2016: Moving Forward & Stepping Away from Social Media

Hello, readers. I’m overdue for an update. I have been shuttered away working on The Falconer 3, and trying to sort through personal matters.

First thing out of the way: last week, I disabled my Twitter account.

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Will it be forever? Probably not. But for now. For the immediate future. Likely until the end of the month, and — depending on how it goes — maybe past that.

It wasn’t any one particular person or group of people that prompted this decision. It was me scrolling through a timeline that, more and more these days, is people shouting over each other. It’s emotionally, mentally, and creatively draining to see so much conflict, and it’s a massive time-suck. Facebook, too. Instagram remains the sole social media creature that makes me happy — you can find me @_elizabethmay and I update almost daily, primarily with pretty photos around Scotland:

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That’s the question I intend to ask myself over and over this year, going forward: Does this make me happy?

Of course, there will always be things I have to do that won’t make me happy. Going to the post office. Going to the grocery store. Eating my vegetables instead of eating a slice of cake.

But there are things I can control, and one of them is how I choose to spend my time. Twitter used to make me happy — and it doesn’t anymore. It hasn’t for a long time. I stayed because I appreciated the sense of community — though even that, lately, has begun to deteriorate into an endless string of arguments. Facebook has been that way for a lot longer, but I was never nearly as active there.

Accurate.

So on the list of ways I’d like to spend my precious 24 hours everyday (8 of which I spend dreaming primarily about zombies, so it’s really more like 16 hours), I’d prefer to spend them doing things I enjoy. That spur creativity and make me feel fulfilled and like I’m being productive, not wasting my time on things that make me feel frustrated and anxious.

Does this make me happy?

Photography does. Writing does. Climbing mountains and visiting museums and going for walks and travelling does. So I’m going to do those things. I’m going to keep asking myself that question. And if the answer is “no, no it does not” and it’s not something I absolutely have to do — like eating my vegetables — then I’m not going to do it. And if the answer is, “YES I absolutely love doing this thing,” then I’m going to do it. And I’ll look like this more often:

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That’s it. That’s my resolution for the rest of 2016: Do things that make me happy.

On that note — and to switch gears to something slightly less intense — I decided to organise a small retreat to start this Do Things That Make Me Happy goal for 2016.

So I spent the week in beautiful Hopetoun, right outside of Edinburgh. It’s famous for Hopetoun House, where the Marquis of Linlithgow resides with his family.

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I find that winter is always the best time for retreats because the weather is less than inviting. Despite all the years I’ve lived in Scotland, I’ve never been able to acclimate well to the cold, no matter how many layers I wear. It doesn’t help that the weather has a habit of changing every five minutes — but still, I suppose that part of me remains stubbornly Californian.

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This week, the weather obliged my creative spirit by changing every day. So there was sun interspersed with rain, followed by heavy snowfall, and — of course — Edinburgh’s well-known gale force winds. All of this guaranteed that my time outside would be limited to just a few hours, which suited my writing schedule quite well indeed.

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I spent the week at a lovely B&B, writing and wandering the fields and forests between South Queensferry and Blackness. I stumbled upon ruins and wee bridges and the most beautiful, twisting, vine-covered trees. It feels like it’s so deep in the country — until a view of the Forth Road Bridge reminds you just how close to the city you are.

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The B&B itself was at the edge of a deer park, and every evening these lovely, shy animals would come to graze in the fields. They were a beautiful sight, gathered together like this.

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It was a lovely, serene week that made me feel like my Doing Things That Make Me Happy resolution is the best thing for me. Because I want to do what I can to surround myself with beauty, productivity, and activities that I enjoy.

And that’s where I am right now. Thanks for sticking with me, readers. <3

xx