

 

Good Readdance,

Jade

To help me with my writing skills, my guy suggested that at least 50/100 of the books for 2020 have to be in a genre other than Romance and Detective/Mystery. Game on! I’ve already dug into science fiction a lot this year and I’m ecstatic about it, taking any and all suggestions!

31 Days of Introspection: Week 1: Meditation

Heya,

One of the greatest things I’ve realized that happens when you take a hiatus from social media is having more time for the things that you love. Mainly, Naomi.  I freaking love this little baby but I’m often doing school work when I am home, and my guy’s at work. I didn’t realize just how much time I spend on my phone until I stopped using it as much. When I wasn’t studying, I was crawling around on the floor with her, playing and reading books. I was able to get more bonding time with her while feeding because, instead of being on my phone scrolling through the latest Twitter feed, I’m gazing into her eyes.

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One thing that I have been doing since I started the 31 Days of Introspection is counting the Twitch. I’m not exactly sure who came up with this because I was watching dozens of videos on youtube at the time that I heard it, but the Twitch is that moment when you have an itch to reach for your phone. Most times, I want to whip my phone out and look at it during the slow points of my day. When you’re on the toilet, cooking, watching tv, in between browsing loads when doing homework, etc. I didn’t realize just how much it filled my time until I started counting it.

Th first day it was hard. As soon as the clock stroke midnight, I felt the Twitch. I wanted to post about it. I’ve been keeping track of them in my The Elyzabeth Collection journal and, because I’m using the grid pattern, I filled three lines of boxes. As the days of the week went on, I realized the Twitch became less and less often. By the 6th day, which I spent in a hotel with my guy (thanks to his mom being in town and watching Naomi to giving us a break), I only counted 3 Twitches! How crazy is that? I went from at least 20 by midday to 3. It just reaffirmed that I’m taking this Introspection month seriously.

Another thing that I really wanted to do for this month is meditate. I decided to first focus on my confidence and self-esteem. I’m not down on myself but I definitely feel that I could believe in myself more. Especially when it comes to starting my business, writing books, taking great photos, and my ability to share my creations with the world. After I meditate, using Headspace, I’m calm and relaxed. I’m able to truly think about the future, who and what I want to be. I write in my journal at that point. But at first, I wanted to dive right in, do 30 minute sessions but I’m glad that I decided to go with the free trial for Headspace. The sessions are only 3 minutes long and it’s helped me be consistent and get excited to do it. I’ve also been approved for the Student account- which is only $9 a year versus $99. I’ll definitely take them up on that offer after the trial period is over.

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I’m happy to say my hair looks fucking fantastic! I started dread locs on November 16th because I was already getting a bit lazy with my hair and I wanted to try something new that was low maintenance. My guy has been pushing me to do it for the last 5 years and I’ve finally given in. Yes, he’s excited. I’ll admit that I am as well. I feel…beautiful. Fucking beautiful. I started them with two strand twists but my hair is fine and thick and they quickly slipped out of the twist, as usual. I bought an interlocking tool and it’s made things so easy. What do you guys think?

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Another thing that I’ve decided to do is hand pour my coffee. It’s perfect timing because we literally just ran out of pods. I hadn’t known much about this before I became obsessed with Matt D’Avella‘s videos on Youtube. He has a channel that is inspirational, heavily talks about minimalism and productivity. He’s also the film maker behind the documentary Minimalism. It’s absolutely fantastic. I almost cried watching the movie and I truly believe his videos have changed my life. I am ready to take on minimalism, although it is hard to let go of my sentimental items, and look forward to this journey. I’ve already gotten rid of more than one thousand books. Anyone who knows me knows that is heart-wrenching. But it was needed.

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Speaking of books, I requested some from the library that I hope will help me on this journey to Minimalism. I’m so happy that our library system delivers! It’s one of the best things I’ve ever experienced snce moving to Florida.
These are the ones I’ve chosen:
Everything That Remains by The Minimalist (Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Milburn- from the documentary Minimalism)
The Minimalist Home by Joshua Becker
Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris
The Cozy Minimalist Home by Myquillyn Smith

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I set a goal to achieve this week. I wanted to do something regarding my business. Whether that’s to create a logo, a website, take product photos (etc). Every week has something. I started with a bang! I’ve created a website for my small business! The journals I sell are a part of The Elyzabeth Collection, check out the new site and tell me what you think!

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Lastly, I’m still working on the actual ‘Minimalism’ part of this month. I didn’t realize that when I started getting things together everything would first fall apart. My apartment looks wrecked! Books, papers, boxes, and random miscellaneous items are everywhere. I’ve been attempting to use the KonMari method (Marie Kondo) and, although I’ve gone through the clothes and papers sections, I’m still not done. I keep going back to look at sections I’ve already done to declutter even more. I think that by the end of the month I will have even LEEEESSSSSS and I’ll still feel like there’s much to get rid of. It’s going to feel so good to have a safe place for Naomi to crawl and play.

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Thank you for reading this summary of the first week of 31 Days of Introspection. I want to be a new person in 2020. A Better me. I definitely feel that I am taking the steps, to do that, in the right direction.