Monday, July 9, 2012

Practicing Presence: Where Have I Been?

When I started this blog, my intention was to write nearly every day. I followed through for about three and a half months. Then, two things happened to derail my goal.

First: summer vacation. This happens to me every year: my kids get out of school for the summer, and I struggle to find a new rhythm to the daily routine. I still work from home, but the hours of constructive work time diminish (summer childcare is expensive - and I can only afford so many hours).

I won't complain, however. Kids need their time "off" from their obligations, just like adults do, so I'm thankful that summer's here. And it's good for me, too. I'm making an effort to reconnect with my kids in a way that's different from the rest of the year, to make those summertime family memories that we all envision holding onto in later life.

Second: I was spending too much time on the computer. Oh, the irony of it all. As I researched and wrote pieces for the blog about our tendency toward the excessive use of devices, I began to feel exposed, as if there was a great big, blinking arrow in the sky pointing right at me, saying "guilty!"

I am, to be honest, tired of my computer and my phone. I want more freedom. I need boundaries. I want to be a better role model for my kids so that when they get phones, they won't ditch me completely for their online world. So I made a few changes:

* I moved my laptop to the guest room, which now doubles as my office. Unlike the office-slash-dining room table, the guest room has a door. I can literally close myself off from my work and my computer when it's time to go. My phone stays in here, too, as much as possible. Sherry Turkle encourages the concept of "sacred spaces" in the home where devices are not allowed (i.e. dinner table). In the same way, I've created a space for my devices to stay and not invade the rest of the house. The physical boundaries are now set.

* I took a trip a few weekends ago and left my phone sitting in the hotel room for three days. I got a massage to get the knots out of my neck and shoulder directly related to my computer usage, something I've not done in several years. I read books and played with my kids. It was a wonderful trip, good for fostering psychological boundaries between me and my devices.

* I've stopped answering texts right away, and my personal email is piling up. I apologize to all those wondering where I've gone. It's a better place, I assure you.

* I've stopped writing blog pieces for a few weeks. I need a pause. The article ideas for the blog have piled up, however, and I look forward to sharing more thoughts... in time.

An admired church and community leader, Kim Lee, is currently inspiring the parents in her congregation to examine being "present" in our daily lives. She writes, "The practice of presence is about coming alive and awake wherever we are. Presence requires three basic steps: slow down, tune in, and focus." In my brief hiatus from the blog, I've been trying to do just that.

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