Good Bye Las Vegas! On September 12th 2017 I left my home in Las Vegas to embark on a cross country road trip with my mama.
After a solid week on the road, we arrived at the Black Hills Bungalows in Custer, South Dakota. Between me getting this blog and other website up and running and my mom starting her wedding invitation business, we both had been on our phones a lot. We agreed that for our 3 night stay in the Black Hills we would completely disconnect from the rest of the world. I only used my phone to take pictures and my computer to listen to previously downloaded music and write. No Social Media. No Texts. No Emails. No Calls. No Data. No WiFi. No Internet.
Within less than an hour of disconnecting I was craving my phone
“Did someone like my last Instagram post?”
“Did I book the flight home from Nashville on the right day?
“Crap! I never texted Secilee back!”
I was at war with myself. One side of me was saying
“Don’t touch that phone. You are going through a major life transition and need to disconnect to center yourself and spend quality time with your mother.”
The other side was saying
“You are building a business, checking social media, ensuring flights are booked properly and maintaining relationships is what will make you successful! Check your phone. Now!”
This short experiment with digital disconnection forced me to connect with myself, my mother and the world around me on a level I hadn’t in awhile. I learned that with a phone glued to my hand, I’m immersed in the virtual world not experiencing the real one before me. Interactions with other humans are surface level and the scenery around me becomes vague. My body is sitting there, phone in hand, but my mind, soul and heart are in an alternate universe. The virtual one. Don’t mistake me, the level of connection made possible because of technology has numerous benefits. And I plan to take advantage of them as I advance with this blog and my other website. But moving forward, I can’t forget that when I connect virtually I disconnect from reality.
Have you ever noticed when two or more people get together, their conversation, if they are even having one, often revolves around what they are looking at on their phones?
“Let’s take a boomerang of our cheers!”
“You have to see this YouTube video!”
“Do you remember what year ‘Baby Got Back’ was released?… Me either… Let’s look it up!”
Even worse are the times when every person in the group is looking at their own phone, not communicating at all. I can attest to these things because I have done them all. Without the distraction of our phones my mom and I had more engaging conversations with each other and the people around us. We swapped stories the other had never heard and talked to people we may not have otherwise engaged with.
Human Connection Increases
A Craft Sesh Reflection about Entrepreneurialism
Everything I owned was in my car, including the few rolls of hemp I saved from my crafty days. After a few hours of disconnection I dug the hemp out of the car and started making a bracelet. My mom, a former macramé queen, joined me. We sat in our cozy cabin, making bracelets and talking. We reminisced about the bracelets I made as a kid. I told her how I used to walk down to the street corner with all my bracelets and set them out this big rock with a “For Sale” sign. I would also bring them to school in hopes my classmates would want to buy them. I sold a few but ended up giving most of them away. I realized for the first time that the creating part of entrepreneurialism has always come naturally to me but the “get money” part has been a work in progress. It takes confidence to believe in yourself enough to expect people to pay you money for your creations. This conversation allowed me to reflect on how far I’ve come, what I still need to work on and reminded me that my 11 year old self would be proud of the path I’m on.
You’ve Been Where?! Your Grandma Did What?!
My mom told me that when she was in her early teens, her Grandfather took her fishing in Canada. I had no idea my mom had ever been to Canada! That same Grandfather, I found out, lived in Minneapolis, Minnesota until he died in 1989. She told me about going to visit him one summer, fondly recalling descriptions of his house and memories of playing on the banks of the Mississippi River. She suggested we try to find his old house when we got to Minneapolis. (Fast Forward- We did find it. To our delight, it was one mile from where we were staying and, just as she described, a block from the Mississippi River.) Amazed by the family history I was uncovering, I inquired more about my great-grandparents and learned the most surprising thing yet- my Great Grandmother traveled around the world! Japan. Europe. India. My mom said,
“I can picture the photo of my grandmother riding in a rickshaw in Japan.”
(I badly wanted to google rickshaw, and did later. My mom described it as pulled cart with big wheels. She was right.) With my current travel aspirations, I am baffled I didn’t know about my great-grandmother’s travels until now!
Crazy Horse will be Finished on Tuesday
With Google off limits, we had to figure things out in other ways. At the Crazy Horse Memorial, I wondered the same thing almost everyone wonders when they visit ‘when will it be done?’ I looked at pamphlets and books, I walked around the museum and watched the presentation. I learned about Crazy Horse, an American Indian warrior, and Korczak, the Polish American sculptor hired to honor his legacy, but nothing about a projected completion date. Finally, I asked the tour guide, his response, ‘Tuesday.’ I giggled shyly knowing this was a joke but also waiting for the real answer. He didn’t say anything more. I reworded the question and asked again. Again, he said ‘Tuesday.’ After another lengthy pause he cracked a smile and said ‘That’s what Korczak said to tell people when they asked… no one knows when it’ll be done. Personally, I don’t think it’s possible but people would be happy to see it completed on the 100th anniversary .’ No wonder I couldn’t find an answer anywhere! No one knows! This conversation caused others around me to chime in and we all connected over our shared curiosity.
A Bartender’s Recommendation
After a visit to Mount Rushmore and a walk around downtown Custer, South Dakota my mom and I popped into the Buglin’ Bull Restaurant and Sports Bar to warm up with a glass of red. Phoneless, we fully engaged in a conversation with the very welcoming bartender. He told us how he travels around the USA, exploring the National Parks and taking odd jobs. He suggested we visit Sylvan Lake and cruise down Needles highway. We did and were not disappointed! Needles Highway is one of those places you see and wonder ‘how does this even exist?’ Tunnels were dug right through the spiked mountains and pine tree covered landscape just wide enough to fit a car! It was breathtaking and something we wouldn’t have done if we hadn’t had that conversation with the bartender.
(Tip: Strike up a conversation with a bartender when you first arrive in a new place).
My virtual disconnection landed on my best friends’ wedding anniversary. Struggling with not being able to call or text them, I dug my stationery box out of the car and wrote them an anniversary card.
Happy Anniversary! I’m bummed I can’t call or text you but my mom and I are on a digital detox. It’s cool though, because I probably wouldn’t have written you this card if I had access to my phone. Actually, I know I wouldn’t have because I bought this anniversary card for you, oh, it had to be 5 years ago!
It’s true. I had purchased an actual anniversary card for them 5 anniversaries ago and never gave it to them! Not having access to my phone forced me to hand write and mail a card which is infinitely better than a text message!
Anxiety and F.O.M.O. Decrease while Focus Increases
When You Wake Up At 6:19am and Get Out of Bed at 6:19am
It’s amazing to actually get out of bed as soon as you wake up. Each morning I sat on the back porch of our cabin as the sun rose, watching deer drink from the pond and sipping coffee. It was peaceful. It was refreshing. It was meditative. When my phone is near my bed, depending on how early I wake up, I can kill a good chunk of the early morning scrolling! That’s not only a waste of time but bombards my brain with excess information causing distraction, stress and anxiety.
You Can’t Fear Missing Out When You Don’t Know What You’re Missing
Late one afternoon, after the tour of Crazy Horse, my mom and I set out to find lunch in Custer. I saw this place called Black Hills Burger & Bun Co. A burger sounded good and the place was packed so we went in. My mom and I split an order of pork nachos and the “Cool Guy” burger. Bomb! Had we had access to our phones, we would have looked up every restaurant in town. After a lengthy deliberation we would have eventually chosen one but no matter how good it was, we would have wondered about the restaurants we missed out on. Also, if we had looked it up, we would have found out the burger place closed at 2. With it being 1:30 probably wouldn’t have gone in and missed out on what was one of our favorite meals of the trip!
Also, disconnected from social media, I was not thinking about all the other places I could be or other people I could be with. I was in the moment enjoying enjoying the Black Hills with my mama.
Letting Go of Pointless Wonderments and Being Present
I can’t tell you how many times a random question pops into my head and I immediately go to Google or Siri for an answer. Silly things like ‘How old is Ludacris?’ or ‘How tall was Jesus?’ Unnecessary stuff I just want to know. The overload of information is distracting and causes unnecessary stress and anxiety. I wrote down everything I would have googled if I could have and let it go! It made me realize none of it was necessary to know right then (if ever) and allowed me to stay in the moment, watching the goats climb and deer frolic, instead of putting my nose in my phone to find answers.
- After deer shed their antlers, do they grow back?
- Why do goats climb?
- What is the typical diet of a goat?
- How cold does Custer, SD get in the winter?
- What is the population of Custer?
- What year was Sweet Home Alabama released?
- How tall WAS Jesus?
In today’s day and age the virtual world is an important place to be and by no means do I want to remove myself from it. This experiment taught me to be present where I am. If I’m working on my virtual world that’s fine and necessary, but I’m fooling myself if I think I’m connected with the real world while doing so!