Day 3 – Tech Challenge – Waking Up

I’m only a few days into my little challenge, yet it has already opened my eyes well beyond any expectation I might have had.  I haven’t been able to see how unavailable I have been for my family, let alone change any shortcomings I could sense. 

A couple of dedicated hours a day is such a small thing, but I have been missing that precious time.  Incessant work and incessant everything else.  No slowing, no breathing, and definitely no stopping.

Yesterday we watched a kid movie, made dinner together, and turned the bottom couple inches of my 10 year old daughter’s hair burgundy. She was ecstatic (even though the truth is that you would have to know it’s there to see it).  Little moments. Big smiles. Major wins in the long run. 

I’ve been spending my time the wrong way regardless of all the good intentions behind that.  I have every valid reason to justify why those two hours have been focused on work or checking items of the critical tasks list.  Now those same reasons are dropping in value and priority at an exponential rate.  I have been missing what matters, and although I sensed it to some degree, I really wasn’t getting it. Hopefully I’m starting to do that now. 

Day 2 – Technology Challenge – Low Tech and High Insanity

a puzzle 1

All it took was one teeny puzzle to shred my last atom of sanity.  You won’t believe this story, but I have the photos.

It looks like a run of the mill puzzle.  However the activity I selected to fill yesterday’s tech break was so insane that you would not believe it if I didn’t have photos.  Had Willy Wonka strolled by and seen what I was doing, he would have raised a serious eyebrow and then steered all of the lucky golden ticket winners to a different part of the factory.  The build up and ultimate culmination in yesterday’s insanity explosion proceeded as follows:

Last week, I wanted the kids to put down the phones so I pulled out some unopened jigsaw puzzles.  My son picked this innocuous looking Star Wars puzzle.  He is smart as a whip, but for some weird reason, he absolutely stinks at these and always manages to stick pieces where they don’t belong.

puzzle 2a

Finished!  Or so I thought.

So as expected, I eventually had to get involved.  It took me a while to undo his incorrect pieces and then tackle the leftovers.  At last we finished the puzzle – yay!  But then – no yay.  Big big no yay.  Because we were totally missing a piece.  One frickin piece.  Everyone converged to search for the missing piece to no avail (as my two-year old walked away suspiciously…she has still refused to confess to the crime).

puzzle 2b

Back at ya Boba.

 

 

 

We have never ended with incomplete puzzles despite the numerous jigsaws we have tackled together.  We even have a spot at the new house to hang them.  Not dorky at all, right?  It’s in a back hallway where cool people aren’t invited so zip it!

puzzle 4

So now we have 2 puzzles.

 

 

 

 

 

I tried to forget it but the stupid thing got under my skin every time I passed it.  It gnawed at my brain for days.  But then I remembered how the kids had griped about how we somehow ended up with two of these!  I could find the piece and be done with the madness!  I dug through the game cabinet and found the puzzle…the puzzle that was NOT THE SAME PUZZLE.

a puzzle 3

For anyone keeping score at home with limited counting skills, I am at 3 puzzles.

By this point my crazy behavior generator was really kicking into gear.  I was hell bent on tracking down that last piece.  “Hello Amazon!  Prime delivery you say?  Yes and thank you.”  Two days later, I received the other other puzzle….the other other puzzle that once again did not match the puzzle I had purchased as shown in the item description and seller photo but that did match the incorrect other puzzle I already had in my possession.  I had the wrong damn puzzle AGAIN.

a puzzle 4

Yes – the double pack requirement put me at 5 puzzles.  1 original, 1 matching from the double pack, and 3 unwanted alternates.

“Hello Amazon?  About that puzzle.  I am having an inexplicable nervous breakdown and therefore need the actual puzzle I ordered….  Uh huh…  I see…  So to make sure that I actually will get the one I want, I will need to order the double set?  So I’ll have a third unwanted puzzle plus a whole one and one missing a piece?  You’re effing kidding me, right?  Also I want a return label asap for the initial wrong puzzle hose job.  Yes yes of course via prime!”  Argh yet again!!!

I received the replacement puzzle(s), returned the incorrect listing offender, and rallied the kids into action.  Which one of us would be the THE ONE!?!?!?  Who would find that piece before the others and have all of the nerd glory???

***Spoiler alert – NO ONE AT ALL.***

a puzzle 5

It would take some portion of each of these five pieces to complete the one missing spot.

Yeah.  We tested all of the hundreds of extra puzzle pieces in the spot.  None fit.  The kids almost took up drinking right then and there.  I was so confused and started to look through them again as the kids realized that their lives were too precious to waste any further time on this shiznet.  I’m a slower learner it seems.  But I did learn one thing I had not known before The Puzzle Situation.

Puzzles with the same picture on them are not necessarily cut the same way.  ARE YOU FRICKIN KIDDING ME.

Obviously just chucking the old puzzle or being even more rational and not worrying about the last piece at all was out of the question.  I contemplated cutting the five relevant pieces and sticking them together to fill the gap.  That was laughable so I quickly dismissed that thought.

And then technology turn off time rolled around, and the only reasonable alternative came into play.  Rather than have one puzzle missing one piece, I would fix it by putting together an entire other puzzle and yet still maintain the original puzzle with a missing piece.

a puzzle 6

I’m at a loss for words here folks.  There is no appropriate caption for this madness.

It was like watching myself through a two-way mirror as the person on the crazy side did the second puzzle above.  I had to finish it.  Did it change the missing piece in the other puzzle?  Clearly no.  Did it give me the sense of completion I wanted so I would then be able to discard the original?  You must be kidding.  After all we have been through together, I am going to ask to be buried with the damn thing.

As an inconceivable bonus, I now find myself wrestling with the two blue jokers below.  I’m not kidding.  The stupid blue boxes sit there incomplete, and the longer they are there, the more they bug me.  I hear them calling for me to put them together…  Where is the therapist who should be making fat cash off my madness?  And is it tech turn off time yet?  I have a couple…err…tasks…I need to complete.

a puzzle 7

I want to believe that I won’t tackle the other two, but I will.  W.  T.  F?????

 

 

 

 

Day 1 – Technology Challenge Follow-up

Before I set the two hour timer (actually it was a two and a half hour timer), I asked my husband / forced my kids to join me in the challenge. My husband laughed when I told him about it and said, “You’ll never survive that.” He wasn’t being unkind. He was being pragmatic. The only part of the statement that bothered me was his absolute sincerity and probable accuracy. However nothing motivates me more than someone telling me I can’t do something, so it was on like Donkey Kong!

The event started full of promise.  I had to tackle a jigsaw puzzle situation (yeah – I know – lame central but it has turned into a thing that will be explained later)  and the kids and husband bailed on me shortly thereafter. 

I played with the kids a bit and prepped dinner.  I also found time to read a book.  It was utterly luxurious.  Again – I know this sounds incredibly underwhelming, but I literally can’t remember the last time I read a book on a workday evening.  I have been working such crazy hours to the point that I sometimes work all night long. Until the sun comes up.  Not. My. Favorite. 

This was the first time I forced myself to shut down when wifi was still permitted and available. It was freeing. But…

But it was also extremely disconcerting. I lost count of the number of times I caught myself mentally reaching for my phone. I was bored.  Thank heavens for that book. I wanted to do fun stuff with my family, but they were excited to the level of “Eh” and maybe a little below that.  My husband had gone to work very early, so he basically slept through the whole gig. Challenge cheater.  I contemplated topics to write about and ran through my work to do lists in my mind.  The kids moved from super bored to rather annoying and made so much noise that I was afraid that they would wake my husband.  They spent a few minutes in their rooms and a few more doing the stairs (it’s my quick tactic when I need for them to clear out some of the frenetic kid energy).  The most disturbing moment was when the kids dashed for their own tech devices right after the challenge cutoff timer sounded. Their relief was palpable. 

What have I been teaching my kids by example? What have we been allowing and unintentionally maybe even encouraging them to do?  This was a challenge I set for myself, but I can already see the importance for my family, too.  

I knew that we needed to unplug more. I could see that we were doing a disservice to ourselves and our kids. However I grossly underestimated the importance of a couple of hours. I thought that we needed a bit of down time that might allow us to take a small break and enjoy the time together.  But in just one evening, I already realize that it’s much bigger and much more important than I had initially perceived.  I’m curious to see what the next evening will bring.

Day 1 – Technology Challenge

technology at rest

Please do not knock or ring doorbell.  Laptop is in sleep mode.

I’m going to hold a self-imposed technology challenge.  Please post comments with your feedback or tag me if you decide to take up the challenge as well.  I will tag your site here if you do.

For one week, I’m going to block out two prime time hours each evening when I will not allow myself to access any of my tech equipment.  These have to be hours when I would normally be found (at some point in that time span) using my cell phone / tablet / laptop / other laptop.  No texting or calling.  No googling or blogging.  No emailing or working.  Only being.  Being present with myself, my family, my pets, my friends – whatever.  Just NOT being with technology.

So many of us have become too connected and too accessible.  We forget to enjoy actual life instead of getting lost in a virtual world of hyperconnectivity and overstimulation.

I want to do something crazy like going out to dinner with my family while my phone stays at home and pines away longingly for my return.  We already have a firm no tech at the table rule, but even then, the cell is always comfortably and safely in reach…just in case.  In case of what?  What is it that I have to find right then on Google, Amazon, or IMDB that can’t wait a couple of hours?

It sounds so simple, but I know how I am.  For me, this will be more difficult than I would like to admit.  Maybe I’m alone in this sentiment, but based on what I see on the roads, in restaurants, and almost everywhere else I look, I don’t believe that I am.

Tech withdrawal updates to follow.

***MoJo***

Shalini is joining the game, too!  Check out her amazing blog at the link below.  She’s fabulous!!

https://bookreviewsbyshalini.wordpress.com
https://techalerter.wordpress.com

Nature, Nurture, and Not Sure

 

Garden

I love pallets.  They are heavy but free and have endless possibilities.

In my youth, I dreamed of being a stunt woman or / (ideally) and a rap video dancer.  As fate would have it, Run D.M.C. must have lost my number because that call never came.  The next most obvious option was for me to go into finance, so that’s where I headed.  I’m very good at it, I help many people, and I am valued at my company.  That’s what I do to pay the bills, and there is something oddly soothing about the black and white nature of calculations – either your numbers are right or they are wrong.  No gray areas.  However what I love to do is anything but black and white.  It pays no bills – actually it adds to them.  I adore creating things – gardens, murals for the kids’ rooms, random wood items, written pieces, etc.  I find it to be tremendously fulfilling to give life to something originally housed in your imagination even if it’s something simple.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My murals tend to be light and make an appearance when I want to spruce up spaces like this toy closet.  This was inspired by the adorable children’s book “The Pout Pout Fish.”

I take a tremulous walk across the right-brained left-brained tightrope every single day.  My older kids, however, seem to be firmly planted at opposite ends of the spectrum.  They are both fantastically creative and wildly clever in their own ways, but their directions seem so clear.

Fighters

Good vs Bad – this is his way (and his drawing)

My son is my eldest, and as is the way of many first born children, is all angles and clean lines.  School is easy.  There is right and there is wrong.  No middle ground.  Thankfully he is incredibly kind-hearted and dreams of helping people when he gets older.  I celebrate his natural tenacity and pray that it remains coupled with a conviction to change the world for the better.  He’s the kind of person that could do it, too.  He is misunderstood so often by kids his own age, and while that hurts my heart beyond words today, I know that this is a necessary part of his journey and that my boy is destined to shine.

Dragon Nursery

This is her drawing of a dragon nursery.  She has created enough dragon drawings to fill the internet.

My older daughter, on the other hand, is a fairy trapped in a human body.  She lives for all things magical, and art is her natural language.  School is much more challenging.  Most of her grades are good, but she has to work hard for them, and it definitely isn’t a labor of love.  Her tests come home laced with doodles and scribbles.  Her notes have dragons zooming between the words.  She doesn’t just enjoy creating things.  It’s who she is.  Last night we finally opened up a pack of modelling clay we have had for months.  She instantly constructed these wonderful funky critters and many more.

Jellyfish

So adorable, right?  So sweet, yes?  NO.  It’s a trick.  This kid will turn on you in an instant.  We have already been suckered in past the point of return.  Save yourselves and don’t fall for it!

And then there’s the tidbit.  It’s too early to tell exactly which way she will lean, but everyone in the family agrees that she will be prominent in the field of world domination.  DON’T TRUST THIS KID.  Her cuteness is the sneakiest facade you will ever see.

They are all so different yet so wonderfully awesome in their own ways.  I am in awe of their authenticity.  I envy the way they are who they are – no apologies, no excuses, no doubts.  I am proud of myself for encouraging them to embrace their natural gifts, but I wish that I could borrow a hint of the certainty they convey.

Even when you are born on the tightrope, finding your footing remains a delicate and tiresome balancing act.  I dream of picking a side and being able to trust that a net will be there to catch me when I do.

***MoJo***

 

The Bridge

Picture_20170624_135949042The heavy rain finally made its appearance today and with it came the perfect excuse to stay home and take it easy. To be clear, I would have done this had it been sunny instead, but the rain provided a plausible reason for my plan of inaction.

I’m sitting here listening to the rain and having one of those “So now what?” kind of moments.  These seem to be appearing with greater frequency lately. It’s as though something is calling to me, but I can’t quite make out what it is saying.

Unexpected opportunities appear at different times in our lives.  Sometimes you jump on the train, and sometimes you get thrown in kicking and screaming the whole way.  I feel like I’m standing by the tracks, but I can’t locate the train and I don’t have a clue where to look.

I reflect on my life and the different trains I have sought at varying times.  School, job, marriage, children.  They all came and each one had its own special gifts as well as its own special baggage compartment. Lucky for them, I brought matching luggage. But I knew that I wanted those. There was never a question and never a doubt.

I have always been able to believe my way into making life happen. If you aren’t into belief shaping your reality (which I very much am), think of it as being fiercely tenacious.  If you want something enough and you are willing to trust, honor your intuition, and dive in with everything you’ve got, I don’t doubt that you can have it – whatever that may be.  Truly.

The issue I face is that I don’t know what I am seeking now.  It’s as though I’m being “mostly authentic” to the person I really am, but that’s like saying it’s “mostly a real diamond.” There’s no middle ground to be found.

I feel like the bridge hidden beneath the water.  The key elements are below the surface.  Although the timing is beyond my control, the clouds will fade and the waters will recede.  My inability to discern its presence at this moment does not change the reality that it is there.  I am certain of it.

Picture_20170624_202809842

Wisdom can be found in the most random of places.

Picture_20170624_202714042

But that’s not a rule. Sometimes you just have to be glad that you got a cookie.

***MoJo***
<a href="https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/bridge/">Bridge</a>

Waiting


I sit here waiting for a tropical storm to make its presence known sometime in the next hour or so. We need the rain, but in this area of the country, there is a fine line between getting a solid soak and getting a solid flood.

I’ve always loved the rain though.  I relax as the skies darken and the trees begin to rustle and sway in the wind.  I love to lay in bed listening to the countless droplets pelt the roof as the thunder grumbles all around me.

I am waiting.  Waiting for the rain.  Waiting for the calm it gives me.  Waiting for the white noise to drown out the concerns circling my mind and praying for it to clear away my fears, my doubts, and my worries.

I find myself waiting for so much lately, but a wiser part of my soul recognizes what I’m missing whenever I get lost in this pattern of waiting.  I’m missing the joy in what is because I’m so focused on what will be.  And someday, whenever those other moments come – those moments for which I have – I know that the waiting will just shift to something else.

I go over checklists in my mind.  I run through activity after activity after activity that needs to be completed.  I cross off ten items and twenty more take their place.  It’s a list that will continue to grow until I learn how to release it.

Life is meant to be appreciated, not completed and checked off.  Right now, I feel like I’m missing so much of it.  I don’t always feel this way.  I don’t usually feel this way. 

But for now, for tonight, I wait for the rain.

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