Whether you’re prepping Lunar New Year festivities of good fortune, family, and food (celebrated by my family and friends in Korea as Seollal), or getting the seven-layer bean dip ready for Super Bowl LIII, I hope 2019 is treating you well so far and giving you what you need.
Personally, the start of February marks the end of my first social media-free month this year and it’s been everything I needed. After laying out my game plan for you earlier in January, I thought I’d check in and share some of my first impressions now that my transition away/back (depending on your perspective) is taking full effect.
In the past, I’d often snuggle up with a book that I’d wanted to read for weeks, only to leave it on my lap while I responded to tags and memes. These days, I’m feeling less distractable and have finished The Silk Roads: A New History of the World, reread Outrageous Openness, and started Dr. Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. Though I’m more focused, I still have random thoughts of course that sometimes compel me to tap my phone in the middle of the night and find whether critics think the 1990 blockbuster Pretty Woman has stood the test of time, but blame it on my ADD, baby…
Getting back to my hobbies, I’ve also dusted off my guitar case and opened up to relearning the guitar. My grandma and lifelong inspiration decided when she was 75 years old that she wanted to learn and play hymns at church. She took lessons and even with arthritis was a natural finger-picking talent without any help from the internet. She taught me chords and I caught on enough to strum along as her accompaniment in an “Amazing Grace” duet. I’m rusty, but my newest goal (with help from the internet) is to practice and take her requests by Christmas.
I’ve also picked up some new pastimes. My friend Stella, who’s lived in St. Louis for just over a year now, discovered and invited me to Ladies Knight at the St. Louis Chess Club and World Chess Hall of Fame and I was instantly hooked. Once a week, International Master Irene Sukandar and Grand Master Katerina Nemcova teach the fundamentals of chess to women and girls of all ages and proficiencies here at the world-renowned Chess Capital of the United States—who knew?!
While I’ve stopped to admire its monument (the world’s largest king piece) and popped in for a look around the gift shop a handful of times, I usually just smiled past, glancing at the locals sat at their checkered tables, making moves that didn’t register on my radar, as I made my way to a cafe, restaurant, or drinks elsewhere in the Central West End.
Luckily for me, there is a class designed for absolute beginners at Ladies Knight, so no prior knowledge or experience is necessary to join the fun. And it is a lot of fun. Free for members and open to the public for $5, we gather every Thursday night to learn from the best. Plus, with complimentary wine and cheese service, I am here for it.
Once I check e-mails, news, and texts, if I ever get the notion to fiddle on my phone, I like to tap into Headspace, Memrise, or the Chess app for a quick session. I know…but don’t you brain shame me! Learning is beautiful and my neurons haven’t felt this plastic since that time I got really into rock-climbing after college. Insert flashback in the adorably bizarre style of Broad City here.
Though I feel the urge to reach for my phone much less, if I’m waiting for the oven timer to go off, rather than clear my Insta stories, I might accept a challenge from an equally low-ranking opponent to a match. Other times, after selecting whether I want my Hulu program (Broad City) interrupted by several classicly annoying ads or by one long annoying ad, rather than spend commercial time scrolling a wall of hashtags, I might complete a turn in said low-ranking match or try to solve one of the app’s puzzles instead.
My only regret might be not sharing the upcoming inaugural Cairns Cup this February 5th-16th. This international tournament for elite female players will pit the top ten women players from around the world against each other, round-robin style, with a prize fund of $150,000. It’s not only one of the largest prize funds for a women’s tournament but also promises to be the strongest tournament ever held in the world.
In lieu of the #10YearChallenge, welcome changes to my social media-less life include more one-to-one chats with long-distance friends, catching up on personal admin (and staying on top of it), and other good habits from actually prioritizing daily self-care; simple things like journaling, getting eight hours of sleep, and reviving my at-home yoga practice. Along with having committed to 30 days of yoga, whenever I find myself with 10-20 minutes to spare, I like to kick out my mat and play a quick video on the YouTube channel Yoga With Adriene, who by the way, continues to be my favorite yoga teacher online or IRL.
While I do feel like I could restore the apps on my phone with a more mindful and balanced approach to using social media now, curiosity of what my perspective will be at the end of the year keeps me committed.
So far, SO GOOD.