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Digital Sabbath Reflections

Updated: Jul 18, 2018

Fasting is not for the purpose of living an ascetic life of deprivation, but for retooling our tanks to enjoy abundance more delightfully. Here is what I've learned from my six month fast from social media.

The idea for Simple Delight Life Coaching is birthed in the midst of an extended 6 month Digital Sabbath that I (Rossana) took in order to detox from my addiction to social media, which had begun to consume my attention and affect my marriage in unhealthy ways. Many times in the evenings, I found myself pulled away to look for any comments to my posts, to “like” others’ posts, or to re-tweet or share others’ posts while adding a comment or two on the reason for the share. David tried various ways to keep me engaged, including pulling us outdoors (sometimes into the rain) for walks in the neighborhood or watching other equally distracting or addictive TV series. Meanwhile, Stephen is busy with the heavy workload of school, rehearsals, and art group challenges, often staying up late to finish assignments or completing an artwork. Dinnertime often became our only times for meaningful family interaction. This often left us feeling empty and unsatisfied.


Last year, when I asked David how I can improve the quality of my marriage, he challenged me to take 6 months off my social media, which includes the three “biggies” of Weibo (Chinese twitter), WeChat, and Facebook, where many of my interactions with my fans and friends from China and the rest of the world took place – in both Chinese and English. I decided to take up this challenge and face the pain of detoxing myself from my addiction to online relationships instead of risking the slow deterioration of the quality of my close family relationships.

Just as the weekly Jewish Shabbat required an entire day (Friday, which is also called Preparation Day) to prepare for, so preparing for such an extended long period of time away also took some preparation. For one thing, I no longer needed to prepare a daily weekday article to release on my WeChat public account. This is something I had been doing for the past two years. This also means that I will stop releasing new blogs, new Weibo (Chinese twitter) content or retweets, and any interactions on my FaceBook. Instead, I planned to shift the time that I would use for these online activities to more face to face interactions. This should have me really excited. Instead, I was worried and scared. I asked myself what was the worst thing that could happen if I did take a Digital Sabbath, and what would happen if I did not. If I took the 6 month break, my fans could lose interest and unsubscribe me, and I would lose many of my followers, but I would have more time for the most important relationships in my life with my husband and my son. If I did not take this break, I could grow my social media presence, but risk growing more distant in the most important relationships in my life. The choice was clear -- I was determined to fight my FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).


In these past 6 months of wrestling with FOMO, especially at the beginning, I often found myself with intensely “itchy fingers”, which were used to swiping my screen every few minutes. Just like dieting and exercise, stopping an old habit or beginning a new one is the most difficult! However, after I finally quieted down, I recovered huge chunks of uninterrupted time to really focus on the important things that I wanted to do:

  • Piled higher and higher on my nightstand is a mountain of books I wanted to read, but have no time or mental space to set aside to focus on reading, because whatever time I did have had been invaded by scattered pieces of information and short articles. Now I finally have the time and mind space to enjoy reading a good book from cover to cover.

  • I now have time to be fully present with my husband and son. In the past, whenever I noticed a red badge appear on an icon, I would not be able to help myself, but would sneak off to the bathroom for a “quick peek” in case I missed something. If a reader left a question, my mind would be preoccupied with how I wanted to respond. Now, David told me that I am spacing out less when I am with him.

  • These uninterrupted times wrested back from the internet has given me and David time to think over and dream about what we want to do after Stephen graduates from high school next summer, when our nest finally becomes completely empty of all our children. Dreaming with my husband is an exciting venture, and I can’t wait to get started on making this dream a reality! This website is a start on embarking on that dream!

  • After completing my life coaching training, I’ve already accumulated over half of the required 100 hours of actual client hours needed to earn my ICF (International Coaching Federation) certification, after which I can begin to officially take on paying clients!

  • To begin the “practice run” for our empty nest season, which will revolve around the theme of spiritual parenting, David and I will begin a coaching lifestyle to serve other couples. Beginning with the launch of our bilingual website, we will share new blogs each week. We will begin to shift the center of our lives off large one-to-many talks and onto one-on-one or two-on-two close-up personal relationships. You will also notice that besides marriage, parenting, tech, education, and Third Culture Kids related topics, we will begin to add minimalist lifestyle, life coaching, and RV life related topics.

  • Many of the Mommy princesses from my Beijing Mommy Princess group have shifted out of the home back to the workplace or serving the community. I will begin to share their stories via my WeChat public account, so that they can begin to mentor more young mothers. Just as I walked with them, life-on-life back when I was in Beijing, they will begin to give of their lives to influence other lives around them. I will decrease so that they may increase.

  • The rate of release of new articles on my WeChat account will decrease from every weekday to 3 times a week. One of those weekly articles will be the story of a Mommy Princess. Readers are welcome to leave word in the WeChat article for me or any one of the Mommy Princesses. I will continue managing the account, but for these articles will invite the author to respond to any comments for them.

Psychologist and “Father of Flow” Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, in his book “Creativity” cites research on some of the most creative people who have their “Eureka” moments of insight and connecting-the-dots occurring most often not during times when they are deep in their work, but during the times away taking a break. Often the insight would come while on vacation or taking a walk. This Digital Sabbath has been profitable for me, because I was able to take a step away from the noise in the online world and attend to the most important voices in my life – God’s voice, my inner voice, and the voices of the ones I most love in this life. For that, this break was well worth it.


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