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    Life Without Status Updates





    I saw this the other day on (ahem) Facebook, and it got me thinking:

     

    {Calvin & Hobbes are awesome}


    We were blessed to have a lot of time to be together as a family this summer, away from hectic schedules and routines and crowds. We were also blessed - though it may have been one of those proverbial blessings in disguise - to be in places where fast internet (or internet, at all) isn't a priority. Having a difficult time using your phone makes you use it less. Using it less makes you look up more, look around, reach out, find ways to fill the moments you'd been so used to filling with checking emails, status updates, photos, games, news, videos, posts. Sometimes you fill the moments with simply being. Listening. Observing. Living. Loving. Noticing things that have gone unnoticed at digital life speed. Looking up at the stars.

     

    {heaven is here} 


    Seeing nature and parts of our earth I'd never seen before - without the constant companion of palm-sized information diarrhea - was inspiring. Releasing. And humbling. Because… HOW? How have I gone so many years without knowing what the stars really look like - as they do on the Kansas plains. They look there, nothing like my lightpollutedbackyardpostagestamp view of the New Jersey sky. Watching my children explore the earth, dig in the sand, splash in the water, move rocks, climb trees, find wildlife – without the interruption of status updates – was simply wondrous.  It is wonderous, as well, to do these things yourself. Experiences in real life, real time.

     

    {hiking through the foothills}


    To be honest, it wasn’t easy at first. Being away from technology… initially, it's like a tugging, pulling, calling to me that doesn't subside. HOW can I be without INFORMATION? Without conversation - the typewritten kind, anyway? Without UPDATES? Weather? Pictures? News? Videos? DISTRACTIONS? But the pulling gets weaker. After a few days, I forgot to carry my phone with me a couple of times. The information and news that seemed so necessary last week, became more unnecessary, with each passing day. The immediate loses its charm. I started to forget. I began to relearn patience and observation, being present, and how to embrace boredom.

    {being present}


    I rediscovered the pleasure of reading a book: it doesn't update, doesn't change, refresh, or move forward. It stays right where I left it on the precise page I dog-eared yesterday when my children needed me. It was still there, unchanged, when I had time or desire to come back to it. Uncluttered with ads. Devoid of noise. Black text on white page. Tangible. Unmoving. There's something grounding in that. Grounding like the silence of the sunrise. Or the thinness of the air at twelve-thousand feet.

     

    {Maine at 5:58am}


     

    {Colorado at 12,310 feet}


    Being away from the stream of constant interruption gave me opportunity to really THINK about the interruption we experience every day in our digitized lives. We’re always being physically interrupted – a status check here, an email there, a text message here, a photo there. And, as such, we’re in a state of continual mental intrusion that these updates often cause – often without our full consent.  Think about this:  When is the last time you were able to log into to your favorite social media website, read something, post a reply, and walk away without giving it another thought; undeterred by how your comment might be taken – by people you may not really even know. It happens even if you don’t stop to participate in the conversation – the comments of others swirl around in your mind or you analyze the content of the story or you mull over the ensuing conversation. All about people you aren’t actually interacting with, over things that often don’t directly impact your life, all the while, an intrusion on your state of mind, your peacefulness, your presence with the people you ARE actually interacting with, and the nature within which you actually LIVE. This happens, I’ve found, without even being aware that it’s happening. You just start feeling a little off, a little down, a little distracted – not sure why. Your responses to your spouse or children or friends might be a bit short, irritated, less patient. How CAN you be patient with the weight of the internet world on your shoulders along with all your physical time demands. Then you realize… oh. It’s that blog/message board conversation/video I read/participated in/watched that has me concerned. And maybe then you can let it go. For a while. Be more present. At least until the next log in.

     

    {relaxing, without mental distraction}


    I didn’t fully recognize this happened to me, too until… the internet, and the distraction that comes with it, wasn’t there anymore. And I was left with a lot of… empty space and time in my mind. When you have space to think, without mindlessness to fill it in, you actually… start to think. And to FEEL. And to realize - perhaps most importantly - that the people I really most wanted to communicate with were right there - within touching distance of me. The things I wanted to experience were right beneath my feet. Neither of which required a computer or a phone at all.

    {siblings} 


    And yes, I recognize the irony of my writing this - at my computer. With the intention of posting it on the internet. And then using social media to disseminate it.But that, of course, is because I recognize the benefits of the digital age in which we live. I understand and appreciate the value of the internet for a variety of purposes – Information: looking up the names of the constellations, the words to a poem, a vegan recipe, how to spell something correctly, the list of awesome, immediate access is endless. Support & Community: connecting with people who have similar areas of interest and experience - particularly important when your interests may lie outside of the norm. I can't enumerate how many times I've found great support for breastfeeding, babywearing, gentle parenting online… heck, it's one of the main reasons for my writing this blog: to share my experiences with other parents who may be looking for suggestions and support on how to parent from their heart, who may not have those resources and support in their physical lives. But while I understand all of the wonders of the internet, when weighed against the wonders of just BEING with your loved ones, I have to tip the scales in the direction of real touch and interaction: more time on the floor with my kids than in front of the computer; more nature exploration than website exploration.  This realization may make me deficient in social media, but a nature and family connection deficiency is far more grave and long-lasting.


    {studying a sunflower}


    So my challenge, and one I present to you, is to aim towards taking a few more moments out of each day to look at the stars, watch the sunrise, look in your kids' eyes, and leave your computer off and your phone behind. On purpose. Live life without status updates. It will be worthwhile, I promise.

    Posted: Sep 09 2012, 18:44 by kelly | Comments (4) RSS comment feed |
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    All Things Seem Possible in May





    The world's favorite season is the spring. 

    All things seem possible in May.

    ~Edwin Way Teale

    I've never done a monthly wrap-up post before, but because May was particularly awesome this time around, I've decided to give it a try. What blessings hath May brought? 

    I RAN ten miles (without stopping!) at the Broad Street run in Philadelphia - My longest running distance ever (so far!): 

      

    The kids completed their first season of Soccer; making me a… (wait for it…) Soccer Mom. Should I get that soccer ball sticker for my minivan yet?


    Speaking of Mom, on Mother's Day weekend, I was treated to a box of brownies, breakfast, flowers, gifts, a drive-thru zoo where the giraffes come right. Up. To. Your. Car. (I love New Jersey), an amusement park, and dinner at my favorite vegetarian restaurant in Philly. Not bad if I do say so myself:


    Many of my flowers started blooming. May is one of the most amazing months in the garden.


    I traveled to a television studio in New York City and met two blogger friends and an attachment parenting guru:


    Next up, my baby turned FIVE. Five I tell you. Unbelievable. My heart:


    Later that week, we took the kids for their very first backpacking trip - 11 miles, three days, and two nights out in the backcountry of Virginia! It was amazing and awesome (and wet and exhausting) but so wonderfully bonding as a family. It was incredibly refreshing to get so close to the earth, and back to basics (No social media! No laptop! No cellphone service!):

     

    And we concluded with a trip to Washington DC to visit the museums and Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day:

     

    It's been a spectacular month. I can't wait to see what's up next - bring it on, June!!!    

    Posted: Jun 02 2012, 10:54 by kelly | Comments (0) RSS comment feed |
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    Sunday Spark: Spring Break





    As our Spring Break comes to a close today, I'm looking back with fondness on a week that we didn't really go anywhere, butwe had a grand time all the same - relaxing, witnessing the many Spring flowers in bloom, planting and finding geocaches, and just enjoying tons of family time. Okay, yes, and enduring the stomach bug too (fortunately, that passed quickly). And with today's weather in the 80's, the kids put up a lemonade stand (They made $3.75!!). I hope your Spring break was as agreeable as ours (less the intestinal flu). Happy Spring! 

    Lemonade stand and chalk drawing in April!

     

    Clematis in our front garden, in nearly full bloom!

     

    Swinging...

     

    Iris in our front yard. So quickly they come & go...

     

    One of many geocaches we found this week!

     

    Ah, tulips - the sure sign of Spring!

     

    Serious egg-dying at Grandma's house.

     

    Eggs on the lawn after the fifth or six hide & seek game.

     

    Fetching a ball from the pond. 

     

    The stunning beauty of nature & why I love New Jersey - the pines.

    Posted: Apr 15 2012, 19:36 by kelly | Comments (0) RSS comment feed |
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    Sunday Spark: Hiking in the Woods





    When Adam asked me what I’d like to do for my birthday, naturally, I said I’d like to go for a hike.

    (Leaves had fallen all along the trail... beautiful!)
    We’ve been hiking together for 17 years. I’ve hiked through two pregnancies, hiked with a newborn, hiked when the snow was up to my hips and when the wind blew so hard and cold that the water was freezing in my drinking water line, hiked when the mosquitoes have bitten my ankles til they’re swollen. Together we’ve woken with the sun, put a tent up in the dark, and the rain, hiked on the Appalachian Trail, in Canada, Mexico, and several US states, and have carried everything we needed for days on our backs. Our children have been along with us for much of the journey. So when we say we’re going hiking – they shout joyously: WHEN!! It warms my heart to see how much they love the woods, too.
    See, nature is my second language. When I’m out in the woods, everything is clear, right, and okay. We could be cold; it’s okay. We could be lost; it’s okay. We could be tired; it’s okay. The energy of the trees, the synergy between sun, air, ground, plants, animals, humans… the world is condensed, tangible, reachable, when you’re in the woods. There aren't any hard, fast schedules, no expectations, no limits. Everything seems possible, and life, perfect.

    (Starting off up the AT)
    Yesterday, as usual, nature didn’t disappoint! We chose a circuit trail at the Delaware Water Gap, on the Pennsylvania side – a favorite spot since it’s not too far a drive for us, and the elevation increase from base to peak isn’t too great, so the incline is gentle – perfect for hikes with children.

    (View across the gap - Mt. Tammany straight ahead, Mt. Minsi to the right)
    We climbed Mount Minsi this time, which was a gentle incline on a mostly clear, not-too-narrow, and well-marked part of the AT. We crossed streams, past a couple of ponds and rocky outcroppings, and were treated to several beautiful views of the gap. At the top, Mt. Minsi opens up to a glorious view of Mount Tammany – still very green, as you can see!

    (View of Mt. Tammany from the top of Mt. Minsi)
    We’ve hiked Mt. Tammany with the kids in the past; it was a slightly shorter loop. The Minsi loop we chose was a ~4.25 miler up the Appalachian Trail, and down a fire lane. It was a beautiful Fall day, warm, bright, the leaves starting to fall – it was absolutely perfect for a day hike.


    (Heading down the fire lane)
    I hope you had a lovely weekend, and are enjoying the Fall. If you hike with your family, tell me about your favorite hiking spot - I'd love to hear!
    Posted: Oct 09 2011, 11:29 by kelly | Comments (3) RSS comment feed |
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    Secular Mealtime Prayers





    When we sit down to eat as a family in the evenings, there’s often a rush to the table – kids leaving their play or work in the middle of what they were doing and Adam & I shuffling plates and pots and spoons to get food to everyone.  Once we all sit, inevitably someone needs to immediately use the bathroom or grab the catsup or take their socks off, and everyone wants to talk about their day all at once. It can be pretty hectic.

    Family meal is a great time to connect with each other, talk about our days, and relax together for a bit.  Still, sometimes wish we had a prayer of sorts to start off each meal.  Saying a mealtime grace is a nice way to call attention to everyone being settled at the table, and reminds us all of the importance of being thankful for what we have. It can set the tone for a peaceful meal, and help us all feel even more connected with one another and the task at hand (eating as a family).

    The graces I grew up with were very religious, as are most of the ones I’ve heard when out eating with others. Since we are a secular household, the mealtime thanks I’m looking for are ones which don’t thank a specific god.  After an extensive search, I’m pleased to present a list of non-deity-specific graces! I’m hoping to incorporate one into our family meals each evening:

     

    We love our bread.
    We love our butter.

    But most of all,

    We love each other!

    (source: http://www.retrojunk.com/tv/quotes/1688-madeline/ [Madeline series])

     

    For what we are about to receive
    let us be truly thankful
    to those who prepared it and those who served it.

    (source: www.secularseasons.org/celebrations/graces.html)

     

    Earth we thank you for our food,
    For work and play and all that's good,
    For wind and rain and sun above,
    But most of all for those we love.

    (source: http://www.confectionique.com/2010_11_01_archive.html)

     

    Thank you for green grass under me
    Thank you for blue skys over me
    Thank you for good friends beside me
    Thank you for good food in front of me
    and peace all over the world.

    (source: http://www.weddingguideuk.com/articles/wordsmusic/poems/lovepoems6.asp)

     

    Blessings on our meal, on everyone here and everyone dear.

    (source: http://eringoodman.wordpress.com/2007/10/25/meal-blessings/)

     

    Thank you for the food we eat
    Thank you for the friends we meet
    Thank you for the birds that sing
    We give thanks for everything!

    (source: http://www.users.ms11.net/~gsong/Graces/nondom.html)

     

    May the food we share feed our bodies
    May the words we share feed our minds
    May the love we share feed our hearts

    (source: http://www.mothering.com/community/forum/thread/358703/mealtime-prayer-of-thanks)

     

    We give thanks for the plants and animals who have given themselves so that we can enjoy this meal together.
    We also give thanks for our friends and family who have traveled here today.
    May this meal bring us strength and health.

    (source: http://www.secularseasons.org/celebrations/graces.html)

     

    Earth who gives to us this food
    Sun who makes it ripe and good
    Dearest Earth, Dearest Sun:
    Joy and Love for all you have done.

    (source: http://eringoodman.wordpress.com/2007/10/25/meal-blessings/)


    Do you have a mealtime prayer that you say?  Please share!

    Posted: Jul 31 2011, 15:05 by kelly | Comments (9) RSS comment feed |
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