Unplugging for Lent: How it Went

I did, very briefly, consider making this a rhyming post.

First, my definition of unplugging meant no computer, no iPhone. I could use my iPod to play music but couldn't plug it into the computer to change up the playlists. I still have Christmas on my iPod, which is a pretty clear suggestion of how rarely I update it anyway.

An opinion piece in the New Yorker posted back toward the beginning of Lent got me started writing this post. Basically, the article, entitled "The Pointlessness of Unplugging", goes on in a polarizing fashion to put those who choose to take a day off from the internet into the same camp as those who want nothing to do with the internet ever. This not the case. The author, Casey Cep, points this out later.

Choosing to take a day off from the internet is not an intent to abandon it. As someone who met her husband (before there was match.com), discovered new friendships and rediscovered old ones, has taken lots of online classes, and is all for social media, the idea of not being on the internet at all is a bit, well, silly.

So why take a day off?  It goes deeper than the pithy one-liners the National Day of Unplugging asked its participants to use (which included me).

It is saying that it's okay to take a breath. It's okay to take time for oneself. It's okay to step back from the rush of life and daily living: both work and play, and make some space for, well, God. To listen for God, to rest with God, to simply be with God, whether that's through quiet reflection, or some act of co-creation, of whatever.

Intentionally setting aside an entire day, might mean that I'll set aside other time, other moments to take a breath, take time for myself, to listen to God.

A day of unplugging is to experience a day free from online distractions, the procrastinating that so often is the internet. That is a gift to myself. It's equivalent to a spa day, perhaps, but don't think I'm going to spend my entire life there.

That little rant over, here's what did happen on my unplugged days during Lent.

Week 1: Build A Miracle in Tijuana. I wrote about that here. I loved it.

Week 2: Quiet Day, making art (learning a new technique to shade faces using pencils) and an epic nap. Made a really delicious dinner.

Week 3: My first week without any major events planned for the day. Groceries (list pre-printed because normally I use a Groceries app), vet visit, chopped back passionfruit vine, baked a cake and made cream cheese frosting for the first time, watched the BBC edition of The Voice (this was sort of cheating as it was on the TV but via wireless connection to YouTube), had conversation and dinner with a friend.

Week 4: Harder this week. Managed to stay off by chanting Lauds, doing a little bit of cleanup in the backyard, worked on putting together a new handmade book to show off my fairy card collection (gorgeous colors), read some cookbooks which was bittersweet as I don't have time to cook much any more. And as the sun went down, left my phone at home and went to my church's karaoke dinner. Yeah. I got a group of people to sing Bohemian Rhapsody and it was epic.

Week 5: Even harder this week. This was the week we put our dog Pete to sleep and I came down with a cold. When I have a cold, I usually mindlessly surf the web and watch Food Network. I watched a lot of Food Network. I worked on my pages of the handmade book and ran out of double-sided tape. And then gluestick. *sigh* I fudged and used my iPhone to take a picture of daffodils that a co-worker had given me the day before before they went to God.

Week 6: Hubby told me to keep my phone on for updates from the ER. (Everything is ok.) I blearily made a cup of tea and headed for the computer, and one hour later, realized that I was supposed to be unplugging today. In for a penny, in for a pound, I guess. After that, managed to stay off the computer while being tethered to my cell phone

Week 7: prayed the Hours (well, from Lauds to The One Before Vespers), did a little bit of art, mopped the kitchen, dining room and bathroom floors, watched some TV, made dinner and headed to Easter Vigil.

Unplugging once a week is good for  me, as I can sit in front of a computer or on my iPhone and very successfully procrastinate. But did I make more contemplative time the rest of the week? No. In fact, I spent a lot of time on most Sundays "catching up", which I think defeats the purpose.

As a result of unplugging, I:
  • Prayed more
  • Did more chores 
  • Watched a lot of TV

It also adversely impacted my day, especially in preparing the weekly menu and shopping list as I would check Pinterest for new recipes, use the grocery store app for e-coupons, and another app that sorted my shopping list into the correct aisle order.

Instead I would have to write a shopping list out twice (tragic!) and miss out on coupons. The upside was I started working through a Rachel Ray cookbook again.

Am I going to keep up with the unplugging? Tune in tomorrow.


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