“Negative thoughts and tensions are like birds: We cannot stop them from flying near us, but we can certainly stop them from making a nest in our mind.” Rishika Jain
You’re probably scratching your head at the title of this conversation. We know that dwelling on problems doesn’t help.
But knowing that ruminating is unproductive doesn’t mean we don’t do it anyway. It’s hard to stop, especially when we’re going through difficult circumstances. Even when life is relatively fine, we soul-searchers tend to fixate on our thoughts. Whether our issues are trivial or legitimately painful, obsessing about them interferes with our ability to enjoy the present moment. So how can we stop?
The answer is, we can’t. So if we can’t stop entirely, we can at least give our worry time some parameters. Like designating time each day to ruminate. Read more
“Do more things that make you forget to check your phone.” Author unknown
One of the fringe benefits of this pandemic is that it has significantly reduced the frenzy that ruled our pre-pandemic lives. One of the downsides? An increase in screen-time!
Online video meetings have replaced many of our previous in-person gatherings: doctor’s appointments, family events, birthday parties, book clubs, dance and sports classes, playdates for our kids, and even school continues to be at least partly on-line.
Ya’ll know my opinions on screen-time. Of course our devices aren’t inherently evil, but the overwhelming majority of apps and software ARE designed with the intent to get us seriously hooked. One line from The Social Dilemma sums this up perfectly: “There are only two industries that call their customers ‘users’: illegal drugs and software.” So it’s not a stretch when I say to my kids, in exasperation, that they’re acting like they’re on crack when I threaten to take away their iPad or phone.
The vast majority of our family’s conflicts revolve around devices. At times I think it would be so much easier if I just let them gorge on their addiction. My mom even gently questioned me recently, “What’s the harm? At least they’re at home and you know they’re safe.”
Except they’re not safe, and there is a lot of harm. Let’s skip the whole issue of dangerous online predators, and consider how detrimental the digital world can be. Time ON our devices means time AWAY from rich, meaningful activities. This means less time to exercise, invest in our relationships, read, engage in rich conversations, give undivided attention to our loved ones or to be outdoors.
Which is why I went on a quiet retreat with my girls last weekend. Tiana and Chelsea knew there would be no screen time, and WOW did I meet some powerful resistance. But the result of our 47-hour retreat? Sweet, simple success!!!
We went for walks, played games, enjoyed creative time journaling and painting, read by the fire (they even asked me to read my book aloud to them!), roasted marshmallows, listened to our favourite Christmas music, and had lots of cuddles. We ate simple, delicious yet nourishing meals. When they saw that I brought a string of Christmas lights to drape over the mantle, they both actually squealed with joy. We enjoyed every beautiful present moment for the whole weekend, since we weren’t waiting for the next digital fix.
As I write this, my girls’ screen-time has returned to business as usual. Sigh. But I’ve booked our next retreat in 9 weeks, and my goal is to reserve one day a week to device-free-family-time, starting next Sunday.
I look forward to forgetting to check our phones again.
Watch The Social Dilemma. It’s disheartening, enlightening and empowering all at once, and I bet you’ll be inspired to make changes to your and your family’s current consumption of screen-time.
Want to go on your own family retreat? Rivendell Retreat Centre on Bowen Island generously lets guests pay by donation. It is Christian-based yet open to all, regardless of faith.
Join the Conversation
What screen-time issues or solutions have you experienced? What works, and what doesn’t? If you could go back in time, would you do anything differently about your or your kids’ use of devices?
“I’m at that stage in life where I keep myself out of unnecessary arguments.
Even if you tell 1+1=5, you’re absolutely correct. Enjoy.” Author unknown
There’s so much potential for conflict right now.
Even though we’re in Canada, the recent Trump vs. Biden election continues to be a hot topic. Almost inseparable from the elections are regular hot-topics like religion, abortion and Covid. As measures increase to slow down the influx of Covid, we’re seeing our spectrum of freedoms being compromised, leading to more dissent. There seem to be vigilante sentries everywhere: on hiking trails, in malls, in the media. One extreme complains that we’re recklessly compromising public safety, while the other side complains that we’re being too paranoid and passive about our rights being eroded by a pseudo-communist regime.
I’ve had some interesting conversations with some of you about these hot topics. We don’t always share the same opinions, but at least we remain respectful and curious enough to hear each other’s points of view.
This isn’t the case with everyone. And in those situations, when I sense a wall of rigid ignorance being mounted before an honest conversation takes off, I try to think of today’s quote. I’d rather stay out of the argument, perhaps gently encourage some fact checking, and deftly redirect the conversation to more neutral territory.
One of my dearest friends recently said that she’s “going to pray for these things more than talk about them.” I think that’s a great option. We don’t need to prove to our egos that we’re “right.” What do we win, anyway, if we “win” a fight with a friend or loved one: Resistance, conflict, humiliation on one or both sides? Doesn’t sound like victory to me.
Here’s hoping we have a week of peace, laughter and gratitude amidst the heaviness out there. There is much to smile and laugh about. Let’s attract it!
Purely Practical Tip
For peace of mind, check out your own facts on reputable fact checking sites. I found this list helpful.
Join the Conversation
How are you staying peaceful and sane these days? What brings you laughter and joy amidst all the Covid restrictions?
This is a vegan dip/dressing absolutely bursting with dill flavour. If you’re not a fan of dill, feel free to substitute with parsley or cilantro. I use it to jazz up lots of dishes: as a dip for veggies, crackers or vegan nuggets; alongside roasted veggies; on top of quinoa salad; or as a beautiful spread for sandwiches.
1.5 cups raw cashews
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup water
1.5 Tbsp. lemon juice
1-2 small cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped dill
1 ripe avocado
1.5 Tbsp. capers
Place cashews in a bowl and add warm water to cover by 1 inch. Let soak for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Drain and rinse the cashews and transfer to a food processor or a high-powered blender. Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired, and if needed, add more water (a tablespoon at a time) and process again until desired creaminess.
Here’s another tasty concoction made with the mighty chia seed. If you like that classic combo of chocolate and peanut butter, you’ll love this chia pudding, loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, fibre, iron and calcium.
This makes a great breakfast, healthy dessert, or snack.
6 Tbsp. chia seeds
1-1.5 Tbsp.+ cocoa powder*
a dash of sea salt, to taste
1/4 tsp. cinnamon, optional
2 cups dairy free milk**
maple syrup as sweetener, to taste
1-3 Tbsp. of all-natural creamy peanut butter (or your favourite nut butter)
slices of fresh banana, if desired
Combine chia seeds, cocoa powder, sea salt and cinnamon, if using. Whisk in your dairy free milk, maple syrup and peanut butter. Keep whisking until there are no more lumps and peanut butter is incorporated evenly. Taste and add more maple syrup, cocoa powder or a pinch more salt if desired. To prevent lumps, stir well after a couple of 10-15 minute increments as the seeds soak up the liquid. Then put in the fridge and let sit for at least 1.5 hours. Stir well again before serving, add a bit more liquid if needed, and eat as-is or top with slices of banana. Mmmm. Lasts for 3-4 days in the fridge.
* Start with 1 Tbsp. and add more if you want it more chocolatey 🙂
** I typically use organic soy milk for the added protein, but you can use almond, oat, or cashew milk.
If we let our minds go to all the potential horrors of Covid-19, it’s enough to feel utterly overwhelmed and anxious.
There are the disheartening numbers of increased deaths and cases, at home and globally. Financial ramifications are widespread and worrisome. We hear of Covidiots (yup: Covid + Idiot = Covidiot 🙂 ) buying more than their fair share of supplies and exploiting the situation to profit from such hoarding.
I’m drawn daily into this media vortex, and have to make myself come up for air. Being informed is one thing. Being inundated is another! I need to stay grounded so I can provide the emotional leadership my family needs, and for my own sanity’s sake.
That said, we don’t have to look too hard for some of Covid’s silver linings. Here’s what I’ve noticed: