Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Lessons from a Computer Cleanse

spring bubbles 2

Wow!  It's been 27 days since taking a break from the Internet and I'm sitting at my keyboard feeling a little unsure.  I have thoughts and feelings swirling around in my head and heart because I'm telling you...this computer cleanse was an eye opener for me.  I'll do my best to try articulating some of the key lessons that unplugging has helped me learn.

Connection is Key
It's funny that disconnecting has reminded me just how important staying connected really is!  For the first week or so of my April Unplugged challenge I fought it tooth and nail.  I wanted out.  I was so close to writing a "just kidding" post and I kept reaching for my phone as if it were a drug.  I just gotta have it.  My thumb was working in autopilot - reaching for the Facebook or Twitter app when I wasn't paying attention.

But I refrained.  I stayed away.  And soon, my resistance dissipated.

Over the last month my heart has filled with such gratitude for the connections I've made around the world - all from this little art room in Kansas.  I thought I had been appreciating my newfound friendships, but it really is true that sometimes you don't know or recognize what you have until it's gone.

For almost two years now I've made a living teaching e-courses, writing, coaching and connecting to other life explorers.  I made this job up because I followed my passion and commitment and the Internet has opened a world of possibilities for my creative work to flourish.  And in following my heart I have connected and built life-long relationships that go way beyond the surface.  What a gift!

Staying connected is invaluable.  It helps me grow.  It reminds me I'm not alone.  And it brings me great joy.

bubbles wit -kestan

Present Moment Brings Balance
When in balance, reading and writing blog posts gives inspiration and offers me a creative outlet.  But when I get sucked into cyber-ville out of habit then I feel drained and scattered.  A habit after all is doing something with a lack of self-awareness.  And not being aware of my actions or intentions keeps me from living in the moment.

So this computer cleanse reminded me to put away my phone more often, to check my email less throughout the day and to be more efficient with my computer time.  I now have a babysitter who comes two part-time mornings each week so I save my main computer time for these moments.  I've scheduled two days a week for adventures with the kids outside the house.  When it's work time, I work.  When it's play time, I play. When it's laundry time, I fold the clothes (and Kestan jumps in them).  When it's bubble time, we blow bubbles.  I used to be anti-schedule, but now I find it so refreshing!   Being mindful of how I use my time helps me feel less cluttered and more alive and in the moment.  My kids seem to really appreciate this, too.

heart close up

Clarity of Purpose
Reframing how and when I use the computer has helped me shift my consciousness this past month.  I read more books, like Momma Zen by Karen Maezen Miller, The Backyard Homestead by Carleen Madigan and Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair.  I listened to inspiration from my yoga teacher's guru.  I enjoyed more quiet time for self-reflection and discovery instead of filling up my brain with a bazillion tweets.  (Which to me feels a lot like stepping into the monkey mind of the entire world.  I've got enough restless thoughts of my own thank you very much! Don't get me wrong - I still love me some Twitter in moderation.)  And, I enjoyed returning to my journal to process these new shifts.

Cleansing from the computer gave me some much needed time to paint.  I find painting, and many creative activities to be a spiritual practice, one that helps align my heart center with my mind.  With the inspiration of Shona Cole in her Wish Big e-camp course, I created what she calls an "artist vision statement."  This painting is my daily visual reminder of what my purpose is in life, and having this clarity guides my intentions on how I use the computer to feed that purpose, rather than deplete it.

artist vision statement 2011

I am a vibrant being - full of life.  Joy, compassion, peace and happiness surround my days as I embrace the present moment.  I create art and experiences that reflect my inner journey and beauty...and I inspire other life explorers to let their fullest light shine bright.  I create with my children and guide them to celebrate and express their unique gifts with the world.  I am free...

So, I'm still learning.  That's what life is all about, isn't it?  But today I throw out my arms and give you the biggest hug!  SO happy to be back bloggin' with ya.  My intention after this computer cleanse is to continue practicing self-awareness so I don't reach for the Internet out of habit, but use it as a tool to connect to this wonderful world...and YOU!

Your Personal Reflection:  What habits, thoughts or behaviors do you do without self-awareness?  Are you ready for a cleanse?  

Friday, April 8, 2011

"Love" for Japan


Kindness in words creates confidence.  Kindness in thinking creates profoundness.  Kindness in giving creates love.  -Lao Tzu

I am taking a quick break from my April Unplugged challenge (which by the way is hard and I miss you all so much!) to share a new print I have for sale.

100% of the sales for my "Love" print are being donated to help the people of Japan affected by the horrible aftermaths of the recent earthquake and tsunami.

Take a look HERE for more information and make your donation today. You will receive your heart within two weeks.

Thanks for all you do and let's keep sharing, connecting, growing and giving together!

xo, peace and love,

(My newsletter goes out next week.  Have you signed up?)

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Unplugged (no foolin')

enjoying the sun
I grew up Catholic, and although I don't affiliate with a particular religion anymore, I do appreciate the symbolism of lent.  As a child I always got excited about picking my one thing to "give-up."  It was usually candy or pop or ice cream.  And I was actually pretty darn good about it.  I loved the feeling when Easter day came around and I could say, "I did it!"  I like using this time of year for deep reflection and I value the insight that I can gain when I let go of something I no longer need.  This letting go allows me to step inward and helps limit the amount of external distractions in my life.

As much as I love the Internet and connecting with YOU, I've gotta say that I can see how my few minutes of computer time here and there throughout the day distract me.  I get on to upload some photos, then hear a ding alerting me that another email just arrived. I jump over to my inbox to read it, which takes me to Facebook and before I know it I'm reading about what my old high school friend is eating for lunch.  Then the baby is up from his nap and I didn't get a chance to do the one thing I had intended to do in the first place - which was to simply upload photos!  Can you relate?

So in preparation for new projects I'm cultivating this spring, I've decided that I'm going to use the month of April to limit distractions.  And that's why I'm "giving up" the computer for one month.

Here are my April Unplugged rules:  Until Easter, I'm staying away from Facebook and Twitter.  No writing posts.  No reading posts.  No writing blogs (eeks).  No reading blogs (gulp).  I can check and respond to emails, but will limit my time.  I can do business related computer work, like writing articles for online magazine deadlines, keeping connected to my Inside Out community forum and doing research related to my website redesign.  (I found a graphic/web designer who is going to help me with this...and soon I'll be working on new e-courses, too!  Sooo excited.) I can write and send out my first newsletter.   (Sign-up so I can send you one, too!)  And that's it. 

sleeping in the sun

Since I have little boys who need my love and attention, I have to be wise about how I spend my time.  I know that just by giving up my tendencies to get sucked into computer land I will have more space and energy to focus on what matters most...

Like enjoying the fresh air...

loving spring

BEing together...

spring flower

and noticing spring.

Just getting ready to post this challenge and I'm already feeling some resistance.  I guess that's a reminder that when we "give up" something we are attached to, it may not come easy at first, but there's gotta be beauty and insight along the journey...right? it goes... 

Your Personal Reflection:  What can you "give up" this spring so that you can free up time to focus on things that need attention in your life?

Please note:  I have an exciting art piece to share with you.  When it's ready I will allow myself one blog post and one Twitter/Facebook mention...but that's it!  I sure like making up my own rules...

And a special thanks to these free spirits for adding the I'm a Free Spirit badge to their site:  Lily, Elliefants, Soul Cadence, Aarian, Erin, Amanda, and Exploring Life!