3 weeks away from social media; the why, the what and the now.

      Can posting on Instagram be a hobby? Cuz I think it's mine. Now gosh my 9-square ain't perfect but I love it. I love the way it looks, the way the content is organized, and I love the challenge of posting for visual satisfaction, even if it's only mine. Last summer I made a goal for myself to rev up my instagame, to make my Instagram into something that I thought truly represented how I like things to look; colourful, creative, and inspiring. I have put a lot of energy into achieving the look I have and am truly proud of how far I've come. Gosh, if you're on the porcelain throne right now scroll back a year on my page and you'll see what imma talkin bout. (If you crave a slicker Insta, I want you to know it is possible!) But, recently, there came a point where I couldn't get far enough away from all that stuff.

      I went on an social media vacay. No, this doesn’t mean Instagram paid for me to go to the Bahamas, it just means I took a total of 3 weeks away from posting content, interacting with my fellow grammers, commenting, responding or doing any Make it Franke activity on Instagram or Facebook. When I realized I was spending more daily time planning my instaposts and curating the cutest little vignettes then I was actually making things and that I was shedding a decent amount of tears over the 'cohesiveness of my brand' in 9 little squares, I also realized this was likely contributing to my creative mojo suffocation I have been experiencing for the last few months. And I finally figured out I needed a break.
      I initially scheduled a break around different events/days that I wanted to make sure I was online for, for promotional reasons. I blocked out a few weeks on my calendar and in bold letters wrote NO INSTAGRAM POSTS. This alone made me feel lighter. The thing is though, what actually ended up happening, is one Friday afternoon about 2 weeks before my scheduled break, I simply absolutely had enough, made a FRIENDS inspired flat lay, and my 3 week vacay commenced. I didn't actually know at the beginning it was going to be 3 weeks, I left that open ended. Three weeks ended up feeling right.
      So what did I do for 3 weeks without my Instagram hobby?!? Well for the fist week I didn't think about anything related to Make it Franke. I didn't paint, draw, touch the computer, or think about website content - I hardly stepped foot into my studio. With the freed up mental space I had room to focus on some personal issues and was able to figure out what direction I wanted to go in with my artwork and this blog. After that week I REALLY started to miss engaging the maker/blogger/small business side of my brain and when I did step back into my studio it was like being reunited with an old friend. I also spent some of the time getting rid of SO MUCH stuff from my house. I brought boxes and boxes to thrifts stores and the Reuse Center. I think I needed the physical space as much as the mental. Also guys, I spent WAY less time with my phone. I left it in different rooms from where I was and let me tell you while harder in the beginning it. felt. so. good. I'll definitely be continuing this habit.
      I know there may be a few people who are asking themselves, 'I wonder if she lost any followers?" And actually, I had about 10 more when I came back after 3 weeks. But I was never concerned with losing followers, as I truly believe that the people following me because they like me or my product aren't going any where. Think about some accounts you are obsessed with on Instagram... PS a few of mine are @nataliecreates, @fivemarysfarms, @mintkarla @emily_jeffords @ravenroxanne... Now what if they told you, "Hey! I'm jetting off for 2 weeks and won't be posting, see you later!" Would you then slide your finger over and tap the unfollow icon? Um no. You wouldn't. You'd say, "HAVE FUN! Bring me back a pendant flag!" So, why wouldn't people do that for you? On another related note, if people do unfollow me, I do not take it personally. Maybe they lost interest in my vibe, maybe they don't care about what I'm making any more, truthfully, maybe they were comparing themselves to me and decided to cut me out because they weren't liking their emotional response to my posts. The point is, followers come, followers go, and you cannot please everyone. Don't even try.

      Into week two I started up again. I started majorly pre-planning website posts and for the first time and made a schedule for just that. I have goals for this blog and I finally put it together that without small attainable goals and stepping stones nothing with long term productivity is going to manifest. As for the art making side of things, I went to my fave art supply store The Paint Spot, laid down a couple hundies and got myself a whole shwack of new art supplies, including some different products I had never used before. A phrase had been playing over in my head again and again as said by one of my instapals Sara, who I find incredibly inspiring, "Go with your first instinct. It's there for a reason." So for the first time in a long time I did just that. It felt so freeing and wonderful and because I wasn't worried about making something 'Instagram worthy' I just went where the colours took me. I also had time to come up with, much to my dismay, a realization that I make art slowly. Do I wish I could pump out a new design every day? Yes. Do I wish I could come up with a new series every few months? Yes. Is this how my creative process works? No. I don't necessarily want this to be the case, but I have finally come to terms with my pace and that acceptance has also made me feel GOOD.

      During my time away I met up with another instapal Alyson of @herautumnleaves as she had contacted me after my exit post and basically said "OMG ME TOO." We spent about 4 hours in a Joeys to the almost-awkward-amount-of-time-in-a-restauant point. We drank SO many glasses of water the staff kept bringing us and eventually our server let us know she was going home and if we needed anything to not look for her. *haha* My point is Alyson and I were able to spend so much time talking all things social media; comparison, internet fakeness, SM exhaustion, themes, cohesiveness, branding and basically the shear energy it takes to keep up with the Kardashins, because it's such a relevant topic in our small business/maker culture. Did we solve any of our major problems in 4 hours? No. Did we both feel so much better because another human being feels the same way? Yes. I encourage you to interject a little honesty into your post(s) if you feel the same way because chances are very high that someone out there feel the same way you do.
      So what am I going to do now? Well for starters I am making the conscience choice to go. on. my. phone. less. If I want to waste 15 minutes on social media as 'a break', I force myself to go outside for 10 minutes instead. I also set a 7 o'clock PM alarm on my phone labelled "Get the f*uck off your phone" and don't touch it for the rest of the evening, not even right before I go to bed. I have also decided that I am taking a break from everything Make it Franke every single entire month of April. I was already toying with this idea this past spring during the weeks all our goats were having babes when keeping up with posting was difficult, and now that there's a 2-fold reason it's defineitly happening. Next year I am taking the pressure off completely and vacationing away from posting for a full month. I can already taste the creative recharge.

MORAL OF THIS LONG-WINDED POST:

If social media has got you feeling low, take a break. We'll all be here cheering loudly on your return.

Refreshed,
-A.F.

Let's talk.

      Bell's Let's Talk initiative, and all the different stories I have read about today on Instagram because of it, have given me the courage to open up about my struggles with mental wellness. The whole idea behind this campaign is to shine light on mental health issues, end the stigma surrounding them and essentially to start ACTUALLY talking about it all. What a time to be alive! I love it.

      Why is this stuff so hard to talk about? There are a lot of factors that go into this I think, but for me personally it has always been fear. Fear that I won't be seen as a productive member of our world. Fear that others will pity me and not trust me. Fear that I'll be seen as a "fake" when I am feeling happy, bubbly and positive (which is 99% of the time). I have dealt with the depressive spectrum since I was in high school. The first time I talked to a therapist was in my first year of university. In my one and only session that year, the therapist had me map out my family tree, provide a brief description of my childhood and state what I was currently doing with my life. He then went on to say, "So, what's the problem?" He didn't see any reason why I should be so sad. UM my first mistake was not going to see a DIFFERENT therapist right away and my second mistake was waiting a few years to go again. (The few times I have went I am glad I did, though it was never something I felt I needed ongoing. The only thing I need is to just TALK to someone.) The cycle that I face is extreme negative self talk, followed by immense guilt over many things, followed by embarrassment over the whole situation all balled up into not being able to get out of bed or spending a lot of time doing absolutely nothing. Like nothing. There have been times that I have sat in a chair for hours because I did not know where to start the day. 

      In a weird way I am very lucky because my best friend goes through a very similar thing. It's amazing having someone who somewhat understands what you're going through in your corner, but it is still immensely difficult to say, "Hey, I can't get out of bed". So instead we text each other the phrase banana hammock. Way easier, right?? If you go through any thing like we do, maybe there is someone in your life you can set up a system like this with. Once a conversation gets flowing everything becomes much easier to deal with. I don't want to make this sound like a magic system that makes all your problems disappear, but little can change if you don't start the conversation.

     Over the years I feel like I have learned a lot about how to keep myself mentally healthy. I absolutely have to get enough sleep. I have to be around people. Staying at home by myself for long periods at a time is hard on me. (Now add in being a stay at home artist/entrepreneur! More on that in a later post.) I need to feel the energy of others, even if it's not in a social way. Even if it's just small talk with a cashier and someone in the Michaels aisle. I socially surround myself with people who build me up, and positively influence me, who encourage me and genuinely want the best for me. Coffee dates with my people seem to do the same for me than any therapy session ever did. Do you know what being kind can do for your own mental health? A random act of kindness can turn your whole world around. When I feel crappy, I buy the next person's double-double or pay someone else's $5 fee at the ReUse Center. I also pick out the positive in everything and let it sink in as deep as I can, almost as if I'm saving it up for the next time I need it. All these things seem so small, but they really do make a big difference in my life.

      Writing this wasn't the easiest thing for me and I know the stigma I have towards myself contributes to the problems we are having with society and mental health. Please know that you are not alone and there are so many ways and things out there to help you feel really, really awesome.

I hope I have helped shine a little light on mental health because we all deserve to be our brightest (most colourful!) selves,
-A.F.


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