What Happened When I Went Offline

I went offline for much of the first two weeks of August, aided by a weeklong trip to Italy where we chose not to purchase a data program for my iPhone.  There was the occasional check-in with email, and several times, I shared pictures or an update with my blog’s Facebook page.  But the truth is, I wasn’t hanging out in the online parks.

During my fortnight unplugged, I found time to:

  • Read eleven books.  And not one of them was for work.
  • Upload the past four years of digital photos from my computer to Snapfish.
  • Order 900 prints for five new photo albums and actually hang current framed photos around the house.
  • Write and hand-address letters on fine crisp stationery.
  • Wear a bathing suit comfortably in front of my kids while we built sandcastles on the beach.
  • Climb over 3000 stairs.  Not stairs on a Stairmaster in a gym, but real stairs leading to real places.
  • Be present in my life.
  • Pick buckets full of fresh, plump blueberries with my kids on an organic farm in Michigan.
  • Arrange five back-to-school staff trainings for bullying prevention and intervention.
  • Talk to my husband night after night without the interruption of buzzes and beeps from the phone.
  • Hold my youngest daughter in my arms as she catnapped in the late afternoons.
  • Write a new series of lesson plans for teachers to use when working with students who are struggling with bullying and cyberbullying.
  • Try new foods, wines and desserts.  Thumbs up for the red wine in Italy.
  • Think
  • Breathe
  • Sleep
  • Sit down at a table and eat a hot, well-prepared breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day

During my fortnight unplugged, I did NOT:

  • Work on my next book.
  • Stress about achieving my goals.
  • Feel anxiety about all the things other people were busy achieving while I sat on the couch with my sleeping preschooler in my arms.
  • See pictures of photoshopped models dance across my screen and feel inadequate
  • Straighten my hair
  • Wear heels
  • Eat junk that I didn’t even want because I was so hungry and couldn’t find the time to make myself a healthy meal
  • Feel unconnected to the people I love

I felt better offline.  By opting out of the newsfeed, I freed myself from the angst of feeling like I had to do more, write more, publish more.  It was the ideal way to end what has been one of the best summers in my life.

Could I stay offline, I wondered?

Well, probably not.  The reality of my existence and the nature of my career is that I need to be online.  The computer and social media are tools I use to do my job.  What I can do, however, is be more mindful about how I use those tools.  And I did miss seeing pictures of everyone's kids and keeping up with my long-distance friends and family!  (That is without a doubt the BEST part of a life online).

Vacation is over, and I have neither the time nor the resources to spend my days picking blueberries and reading long books and climbing towers in Florence.   But I am hoping to carry with me the good feelings associated with those activities, even when the world rears its chaotic and frantic head.

My hope is that, come mid-October, when we are knee-deep in homework and ballet classes and swim team and Hebrew school and figure skating and daddy’s teaching schedule and mommy’s speaking schedule and I worry that we are on the Race To Nowhere, I will look at the pictures on my walls of this perfect summer and

stop.

and breathe.

and remember a life lived offline, if only for a fortnight.

Check out Carrie Goldman's award-winning book Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher, and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear

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