5 things from 1989 to better my life

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Is it a bad thing to constantly want to turn the clock back to 1989?

It’s not the cool high bangs look or the colored leather that brings such longing. Nor is it a yearning for synthesizer-heavy tunes, a livin’ large attitude or step aerobics craze. For me, it was the beginning of my “adult years” (ahem, the big 1-8 that year) when I was ready to take on the world and the world at that time was filled with face-to-face conversations, the beauty of being unavailable by phone (no email yet!), written correspondence, rerun city on the boob tube in summer and a general sense that a solid resume and a winning attitude could get you far in a possible career.

What has happened to us?

Yes, I’m a user of the internet. Heck yes, I’m a believer that it makes marketing and making a living easier (especially fabulous when done in PJ’s from your kitchen table). This is a very exciting time to be an entrepreneur in the making. Yet, there’s a flip side too….Who needs Christmas holiday letters when we can keep up with our friends’ dinner plate photos and party plans on Facebook all year round? Why mess with sending thank you cards when a short email will suffice? Teenage breakups are even easier when one can text a jilted lover that it’s over.

I’m beginning to feel that it’s all too much.

My heart is caught between a vice of the digital keep-up and a wedge of comparison to others’ lives. Lives I didn’t even know much about (which turns out was a good thing) before social media parachuted violently into our laptops and smart phones. I feel sheepish for yearning for the days when my home phone would ring and no one was there to answer it—I simply was not reachable. I hate to admit it, but I really, really like being unreachable sometimes. What does it take now for folks to render us legally unavailable? Balancing atop Mt. Everest? Gawking at penguins in the Artic? Somehow I’m thinking these two places might even be candidates for emergency cell service and it makes my head hurt.

I’m also keenly aware that I am part of the problem. I haven’t holed up in a cabin J.D. Salinger-style. I haven’t shunned social media with peacock-like pomposity and a drive to communicate with every person I know over coffee instead of Skype. I’m sitting directly in the center of this lovely glass house, arm raised, stone in hand. Yet there are days when my 80’s nostalgia rears it’s ugly heavily made-up eyes and wants it be different. I know I’m not alone because my spouse and I lament about this like two old ladies regularly over our morning coffee. My teen daughter was overheard saying to her sister, “It was so great that our summer camp outlawed phones. We were all happier for it. There was no FOMO going on while playing Capture the Flag or hanging in the lodge.” Ah, that one made me open my eyes wide, wide, wide. What have we done to our kids?

It got me thinking.

 

80snostalgia

 

1) Communicate clearly that I’m unavailable.

Hello vacay email and voicemail message. I’m not reachable when I say I’m not reachable, right? Of course, easier said than done for folks who have their superiors breathing down their necks all the time. For a teacher, I admit this one is a little bit easier. But this is my time capsule, yes?

2) Call a cease fire on social media

I’ve gone round and round with myself on this one and finally landed on a happy place of tweeting and FB’ing blog posts only. I don’t lurk or dwell, yet I do want people to read (like you!) about this message, because I think it’s important.

3) Adhere to at-home digital sabbaticals

We’re still working on this, but I’m loving it when we are committed. All phones go in a basket by the door when we have company, too—love that one.

4) Stop the hustle of trying to be heard

As a past photographer who did all marketing through social media and blog posts, I have had to wean myself of the proverbial tap-dance of self promotion. I think this hustle was a huge reason I left my entrepreneurial life for my teaching job. Frankly, I’m was done with trying to get my squeaky voice to rise above the din in the noisy lunchroom that is online networking. I just want to write and then hope that my words are read by and matter to someone. I’m officially subscribing to the JUST DO REALLY GOOD WORK mantra in this cyber world of horn-tooting and me-glorification and hope that it will be what it’s supposed to be. On this topic, I loved this article about more doing, less promoting.

5) Two words: Down time

I love the Italians for their phrase, l’arte di non fare niente, the art of doing nothing. I used to suck at this. I always had to have baskets and baskets filled with the fruits of my labor. And for what? Burn-out and anxiety. No longer is this something I feel guilty doing—it’s my weekend currency and I’m trying to spread this hang-out-in-a-hammock pixie dust to everyone in my clan. It’s important and I want my girls to know what it feels like.

Will they long for 2018 when they’re older? I wonder.

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26 thoughts on “5 things from 1989 to better my life

  1. Hi Lara – I love the idea of all your phones going in a basket when you have company! I haven’t thought of that before. Whenever I’m on holiday I try to keep my phone usage to a minimum and generally try to make sure I won’t have access to the internet – if I don’t have it, I can’t keep checking it, and it makes me realise that stopping checking Pinterest for a week isn’t the end of the world! Great tips, thank you 🙂 Joanna

  2. Lara, this is great. I think we all feel this way to some extent. I have also heard of people experimenting by going without their phones or internet for a stretch of time. I am certainly not there yet, but I’ve been more conscious about putting the phone down (face down) and really staying present with the people I am spending time with. I’ve also started putting my phone on silent at the same time every night, which is really helpful.

    Our trajectories have been somewhat opposite. While you left the web-world for a teaching job, I am adding blogging onto the list of things I do. I am trying to stay in line with minimalism by only selecting a few social media platforms, but that need to shout louder than everyone else is a constantly nagging feeling. I recently wrote about multitasking as a problem, and essentially, that is precisely what you are talking about here. Our accessibiliy, access to information, and access to one another through email, social media, phones and texts gives the illusion that we can accomplish more and take on more things at one time.

    Thanks for sharing this and helping me realize I’m not the only one!!

    Love you blog 🙂

    • Lovelly blog, Sasha! Nice design and good content. I heartily agree with the thought that we are seemingly expected to shout louder than everyone else with social media. I’m just so weary of it…although I know it’s essential to reach readers. I’m torn sometimes…but I’m confident there will be a happy medium 🙂 Best to you!

  3. I love this immensely. We are so similar..i dropped Facebook a few months ago. Am a photographer but really only do it personally and am back to teaching and an Italian girl trying to live simply. Love that quote!! Love your blog and all the nuggets of inspiration.

    • Thanks so much, Joanna! I’m glad you are finding a balance with social media as a photographer. It was so challenging for me! It was only when I switched careers that I was ready to let it go. Best to you!

  4. You are not alone in your nostalgia! It is very difficult to use the best of 21st century living and not be consumed by it. The other day it dawned on me that my cell phone has me trained like Pavlov’s dog. My phone rings or gives me an alert that I have a new txt and I feel compelled to pick it up no matter what I am doing. I have to force myself to let it be until a specific time when I am not engaged in a specific activity.

    I can especially see how this constant connection to others can be very tempting for parents who worry about their children. Having a constant connection must be comforting to parents in today’s society but I fear I hinders children in becoming self- sufficient and being able to cope with life’s challenges and independent decision making.

    • I have the same knee-jerk reaction when my phone rings! As if every call/text/message is the upmost of importance…not so much. I leave it in my purse buried (and silenced) when I’m visiting with friends..I owe them my attention and it feels good to not be distracted. Good thoughts here–thanks for sharing!

  5. Love, love, love this post. I’ve been round and round myself with the over connectedness of internet life that so subtly sucked me in. But I do have this FOMO (great term) which is silly, but real. You have some great suggestions and ideas that I’m thinking I may need to implement.
    p.s. you’re writing pulls me in every time because it’s well done, compelling, fun, quick-witted and direct. Keep it up!

    • Thank you so much, Kami—your kind comments are so appreciated 🙂 I’m vacationing a lot this summer (hence the inconsistent posts), but I’m finding this blog to be a lifeline in how I want to live…I will keep my posts comin’ here. Best to you!!

  6. We often wish times were the way they were when we were younger. I read a biography on Louisa May Alcott last year, and apparently her father once decided that he wanted to turn back the clock on his farm and not use the latest technology either – plough and ox. His plan was to harvest an entire acre by hand with a friend. We certainly have many more distractions nowadays, but I think life as a child was more focused: we simply knew what we wanted. How often have parents tried to get kids interested in something only to have the kid say no and stick to what they were doing?
    I’m also trying to find the balance between social media and the rest of my life. I’m definitely going to read that article you recommended on less promoting. Thanks for putting that through!

    • I remember being totally focused on what I was doing as a child—not flipping from one thing to the next. I miss that old me! I’m finding that multitasking is making me quite dumb and I have a plan to stop. it. right. now. 🙂

      • I hear you. We’re doing a good clean-out of our home right now. The less stuff we have, the easier it will be to focus on the things that are good for us!

  7. Amen, amen, amen, amen and amen! This says so well what has been marinating in the back of my mind for quite a while now. Only for me it is 1979. I especially love #5! Just doing nothing sometimes is wonderful!

  8. I love that ‘just do really good work’ so much more simpler than trying to work out all the other places to be! Also like the idea of only forwarding blog posts. I think things can get too dispersed otherwise, I would prefer to create on my blog firstly. Great post.

  9. It’s really hard not to feel like I ought to yell. Thanks for the reminder.
    And. Your words matter a great deal. I always feel my compass inch closer to North when I come here. 🙂

    • I’ve been on computer hiatus too, Dan! It’s been awesome. Ah, yes…1985 (I believe I was rocking those shoulder pads like nobody’s business) was a magical time. So glad you and Vanessa had such a great trip–the teardrop looks so darn cute behind your jeep. Also glad you’re back safe! I’m off to check out your podcast about the trip. Cheers to you two! -L

  10. Pingback: Simple Living: 7 Ideas to Simplify Your Life | mindful diary

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