Monday, July 14, 2014

learning to be

It's been a week since I've written. And this blank white page and prompting and blinking cursor feels foreign and somehow comfortable all the same. The words and thoughts swirl and I sift through them looking for the ones that want to be told. My writing muscles are sore and rusty. This writing is so comfortable and so weird all the same. Naked. Vulnerable. It's been a little while and I make sure to discard surface thoughts to dig deeper into the heart.

I took a week off from writing because I wanted to spend less time in my head, less time on my computer and phone and more time in my present and in my life. I want to write a little bit less and live a little bit more. I need to remember why I write. Not for likes. Not for you to tell me I'm an awesome Mom or doing a great job. Because I feed on that- and then when I don't hear it I feel like crap. That's the OPPOSITE of self-esteem. The opposite of being present. The opposite of dream-chasing. I needed the swirling cycle to stop- and I realized that as the adult- no one was going to do it for me so I took a break. It was soothing and needed and awakening. The first day was itchy and twitchy and uncomfortable at times. And like anything hard, by days 2-3 I could feel it clearing from my system. My eyes opened wider. I could breathe better.

I realized everyone is on their cell phone. All the time.

At least that's what it felt like. All I noticed were phones. Like on the movie- Peewee's Big Adventure when Pee Wee gets his bike stolen- suddenly all he can see are bikes EVERYWHERE. That's how I saw phones. Blinking and loud and tapped on everywhere I looked. And it scares me because I was doing it too and I didn't even know it. I was even busy judging others on their cell phone use thinking I'm better because I do it less. At least I don't use it while checking out or while at the playground or while out with friends, I reasoned. I won't post more than 1 maybe 2 photos on Instagram a day. I take the weekends off.  It doesn't matter, I was still addicted. Addicted to being accessible and to accessing whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. I checked social media at least fifty times a day, and the constant checking made me feel emptier and starving for real connection- but I ignored that feeling and just checked more.

We were at the local outdoor shopping area the other day and I looked around at all the people walking around. It felt like the whole universe was on their phone, walking slowly, glued to the screen, a complete lack of expression on their face, tapping and scrolling like mad. It appeared as if zombies had taken over the nation and they were controlling us through these little rectangular devices they force us to carry and stare at all day long.

I saw a group of teenage girls out to dinner awhile back. Each girl had a cell phone at their side as if it were part of the place setting. They would take turns taking pictures and posting them to Instagram. Most likely with a caption along the lines of "Having so much fun at Starving Artists Cafe." And the rest of the dinner each phone would take a turn lighting up and each girl would attend to it immediately. At one point every girl was silent and focused on their phone. I sat there in fear about the future WE are creating. Not one girl was talking to each other, no one was focused on the live music playing. They weren't "Having fun at Starving Artists Cafe"- they were alone together in Internet Land.  Is this what we are teaching them? And then on the Fourth of July Holiday the couple behind us was on their cell phone during the entire fireworks display. They had that zombie face and they were tapping away at the glowing screen the entire time. It makes me sad- they missed all the pretty fire works. Where do we draw the line? One day will we walk down the aisle clutching our phone? Will doctors be scrolling and looking at their phone during our appointment? Will it be acceptable to text and Facebook during church? 

Whatever you love most in life gets your last touch or thought and night and first one in the morning. I guess I loved my phone most. The plugging in for five minutes here and there that accumulates to hours and stops us from calling a friend, writing a letter, texting, talking to God, mailing a card, visiting a friend or sitting in silence simply learning how to be. I learned I am TERRIBLE at being. I am working on it.

This past week away from my phone- It changed my life- it's that simple. I took Instagram and Facebook off my phone and only checked both a handful of times. For a week it changed the way I thought about EVERYTHING. Instead of finding myself lost in someone's cousins friends aunts wedding pictures I found myself in my own life. I called a friend. Visited someone- even if I only had twenty minutes.

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We invited friends over- which then led to a Saturday night invitation- and on Saturday night we went dancing- until midnight, and it was AMAZING. I wish I had pictures to show you but I was just too totally present there- in LIFE all week long. I made conscience efforts to be here and present- and it wasn't always easy. I took back the three minutes here and ten minutes there I spent on my phone. I practiced being. I realized I have my own very beautiful, robust life right here in front of me. How did I forget?

I soaked up regular old everyday life. Boring and beautiful and mine all mine.

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A lesson in numbers from Frank. Parker LOVES when you read letters to him.

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We Speeched. Look how hard he tries-even when it's hard. Especially when it's hard. If he can do hard things than so can I. And so can you.

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We napped. Nap time is my FAVORITE.

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So is wake up time with my Doodle.

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And we played. You should have seen him. He was singing, "Nuh nuh nuh nuh no mah?" (Do you want to build a snow man from FROZEN.) I don't want to miss these moments, and the thing is- we don't know if it's going to be one of those moments in advance. Sometimes we just have to take a chance and dive in.

Maybe you don't have a phone problem. I believe you- these words aren't for you then. Everyone else- I urge you, take whatever controls you MOST off your phone for a week. Make conscience efforts to replace it with good, healthy stuff. Just see what happens. It might just change your life. Actually- YOU might change your life.



  1. Bless your loving, intelligent, passionate heart!!! I love your words and those very special boys~

  2. I do not have a smart phone yet. I am addicted to my iPad when I am home, so I'm afraid of the smartphones. Too easy to check if it's in my pocket. ;)
    PS you do have two of the cutest little boys I have ever seen. This is coming from Mimi of five boys (and five girls), so I am kind of an expert on cute little boys. :)

    1. I keep holding out on a smart phone too and I know this is one of the reasons - I already think I am on the computer too much at home so at least when I'm out of the house, I'm unplugged. It is getting to the point where people are noticing and teasing me about it. I'm starting to play along and call it "vintage". It is over 5 years old! The main thing I would like is always having a camera with me - the one on my old phone is nothing and doesn't even work all the time. If I get a smart phone I have said I will not put the Facebook app on it. (at least that is my plan ...). Thanks Chrissy for your thoughts and perspective. I think we should all be aware of what we're doing so we can decide if that is what we really want to doing. It is so easy not to really be aware, like you described. I try to notice more now and ask myself what 'hole' I am trying to 'fill' when I find myself at the computer too long. But sometimes it takes me a while to come up to the surface for air long enough to be aware again. Thanks for the reminder to keep trying to be aware. I think it is worth it.

  3. Love this and totally agree that we all need a phone/technology detox every now and then!

  4. while i've missed your posts, you've inspired me and facebook and instagram are officially off of my phone! i feel liberated!

  5. Welcome back, friend :) I am so very happy you rediscovered your beautiful robust life! I hope you continue finding the joy in it. Your cyber friends will be right here looking forward to your discoveries.

    I promised I would start working on my happy & I am proud to report I have! When I really thought about the fact I am not constructively dealing with stress, it made me wonder why. I guess I thought, this is just life. I am a mom & wife & employee & student. This is just what comes with it. My mom didn't have an "outlet" my older sister didn't seem to need one - why would I? But I do. And so do they. So, I talked to the Hubs and I started back at the gym last night. That's my place. And Holy Smokes! I felt so different when I came home. Clearer and brighter. It was good.
    So, thank you for asking the questions & encouraging me to find happy. I believe I am getting started.
    So much love & happiness to you, sweet Momma xoxoxo Jen

  6. You're so right! I've stopped checking Facebook for over 2 months and have made an effort to actually meetup with friends and send birthday cards just like the good 'ol days. I feel more connected and much more present than ever before. It's ridiculous how some friendships, whom only live 10 miles away, we've never made an honest effort to get together. Yet, in the past on Facebook I'd get... "We need to get together soon!" Two years later we are finally had coffee together and couldn't figure out why we couldn't have done this sooner. It's so much nicer to be present. Love this post :)

  7. P.S. I love the photo of Frank and Doodle with the license plate numbers - just seeing that photo makes me feel happy :-)

  8. Lisa from Tennessee (and just a little bit Ohio)July 15, 2014 at 12:57 PM

    My husband and daughter don't understand why I don't have Facebook on my phone. On my previous phone, I didn't have it and didn't have it, and finally caved in and installed the app. I was always checking it. Then my phone broke and I got a new one. I haven't installed Facebook and I don't plan to. I check it in the evening when I get home from work. Do I miss posts from friends and acquaintances? I'm sure I do. But I can live with that. I won't get rid of Facebook completely, because it does allow me to keep in touch with friends and family who are far away. (from those back in Ohio, to a friend who moved to Israel and posts about the daily sirens and scares) But I do try to not let it rule my life. I used to be addicted to the games on Facebook. (Farmville, anyone?) But I made a conscious effort to stop playing them. I love that you unplugged! I want to do a tech free weekend one of these days! (Maybe soon, since we still haven't hooked up the cable in the new house!)

  9. Dear Chrissy,
    When I see Grayson, I see my Neil. Thank you so much for writing and posting. All the good, bad, and the best. It is ridiculously hard. So easy to escape these days; phone, computer, Netflix. But our boys bring us back. They live for the now. :) Much love, prayers, and gratitude. Love, Sadie and the Drake Boys.

  10. How very true and inspiring. I've been working on a mission statement for my life and a huge component of it is "authentic connections and interactions with others". It is so easy to mistake social media for real connections and it simply isn't. Nor is texting. A happy birthday wish on FB means very little in my opinion. And for goodness sakes, when you have a friend present with you, sharing a moment, put your phones away! Thank you for reminding us of this. I wish you much luck with the continuation of your techfree journey.

  11. Ah...thank you. I read this and when I finished I took Facebook and Instagram off my phone! woo hoo! I already feel free-er! I did miss you though and I was looking forward to your return. I have been so wonderfully refreshed by reading your last two posts. You have to receive so much JOY in just staring at those two beauties you have all day! They are gorgeous!

  12. Thanks for writing this! It is too true-- the phone, Facebook, thing is too much. It really does eat up so much time, while I complain I have no free time! Lisa

  13. Your blog is the only one I read regularly and I find you way with words so refreshing and inspiring and you speak right to me! I periodically delete FB and IG off my phone because I find myself checking too often: and what I realized about myself is that I always have to be doing something. When it wasn't those two things it turned into Pinterest or eBay or lately I'm obsessed with zillow! Oh my word, it's a massive problem. So I have to leave my phone behind altogether. My news years resolution this year was to not use my phones internet when the kids were awake. I would take calls or texts but no random Pinterest while they were playing right before my eyes. I have bad days where my evil phone sucks me in, but it helps a lot. I also told my 4 year old that if she sees mommy on my phone when she needs my attention it's ok to ask me nicely to put my phone up. Nothing hits me in the gut like that sweet little voice asking me to pay attention to real life instead. And what a beautiful and blessed life I have! Here's to breaking addictions and not being a drone! THANK you for writing this!