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Archive for the month “April, 2015”

Lessons Learned: My Cellular Sabbatical

It was an interesting week without a cell phone.

Technically, I had a cell phone by Tuesday. But I looked at with disdain (and a small amount of fear being that I was entering the Dark Side by switching to an iPhone) until Sunday.

Honesty disclaimer: I did receive and reply to a few texts from my kids, and I used Google maps to find a greenhouse in Winterset on Saturday. Otherwise, it was a purely phone-free week.

So here are a few things I gleaned from my cellular sabbatical:

~It can be done! (Strike alarming chord!) And, actually, after a day or so of withdrawal, it was quite freeing and relaxing.

~Yes, I did have a bit of ‘technology withdrawal.’ For instance, I love my Soundhound app. It’s a wonderful little app that identifies the name and artist of songs playing on the radio. You just tap on it, it “listens” for a bit, and the title and musician pops up on your screen. There were a couple of times I reached for my phone and thought, “Whoops! Can’t do that! No phone.”

Google. Yeah, I really missed my Google. I Google a lot of things. A few weeks back I even sat in the parking lot of the grocery store and Googled this:


I Googled what kinds of toothpaste have screw top lids because I DESPISE flip top lids. I promise, there is no way to keep those from getting all gooped up. But, as I sat Googling toothpaste tops (because I didn’t think the store management would want me opening all the boxes to check for lids), I realized that I might have a bit of a Google-dependency.

That was the first realization that my phone wielded too much power in my life.

But Google is a great Bible study tool, and that’s where I missed it this week. I Google a lot of verses or Biblical definitions—very handy.

~But that brings me to the main realization of my week: we have become a lazy, non-thinking, non-planning society. O.k., “we” may be too broad a brush stroke. But I think it’s become too easy to let our smart phones do all of our thinking for us. I realized that, without my phone, my kids or hubby couldn’t call me and ask me to pick up milk or cheese or French onion dip (you know, staples of life). But before cell phones, we planned, we took stock of our needs, and then, if we forgot something, we got along without it.

What? Get along without something? Perhaps improvise? Perhaps plan better and communicate ahead of time? What crazy thoughts are these?


And what about math? (If you know me, you’re thinking, “Yes, Jen, what about math?”) I was without a calculator all week. No, I couldn’t even scrounge up a little, cheapy version in the junk drawer. Heaven forbid that I should figure tax out without an electronic device.  Add a short column of numbers on paper (carry the one. . .)? Figure out the percentage Seth got on a test? Yes, I actually had to use my brain and some basic math—which I surprisingly remembered—to get these answers. I know, I’m pathetic.

In my defense, let me just say, I rarely have to look up grammar, spelling, or vocabulary questions—just sayin.’

My point is, we have become so dependent on texts or MAYBE a quick phone call that we fail to plan ahead and communicate concisely. We’ve become so dependent on Google or Mapquest or Pinterest that we can’t (or simply don’t want to put forth the effort) to solve our own problems or come up with our own creative ideas. Most of us have become much too willing to relinquish our lives to the internet.

So here’s my plan going forward:

~Facebook will stay OFF my phone

~My phone will stay at home during ‘short errands.’

~My phone will stay in the office only to be checked in the morning and at noon. Late afternoons and evenings, I’m sure I’ll have it handy.

~I want to plan better, write more notes, and make more phone calls.

~Mostly, I want to stay aware of how much I use my phone and for what purposes and just try to keep my life a little simpler.

 “Stay low, stay quiet, keep it simple, don’t expect too much, enjoy what you have.”     ― Dean Koontz

Cellular Sabbatical

My cell phone met its demise Sunday morning.


Of course, it was my fault.

          –My hands were full of junk from the van.

          –I tucked it amongst all the stuff I was carrying, but. . .

          –I committed the cardinal sin: not having my phone in its protective case.

The infamous protective case: always put on your seatbelt, always wear a helmet, and ALWAYS have a case on your phone!

The infamous protective case: always put on your seatbelt, always wear a helmet, and ALWAYS have a case on your phone!

It slid silkily from my grasp and landed beautifully face-down on the cement. And, I’m sure some of you have been there, I gingerly picked it up and peeked at it as if, by some miracle, it could still be intact.

I thought this was hilarious! Yes, I tried turning my phone on and off, too.

I thought this was hilarious! Yes, I tried turning my phone on and off, too.

No. No, there would be no miraculous healing of this cell phone.

I actually found it slightly humorous when, as I tried to restart it, it gave some faint glimmers and twinkles and beeps. The little start light in the upper, left corner wavered on and off like some weak heartbeat. It almost reminded me of a sort of flattened and dying R2D2. And then, it just stopped. My little Samsung 3GS was no more.

I’m not trying to be melodramatic here, but it’s a strange feeling to step into the day without a cell phone. It was both very freeing and a bit unsettling. The thought of absolutely not being able to send and receive texts made me giddy and worried at the same time. It’s that joyous feeling of being free of all responsibility.

“Oh, I’m sorry I didn’t reply. My phone is smashed, so I didn’t get your text.”

~and fear ~

“Mom, why didn’t you call me? I sent you a text!”

So far, so good.

And then there’s the inability to check and respond to emails in an instant. I’m not really sure this has bothered me, but it’s just been a retraining.


See, here’s what I’ve been thinking these past few days without my cell phone. I, and we as an American people (lump yourself in there if the shoe fits), have become like so many trained lab rats.

Shocking, I know. That’s probably not what you expected me to say.

But that cell phone has become the proverbial bit of cheese. It chimes; we check it. It vibrates; we look. It lights up; we do the under-the-table-glance. We can’t NOT look.

Anytime we have a spare moment—and even when we don’t—we pick up our phones and do a quick check of–


–Really, is there anything there so urgent that it can’t wait? We’ve trained others in our lives to expect instant answers. And now we are on the hamster wheel and can’t get off.

email image


–Actually, I don’t think there is a “quick check” of Facebook, is there? There’s always some enticing headline: A Man on a Cruise Asked a Woman Why She was Traveling Alone, and Her Answer Will Astound You!” or “21 of the Worst Engagement Photographs!” Come on, click on it, you know you want to. . . . Or there’s the embarrassing picture of a friend that is just DYING for one of your witty comments. And then you just need to scroll through to see how much of other peoples’ lives you’ve been missing (while wasting 20 minutes of your own). For the record: I deleted Facebook from my phone a few weeks back simply because the above statements would be true of me. That is shamefully embarrassing to admit.


–Has anybody messaged me? Did I reply to all of my messages? Are there dates on any messages that I need to put on my electric calendar so that I can get an electric reminder of my busy life?


–Better check the calendar, too. Sync it with the school and church calendar, plug in all the sports, music, and dance. Wow! There are two whole days empty next month! Now that’s something to brag about.


–Now by this time, if you aren’t already overwhelmed with the busyness of your own life and the “wonderfulness” (via Facebook) of everyone else’s lives, sure, go ahead and check out Pinterest. Look at all the ooey-gooey treats other people are hoping to make. Stare in painful awe of the muscle-twerking workouts other people hope to implement. Sigh heavily at the decorating projects friends may, at that very moment, be accomplishing. And then, with virtual head held high, post noble Pins of your own that you found under the “Quote” topic. Ah, hopefully that will inspire someone. . . .

There you go! Something to think about all day long. . .

There you go! Something to think about all day long. . .

Now, of course, I say this knowing that I, above all, am most guilty. It’s been in the past month or so that I’ve had this sickening realization of how much time I spend on my phone.

~How often was I checking something on my phone while someone was talking to me?

~How often was I needing to attend to home duties but instead was checking my phone?

~How much time did I spend in the Word or prayer compared to time spent on my phone?

~How many letters or notes of encouragement have I written or actual PHONE CALLS have I made instead of a text or email?

And as I recognize this lack of phone-discipline (I think this should be a new term inducted into Webster’s dictionary), I recognize other areas of my life that could use some discipline. What’s the cause-effect here? Which one is the chicken and which one is the egg? Not sure it matters. What matters is that I make some changes.

Now back to my smashed phone.

I decided on Sunday—after the tragedy– that I would take a week long sabbatical from any cellular device. You say, “Well, that’s easy. Your phone is smashed.” But, if you know my husband at all, you know he was on the hunt for the best phone deal like a pack a hounds on a fox. So, at this moment, my new phone is on the kitchen counter waiting to be charged to life. (And then the agonizing, humiliating process of learning a new phone begins.) But, no, it’s going to stay silent until Sunday.


So, until then, you can reach me via Facebook or email. (Sorry, I just don’t think I can swear-off the computer this week, too). Or, send a note, stop by for coffee—the porch furniture is out—or call our home phone and chat. I promise, I won’t check my phone even once.

           ~Only time will tell if it was time well spent.~

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