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Unplugging To Connect

Sooooo…

If you can’t tell, I haven’t been online very much over the last week…

AND IT IS FRUSTRATING THE BEGEEZUS OUT OF ME!

I have been traveling in Paris over the last 9 days with extremely unreliable wifi.  It’s my fault for depending solely on hotel wifi rather than springing for the international data package.

In fact, while writing this post, I was disconnected and almost lost all of it.  Garrrr

There have been negative and positive outcomes from this experience, however.

Over the last few days, I have felt the frustrating/liberating effect of being disconnected, and wanted to share with you all my first-hand lessons from my trip thus far.

Here’s some of my experience over the past week+ and what I’ve learned from it…

The Positive

I’ve been traveling with my new fiancée, and being disconnected from my blog has allowed me to spend more time with him and simply enjoy this adventure that I’m on.

We’ve been eating very un-personal-trainer-y things and walking all over the city.  We even went to Disneyland Paris (one of my life-list items is to go to every Disney park in the world)!

Knowing that I couldn’t check email was actually quite nice.  

I didn’t need to be with anyone else than who I was with at that moment, which allowed me to fully connect to the experience.

The tastes.  The sights.  The cold- it’s 32 outside right now… I consider 60 to be pretty chilly…

Disconnecting from the virtual world allowed me space to connect to the present one.

The Negative

There were many instances in which any kind of connection would have been helpful…

Google translator, for instance.  We tried to speak French, but our few free podcasts that promised conversational French in 15 minutes a day ended up helping us only to a certain point… which ended right after “Bonjour.”

A metro map; Paris is known for its pick-pockets.  We might as well have worn neon t-shirts marked “TOURIST” when we had to bring out our humongous fold-out map after exiting metro stations.

The moment my boyfriend became my fiancée at Sacre Couer was one that I really wanted to share with my parents, but alas, I had to wait until I got back to the hotel and pay for an hour of wifi so I could use my G-chat to call them.

And finally: Knowing I can’t check email is one thing.  Knowing I can’t comment back to readers or write back to coaching clients is quite another.

I have fought long and hard to find a career that I am passionate about.  I truly love what I do and am passionate about Strong Inside Out  becoming a supportive, motivating community.  Not being connected to it at any point feels unnatural and downright wrong.

My outlet is writing.  Without it, I feel a bit emotionally constipated.  In this way, it disconnected me from my current state: I write here to work things out in my head.  Not having this resource kept my head jumbly and less clear than usual.

All of these things I take for granted back in the states.  Here, I could stomp my feet as much as I wanted, but still couldn’t do anything about it.

Finding Balance

Though I admit I am over-connected back in the US, I feel like I have been a bit stunted by the lack of it over here.  Through this experience, I have added a resolution to my list for this year to begin immediately:

For one full day of the week, leave your data pack at home.

This means: concentrate on your present first-hand relationships; do things outside that interest you; experience life in the present!

I have been working toward this step for a while, but I think that after this trip, my what-am-I-missing-phobia can take a backseat to life itself.

I think we could all use a bit of disconnection to help us connect to the present.  What do you think?

Are you plugged in to too many sources?  Are you struggling to find balance with your connection to the TV, your phone, or the computer?  What would it be like to–even for 5 hours one day a week–turn those gadgets off?


photo 1 by linh.ngân, the rest by me

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20 Responses to “Unplugging To Connect”

  1. El Edwards says:

    “Leave your data pack at home” I like that :-) It was when one of my children told me that I loved my phone that I knew I had to do something about my connection issues. I said, nope, I don’t love my phone, I love you and daddy and Caitlin and Michael. My phone is just stuff. I don’t love stuff. But of course actions speak far louder than words and so I tend to leave my phone on my desk now so I can give them my time and save work stuff for work time. I was surprised at how quickly I got used to the change (and it’s definitely for the better!)

    • Amy says:

      That is exactly what I am striving for. It is important to let the people that matter most to you that… well… they matter more to you than facebook. You say it very well: “My phone is just stuff. I don’t love stuff.”

      When you’re having a bad day, or just need to talk to someone about something, talking to someone–hearing their voice–can be so much more powerful than IMing or texting would be.

      It all comes down to priorities, right? That’s where I have the trouble- Strong Inside Out IS a huge priority for me! Balancing that with my relationships is sometimes not the easiest thing to do. I’m working on it. ;)

  2. Sue Mitchell says:

    Amy, this is so interesting to hear about your experience being unintentionally disconnected. Computers and the internet are as addictive as crack cocaine. I speak from firsthand experience. Like you, I’m working toward one full day a week without checking email, Googling, etc.

    I had to laugh, though, about not processing your feelings through writing because you didn’t have access to your blog. Back in the day when we had to walk to school through 6-foot snowdrifts, uphill both ways, we had these things called “paper journals” and “pens.” LOL.

    Speaking of which, I’ve been playing around with when the computer is the best way for me to process my thoughts and when pen and paper is. I’m finding that often, the pen and paper is much better at allowing me to drift into that introspective state. I can write a little, and then stare off into space a little, doodle a little, write a little. It’s a much more relaxing feeling than banging out 1,000 words a minute on a keyboard, and I can access different insights that way.

    You’re absolutely right that the digital age is a mixed blessing, but there’s no going back. I guess we just need to learn to adapt to it and figure out ways to maximize its usefulness and minimize the drawbacks.

    I didn’t realize you got engaged in Paris. Now I want to hear the story even more! Spill it! :)

    • Amy says:

      Ha! I totally agree with you, Sue! After I published this and was walking around earlier (away from any wifi/data connection), I thought about how I could just pull out a piece of paper and a GD pencil and express the old-school way sans MacBook! Your comment made me laugh out loud!

      It’s interesting that you write more introspectively on paper- I’m the opposite. Because I type much faster than I write free-hand, I find that jotting down notes on paper causes me to miss thoughts. I have trouble keeping up with my brain on paper!

      I do miss doodling, though. I haven’t really done that in a while, but if you saw my notebooks from school you’d think I took notes in pictures. Something to delve into again…

      I have to be careful about how much I say about the engagement! I’m not the only one involved! ;)

  3. Kimberly says:

    Congratulations on getting Engaged!

    The other day I left my phone at home (by accident) and realized it was kind of nice not constantly grabbing it to check things. I think I might start leaving my phone at home more often.

  4. Barbara says:

    Hi there, just wanted to say that 1. I found your blog randomly and really like it and 2. fiancéE is for the girl, you should refer to your BF as you fiancé without the E (I am French, so thought I would let you know).
    Anyway, sacré coeur is a very romantic place to get engaged, much more romantic then in the middle of an argument in Berlin like me! :)

    • Amy says:

      Hi Barbara! Welcome to the site!

      So glad you’re liking it!

      Thank you for the spelling heads-up. I ran into quite a few words that are very close to other words and we had some trouble distinguishing between the masculine and feminine. I’m actually working on a post on the topic of communication!

  5. Timo Kiander says:

    Amy,

    That is a great decision you have made!

    Just recently, I decided not to work on Sundays, so it is still going to take some effort until I can be totally offline for a day.

    You know, being offline is like the old days … people weren’t connected then and in some ways I miss that time. Maybe we were dealing with each other more often (physically), because there weren’t cell phones or Internet.

    Cheers,
    Timo

    • Amy says:

      Sunday is the day I chose as well. I do feel like it forces us to deal with people face-to-face more than I usually would, which is a very good thing!

      I want to work toward a totally off-line day, but for right now, I have decided just to leave the internet connection at home while I’m out with friends and loved ones… at night I’ll still have it. ;)

  6. Vishnu says:

    Enjoy the moment Amy – take a break! (A digital fasts of sorts like Sandra Pawula wrote her ebook about). We understand – both readers and potential clients – how about a simple out of office notice on emails? :) Congrats on the engagement.

    • Amy says:

      Thanks, Vishnu!

      I did warn everyone that I wasn’t sure what it would be like with the wifi over here and I’m so glad I did. I really didn’t think it would be this difficult since I was able to stay so connected in Costa Rica!

      I did enjoy it very much, though. Hope you’re having a good start to the new year too, Vishnu! :)

  7. Jessica N says:

    Aww sounds like you had a great time! Paris is an amazing and romantic city, I’ve only been once – Loved it. “which ended right after “Bonjour.”” haha I know that feeling! atleast you tried :)

    • Amy says:

      Thank you, Jessica! We did have a wonderfully romantic time. I really loved that city, but I’m definitely more of a beach girl… especially when it dropped to 2 degrees Celsius… Why does it ever get that cold ANYWHERE?! ;)

  8. totally agree. we are too engrossed in being connected with everyone except those who are right in front of us
    i find it strange to go to dinner and see coupes dining together, which I suppose is the quality time with each other, and yet both of them are on BOTh their Iphones and blackberry….

    Noch Noch

    • Amy says:

      Oooh, that’s one of my pet peeves! Ever since I was a server, I’ve been particularly aware of couples that dine together while texting, emailing, or talking to others on the phone. I am not a fan.

      I don’t go THAT far, but I could definitely stand to put my phone away more often. I think we all could!

  9. Treena Wynes says:

    I find when I am wired in, I am wired up. I learned I needed at least a full hour away from any glowing screen in order to fall asleep at night. Knowing a good sleep is essential for good health I follow this ritual.

    • Amy says:

      Very true, Treena. That’s something I’ve been doing lately as well. I’m not being very strict with myself, but it’s getting there!

  10. Siriussols says:

    I am very happy to see that you shared your personal experiences with everyone.It expresses your happiness.

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