If there were ever a relationship more complicated than the one we all have with our social media addictions, I don’t know.
As an author in an entertainment field, we’re encouraged to have a social media presence for the sake of connecting to our readers. As an extrovert, I don’t mind because I thrive in situations when the attention is on me. However, even extroverts need a break to refill the creative well.
My daughter — the baby, and admittedly, the most indulged of our children — stridently brought to our attention that the summer was half over and we’d failed to leave our own backyard.
She deemed this unacceptable.
I had plenty of excuses — the economy is crap, expenses are high, and my workload is heavy enough to crush an ox — but then I realized, there will always be an excuse bigger than the reason to do something that benefits your mental health.
Why? Because our mental health usually lands at the bottom of our priorities.
Even though I’m a huge advocate for positive mental health habits, sometimes I’m as negligent as most when it comes to self-care.
The fact is, we need a change of scenery sometimes. We need laughter, a reason to smile, and time spent with our loved ones.
Too often we live to work and that’s just backwards.
I get it, times are hard. Seriously, it’s difficult to think of taking a day trip when you’re stressed about how to pay for groceries.
But one thing I learned from being a financially-strapped young parent — finding something to enjoy together doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive.
Yesterday, we three (the older kids were busy) packed up the car and headed for Yosemite National Park.
As someone who grew up in the shadow of the most beautiful place on earth, I was embarrassed to admit my daughter had never stepped foot on the Valley floor. Time got away from me and I didn’t make it a priority to introduce her to the place where half of her ancestors walked and lived.
As a direct descendent of Chief Tenaya, my roots to Yosemite run deep. I don’t talk as much about my Native heritage but something sings inside of my heart when I enter Yosemite. An indescribable joy fills my soul as the sights, sounds and smells awaken a sleeping part of myself.
The wildflowers, the berry bushes springing up along the trails, the sweet sound of wind rushing through the pine trees, the meadow grass swaying, Half Dome basking in the sunlight, the sharp scent of dirt, granite, and cedar — everything collided inside me and tears sprang to my eyes. Why had I waited so long to go home?
To be honest, I don’t have the answer.
But lately, I’m reminded we are here on this floating rock for a finite amount of time. We need to prioritize the joy in our lives. It’s a common saying but it’s true — at the end of our days, we won’t lament not working more, we’ll regret the smiles we didn’t share, the happiness we sacrificed for the sake of making money.
My advice to you: pack a picnic, load up your loved ones, and make core memories.
Then, you can post it on your social media.
Kim Van Meter is a former full-time reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Escalon Times and The Riverbank News; she continues to provide occasional columns.