TV-Free January: What I Learned

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My TV-free January experiment ended last week, and it was so freeing and enlightening! The first couple days were rough since I purposely left the TV in plain sight so my husband could watch it occasionally (so rare — he only watched it twice during the month). But within the the first week, the TV somehow faded into the background and I had little draw to turn it on.

Through the month, I realized that I am quick to hide from my fears (mainly of quietness which I think is actually a fear of loneliness) with the easiest source of entertainment for distraction. Deliberately turning off the TV forced me to take a hard look at when and why I sometimes felt lonely, tired, uncreative, and uninspired and pushed me beyond that to create, learn, explore new friendships, be OK with the quiet, take risks with new endeavors, be bold, and let ideas flow without editing them right away. Addressing these fears instead of hiding from them has been powerful.

Here’s what I learned and did instead of zoning out in front of the TV.

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Journaling without editing myself. Two things: 1) I bought a sketchbook last October to sketch lovely things in art museums, but instead I filled it, cover-to-cover, with scribbles about blog post ideas, thoughts and questions, how I want to connect my mission with my blog, career, and decisions, doodles of new interior design ideas for our space, and a myriad of random lists. The journal’s a mess — once, I frantically wrote a handful of thoughts only to realize later that the book was upside down. But, it’s the first of my journals that I actually love skimming through because it’s un-cut, authentic, JOYFUL, and includes plenty of ideas for me to explore and expand on later. 2) Good old 2B. I tend to edit my thoughts before they even hit the page when writing with ink so I switched to using pencils after rediscovering their free-flowing, butter-like, temporary nature. Writing without the limitation of journal lines and using a pencil has liberated my ideating and writing process. Now to decipher what I wrote. :/

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Creativity in the kitchen. Sometimes all I want to do in the evening is crash on the couch, but without the TV on, I frequently found ways to keep myself busy with little tasks in the kitchen. This resulted in tasty things and less food waste because I took advantage of extra time to make things like super easy homemade applesauce with squishy apples and using up the poppy seeds that my mom gave me a few months ago by using them as bagel toppers.

Walked through the snow to get coffee. Walkability is a little harder to come by out here in the Minneapolis suburbs, but I took advantage of living within a 20-minute walk to a nearby Starbucks. I trudged through the snow and loved every moment of it. It’s easy to miss the quietness and rhythm of nature by getting in the car so I like connecting to where we live by walking when I can. I always think that I’ll freeze in the winter, but I typically arrive sweating and happy even though it’s frequently been near zero degrees.

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Compiling a booklist and actually reading them. Committing to a reading list can be challenging for me — typically using the lame excuse that “I’m a visual” and love reading things like magazines instead. Turning off the TV forced me to fill my time with things that interested me so I decided to read about the life and work of great artists. I’m currently reading a book about Edgard Degas and noting who and what were catalysts for growth in his career. It’s causing me to think about how to put myself in similar situations to explore my creative potential. I have a long list of books like this that I want to get my hands on now! I’m on a biography kick, but would love to add a good novel to my list. Any suggestions?

These are only a handful of the revelations that I’ve had since turning off the TV! Sometimes pursuing lightness in life requires an experiment or two to reveal what things that are hindering personal growth. By targeting my TV-weakness for a month, I opened myself up to opportunities that span far beyond media. Going forward, I plan to keep the TV off as much as possible for the remainder of the year and only use it for a handful of specific occasions like movie dates. I’m ready to work it into the rest of my daily life!

Would love to hear how your New Years resolutions and experiments are going? What are you learning about yourself, others, the world? Leave a comment below!

 

TV-Free Update and BAGELS

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I’m SO happy that I nixed the tv for the first month of 2018!! I’m only a week in and I’m already sleeping better, accomplishing more, mentally engaged, and have been busy dreaming, wondering, doodling, and learning! I fought the urge to pick up the remote when I was tired or bored for the first few days, but that completely wore off by day four. I love digging into this frigid month instead of getting lost in a show and forgetting that January exists.

Also, Oprah. I broke my no-tv rule and watched her awesome Golden Globe Awards acceptance speech online. Just. Wow! Might have cried a little.

Get ready for it! Here’s what my first tv-free week looked like!

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BAGELS! This was my win of the week — all caps necessary! I’ve wanted to try making bagels following a recent obsession with Bullfrog Bagels in Washington D.C. (probably good that I don’t live there for this very reason). I tried this recipe that Love and Olive Oil shares from Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day and did a little dance while eating my first ever homemade BAGEL! Side: I got a little excited with the poppy seeds — still sweeping up runaways.

Favorite moment. Playing silly word games with my husband and looking at the snow from our candle-lit apartment. The games went something like “name a country that starts with [insert letter]” and 20 questions — where one person thinks of something and the other has 20 yes/no questions to guess what it is. Soooo much laughing! I love dating my husband!

Cleaner space. With more time, I’m cleaning dishes and tidying before bed so my mornings are more pleasant. Enough said.

Learning. Books: working my way through a stack of books. Current favs are Steal Like an Artist and Art for God’s Sake. Podcasts: I’m relistening to The Slow Home Podcast by Brooke McAlary and her husband while working on projects. I head over there for tips and tricks about how to slow down and be more present and mindful. Hands-down my favorite simple-living “poggy.”

Technology use. Did you know that Steve Jobs didn’t let us kids use the iPad? According to Business Insider, he responded to a question about letting kids use the iPad with “… we don’t allow the iPad in the home. We think it’s too dangerous for them in effect.” He was aware of its addictive nature. Picking my jaw off the floor. I’m working on identifying when I switch into mindless internet roaming!

Movement. In this Slow Home episode, Katy Bowman reframes the idea of exercise to simply working in more movement throughout the day. I tried this in a tiny way by kneading bread dough by hand instead of using a bread maker. Arm workout complete! Worth a listen!

Better sleep. I’m paying way more attention to tired signs instead of pushing through one-more-episode. Also, Harvard says [playing that card] that “blue light is a potent suppressor of melatonin” and watching tv or use of electronics before bed can disrupt the body’s natural clock. Sheesh — don’t I know this is true? Checking the socials at 3 a.m. … good luck falling asleep again! I could stand to use a tip or two from neuroscientist and professor, Matthew Walker, who was recently aired on MPR, especially his little note about caffeine. Worth a listen too!

Side: Brace yourself, I’m going to be referring to a lot of Podcasts and interviews this month. … Double side: Did you know that this is what happens to the brain on podcasts and THIS is what happens to the brain on tv? Fascinating.

Thinking. Simple, I know. But why is it so difficult to roam around in my own head, question, wonder, and process when all I want to do is blob-out in front of the tv?? Not sure I know the answer yet — but I spent a lot of time in corpse pose when I was super tired this week and let my thoughts run amuck. … I realize that the point of this pose is to remove thoughts and clear the mind, but it also works great to relax AND do some mighty processing.

Coming up this week: A sledding date, walking to a coffee shop (because its warmer than ZERO degrees, hallelujah!), tortilla making, more thinking, more corpse pose, more reading/listening, and generally filling my headspace.

Loving this challenge! Follow my Instagram account (@lightandminimal) for additional tv-free updates and random thoughts!

How are your 2018 goals shaping up this month? Would love to hear about what you’re learning, reading, or what your new interests are! Feel free to drop a comment below!

Simply, Becky