Friday, January 3, 2014

Presently Unplugged, courtesy of "Unplugging & Work-Life Balance" #APW

I just read this great article on work/life balance and the need to unplug by Meg Keene of #APW. I wish to share this article with you, along with one caveat and a couple of comments.

Number 1 being that it I don't want you to unplug. In fact, the complete opposite. The very reason this blog exists is to enable progressive military spouses to find community. The internet is magic in the way it allows people with different geographic locations to find support, share stories, and connect.

"There are times when work needs to be done, and emails need to be checked, and God knows the baby doesn’t need us in his face all the time. But building a life takes the unspooling of time. Life is the moments in between. Looking around your kitchen and thinking about how it reminds you of your grandmother’s. Glancing over at the baby and seeing him go wild with glee. Having that long conversation with your husband. Being bored and seeing where that takes you." ~Meg Keene, APW

Number 2- that said, try it and you'll like it. Meg has a really valid point about being present with your spouse, with your loved ones, embracing the dynamics of your daily physical life. I took a hiatus from tv- in fact, I actually didn't own one- for a good five years. Even now with the giant flat screen nailed to the wall above the fireplace, DH and I still don't actually have television channels (although, ehem, we are both internet-provided movie addicts). When I didn't have a tv, I sat on multiple community group boards and I cooked CSA veggie meals with my housemate. I focused on projects like starting a Slow Food chapter and a faith-based young professionals group. My friends and I had sewing nights, organizing meetings, a radical book club, and locally-sourced themed brunches. I went to the gym, or forgot to go to the gym and bike-commuted to work. At night there was Battlestar Galactica marathons via my laptop...but there was also the time for my housemates and friends to light the candle-lanterns and sit out on the porch and listen to my neighbors play fiddle, or sax- and one whole summer we had a bluegrass band across the way who liked to rehearse in the deep twilight nights.  First it was hard. And then, as the friendships got stronger and the community grew around me...and I bought a house because you have time for a whole load of stuff you will never have time for again once you own a house, was easy. Honestly, I don't know how I ever had time for watching so much tv before. Welcome to the freedom of reality.

"The other night, the baby was in bed, the weather was lovely, and I asked David to come downstairs with me and hang out in the hammock. David’s never been one for sitting and staring into space with me (ruining many a perfectly good vacation moment, if you ask me), meaning a double hammock is the smartest thing I’ve ever bought. Once he’s IN the hammock, it’s hard to get out, so I’ve effectively trapped him with his own laziness. Marriage!" ~Meg Keene, APW

Number 3- once you unplug, you don't go back. I/we don't have an internet-free weekend rule, yet. Being married to a tech-savvy milDude with a giant television (hehe) and an online vid/gaming habit means that normal post-work hours are very different now then they were 2+ years ago. I do notice when he's got his face in his phone and won't come out to socialize. Or when I need his total attention and just can't get it. And while he thinks nothing of spending 3-5 hours a night plugged into his computer for a League of Legends tournament...I can't do it. And the pendulum swings the other way too. When I'm in the middle of reading an email and get irritated that he wants me to look at something "right now!". Mind you, I can spend 3 hours reading a book (although it has only recently stopped feeling really weird to read a GoogleBook on my phone). I can sit in the same room with him and plan a wedding on my computer...or write an Executive Search description...or re-write my resume. But that's just the thing. I can work or I can plan, but I can't hit recreation mode in front of a computer in the same way. I get, well, bored. I want to do something. Interact. Cook something, make something, change something, debate something- preferably in the company of friendly people and open microbrews. There is so much I want to do in the world that to simply plug in to kill time, to be entertained... it feels empty. 

"I’ve noticed when I have to ask for David’s complete attention by asking him to put down his phone. I’ve noticed when he’s had to ask for mine when I’m busy checking email. And I notice those moments when we could be chilling with our kid, but are instead checking for Facebook updates we don’t even care about. Of course, it’s not always that simple." ~Meg Keene, APW

So while we haven't discussed forsaking the internet on weekends, I would like DH and I to come to an agreement about nights without screen time. Nights where we can talk and reconnect and be. Maybe just us. Maybe us and unplugged community. But present, fully present, in every way.

Signing off.

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