Scrolling and the Art of Restraint

8 Nov

our last date night (in July!)

Do you think I kept my new years resolution of going a year without reading social media? 

The answer is no.  I went about two and a half months.  Then in October, I went another month.  That’s it.

Frankly, I kind of HAD to get back on when I did, we were moving.  I mean, I could have made countless expensive phone calls overseas to secure housing, school placement, and other necessities.  Or I could just tap-tap-tap through the Facebook group and be connected with all of it in one second. 

I’ve done tons of soul-searching in the area of social media use.  After much prayer and retrospect, I‘ve just never landed on a rationale to permanently isolate myself from the world in that way.  Social media are not going away.  Moreover, I probably should remain literate in this arena so I can coach my children on the right habits for their own online presence. 

So, that’s the jist of it. 


But let me backpedal and paint the broader picture.  I logged hours in prayer and pondering, asking God just how much social media I should be consuming, if any.  After some time…and it took me a while to notice…the answer to my prayer came.  But not the way I was expecting. 

I guess I expected to hear some ground-breaking proclamation containing a quantifiable, precise amount of time I can spend per day looking at these media.  “You may spend 30 minutes a day, from 1:30 until 2:00pm, looking at Facebook and Instagram” …said in James Earl Jones’s voice.

But that wasn’t his plan on this one.  Not surprisingly either.  That’s funny–God knows that’s not how I really operate.  So he does know me better than I know myself!  


 

His answer came quietly and it took a while to notice.  But over the course of this year I developed a growing, burdensome, lingering aversion to scrolling in the presence of people.  Not timelines, not restrictions, no voices.  Freedom to enjoy with soft boundaries…guiding me in the direction of people first

 


And it’s really stuck.  Kids around?  Phone down.  Big group setting, no scrolling.  Five hour car ride?  Play the license plate game.  (A supreme challenge to play in England, ha ha.)  You get the idea.  There’s more empty space in the absence of scrolling; however, a lot of my scrolling was symptomatic of the “tyranny of the mundane.”  I scroll to avoid feelings of a mundane existence. 

But really, the human experience is living with just so. much. blah.

Now, my prayer is that this burden will continue to weigh on me, and thereby enable me to live out what I believe in this area. 

What an answer!  An empowerment from outside of myself, yet aligned with my personality type.*  I am really happy with it.  But don’t hang up on me, please know my heart.  Not to be preachy… it’s just one solution for one woman of faith.  I’ll point to Romans 14 which addresses this type of matter.  

Okay.  Because my husband will probably read this, I have to admit I am not perfectly scroll-free when *all* people are nearby.  (We have five kids so we’re fine.)

Where are you at with all of this?  Do you have any other suggestions for keeping a good balance between scrolling and restraint?  

thanks for reading.  
Leigh 

 

 

*This, by the way, is how I know we have a personal God.  A God so knowing that he tailor-makes his solutions to fit each specific personality… More evidence that he is not one-size-fits-all when it comes to following hard after him.

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Saag Murghi

2 Nov

Please excuse my attempt to put an Indian title on this recipe.  The inspiration dish is saag paneer and I believe that means “spinach with cheese” or something close to that.  🙂  I know that saag means spinach.  So, “saag murghi” as it were, came from a quick google: “indian word for chicken.”  Murghi=chicken.  Probably.

I made this up to satisfy my saag paneer craving, but I needed it to be higher in protein, lower in fat, and potentially dairy free.  I am using the chicken as a replacement for the paneer cheese.  With the turmeric seasoning, it really does come close. 

This is so good.  Aarti knew what she was doing and if you don’t care about elimination/fat content, make hers.  But if you are trying to eat cleaner, up your protein, and watch your fat intake, I think this is a great rewrite.  I have made it many times.  Just finally getting around to blogging it after my crazybusy year moving from Hawaii to the UK while trying to keep five kids alive.  

Saag Murghi


1/2 pound chopped cooked chicken breast
1/2 tsp turmeric 
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp water

2 pounds (32 oz) frozen spinach
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp oil
1 1-inch “thumb” minced ginger
4 cloves minced garlic
1 jalapeno or serrano pepper, seeded and finely chopped (optional but yummy)
1/2 tsp garam masala (recipe below)
2 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste

full fat plain yogurt – or – cream cheese
ghee or butter

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the water, turmeric, and salt.  Add the chicken and toss to coat.  Set aside. 
  • Thaw spinach in microwave.  Pour into colander to allow to drain a little bit while you are prepping the onions…but you don’t need to squeeze it dry.  
  • In a large skillet over medium heat saute the onions, ginger, garlic and jalapeno.  NB:  1.  Saute the mixture for 15-20 minutes until the onions are toffee-coloured.  This is the base of the dish and is worth the wait.  2. Do not burn the garlic.  There is no recovering from burnt garlic.  If you feel like the mixture is drying out, add a few tablespoons of water. 
  • Add the garam masala, coriander and cumin.  Sprinkle more water to keep from burning, cook spices 3-5 more minutes to release the flavors. 
  • Add the spinach and stir well. Add salt and pepper.  Once it is heated through evenly, add in the seasoned chicken pieces.  Cook until everything is warmed evenly.  
  • Stir in 2 tablespoons of butter and 1/2 cup of yogurt (or my preference: cream cheese).  *Be careful with the yogurt, it can curdle if the pan is too hot.
  • If you are wanting to count your macros a little more carefully, omit the butter, and add the cream cheese/yogurt separately: as a measured topping for your own portion.  I am counting fat right now, so no butter and I put my cream cheese on top by measured teaspoons, as shown in the picture.
  • Serve over rice, with naan, or you can eat this as a one-dish meal.  
  • Serves 4-6.

Notes:
1.  A *very* basic Garam Masala can be quickly mixed together with equal parts ground cinnamon, ground cardamom, and ground cloves.
2.  Avoid really dry chicken breast if possible.  “Moister” chicken is closer to the texture of paneer.  (Don’t tell me not to say the word moist.  I don’t get that aversion at all.)  
3.  If you want the saag to be “dippier” I recommend adding a good bit of butter…maybe 3-4 tablespoons. But then you’d have to tell MFP.
4.  Honestly, the more cream cheese and butter you stir into this the better.  But your MFP macro table will not indicate this.
5.  Kala Jeera.  This recipe tastes AMAZING with Kala Jeera stirred in with the spices.  I left it out of this recipe because it can be hard to find.  Another name for this is “whole cumin seed.”  But, if you see it in your spice aisle, grab it.  Add a teaspoon of it when you are sautéing the onions, you are another step closer to being in a restaurant.  


 

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P.S.  I would be completely confident hosting an Indian food dinner party with this saag, and the three recipes below.  The meat dishes can be prepared ahead and reheated on the day of the gathering.

 

 

Do you have a favorite Indian dish you make at home?  Please share with me in the comments. 🙂
Leigh

 

Avoiding White Noise like it’s White Sugar

2 Feb

My new years resolution for 2017 was to go a year without scrolling social media and the warplike vortex that can be the internet.  I liken it to mind sugar: it’s addictive and sadly can become degenerative.  I am only a month in, but I have already gathered a few thoughts to share.

For the past few years, I’ve continually ignored a quiet voice in my head that has counselled me to quit my continual scrolling of social and other mindless media.  I am obsessed with Dallas Hartwig’s mantra: more social, less media.  I wish I had coined it!!  (Ironically, I learned about it on Instagram.)  

These media are somehow drawing us in over and over.  How else would I know that the kid who sat next to me in seventh grade science had a ham sandwich for lunch today?  Or that a kangaroo can in fact put someone’s dog in a headlock?  What about the psycho hose beasts continually trying to draw fire politically?  Or all that heartwarming humblebragging.  The majority of it is just white noise!  Lately it seems to be getting louder, too.  

white-noise

I keep reading and scrolling and shaking my head…Then I go back for more the next day.

But here is the thing:  I am ready to think my own thoughts again.

So, my 2017 is a world where my phone is exclusively a conduit info/communication, and not my window to look out and see the chaos that is flying around.  I have untethered myself from it, and at home it’s plugged into a wall where it belongs.  Here are the top things I have noticed so far.  (Know that there are dozens of other good things.)


 

Where scrolling used to be: blank space to hear more from God.  That was my primary objective for the resolution.  A year devoid of heedless scrolling should certainly increase communion with the Lord.  It’ll take time, as previously I avoided spending any time alone with my own thoughts.  My wise friend and author Monica Swanson recently published some simple meditation cards.  Take advantage of her hard work!!  They are a perfect countermeasure to the scrolling, a handy tool for beginning meditation, intentionally clearing the mind, taking action to unplug.

 

Authentic outreach.  We have a neighborhood FB group which generally takes care of most social connections and meetups around here.  The other day, a new neighbor moved in.  I wrote my contact info onto an index card, and then actually walked a few blocks to hand-deliver it.  Honestly it felt awkward, like I was sticking my neck out.  Normally, I would have just clicked “add” and kept scrolling.  Because, you know, we can just message one another.

 

I have been reading a lot more.  I think part of why we tend to scroll and scroll is because it’s an honest endeavor to become better informed.  Reading is such a rich way to indulge the mind, grow us academically, increase empathy and compassion, and expand our horizons far beyond the instant-gratification internet media.  Get back into it with me.

 

 I don’t say “Just a minute” to my children quite as often.  HUGE.

 

The added quiet space in my day has made me feel more patient as a motherwhich is what I have been praying for.  Has this been part of the answer this whole time?  Oops.

 

I have a predisposition for feeling lonely.  It is chronic and I know it is mostly those mean voices in my head…but still, it’s one of my biggest hangups.  When I am especially suffering, I turn to scrolling to stave off my despondent feelings, but it doesn’t work.  Ever.  It’s a false sense of community for me.  Now that I am no longer scrolling, I am taking action to identify some effective antidotes to solve my chronic lonely feelings.  Blog post to follow….

 

I have five pairs of eyes on me at all times.  I don’t want my kids to think that scrolling is just what you do all day if you don’t have anything else to put your hand to.  No.  I want to model a different existence to them.  Scrolling is no way to live your life.

 

Journaling.  Such an organic, authentic way to document my thoughts, feelings and personal growth.  My journal is blissfully filling up again.  It’s tangible, tear-stained, raw.  I can go back into it and observe quantifable personal progress.  I began a commonplace journal as well.  It’s a beautiful way to catalogue memorable literary quotations.  You know, the stuff you dog-ear or underline, the snippets you read twice because they are so rich.  Copying these passages by hand allow them to sink in all the more.  I learned about commonplace journalling via Sarah McKenzie.   Look into it.  

img_4220

 

My scrolling-free time is wide open to pray for people who I am supposed to be praying for (kids & hubby), and for those I have told, “I will pray for you!”  These people who need intercession have come to the forefront of my mind far more often.  It’s notable that when I’m prayerful toward people who unnerve me, my attitude changes toward them.

 

Sometimes after closing out a mindless media scrolling session, I’ve come away thinking “uggggggggggghhhhhhh I feel dumber now.”
It is so empowering to take charge of what enters my mind and heart

vet it to meet my needs…
ensure it doesn’t increase strife in my relationships…
cause me to lose focus on my calling.
Nothing I am consuming with my eyes will make me dumber, angrier, more insecure, or further off my rails.  I can see that our society is clambering to feel empowered again, and perhaps this might be one step in the right direction.


 

Social media can be such a fun and uplifting place, and I have gleaned plenty from the things my people have shared.  It is important to stay relevant with the culture.  You’ll see me on FB/Insta a little bit because they are useful communication tools for groups I am involved in, and I still want document my favorite moments.  I am not set against the social media; however, I would like to set myself apart from it.  Please don’t be offended if I am not “liking” your stuff.  It’s not you, it’s me.  

I need a retreat from the hivemind.  A long one.

Maybe not-scrolling will be the new paleo.  I would love that.  🙂

Leigh

 

p.s.  Because scrolling-without-ceasing is now our culture, there is a market for a “swipe and feed.”  When I first saw this, I felt my heart ripping out of my chest.  Where do I begin?  Responding to this photograph would require a whole nother blog post.  

swipe-and-feed

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