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.
- 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
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.