Wednesday, April 10, 2013

"Stop Instagramming Your Perfect Life"

Warning! Somewhat self-indulgent non-sewing post ahead. You have been cautioned. :)

I read this article today, and thought I'd share it, since it seems to be something that crops up in the blogging community a lot, and especially on the heels of Heidi's post about fighting perfectionism. The internet is so great in that it connects us with people we'd never meet otherwise and gives us more inspiration than we know what to do with. I love the internet, I really do!

Yes, I love technology. But not as much as you, you see. But I still love technology. Always and Forever.

But I also know that it has an adverse effect on me a lot of the time. It is difficult to be 28 and stuck in a dead-end grad program with no transferable skills and little shot of finding a career that I actually give much of a flip about, while friends are at the point in their careers that they are starting to go somewhere. It is difficult to have just enough money to make ends meet while others are taking fun trips or buying houses. It is difficult to think that if things don't work out with this boyfriend, that really might have been the last shot and I'll end up alone and family-less, as my newsfeed parades an endless stream of wedding photos and baby pictures past my face and I begin a slow descent to cat ladydom.

While I love knowing what people are up to and the inherent nosiness I have is easily satisfied by Facebook, I don't think it makes me very happy. So why do I use it? How can I use it better and remove that totally unnecessary stress from my life?

This article, "Instagram's Envy Effect" by Shauna Niequist really made me confront these questions:
I’m not anti-technology or anti-Internet, certainly, but I do think it’s important for us to remind ourselves from time to time that watching other peoples’ post-worthy moments on Facebook is always going to yield a prettier version of life than the one you’re living right now. That’s how it works... 
Our envy buttons also get pushed because we rarely check Facebook when we’re having our own peak experiences. We check it when we’re bored and when we’re lonely, and it intensifies that boredom and loneliness... It makes sense, then, that anyone else’s fun or beauty or sparkle gets under our skin. It magnifies our own dissatisfaction with that moment. When you’re waiting for your coffee to brew, the majority of your friends probably aren’t doing anything any more special. 
But it only takes one friend at the Eiffel Tower to make you feel like a loser.

Preach it, sister.

I took this detour today because I think it's something that probably a lot of us can relate to (I mean, we all follow Camille Roskelley's blog, right? How do you not feel crappy about your living room or your hair after that?) Comparison can get one really, really down. And speaking for myself, I have a great deal of things to be thankful for: a good family, the support and love of an incredible group of friends, good health, the opportunity to spend a few years doing funded study at a great school (even if it makes me want to tear my hair out), a warm and safe place to live, plenty (too much? :) ) to eat, and to do it all in a country with many problems, but also many privileges. The problem is, it's so easy to let myself forget ALL of that, and focus on what I lack, and others have. It's petty, and also not so awesome psychologically.

And I don't think that it's bad to post photos of your adorable kid/trip to Switzerland/expertly cultivated and thriving all-organic garden/6-carat engagement ring. If you feel guilty about doing it, maybe it's worth reflecting on your motivation for posting them. But in general, I think this is less about what people choose to share, and more about how I choose to consume it.

While I don't have an action plan in place quite yet, it's been good for me to think about why I let selected images from someone else's life have so much power. I'll probably consider using Chrome Nanny (this is an awesome tool if you find yourself spending too much time on one site--and it's a free plug in!) to limit how much social media I'm ingesting. I can close browser tabs instead of leaving all 25 open at once for easy access (yes, I'm one of those people), forcing me to be more mindful of what I am choosing to open and look at. If these things are affecting my happiness and well-being, there is no reason to let them. I'd like to look at my life not through the lens of an Instagrammed Eiffel Tower, but through other, more meaningful lenses.

So there is my little foray into non-sewing psychology. :) I hope you'll forgive me, but from what I read, it seems like an article that might be thought-provoking for a lot of others, and I wanted to share it.

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Monday, April 8, 2013

Dogwood Quilting

Hey look! I'm actually quilting something! :) I finally dove in and got started on quilting my brother and sister-in-law's Christmas (2012--heh) quilt. I'm doing dogwood quilting in the squares and a simple loopy design in the large aqua borders (evocation of snow, you see.) I love, love, love the dogwood design, but it may be a bit beyond my skill level at the moment. I did a few practices, but it's so much harder when you've got a giant quilt to try to move around. Oh well.

Now that is has been sunny for like four days in a row (definitely an anomaly here), it feels really weird to work on this quilt.

I'll be sure to show you the good, the bad, and the very, very ugly when I'm done! I've learned that I excuse pretty much any quilting mistake I make with the "oh well, you won't notice it when it's washed and done" line. I'm very lazy and would rather use the seam ripper on my eye than on quilting. One of the more interesting things for us all to find out will be just how bad something has to be for me to rip out quilting. We haven't found it yet, and believe me, you'll be aghast when you see some of these dogwoods. ;)

I also missed my quilt guild meeting yesterday, which is too bad because they had a great guest speaker (talking about reverse applique) and put together a cool challenge quilt (everyone was assigned a portion of Van Gogh's "Starry Night.") You can see what I missed here--it's pretty cool! I had my aforementioned Skype writing group though. When the five members live from California to New York, and one has a regular 8-5 job, you take whatever meeting time works when you can find it!

Anyone else watch Mad Men? With every passing season and episode, I fail to see how anyone on the show will have even a reasonably happy ending. Yipes. But hey, peach martinis.

Check out what people more productive than me accomplished this week at Plum and June!

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Monday, April 1, 2013

It's April, and I'm Alive!

The most common phrase in blog posts you read today will be "Can you guys believe it's April already?" And no, I can't.

March was insane and full of visitors and traveling. I know there are plenty of you out there who still manage to bust out quilts while being very busy, but I'm not one of you! So it goes. Preoccupying me this week is my first presentation in my Skype writing group--I joined this group this semester with four other women from my program who are living everywhere from California to New York right now! We meet every two-ish weeks on Skype and discuss one of the members' pre-circulated work. We're all working on our dissertations right now (except one member who finished hers last month! Yay!) so it's mostly dissertation chapters or conference papers. It's a little intimidating, because these women are incredibly smart and great historians--so I'm a little scared to share my chapter with them! But, they will also be very helpful, I am sure. And, it's a little exciting too. I feel like I've been working forever, but this will be my first completed chapter. I'm hoping to polish it off by the end of the month and turn it over to my committee members for dismantling. Hip hip hooray!

Anyway, that's not why you're here. My sewing machine sadly could not be fixed by my mother, so we ended up taking it an hour away to the nearest Bernina dealer. It turns out, the shop is run by either Old Order Mennonites or Amish (I'm guessing the former, since there was electricity, but I'm no expert.) Great service, and good pricing--I'm a little sad that I'll be moving and can't take it there again! They really spruced Tobias up nicely, and gave me a 90-day guarantee that he'll keep working.

So, not much quilting this month. I did make a rather unexpected return to cross stitching, as I wanted something I could take with me on my travels--you get an internet high five if you can tell what this project is going to be! :)

Also, it's currently snowing here, so I hope you're all enjoying your actual springs. :) Linking up to Plum and June.

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