A Week Off

Good morning! If you’ve missed this post because you’re a link clicker then I must apologize. I’m on vacation this week, from teaching and training, from busy city life, and the normal rushed routine. I probably should take a break from writing as well, but lately I’ve been inspired by so many amazing people in the industry (Bernadette Marie, Courtney Davis, James Redmond, Calina and Saylet from “Shhh…We’re Reading Dirty Books”, my writing partner/mentor/coach Kerrie Flanagan, and the amazing group at Northern Colorado Writers as well as Wyoming Writers, Inc.) that it feels more like playing to write and I’m getting a lot of plot holes solved, new material written, and future projects planned.

Part of this inspiration and feeling like my brain is opening up like a flower to sunshine is that I am also taking a break from my social media accounts. Now I KNOW that it’s vital for an author to have a platform and a presence online and I respect that. The problem is that the programs and algorithms used on most of those sites are addictive. Even if your site is professional-based and you try not to interact with anything too volatile. Humans can’t help but be captivated by moving pictures, emotional stories, and the addictive ‘hits’ of clicking on ever-expanding information forums. Whether it’s an endless scroll of pit bull montages, emu interruptions, cats knocking shit off of tables, or the drama that finds and sinks talons into our stress response, it all occupies valuable creative space in our brains. I’ve been off the social media sauce since Saturday night and I actually feel pretty good.

Clearer.

Able to hear myself think…without so many other voices interjecting.

And when I’m bored or fidgety, instead of hopping on line to feed my constant need for entertainment, I’m writing. Or reading. Or running. Or meditating. Or sitting still and staring off into space and not thinking of anything in particular but how the sunshine feels on my back, or the cold nose of my dog, or my children’s laughter someplace in the house.

And letting my mind be bored and sit alone with itself has helped me reconnect with who I am, and what I want outside of the expectations of work and life, and social interactions. Rather than feeling the pressure of who I should be, and what I should want. Instead of stewing in past mistakes and regrets, or worrying over future anxieties of ‘what ifs’, I’m keeping my mind in the present, and focusing on the real moments I’m living, right now.

So, I’m sorry I’ll miss you online this week. Know that it’s a healing and healthy process for me and that I’ll be back sometime…filling your feeds with useless writing memes and loving all the pictures of your dogs and babies, celebrating your successes, and offering sympathy to your losses. But let’s be real for a moment, you don’t need my clicks to know that I love you. That I’m thinking about you. That I’m on the side of your happiness and wellbeing. Because of that I would ask that you try this out yourself. Just for a little while, enjoy some ‘radio silence’ and get to know yourself again.

See you soon.

The Beauty of Quiet

You can feel it, like a vibrating pulse, constantly surrounding us. It’s in the buzz of the lights, the ringing of phones, the blip of messenger, the ping of news alerts. It’s the hum of electrical devices and the glow of screens. It’s a blanket of noise and light, sound and motion. It’s the modern, ‘marvelous’ world we live in.

And it’s killing us.

Our brains are beautiful machines, designed to process incoming information from our senses and filtered through our own experiences and knowledge until they are the equivalent of a constantly running mainframe that makes millions of decisions a day, from a billion different choices and scenarios. And we live in a world where the information is at hand in any moment we desire, from thousands of different outlets and devices, constantly spewing out anything you’d like to know and most things you wish you didn’t.

And yet our brain no longer knows itself.

With a constant barrage of noise and information from outside along with the endless distractions permanently affixed into the palm of our hands, we have lost our ability to know who we really are and what is really important to us.

After all, without quiet alone time, our thoughts and therefore our minds become products of all that we take in. Without solitude for true self-reflect, unplugging, and just being in our own heads, we become part of the noise, this capitalist driven machine that has stopped questioning what it really means to be happy. Implanting ideas of material wealth and social forum acceptance as the cure all to the emptiness we feel.

We are too busy, we are too distracted, we are devoid of personal and private time. Our lives have become fishbowls; both open for inspection from anyone paying attention and also offering 360-degree views of everyone else’s business.

When was the last time you took 15 minutes of complete silence, without any external distraction?

Don’t have the time? It’s equivalent to about two Facebook checks, three cute cat videos, or two over-polarized news articles.

Don’t think silence makes a difference?

In a study published by Psychology Today, quiet contemplation was proven to dramatically improve our brain’s ability to sleep more soundly, stave off depression and anxiety, improve cognitive and behavioral function and even help fight chronic pain.

(Ahmad, S. (2019, July 17). Meditation and Mental Health. Retrieved January 19, 2020, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/balanced/201907/meditation-and-mental-health)

We all know what happens when a computer overheats. Shit starts to go wrong.

Very wrong.

Depression and anxiety have never been at higher levels. Everyone on this planet is walking around with their nose stuck to screens waiting for the world to tell us what to value, what to be, what to feel…Waiting to tell us that we’re good enough. When the only person we should be seeking these answers from is ourselves.

I know it’s a little ironic to be preaching a sermon on getting off your tech from the pulpit of a blog. It doesn’t escape me that I’m keeping you here for some of those minutes we waste. But I’m doing it as a public service.

Get off your screen, take a break from the games, and social media, and frenzy of sound and light.

Because while the outside world is distracting you with all of its splendor, you’re missing the really beautiful stuff, the REAL stuff, that resides right in your own head. Go have a thought. All on your own. Follow it around for a bit without Google force-feeding you the answers.

Please. For your health, for the health of this planet and all human beings, do this thing.

Living beautifully means living. Not just watching fabricated life from the strangest social experiment ever concocted, but really spending time with yourself, with face to face conversations, with the space to breathe and let go of all that nonessential bullshit and make peace in the quiet.