Post Script to American Spirit – Then and Now

American Flag proudly waving against backdrop of bare cherry blossoms

My Memorial Day message about American spirit, led me to another blogger’s post on the Insightful Geopolitics blog which more fully explains some of my concerns about the state of the USA and global politics for that matter.

I consider myself open-minded in considering all points of view. If you are too, please visit this worthy post: World War III Has Begun and We are Unaware. I offer it, not to frighten anyone, but simply to open our eyes and deepen our understanding of what is happening globally. And as I always say, “Take what you like and leave the rest.”

American Flag standing strong against a building in the USA - sans cherry blossoms
Original photo by Rabih Shasha on Unsplash

American Spirit – Then and Now

Photo of American flag hanging low in the grass, near a pile of leaves

The Tao suggests looking deeply into the ordinary to see the spiritual nature of life. To question, “What are the qualities lying beneath what I see?”

Where is America’s Spirit Today?

Ponder the American flag in the header. What do you see? Feel? It’s one of a smattering of practice photos I took with my smart phone during a recent walk through a cemetery. Although the flag was blowing in the wind at the moment of capture, hung low it appears devalued to me. Perhaps even defeated, stationed among aging leaves in a cemetery — a home for the deceased.

Photo of twisted stars and stripes flag

Instead of waving strong and proud, this contorted flag typifies the demoralized spirit of the pandemic lock-down that is sullied with uncertainty and chaos from confusing and irrational commands. From disbelief and even disgust at reckless behavior and proposals to force us against our will.

Passion and Polarity

Polarity is nothing new to America or life for that matter. It just feels accentuated at this time, like a pounding migraine. While my patriotic parents experienced national unity during World War II and Americans came together shortly after 9/11, most Boomers will remember the Kent State protests and abominable vilification of Vietnam War vets. No matter which side, Americans are spirited.

The Tao encourages me to look beyond adversity to claim the wisdom beyond it.

Current D Days

Distraction

For several years I’ve witnessed an erosion of American spirit amidst growing apathy, idleness, and indifference. Too often, incumbents in my area’s elections run unopposed. I question how much of this is due to tech’s creation of sheeple and fake news.

Photo of a car headed toward running over an American Flag on a dirty street

Disabled

Continually run over by out of touch legislators and businesses, and a health, addiction, and education crisis, America’s spirit further weakened when the pandemic ensnared us with fear, mandated inactivity and imposed powerlessness.

Disruption

Learning that the USA now intends to forcibly remove people from their homes, or forcibly vaccinate, feels like communism to me. How will you feel when a family member is removed from your home to isolate the coronavirus? If I refuse the vaccine, will I be hauled away? Will the Thought Police replicate China’s social score system to further control and confine us?

Deception

The answers lie in California’s pilot program slated for nationwide implementation. Their army of 20,000 well-paid disease detectives is under the guise of “for our protection.” Warily I question if the unemployed hungry masses will clamor for these jobs to essentially become the new secret police since marketing so cleverly conceals the truth e.g. convenience/privacy invading, protection/control.

Debilitation

If that sounds too unbelievable, and particularly in freedom loving America, so does isolation, discouraging religious participation, disallowing groups to conjugate, encouraging thought/behavior/activity minders, and proposing forced testing and vaccines. Yet, that’s exactly where we are after brazenly disregarding numerous other laws.

Too closely these protections resemble horrific junctures in world history. Ones that millions of military personnel sacrificed their lives for because they valued our precious rights and freedoms. Whoever thought this couldn’t be happening again needs to pay attention and review the nascency of the holocaust.

Deterioration

The rapid deterioration of our independence and liberties through joblessness, lockdowns, and enslaving our children’s children’s children with enormous debt is alarming. Too quickly, China snatched up our life saving supplies, our farms, our produce, our land. Whoever thought Americans would be required to wear masks as we’ve seen in China for years? Would our deceased military personnel and forefathers, who forfeited their lives for our freedom, be shocked to witness America’s spirit pummeled by communism? (Note: I am not bashing China. I am observing the undoing of America.)

American Resolve

Photo of man wearing shirt depicting American Flag and inscription "We the People"
Looking Back to We the People

As we scramble to regain footing during this pandemic, it is my memory of America’s historical bravery, a willingness to stand up and fight whether against taxation without representation, or civil and women’s rights, that gives me hope. I crave a resurgence of American spirit that once stood for character, enthusiasm, resolution, backbone, grit and guts.

Photo by Rhododendrites of gravesite for Samuel Adams, a signer of America’s Declaration of Independence

Allegiance to America’s Spirited Foundation

And so, on this Memorial Day weekend, when Americans celebrate fallen heroes in the military, I also salute revolutionaries who were not afraid to stand up for what they believed in. I include people like Rosa Parks and Margaret Sanger with my heroes, spirited civic soldiers if you will.

Note: I am not condoning protesting health care workers nor am I condoning forced vaccinations or being removed from one’s home. I am condoning and supporting American values such as freedom, independence, self-reliance, privacy, diversity, directness, and equality.

Remember Big Mama

Silhouette of pregnant woman standing on seashore with golden light backdrop

Today is one of the most important days of the year.

Remembering your Mother, the one who essentially brought you into life, is the customary intention for Mother’s Day. But, don’t forget Big Mama either. Big Mama as in the Mother of Nature, the one who essentially gives life to all.

Thank Mother Nature for sharing her treasure chest — a bounty pushing past our imagination with infinite colors, textures, scents, temperatures and sounds almost too breathtaking to comprehend. Look into her cheerful blue skies, hug those white fluffy clouds of transformation, feel the exuberance of her vibrant streams, and soothing sheltering forests.

Contemplate Mother’s Nature’s wildfire fury, rain of tears from disrespect and howling winds of disappointment, yet somehow she does not abandon humanity, reassuring us through the changing seasons of her enduring support.

How devoid of all life our planet would be without her, like living without a Mother’s unwavering love. What better gift to give Mother Nature on Mother’s Day than honoring her with appreciation.

Cherry Blossoms gracing the pathways in Brooklyn's Botanical Gardens, NY
The splendor of Spring showcases Mother’s Day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take a stroll through Mother Nature today. Better yet, take your Mom for a stroll and savor the sights of Mother Nature together.

 

 

 

 

Nature’s Natural Antidepressant

Photo of black/white border collie with Ray Ban sunglasses and beach hat

Going to the beach may not be a bad idea if proper distancing can be maintained, but this post is about our lovable pets — in and out of the coronavirus quarantine.

I am an unabashed, self-proclaimed Dog Lover. That’s Capital D, Capital L. Still missing my beloved Bess, and more than ever during this pandemic, I long for the phenomenal comfort only a pet can provide. Besides her love and sense of humor, I miss Bessie’s joyfulness for life. Her translation of shelter in place would undoubtedly mean endless adventures, Frisbee and gardening time! I can feel her enthusiasm even in sweet memory, and tears still fall from the tender hole in my heart.

Tendrils of canine yearning began in February when discovering Potcake Place during my Turks & Caicos adventure. Completely run by volunteers, this puppy shelter offers outsiders the opportunity to walk and hold the puppies. People line up before 10AM for the chance to savor some love. There is nothing, absolutely nothing like holding a puppy or puppy breath. (Dog lovers know what I mean. Cat lovers maybe not so much.) The purpose isn’t to entertain tourists but to socialize the pups. What an awesome idea! Of course, Potcake Place also hopes you will courier a pup or better yet, adopt.

I hadn’t actively been seeking Bess’ successor at that time, thinking I’d use the chasm of emptiness to honor her memory and travel more. But, then the coronavirus came along cancelling my spring walking tour in the Cotswolds, and heightening my craving for canine companionship. (I do have a cat but it’s not quite the same to me. Sorry cat lovers.)

Now, friends and I circulate canine videos more often to give our coronavirus spirits a lift. I’ve also learned an abundance of dogs now need adoption or fostering due to the coronavirus. 

Whether you do or don’t have a dog, cat, horse, bird, bunny, or any other pet, may you celebrate the comfort, love and joy these special creatures so generously offer. Support a shelter, adopt or foster if you can, and mark your calendar for National Pet Day on Saturday, April 11th this year.

Here’s more than a dozen places to show the love. Feel free to add your favorites here too:

  1. American Humane COVID Relief Fund – Feed the Hungry Fund for abandoned animals
  2. Stay Home and Foster – 2-6 week emergency fosters needed
  3. The Animal Rescue Siteclick for free to feed
  4. Best Friends Animal Society – national no-kill sanctuary for companion animals
  5. Clear the Shelters – nationwide pet adoption drive
  6. Petfinder.com – take the quiz to find a good match for you (and matches of course)
  7. National Mill Dog Rescue – rescues, rehabilitates and rehomes discarded breeding dogs
  8. American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals – promotes kind and respectful treatment of animals
  9. Cheltenham Animal Shelter – urgent care appeal in UK due to the corona virus
  10. Borders Pet Rescue – finds loving homes for abandoned and unwanted pets in the UK
  11. Maruthy Dog Shelter – gives handicapped, injured, old and abandoned dogs a home in India
  12. Gouves Animal Shelter – provides care and protection for stray and injured animals in Crete
  13. Rescue Me –  international map of breeds and animals available for adoption

Remember, they never forget us.

Photo of a smiling black/white border collie with the inscription

 

Coronavirus Prediction

Globe depicting astrological aspects

In uncertain, challenging times, we look for answers.  Answers to questions like, “How long will the shelter in place last?” “When will the curve of the coronavirus flatten out?” “Will there be enough ventilators to keep people alive?” “How drastically different will the world look once this is over?”

Having some concrete information helps us get through the daily fog of unpredictability. It’s a light at the end of the tunnel to keep marching toward, a goal to keep our eye on. While another blogger’s post does not answer those particular questions, she does offer Nostradamus’ prediction of the coronavirus. All food for thought I pass along to you too.


A French physician, astrologer, and seer from the 1500’s, Nostradamus lost his first wife and children to the plague. His predictions appear in his book Les Prophéties which was  first published in 1555 and has rarely been out of print since his death in 1556. Believers credit him with predicting:

  • The Great Fire of London
  • The French Revolution
  • The rise of Napoleon
  • The rise of Hitler
  • World War I
  • World War II
  • The nuclear destruction of Hiroshima
  • The nuclear destruction of Nagasaki
  • The Apollo moon landings
  • The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster
  • Princess Diana’s death
  • The 911 attacks
  • Coronavirus pandemic

As with the Tao of life, there are believers and non-believers. Believers are asking astrologers if they can indicate when the coronavirus pandemic might end. I like this one astrologer’s response that “Even if something looks obvious it’s how people respond to the factors that makes the difference.” As I like to say, “Take what you like and leave the rest…”

Are Closed Borders Opening Minds?

Border collie contemplating the other side

Interesting that the greatest power to reducing the spread of the coronavirus and death count, is closing borders (and our doors). Heated protests over border crossings are quieter now. Political correctness pummeled common sense yet it is our greatest individual defense against the virus. I usually don’t express political opinions on the internet because they invite divisiveness and animosity but the border issue has crossed from political debate to protective measures — for all of humanity.

Ethnology is Not a Dirty Word

A one-worlder I am not. Call me a global admirer instead. I celebrate all differences from skin color to climate and believe there is a reason the world and its peoples are diverse, that we should not become blindly and blandly homogenized as some promote. Naturally occurring distinctions in our human race (and nature for that matter) are colorful and lively yet some sadly choose to view them with discrimination or hate.

The Yin and Yang of Humanity

Interacting with people of various cultures is educational, fun and fascinating. The ability to choose an authentic Japanese, Italian, Polish, Indian, or Jamaican meal nearby is a treat. Friends frequently gather at the Tai restaurant, and the Afro-American stand with background Motown beat offers the tastiest ribs in town. I revere the Chinese acupuncturist and Native American healer, and I’m pleased to refer customers to the sanguine Mexican cabinet and granite supplier. The savoir faire of these ethnic groups cultivated enriching relationships with the communities who welcomed them; they continue to flourish through common courtesy.

However, in the last so many years, I’ve increasingly observed non-English speaking immigrants rummaging through items on store shelves then tossing them on the floor, dumping trash on our once pristine streets rather than in nearby bins, and blasting music all night so that residents are exhausted going to work. Such disrespect — whether from citizen, immigrant or illegal — is not welcomed. Seeing others break laws that we abide by breeds discontent. Disrespect creates tension, not our inherent diversities.

And yet, isn’t the pandemic revealing the yin and yang of all of humanity as evidenced through stories of incredible kindness and some of the most unimaginably ugly behavior?

Respect – A Small Word with Huge Impact

Black and white sign set on stone indicating "Please respect our neighbours'"
Original photo by Kai Brame on Unsplash

Simply respecting each other could eliminate the need for thought police tactics and political correctness. On today’s terms this means self-quarantining to not recklessly endanger others, or not persecuting Asians because the virus originated in Wuhan.

Peeling Off Political Correctness

But, intentionally calling the virus something other than it is just to be politically correct, is senseless to me. To understand and learn about something is to identify it. I want to know, for instance, that Roquefort cheese is from France or that the corona virus originated in China. Being politically correct by omitting information or changing terms is unclear and keeps people in the dark. My reasoning is not to blame but to understand.

Father holding sign to think again while child holds onto his arm in a city street
Original photo by Jose Moreno on Unsplash

While the numbers escalate too rapidly to report here, California, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Washington, Pennsylvania, and Oregon are in the top states with the most coronavirus infections. These states are also sanctuary states hosting sanctuary cities which are rampant with the virus.

I do not support sanctuary cities but I support respect and common sense. If illegal immigrants do not understand the language, how will they follow safety protocols? If they are afraid to seek testing or treatment, how much farther will the virus spread? I do not support illegal immigration (or calling it undocumented to misrepresent the truth) but I do welcome immigrants who will contribute to the land where they have immigrated and who honor that country’s culture, citizens, laws, environment and communities.

Street art depicting a black man with the commentary "...Why don't we boycott killing each other?"
Original photo by Pieter van de Sande on Unsplash

Ignorance is the Culprit, Not Differences

Immigration is a passionate topic worldwide. Will the coronavirus’ mandate to close borders lessen the tension? Will common sense be restored by survivors of this pandemic?

If the politically correct term for old school is common sense, so be it. My term for politically correct is ignorance. As expressed in previous posts, I believe smart aka dumb phones have paradoxically proliferated ignorance. The injustice is not from identifying the difference but when hate or fear are attached to dissimilarity. Differences do not mean inequality to me. I respect borders with an open mind.

Photo of black/white border collie and brown/white husky side by side
Original photo by Tereza Rubá on Unsplash

 

 

 

 

Refresh

Woman relaxing on a park bench holding a book and breathing in Spring air

Tired of hearing about the Coronavirus? Tired of hearing about my smartphone dilemma? With the National Day of Unplugging ending last weekend, I’m ready to close my Diary of Dates with a Smartphone — at least for another 11 months. So, before I get too heady with spring, here’s the last few entries (continued from March 8th…):

March 9, 2020 – Getting Smart with the Smartphone

Black and white yin and yang symbol
Taijitu

Although a self-proclaimed Neo-Luddite, I am open-minded. Sounds like an oxymoron, I know — at least until you understand my perspective. Like the Tao’s Taijitu, nothing is 100% positive or negative, good or bad, black or white, all or nothing.

I’m receptive to smartphone lovers who state their phone is a helpful tool in life; that they can control their device. These smart users view their phones as mini portable computers. That simple psychological switch in terminology generates a slightly friendlier feeling toward my Pixel 3XL. After all, I don’t want the phone telling me what to do.

Photo of various types of tools such as hammer, measuring tape, wrench

A carpenter friend barely contains his grin while telling me how he uses his smartphone. “After installing a dishwasher in a customer’s house, I sent them a photo with the bill on my smartphone. Within minutes they wired money back to my account.”

“WOW!”

That IS an awesome capability. I get it. Yet, that same tradesman refuses any temptation to use his phone while socializing. He leaves it in his truck. Sounds smart to me, and considerate.

March 10, 2020 – Something IS Wrong with this Picture and it’s Not the Camera

Five people sharing a meal together but interacting with their smartphones rather than each other

Seeing the masses blindly tethered to smartphones and not interacting with each other in person alarms me. While the numbers* and terminology vary, smartphone addiction or problematic use IS valid. I often say don’t jump in if you don’t want to jump out. Similarly, why would I try heroin knowing it’s addictive?

*Almost 21 million Americans have at least one addiction; two million are to prescription opioids. The availability of addictive sources baffles me. Until I follow the money.

A friend in AA recovery tells me, “Most coming to Twelve Step meetings these days are heroin addicts. I see them glued to their phones, scrolling, scrolling, during the meeting…not paying attention to the speaker.”

How effective is that? “Does it mean they are doubly-addicted?”

“Well, I see it as disrespectful for one thing.”

He says current day addicts revolve through the rehab’s door. “It’s big business today.  And the users wear it like a badge saying they’ve been through rehab 10-15-20 or more times…”


*TWO OUT OF EVERY THREE  people are addicted to their phone

*60% of U.S. college students have a cell phone addiction

*47% of people have tried to limit their phone use, but ONLY 30% of them SUCCEEDED


March 11, 2010 – If smartphones are so smart, why didn’t they learn any manners?

Sign indicating no cell phones and to talk outsideSigns posted at the bank and dairy store request cell users to converse outside. Sad that they have to tell people this, but at least they do. (Personally, my HSP characteristic would banish blaring TVs from waiting rooms — particularly doctor’s offices — as I find quietly reading more calm and healing.)

Yes, I admit, I’ve glared at someone loudly conversing on their phone in a medical office because I couldn’t concentrate. But, I haven’t glared at the driver sitting next to me at the red light who presumes I also want to hear their BOOM – BOOM – BOOM bass that is vibrating their car (and mine). No need for road rage, you know.

Concert attendees holding up smartphones
Photo by Nicolas LB on Unsplash

Unabashed concert attendees blind everyone else while holding up smartphones to record — or even watch — the live stage performance. Why not just stay home if they want to watch it on a screen? Didn’t I buy a ticket too to view the live performance?

 


A kindergartner on a smartphone at the school bus stop was asked, “What color is the sky?”

The child responded, “I don’t know.” (And didn’t bother to ask Google.)


March 12, 2020 – Slippery Slopes

Caution sign for slipping
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels

A Neo-Luddite country store owner relates her recent experience to me. “When I walked into a church meeting everyone was looking down at their smartphones. I asked them, ‘Do you realize a shooter could have come in and taken all of you out — that quickly?’ For a minute they looked dumbfounded…then returned to their screens.”

Feeling that chilly possibility, we acquiesce that all of us have a hand in this. From parents entertaining their toddlers with smartphones while glued to their own device, to us not (politely) commenting to store clerks interacting more with their phones than customers. Groaning together, we ponder a future ruled by a brainwashed techno culture.

“So, where do we go?” I asked.

Shrugging, then gesturing to her right she offered, “The Amish community down the road…?”


If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.

∼Nora Roberts


March 13, 2020 – No Voice, No Choice

Rants about global human issues pervade the web but common consideration in close proximity is missing. I must remind myself to let it begin with me in saying what I mean, meaning what I say and not saying it mean. That goes for glaring too. If we can’t practice common courtesy on the local level, how will we ever get to global…much less world peace?


Awareness is the first step to change because we can’t make a change unless we are aware that one needs to be made in the first place. We can then begin understanding why we are doing what we are doing.

∼ Madisyn Taylor on Daily OM


What’s so Great about a Smartphone

Oh, I did say I’d include the yang side of smartphones, didn’t I? Well, here are 20 qualities that smart users shared which I’ll admit are attractive:

  1. Graphic drawing of a red ribbonSecurity
  2. International friends (communicate for free and freely)
  3. Note-taker
  4. Map
  5. Camera
  6. Traffic information
  7. News source
  8. Tell time
  9. Calendar
  10. Track packages
  11. Text friends (although I’m concerned about eradicating the human voice)
  12. Search restaurants
  13. Learn information
  14. Watch movies
  15. Radio
  16. Flashlight
  17. Communications
  18. Music device
  19. Instant communication (not wait to get home for laptop)
  20. Numerous features, all in one place

March 14, 2020 Eggs in a Basket

Photo of wooden basket overcrowded with eggs
Photo by Rebekah Howell on Unsplash

That last attribute reminds me of the old adage “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” which, in modern times, means “don’t put your life on your smartphone.”

My walking partner called in a panic. “You’ll never believe what happened to my son today. He’s sick about it.”

“What? You don’t sound so good.”

“He was standing on the dock at the lake when his smartphone fell in. He had everything on it. And I mean EVERYTHING. His personal contacts…but worse, ALL of his business information.

“Oh no! What’s he going to do?”

“He called a skin diver. The guy tried three times. But, it’s gone. Everything’s gone. He lost his orders, billing, suppliers, payroll…”

“Doesn’t he have that at the shop?”

“It wasn’t backed up yet to the new system.”

“Oh…”

We both felt sick but not as sick as her son did. I do not understand this risk to reward ratio. Why would I hand over my life to a one-stop shop device with loitering hackers? It’s enough warding them off my PC — must I do battle on all tech fronts?

March 15, 2020 – Retraining and Playing Games

In revealing my precarious initiation with a smartphone, I’ve discovered through reviews that my Pixel may actually be faulty (repair diagnosis pending).

Smart users say they don’t do everything possible on their device, using it only for necessities. That scenario could possibly work for me — at least after it’s repaired or I get more educated. (Long, exasperated sigh.) Having to take time to learn something that was once simple — like using a phone — is a pebble in my shoe. But, by renaming the smart phone to mini portable computer, I’m more willing to get educated on a mini portable computer. No matter what, though, it has to stop bombarding me with things I don’t want or need!

Who’s Doing the Thinking?

Dark side of a planet
Photo by Drew Rae on Pexels

Now, for the yin side. If you’re unaware of the dark side of smartphones, don’t ask Alexa or Google. Ask yourself, honestly, if any of these ring true for you:

  • Feeling impatient, fretful, angry, tense, irritated, depressed or restless when not with the smartphone, or when the cell phone network or battery is low.*
  • Thinking about the smartphone even when not using it
  • Giving the cell phone more time and attention than relationships*
  • Lacking interest in other activities and hesitating to interact with people
  • Missing work due to smartphone use
  • Low concentration or productivity due to smartphone use
  • Digital eye strains and discomfort from extended periods viewing a screen*
  • Wrist, neck or back pain or problems due to excessive cell phone use*
  • Constantly checking the smartphone for fear of missing conversations on social media such as Twitter or Facebook
  • Memory decline
  • Using a smartphone for more time than intended*
  • Others notice you are using a smartphone too much
  • Refusing to give up using a smartphone even when daily life is adversely affected by it
  • Inability to be without a smartphone*

Outsmarting the Smartphone

Reclining man surrounded by technology
Photo by Ola Dapo on Pexels

*I confess to these offenses when using my PC or the internet. Personal experience burgeoned my Neo-Luddism like the reformed smoker touting the evils of their former addiction. (I am a long ago reformed smoker who can’t have just one.)

My sincere aspiration is for people to stop and think. Consciously think — for themselves about their lives, their values, and relationships, rather than mindlessly be distracted with the superficial glories of advanced technology. If I add another layer of electronic distraction, what time will be left for the garden, hand drumming, reading books, cooking and sharing with people I love?

Many addicts assume it will happen to someone else but not them. Shakespeare knew what he was talking about when he said, “To thine own self be true.” That’s best accomplished by getting quiet, away from distractions. If you fidget in silence, try walking outside (without the device) for 15 minutes a day. Then listen. Really listen — to nature, your surrounds, but most importantly that voice of truth within your self that is probably begging to be heard.

Neon sign indicating
Photo by Ivan Bertolazzi on Pexels

A Love Hate Diary of Dates with a Smartphone… (part 4)

Are you long-time smartphone users happily married to your phone — or did you take a leap, unplug this weekend (for the National Day of Unplugging) and go it alone? How did it feel? Was the silence deafening or a reprieve? Did you feel like you lost your best friend? Truthfully. Maybe you couldn’t let go…

March 8, 2020 – Separation

I left the house today

And soon realized

I forgot the smartphone.

An automatic alert almost crept in — Should I go back?

But I automatically responded, “No. I’m glad to not have it here.”

And then I felt even happier to realize not only didn’t I want it

I didn’t need it.

Blue victorian house with slate roof and cupola on the corner of a street with mailbox and one-way tree-lined street sign in front
Photo by Sandra sierra on Unsplash

Walking outside, loving the fresh air, sights of nature, and friendly hellos from those I don’t know in this other neighborhood, it is quiet enough to contemplate why I don’t need or want a smartphone or android or whatever you want to call this thing that wants to incessantly dictate my life, my time, my attention. My thoughts.

 

I feel content today. Well-rested. Productive. I woke up early, fed the cat, read the Tao, felt the circular Qigong flow, wrote, blogged, read and commented on some other blogs, began a load of laundry, read and answered some e-mails, cooked (not microwaved) and ate breakfast, took a 35 minute walk in the 40 degree cold… I never turned on the phone. In fact, I’m not sure where it is or if it’s charged. And I don’t care. At least for today. My HSP self loves the pace of days like this.


The Only Cure for Overexposure is Reducing Exposure

I discovered some surprising wisdom about technology in the Tao te Ching. Credited to Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu from the sixth century BCE, his twelfth verse warns of over stimulation. This can easily be applied to  smartphones and devices today:

The five colors blind the eye.
The five tones deafen the ear.
The five flavors dull the mouth.
Racing through the field and hunting make the mind wild.
Searching for precious goods leads astray.
Therefore, the sage attends to the belly,
And not to what he sees.
He rejects the latter and chooses the former.

In The Tao of Joy Every Day, Derek Lin interprets Lao Tzu’s message to “care for the stomach and not the eyes” to mean “take care of the basic necessities of life and turn away from too much sensory input.” Lin further suggests “going on an information fast. Shift more of your time spent consuming content delivered electronically to simpler, more basic activities in life. Instead of indulging in virtual reality, spend more time in the actual reality of the physical world.” Makes sense to me.


I flip back through my smartphone diary that ended on January 25th…

January 27, 2020 – The Big Blow-Up

Firey explosion extending into and darkening the skyI’ve wasted the last two days before leaving for Turks & Caicos trying to understand and get this device to cooperate – take a photo, upload a photo. Get a call. Make a call. Instead the Google Pixel 3XL alerts me with dings, pings, news, e-mail, and unwanted ads. I think I’d rather be bit by a rabid dog. I can’t stand it…my brain screams aloud!

January 30-31, 2020 – Incompatibility?

The Pixel does what it wants when it wants. There is no arguing or web-based solution I can find to stop it’s pounding on my door. “Go away,” I say. I think we are incompatible. “We are too opposite and set in our ways.” I value my independence, free spirit and ability to think for myself.

Man and woman turned away from each other on park bench, holding their heads in anger and frustration
Original photo by Vera Arsic on Pexels

It’s 5PM now…I need to pack. De-stress. Get away from this. Live real life. Pick a book to read on vacation. Forget about passwords, codes, locking and unlocking. Forget the devices — at least for now. I need to get some things done. I’ve never been one to throw things but — if it didn’t cost so much, I feel like throwing this phone against the wall or in the trash. Now I’m becoming the monster!

I want to be productive!!!

 

A friend tries to cheer me with this video. Laughter is good medicine. And so are human friends with hearts.

February 1, 2020 – Mediation

It’s the day before I fly out. I don’t want to overload the phone’s memory with photos but I don’t want my photos in “the cloud”…especially knowing Google plans to hold me hostage in a few years by charging me to store my stuff in their cloud. I bought the cord that says it’s Pixel 3XL compatible but it’s not working…

Waiting in line 15 minutes for my turn with the Geek Squad, I’m behind a woman who could be my grandmother. We’re both patiently waiting while a middle-aged couple is being helped at the counter (see video above).

“Hi,” I smile, when it’s my turn, happy the grandson-like Geek is waiting on me again. I suppose he remembers me, the selfish middle-aged woman who doesn’t want to share with Google. But, I refresh his memory that he set up the phone and ask if he’d show me how to transfer photos from the Pixel to the laptop.

“I have to charge you $100 for that.”

What? “Just to give me instructions? It was $40 last time.”

Unsympathetically he shakes his head. “Sorry. It’s because data is involved.”

Disbelievingly, I shake my head. “No, I’m not paying $100.” My mind calculates the cost of this phone, the extra cables, protective case, glass shield, monthly service, programming… Do I really need this thing? I am paying a lot for this intrusion into my once manageable life…and that doesn’t count the expense of my emotional well-being or blood pressure meds I may end up needing. (Sigh.)

Leaving the store dejected, and feeling somewhat desperate, I remember there’s a PC shop down the road. It’s 15 minutes til closing time but the guy is friendly. He loves his Google Pixel. Finally, someone can help me! He patiently goes through the steps (a few times) and waits while I handwrite notes on what to do. Bless this man. He doesn’t even want to charge me and it’s a Saturday.

“I can’t leave without paying,” I say.

Slight pause, then, “Whatever you think.”

I hand him $25 and rush home to finish packing. I feel a bit lighter. A bit freer. Maybe, just maybe, this phone and I will become friends on this trip. I’m hopeful.

February 6, 2020 – Hopes Dashed

The endless Turks & Caicos sky mirrors turquoise waters. I think I’m taking photos to remember this bucket list trip. Back at the hotel, I swipe to see the photos. What? They are mostly shaky, pulsating videos. Have I mixed up the buttons? Apparently. I take more photos each day. Most I’ve deleted. Some accidentally. No need to download to the laptop. (I return home with a handful of pitiful photos.)

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February 10, 2020 – Being Difficult

My friend calls.”How was your trip?”

We are in the midst of talking. I no longer hear her voice. I try calling back. No answer. My Pixel rings. I try to answer it. I hear her talking but she can’t hear me. She leaves a voice message. I pick up my landline and dial her number. We talk. Normally. We are not disconnected. The screen does not go black. I LOVE my landline.

February 15, 2020 – How Many Boomers Does it Take to Operate a Smartphone?

In the flooring store, I’m calling my installer for measurements. Hmm, good thing I have this phone — at least until it goes black. The phone rings and I can’t answer it. Two other boomers nearby try to help but none of us can get the call. One whips out his Samsung to make the call for me. A fourth person (younger store clerk) does the 1-2-3 swipe on my Pixel, touches my installer’s name in the contact list and voila’ the calls goes through. What?

Seeing my frustration, the boomer cashier says, “I hate these things. My daughter made me get one of these and I don’t know how to use it. I use to have a flip phone…”  I smile back sympathetically.

I approach the younger store clerk. “Remember the last time I was here I just got this phone?” He smiles. “I still can’t use the darned thing. Could you show me how you got the screen back?” Again, he does the 1-2-3 swipe thing and says there are instructional videos on YouTube… Really? Does this “smart”phone have to be so complicated that I need instructions for the most basic tasks? I only want to make a call. Get a call. Take some photos… I am probably mumbling to myself at this point.

February 22, 2020 – Faster than…a Snail?

Finishing errands, I think I’ll use the smartphone to pull up movie selections on my way home. Wrong. The titles running quickly across the screen won’t allow me to select one. At the same time, I’m bombarded with flashing ads and annoying requests to download the movie app. Finally, I’m ready to give in — just to make them go away — until I see the app’s two star rating. Oh. (Groan.) I don’t need another problem to fix. I decide to not get involved.

I turn to YouTube for a tutorial. Halfway through it’s overtaken by another video that has nothing to do with what I was viewing. Really? This thing is“supposed” to save me time? I drive to the kiosk faster than getting the answer on the smartphone.

Most people tell me I have a calming presence. And I usually do. But the time this smartphone wastes raises my blood pressure. I’m afraid to see how high.

February 27, 2020– Limited Contact

The Pixel is charged but I ignore it. I resolve to turn it on for emergency calls only and hopefully better photos. I decide it will be my now and then, some of the time date. I think I can handle that.

February 29, 2020 – Misery Has Company

In sharing my vulnerabilities and frustrations with the smartphone world, I discover numerous others in my camp. Including my Tai Chi instructor.

Her “e-mail” reads “I have to laugh. My phone is back in its box on the counter. It’s been 30 days so I can’t send it back.”

She too, was forced to give up her flip phone for the supposedly “smarter” variety. I wish I could laugh about this. I’m also past the return date (and I suppose I would have to pay someone another $40-$100 or more to delete my personal info before returning it anyway…and then I have all those accessories too). What a dilemma. And a pricey one at that.

I feel a slight solace from others sharing the complexities of their smartphones or as another blogger prefers to call it the “dumb” phone. I’m gravitating toward this term.

March 2, 2020 – The Stand Off

Angry face on smartphone

Sadly, I realize if I don’t spend time with the smartphone I won’t be able to use it even for the basics — make a call, get a call, take a photo. Yet, my arms automatically cross when thinking about turning it on even for 15 minutes of “learning.” My mind shuts down foreseeing frustration. In honesty, I loathe the phone and it knows it.

March 5, 2020 – Imprisonment

I got along fine without a smartphone in my life before. Actually, I felt healthier. More calm. My life was manageable. I was efficient and productive. While the saying, “If you don’t use it, you lose it,” keeps returning in my head, the smartphone retorts, “If you don’t use me, you won’t learn how to, and then what? You can’t go back to the flip.” I feel trapped.

I don’t want the smartphone to think for me. I don’t want a smartcar to drive for me. I’m a great parallel parker and I back up just fine, thank you. Must I give up my independence? I’m feeling depressed. Maybe I’ll ask Google for a job so I can show them how to make a smartphone that boomers can use and actually like. Now I think I’m really losing it.

March 6, 2020 – Who’s at Fault?

Considering myself a logical, practical person, I question if the phone is really this complicated. Particularly when many tout the convenience of their phones while mine “wastes” my time. My flip phone would make a call, my camera took a photo. Maybe I got a faulty phone. Is it the Pixel or me? 

March 7, 2020 – Lovin’ Life More than a Device

Photo of sink plunger
Original image by Beverly Buckley on Pixabay

The National Day of Unplugging won’t be ending for me tonight. I’m so HAPPY without the phone. Doesn’t that say it all? And I think some others are too as evidenced by their dreams of unplugged time. I’m wondering what you did in 24 hours of unplugging. And I’m not talking about the sink drain…

I inplug to make the most of my time

A Love Hate Diary of Dates with a Smartphone… (part 3)

Mark your calendar, set your alert notifications for the National Day of Unplugging which begins at sundown this coming Friday (March 6) and ends (only if you want it to) at sundown on Saturday (March 7). This mini diary on my smartphone experience explains why I’ll be unplugged too!

Continuing from Part 2 that ended on January 15, 2020…

January 16, 2020 – Warming my Heart

Using my brand new android smartphone, I attempt to photograph ceramic tiles in the Lowe’s home improvement store to coordinate with cabinetry. The 20-something clerk sees my difficulties and offers to help.

“I just got this,” I nervously chuckle while handing him the phone.

Quickly he swipes one way then another.

“I started with a flip phone in my teens,” he says. “Even I had to get use to a smartphone. But, you’ll love it,” he assures me. “You can get stock quantities. Use the calculator to determine your costs. Access your bank account to pay for it…”

Oh, not my bank account. But, he makes it look so easy I’m feeling slightly optimistic. I just need practice. I leave the store, my heart warmed more from human kindness in my moment of vulnerability than the possibility of being able to operate my smartphone.

January 17, 2020 – “If You Don’t Use it, You Lose it”

That wise sentiment has survived generations. Because it’s true.

Hand holding a device with cars moving down a main street
Photo by Matheus Bertelli from Pexels

Traveling to a town I haven’t seen in a decade, I momentarily feel lost on an unfamiliar street. Almost instantly I think you have that phone. Pull over and use the GPS. Instead, I look ahead several blocks and see enough moving cars that it appears to be a main road. I decide to use my own skill and think for myself instead of relying on Google for the answer. My instincts are right. I find my way. And I feel all the better for it.

Again and again, I consider the term “smart”phone. Are these phones so smart they make people do stupid things like walk into traffic? Some users can’t even name the street they are standing on. Employees know nothing about the company that employs them or products carried…deferring to the “smart”phone for the answer — or worse yet, telling me to ask a smartphone for the answer.

When phoning my state’s Attorney General because of a telemarketing scam, their Office of Consumer Protection could not explain the difference between a credit freeze and a credit hold. She had to Google it. If 81% of Americans now own a smartphone, I wonder how many can still think for themselves…assess a situation, then think deeply to find a solution without resourcing the phone.

January 18, 2020 – Pushiness Does Not Win me Over

If my android smartphone behaved like my PC where I turn it on, use the programs I need then call it a day, we might get along. But, this smartphone is like a braggadocio date constantly pummeling me with hype. Groan. I don’t look forward to our time together. Instead of extending a hand in friendship, this lurking, slurping, berserk monster tyrannizes me with snarls and bites.

Menacing monster snarling with jaws open to bite
Original photo by Adam McIntyre on Canva

January 20, 2020 – Isn’t Swiping for those Tinder People?

Swiping left — right — up — down makes my head spin. Finally I discover how to change all the swiping to buttons. Yes, I can deal with buttons. I think. But mine are getting pushed.

Fifteen percent of Americans interrupted sex to answer their cell phone. Really? I presume they were swiping. The woman in the restroom stall answering her cell phone was raunchy enough… Sheesh. I’m afraid to ask what’s next.

January 25, 2020 – An Unhealthy Relationship

Today, I’ve decided devices are NOT healthy or friendly and especially for HSPs who can already be too easily overwhelmed. Today, I’m not horrified, just frazzled. While my reasons are different, I definitely feel the link between tech devices and anxiety (and I barely engage with social media). The tracking-tracking-tracking and attempted reprogramming feel like I’m corralled with sheep for slaughter. I refuse to be a clone of whatever SM (social media or techno sado masochism — you decide) or the Evil Tech Sextet (Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon) tell me to believe.

Far-reaching orange and brown monster
Original photo by Adam McIntyre on Canva


“We increasingly miss out on the important moments of our lives as we pass the hours with our noses buried in our devices.” 

— the National Day of Unplugging website

I prefer burying my nose in the rose bushes or sun-warmed tomatoes and basil, thank you.


I’ve learned that I often get what I need. So, in a way it was no surprise to read the following message in The Five Invitations – Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully by Frank Ostaseski:

“…we end up addicted to busy.

“The smartphone, our most constant companion, is a shining example of this mentality. A recent survey of San Francisco residents found that on any given day, most people interact with their smartphones more than they do with other human beings. Half of the people surveyed admitted to using their phones to escape social interaction, and nearly a third said they felt anxious when they didn’t have access to their phones.

“Remember when computers were sold to us based on the idea that they would create more leisure time and greater human connectivity? I want my money back.”

I agree with Frank. Big Tech’s given me no reason to believe their phones are for my “convenience.” Remember the promise of a “paperless society”?

Ever stack up your junk mail? It all sounds great on the surface (marketing propaganda usually does)…but in reality I have wasted more time from companies breaching my data and it being sold on the dark web, to deleting phishing e-mails, to avoiding spam calls, and on and on. Why would I want to give up any more precious time and privacy, or put myself at further risk? This is why all the extra “capabilities” of a “smart” phone do not make sense or appeal to me. Seeing a family sitting together with each person’s eyes glued on their own smartphone saddens me.

The Natural Rhythm of Life

Frank Ostaseski quotes a late friend, Angeles Arrien, who often commented that “Nature’s rhythm is medium to slow. Many of us live in the fast lane, out of nature’s rhythm. There are two things we can never do in the fast lane:  we can neither deepen our experience nor integrate it.” He says she encouraged others to walk outside for an hour every day and spend at least a half hour in silence every day. “When we lose touch with the rhythms of nature, we become unbalanced,” she said. “To be fully present within our nature, we must be in balance with the land around us.”

Stream running through a forest
Photo by Eberhard Grossgasteiger on Unsplash

I think Angeles was on to something. Surely, I am not the only one in this minority of Neo-Luddites (or partial Neo-Luddite as I’m not an all or nothing gal, or maybe just group of self-reliant persons). This sentiment rings true with me when observing smartphone users:  “A cellphone signals my whole world is me and it excludes everyone else.” Remember the old tagline, “Reach out and touch someone”? Try it for real while you unplug this coming weekend. Your smartphone can’t hug you like a friend.


IUnplug-Live

 

 

A Love Hate Diary of Dates with a Smartphone… (part 2)

This mini diary on my Luddite introduction with a Smartphone is in honor of the upcoming National Day of Unplugging (first Friday in March).

Continuing from Part 1 that ended on June 6, 2019…

July 13, 2019 – Contemplating Compatibility

At the drum circle a friend inquires, “How did you like your Smartphone?”

“Not much. I could barely use it in Scotland. I’m back with the Trac.”

A phone “gabber” I’m not unless someone is too long distance to meet in person. For me, a phone, any phone is a practical tool to make plans for getting together. Exchange smiles. Or tears. Or hugs. Communicate human to human. I’ll get along without a Smartphone. So I think.

August-September 2019 – Unavailability

More often than not, the Tracfone indicates “NO SERVICE” even for local calls — hardly helpful in an emergency (my only local need or desire for a non-landline phone).

September 15, 2019 – There’s nothing like a piece of paper…

Woman holding note of apology for backing into a car
Original photo by Lukas from Pexels

“Sorry I couldn’t make the drum circle yesterday,” a fellow drummer says. “I was on my way [to a new location] when my phone battery died…I didn’t have the address or a way to call you so I turned around and went home.”

A 94 mile trek for nothing. Glad I don’t rely on a phone. 

Notebook and pen on table near coffee cup
Original photo by David Bares from Pexels

Quite frankly, I love pen and paper. Always have. Always will. Like a loyal dog and best friend it’s always there, never intrusive, comes when I call it.

The young couple denting someone’s car in the parking lot had no paper or pen to leave a note. Hit and runs — whether in parking lots or worse yet, as pedestrian fatalities, are rising. I wonder how much is attributed to Smartphone use and/or a lack of paper…

November 6, 2019 – A New Blind Date

Emptying out my deceased brother’s apartment, I inherit his Samsung Smartphone. His helpful business partner clears it and helps transfer the 429 minutes I rarely use on my flip phone. Maybe, just maybe this will work.

December 7, 2019 – Roving Eyes

My Canon PowerShot camera conks out. The few photos I take on the Samsung are meh. Now what to do? Tracfone doesn’t offer international coverage, and I’m not going back to Mobal. Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are over. Do I pay several hundred dollars for a camera fix or replacement, and still have to lug it with a phone…in the limited space of a carry-on? My cost-consciousness wrestles with tech’s marketing message that says I want convenience.

December 9-29, 2019 – Background Checks

Large purchases call in my research skills. Admiring a fellow blogger’s exquisite photos, he tells me many are with a Google Pixel 3XL Smartphone.

I waffle with indecision over the expense. Do I really need this? Do I really want a monthly bill? I do want quality photos.

I further inquire about Smartphones. “Oh yes, I love my phone,” friends say. The Verizon rep touts the new Google Pixel 4XL and a hefty monthly charge. Best Buy confirms the phone I’ve told myself I want is already outdated. I’ve got one foot on the carousel and already it’s whirling too fast.

My flight date closes in. Finally taking the plunge, I order the Pixel 3XL to arrive in time. After all, we need to get acquainted before traveling together.

January 13, 2020 – Dead End Date

Brand new box for Google Pixel 3XL with cords and components but no ID of parts

Taking a deep breath, I open the box. There are strange looking cords. A diagram with no wording. What does all this mean? The hefty booklet that I hope will be instructions is legal disclaimer. Groan. I turn on the Smartphone anyway to set it up. It stops and won’t proceed. Off and on. Off and on. It’s frozen. We’re not starting off well.

Shocked face of elderly woman

January 14, 2020 – It’s one thing to be a Luddite, but now a grandmother too?

The Geek Squad guy tells me, “Don’t worry. I had to do this for my grandmother too.” Groan. An hour later I walk out thinking I’m all set.  And then I get home and pull out my scribbled notes…

January 15, 2020 – Stalked!

I turn on the phone. What? Photos I took on the Mobal phone in Scotland now appear on this phone. Including my recently deceased dog. Not what I hoped to see. How did this happen? Suddenly, I remember fooling around with Google’s Picasso years ago when it grabbed my financial documents with photos and placed them on the Internet. I was horrified! Not again! 

Masked terrorist spreading red smoke into the air
Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash

IUnplug-Connect

Original feature photo by Jason Tharsiman on Unsplash