Unplugging

15 Killer Ways to Avoid Viral DoomScrolling

Posted on: Sunday, August 23rd, 2020
Posted in: Rants & Roadkill, SoulTrain, Unplugging | Leave a comment

  • Doom? Gloom? Play ball instead!

Yep, it’s a thing. As if we don’t already have enough to freak us out, people (who already obsessed with their digitalia) can’t stop seeking bad news. It’s like admitting that banging your head on the wall is bad for you, but doing it all day anyway.

Many major media outlets recently exposed this unfortunate trend. They’ve  talked to experts, of course, who wisely told us to do things like acknowledge the issue. Plan and schedule activities away from your screens. Take more breaks from your tech and work. Meditate. Connect with someone (friend or family) for 15 minutes a day. Pick times and places to get your bad news, and limit your intake to those times only (how about only when sitting on the toilet?).  The pundits offer us the usual good ideas for mental health hygiene.

Good stuff, all of it. And I must confess that the more Real News I ingest, the more sick I feel. So I second the this emotion and would like to add my 15 worthy distraction—from an unfortunately experienced and deeply disturbed citizen of this sick planet…

  • 1. GROW A GARDEN

If you have a yard or patio, get dirty with it. If you lack that, hoard some houseplants. Or plant some seeds. The miracle and promise for the future sprouts naturally and just keeps on growing. And growing.  

  • 2. TAKE A HIKE

Or at least a walk. Peruse your neighborhood routinely, and note the simply amazing ways that things change daily, and more so over a season. If time and conditioning allow, wander anywhere and everywhere, keeping in mind that, “All who wander are not lost.” (J.R.R. Tolkien)

  • 3. STRETCH

There’s enough instruction help online to hyper-stretch both body and imagination. You could buy a bunch of tools and toys (or go yoga). But you can also easily loosen up those tight glutes on the floor while watching bubble baseball. Your body will thank you.

  • 4. EXERCISE NEW REGIMENS

Kayak like a madman. Shoot hoops. Get that old bike working again. Dust off the yard games in your garage. Or toss around my old fave: Frisbee; there are also lots of Frisbee golf courses these days—often for free! Bounce a tennis ball, anyone? Or pick up that new (and superb!) not-just-for-geezers sport: Pickleball!

  • 5. WRITE POSTCARDS

You probably have a bunch stashed away from those trips you took back when, well, you could travel. Or create some. Write by hand to old friends or journey mates or—aha!—folks you met on the road. You’ll spark priceless memories and make someone’s day. 

  • 6. PLAY MUSIC

There’s a reason you can’t quite throw out those old LPs, CDs, cassettes, and 45s. And this time, really listen. Skip playlists; jump back into albums. Few pastimes can be as therapeutic and spiritual as hearing song.

  • 7. PLAY MUSIC 

It’s a lovely release and savvy exercise for hand-to-eye coordination. So noodle around with that old guitar, keyboard, or flugelhorn. Heck, you were probably pretty good…back in the day. Relive those days, rejoice in the noise, and play like nobody’s watching. (They aren’t.) 

  • 8. JUMP INTO LIVESTREAMS.

I’ve been blown away by the musicians, groups, festivals, and beyond that are entertaining online, usually for free. And some bands are releasing coveted concerts for ravenous fans. (I’m hooked on many groups’ shows, including Phish, Radiohead, and the Grateful Dead.) Museums and other venues are adapting too. So join the virtual party!

  • 9. COOK UP A STORM

No, you can’t go out as much as you used to. Yes, you probably have more time on your hands. So put your hands into creating tasty (and healthy!) meals. The CDC would approve.

  • 10. PURGE UR CRAP.

Does anyone enjoy sorting (and eliminating) old stuff? Nope. But does everyone enjoy the feeling of a lighter load and cleaner closet? Indubitably yes. So what are you waiting for? The next pandemic?

  • 11. TAKE A PRETEND VACATION

Watch movies filmed in exotic locales whether Fellini-esque or lampoon-y. Open up old scrap books and photo albums. Or better yet, pack a picnic and visit some popular area nearby that you normally avoid cuz of crowds and Karens. For a change, the traffic and congestion may be less of a hassle—and Karen likely stayed home to bemoan the closed restaurants. 

  • 12. BECOME A NATURE FREAK

Find Jeremiah. Take wing with birds. Look for creatures in the clouds. Watch the grass grow, for heaven’s sake. Nature never fails, and Toady doesn’t really give a rat’s ass about our stupid pandemic. PS Pick up a birdbath; you’ll make the birdies giddy, which will make you happy.

  • 13. HEAD TO THE SHORE

Any shore—whatever’s nearby. Water: Symbolic, calming, essential. And with any luck, there’s got to be a lake, stream, or sea somewhere close to your crib. 

  • 14. HOST A SOCIALLY COMFORTABLE EVENT

Some worry that C-19 is turning some people into premature curmudgeons. Overzealous anti-socialites. Hissy scare-dy cats. Could it be? Meantime, I’m cheering for the local senior softball league that plays on and then stretches out for some post-game beers in the parking lot. I will show up for the neighbor’s spacious bonfire. I mean, isn’t the risk of loneliness and isolation (to say nothing of lost relationships) a credible medical and mental-health concern, too?

  • 15. GIVE HELP 

Folks are getting sad, mad, and tense. Worse yet, someone you know is sick, locked-in, or otherwise limited. So pick up their groceries. Paint their deck. Or just ask, “How can I help?”  They’ll be so grateful, you may solve their problem, and you’ll feel pretty good about yourself too.

  • Please Resist Doomscrolling   : ) 

So turn off that newscast. Just peek at—rather than pore over—the news feeds. And pooh-pooh the politicians that have proven they are talented at very little beyond fueling fear and animosity.

Doomscrolling. Yep, it’s a thing. I’m sorry. We’re all sorry. 

May you stay safe and sane and (with apologies to poet Mary Oliver’s “The Summer Day”) find better things to do with your wild and precious pandemic.

Keep the faith.

 

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FOTOFRIDAY: Vacations & Odd Ducks

Posted on: Monday, August 3rd, 2020
Posted in: HR FYI, Unplugging, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

FF is late this week. Because the Crew has been on vacation. Nothing exotic, not long enough, but…away. Most people dream about getting away and things, but the sad fact remains that more than half of US workers’ vakay days go unused. It’s the Odd Duck who actually takes care, takes advantage, and takes off for some frolic and fun.

In this picture, you can see what happens to that Odd Duck. Co-workers attack and ostracize. They splash water on your visions of work/life balance. They quack behind your back and peck at your beak because they are jealous you might find bliss and pissed that your absence may increase their work load.

You, meanwhile, may be a closet territorialist—afraid that ditching the job may result in lost opportunity, a back-breaking backlog, or the realization that you really aren’t essential anyway. Yes, it’s complicated. All the more reason to step away for some fresh perspective. (Just don’t think too much. Watch waves and ducks.)

We’ve been carping about this since at least 2009. And yes, the pandemic complicates time off, as it does everything. But maybe the unprecedented stress and uncertainty of these times makes getting AWAY and UNPLUGGING more important than ever! Because hanging with that white duck and the other curious and revitalizing experiences of this BreakAway did much to calm my turbulent waters. For now, anyhow.

Keep the faith.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Seek Silence; Create Beauty

Posted on: Friday, July 17th, 2020
Posted in: SoulTrain, Unplugging, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

“The whole world is at sixes and sevens and why the house hasn’t fallen down about our ears long ago is beyond me.” So says the omniscient maid, Sabrina, in the opening scene of Thornton Wilder’s 1942 Pulitzer-winning play, “The Skin of our Teeth.”

The show is about the never-ending vulnerability—and the resolute endurance—of the human race. The play’s three acts take place during an ice age, a great flood, and a horrific war. Were there a fourth act, a pandemic would fit right in.

Of late, lines and scenes from “The Skin of Our Teeth” sometimes echo through my head. (I was in the play as a child.) But such reveries feel like a luxury, because what’s often happening in our heads is the news of violence. Of scary health threats. Of disunity and anger and, above all, unprecedented uncertainty.

My wish for myself, and for all of us, is some silence. Stay informed and make your statements. But then turn off the noise. Seek the stillness—and listen to it. Create something of beauty, however esoteric or secret or temporary. After all, most of us are mostly stuck in place with some extra time on our hands.

Some day in the future, when we have returned to our busy, self-important routines, we may look back longingly at this unscheduled BreakAway.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Staycationeering

Posted on: Friday, June 19th, 2020
Posted in: SoulTrain, Unplugging, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment
  • My daughter quietly making art in a moment of staycation calm

It’s funny. Most people spend most of their lives answering “How are you?” with the impressive reply, “I’m so busy!” In normal times, we therefore likely long for a long BreakAway, a relaxing vacation, or even a therapeutic staycation. That word’s gotten super-hot lately, yet now many folks are screaming, “I’m so stir-crazy!”

Well, here’s your staycation opportunity, friends—a topic that deserves a closer look in a forthcoming posts—and certainly in my own muddled world. Have you made your wish-list? Clean closets? Plant shrubs? Read The Gifts of Imperfection? Zoom your faraway rellies?

My daughter often surprises me with her staycation instincts and gift of spontaneously launching projects that make something out of nothing. Like this watercolor of a recent picture. Who know she could even paint so well? Drawing (and sailing!) the Hjørdis isn’t easy! (I know; I took sailing classes on her!)

Oh sure, this photo is a mere memory snapshot; I didn’t want to interrupt a moment of peace, of inspiration. But it reminds us to use some spare moments during this gift of (messy) time to seek some calm, creativity, and beauty.

We need it, right? Keep the faith.

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FOTOFRIDAY: The Silence of the Loons

Posted on: Friday, June 12th, 2020
Posted in: SoulTrain, Unplugging, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

Recently, friends took me out on a pontoon ride to share the secret location of the oh-so hidden loon nest. Lake Owasso, like most Minnesota lakes, gets one beloved loon pair per year. Loons are fiercely territorial, remarkably fearless, and absolutely mesmerizing to watch.

In the Real World, problems keep becoming more explosive. Sad. And Surreal. So seriously: I recommend loons. Or whatever miracle of nature may be in your path that takes your anxieties away, fills you with reverence, and inspires a moment of peace.

Loons can be loud. But my response is silence. And for a fleeting moment—when the loon allows—that quietude and awe is the best therapy I could ask for.

I shot this photo alone at dusk, via kayak and a long zoom lens. The loon was aware of my intrusion, but somehow trusted my intentions. And my desire to coexist with respect and silence.

Keep the faith.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Escape COVID: Go OUTSIDE!

Posted on: Friday, April 10th, 2020
Posted in: Unplugging, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

Let’s face it, most of America endures bothersome winters of some sort, literally and metaphorically. So when spring arrives—which happens sporadically at best—everyone should drop everything (including their stupid dumb phones) and head to the great outdoors!

That Nasty Virus makes fresh air, open space, and nature even more alluring and vital. After all, we’re mostly locked-down inside inventing new hyper-definitions to for “stir crazy” and “testy.” In normal times, folks head out in swarms here in Minnesota when a heat wave of, say, 42F finally arrives. But lately, the traffic jams have abandoned the highways and hit the sidewalks! (Never mind that they all turn their heads and sprint 6’ away when they see me coming.)

Walk the dog. Walk the rake. Rake the yard. Rake the dog. Play catch with your kids. Invent new sports with your kids. Try social-distance bonfires, driveway happy hours, and pontoon rides (on vessels large enough to keep your space)—like when I took this “Super Moon Pink Moon” shot with the iPhone 11 this week.

A bit blurry, sure. But better than my (very few) crew-mates took with their devices. And why not…since reality is becoming one big blur? Better take pictures to remember these epic days, even while they run together like weird chalk art in the rain. Oh, and did I mention: Go OUTSIDE?

We’ll get through this.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Ice Fishing BreakAways?

Posted on: Friday, January 3rd, 2020
Posted in: SoulTrain, Unplugging, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

Throughout the past week, a friend has been sending me pics of his Florida beach vacation. He knows my love of all things warm, watery and beachy. He also knows I am mostly stuck in Minnesota during this holiday season, despite years of winter escapes for as long as 355 days. Or 4 months. Or 69 days. The longer, the better!

Things change. While I cherish those memories and pine for long winter getaways, I could do no better than to reply to my friend with this view from my desk—no need for 1,000 words.

Ice fishing BreakAways? Well, why not? For that guy, sitting on a frozen lake and hoping to land something fishy feels like a fun escape. A break from the grind. Some moments of peace and meditation, perhaps. Who needs surf, sun, sand?

I do. Yet I also know some are happy just to ice-fish. And that savvy, sane people pursue BreakAways wherever, whenever, and however.

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FOTOFRIDAY: ‘Tis the Season to be Musical

Posted on: Friday, December 20th, 2019
Posted in: SoulTrain, Unplugging, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

See those angels on my piano? I hardly ever see them—because they are hidden inside the upright and only show up when the piano tuner opens up the instrument. It’s always a pleasure. But this time, I learned they’re not. Not angels. They’re flowers! Hand-painted inside this artisanal beauty. Imagine my disappointment—and during the holiday season, even!

Christmas takes a lot of knocks, deservedly so, since commercialism has taken over and drowned out the more celestial messages. So I listen instead to the music, since great Christmas music is abundant and timeless—whether from long-gone composers, Americana crooners, or contemporary creations.

I also enjoy playing Christmas music (especially when no one is listening). Few diversions offer such a complete, if temporary, BreakAway vibe.

One of my musical toys is this here Schimmel piano, hand-made in Faribault, MN. A German maker dating back to 1885, mine was crafted circa 1893, when the Schimmel family expanded to America for a short while and made only about 3,000 instruments. I am lucky to own one. And my Schimmel is lucky to have me—since old pianos often can’t find compassionate caretakers these days.

Got music? Play it. You’ll feel better, and fill your surroundings with angelic sounds.

Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and may the peace be with you.

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FOTOFRIDAY: La Dolce Far Nikon

Posted on: Friday, October 25th, 2019
Posted in: Unplugging, FOTOFRIDAY | One comment

This shot just popped up on my desktop. That’s me, in a reflective mood, absorbed by the familiar Italian phrase that means (approximately) the sweetness of doing nothing. What’s more interesting: I don’t recall where I was. Which brings up the topic of photography, as nowadays most everyone is a photographer, yet hardly anyone uses a camera.

Instead, they use phones which, of course, can do anything—including take pictures. The benefits are obvious, from convenience to concealment to insta-SM-ing if you wish. Phone photos also tell you when and where you took the image, if not what you had for lunch.

This shot came from a real, hefty, cumbersome Nikon. Hence, the incomplete info. My SLR camera tells the DATE, but not the PLACE, which now strikes me as strange. Which can only mean one thing: I need to take more real pictures. Drag my Nikon around more often. The quality is decidedly superior, even if the metadata is, shall we say, unplugged.

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Stop SM and Smell the Roses

Posted on: Sunday, October 13th, 2019
Posted in: Unplugging, Work/Life Hacking, Wily Mktg | Leave a comment
Kirk Horsted

A shocking amount of both sabbatical and SM news arrives from India, Europe, and places that have forever taken free time seriously. FBOW, we often overlook it like arrogant Americans. But sometimes, one realizes that, rather like the lessons of travel itself, there’s much to learn beyond the pond.

Recently, Mumbai’s mid-day.com published a warm and provocative article about a successful pop musician, Vasundhara, who one day realized that SM had taken over her life, damaged her career and real-world interactions, and brought on a case of anxiety that was causing bodily harm. “Likes” had replaced hugs—and the results were toxic.

Her solution? A 6-month SM Detox. The cravings hurt at first. But she pushed herself toward impressive projects including a teaching position in the arts, singing lessons that improved her ability to sing with the whole body and increased her range, a new single, and a how-to book for musicians trying to break into the industry.

In other words, all those hours of SM posting may have seemed like savvy, modern-day marketing. But when compared to face-to-face connecting? Waste of time!

She’s returned to SM, but selectively. Her new discipline allows 40 minutes every other day. And she aims to never turn back. As she says, she’s realized the “superficial information” from SM floods you with false impressions of people, and that, “We have forgotten that we are wired to wired to look at a person, get non-verbal cues, and hear their voices.”

A psychologist who helped with this story + the BreakAway Board of AdvisorZ recommends you can read all about it and study their excellent SM Detox tips here.

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