Our year-long (probably lifelong) hiatus from social media has insofar been a beautiful, healthy decision. The same week we chose to delete our collective accounts, the desire to pull out our cell phones to take a photo of This Scene and That Experience swiftly dissipated. Our smart phones resumed their duties as telephones. The photo editing application we had both spent hours of our lives utilizing became, in a moment, defunct. No more were conversations swimming around status updates from strangers. Quieter; more time to be still. Sam started writing in a journal. Mark started using the digital camera more often. We both started writing letters. The good outweighs the bad manifold. (The bad being decreased blog readership and not knowing when our favorite donut shop is having a special.) 

For everyone we know and love, it is no longer suspicious or saddening that we deleted our accounts. They have to make a little more effort to show us news that would otherwise only exist on Facebook or Instagram, but overall it has in no way impacted our relationships. Exactly what we suspected. Actually, one of our favorite little nuances of being gone from Instagram specifically is when a friend will say, "look at this photo I posted," giving us the opportunity to actually express affection for the image instead of merely double-tapping. (If our grandma is reading this, this paragraph won't even make sense. Grandma, we love you!)

Choosing to muscle through the good, the bad, and the ugly sans the internet is a special way to live. It has given us space to experience the comings and goings of life without the accompanying desire to create a caption and hit share.  We have privately suffered through a few trials: namely, the death of our original two goats and the rocky emotional road following the entry of Sam's sister into a convent. It felt like a blessing to escape the self-imposed burden of having to craft an explanation of those experiences for a digital audience. Conversely, we have privately rejoiced on many occasions, big & small: in opening our Post Office Box to find personal letters from old friends; in a state of supreme disconnect & relaxation on a family vacation at the ocean; and in the abundant natural beauty that surrounds us on a daily basis in our little corner of Vermont.  And for all the moments in between, we have experienced them just the same: directly, consumed in a slow manner.

All of the photos contained in this post were taken with our cell phones. The common thread between them is that they were not captured to be shared on Instagram or Facebook, as was our habit only a few months ago. A freshly cleaned milk parlor, a fragrant handful of second-cutting hay, a white cat hiding in the bathroom curtains—these were scenes & moments that simply struck us for one reason or another. They were not manufactured or staged. Rather, they presented themselves to us in the midst of our daily lives: like the fallen birch tree in a wooded area of the farm, from which we sawed a few branches to spruce up our new home. 

What we have found during our time away from social media has been wholly heartening, and oh so beautiful. It sometimes feels as though our eyes are opened twice as wide, or twice as long, as they had been before. For every instance that we feel compelled to whip out our phones to snap a picture, there are dozens of others that call upon us to simply pause & watch. It does not seem unreasonable that this could be the case in most of our lives. Everyday beauty is not exclusive to a small farm in Vermont. It only requires us to look up & out a little more often.