Tag Archives: focus

Putting Away My Smart Phone Pacifier

18 Jan

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Every day I grow increasingly horrified as research emerges about the impact of social media and technology on society at large: decreased concentration span, less meaningful relational engagement, compare-and-despair syndrome, ADHD, depression, and irritability in the kid/adolescent population, and a decrease in human civility are among the findings. Most alarming is the fact that phones are being used as pacifiers for infants and toddlers. Very young children hit developmental milestones through affective interchange with adults, imaginary play, and self-soothing activities. Phone and tablet use threaten all of that and could impact human evolution in an extraordinarily destructive way. There is a reason Steve Jobs didn’t allow his own kids to play with the very I-Phone he invented. But what of our use as adults? Why do most Americans fall asleep with their phones next to their heads and wake up clutching them as if their devices were stuffed animals? Are they that soothing?

I find not. Even though I check my own phone quite regularly, and at times compulsively, I don’t get much gratification from doing so. It is far more stimulating to hold a yoga pose or to read a book. Yet through some habituated twitch, I reach for my phone. So lately, I’ve been turning my phone off by 8 p.m., so I can truly relax. Whatever or whomever is trying to reach me- they can wait until morning when I have the time and energy to be more present. Sure, if I needed to keep it on for emergency purposes, I most definitely would. However, some of us still have land lines and doorbells.

Do I really need to look at email and FB one more time before I shut my eyes? Honestly, what’s so exciting to see there? Do I need to view it all day long?

Eventually, the child needs to wean herself of the pacifier. I’m taking my own out of my mouth. How novel, and perhaps, more grown up.

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Can You Say No To Good?

19 Nov

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When I was a little girl, I was so into sweets, I’d climb to the upper kitchen cabinets where my mom kept the sugar bowl hidden and help myself to “spoonfuls of sugar.” I suppose all kids like candy. I was no exception. What was exceptional was that no one monitored my sugar intake. My mom gave me a Twinkie or Ding Dong for breakfast, and my dad was known to have put Coca-Cola in my baby bottle. It’s a wonder I’m not obese and that I still have teeth.

What’s ironic is that as an adult, I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. I like a little dark chocolate, and I enjoy pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving time, but when it comes to dessert, I can take it or leave it. It doesn’t interest me all that much. People think I’m practicing uber discipline, or that I’m trying to watch my weight. The fact of the matter is, I od’d on sugar and junk food when I was young and can’t do it anymore. I actually get sick from too much sugar.

It’s hard to say no to good things. When I was a kid, I wanted all that candy.

Where I struggle as an adult is turning down offers and opportunities that I see as wonderful. Given my druthers, I’d say, “Yes!” to every neat thing that came my way in the form of work, social engagements, and creativity. I don’t have a hard time saying, “No,” to things that I know are problematic. Yet when it comes to things that would be good for myself and others, it’s very hard to say, “No.” It feels counter-intuitive, and I second guess myself all the time.

That said, too much candy can make one sick. And too much of anything, becomes too much. As an adult, I look out on the smorgasbord of life, and realize I can’t have it all, all at the same time. I have to pace myself, and I have to finish what’s on my plate before I go back for seconds.

Are You White Knuckling Life?

19 Oct

My significant other-person golfs. He is wild for it. I have only tried hitting golf balls twice in my life. Both times were with him. During our little lesson at the driving range, he told me not to grip the club. Instead I was to hold the club like a bird in my hands. Whatever. Even when I got a blister thirty minutes later, I didn’t think I was holding the club that hard. Later that night when I looked at this photo of me, I saw “it.” I wasn’t just gripping the club. I was strangling it. For further proof, the veins in my neck and arms were about to bulge.

I don’t know what it is about humans that makes us susceptible to over-extertion. We try too hard to control outcomes. Instead of easing into things and allowing a certain degree of flow, we push with our will.

Occasionally, we see the light and lighten up. The next day when I tried hitting golf balls, I loosened the grip. Surprisingly, I hit a few well.

When we grip too hard on things, we don’t allow for any type of organic evolution, whether this be in our relationships, work, or creative endeavors. There is a tension that needs to be struck between surrender and action. What helps negotiate this dynamic is our breath. The more we can let oxygen flow through in and out of systems, the better we navigate our life force.

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This seems to be the lesson someone wants me to learn of late. The other day I received a card in the mail from a friend. Written on the card, in large letters, was the word, “Breathe.” I burst out laughing. If my friend only knew that her card had come like an omen.

It’s time to stop white knuckling through this year. Instead, it’s time to breathe a little…

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