Experiential Avoidance: The Green Study Confessional

As tempted as I was to write a blog post called “Doomsday Penis”, in light of yet another baffling Republican debate this last week, I decided to take a breather from politics. You’re welcome. I mentioned to my husband that using the word “penis” in a post might cause some unintended traffic. He replied that if someone is using “penis” as a search term, they were already accustomed to disappointment. Okay, funny man.

*****

canstockphoto14933208There’s a lot of talk in our culture about distractions. My daughter’s school has sent out multiple notifications of bullying with cell phones on social media, which has led to fights and police involvement. At a middle school. Every day, we have to look no farther than the grocery store to see people completely checked out – connected and disconnected all at once.

I read an article in which a local 17 year old texted and drove her way to hitting a father and his 10 year old daughter, killing them both. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a writer or if it’s because I’m too sensitive (what jackasses call people who find them irritating), but I could immediately see this from the perspective of all the people involved – the self-involved teenager, the family and friends who lost loved ones, the judge, and then me – with the creeping fear that this could happen to my husband and daughter.

Before I get on my high horse, I have my own issues. I’ve glanced at my phone at stoplights, picked up Bluetooth calls while driving. And although I deliberately decided to not use Facebook or Twitter, I can still be twitchy and disoriented catching headlines and email and watching my little WordPress notification come up on my phone. It feels like playing the slot machine at a casino. Ding. Ding. Ding.

canstockphoto27362692I fall asleep at night listening to the CBC. Those Canadians are so calm, one can’t help but relax. When I get in the car, my playlist starts up. I listen to audiobooks when I do chores. I play solitaire or fake read my Kindle (seriously, the e-reading thing just isn’t catching on with me, but I excel at Angry Birds), while I binge watch Netflix. All entertainment. All the time.

This week, I’ve been practicing stripping away distractions. It’s been made more difficult by a head cold. Silence sounds more like a waterfall rushing through my head. I’ve been making myself do things, one at a time, with no background activity. It’s very hard to do and I find that upsetting.

When did I change? When did I become this leg-jittering, humming, antsy person in need of a fix? That I can’t even sit in my own company without checking this device or that – it’s a wake up call.

canstockphoto3436262In psychological terms, much of what I do these days would be described as experiential avoidance. I quit my job a few years ago to commit to writing full-time. Thus far, most of what I’ve done is unfinished, unremarkable and uninspiring. I have, however, finally learned how to keep my house mostly clean and that if I don’t shower before 9am, I might as well just go back to bed, because nothing is going to happen that day. Except me getting smellier by the minute.

I’ve been avoiding failure and imperfections and bad writing, all to the long-term detriment of developing myself as a writer. I write in fits and spurts – not long enough to develop a longer work in any meaningful way. We all know the advice – just write. Hell, I’ve exhorted the very same thing on this blog. I’m exponentially wiser, the farther I am from my own reality.

I’ve spent years fighting myself. But in the last few weeks, I’ve really zeroed in on moving forward. I’ve finally admitted that I’m stuck and that things are not improving nor will they, unless I deliberately and painfully change my habits or at least learn how to turn some of them in my favor. Spring is around the corner – it’s a good time to make a change.

canstockphoto5867993I’ve read about people going on technology fasts and I think in light of having a child and other caregiving responsibilities, this is not a reasonable tact for me. For the month of March, I’m giving up Netflix and any streaming video. I haven’t watched television in years, so that’s not on the list. It’s a personal experiment in giving value to my time. I’m now going to lay on the study floor and twitch for awhile.

What’s your least helpful distraction? What are you avoiding?

59 Comments on “Experiential Avoidance: The Green Study Confessional

  1. Another interesting, thought-provoking post. I am giving up politics. Funny you should mentions Canadians in your post today. I am Canadian. I am a political junkie and, since John Kennedy days, have been very interested in American politics. For someone like me, what’s going on in the US presidential race is like suddenly finding yourself at the world’s largest all-you-can-eat buffet and I have been gorging myself on the endless servings of debates, town hall meetings, press conferences, polls, caucuses, primaries, discussions, analysis and speculation. And even though it’s not my election, or my business, I’ve blogged and tweeted and posted about it on FB endlessly. But the ugliness of it all, the terrifying reality of it all is too much for me now and I’ve bowed out. It’s too toxic, too upsetting, too addictive, too distracting. And I’ve got a book I’ve been trying to write for 9 years I am passionate about again. So no more watching and kvetching about Trump et al.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve finally realized that, really, nothing I read or see regarding politics will make one iota of a difference when I vote in the fall. I agree, it is toxic and unhelpful. Plus, I find the media coverage to be so useless – it’s all become a damned reality show where every character is unlikable.

      I’m so exhausted from living a life of “shoulds” – this is what I’ve been avoiding. The constant running to-do list of my life. When what I want to do, but am scared of, is to commit entirely to the writing process. The work-in-progress has never been my novel – it has always been me. Some metaphors have to hit us upside the head before they sink in!

      Liked by 3 people

      • You’re so right about the outcome come fall and the media’s role in this circus. Very disappointing. You know how I feel about your writing. You are a wonderful writer and you want to write. Let yourself go. Like anything else it won’t always be easy. Like anything else some people will like what you’ve written and some won’t. You’ll be praised, you’ll get constructive criticism and you’ll get some mean and nasty and even cruel feedback, but one day you’ll look back at it and realize it all made you a better writer. BTW, we’re all a work in progress, it’s constant, until we take our final breath.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Haha…I’m one of those (distracted) calm Canadians. GIVE UP NETFLIX?? Are you crazy?? lol It’s actually a good idea. If I did that I might get more art work done. Don’t know why I periodically avoid it and play games instead. Haven’t been twitching on the floor yet, but I can see it happening.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I tend to have a compulsive personality, so what are minor distractions to one person, is three hours in Michelle time. It might be part of this whole middle age thing, but when I think about how much of my life has been spent playing Solitaire, I cringe. I have to make some hard changes, but thank goodness winter is coming to an end. Open windows bring inspiration.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I look forward to hearing how your “avoidance” of distraction goes. A few months ago I realized I was losing time to playing silly solitaire games on my phone and tablet. I would start out thinking I’d play for just five minutes and before I knew an hour or more wooshed past. I could be doing so many more constructive things with my time, like reading or writing or even that dreaded chore ironing. I have curbed my game playing, but I am a news junkie. I find myself checking the news aps way too many times throughout the day. I think I will join you in my own small way and for the rest of the month I will try to only check the news ap once in the morning and once in the evening.

    I think a good portion of our modern day stress comes from all of these distractions and if we can carve out a calm, quiet space for ourselves occasionally it would do wonders. I have a remote cabin that has no phone, tv, or internet and after a couple of quiet days there I feel refreshed and recharged. But anyone can get this if they decide to consciously “unplug” for a period of time.

    My biggest pet peeve is people driving and using their cell phones! A couple of years ago my husband and I were rear ended at a stoplight by a texting teenager. My husband, thankfully was unhurt and I suffered a minor neck injury that took about 6 months to heal. This is all too common. When I was at the doctor office after the accident they didn’t even have to ask if it was due to a distracted driver, it’s something they see all too often. I really hope that teenager learned her lesson. It could have been much worse and I hope she has learned to keep her eyes on the road from now on.

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    • Oh, wow, your accident is exactly the kind of thing I fear. We drive a tin can Prius in a metro area, so any accident is likely to be a bad one. I’m more conscientious about distractions while driving, reminding myself that it only takes a split second of not paying attention to cause real harm, but I also see drivers around me and easily half are doing something in addition to driving.

      I think carving out space is exactly what most of us need. I do believe that it’s fine to do things that allow our brains to rest, but the nature of most things digital is that it can easily stretch into hours, depending on one’s nature. When I start asking the question “what does this do for me?” oftentimes digital entertainment is draining, instead of relaxing.

      I think it’s going to be a tough month for me. With a whole winter of binge-watching behind me, it’s going to be a hard habit to break. But, the temps are warming up which means more outside time and spring garden labor. Let me know how your news diet goes and best wishes!

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  4. I feel a lot of the same way. It’s my phone for me. It drives me nuts. I’m constantly checking it even when I know there isn’t anything new. Maybe I should take a break from it. It’s sounds like the healthy thing to do. I rarely talk on it. Good luck, Michelle.

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    • I’m that way with my phone as well – and rarely use it for calls. My attention span has become a frustrating thing for me and it didn’t used to be this way, so I know I can unlearn some of these habits. It will definitely be tough, though. Thanks for the good wishes, Amy.

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  5. It is not so much distractions that distract me as it is transitioning off of them.

    So I wake up, put on the coffee and plod over to my computer. There I read the news, click through a few online magazines and read the blogs that I follow. I know I should start to write but it easier to reread the news, click through more online magazines and follow a few more blogs. It is always easier to not do than to do and to do what I have been doing rather than what I know I should.

    It’s like my old running days… once I forced myself out the door and hit my pace, I could easily pound out ten miles and enjoy every bit of it. The same goes for writing.

    The things that are most distracting are the things that I have to do – like household chores. These I put off until I spot my wife’s car kicking up dust in the distance then I am all a flurry of activity.

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    • I experimented with writing when I got up in the morning and I was so comatose, it felt like torture. Now I go straight to tea and a book. What happens later in the morning is what you describe – hopping from link to website to blog and I can easily kill a couple of hours.

      This week, I’m trying to not even turn on my computer until I’m ready to write. Part of it is to avoid the internet safari, but I’ve also been thinking how reading other people’s words and information impacts my writing and mood. I’ve been sticking to nonfiction books in the morning, in the hopes that I won’t find myself imitating another writer’s voice.

      My time at home has caused me to elevate nearly every other chore over writing. Our home has gotten very clean and organized over the last couple of years. My writing? Not so much. But you’re right, getting out the door is most of the battle.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I recently decided to do a smartphone detox. I turned off the internet connection on my phone and only turn it on when necessary. I disabled the WordPress app. I would answer text messages but I don’t get any..lol. It’s been nice not having my mind magnetized to my phone.

    I’ve told myself about 1000 times in the last 10 years that I would start being more disciplined with learning guitar. Even 10 minutes a day would do wonders. I used to feel like a loser for not following through. I’ve come to realize that most of us won’t work hard at anything for very long unless if we believe we really have to or if it’s really enjoyable.

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    • That sounds like a great idea. And I’ve decided to uninstall the WordPress app. I never answer comments from the phone, for the very same reason I rarely text – an inability to type complete sentences without giving my thumbs cramps. Reading on my phone just gets more ridiculous every time I have to upgrade glasses. Holding it two inches from my face can’t be healthy.

      We humans do tend to be shortsighted when learning things. Part of the problem is what we tell ourselves we “should” do. I’m that way with piano and languages. I remind myself that if I really wanted to do it, I’d find a way and maybe I can just let those ideas go. The more I let go, then I know what is left, is what is important to me. In theory.

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  7. I’ve recently started geeking out on deal dash (an auction website,) I’ve been avoiding working on selling my ebay purchases. Interesting that these are opposites?

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    • My rationalizing mind immediately thought you could easily justify it as learning more about your business. I’m really, really good at rationalizing my time-wasting. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be a marketable skill.

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  8. I actually find that with all of the media availability I crave unplugged quiet time. Three or four times a week I’ll just shut it all off for an hour (usually more) and just sit in the quiet. It feels like a luxury at this point.

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    • I think I’ve hit a saturation point this winter, especially due to the politics. It sounds like you have a healthy practice. I’m hoping with gardening season coming up, I’ll be less inclined to stay plugged in. And you’re right, that time feels like a luxury. It’s nice to imagine a day when it doesn’t feel like that.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. My least helpful distraction is definitely playing games on my iPad. I can kill hours this way. I understand that I am distracting myself from stress, from anxiety, from obsessively dwelling on a problem that just runs on an endless loop through my mind without reaching a solution. My brain often seems like a hamster running on a squeaky wheel, and it’s exhausting, like a ringing inside your ears that cannot be silenced. Without my distractions, I am afraid I might go insane. Sleep is even full of dreaming about the problem until it wakes me up, and I review the dream to see if my unconscious mind provided any insight that my awake mind failed to offer. I am afraid to give up my distractions. If I do, where will my mind take refuge from relentless working over the problem-without-a-solution? Not quite there yet, but I hear you. Oh, do I hear you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You point to the reason why many of us choose these distractions – uncomfortable feelings and emotions. I’ve mentioned it before on this blog, but I’ve been reading “The Happiness Trap” by Russ Harris and it is very useful in talking about how we handle our emotions. It might not resonate with everyone, but it really has me thinking about all this avoidance I do, which makes everything worse in the long run.

      So much about your comment has been applicable to me. It reminds me of when I was in parenting class and we went through that phase of trying to teach our kids how to name what they were feeling. I’ve started doing that for myself. It seems ridiculous, this late in the game, but routines and habits sometimes have the consequence of distancing us from ourselves. And I have to learn silly things all over again – eat when I’m hungry, sleep when I’m tired, move when I’m antsy. Sometimes all these distractions get in the way of paying attention to the simplest things.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I admire your attempts! At this point, it would be difficult to avoid Netflix! I do understand the dilemma. Right now, I am binge writing trying to avoid getting the taxes done. Also, I am finding recipes to avoid getting the taxes done, and also binge-watching Midsomer Murders to avoid getting the taxes done. I can’t help but think of the first episode of Black Books, the British sitcom, in which the owner of a bookstore does anything and everything to avoid doing his taxes. Hoping to at least get a few good flash fiction pieces done during my avoidance.

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    • I saw that they released some more seasons of Midsomer Murders and inwardly groaned. Maybe next winter. And aren’t all the people in Midsomer dead yet? I love Black Books and remember that episode.

      It’s going to be a painful experiment to see if it lengthens my attention span, as well as giving me space to do more of what I value. Although tax-doing avoidance is completely justifiable!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I wish you success and will try to let this inspire me out of my own avoidance of difficult things. One writer friend of mine has a practice: do at least one difficult thing each day. All best!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m a master procrastinator — that’s an admission, not an note of pride. I’ll let anything distract me from whatever I should be doing. I have to play all sorts of games with myself to keep things moving. All the tools of the blogging trade (social media) are distractions because I’m not making time to read a book, let alone clear clutter. I do usually have my phone on mute, which makes me forget about it. I don’t obsessively check my phone during the day. But, I’m all in my Instagram account late at night when I should be winding down for sleep.

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    • I am a master procrastinator as well and for most of my life, I was quite high-functioning. Work got done, obligations met, etc. I think as I’ve gotten older, the anxiety and stress is less tolerable, even as procrastinating has become easier than ever with all the digital options.

      I don’t think social media is inherently bad until I notice how edgy I am, how easily I am distracted from nearly any task and how out-of-body I feel when I disconnect. It’s definitely taking me in a direction that I’m not comfortable with and I feel more stupid for not doing more complex, focused thinking. Which is ironic, considering the availability of information.

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  12. For me it was Facebook. A few years back I would check it everyday, and I would often find that I had wasted over an hour reading mindless things. I would tell myself it was to keep in touch with friends who I wouldn’t hear from without Facebook. But in reality, a tiny fraction of that time would be reading friends’ updates and looking at their pictures. The rest of it was spent fuming over mean political posts or clicking on and reading mindless articles that, in the grand scheme of things, I cared nothing about. The first “Facebook detox” that I did was amazing. I discovered that not being on Facebook put me in a better mood–I didn’t see all the bullying and meanness and garbage. I have since gotten over my Facebook addiction (and it drives my family nuts when they ask if I saw their pictures yet and the answer is no). I no longer have the Facebook app on my phone and go days without checking it sometimes.

    I understand your frustration about writing. This is my first year not teaching middle school. While I was teaching and being a mom, all hope of my finding time to chase my dream and write a novel was gone. In my pre-kids days, I had written a couple novels. Both of them were awful. I didn’t spend the time with either of them to try to revise and make them great, though they were so flawed from the beginning, I don’t know that great was ever a possibility. I finally got a chance to take some time off teaching and my intention was to finally write some fiction that was worth sticking with. Though I’ve done more writing in the last seven months than in the last five years combined, I’m so unsatisfied with how I’m doing. I’ve worked through some books on writing craft and done some random writing exercises, I’ve written one fiction story (that I’m not satisfied with and have been putting off doing further revisions), and I’ve started a blog (which I’m spending most of my time on). The blog is fun, but I’ve spent so much time learning the technology and writing posts, that I can’t help question if it’s more help or more distraction. I want to be a fiction writer, and that’s not going to happen unless I spend my time writing fiction, not blogs.

    And it seems like there are so many other distractions that I won’t get into here. I never guessed, when I took time off, that I’d have to learn how to feel like I don’t need to apologize if I want to spend my time writing. I haven’t quite learned yet.

    As for driving and texting. . . so scary. My friends in the USA tell me people there do it all the time, but I don’t see it so much when we visit the States. Here in China, the traffic is horrendous and I’m horrified at the blatant disregard for safety rules–people don’t follow any traffic laws. The people who can’t afford cars depend on scooters even in the winter. I don’t know how many times I see a family on a scooter. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen a person texting on their *scooter* and not even wearing a helmet. It’s awful.

    Sorry for my long comment. If you’ve made it to the end, thanks for reading. Be assured it’s because your writing is great and you give me a lot to think about that I feel the need to say so much.

    Thanks for you post. Best of luck in your Netflix detox. I hope it’s as liberating for you as my Facebook detoxes were.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My brief forays into Facebook left me very irritable. And the culture surrounding it is irritating – from the passing on of unoriginal, useless, or biased information to being “discovered” by people that I was out of touch with for a reason. Some people find it invaluable for staying connected. It just didn’t work for me.

      The only positive thing I can say about my writing is that I do it, in one form or another, regularly. The problem is that I’m not committing fully to the time, easily distracted and interrupted. I think a great deal is lost by that. We’ll see what having fewer excuses or distractions does for it. I’m glad that I have the space and time to experiment with my life at this point.

      Having nearly been sideswiped by an inattentive driver this week was yet another reminder that defensive driving needs all of one’s focus. If I had not been paying attention, I would have been hit.

      Thanks for sharing your perspective and experiences. Already, by cutting out Netflix, I got more done yesterday. That was a foreseeable consequence. I’ll be curious to see what it does for my brain over the next few weeks. Thanks for the good wishes!

      Liked by 2 people

  13. Loved what you have shared with such transparency. I gave up my addiction to watching “Mad Men” on Netflix. It was crazy how I could spend a few hours every evening watching episode after episode, series after series. I finally realized that even though the intrigue of the advertising story line was what drew me in, I was immersed in endless negative relationship drama that began to consume my thoughts as if these people were real, as if they were part of my life. SMH! I cut the ties – I freed up my time and beat the addiction! Guess what I’ve done since then … I’ve written my first book, soon to be published on Amazon! Here’s to your first book! Start writing! 🙂

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    • You bring up SUCH a good point in regards to binge watching. I got to the end of several series this winter and I felt a sense of loss – I missed the characters, as if they were my friends. So odd! I guess if I’m going to feel emotional attachments to fictional characters, I would like them to be of my own imagination.

      Such exciting news for you – congratulations! Thanks for sharing an example of what can happen when you let go of distractions.

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  14. Cable tv and home phones were my greatest distractions. My wife and I agreed cut the cord with both of these . I find more serenity to write now.

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    • I haven’t watched network TV in the last decade because I can’t stand advertising. Then Hulu and Netflix came on the internet scene, and then Amazon Prime Video. Before I knew it, I was binge-watching BBC shows, re-watching old sitcoms, plowing through documentaries. It is an addictive time-waster for me, so that will have to be my first distraction elimination towards reclaiming my time.

      Thanks for sharing your experience!

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  15. wow. GReat post here. I’m kind of like Lonna, (above)…I started a blog this year and though its fun, it wasn’t helping me toward my goal of fiction writing. So I made a column, “Fridays fun flash fiction” with the intent of positing a short piece every friday. It’s helping, somewhat, and I encourage her to do something similar.
    My phone broke last week so i was without it for three days until the new one came. It was a super relaxing three days, and made me not want the new one! Problem is, you have to be somewhat plugged in because others are. So if you don’t, then you could easily become so out of touch!

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    • I don’t mind being out of touch. Or at least, I didn’t used to. Somehow, that has changed over the last few years. When our internet goes down on occasion, it’s like a total shift in my reality.

      I hate to fall back on the old cliche, but it is that pesky pursuit of balance. Staying grounded, while being connected to others. Although, I feel like the addictive hook makes balance difficult – I need to go cold turkey on things for a bit to see whether I really want something in my life at all.

      Thanks for sharing your experience being disconnected!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Pingback: Mondays muse on distractions, and avoidance… | Ciarfella's Fiction Corner

  17. When I was in college, I actually had someone change my Netflix password for me during finals because I couldn’t focus. My phone isn’t a huge distraction, I’m good at putting it away when it matters, but when I’m on my own with nothing to do Netflix is too big a crutch. I should read if I’m bored. Or actually run the errands that I keep saying I need to.

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    • So far, I’ve been able to control myself, but if push comes to shove, getting someone to change my password might be a great plan! Netflix has been a big crutch for me this winter and unhooking gives me a lot of empty space. Now, what I fill that with is the big question. One hopes it will be highbrow reading and erudite writing…

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  18. Even though I only have one device, my laptop, within that slim package is a whole world of blogging/books/netflix/forums/etc. I think I am addicted, but can stop in a heartbeat when there is a local festival, or a good hike in the offing, or a new country to explore. I’ve never been able to stand background noise. Silence, and one thing at a time, but I too have been known to lie on the floor and twitch from time to time 🙂
    Alison

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    • It doesn’t sound like addiction to me, Allison – it sounds like balance. I believe that I’m actually missing out on life, because of my distractions.

      I still haven’t adjusted to no Netflix – there’s a weird, gaping emptiness. That tells me that quitting was a good idea, despite how uncomfortable it feels. I keep reminding myself that to live a life of my values, I have to make space for it. I don’t want this to be about just quitting something, but also learning how to embrace something better.

      Still twitching a bit, though…

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m going through some pretty big inner changes here in SMA and it’s coming to me that I need to cut back drastically on laptop time (no matter what I’m doing on the laptop) in order to make room for the new, for new ideas to arise, and new activities. I find I’m twitching a little just at the thought.

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        • I think that’s the best way to approach this idea of removing distractions – making room for amazing things to happen. I’ve been sitting in silence a lot and not the cool kind of meditative silence. The deafening, brain-grasping kind – I’m hoping it passes soon. I’m trying to stay open and not let the twitches take over.

          Liked by 1 person

  19. Firstly, your husband is a riot. Secondly, how can we both be sick again? Thirdly, I’m with you on shutting off whatever. I’m done with Facebook unless it’s to put up one of my blog posts (I’m still too much of an attention hound to not broadcast myself everywhere). I’ve got the windows open today. That’s all the background ambience I need today.

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    • I think this mild winter makes it harder for germs to be killed off. Now my kid is sick, too. Twice a winter we all seem to go down. Now that we’ve met our quota, I’m looking forward to the spring.

      Once I kick this Netflix/video habit, then I’m going to work on the other shiny objects. One thing at a time. I actually feel pretty antagonistic about Facebook, but try to keep it under wraps, because so many people here use it. For all the reasons that people say they do it, I see more negative emotions related to it than not. It’s an advertising/data mining tool which plays to human proclivities in order to get information. I need to shut up now before I go full rant.

      More open windows, more open windows! It’s already 58F here!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. I’m hooked on my phone, Michelle. Sad but true. it’s a very handy thing, instant entertainment. My most recent downloaded app is supposed to be teaching me Spanish. But actually I’m already addicted to the KaChing noise it makes whenever I guess the correct answer. Great post, thank-you.

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    • My smartphone is smarter than I, so I spend a lot of time resenting it. Instant entertainment is the key to all of this – so easy and so convenient to be taken out of our mundane lives. It’s a tough ride to put those things down and look around us, but I’m going to keep working at it.

      Thanks for reading, Jill and sharing my blog on yours – it’s much appreciated.

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  21. Pingback: Freshly Seen at Jill’s Scene during February. – Jill's Scene

  22. I like how you boiled down the problem with delayed showers leading to unproductive days. I have never really put that cause and effect together so perfectly. Also, the smell thing. That hit a nail on the head.

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  23. Beautifully written.

    The recent researches in psychology discuss how multi-tasking may not be a skill after all, your post lay it bare all too clearly. We all suffer with these distractions, like you I haven’t watched TV in a long time but still I am so “addicted to” these distractions that sometime I don’t even notice them consuming precious time I could use else where.

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    • Thank you. I’ve read several studies that confirm we’re not really multi-tasking, but switch-tasking very quickly. In some instances, this might be a useful skill, but I think with reading, writing or any activity that requires critical thinking skills, singular focus is required.

      Your point about not noticing how your time is consumed is the crux of things. It is all too easy to while away hours hopping between devices and entertainment. I don’t think these things are inherently bad in moderation, but it also depends on what you value. For me, distractions have gotten to the point of not matching or supporting my values.

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      • Completely agreed. I think I need to do more balancing act from now on. Thank you for the amazing post. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

        Liked by 1 person

  24. Everybody needs to read this. It’s true for almost everyone. We are all driven to distraction. this morning I woke up to my phone making sounds at 4AM. I had to have my phone on for a specific reason. I don’t usually keep it on at night. And somehow my sound OFF settings had come undone and not by me. I think Apple did it to annoy me. I glance at my phone way too often during the day, though, and it’s becoming a problem. I’d like to throw it away, but then I might go permanently insane by being deprived. That’s how I know technology has done me in.

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    • The phone thing is an issue for me as well. One of the things I’ve learned over the last week is that the more distractions I strip away, the more noticeable the few I have left are and in being noticeable, also irritating. I suspect I’m working my way towards large swaths of uninterrupted time, but it’s uncomfortable getting there. I feel like I’m moving in slow motion without so many things coming at me – which is, I imagine, one of the points of mindfulness.

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  25. my least helpful distraction is concerning myself with caring about where my life has been, is now, and where it will go! To hell with it; it’s a waste of energy and time. What I’m avoiding is moving forward in a nonchalant , devil may care fashion.

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    • Your comment reminds me of the point of all of this – learning how to stay in the moment and being mindful of our time. I used to have long term plans and spent a lot of time beating myself over the head with past mistakes.

      I think it was a necessary part of growing and evolving, but at some point, it just becomes about being anywhere but in the moment we’re in, which is the only life we have any guarantee of. We humans often miss it, lost in rumination over past and future.

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  26. I think every time someone texts while driving and gets into an accident, we all have that same thought. “What if that happens to me?” Whether it’s our children, our spouses, or US, we know that texting and driving happens. We can tell our children not to, but what happens when they get a text and they think, “I’ll just glance at the screen to see who it is?” I don’t really text all that much, but I’m guilty of trying to enter things into my GPS so I can find my way while driving. Or trying to find something to listen to on my phone. Fortunately anytime I do go somewhere, I end up sitting at so many traffic lights, I have plenty of time to look at my phone!

    Stephanie
    http://stephie5741.blogspot.com

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    • Part of the problem when you read a story like the one I referenced above, is that it’s human nature to say “well, at least I’m not that bad”, to reassure ourselves that we wouldn’t have an accident.
      I read that story and my knee-jerk reaction was to condemn the teenager, but it is likely that she is enduring a hell we can hardly imagine. It should, instead, serve as a reminder that what I pay attention to in the car is on a continuum and is just as likely to cause an accident in the few seconds I may not be looking.
      Thanks for sharing your perspective!

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      • Great post and straight from the heart. I like your honesty and being straight up with your feelings. I empathize with how you feel about distractions. Sometimes I feel like it’s a curse on human beings unless we learn to refocus our energies. Lately, in order to avoid distractions, I have been running to the nearest Starbucks or Barnes and nobles. I am able to zone everything or any noise around me while getting into my own thoughts. I have a family and unfortunately when I’m home, it’s so easy to get distracted with all the to do’s. As for getting distracted while driving, it’s an all to common occurrence in our world today. When I am tempted to reach for the phone, I tell myself it can wait. Whatever did we do before cell phones? I remember going from point A t o point B and when you got home you checked your messages. Oh well, our high tech world has its pluses but also a minus. Hang in there life has a way of getting us back on track.

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