Phoneless and free

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On Sunday, my phone quit forever, dying the true death.

At first I panicked. Then I ordered a new phone through my service provider.

However, said new phone wasn’t going to be here until Wednesday or Thursday! That meant at least two full days without a phone, maybe more. This was terrible news! As a stay at home mom to a special needs child, I feel isolated a lot. I often feel like my phone is my link to the world, to other people, to social contact. I have a laptop, but it is hard to sit down and work on it right now with Wyatt so young. Wyatt and I usually have a pretty busy schedule of appointments too, and when at home we are hanging out together.  So, it’s not really in the cards. I do use the laptop when he is at school, like right now though.

Monday morning was rough. Then slowly, slowly, I found that I didn’t really care as much anymore about not having it. I felt a weight lifted actually – a certain freedom. I didn’t need to check emails or Facebook; my feeling of being really busy was gone, although, my to-do list never changed. I think on some level, having a constant connection to everything makes you feel you actually need to be participating at all times in your email and social media, even though we really don’t. We don’t need to answer an email as soon as we hear that ping. We don’t need to immediately respond to people on Facebook or Instagram. It can wait.

Ironically, I am also reading a book right now called The Nature Fix by Florence Williams. It is fascinating. Not a quick read for me by any means, there is a lot of neuro-talk and physiology and science, which slows me down a bit as I am not naturally inclined towards that realm of learning. But, I am loving this book and learning so much, nevertheless. It’s all about how nature helps you to heal, how it is healthy for you, emotionally and physically. Just five hours a month can improve your mental and physical health greatly. This book talks about how nature straight up affects your brain, how most of the time we operate “top-down” using our active brain and focus, while nature allows us to be “bottoms up”, to allow our brains to relax, taking away all that stimuli that makes us work that frontal cortex constantly. Williams mentioned a study that took place in Michigan about why drivers choose to take a tree lined scenic drive rather than a different route, even over the faster route. Or a study that showed that when recovering from an illness, just being near a window can reduce recovery time and amount of pain medicine taken.

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I remember when Wyatt was in the NICU – I had been in the hospital myself for a month before he was born, then he was in the hospital for the next six weeks. It was a long time to be in a hospital. His incubator was always on the far side of the room, away from the windows and the light, and I started to get this feeling that if we were near a window and he could experience sunlight (muted of course, not direct!) that he would flourish. So when the next window spot opened up, I asked the nurses if Wyatt could be moved. And those sweet women did it, although it took a tremendous amount of extra effort on their part. And, a week and a half later, Wyatt was discharged. While I know that it was the hard work and care of his entire massive team of doctors and nurses that healed my son, I like to think that having a week in the sunshine helped just a tiny wee bit. I know that it helped me, being able to sit in daylight for a change, rather than shadow.

Honestly, this book has so much information that I found valuable and interesting. How our senses interpret nature, from scent to audio to visual. I highly recommend reading it!

Some alarming things I have learned: The average person looks at their phone 150 times a day. IPhone users spend 26 minutes more a day on their phones. There are less than a dozen places in the United States that are devoid of man-made noises and contain only the sounds of nature. As I write that sentence, I hear birds singing outside my window, some sort of power tools being used, and a car driving by on the street, my coffee maker beeping. My fingers typing on the keyboard.

Everyone has been saying to me, “Oh it must be so hard”, or “Ugh, that must be so annoying!” to not have your phone. But, it has become a little easier. Since I haven’t had it, I kept track of things I have done differently. My own tiny observations, if you will.

Our mornings have had a different rhythm. I feel more relaxed, not getting up and checking out what happened over night or checking my emails. I am on medicine for high blood pressure, and when I checked my BP this morning as usual, it was super low – 98/62!  I also feel I have more time. On Monday, Wyatt and I went to my brother’s house and hung out with my mom and my niece, the kids were playing and having fun while mom and I had tea together and chatted, where we would usually have a phone conversation. Williams said people are built for social face to face interaction, and it was much nicer for Wyatt and I, and my mom and Chickadee, to all be together for a while. It was really fun, actually. I took a nap when Wyatt did later that day too, which was pretty awesome. I have more time, and things are getting done that I haven’t had time for – which is sad when what was getting in my way was checking my phone! Wyatt and I spent some time outside too, in the sun listening to birds, and Wyatt even tried to imitate a robin’s trilling song. And I have been singing more in the car, now that I am not talking to people on my Bluetooth. I have also been able to notice how much time my husband spends on his phone, since I haven’t had one. It’s been enlightening. I feel like I have had a detox and honestly I like it.

On the other hand, I still need a phone. While I have felt more free, I have also missed a few really important phone calls. I also had to tell Wyatt’s preschool to call my husband first since I am unavailable by phone right now. My husband is at work and would have to chat me, which works but is not the best way to do things. I like to be available if I am needed in an emergency. Today is also my mom’s birthday and I can’t call her to wish her a happy birthday. So, I definitely need a phone. I just don’t need to be on it as much as I apparently was. I am going to stay balanced – I like this new feeling of not being as anxious, tethered, but I also want to receive calls and get information when I need it!

How about you? How often do you get outside in nature? Do you feel like you couldn’t exist without your phone?

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Goals y’all. Lol.

 

It’s All About the Bicycles

Today is a day that Billy and I count down to in the summer – the start of the Tour de France. He is a huge bike guy; I just love the Tour. I am in awe of what these men do, how far they ride, for how long, through the Alps for goodness’ sake. Whole mountain ranges are devoured by their bike tires and sweat. It is an amazing feat, and I am blown away by their tenacity and athleticism. We hope to go and stand on the sidelines one day, cheering them on along the road of some small town in the mountains of France.

Our date night this week was bikecentric – I am not sure if the Detroit Zoo planned it for the week of the Tour on purpose, but if not, good timing on their part! The zoo hosted an evening event, a Bike Safari if you will, where participants could ride their bikes through the winding paths of the zoo, stopping to view the animals along the way. It was family friendly, although it was sponsored by New Belgium Brewery; you just got one of those neat wristbands to prove you were over 21.  Over 800 people attended, and it made for a very fun evening. Despite being so many people in attendance, it was not a difficult ride. I get really nervous if people ride too close to me, I am not a super confident bicyclist. However, there were three different start times, and it really divided everyone up very effectively. People riding were spaced very well, and it only became tricksy a few times, when riders would stop suddenly in front of you to see an animal, rather than biking to the side of the pathway and stopping.

There were three hydration stations set up, and two of them included a 3 – oz sample of New Belgium beer to those who wanted to imbibe. We of course drank our samples, along with the water that was also provided. I am not a super big beer drinker, but I enjoyed my choices! The options were Cirtadelic Tangerine, Fat Tire, Voodoo Ranger IPA, and Dayblazer. I chose Dayblazer and Fat Tire; Billy had Voodoo Ranger and Dayblazer. We also got a can each at the end of the ride as well, same choices. We stuck with two we had already had – me again with the Fat Tire, Billy with the Voodoo Ranger. They were icy cold and delicious after the long hot ride through the zoo. There was a live band at the finish, along with a few food options and the opportunity to purchase more drinks. Alternatively, people could choose to go listen to scientists speak at the reptile house about the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Project. Nature nerds that we are, we opted for the wolf-moose project, although our beers did come with us.

The two scientists were full of interesting information and facts. We have always wanted to visit Isle Royale, so it was cool to talk to people who have not only been there, but really know the island intimately, and all of her inhabitants. It is a sad scenario though. Right now, there are some 1500 moose on the island. And just two wolves, who are so inbred that the pack is dead. They cannot reproduce. The pack in its heyday numbered 50, at least in as far as scientists have been tracking its numbers. Due to all the inbreeding though, numbers began to fall as they died off. Their health was compromised and a strain of parvo killed a bunch off. The moose are without predators, and while this seems like yay moose ~ it really isn’t, as they may run out of food sources themselves as the island may not be able to support that many moose, unchecked. This is the subject that the scientists we spoke with were studying, the effect of the moose upon the fir, and just how long these moose could be sustained by the fir trees on the island. They eat fir trees, and these fir trees barely have the opportunity to grow, as the moose just eat the heck out of them. An obvious solution would be to introduce a new pack. I would love to see this happen, and have the balance returned to the island.

That is only replica moose scat, btw. Lol. And a kick butt caiman looking at us in the reptile house.

This event was a great time, and well worth the money we paid to do it. It was a wonderful night and we will definitely go again. If you are interested in reading more about the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Project, you can go here and here. If you are interested in participating (even cooler!) check this out.

 

Front Porch Sittin’

Lately, we have put done our cell phones, turned off the television, and headed outside to the front porch to sit a while, and enjoy the evening with a cold drink or two. Wyatt joins us with his sippy cup of milk, while I sip my own drink of chilled white wine, a summer thing of mine. Billy usually has a craft beer, and we just kick it on the porch for a spell.

These evenings are so peaceful. No phones ringing or dinging, just the three of us chatting away. Occasionally we give a wave to a neighbor, exchange a hello, a word or two, but mostly our little family catches up on the day, just as the day is putting itself to bed. Sometimes, we just enjoy the sounds of the world around us, the small, thriving community that is all around us but haven’t noticed in our daily hustle.

Up and down the block, birds are chirping, tweeting, heading home to their nests, beaks full of insects and other goodies for their growing families. In the big elm across the street, a family of starlings has made their home, deep inside a hollow. Down the street in the maple, you can find a nest full of robins, and across the street from the robins, a couple of nuthatches. Somewhere nearby live the neighborhood Downy woodpeckers, Northern Flickers, cardinals, who always pop by for a visit. I hear the raucous call of a blue jay usually once a day, not to mention all the little brown birds, the black capped chickadees, and finches that twitter and tussle and flit about.

We have our own little bird family, another little group of robins, five in total – momma, dad, and three young babies. Or, rather, they used to be babies. Mom and Dad Robin moved into our maple, building their nest right almost at eye level, in the crook of the tree. We watched the babies, while mom and dad watched us. The babies grew up so fast, and recently flew the nest. We saw the last of these fledglings, standing on the edge of the nest, preparing for first flight. A day or two later, we saw a fledgling hanging out in our apple tree, on the lowest possible branch.

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Used to the all the evening chatter as the birds gossip about their day, we were sitting on the porch when the conversation around us ceased, followed by the loud shriek of a hawk. This new youngling landed right in our neighbor’s tree, on the hunt for something or other. We hope the reason is not related to the sudden presence of this little guy who tried to visit.

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Don’t you just love that little face?? I hope this little guy was adventuring for fun and not because mom became dinner. Cute as he is, he wanted up on our porch and I didn’t want him to visit that close. So we gently shoo’d him a bit, and he took temporary refuge under our apple tree. Hopefully he wandered back home, because he was gone when I checked on him an hour or so later..

It is amazing what you can see right from your own front porch, if you just let yourself sit and just be, for a while. Take away the distractions, get back to a slower, simpler way of living – there is a whole other world living there in front of us. Everywhere you look, there is life. What have you seen lately? How do you unwind?