Dear Facebook, I'm sorry I misjudged you

Finding my way to social media with soul.

{In honor of my one year social media anniversary.}

Seven years ago, I made a big move.
After several years of living in wildly remote places—the Cascade wilderness where I had to sing on my way back to my tent in the evenings so as to not surprise any bears, a yurt on an island where I spent my days growing vegetables and chopping wood, and a healing arts community in the hills of California where giving and receiving bodywork and laying in the sun were my daily tasks—I landed in a great big city.
I didn’t have a cell phone yet. I didn’t have a computer or internet.
I had stumbled into another dimension where the world had changed, and my heart and mind didn’t know how to make sense of it all. I’d made the heart-wrenching but oh-so-right decision to leave my beloved community and big trees behind, to come with the (new) love of my life to this bustling place. "Culture shock" is probably a good phrase to use here.
As I sat looking at the computer screen at my local library, I received an email from an old friend who put a smile on my face, and I responded to her invitation to come to her webpage where I could see what she’d been up to. This intrigued me, so I clicked and entered in.
Well, I had no idea. I’d literally been living under a rock (a big one). I had no clue that what I’d signed up for was this thing called Facebook, and that I had just opened a gateway to every person in the world to reach out to me.
For a sensitive girl like me just coming out of the woods, with more than a little codependency yet to be worked out, every friend request in my inbox felt like a demand, an imposition, a ton of bricks.
I was terrified, having unknowingly crossed this line, giving up my highly prized privacy, and dismayed by the daily proposition to "accept or reject” anyone.
And so, I cancelled my account, almost as quickly as I had accidentally opened it.
Over time I developed an entire rationale about why I wouldn’t join social media. (I’m an introvert. I’m tactile and need in-person relationships.)
And I judged. (Real, authentic interactions can’t possibly happen online. It's a time waster, a distraction from "real" life.)
Fast forward six years.
Feeling a swirling combination of isolation, unknown and hopeful possibility in my work and life, I sought out the help of my friend Rachel, who nudged me in more than a few helpful ways.
It was she, a sister introvert, who said, “social media is a perfect fit for people like us, and you always get to choose how you use it, so let me help you!”.
So with her help (and more than a little hand-holding), I took my first few baby steps into what for so long had felt like a big, unsafe and insincere world.
And I learned that while I maybe hadn't needed to wait so long to join in, I'm really glad I went at my own pace when I finally began, slowly adding one friend at a time.

I've learned it is so important to give myself permission to make the boundaries and create the containers I need to feel safe and be myself, before I take my next steps—in everything in life, including this.

At the same time, it's essential not to be paralyzed by my fears, it's important to feel my own edges, to find that magical and ever-changing place of being "comfortably uncomfortable" (as my friend Mara Glatzel says).

After a year of having just a dozen "friends," I doubled it. It felt like time. I had survived my initiation.
This was the path I needed to take. To many it may seem utterly ridiculous. But for me, it was absolutely necessary.
We can choose to do what everyone else is doing, but do it in completely our own way.

And we can always choose to shift our relationship with it—whatever it is. We can always ask, “Is this working for me? Does this feel good to me? Do I really want to do this? What could I do to make this more cozy or fun?”

Since joining the social media world, I have been stunned and humbled and delighted by what is possible in the world of connecting online. Now, my comfort level has changed, I share more freely, and I'm finding my new edges.
I have found I can use these spaces as a retreat—where I feel inspired, fed and seen.
Sharing on Instagram has ignited my creativity with photography and words in unexpected and beautiful ways, and nurtured my sense of hope and sisterhood in the wildly new ways that connection happens across the interwebs.
I never knew that in this realm I could truly feel connected and loved.
Which actually harkens me back to the times of sleeping under the stars, climbing trees in the woods, and dancing around the fire, back before I knew any of this existed.
I still need the stillness of trees. I still need the closeness of touch—every single day. I still need a sister to look me in the eye.
And it’s true that all of the challenges of social media are a daily occurrence and need to be navigated again and again. (How long have I been distracted by cat/dog/dolphin videos? How much is my ego feeling pumped up or diminished by some recent post or comment? How frazzled is my brain from too much screen time?)

So, now, with both the benefits and challenges in mind, I aspire to take part in making online spaces and connections that are inspiring, hopeful and healing. 

You can now find me on my Facebook page I have exclusively for my practice, my Instagram account where I share my experiences of daily ritual and earth connection, and Pinterest where I pin ideas and inspiration for women who want to live sacred, fulfilling lives.

. . .

Here are a few thoughts to consider as you ponder your own relationship with social media, the role it plays in your life, and how to make it feel good for you:
Give yourself permission to choose your people carefully. If you hesitate to add someone to your friends, let it sit awhile. Make different (secret) groups of friends. (I have one called “kindred spirits” so when I want to share from my deepest woo-woo mush-gush self, I can share openly and freely :)
Choose some guidelines for when and where. For instance, I don’t have Facebook on my phone, so it’s not with me all the time. I typically don’t use social media early in the morning or late at night, and it kinda messes with me when I do. (Make a guideline, pay attention to how it feels when you keep it and when you don't. Adjust, play with it. repeat.)
Choose to make it a haven. It can be the most delightful retreat. Create groups, unfollow people or block them (you can do this without them knowing), and seek out people and organizations that light you up.
Find a platform you love best. (I’ve realized I adore taking and sharing photos, and writing whatever lines I’m inspired to on the spot in Instagram. I love collecting inspiring images for myself on Pinterest, it feeds my soul, and helps me pick paint colors :)
Keep it simple. Be open to ending, beginning and changing your relationship to it. Pay attention to your edges. Listen to your gut.

And as always, I'd love to hear how it goes,
xoxo Liv