How a 3 Week Social Media Respite During the Holidays Changed My Life

Taking a three week social media respite during the Christmas and New Years season was one of the hands down best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. I don’t think I’ll ever be on social media again during the holiday season ever again. Maybe that’s dramatic and maybe one day I might change my mind but as of this moment, as of this last Christmas and New Years, absolutely never again. It was LIFE CHANGING.

Taking this respite was wonderful for several reasons, which in no particular order, I will address. I’m breaking this down into two sections: what I felt where the benefits of taking a SM respite, and the secondary effects of that decision. I would like to state right off the bat that I’m sharing my experience with you and why it was wonderful for me and nothing more. You’ve got to do what works for you. If you find something here you take with you–great! Otherwise, this is just me sharing my experience. OK you sexy beast!, let’s get started!

 

The Benefits:

time:
First, taking a respite gave me time to prioritize my time and energy. I was able to make myself, Sam, and Jesus(the reason for the Season) the first priority because I wasn’t dealing with social media. We made time for fun and creating new memories. And I made outlets to deal with the stress of holidays and was better able to cope with it and have fun. Christmas is a really hard time of year for me for many reasons and taking a respite took a huge mental and emotional burden off me. I was able to really rest and destress. I had the time and energy to focus on managing my emotions and my stress level.

mental space:
Second, I had mental space to reflect in December on the past year and give serious thought to what I wanted the new year to look like. I didn’t feel the normal rush to come up with resolutions or try to figure out a “word” for the year in the few short days between Christmas Day and New Years Day. Because I had mental space I was able to focus on all my triumphs and healthy habits I practiced over the past year instead of my failures and missed goals. I was then able to decide my method for 2020 was not to make new goals but to simply carry on all my healthy habits and triumphs into the new year taking it one day at a time. I wasn’t looking to escape 2019. Goal making is great and some people thrive on making and achieving goals but that’s just not where I’m at this year. I wouldn’t have been able to recognize that without having the mental space to do so.

self compassion:
Third, I didn’t enter 2020 in the rat race of comparison. I just said, “no”. “No, I will not engage in that toxic thought process,” and I turned off my phone. I know some can be present on social media and not fall into the toxic trap of comparison and I say, “Bravo to you!” I don’t have that ability yet, so this new year I stayed off social media. I did not need to know anyone else’s goals or plans to be able to make them for myself. I’m trying to get better about using social media as a litmus test of sorts for my ideas–though certainly not for my moral and spiritual beliefs–instead of the well in which I draw every idea. That meant that I met 2020 at home in my pajamas happily oblivious to the whole world content and happy. It was lovely–and cozy comfortable.

Secondary Effects:

rest:
What I didn’t expect was to come home more rested. Usually, we get home from Christmas and we are exhausted and it takes us three days to recuperate. Sam and I both woke up ready to get to work after a six hour drive home. We got so much done it’s kind of nuts to think about it. That day we took down every Christmas decoration, three Christmas trees, and every outdoor light. We organized it in coded boxes and then immediatly put it away. We also washed, folded and put away all the dirty clothes from out trip and put the suitcases in the attic, and put away all the Christmas gifts. We worked about twelve hours that day and in all my years I’ve never had that much energy after returning home from Christmas.

peace:
I began 2020 in peace. The New Year is normally a very stressful and hectic time where I feel I need to gear up for the epic new version of me that is about to launch. This year I had none of that anxiety. I was calm and happy and content. I had spiritual space this year. Space to breath and be myself and honest with myself and really talk to Jesus. Christmas is a time to be honest with God. A time to reflect on my relationship and be honest about successes and failures, triumphs and disappointments. I made time and space for that this year it it made the most difference of all. I am not focusing on all my performance or what needs to be improved but instead my focus is entirely on mine and God’s relationship one day at a time. It’s been a beautiful way to start the year because I’m not focused on worldly things but instead on spiritual things. It’s so peaceful. Of all the benefits, this one is by far my favorite.

Time, mental space, self compassion, rest, and peace–all product of one simple decision. I don’t want to start a new year any other way. You know, I didn’t even start the year with a planner, or a print out, or anything tangible. It’s ironic that starting the year with removing something from my life instead of adding to it that made my new year better. Taking a social media respite was a blessing and I look forward to doing it again next year.

Maegan

Maegan Johnson Foster Care and Decor Blog New Orleans Vacation

Our First New Orleans Vacation

New Orleans is one of the places I have had on my bucket list since I was a little girl. When Sam came to me earlier in the year and asked me if I wanted to go I was beside myself. New Orleans was like nowhere else I’ve ever been before. It is one of the friendliest, welcoming, down to earth cities I’ve ever visited. I kind of felt like I was on another planet. The weather was just beautiful at this time of year too. I expected it to be a lot hotter and muggier but it was really dreamy–the perfect amount of humidity mixed with cool breezes from the surrounding water. As soon as we landed, we dropped off our bags at the hotel and hopped on a streetcar to the French Quarter.

The first thing I noticed was all the color! It was everywhere! I really loved how informal using the streetcar(not trolley) was too. The platform sat flush with tracks making hopping on and off fun and casual–though it did take us a few rides to get the hang of proper streetcar etiquette(board from the front, exit from the back). It was really cheap to ride and I highly recommend buying the streetcar day pass–the Jazzy Pass–which is $3 per day for unlimited rides. The easiest way is to download the app and add your pass to it.

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Our first stop was the St. Louis Cathedral. I was really stunning to see that kind of architecture in America.–it’s so European! This is the oldest cathedral in America–if you were wondering.

A kid riding along on a bike stopped abruptly in front of Sam and I and thrust this daisy in my hand then rode off before I could even thank him. I stopped where we were and took a picture of it before I handed it off to a man running a vending stand. I kind of feel this photo is a really great visual descriptor of the spirit of New Orleans–beautiful, tender, people surrounded by hundreds of years of history, technology, and tourists. A flower in an urban jungle. It’s honestly on of my favorite photos of our trip. 

After an afternoon and evening of sightseeing we ended up at Cafe Du Monde and the beignets  were even better than I imagined! What I didn’t expect was to see such a large informal outdoor space! I was thinking it’s French so it will be a more formal atmosphere so I was pleasantly surprised to find a boisterous crowd of all different types of people in the late hours of the night enjoying the evening while drinking coffee and eating beignets.

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Cafe Du Monde is open twenty-four hours a day seven days a week and couldn’t help but take a picture of the harried wait staff taking a break. It wasn’t just that they were all dressed in uniform that brought a sense of cohesiveness to the little scene but also that they were covered in equal amounts of powdered sugar. It even caked the floor in a thick layer. It was just so Cafe Du Monde.

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The next morning we woke bright and early and walked up Poydras to catch the St. Charles Ave Streetcar to eat at The Trolley Stop Cafe. For the first time in my life I had catfish, eggs, and grits for breakfast and it was one of the top three best breakfasts’ of my life. If we did one thing right on our trip it was food. We listened to the locals and ate where they ate and we were NOT disappointed.

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The catfish wasn’t even fishy. It was that dang good. My only regret was not taking a picture with our waitress who was the most friendly woman and taught me how to eat grits–of which, I am now a HUGE fan!

We left the cafe and decided to walk off our breakfast by taking in all the beautiful antebellum houses along St. Charles Ave. There were churches everywhere in New Orleans and I really appreciated their beautiful architecture and uniqueness–none looked alike. 

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The houses and the views were equally breathtaking. And the trees were enormous!

We walked up St Charles quite a ways then caught the streetcar to the end of the line. From there we took a Lyft and went to City Park. Honestly, this was part of the reason I put New Orleans on my bucket list. I’ve always wanted to see trees so big they lie down with moss wafting from every branch. I felt transported back in time.

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We walked around City Park(which is absolutely huge) for about an hour and we started to get hungry. By this time we really were sweltering. We were hot and tired and hungry–it was close to 2:30pm. So we took a Lyft over to Willie Mae’s Chicken House for the best chicken I’ve had in my life!

But first, we had to get on the wait-list. It was hot and we had to stand outside. Thankfully I found a little “convenience store” literally around the corner. And by convenience store I mean it had a window where you walked up and they sold beer in a brown paper bag to you–and any other convenience store type items like chips, candy, and cigarettes. So we bought two beers and stood in the shade while we waited an hour to get a table. But it was worth it. It was so worth it that I forgot to take a picture. This is actually a very famous restaurant and for good reason. If you come to New Orleans you HAVE to eat here. And be prepared to wait an hour because there is never a ‘slow’ time–just get a beer and people watch to help the time pass. You wont regret eating here, I promise.

We went back to our hotel and slept off the chicken and then headed back into the city for more sight-seeing and dinner. I had my first ‘poor boy’ sandwich at Parkway Bakery & Tavern. This was a local recommendation and I highly recommend it too. The atmosphere here and everywhere we ate was so New Orleans.

The next day I was on my own as Sam had a seminar to attend so I took an all day tour of the Oak Alley Plantation. So this is one of those things I’ve had on my bucket list since I read ‘Gone With the Wind’ in the 6th Grade. And it did not disappoint. This was the view from the back of the house.

This was the view from the front of the house off the second story balcony. At the end of the walkway is a road and across from it is the levee they built up for the Mississippi and that red thing is a barge floating down it. I think it’s a half a mile to the end of the drive from the house. I have never in my life seen such grandeur on that scale. I was in awe.

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This is the front of the house. Of course we were not allowed to take pictures of the inside during the tour which was a huge bummer. I also learned that the trees down the front entrance and all the trees in New Orleans proper are actually Virginia Live Oak and not native to Louisiana. Virginia Live Oaks naturally let their branches lay and grow on the ground. I always wondered why the trees in Louisiana looked so weepy and just magical–I thought it was the climate or something. Trees don’t grow like that in Texas y’all. The trees growing along this walkway are anywhere from one hundred and fifty to over two-hundred years old.

The picture above is from the very end of the walkway.

This was the highlight of my trip. I really cannot wait to go back again and tour some of the other plantations in the area. I am so so so glad I went–even if I was by myself. It was worth it. I did not want to leave and I made Sam promise me that we would go back together soon.

I returned to New Orleans and met Sam after his seminar and we grabbed a quick snack and then did more sight-seeing in the French Quarter.

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One of the things I really wanted to do was dine alfresco in the French Quarter and we happened upon this amazing restaurant called Tableau on the corner of Chartres St. and St. Peter St. There was this perfect breeze as we ordered cocktails and dessert from the second story balcony just enjoying the afternoon until Sam had to go back for more seminar classes. It was the perfect last afternoon of my trip.

I thought I was going to be spending the evening by myself and I enjoyed the view and the food so much I went back to Tableau for dinner. I still can’t get over the European architecture that was the French Quarter. I didn’t feel like I was in America at all. I took this photo from my table and was enjoying my dinner when Sam came back and joined me as a surprise! It was a perfect ending to my trip!

I enjoyed New Orleans so much and I only saw an eighth of the places I wanted to see. But hands down my favorite thing about New Orleans is the people. They are some of the most friendly, down to earth people I’ve ever met. And I can understand why so many people visit here and then don’t leave. The atmosphere was so easy and relaxed but also full of life. People here work hard but they also know when it’s time to lay down their work for the day and enjoy life–really enjoy it. I didn’t want to come home I loved it so much. And now I understand why I hear people rave about it all the time. It’s a city to love.

Maegan — xx