I am not the type of person who can easily relax–I know, shocking, right? We type A’s, with a good dose of Virgo thrown in as a present from the Universe, are a core reason why social media thrives. Task mastering and to-do lists and super-sized organizing are all enabled by the array of gadgets and gizmos we carry as if our very lives depend on them. However, I can unplug any time. I am the master of my domain. I am my own counsel. I am truly full of it.
I was not always like this. Growing up in Florida, I spent lazy days at the beach with nothing to do but sit on a towel, look out over the waves, and think. Is this forgotten beach girl buried somewhere beneath all the emails, texts, memes, graphs, charts and posts that chronicle my existence?
Image provided courtesy of morgueFile – http://mrg.bz/XOxncK
You may recall that last year I participated in the “Envelope Challenge” in order to save money and surprise the Hubs with a vacation this winter to a place of his choosing. My only caveat was that it had to be some place warm. Given Mother Nature’s winter of 2015 wrath, the fruits of my savings could not have come at a more opportune moment. In the process I may have jinxed the rest of you and condemned us to one of the worst frigid seasons in the history of miserable cold winters–sorry about that.
Last week, on the plane down to the Dominican Republic, Hubs reminded me that using my cell phone was going to be off-limits:
“Um, wait, what?!”
“It’s not like we’ll be in the U.S. or Europe. Your phone is not likely to work. If it does, it will be hella gone expensive. So, I suggest we turn off the phones and not turn them back on until we return stateside on Monday.”
I had expected limited contact, not no contact. My insides churned at the thought of no phone for three days – three days! No texts, no checking Facebook, no HuffPost updates, no random check-ins with my son. Noooooo…..
Arriving at the hotel, the beauty of the place was lost on me. Did I notice the expansive gardens, the lovely light breeze, or the open veranda beckoning us toward paradise? Nope. What I did notice were the other guests in the lobby with their heads down, devices in hand, surfing away on the waves of the Internet. Rejoice, there must be Wi-Fi! I instinctively reached for the side pocket of my purse where my phone resides, but was stopped by a stern sideways glance from the Hubs. #Buzzkiller.
As we checked into the Punta Cana hotel, the receptionist slid a small piece of paper across the marble counter: And here is your free Wi-Fi logon information. “Oh thank God!” exclaimed my BFF who was vacationing with us.
I too was elated, but also a bit disappointed in myself. I felt my inner beach girl shrink away–she had been so close to a bit of freedom out in the sunshine. I promised myself I would try to unplug, to not be one of the texting masses of the lobby.
It was not a completely successful unplugging event. There were times over the next three days when I sneaked a peek at the Facebook feed, posted a few pictures, and checked the emails. However, by the second day I could lock the phone in the room safe and head to the beach without its familiar weight in my beach bag.
What I discovered was that with each step toward the beach, the phone became less crucial to my being. I reconnected with the sound of the waves, the smell of sea salt, and the wondrous feel of warm sand between my toes. I watched a 2 year old girl joyously throw handfuls of sand and mud up into the air and laugh heartily as it rained back down on her Dad. Soon my inner beach girl peaked outside, giggled, and blew a kiss into the wind.
My biggest insight? Nothing of any consequence happened while I was away. There were no emergencies, there was nothing that could not wait until I returned to reality. Perhaps it’s time for a new reality up here in the middle-aged cheap seats.
Do you spend too much time plugged in to technology? Ever tried to disconnect?
Irish Carter saysMarch 12, 2015 at 9:39 pm
Oh how I loved this post. I am so glad you unplugged as much as you could. I have done that before and I believe it is just plain healthy for us. I am like you however and it is usually hooked right to me. When I do unplug though, it is refreshing and I always come back with a clear mind ready to do productive work.
I am glad you got your toes in the sand. I love that feeling.
Kim Dalferes saysMarch 14, 2015 at 1:44 pm
It’s way too easy to jump right back into the workload and forget to let it all go to voicemail every once in awhile. Maybe I should keep a bucket of sand out back and stick my toes in once a day.
Susan - ofeverymoment saysMarch 8, 2015 at 7:38 pm
I have spent this weekend trying to catch up after “falling off the Internet” for a few weeks due to life and travel. Blogging requires being quite “plugged in” but I think there has to be a balance.
Kimba saysMarch 9, 2015 at 12:10 pm
Susan you are absolutely spot on – it really is about balance. It took me til 50 to get that!
Sue Kearney (@MagnoliasWest) saysMarch 6, 2015 at 11:31 pm
It’s very hard for me to unplug at all. I have a week on Kaua’i coming up and of course I’m wondering just how much hardware I should bring with me.
Your success unplugging inspires me. Maybe I’ll leave my laptop at home.
Kim Dalferes saysMarch 7, 2015 at 10:11 am
Baby steps Sue. Maybe take the laptop but leave it in the safe when you’re on the beach? Have a great time in Hawaii!
Lois Alter Mark saysMarch 6, 2015 at 9:11 pm
I find it almost impossible to stay unplugged for more than, oh, a half hour at a time. Loved this post and will have to try harder to put down the phone!
Kim Dalferes saysMarch 7, 2015 at 10:20 am
Yeah, it’s not easy. At lot of times I find myself pulling out my cell phone to check FB just because I’m bored. I working on turning off the phone after 8 pm.
Suzie Cheel saysMarch 6, 2015 at 7:15 pm
Glad you got the beach girl back and love the observation of the child at play-
I can now unplug happily- that was not so a few years ago. Think when we unplug we regain that inner child
Kim Dalferes saysMarch 7, 2015 at 10:21 am
Suzie, you are so right. It does not surprise me inthe least that you can unplug with abandon. I’m working on it.
Diane Howell Topkis saysMarch 6, 2015 at 7:13 pm
Actually I love being disconnected on weekends and especially on vacation. A friend calls it JOMO = Joy of Missing Out – instead of FOMO – Fear of Missing Out and always checking in! I find I experience more and am much more connected to what’s really going on – right in front of me.
Kim Dalferes saysMarch 7, 2015 at 11:17 am
JOMO – love this new term for me; gonna use it!
Lori L. MacLaughlin saysMarch 6, 2015 at 5:21 pm
I actually prefer being unplugged. It’s so much easier to write without all the distractions. I love your description of the little girl tossing sand into the air. Oh, to be like that again.
Kim Dalferes saysMarch 7, 2015 at 11:23 am
There are times, when I get in the writing zone, when time seems to stand still. No distractions, no electronics, and all of the sudden I have thousands of words and its four hours later. I love it when that happens.
kathykate saysMarch 6, 2015 at 4:10 pm
Sometimes the best gift of all is a dead cellphone. (And a margarita…) welcome home, and i’m a big fan of unplugging!
Kim Dalferes saysMarch 7, 2015 at 10:36 am
A dead cell phone & a margarita – gurl, I like where your head’s at!
Doreen McGettigan saysMarch 6, 2015 at 4:10 pm
My husband just recently started getting upset if am on social media while we are driving somewhere together. I promised him the phone would be off limits in the car. It is a lot easier said than done!
Somewhere warm would be amazing right now but the Gaylord isn’t so bad, inside.
Kim Dalferes saysMarch 7, 2015 at 11:28 am
So wish I was with ya’ll at BAM at the Gaylord right now. Iv’e been checking in via social media – I know, given the topic of this post that’s a little ironic. I couldn’t make BAM this year, but so hope to be able to join the fun in 2016. Hugs to Sharon, Anne and all the cool girls!
Helene Cohen Bludman saysMarch 6, 2015 at 3:37 pm
It is scary to unplug sometimes, but I’m always more relaxed when I do, especially on vacation. Your getaway sounds amazing!!
Kim Dalferes saysMarch 7, 2015 at 11:16 am
We had a great time – I highly recommend an all-inclusive like the one we visited in Punta Cana. Helps to really unplug when all the decisions are made for you – no picking restaurants, entertainment, bars – it’s all there for you to enjoy in one happy place.
Marquita Herald saysMarch 6, 2015 at 3:12 pm
Sounds like a great trip Kimba even with the occasional slip. You have definitely given me something to think about because I’m planning my first real vacation in y-e-a-r-s and part of the planning was to pick up a smartphone and new iPad to make staying “connected” easier. I may need to rethink this …
Kim Dalferes saysMarch 7, 2015 at 10:46 am
Hey Marty, where are you going on vacation? I’m so envious of you, I picture every day as a vacation day in your neck of the woods. But of course you need to unplug too. You could use the new I-pad for reading, right?
Diane saysMarch 6, 2015 at 1:09 pm
For most of my life, I didn’t even own any electronics. Well, a stereo, but that is it. Now? Yikes! And I turn around and go back if I’ve forgotten my phone! I loved the picture conjured up at your words, “my inner beach girl peaked outside, giggled, and blew a kiss into the wind”. I need to be there. If only for a little while . . .
Kim Dalferes saysMarch 6, 2015 at 1:56 pm
Baby steps, right? Maybe we should start a hahstag – #unplugfor1hour. Who’s with me?
Amy Sherman saysMarch 6, 2015 at 12:31 pm
I am ashamed to admit how anxious I get when we are camping and have no phone access. It really takes a while to detox. I jump at the chance to reconnect as soon as possible. If only for a brief period. I share your mixed feelings. It has to be taken away from me, before I willingly unplug.
Kim Dalferes saysMarch 6, 2015 at 1:59 pm
Amy, I keep thinking about EBWW where we all had or coveted back-up portable chargers so we wouldn’t lose juice! It’s really hard for me to unplug now back at home. I gotta find some healthy balance.
Vicki saysMarch 6, 2015 at 12:26 pm
Since I don’t have “gizmos” to take with me, & only use my cellphone for emergencies/phone calls when away from home, I don’t have a problem with turning off tv, computer, etc. I would certainly appreciate an “unplugged” visit with my family. Maybe this is a challenge for a June visit..lol. But congrats on semi unplugging on your vacation.
Kim Dalferes saysMarch 6, 2015 at 2:00 pm
Well missy in your glass house, I know a certain someone who ha a bit of a crush on her candy crush game. Just sayin. 🙂
Caryn saysMarch 6, 2015 at 10:55 am
I LOVE THIS POST!!! Technology has become such an important feature in our daily lives, that the face to face connection with others and the time spent in nature, lost in thought or just being with ourselves, has disappeared over the past 20 years. In less than 3 hours I start my vacation. Ten days offline. The phone goes into the other room, only to come out when my daughter is out and may call to check in. The weather is shifting from 25 degrees to 70 and I am looking forward to the peacefulness of being in my own mind. Will I need a 12-step group for tech addicts, we shall see? But your post has encouraged me to feel that I CAN do it too! Thank you for sharing!
Kim Dalferes saysMarch 6, 2015 at 2:03 pm
Wishing you lots of warm, unplugged days of clear blue skies and never-ending laughter. Jealous here and reminded that I should take a little techno break this weekend.
Carol Cassara saysMarch 6, 2015 at 10:33 am
I applaud your intent and efforts… I’ve begun to unplug more and find it great for the soul!
Kim Dalferes saysMarch 6, 2015 at 2:01 pm
Absolutely. I’m trying to find ways to find a happy medium between cold turkey and wired up 24/7.
Kathi saysMarch 6, 2015 at 10:04 am
Good for you Kim!
I often find myself with the opposite problem. I want to unplug all the time. I love that we can keep in such close contact with family and friends, but some days I want to be a hermit…
Perhaps I am living in the wrong century?
Kim Dalferes saysMarch 6, 2015 at 2:05 pm
Kathi, your connection to the Universe inspires me all the time. You’re not a hermit, you’re grounded and at peace – how do you do it??