I actually had this post all ready to go early last week. Then the aftermath of the election hit, and it just seemed like a petty and inappropriate thing to write about last Wednesday morning. Then the week went on, and the internet, specifically Facebook, started to feel really draining for me. I was tired of the fighting, the de-friending, and the reality of the news in general. I had gone “off the grid” for a little over a week prior to this, and while I longed to be whisked back to the Caribbean, that wasn’t happening. So I did the next best thing–took a deep breath and held down the little x’s on my social media apps on my phone. DELETED! Just for a couple of days. This is something that I recommend everyone do from time to time. I’m not saying this is easy by any means. Our electronic devices have these weird magnetic powers. They draw us in with dings and buzzes. Their little red alert bubbles beckon us “read me!”, “look at me!”, “listen to this!”. They keep us up at night when we should be sleeping, steal time away from things we should be getting done, and pull our attention from the actual flesh and blood people that are sitting in the same room as us.
This is one of my favorite things about being on a cruise, which is where I went when I disappeared a couple of weeks ago: Unless you want to pay $17.99 a day for wifi, there is not a chance of phone reception in the middle of the ocean. With most people on the ship, including me, opting out of the pricey internet package, some interesting, and pretty good things started to happen.
- My husband and I paid attention to each other and our food during dinner. Granted, I usually have a “no phones at the dinner table” rule anyway, but he seems to make an exception when it comes to checking sports scores. I tend to find a loophole when I’m eating my myself. Instead of Snapchatting when he went to the restroom, I sipped my wine and noticed the flavors of the 6 different kinds of salts that were served with our bread and butter.
- We struck up some pretty interesting conversations with strangers. One of these conversations with a nice Canadian couple resulted in us getting a free lobster tail! It’s crazy for me to think that we so freely post the intricate details of our lives on the internet for all to see, yet are afraid to make eye contact with the people sitting across from us in the hot tub. On a cruise ship, you don’t have much a choice but to talk to randoms sometimes. Turns out, many of them actually seem to be decent humans.
- I finished a whole book in just a few days! Reading is a hobby that I’ve always loved but never seem to have enough time for. Books are
almostalways more inspiring than people’s political rants, photos of somebody’s abs and protein shake, and old acquaintances trying to sell you leggings, cleaning supplies, cosmetics, and supplements. Not trying to be a hater, but it’s true. Now I just need to remember that the next time my phone begs me to check it “just one more time” at bedtime!
- I noticed a lot of really beautiful things. And some things that were just kind of ok. And then the ugly fact that there is just way to much litter in most of the Caribbean. Regardless, sometimes it’s nice to just enjoy the moment instead of having to hashtag every second of it. Looking at the endless ocean is pretty amazing. Even the best Instagram filters don’t do it justice. I don’t know what it was like in Chicago when the Cubs won the World Series, but there was something extra special (and almost nostalgic) about having to soak up the moment in real time knowing that you couldn’t go back and replay it again and again for the rest of the night.
- No annoying email messages, and nobody texting or calling needing some sort of immediate damage control or a last minute sub. I was able to fill my brain with whatever I wanted to think about on my own schedule. In case of an “emergency” everyone would just have to wait for me to return or figure it out themselves. (Thankfully, I’m pretty sure my fur-baby Lucky was just fine, and all my students managed to remember their costumes for their competition over the weekend.)
- It was great to be detached from all the bad news. There were no constant arguments or people de-friending each other over which presidential candidate is the worst. No war, no shootings, no hurricanes. Well, unless you happen to be sailing in a hurricane. Luckily for us, other than than the occasional drizzle, we were good to go. I’m not suggesting that we all become ignorant to the news or ignore what’s going on in the world forever, but the occasional break can be really good for your mental health. Inspiring too!
Unfortunately, it’s back to reality now. And the harsh reality is that we don’t get to spend life on a perpetual tropical cruise. Life doesn’t force us to disconnect. The good news is that we can still choose to do so from time to time. Being aware of the hypnotizing draw of our magical glowing devices is the first step. The second step is to set some boundaries. Some of my favorites are: No checking email first thing in the morning, no email when I’m in line at Target, and no email when I’m not in a position to react and respond to a potentially stressful email. Turn off the alerts for everything besides texts and phone calls. Turn the phone on “do not disturb” while at work, and then “forget” to turn it back on. No Facebook in bed, no Instagram at lunch. Periodic planned breaks from social media where I delete said apps because I have no self-control surrounding my own rules. NO CELL PHONES IN YOGA! (a huge pet peeve of mine). Also, I know I have no kids of my own, but if I ever babysit yours, he’s playing with crayons, not an iPad. What about you? How and when can you snag yourself some “off the grid time”? Right about now might be the best time of all. And if you feel so inclined, maybe use that extra time to stop talking about things and start doing them. 😉