Tuesday, December 03, 2013

What I learned From Fasting and Paul Walker's Death

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Long overdue update . . .

I survived 7 days without some of my worldly comforts, distractions, addictions. And I learned a few things. And I spent more time with God. I had more empty space - time for prayer and contemplation. I probably got an extra hour of sleep each night. And of course, when you are not really looking at your phone much, you realized that probably 90% of the teen/adult population is smart-phone addicted. There is very little room for empty space in this world. Space to think. Space to be bored. Space to not have screens in our faces. Standing in line. While our kids buckle in. Walking across the street. At the restaurant before, during after, after the food gets served. Constant stimulation. Constant distraction.

While giving up sugar and caffeine was probably the hardest thing this week, the biggest change I will make has come out of fasting from all of the phone-related stuff. I don't want to be constantly looking at my phone. I don't want my kids to see me checking my email multiple times in the day or using empty space to look at the phone to check instagram. I am not trying to build an Amish community, but I want to show my children that smart phones don't need to dominate our lives. Our children watch and learn from us. And I want them to learn to engage with people. And to be okay with downtime. I want them to be able to wait in a line without entertainment. I want them to feel free to be present. Sure, I cannot control their future love affair with their phones, but I'll do my best to set a healthy example of phone life. And they will know that they are more important than my social media mojo or my emails. Moving on. . .
Here's my overview of my week of fasting:

1. Social media. I probably missed this the least. It was the easiest to give up. It actually brings freedom. Nevertheless, I checked it way too much prior to this fast. For fun, for habit, to fill a few minutes of empty space. My post-fast plan is to check it after the kids go to bed. Maybe once when they are in school. If I post during the day, the goal is to not be actually going on there and checking others's posts, checking feedback, etc. Just post it and walk away. Just walk away.

2. The Internet. A real time suck for sure. It starts with one click. And then the next thing you know you have a lot of useless information in your head. I am going to try not to click on non-essential websites during the day. (And by essential I mean school ones, a recipe, etc.) And limit my time at night.

3. Caffeine. I longed for a glass of iced tea come 3 o'clock. I missed my morning shake with cacao powder. The biggest surprise on this one was that I didn't ever get a withdrawal headache and I didn't sleep better at night. I am a light sleeper so I sleep with earplugs every night. Rumor is that eliminating caffeine and screen time before bed will help with sleep. I didn't find this to be true. However, I have other extenuating circumstances that affect my sleep. 1. Two cats that bug. And lay on top of me. And then I throw them off. And then they come back. And then one of them sometimes purrs in my face early in the morning. 2. Elijah was sick for part of the week. Then he finished being sick, Jordis got sick. When my kids are sick, I don't sleep very well. I wake up and take their temperatures and mom business like that. Conclusion: maybe if I farm out my cats and my kids I would realize the sleeping benefits of eliminating caffeine?

4. Sugar. Sugar is the devil. And also an angel. Like angel food cake, cupcakes, cup of hot chocolate, chocolate brownies from scratch (made those last night). See? I missed sugar. How does one get born without a sweet tooth? Can I be a born again without a sweet tooth? They say if you go long enough without sugar, you don't crave it anymore. I don't believe that, but maybe it's true. I stopped drinking brown cola in junior high for some strange reason - I think it was something my dance teacher said.  I don't think I have had one since. Instead, I  would drink 7-up or Sprite but only on tap from restaurants. I stopped that 10 years ago or so. No soda of any kind in at least 10 years. I have no desire for soda whatsoever. Maybe sugar is like that. But PROBABLY NOT! I am still figuring out what to do with this sugar crush I have. I think I am going to have every other day off sugar though or something. Pathetic, I know. But I need to just exercise some discipline.

5. Television. I missed it. I missed the UCLA football game. I missed watching a show with my husband before bed. I enjoy the "not thinking" part about television. They don't call it mindless entertainment for nuthin'.

6. Scramble Free. I really like this game. And I think it helps to prevent Altzheimer's. A good mental challenge and respite from my everyday tasks. Like rescuing children from building burnings and walking old ladies across the street. But I don't really play it all that much so I think I'm okay in this department.

7. Email. Most emails are not urgent. Not necessary to be checking with phone and dealing with emails all the time. However, I did think it was more helpful to set aside some time in the day to go through emails rather than waiting 'til the evening when my brain starts to go dead and then I don't deal with them. And then things fall through the crack. But again, the key with "checking email" is to keep it to checking email and not getting sidetracked into the world wide web.

I didn't know how to sum up this post. So it has been sitting in my queue for weeks. But now I do. Unfortunately, it is because an old friend of mine Paul Walker recently died in a car crash.
(Paul visting me on the set of The New Lassie at Universal Studios.

I have not spoken to him in years, but there was a time in my life in high school when he was a close friend. And we had a short-lived (2 weeks?) romance and even told my Lassie mom Dee Wallace that "I would never love again" after he broke things off. But that's another (funny) story.
(Although posing awkwardly as if this was for a prom, this picture was taken at a mutual friend's wedding.)

Anyway, my heart has really been aching and praying a lot these last few days for Paul's family and close friends. Paul's family and those close mutual friends were like a family to me during a pivotal time in my life. We all hung out so much together. Paul and his friends were like brothers, their parents like parents to me when I was away from my family because of my acting stuff. I am hurting for them. I could go on and on about the great memories and wonderful community from that time in my life and maybe someday I will, but for now I'll end with this . . .

Life is short. 
How are you spending your time?
Do you know you were created for a purpose? 
That purpose (summed up in Matthew 22:34-40) is to love God with everything you have. And everything you are. 
And to love others deeply with the love God has given you.
Get to know God. 
What matters in life? Do that. 

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Jaimie Bowman said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, Wendy. I'm also very inspired by reading your post to develop more discipline in my life as well. I, too, am a total sugarholic. I wish there was an inpatient program somewhere - if anyone needs it, it's me. You go, girl! :)

Hedda said...

I'm so sad about the death of Paul Walker. I didn't even know him personally, but I thought he was great human being, who did a lot to help others. It's true what they say, the good indeed die young.

Just of of curiousity, how was Paul in high school?

Btw, you have a great blog, I came here searching for Paul, but I ended up liking your blog.

Happy new year!

Linda Z said...

Wow, that is some serious fasting you did! I've gone off sugar for months and sometimes years at a time. I never stopped missing it. I just love chocolate, and that is the truth! :) Can't believe you let your cats do that! I have zero tolerance for cats... I don't have the cat gene. They just don't get no love outta this girl! :P

On a serious note, I'm so sorry for your loss. We were so shocked to hear of Paul's death as well. It also was close to home, as he was a friend and roommate to my brother-in-law years ago. You are right about thinking about how short life is and what God wants us to do with our time. Our time here is a vapor, but I am so glad to think beyond, to the eternity we will spend with Christ with no more sorrow and pain. That gives me hope.