Screen free evening review

It’s been well over a month since I’ve gone screen free in the evenings. My phone sits on the counter far, far away from my reach. I don’t even think of sitting down at the computer to get lost and tangled up in the interwebs, I stay out of the t.v. room. I follow the 6:00 technology curfew that I read about on a friend’s blog.

I like to think my brain appreciates the break from all things screen, especially given the possibility of these negative effects. So what have I been doing instead of staring at a screen in the evening?

Reading

I’ve lost myself in books lately and have found the zone. It’s awesome. I feel like I’m a kid IMG_5118again, totally engrossed in the worlds of the characters who I read about. In some cases my heart has been pulled out of my chest. You know the saying, “My heart goes out to you.” Such was the case when I read about Bone in Dorothy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina. I found such satisfaction watching Lisbeth Salander serve up justice in Stieg Larson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I was surprised to find Amy Poehler as a kindred spirit, reading her essays in Yes Please. I fired up my Goodreads account (morning updates during on screen time–technology as a tool, yay moderation) that had been stagnant since 2009.

I’m able to invest myself in books more, since my brain’s attention span is building up from time away from the internet superhighway and lightening speed social media platforms in general.

Walking

IMG_8746I’m a fan of walking in general, I like the pace and seeing my neighborhood in a way that’s impossible through the window of a car. One evening after dinner, K and I took some dice on our walk and left direction to chance (roll of 1-2 left, 3-4 straight, 5-6 right). Each roll relieved my excited anticipation, I love when joy appears unexpected.

Playing

Some friends invited K and me to join them for dinner and an evening at Lakeside IMG_6567Amusement Park. That place is magic. They seemingly haven’t made any aesthetic updates in decades. And there is a real element of fear when you’re riding the Wild Chipmunk, I don’t think they allow rides like that to be built these days. Bonus: we witnessed a poor kid projectile vomit. No screen comes close to capturing the sound and smell of in-person projectile vomit!

Listening

I’ve been listening to stories told at The Narrators events since the shows took place at Paris on the Platte. Every time I leave a show, I feel like my soul has been replenished.  In the context of my screen free evenings, I found myself valuing the true stories told by people at this month’s event, even more so than usual. There was a sacredness to parts of this month’s show. The theme was “Crushed” and a few of the storytellers were so open with their hearts, I found myself feeling like I was witness to part of their healing process, part of their personal transformation. I feel deep gratitude for them sharing themselves, unfiltered and raw. They displayed the type of courage that’s rarely recognized. It’s more matter of fact than guns blazing. And they did it with skill and grace. I’ve been witness to people’s personal healing in inappropriate arenas (they are the trainer and are sharing personal stories that don’t connect at all to the content of the training and it feels like they are getting free therapy from a room full of strangers). The storytellers that left an impression on me Wednesday evening spoke from the heart and offered incredibly insightful, sage advice.

My screen free evenings will continue, it’s a habit I’m happy to have started. Life is about balance and I get plenty of screen time during the day and on the weekends. I like interacting with the physical world around me too much to be looking at screens, constantly thinking about the past or the future. I enjoy being in the moment. The moment is off screen.     

                                           

Feel the feels

I consider myself the type of person who rarely acts on emotion. I err on the side of logic and reason. Don’t worry, I’m capable of feeling, it’s just not the force that drives me. Except for that earlier this week my feelings were PRECISELY what drove me, rather froze me, and I’ve been processing it ever since.

FEAR. What a mothercusser, am I right? I’m fortunate to not be frozen with it in my day to day life, or its sidekick anxiety. I am grateful that I can fall asleep easy each night, no ruminating about what or how someone said something to me, no worrying about tomorrow. Just my head hitting the pillow and then sleep does its magic (okay, science) with my brain and I wake up rested and ready to go. I appreciate this luxury of an axiety-free existence because I have friends and loved ones who I care deeply about, who I see have to deal with spending time and energy on managing feelings that don’t necessarily serve them. It’s not fair.

I got to experience a small sample of what it’s like to feel controlled by emotion earlier this week when I was in Zion National Park with K. We were on the Angel’s Landing Hike and had reached Scout Lookout, when we came across this:

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“Since 2004, six people have died falling from the cliffs on this route…”

I’m what people call “afraid of heights with an edge.” Or maybe I’m the only one who qualifies like that. Besides there being several red flags on that sign provided by the park (I spy four, how many do you count?), my body shifted into high alert mode. As K and I made our way up the edge of the cliff, literally hanging on to some metal chain that was “anchored” into the rock, I kept picturing myself falling off and tumbling to my death. I should mention that the metal chain didn’t span the entire way, there were parts with no

K enjoys a view
K enjoys a view

chain, where you had to just trust your own two legs not to give out. Before crossing one of these spots, I sat, with white knuckles on metal chain, as other hikers pranced by, like thousand foot drops were no biggie to them.

I recalled every high ropes course challenge I’d owned LIKE A BOSS. Like the log 100 feet above the ground that I walked across, and the platform high in the sky that I had to jump from to a near by hanging bar. My attempt of a confidence boost quickly failed when I acknowledged the fact that 1) I was on belay for all of those challenges 2) The height of every single one paled in comparison to the THOUSAND FOOT DROP I was dealing with. I told K that I was doing some positive self talk in my head, just to keep him updated on why I wasn’t moving AT ALL. I muttered something like, “Okay” after a huge sigh, hoping the combination would springboard me across the rock. It worked.

And then I froze again at the next chain.

We ended up turning around before we got to the top of Angel’s Landing. As we descended, a man on his way up asked, “Did you make it to the top?”

“No,” I admitted, feeling super conflicted about what I know about goals, personal bests, and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to achieve growth. Then K said something that simultaneously made me feel better and reminded me of why I love having him as my partner. “The view is great either way.”

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Walter’s Wiggles

The view is great either way. He spoke a truth that I’d ignored, simply because I was preoccupied with making it to the point designated as the finish. The top. As we continued down Walter’s Wiggles and the rest of the path, my mind marinaded in “the view is great either way” metaphor and how it applies to my life right now.

Life is precious—every breath. If I saw that written on the base of a small pastel porcelain figurine I’d probably roll my eyes, but I can’t deny how true I believe it to be. I am grateful for my health, the healthy partnership I’m in, for the life path I find myself on. The view is great, even when seen through the lens of fear.