Daily Unplugging – It Is Possible!

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Over the past week I’ve traded roughly the same amount of daily online time to be out of the house instead.  I’ve roamed the county with my children, Lucy the puppy, and a couple friends.  The mornings are gloomy and foggy up here in the mountains, and they’ve put me into a funk despite using my Sunbox bright light and drinking my beloved java.  I am thankful that these grim, drizzly mornings turn into beautiful afternoons complete with sunshine and clouds wafting across blue skies.  Good weather makes a huge difference in my ability to haul myself and the girls out the door.    

I’m excited to share with you that I attended my first puppy training class with my two daughters last night.  Although our Petsmart instructor is probably half my age, she’s a bona fide puppy whisperer – she’s simply awesome!  “B.” was skilled at explaining concepts clearly and while she was nice, she was stern, and I liked that about her.  At the start of class, B. asked us what other mammal is similar to dogs in terms of training techniques.  Somehow I knew the answer.  My arm shot up and I called out excitedly, “Dolphins!”  At one point during college I seriously considered studying dolphins.  B. informed us that she has actually worked with dolphins at my alma mater University of California at Santa Cruz.  I was thrilled when she told us that dolphins and dogs share training techniques in common, and it was fun to be in a class with puppies as my classmates.  

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As far as my unplugging goes, it has only been for three days to be exact, but it feels like a lot longer than that!  I still check out Facebook, email and Twitter each morning while drinking coffee.  In the evenings I love reading other blogs on my Kindle while I work out on my elliptical – I make cryptic comments using my index finger on the tiny screen.  But during the  day it has felt healthier for me to lessen the amount of time I’ve been glued to my MacBook Pro and Kindle.  I don’t have a smart phone, which for me is a very good thing.  I can’t check the internet once I leave the house unless I bring my Kindle to a friendly unlocked WiFi zone.  

I was further inspired by my blogging friend extraordinaire Kitt’s blog kittomalley.com.  (a.k.a. Kitt O’Malley – Living with Bipolar Disorder. Loved by God.)

Her post “Doctor’s Orders” was published this week, and its primary topic seemed like a great omen.   If you too find yourself challenged with spending an excessive amount of time online, you must read this post:

http://kittomalley.com/2014/07/09/doctors-orders/

As much as I despise labels, I know I’ve been obsessive-compulsive in checking emails, surfing Facebook, doing wacky Google searches and the like.   If I keep up this excessive behavior, I could see myself becoming burned out soon.  Then I would most likely cut myself off from the online communities and blogosphere that I’ve come to treasure.  I don’t want that to happen!  So if it takes a few days longer for me to reply to comments, to read blogs and contribute comments than I ideally would like, I realize it’s no big deal.  If I skip writing a blog post, no one is going to perish!  What matters is the total amount of time I spend each day wrapped up in the internet.  

I know the following statement is utterly obvious, but I haven’t internalized it until now:

The more I develop my life outside my laptop, the more I can bring back to share in my blog and other online outlets.

It won’t be easy to get out regularly, as my social anxiety continues to loom large, but I’m going to do it anyway.  Having children and a feisty, energetic puppy forces me to plan excursions.  We live near a ton of beautiful parks, and there’s locally owned Coffee 9 where the baristas are friendly, and Lucy can sit outside on the patio, loving the inevitable compliments from passerby.

What do you do for fun when you leave the house?  I’d love to know!  

Have a great weekend!!! 

Dyane

I took this photo of Lucy yesterday at the park.  Earlier that day I brought the girls to Petsmart where they begged me to buy Lucy this “dog dress” for $2.99.  I’ve always felt dogs shouldn’t wear clothes, but I caved this one time.  Mark my words, never again!!!

 

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Unplug Sunday – To unplug or not to unplug? That is the question!

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My psychiatrist Dr. D., the best psychiatrist I’ve ever seen, has shared with me about healthy habits he incorporates into his life.  Some examples include: he meditates daily, he’s deeply committed to a faith, and he “unplugs” on Sundays.  He genuinely seems like a happy, mellow guy.  Dr. D. is onto something good, that’s for sure, and God knows I’d like to be more easygoing and grounded like him.

When Dr. D. told me about his unplugging habit, I almost gasped.  That was when I was still in love with Facebook.  I recently returned to using Facebook after a long hiatus, and I was having a blast with it. When I opened a Twitter account it added fuel to my plugged-in fire.  Don’t even get me started about emails – I’ve always been a bit overzealous with them long before Facebook got off the ground in 2004.

To top things off, I discovered that if I could find a good network  signal, my Kindle Fire could connect to the internet when I was out and about.  In using all these devices I wasn’t manic by any means, for I wasn’t up at all hours online or doing anything foolish.  I was simply online too much and I used Facebook and Twitter to procrastinate on exciting tasks I should have been doing, like researching my Medicare drug plan and starting traffic school. 🙂

Then I started my blog “Birth of a New Brain”.  Filling my hours with blogging and reading others’ blogs made the time while my girls were at school made the hours fly by.

But as I got more and more active with Facebook, and Twitter, I developed the “I might miss something really important if I’m not online every few minutes” syndrome.  A couple Facebook friends I admired seemed to have the same affliction as me.  They both mentioned to me that they were going to leave Facebook for while.  I realized that I was felt tempted to take an Facebook vacation of my own.

Early this morning, I realized that my joyful use of Facebook and Twitter and my love for blogging are becoming besmirched. (Besmirched is such a great word:”to soil, to detract from the honor or luster of”.)  In any case, I’ve become too obsessive in using Facebook, Twitter and blogging.  Both of my daughters tease me about being on the computer too much; they are absolutely right, and their observation makes me feel lower than a anaconda’s belly.

This morning I also panicked because the coming day had a complete lack of structured plans, and that unnerved me.  My Facebook/blog routine is firmly set in place each morning.  I wake up earlier than the rest of my family, take my meds, eat pomegranate Greek yogurt, and make my blessed coffee.  I prepare the girls’ lunches and pack snacks.  Then I sit in in front of my Sunbox for half an hour to Facebook/Tweet/email to my heart’s content.  The thought of giving this routine up for even one day a week freaks me out.  But maybe, just maybe, I’ll appreciate my social media all the more if I take a 24-hour-long hiatus each week.  I need to reassure myself that if something really important happens online, I’ll find out about it eventually and the sky won’t come falling down.

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In what could have only been divine timing and a good omen, this afternoon I came across a blog post by the writer Cristi Comes of the acclaimed blog “Motherhood Unadorned”.  Her article is titled “When Blogging and Social Media Overwhelms”, and it was exactly type of subject I wanted to read about.  I’m superstitious and a believer in signs and in my opinion, this was a bold sign from the universe that I needed to read her post immediately.

Cristi’s post was a fascinating, personal read.  Her social media experience was relevant to so many, and her post gave me hope for dealing with my online addictions in a healthier way.  I couldn’t figure out how to “reblog” her post, so I’m pasting the link for you below.  (Cristi’s blog is worth checking out for many other reasons as well; she’s also an editor at Postpartum Progress and an amazing mental health advocate!)

http://www.motherhoodunadorned.com/2012/08/15/bloggingandsocialmedia/

I’ll definitely report back about my quest to unplug on Sundays (or maybe another day of the week!) and I promise I won’t lie if there are slip-ups.  There’s a reason I call my Kindle my third child…it’s going to be tough to cut off my virtual stimulation, but I have a strong feeling unplugging will be worth it so I can focus on something else besides a screen.

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