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The week without a smartphone, part 2.

Read part 1 here.

My phone was still utterly and completely dead after we took it out of the rice and charged it on that Sunday. No amount of coaxing would bring it back to life.

We decided to order me a refurbished phone. But in the meantime, I was still phoneless.

While I had access to internet at our new place, where we moved into that Saturday, I did not have access to a phone in the following situations:

•  Waiting for the cleaning people to arrive at our apartment for a move-out cleaning. If there were any scheduling issues or changes, I wouldn’t know about them unless my husband drove back to tell me about them. In the end, it all went smoothly.

•  Using maps for directions as I drove to a new medical specialist’s office. I looked up directions beforehand and wrote a note to myself about which street to turn onto. Luckily, it turned out to be fairly easy to find.

•  Receiving e-mail notifications from my clients about possible new transcripts to proofread while I was away from home. I have notifications set on my phone so I can respond to them soon after I receive their message, no matter where I am at the time. Sometimes not responding immediately (especially if it’s a new client) can mean losing out on a job. While this could have been an issue at another time, it wasn’t this particular week.

•  Driving anywhere in my car. Now, I didn’t actually need my phone for this purpose, but I realized that I feel more secure having my phone with me in case my car suddenly broke down, etc.

•  Double-checking digital coupons in the grocery store. I often use the store’s app to reference these when we shop. Instead, I had to go off our list and what I remembered.

Despite some minor inconveniences, I also felt relieved and more free without my phone. When we went out to eat, I didn’t have a phone to distract me while we waited for our order. During meals in and outside our home, my husband and I make more eye contact and connected more with each other. When I didn’t have a phone that I could get out, he used his less.

For the past while, I’ve been receiving what I assume are spam phone calls. They rarely leave messages. When they do, it’s usually pitching a business loan or something along those lines. I didn’t miss the buzzing of my phone, only to discover it wasn’t a phone call I wanted to take anyway.

Without a smartphone, I didn’t have much inclination to check my e-mail or look at my Facebook feed or browse Yelp. When waiting for my husband to return the moving truck on Saturday, I sat in my car and just listened to a CD. With more of my attention focused on the music, the lyrics seemed crisper and clearer than ever before.

That is one thing to say about smartphones: they’re not terribly helpful for mindfulness. Aside from mindfulness or meditation apps, many of the functions often pull me out of the present moment.

My new phone arrived on Thursday, and we got service on it on Friday. It’s nice to know that I can now reach people and people can reach me if needed.

There was also a certain freedom to having space where I was away from internet and a phone, unreachable. I felt more present with myself than I usually am.

So now that we’re settling in our new place and I have a new phone, I am trying a new thing: to charge and keep my phone in a different room at night.

I also want to be more conscious of how I use my phone in general. It’s just not necessary to be connected all the time.

Not having a smartphone for a week was a good reminder for me to look up, to look around, to keep my phone out of view (or even out of reach) when I want to be present and connect more with myself and the people around me. Yes, it’s convenient to have a smartphone. But there’s so much more to life than having access to phone calls, messages, and the internet at all times.

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The week without a smartphone, part 1.

I wrote this last Friday, June 22, 2018.

I’m at the apartment. We officially move tomorrow, so I am taking care of the odds and ends.

We turned in our modem for our apartment and exchanged it for one for the condo, our new home. My computer has no wireless connection here.

My phone is out of service, at least for the time being, because my water bottle leaked in my purse this morning. It is currently sitting in a bag of rice for the next two days or so.

I am disconnected from the internet entirely. I am out of contact, out of reach.

On one hand, it’s nice. There’s a certain quiet I feel when I don’t have internet access. It’s like I’ve shut off all outside voices, ones that are often incessantly on even when I’m physically alone – unless I choose to unplug.

This feeling of quiet definitely helps me regulate after being overstimulated by the morning’s events of taking stuff over to the condo, discovering my phone wouldn’t work, and the stress of moving in general. It’s a lot to take in. I really don’t need to add any more outside stimulation.

I don’t currently have any transcripts to proofread. I have an out-of-office reply on my business e-mail for the next two days.

Other than missing the ability to communicate with my spouse, I really don’t need to be connected. I can pack, clean, do laundry, read, do Nia – all without an internet connection.

Yes, there were days before smartphones, and the time before that I would text. But really, the last time I didn’t have access to instant phone communication of some sort (aside from a few camping trip) was before I graduated from college, before I got my first cell phone in 2005. Compared with many of my college classmates, I was a late cell phone adopter. I remember my ex complaining that she couldn’t reach me easily, that it was annoying and inconvenient to have to leave a message on my landline voicemail and wait until I returned to my dorm room to get the message. I remember the freedom of traveling abroad and being connected only when I went to an internet café or library.

On the other hand, I found myself almost immediately wanting to reach for my phone, to check something, to check anything. Messages? Social media? E-mail? Yelp? Sometimes it actually doesn’t seem to matter what as long as it’s there. Maybe that’s the addictive nature of social media and technology: once you have access, it’s hard to consciously choose to stop. Yes, there are definitely things that I need to check on and keep up with. But how many e-mails do I actually get that are relevant each day? A few. How many times do I need to check social media? Maybe once or twice, maybe more if I’m looking for an answer to a question in one of my proofreading groups. How many times do I need to check the news to stay informed? Maybe twice a day or so, although there’s part of me that balks at that. I don’t need to be informed all the time, but I like to know what’s going on.

I do feel cut off. And it’s nice and freeing and it’s a bit disorienting.

The daily news cycle lately has been even more distressing. While I think it’s important for me to know what’s going on locally, nationally, globally, I don’t think keeping up on every detail constantly is necessarily healthy. I end up feeling distressed, frustrated, somewhat hopeless. More information on how to donate or help in some way adds some purpose and relief. But it’s important to be mindful of how much information to take in, what to do with it, and when to take a break.

I am relieved that I can shut it off for a little bit. Yes, I could go to the condo or Starbucks if I needed to get access to the internet. But I have things to do here.  And I definitely need the time to just be here and do what I need to do. There are certainly fewer distractions this way.

And this is a good reminder that I can consciously choose to step away, to disconnect, and unplug. The internet, with all its benefits and disadvantages, will be there when I need it. For now, I’m enjoying the quiet.

Disappointment, acceptance, begin again.

Last Tuesday morning, I was ready:  ready to write a blog entry about May Day, ready to begin teaching a new Nia class the next day.

And then the sharp, shooting pain started, enough that at one point I curled up in a fetal position on the floor. After hours in urgent care, the verdict was kidney stones, which I’d never had before in my life. If I have any say in the matter, I’d greatly prefer not to experience that kind of pain ever again.

That blog post still sits in my drafts folder, but is now outdated, irrelevant.

I had to call that next morning to say I couldn’t teach that Nia class that day, and hoped to start the next week (today). But largely due to past disappointments about someone else not making it to teach numerous times, people ended up losing interest. They weren’t willing to go again. The studio owner called me today to cancel the classes. Completely out of my control, all of it.

Having the kidney stones knocked me down for several days; the pain gradually receded to a dull soreness and exhaustion. Each day, I’ve gotten a little more energy. Now, I don’t feel quite 100% yet, but I’m getting closer.

Part of me thinks: this is a lesson in acceptance. Sometimes things happen and other things happen as a result. I did not hold control or blame in having kidney stones or losing the class. I also cannot pretend that it would have been helpful in any way to try to teach a first Nia class somewhere while that depleted and in pain.

I used to hate when my ex would say, “It is what it is,” but that’s true sometimes (Granted, I used to think that she said it in a way that really meant, “Life sucks, so just suck it up and deal with it.” I don’t mean it like that). Sometimes things happen, and they can be unfortunate and disappointing and invoke all kinds of emotional responses.

Earlier, I had a moment where I wanted to say to the people who wouldn’t try going to another Nia class to give me a chance. But I don’t know them. They don’t know me. My health issues aren’t personal to them. They don’t know that I would only miss teaching a class if I absolutely had to; they do know of the others who weren’t there to teach and disappointed them.

I can reason and rationalize and say that it was a huge unknown anyway, that it was a risk, that I didn’t know how it would go. And that’s true. But meant to be or not meant to be, that class isn’t happening anymore due to circumstances beyond my control. And maybe there is a better opportunity. Perhaps there will be another opportunity. For the moment, maybe not. In the meantime, I’m still teaching my one class per week, learning more routines, and continuing to practice Nia in my living room.

And I can allow myself to be disappointed, to let unfulfilled anticipation slowly ebb away in its own natural time. It’s a new beginning, a new activity that did not come to fruition. I need to step back for a moment before planting new seeds.

Whatever else is true, I have to have a kernel of faith here that my next ongoing class, wherever I teach it, will work out. Faith and hope are crucial for trying again. So maybe at some point,  I’ll reach out to another place, and see how it goes from there. Even in the midst of disappointment, other potential new beginnings are out there.

Friday link roundup 4/20

Prince’s original studio recording of Nothing Compares 2 U.

This website (and its app) can tell you the indigenous history of where you live.

Actress Molly Ringwald looks back at her roles in films such as Pretty in Pink in light of the age of #MeToo.

A women’s journey from doing self-care in the form of Netflix and bubble baths and wine (and a feeling of obligation) to radical self-care.

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern wore a Maori cloak during her visit to Buckingham palace. The images of this powerful woman are striking.

Recent songs on my head.

Sounds that have been on my head lately (follow the links if you want to hear more):

I’ve been learning a new Nia routine, called Deep Dive. While a variety of songs from the playlist run through my head throughout the day, this one, called Silence, is my favorite.

I’ve been watching/listening to the clips from Jesus Christ Superstar Live since they appeared on YouTube after the live broadcast last Sunday. Here is Sara Bareilles singing “I Don’t Know How to Love Him.”

So…Disney’s Frozen is opening as a full-fledged musical on Broadway, more complete with new songs by the movie’s original songwriting duo. They just released a video of one of the new songs, Monster,” sung by the woman who plays Elsa. I listened to it once, and later had to remember what it was because some of the lyrics kept on going through my head. And so I listened to it again. Here’s the link. (Note: I think it’s catchy, but not in the way “Let it Go” is. This one’s powerful, too, but more introspective with a little darkness thrown in.)

I hold no responsibility if any of these get on your head as well. It’s completely your choice to click the links, after all. 🙂

I want to remember: Trip to Washington

Two weeks ago, I went to visit my mom in Washington state for a long weekend. From Bellingham, we traveled to Langley, which a town is on Whitbey Island (southwest of Belligham, northwest of Seattle). The trip was refreshing: my mom and I had quality time together and it took me completely out of my regular life. I’m still savoring and holding onto memories from the trip. I wrote this so I can remember.

I want to remember:

The way the ceiling on my mom’s house stretches up,
how the windows frame the forest outside.
How the cat, grower slower and thinner with age, still remembers me
and meows in greeting.
The sight of Deception Pass,
the bridge above, water beneath, surrounding forest.
The fear of heights on human-made structures hit me as we walked a few feet on the bridge,
but the view — clouds, water, and islands —
is beautiful. worth it.
We walk down the path to catch a glimpse of the bridge through the trees
and find just the right angle.

One of the bunnies of Langley, WA

Langley:
We first noticed the sight of several bunnies, all different colors.
Not wild hares, but said to be the descendants from the county fair from years ago.
bunny

Water around, mainland across.
sun peaking through the clouds; a rare day without rain.
Walking on the beach, rocks creating slightly unstable terrain;
sort of like a rough foot massage through my shoes.
We try to walk in the sand, but it is not packed and our feet sink down.
We walk back to the more solid rocks.

water and sky

We peek in store windows,
browsing for places to explore the next day.
Savoring sunset, rays of sunlight hitting the mountains,
ordering pizza for dinner.

We turn in for the night.
Morning is: sleeping in,
breakfasting, a spread of food arranged
Greek scramble with feta
the next morning, it’s breakfast enchiladas
delicious muffins, and fruit.

The room at our bed and breakfast:
comfortable beds,
a gas fireplace where we sit as we look over photo albums,
a balcony that looks over the houses of the town,
the water of the bay at the edge of the view.

I want to remember:
the sense of ease and play.
views of the water in between browsing in shops
the delicious Pad Thai and chocolate caramel cheesecake
at the coffeeshop bookstore (yes, it’s both)

Pad Thai

Tasty Pad Thai

Our evening walk on the beach,
where we saw a heron, a bald eagle, and a loon.
Walking out on the dock, views of the Cascades,
the last rays of sunlight hitting them as the day begins to wane.

daffodils

The spring flowers: daffodils blooming.
pink blossoms on the trees.
The white buds and flowers on the magnolia tree.
Buds on tulips promising more to come.

Two days of ideal weather gave way to Monday’s rain,
a steady shower.
What we thought was the fire station turns out to be a
glass studio and shop, where the artist works and sells his goods.
Shelves upon shelves show vases, paperweights, flowers
He demonstrates to a customer, twirling the rod with hot glass,
forming something new.

We drive away along the coast, looking through trees
for glimpses of water.
The rain goes from sprinkle to steady drizzle;
our plan for a hike turns questionable.
Still, I want to see the beach on the western side of the island.
Luckily, the rain lightens.
We walk down to the rocky beach,
hear the waves lapping against the shore.
Across the water, we see the Olympic Mountains.
In the water, we see a seal, coming up for air.
Back up to the trail,
my senses heighten with the awareness of forest, water, and sky.

The Olympic Mountains.JPG

I want to remember:
the ease of conversations,
the laughter,
taking time out of our regular lives and
spending it together.

My spouse and produce shopping.

A moment at Smith’s this weekend:

I’m coming back to the produce section after grabbing a few items from the aisles. I find my husband explaining to to several people why and how he’s been tapping on apples to determine their crispness:

“If it sounds like a ‘thump’ when you tap it with your finger, it’ll be less crisp. If it sounds like a ‘ping,’ or a brighter sound, then it’ll be a crisp. Of course, this doesn’t apply golden delicious apples because they’re not crisp by nature.”

This isn’t the first time I’ve come back to find him in mid-explanation after people expressed curiosity about what exactly he was doing by holding and tapping individual apples. I’m sure it won’t be the last, either.

After the moment is over and the people have gone back to their shopping, I smile at him and give him a hug. “I love you,” I say. After all, how many people can say that their spouse gives produce-picking advice at grocery stores?