Screen Time, Take Two

I wrote the following post four years ago.  The issues outlined in it are still a struggle, but we can only change what we name, right?  Right.  So, here it is again, slightly modified to fit the present. 

I spend too much time looking at screens.

I have decided this before, but it screens have proved very persistent at creeping back into the limelight.  They have become a central part of my days, and I am realizing that my balance is off.  I have been crafting my definition of what “simple living” means to me for a long time now.   But even with a mindset that is pretty solidly committed to principals of simplicity or “enough but not too much”, it still seems like screens have been taking center stage.   I need to figure out how much screen time is enough, but not too much.

Generally, when I think about living simply, my list includes the following:

  1. I am spending time outside.
  2. I am remaining truly present with people when in their company.
  3. I am doing things slowly and with intention.
  4. I am being fully present in each moment
  5. I am practicing authenticity.  This means I am eating real food (that preferably doesn’t have a bar-code), I am being active because I enjoy the activity (Hiking.  Yoga. Planting things.)  or because it accomplishes a task (Weeding.  Picking rocks out of the field. Hauling wood.) and I am putting real energy into relationships (With the neighbors.  With dear friends who live states away.  With family members.)
  6. I feel alive.

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12 Tiny Things

What does it mean to “nourish our roots?”  That question could be answered in myriad ways, but one constant is that to effectively nourish, said ‘nourishment’ must often be ingested in small bites.  When I water the garden in the summer, the plants do much better when I give them a steady, small stream of water over time rather than if I just dump a whole bucket on at once.  And interestingly (and not surprisingly) when I meditate I get a lot more out of five minutes than I do out of an hour.  Because when I try to do an hour?  It doesn’t last.  But five minutes?  That I can handle, even days at a time.  Tiny doesn’t have to mean insignificant.  Tiny can actually mean commitment and impact, if we let small things be enough.  Because when enough builds, we find that we have a strong root system.  A foundation that won’t crumble.  A sustainable way of operating in the world.  Less overwhelm in a culture that often feels out of control.  Continue reading “12 Tiny Things”

Where the Magic Happens: Practicing Radical Authenticity

Here we are at the end of another December.  A time for looking back over the past year and looking ahead into the new one.  Some of us will indulge “one last time” before beginning a strict diet on January 1st.  Some of us will set lofty goals to exercise 6 days a week at the gym that we hate.  Some will get out a blank journal with the intent of getting up early every single day to write down three positive thoughts.  New years resolutions come in many forms, and sometimes they even stick for awhile.  Benefits have been seen by setting one’s sights on making change with the turn of the calendar year.

But.  So often it’s the same old same old every year.  The diet starts strong and tapers off by February.  It turns out we still hate the gym enough to stay home more often than not.  “Thinking positive” starts to feel like pulling the wool over our eyes and avoiding the root issue.   New years resolutions can be useful in setting a path forward, but they also fail a large percentage of the time.  They don’t do what we really want them to do.   They don’t change what we want them to change.

Do we throw in the resolution towel then?  Stop setting goals since we just fail at them over and over again?  Embrace our negative thinking since that’s what feels real?

Maybe.  Actually, I propose we do all of those things.

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Giving Energy and Paying Attention

There’s a difference between giving your energy to something and paying attention.  It can be hard to distinguish sometimes, since these days there are things screaming at us all the time to “look at me” and “pay attention to me” and so forth.  The media generally does whatever it needs to do to get people to take notice.  It is generally considered a good idea to keep up with what’s going on in the world, to be an informed citizen.  Etc.

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I’ve been struggling with an illness for the last 2-3 weeks – some days I wake up thinking, “oh yeah, today’s the day I’m not going to feel like coughing anymore” just to wake up, like I did this morning, at 3:30am with a cough that was just annoying enough to keep me from sleeping anymore.  I’m really tired, my five year old woke up crabby, and I let my energy go where it wasn’t helpful as I lamented not being able to go for the hike that I wanted to go on today.  The shadows were dark this morning, for myriad reasons.

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