I recently took a two-month break from many forms of media because of a bear. Or, because of a bear card I drew from my animal medicine deck. Now, I don’t think these cards, or any oracle / tarot cards or astrology frameworks tell us what to do. I do think these things, and all feedback in our life, which is to say, our entire external reality, is giving us messages that respond to how we are vibrating. Vibrating, to me, means a combination of the thoughts, beliefs, expectations, and feelings we are practicing, becoming a charge, a lens, a magnet. These vibrations can gain strong momentums, literally forming rivers of thought in our minds that perpetuate themselves. So, when I notice something gaining more momentum than I want it to, I often use a habit-bridge to bounce my way into a preferred momentum.
I felt myself desiring a habit-bridge to bounce my way to a refreshed relationship with many forms of media. I noticed the goals I’d written in my planner weren’t moving forward as much as I wanted them to, and when I asked myself what the obstacles were, it was just that I wasn’t prioritizing them. What was I prioritizing? A lot of cool stuff: homeschooling my daughter, taking care of my puppy, visiting with and helping out friends, making pies. Great stuff. But also, when I was honest, I was letting TV shows, podcasts, reading books, and strolling down the social media scroll replace a lot of my quiet and in-between time…the time where, if I left myself to my quietness, I could daydream about my passion projects, imagine what they want to become, receive the quiet or maybe-not-even quiet inspiration to act. I was missing that because I was making myself too full with other people’s voices.
At first, I tried to just say one TV show on the weekend. But, I would do the thing of bargaining with myself…just one more, if I do this now then I’ll do my work later I promise. TV shows are tricky because the characters feel like friends and when they are left in danger or on the precipice of some breakthrough, I just wanna know what happens! So, I realized this habit of just one wasn’t actually working as a strong enough bridge to carry me to a new momentum.
I played a bit with my animal medicine deck to get the feedback even a bit more clearly. The cards I was turning up represented energy that was dammed, needing to step into the chrysalis of change. Okay, a full-on media break. Then I pulled a card to help me frame it: the bear card. The description of the bear in my Animal Medicine book talks about how the magic of the bear is in going into hibernation in the dark months; they call it The Dream Lodge. A time to digest the year, to meditate on dreams, so goals can become reality. It felt very aligned, and I loved the phrase “the dark months”. I had pulled the card on November 21st, a month before the winter solstice…I was actually on the threshold of the two darkest months in the year, and if I started right then, it would be like butterfly-wing months on either side of the solstice. It felt perfect. I made a goodbye-for-now post on Instagram, deleted it from my phone, and I cancelled my Netflix subscription. I would take a full-on break from social media, movies, TV shows, as well as podcasts and books, which I often used to fill up my “quiet time” till there wasn’t any.
And holy cow (or bear). What a beautiful Dream Lodge it was. It took me a while to stop unconsciously trying to click on Instagram, becoming conscious of it because it wasn’t an option and all of a sudden I realized I was looking for it without meaning to, and then laughing / cringing at myself. If I had still had the app, I would have clicked it and without even really consciously choosing it, would have gone down the rabbit hole. At first, I also ached to fill the silence. I let myself listen to The Gladcast podcast, which I make with my friend Natalie, because that felt like a form of my work, of stepping in rather than checking out, re-listening and pulling out audio quotes that we can use whenever we want, whenever the return to publicizing ourselves on social media happens.
Soon, the ideas started coming. Projects got more of a roll. I started offering Kids Art Time. I had a lusciously present holiday season. I had some really uncomfortable times where I stayed with the discomfort and felt my feelings instead of checking out. I sent a lot more texts and voice messages than I had been beforehand, directly connecting with my people. I also started a practice of talking with my inner beings: I type to myself, and I hear this inner response and type it out. This way of being in conversation with myself has helped me to stay steady in various ways, and also to continually prioritize my joy. I love prioritizing my joy.
I didn’t make it through perfectly…I had some really intense cramps one day and watched the Gilmore Girls with my daughter. That was the one time I can think of that I opted for checking out. I also re-downloaded Instagram once or twice to check my messages, and I saw how alluring the set-up of it is: look, my best friend posted something and it’s right at the top, I could just look at that! And then that! And then that! Quickly, I deleted it again, realizing the ”just checking messages” is a slippery-ass slope. There were also a few instances of group movie watching that felt like leaning in, rather than checking out: watching a family Christmas movie on Christmas, and going to see Spider Man in theaters with my partner Cooper. Those felt delicious and helped me frame how I want to move forward with media.
Moving forward, returning to media, I’m excited to use it as a way of leaning in rather than checking out. There’s such a huge difference in the feeling of choosing a movie because it seems truly fascinating and bright and I can’t wait to see it, and then it speaks deeply to me and is so fun and nourishing. That’s so different than just putting on something to pass the time or to fill up silence or that kind of limp urge of, well, whatever. I feel like my Dream Lodge time helped me get comfortable with silence, even to crave it and carve it out for myself, so the things I’m putting on my plate are delicious and nourishing.
May we all fill our life-plates with things we find delicious and nourishing, and may we be brave enough to step into the quiet, cleared-off emptiness to discover what those things are for us.
If you’d like support in designing a habit-bridge or in creating your own way forward, I’m excited to offer Tending Sessions over the phone and in person. Feel free to read more about that offer here.