How to Reactivate Your Brain (Day 17)

pencil and paperPerhaps you read the title and thought to yourself, “I’m going to read this post because I could definitely use a few mental reboot techniques.”  If so, click elsewhere because this is not the post for you.  It was more of a question than an exciting opportunity for neuro rejuvenation.

This question is the direct result of my own clear mental deactivation as evidenced by the recent brain bumbling and stumbling during one of my tech turn off challenges (now a.k.a. family time) (because it sounds a little less daunting) (and it also sounds like you’re a weasel if you tell other family members that you don’t want to participate).

pencil and paper1At some point during our no technology family time, I decided that I want to run a calculation on something.  The conundrum I faced was that I was not allowed to use my phones or computers.  Hmmm.  How was I going to do this.  I sat contemplating other possible options that would be at my disposal yet not explicitly in violation of the challenge rules.

pencil and paper2A-ha!  I devised a plan!  I could use one of my old business calculators.  So I searched.  And I searched.  And I searched.  There was no business calculator to be found.  But a-ha once more because I could use one of my kids’ calculators from school!  Surely that would do the trick!  Irritatingly once more I failed to find a calculator after a few more minutes of searching.

I want to be making this nonsense up, and I want the story to end there.  But I’m not and it doesn’t.  Keep in mind, there was no impending meteor I needed to redirect and these numbers would be the key to Earth’s salvation.  I just reeeally wanted to run this calculation.  Also keep in mind that the calculation involved very basic math and that I do mathematics for a living (but via spreadsheets).

So I crept into my office and stared at my phone…  There it was on my desk.  Dark and quiet and oh so beautiful.  Just sitting there.  Waiting for me.  Calling to me.  “Joanna…I can do that basic math that your small human mind cannot comprehend…”  Yes I hear you phone…

I turned it on.  My heart was racing.  I was so stressed about this because I was nanoseconds away from complete tech challenge anarchy.  The phone was on and ready.  I just stood there.  I knew how disappointed I would be with myself if I used the phone.  I was already thoroughly dismayed at witnessing the crazy I had achieved up to that moment.  Would I completely blow past the line and full out break the rules for basic math that could wait?

Maybe.  I might have.  But then I remember an old set of tools I once used in my youth when I was faced a with mathematical question.  I have a suspicion that you know what I am going to say, but no, it wasn’t an abacus.  It was a frickin’ pencil and paper.

pencil and paper3

You cannot make this insanity up.  I had literally forgotten that I could solve the math myself.  I am a mathematician, and I am more than a little intelligent (or so I thought at some point prior to that moment).  I had become so grossly accustomed to accessing my technological assistants whenever I needed an answer that I didn’t remember to use my own mental assistants.  Based on the wildly embarrassing amount of time it took for me to recall such complex tools as “pencil and paper,” I’m thinking that those mental assistants of mine were either sleeping, picketing, or (most likely) assumed that they had been fired long ago based on lack of work.

The problem took twenty seconds to solve.  Maybe less.  I don’t know how long it had taken me to solve the problem of how I was going to solve the problem, but it was exponentially greater than twenty seconds.

We need to wake our brains back up!  We have to stop leaning on our tech and allowing it to think for us.

Given that it is called the tech turn off challenge, it’s pretty clear that I did not operate entirely within the intended boundaries.  Thankfully I did not access any of the tech functionality, and I learned a serious(-ly embarrassing yet eye-opening) lesson.  I avoided using the phone.  I also avoided admitting any of this to my family, as I learned that particular lesson years ago.  Some things are best left unsaid (and posted to the internet because no one there sees anything ever???)…

In hindsight I have full confidence that the Universe was watching the whole scene while shaking its head back and forth and eating popcorn.  You’re welcome Universe for the entertainment, and I thank you for the reminder in return.

Love, light and logic always – Joanna

Bumble

Seeing the Extraordinary

Extraordinary

I was so excited to see this passion flower in my garden and had to take this pic.  Admittedly my amusement hurdle has a pretty low bar, but it’s a seriously cool flower, no?  It has a raw savage beauty and fierceness all its own.  And of course as fate would have it, this led me to contemplation on a completely different level.

Just because you can’t see it in yourself doesn’t change the truth that you are beautiful and extraordinary.

We often fail to recognize the amazing beauty around us, but the real tragedy is when we fail to recognize the incredible beauty within us.  We are weird and magical and funky and unique and wonderful, and we should own every bit of it.

I’m going a bit out of order today and writing this before my daily tech turn off challenge occurs.  The technology turn off rule has become a standard expectation by all in the house, so we are sans tech for 2.5 hours every evening.  Although there have been a couple of debates regarding what should and shouldn’t fall into the challenge restrictions, the change has been received with overwhelming support by every family member here.  I would have never believed it, but I’m a big time fan of the results and am perpetually awed by everyone’s commitment.

So here are my goals for today.  I’m starting to add a few more to the list, but my minimum personal daily requirement is 3 goals.  Again that means that I have to write 3 goals that I can actually do today to improve my health, happiness, well-being, world, and / or personal joy.  I’m on a mission to be happy dammit, and my intention is to bring others along with me.  😉

  • Write a post to keep my momentum momentum-ing and hopefully speak to someone’s heart in the process.
  • Take a walk (and not just to the fridge).
  • Finish the quarter end files I need to submit by tomorrow.  I’m not excited about doing these spreadsheets, but I will be able to relax more once I have them off my plate.  This task will have to happen before or after tech turn off time.
  • Tackle at least 5 items in the laundry basket of shame looming behind me…  This is an ever-changing pile of papers that once resided on my desk.  Later the pile moved beside my desk.  At some point I think it was even under my desk.  It ended up in a laundry basket so we could stuff it in the car when we had a house showing a few weeks ago.  From that day forward, they stayed in the basket behind my desk chair.  I’m pretty confident that the pile has now started to reproduce as I see other pile children in there (little pilettes).  I don’t know why I have been stalling on going through these.  I started avoiding eye contact with the basket several days ago and have continued to refuse to address our ongoing lack of interaction.  Please note that I really wanted to type “Deal with everything in the laundry basket” at beginning of this bullet point, but I didn’t think that it sounded realistic.

The point is to set goals that I will do today.  These goals need to be important enough to mandate completion on the same day or small enough to eliminate any excuses I could create to avoid them.  It does me no good to set a goal I can’t honestly 100% commit myself to doing.  So those are my goals, and that’s going to be how I finish out my lucky 13th day.

It doesn’t require much effort, but you still have to be willing to go after your happiness.  Create your joy, and stop waiting for your life to come to you.  Go get it!

I hope that you have a beautiful Sunday and an amazing week!  🙂

***Joanna***

(Day 13)

Savage

Day 8 – Celebrating Our Freedom (from Tyranny & Tech)

We hung out with the family for most of the day.  I was techless for the vast majority of it.  I was irked whenever I noticed my dad locked into his phone, but it didn’t happen too often, and again, I recognize that I just have to let it go.

Zip it Elsa and stay off my radio!  This mom wants to hear the Beastie Boys.

No big epiphanies. Just a nice family day tuned into each other instead of our phones.  It was lovely.

Day 6 & 7 – Tech Challenge – Week 1 Win

Well the first week of the tech turn off challenge was indisputably a solid win.  I finished out the week by logging off early from work (early for me which is actually deemed late in the standard work day) so I could make dinner and watch a movie with my family.  My kids got along (except when they didn’t), we were patient throughout their antics (except when we weren’t), and my two-year old loved the movie (except when she sat on my head, fell on the dog, ran around taking her clothes off, and had a tantrum because someone touched a toy she hadn’t looked at for three weeks).  It was nice and as relaxing as we could hope for given the age range under this roof.

It’s definitely been an eye opener of a week, and I am going to see how long I can keep it in play.  I’ve watched more movies, made more dinners, and done less overtime.  I’ve even read half of an actual book and showered daily!  I recognize that those should not be challenges for the normal world, but I still won’t let you steal my literate so fresh and so clean clean moment.

These devices are serious double-edged swords.  They are convenient, fun and entertaining, but they are also tremendously distracting, invasive and impersonal.  We believe that they help us connect with others, but they can also be a serious wedge in our personal relationships.  And if we know anything about wedges, it’s that we must pick them when they start to dig in.  Wedge wisdom.  You’re welcome.

Consider trying a one week tech turn off.  Try it for one hour or even thirty minutes.  It may shock you to realize how much you really are missing by making sure that you stay by your phone to avoid just that.  And if nothing changes, you can tell me.how totally wrong I am, and that’s always fun, too!  Who doesn’t like shoving a good eyeroll back at their fellow well-meaning man/woman.  You have nothing to lose.  (But you do have a lot to gain!)

Day 5 – Tech Turn Off – When the Tables Turn

My daily two hour tech break is about meet the one week goal.  I’m so intrigued with the results thus far that I’m going to see how many days I can actually keep it up before I fall off the iWagon.  In truth, my wagon runs off Android.

To my incessant surprise, I have genuinely enjoyed each day of tech turn off time.  However I have noticed one issue that simultaneously grates on my nerves.  I have become excessively congnizant of how shut out and irritated I feel whenever someone else continues to tech away instead.  It’s utterly unfair on my part.  

This was a challenge I set for myself and my kids.  I had hoped that my husband would be all in, and considering that it wasn’t his idea, he’s had a pretty good participation rate.  The problem is that I don’t do “pretty good.”  I’m all or nothing.  Do or do not.  There is not try.  You’re my boy Yoda!

But it’s an unreasonable and unfair ask on my part.  I have been much worse than him for years.  Now a handful of days have gone by and my epiphany has not managed to totally invade his conciousness.  No big shocker there.  He didn’t ask for this.  He’s a smart guy, so I would suspect that his primary goal for playing along in the first place is keeping his wife’s nag factor at the lowest possible level.

And he isn’t the only one who keeps teching away when we are having family fun time (that’s what my kids call it and they don’t even say it with snark – that’s a win in my world).  My dad doesn’t even know about tech turn off time, but my frustration with him is more general in nature.  If you are hanging out with your children and their family, can’t Facebook wait?  Can’t you bitch about politics and share pictures of skateboarding dogs later?

Once again, this is an extremely unfair of me.  I’ve spent countless hours on a phone with my kids right next to me.  I wasn’t at all focused on them, and if I would ask my dad to please stop that, he absolutely would.  

We often hear how the characteristics that frustrate us with other people are the very aspects of ourselves that we dislike the most in ourselves.  I see myself mirrored in these actions, and I know that I’m bothered that I can’t undo all the time I already lost. 

So I guess my ultimate spiritual revelation from day 5 was this – I need to shut up and get over it.  Focus on me. Let them do their own thing. Remove the stone from my own phone before tackling their speck yada yada yada…

Day 4 – Tech Challenge – Out to Lunch

If you are going to be on your phone throughout your meal, you might as well tell everyone with you to sit like this (because that’s how it feels to them).

We went to dinner during tech turn off time. This wasn’t much of a challenge for us, but it seemed like the challenge might be a worthy idea for at least a quarter of other restaurant patrons. It was the same sad scene that we could have found at any restaurant.  There were tables full of people on hot dates with their tablets and phones. 

What’s the point of going out with each other? Maybe someone really dislikes cooking and clean up, but why bother bringing anyone with you? These moments matter.   It’s worth taking a few minutes to savor the food and the company.  Another tech break for the win. This tech turn off gig is starting to turn into a habit. 

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