As always, I’m ending February with a look back at all the things that stood out for me this month. Here are some of my February highlights…
It’s still true that I am happier when I am off of social media.
I started the month back on FaceBook and Instagram after taking the month off. Immediately, it felt wrong. I didn’t really want the social media apps on my phone all day, and I struggled in the early part of the month to manage the distraction. I downloaded the Freedom app, and set some parameters around it again, but ultimately, I knew that I didn’t want it on my phone or as a distraction in general. I’ve given all social media up for Lent, and I’m grateful to have it gone for now. I don’t know where this is going to end up for me. Some days I think I’m overreacting to this whole social media thing, and other days I feel like it is the best decision I’ve ever made. I’m off for now, and I feel like that’s the best thing for me in the current season of my life.
Ash Wednesday and Lent
My spiritual tradition has never really included much of an observance of Ash Wednesday or Lent. I, personally, have included some practices for these important events in the church year, but they haven’t ever taken center-stage in my life. As I am growing closer to God, though, these markers in the Christian year have taken on more significance, and I have found that they are another way that I am able to anchor my life in Christ. I observed Ash Wednesday, by reading and meditating on Scripture, and attending a virtual Ash Wednesday service. I would have really liked to receive ashes, as is customary, but the church (and the rest of my town) was shut down in the middle of a snowstorm. Marking the beginning of the Lenten season was one of the highlights of my month. As I mentioned above, I have given up social media for Lent, and I’m using my extra time to focus on my relationship with God. This is a season of self-reflection, and I’m taking that call very seriously this year.
Similarly, my boys and I are listening to a Lent based podcast series in these days leading up to Easter, and I am really enjoying this nightly ritual.
I still love snowstorms.
We don’t get many good snow days here in Middle Tennessee, so it was such a treat to have two snowstorms back-to-back right in the middle of the month. Starting on the evening of Valentine’s Day we were stuck at home for almost an entire week. I know this is not everyone’s idea of a great time, but it was a nice change of pace–even in the midst of this pandemic. The boys spent time sledding every day, and Frank spent all of one morning outside trying to build a snowman. The world was white and beautiful, and I enjoyed almost every minute of it. The only downside the whole week was that Frank fractured his ankle. He thought he had just sprained it, but as the days went by, he felt like it might be something worse than a sprain. When the snow cleared enough for him to leave the house, the doctor confirmed that it was, in fact, fractured. His decision to set it with masking tape earlier in the week helped to set it properly, according to the doctor.
I need to be outside more.
I realized toward the end of this month that I need to be spending more time outside. With Covid-19, and the change to working from home, I am in my house more than I have ever been in my life. While I truly enjoy some aspects of this, I’m also feeling the impacts of having very little time outside. Of course, the weather makes a difference in this area for me as well. What is undeniable for me though is that I feel better whenever I am able to get outside in the sunshine. I made the mental shift this month from viewing a walk on a sunny day as a necessity instead of something that I squeeze in only when I have the time. If the weather is even remotely tolerable, I’m going to make getting outside more of a priority. This is a tiny self-care step that goes along way for me.
I feel better when I eat better.
I read a blog post by a Vegan author this month, and while I could never give up all animal products, I was inspired to give up meat for a short time. I don’t think that I can realistically give up meat forever, but at this moment, this change is forcing me to change my relationship with food. In the second-half of February, I’ve been eating a lot cleaner. I’m eating mostly foods that God made (as some people say), and trying to eat more plant-based foods generally. It is true for me that eating real food, as opposed to processed foods, gives me a tiny boost in my mood and energy level. This benefit is sometimes so subtle that I don’t notice it when it is gone, but when I start to eat a bit better, I notice the change immediately. I’ve been enjoying going to our local produce market before I make my Aldi’s run on Saturday mornings, and I have already tried a few new recipes. Again, I’m not sure how long I will go without meat, but I’m hoping my habit of eating mostly whole food is here to stay.
Some of my favorite movies are just as good 20 years later.
I haven’t really been much of a movie watcher in the past several years, but this month I have tried to be more intentional about watching movies with Frank. We started the month watching Notting Hill, and later watched When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail, and Four Weddings and a Funeral. I loved these movies when they first came out, and I have so enjoyed re-watching them all these years later. I have found myself drawn to the seeming simplicity of the lives of these main characters, and watching these movies has made more long for something I can’t quite put my finger on. I’m not sure how many more old romantic comedies I can get Frank to watch with me, but I’m looking forward to making movie-watching a regular activity in my life again.
On the surface it probably doesn’t seem like much happened for me in February, but my internal life certainly shifted. I’m excited to see where some of the decisions I made in February take me in the month of March.