A Unique Staycation

Confessions from my technology fast

by Jeri Cartwright
Utah CEO  9/2009

My summer staycation: Eight precious days with minimal technology. No computing, checking e-mail or using social media. I even taped a piece of paper over the blinking message light on my landline phone. It was my great experiment.

The day before embarking upon my staycation, I received sad, tragic news. A cousin, planting flowers in her garden, was killed when a speeding vehicle lost control and landed in her yard.

Mid-week, I learned that a friend’s teenage son had died. End of week, I decorated family graves. On the way to the cemeteries, I barely avoided a high-speed head-on crash with a vehicle coming at me in the wrong lane. My hand covered my pounding heart. I gasped for breath. These events were both sad and frightening, but I chose to consider them a gift. They made life feel more precious, and made me more determined to make my days off very meaningful.

I’ve returned from my staycation. Here are some observations:

  1. The first two days were the hardest. At first I threw myself into house projects. Then I remembered I was supposed to be on staycation, and backed off.
  2. I learned to “space out” again, to take a brain break. While sipping a drink at a sidewalk cafe, I became bored and automatically reached for my smart phone. STOP! I put it back and learned the art of staring at city birds on cement.
  3. I started noticing people again — their smiles, frowns and other expressions.
  4. I wanted “throughout the house” music. Couldn’t do it without firing up iTunes. I hadn’t used my stereo in years.
  5. I ran out of a number of supplements that cannot be purchased locally. I HAD to go online to order them.
  6. When the computer is on, I shop. When it is off, I don’t. Hmmm … turn off technology, save money?
  7. My nerves are calmer. The odd facial twitches I developed from stress at the computer simply went away.
  8. I learned to garden, something I have never done.
  9. I couldn’t indulge in my hobbies — they are all computer-based.
  10. When I needed a phone number or directions, I was forced to use my iPhone. I don’t think I know how to use a phone book anymore.
  11. I didn’t eat over my desk. The art of enjoying, truly tasting food, made a comeback.
  12. Best of all, I spent quality time on the front porch giving delicate head rubs to my pet parrot Snicker and gecko Larry.

As I write this, eyes on the glare of the screen, fingers relearning the keyboard, I have a sense of longing for the simple. I gaze through the window. A gloriously green world and light rain beckon. Yet here I sit, robbing myself of nature’s calm.

Don’t get me wrong — I love technology. But I hate what it has done to my moments of serenity.

Back to work.


Article originally appeared in Utah CEO.

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