Signing Back On in May…

Last month, I mentioned that I’d be staying offline in April. It was the most enjoyable digital sabbatical I’d ever done, and the longest. Immediately after kicking email off my phone and checking it once a day at work, I felt lighter. I didn’t have a constant notification on my phone that a message was waiting. I didn’t feel obligated to immediately respond. Some days, I didn’t think about email at all. It was lovely. That’s the main thing from this past month that will be sticking with me from now on: no more email on my phone.

With the exception of using Yelp again in mid-April (I attended an Elite Yelp event and needed to use the website for connections and writing), it wasn’t too difficult staying away most of the time. I could breathe. It felt good.

Yet, once May rolled around, I added back some of the apps and slowly reconnected online. Twitter is different, though. After being gone for awhile, I felt like I had nothing really important to say there anymore. I love everyone that I have connected with on Twitter, but I sort of feel like many of you are now part of my past. You’ve helped bring me to where I am today, and now we go our own ways with the occasional “hello.” Or maybe we’re still tight. Our lives are beautiful whether or not we tweet. I’m still present, but in and out. You are too.

My life is ever-evolving as all my worlds entwine each other. Every day is filled with new lessons, heartaches, and joys. Some days bring flowers and laughter, others bring disappointment and exhaustion. All I can do is take what I’m handed and patiently live each moment as it is meant to be lived.

Signing Offline in April….

A few days ago, a thought came to my head: it’s time for a digital sabbatical.
I already spend a lot less time on the internet these days compared to a year or five ago. Deleting Facebook (and other sites) left me plenty of room to breathe and I haven’t really been keeping up to date with blogs or anything recently. In fact, I rarely touch my computer these days. I want to cut back even more. Nowadays, most of our internet interactions are on our smart phones — so I especially need to cut back on my phone.

April? It’s digital sabbatical time.

What I will do:

  • remove nearly all applications from my phone.
  • rarely touch my computer & ignore the internet for a month.

 Exceptions:

  • e-mail. to be checked only on the computer (disabled from phone).
  • looking for trailers/land/information for tiny house.
  • filling out job applications. it’s all online these days.
  • looking up books at the library.
  • the occasional need to look up directions on Google Maps.
  • iPhone music/Pandora? I am still debating this.

What I am doing instead:

  • journaling. I have a small journal in my purse and a recently-purchased journal to write down all my thoughts and observations instead of writing them on Twitter or any other website.
  • reading more. I have more books on my to-read list.
  • finding places on my own instead of depending on Yelp.
  • being outdoors. the weather will be nicer and I need to start my garden.
  • listening to the FM radio and my CDs instead of digital music.
  • enjoying life like I used to before technology grew!

What I hope to accomplish:

  • a better connection with my community.
  • a better connection with nature.
  • a better relationship with my family and friends.
  • a better connection with myself.
  • self-reliability. a lower phone and internet dependency.
  • a load off my shoulders.

I’ll see you in May. Or June. Or July… 🙂

Part II: Letting Go.

Last week, I wrote Part I in which I shared how I create time for myself. It applies to you too.

I also mentioned that my daily schedule these days is different than when I started writing Part I. Now? I’m currently unemployed. I voluntarily left my full-time job last month to complete an internship this spring. Essentially, I’m working for free. Financially, it kind of sucks – but mentally, it’s a freeing challenge! Not working f0r pay means I adhere to a strict budget, have fewer commitments, am free to explore options, appreciate everything a little more, and have extra time on my hands. I’m also done with my graduate courses (can I get a cheer for being so close to finishing up my Master’s degree?)!

Extra free time means I can devote myself more to this blog, right?

Yes, but not really. You see, having more free time makes me want to go out more. I don’t mean hitting the bars every weekend, but rather, interacting with others on a more personal level and experiencing things. I’ve been relishing the extra moments in my days the past couple weeks by doing just that. It’s addictive. I want more of it. I want to spend my moments learning about my neighbors, laughing with friends, and saying “hi” to strangers. It’s also starting to warm up in the Midwest. Who wants to stay inside on the computer when clear skies and warm winds are calling?

You know what I need to do? I need to cut back on this site.

The Internet is a great way for people to exchange information and ideas. I’ve encountered dozens of brilliant people by reading simple living sites and connecting with them via social media and meet-ups. I’ve learned so much from everyone and cherish the connections. When I stepped into the world of minimalist blogging several months ago, I knew what I was getting into. I knew I would need to network. I knew I would have to maintain those connections to keep this place active. I knew I needed a regular posting schedule. I knew I would shell out some money for a sweet domain name. I knew this blog would feel like another part-time job. I knew that many people would be reading and judging what I say. I accepted that. I didn’t have to do this, but I did. I also knew that I might get tired of it.

You know what? Yes, I think I’m burning out a little bit. I’m tired of giving myself personal blogging deadlines. I’m tired of trying to network with other writers on Twitter. I’m tired of interacting too much with people in my online life and not enough with the people around me. I’m tired of trying to stay on top of everything in the minimalist blogging world by reading countless posts from other people. I’m tired of feeling guilty when I don’t respond to every message I receive. I’m tired of staring at a screen. I’m tired of sore hands from an awkward position with the laptop. I’m tired of feeling like I’m losing sight of what I really want to do, which is to live a simple life. Devoting myself to this blog and being glued to my laptop screen a couple hours every night is not living a simple life.

The people who are really living are not reading blogs daily, sending Twitter updates every half hour, and writing eBook reviews. They’re out meeting people on the streets, bonding with friends, climbing mountains, cooking healthy meals, teaching others, playing games, reading good books, doing cartwheels, and canoeing down rivers. I need to get myself back into that mindset. I need to disconnect before I can connect.

This is just a hobby. It’s not a job. Maybe for you, but not for me. I don’t intend to make money here. I’m just here and you’re along for the ride. You don’t even have to be here. I’m glad we’re here together – but I’m also happy for you if you go down your own path.

A word about Twitter: I was a Twitter user for a couple years and left because I was too overwhelmed. I didn’t miss it. I only rejoined Twitter again at the beginning of this year in order to publicize this blog and share ideas with other like-minded writers. Suddenly, here I am, feeling overwhelmed again even though I follow a significantly lower number of people than I used to. I just can’t keep up with the stream because I don’t check in that often. I don’t really want to keep up with the stream. I don’t care what I miss when I step away. I don’t care if you think that’s a selfish thing to say. We all have better things to do in this life.

I’m cutting back. I’m letting go.

Don’t worry, I’m not disappearing. Allowing myself to let go just lifts the burden of commitment. It allows me the freedom to jump back on this site and into this world when I feel like it, and leave for awhile without feeling guilty. I still care about you. We just need a break from this digital relationship. No expectations. No rules. No strings.

Letting go once in a while means you will come back refreshed. Stronger. Passionate.

It’s OK to take a step back. You are your own boss. Everything works out.

I love to write – that won’t stop. But I’m not putting myself on deadlines anymore. I’m not going to write about the hot topic of the week. I’m just going to write about what comes to me, when it comes to me. Then I’m going to hit ‘publish’ and walk away. It may 100 words or 1,000 words. I have dozens of unfinished posts waiting in my drafts queue and my short-lived The Little Things series. These are ideas I scribbled down on notebooks and post-its with the intention of turning into a blog post or turning into a regular thing. It became a form of procrastination that builds up and becomes so large that I’m hesitant to tackle it. Finishing them is just not one of my priorities. Some of them will be published eventually, and others will be tossed. We’ll be fine, either way.

Don’t be disappointed in me. I just want to live my life. You should too.

Enough of talking about what I want. Time to go do it.

What do you need to let go of?