Lent 2021

Happy Easter to those who celebrate! With Easter Sunday comes the end of Lent, and at the last minute this year, I decided to continue my years-long tradition of giving up a bad habit, partially inspired by the fasts and self-denial of luxuries and vices of my observant friends and by a need to kick-start some better habit forming after 2 separate new year celebrations.

This year, I decided to try to give up one thing and add another:

➖ Twitter
➕ Daily journaling
➕ Daily meditation

As longtime readers may be unsurprised to hear, I did much better with giving up Twitter than I did with daily journaling and meditation this year.

Twitter

When I first joined Twitter over 10 years ago, it was primarily so I could enter giveaways that were exclusive to the platform. “Like and retweet for a chance to win VIP tickets to Kollaboration DC!” It was my least-used social media platform for a very long time.

I think when I severely reduced my Tumblr usage, Instagram filled that void but so did Twitter. Especially during this pandemic year, Twitter became one of if not the primary source for me to get news, memes, resources, and relief in the form of cute animals and babies. The vibes on Twitter more closely resemble Tumblr than Instagram has, and on top of that, I could interact directly with celebrities, journalists, political figures, and more.

During a year when the news about the pandemic was changing really quickly, my Twitter browsing became really unhealthy, so when Shrove Tuesday rolled around and I wondered what bad habits I had left that would benefit from some cold abstinence, Twitter was an obvious candidate.

The first week or so made it clear this was the right choice. Whenever I felt restless, or bored, or stressed, I found myself opening a new tab on my computer and typing “t-w-i-” before catching myself and stopping. I still got the news of the day, and not getting it the precise moment it broke was not as much of a problem as I thought it was. Nor was missing out on memes, or random Twitter discourse that didn’t quite amount to news or quite amount to memes. Sometimes I found myself wishing I could share articles or other links that I liked, but it’s been interesting to reflect on why I think I “should” or “need” to share.

Over 46 days, I don’t know that I necessarily want to return to Twitter, and its toxic messes that so often seeped into my Internet life. After all, people still post Twitter screenshots that are impactful or funny or cute to my other social media platforms, so I wasn’t even missing too much.

I did break a handful of times to look at specific Twitter accounts, like a coworker’s who told me it was her last day but didn’t tell me where she was headed because she announced it publicly on her Twitter account, or another person who I had spoken with over Twitter DM several weeks prior about interviewing at my company and I discovered had been hired. And two of those times, I did get lured in by the trending topics.

All in all, this was a really successful Lenten fast that I needed more than I realized. As much as I told myself that other people’s business and the news and even the hyperfast meme cycle did not stress me out, at least this year, it did, and unnecessarily so.

Daily Journaling

Unlike Lent 2020, daily journaling did not go very well this year. I was really hoping it would, because then my journal could come full circle from the daily habit of last year. But I often felt like I had nothing to write in my journal. The past few weeks, I’ve felt very numb. The days come and go, and before I’ve noticed, the sun has risen and fallen and risen and fallen and days and weeks have passed.

There were evenings I would think about my journal, visualize it sitting in my drawer, and feel guilty about not writing in it. I wrote in it more frequently than I did outside of a Lenten period but it was no where near daily. Still, I am glad to be continuing the documentation of this strange time in my life, and I’m glad that Lent encouraged me to write more. I don’t know what my journaling practice was look like afterwards, but I know it will continue even if not at the frequency I would like. I’ve been journaling for over a year now and see no reason to completely stop.

Daily Meditation

This was the biggest failure of Lent this year hahaha. I very rarely meditated at all during the past 6+ weeks and I don’t have a clear answer as to why. When I was meditating daily over the summer, I noticed a lot of benefit, but since then, it has been much more difficult for me to sit still with my thoughts and my breathing. During this year’s Lent, in particular, I often either felt too restless to meditate (yes, meditation would have helped with that and yet it does require an initial deposit of restfulness, doesn’t it) or I felt so completely zoned out already that meditation didn’t even occur to me, so away from myself did I already feel.

I know that meditation is a good practice and would benefit me a lot. I’m still trying to figure out a good way to let myself get into it more and better.


Did you give up anything for Lent?
Do you have suggestions for other things I could give up for future Lents or as a challenge to myself?

“carmen” by one of my favorite artists, Stromae – a great song and video about Twitter and social media

2020 New Foods

I made a resolution to try at least one new recipe or restaurant every week of 2020. This was easier some weeks (e.g. travel weeks) than others (e.g. deep in burnout, months into quarantine weeks) so there were a handful of weeks where I either only ordered from restaurants I’ve eaten from before or only cooked familiar old recipes.

This was a good exercise for me, as keeping this goal in mind did push me to try to order from new restaurants, at the very least, and to find new recipes to cook. But it did feel like a lot of pressure to try new things when I really wanted the comfort of familiarity during this difficult year. (For example, I would have liked to support restaurants more regularly, even though I don’t regret supporting different restaurants week to week.)

Here’s how I did, by week number of the year:

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2020 in Books

Quarantine led many people to read more books than they’ve read in a long, long time, with so much time freed up and a re-dedication to supporting local bookstores. Book clubs were a big thing this year for staying social, too, as reading became a lot more trendy in the social media circles I follow.

Well, for me… my commute remains my primary dedicated reading time and space, so when I stopped having a commute in March, I stopped reading for a long time, too.

Needless to say, it was another year of falling disappointingly short of my books goal, coming up shorter on my Goodreads challenge than ever before. It stings a bit to think of the years that I far surpassed the number of books I aimed to read, and that those numbers far exceed how many I got through this year. But I’m not too beat up about it, I know how difficult this year was and the only reason I read as much as I even did was because of many bouts of stressed and anxious insomnia. Probably half of my reading was done between 2-6am this year, hours that I am usually not awake for at all.

Here was 2020 in books completed:

Collage of covers for books read in 2020
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2020 in Film

So…
… it’s been a really rough year for movies, among other things. I can’t even really differentiate movies I watched in theaters and not, since movies stopped being shown in theaters a long time ago and many movies that I was looking forward to seeing this year have been delayed to next year.

In the olden days , I’ve noted the exceptions that were watched outside of their theatrical release, as in I had to watch them on a streaming service or even on an airplane. Well… this year, the only movies I saw in theaters were originally released in December 2020. Every new release I saw this year was on a streaming service. (I only saw 2 movies in theaters, back in January.)

But I did still watch a lot of movies, many of which were released this year.
(If you’d like to see every movie I watched this year, regardless of release year, you can check my Media Log.
I am thinking tracking movies on Letterboxd next year, after years of neglect, so let me know if that is something you use and you can add me!)

Without further ado, here are the 2020 releases I saw this year:

Collage of posters for movies watched in 2020
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2020 Media Log

Inspired by my friend Ben Hong, who got the idea from Jen Myers, I am continuing the practice of tracking my media consumption this year. This will now be replaced with a 2021 media log, which I will update regularly on its dedicated page. Here are all the movies, shows, books, albums, games, and more that I logged this year.

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