Impromptu Experiment

This week I’m trying a new experiment – one to which I hadn’t given any previous thought.  Life is like that sometimes – at least it is for me!  Earlier in the week, I had the joy of being able to spend time with my youngest grandson.  After a couple of days of seeing his little face all the time, it’s really hard to leave and go home.

See why it’s so hard to leave this guy?

Since he’s still at the age where he takes three naps a day, I take my computer along with me so I can do some email or write or do research or, let’s be honest, waste some time on the Internet.  In addition to my backpack for staying overnight, a cooler (for snacks I brought along), a bag of groceries I’d picked up on the way there, and my purse, I had an enormous bag of books I picked up at the library on the way there (I’m going through A LOT of books now that I’m doing the screen free bedroom!) Somehow I left behind my laptop and didn’t realize it until later that night when I went to use it.

After briefly considering driving back the next day to retrieve it (and my sweet daughter-in-law even offered to bring it halfway), I decided it was a good opportunity to do an experiment to see how it would feel to be without it for a week.  Fortunately, I’m able to use my aunt’s dinosaur of a computer for some things.  Except that it took me a long time to remember how to get to the backend of the blog so I could actually write and post something.  Unfortunately the document with all my notes and blog posts I’ve started is on my laptop so I’ve had to wing it.

Flying by the seat of my pants isn’t normally how I like to do things, but I didn’t want to go for another week without posting.  The screen free bedroom experiment is going well, especially now that Baby Ben is hanging out in my room with me.  As long as I remember to wind him every day, I can tell what time it is without having to get out of bed.  With temperatures and wind chills hovering in the teens and single digits for days and days, this has been a godsend.

Thanks for letting me borrow Baby Ben, Mom!

Once I have my computer back, I’ll post an update about this year’s Spending Fast.  If you’ve never done a Spending Fast, I highly recommend it!  If you’d like to read some of my insights about previous years, please feel free to go here to check it out.

It’s taken a lot of time to get even this little post written and ready to go so I’m not sure how many more I will do before I get my computer back.  How do you handle the unexpected?  Are you able to go with the flow or does it ruin your day?  Please leave a comment on the blog or on Facebook!

Work and Leisure

Somehow over a year has passed since I retired from my position as the head of Customer Service for a publishing house.  Retirement hasn’t looked exactly how I thought it would – I envisioned seemingly endless days filled with reading, writing blog posts, playing with Hannah, lounging in the hammock or swing, leisurely walks, and spending time with friends and family.

In reality, it seemed that nearly every day was packed full of one activity or another, some of which included the above, but there were also things to dismantle and things to repair, chores to do, gardens and orchards to tend, food to preserve, new babies to welcome into the world, and laying my Dad to rest.

After being in the corporate world for so long and willingly working far more hours than I should have, I thought it would be a year to rest and recover from pushing myself so hard.  Apparently I don’t know how to rest and keep from pushing myself too hard, because I’m still feeling pretty worn out in this new life.

It’s been difficult to realize and accept that the problem was never my job and the expectations of others.  It was my own work ethic and well, insanity, that caused me to live the way I lived, which was long hours at work, usually six days a week at my job, blogging or spending time with family and friends in the evening, and sleeping a scant five or six hours a night.

Here’s the thing, though.  It’s possible that I can’t live any other way.  Hard work feels good, whether it’s physical or mental and I love the sense of accomplishment I feel at the end of a day.  Sure, there’s stuff that doesn’t get done, but I’m going to get up tomorrow and tackle it with the same gusto I felt for the work today.  The other thing is that I love serving – even when I did work for a corporation, the work wasn’t just for the corporation, it was doing my job the way I would if God were my boss.  Not just for his pleasure, but to use the gifts I’ve been given and put forth my very best, not skating by or calling it good enough. 

I spent a lot of time eradicating thistles last year

Pretty thistles are still thistles

All that said, I need to do a much better job at Sabbath rest.  It’s no coincidence that I saw countless articles last year about increased creativity and output after a period of rest and the fallacy of multitasking.  This is one of the things that prompted some of my 2018 experiments, like the screen free bedroom, hoping to achieve eight hours of sleep at night and devote at least some portion of each day to rest and maintaining a full day of rest each week.  It will be hard and if I’m honest, knowing myself, I’m not likely to be one hundred percent successful.

Another area I need to focus on is being more conscious of what I say yes to. Almost everything sounds good but I’m finding that I don’t always accomplish everything I want to do because I’ve said yes to so many other things.  Since I didn’t think I’d have to schedule my day when I retired, this is going to take some time to figure out.

How about you?  What does your work and leisure look like?  Are you making time for both? I’d love to hear from you in the comments or on Facebook!

Screen Free Bedroom

One of this years experiments is a screen free bedroom.  A year or so ago, I discovered one of my favorite podcasts, the Slow Home Podcast with Brooke and Ben McAlary. In 2016, they tried a new experiment every month, most of which were really inspiring.  Their success during and after the experiment made me want to try it for myself.

It’s my hope that this change will help me to be more mindful of how I spend my time (making sure my actions are in alignment with my desires and values) and that the quality and duration of my sleep will improve.  Though I rarely have trouble falling asleep, it’s difficult for me to sleep past 5:30 or 6:00 AM, making it impossible to get the recommended eight hours a day. 

What is a screen free bedroom?  No computer, no iPhone, no iPad, and I may even expand it to no electronic items at all (for example, a power strip or electric toothbrush charger).  What does this look like after only three days?  Well, I have no idea what time it is, what’s happening with the weather, if I’ve received any important emails, if there are new tweets on Twitter or pictures on Instagram, what my former colleagues are up to on LinkedIn, I’ve hardly played any Scrabble or Free Cell and I’ve got an ebook languishing in my Overdrive app. 

Can I really trust this old school thermometer?

Also missing are any texts I’ve received after 9:00 PM when I retired to my room to read for a couple of hours.  On the other hand, between the two hours I allocate for reading at night and the couple of hours I now read in the morning when I wake up, I’ve plowed through Dollars And Sense: How We Misthink Money And How To Spend Smarter by Dan Ariely and Jeff Kreisler and have nearly finished At Home In The World: Reflections On Belonging While Wandering The Globe by Tsh Oxenreider, both of which I’ve really enjoyed.

This is fitting in nicely with another thing I want to do this year, which is find more time to read.  It’s also in alignment with another experiment that I started on January first, to only get on the Internet from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM, with limited exceptions (online banking and a Facebook group I facilitate). 

Since I want to have lights out and start falling asleep at 11:00 pm, I have to get out of my toasty bed and see what time it is.  When I wake up, I have to get out of my toasty bed and see what time it is.  It’s a bit of an inconvenience.

Since it’s winter in Michigan, I have a general idea of the outside temperature (cold or really cold) but for some reason I want to know the wind chill, whether it’s going to snow and how much (seems likely and probably a lot!), whether there are any warnings (even though I rarely have to go anywhere), and what’s happening in the cities where all my family members live.  Mind you, knowing any weather related facts changes nothing – I’m still going to wear as many clothes as possible and will be cold when I do chores and snowshoe around the field.

This is what it looks like when you’re oblivious to the weather.

There’s been no noticeable difference in my sleep pattern yet, but I’ll give a full report at the end of the month.  Two nights is hardly enough time to know if the lack of screens will have an impact.

It would be a lie to say that this has been a breeze, that my mornings are more calm, peaceful, meaningful.  Breaking the Twitch is challenging and I’m likely missing out on some  exciting stuff, or at the very least, not knowing stuff when everyone else does.  There were times when I simply flitted from app to app in the morning, killing time until it was light enough to get up and start the day.  Another habit I’d gotten into was hopping on the Internet to research things late at night, whether it was just something that popped into my head or something I read in an ebook that I wanted to investigate further.  While it’s all quite entertaining, I’m not sure it’s really how I want to spend my time.

Why a screen free bedroom?  The dependence and attachment I have to my devices bothers me.  The things I rely on so heavily didn’t even exist for most of my life so why have I allowed them to take up so much of my time and attention?  Am I really better off?

Has anyone done a similar experiment?  If so, I’d love to hear about it.  In the meantime, I’m hoping to borrow a wind up clock from my Mom so I know what time it is without having to get out of bed!