I've been quiet lately on my blog about my progress with the #DigitalDetox challenge. I have been working in the background, but I'm also starting to see a lot of the irony come to the foreground with all of this.
Most of these #DigitalDetox challenges have really been about self-reflection, deciding how I want my new normal in the post-covid world to look like. I don't think we're past the worst that covid has to throw at us, but I've noticed that since covid, our world has become more and more reliant on the internet… And I want to become less reliant on it.
I've been looking to the future, looking to see what challenges in my #DigitalDetox coloring book I can actually do, given my current situation. And I've been scheming as a result. I'm even starting up a book club. (The invite to the book club is in this post.)
So, here's what I've been up to.
Sorry, peeps, but this is a REALLY long post, but it is what it is.
#DigitalDetox Challenge 9: Have a massage
So… When I announced that this was one of my challenges, my husband gladly offered to give me a massage. And… that's about as far as it went.
I finally did get a shoulder massage, but only because he wanted one himself. But it was a start.
I guess beggars can't be choosers.
#DigitalDetox Challenge 10: Go to karaoke
Let's forget that it wasn't until recently that bars in New Zealand were able to open and operate at a reasonable level. And let's forget that I wouldn't have a clue where to even find a karaoke bar.
What really matters is that I was unable to find anyone willing to go with me.
BUT… On Halloween, my family decided to have a dance party. We moved all the furniture out of the way in the lounge, we put together a playlist on Spotify, and off we went. Even my 20yo son who hates dancing took part.
I started to teach him some basic moves for partner dancing. He got the hang of twirling me around. And he smiled! Shock horror, he was actually smiling.
The family has agreed to make it a regular event. We'll see if it happens or not.
#DigitalDetox Challenge 11: Stay off social media all day
Sundays have become my no-social-media and no-computer day. I read or hand write. And if I'm really desperate to write using a keyboard, it's called pull out Scrivener on the iPad. (FYI, the iPad deliberately has no social media apps on it. It's been like that from the first day I got it. It has always been my away-from-computer writing device.)
There is a temptation to check the social media using the phone, but I am resisting. Now that NaNoWriMo is over for 2021, it will be even easier to ignore the social media, as I'm not coordinating efforts with others for ML-run events.
There will always be the odd day that will be an exception to the rule, but thankfully, those days I can plan for.
#Digital Detox Challenge 14: Go 24 hours without complaining
From the first day that I saw this one, I knew I would have a problem. A BIG problem. It's not that I'm a complainer. It's just that I tend to voice my frustrations rather than bottling them inside.
When I was younger, I would use the filter, hiding my thoughts and opinions. Don't get me wrong, I stood up for myself—I didn't let people walk all over me—but I did let people in the workplace undermine my efforts at times, and I didn't really speak up about it, because I didn't want to come across as the whinny bitch working in a male-dominated profession. So, instead, I let certain people engineer situations where I was pushed out. And if I really look back over my various activities since I moved 100% into writing and editing, similar things have happened at other places too.
It made me a bitter and vindictive person—someone that I didn't like.
In the wake of covid, I have let go of a lot of that anger, and I don't want it back. The filter that I had once applied is no longer firmly in place, and I am now forthright with my thoughts and opinions. If others can't cope with that, then that's their problem, not mine.
For the sake of my mental health, I have chosen to stop stressing about this particular challenge. I'm not doing it.
#DigitalDetox Challenge 15: Limit the internet to 30 minutes a day for one week
Much of what I do in my job requires internet access. I have Zoom calls with clients to discuss their manuscripts. My subscription to ProWritingAid (a program similar to Grammarly) requires the internet to function. Transferring manuscripts to my Remarkable tablet so I can read them requires the internet. I'm also developing courses for writers on how to use certain internet-based tools. Let's not even discuss how ALL the accounting for the business is done through internet banking.
If I was to limit my internet to 30 minutes a day, I basically wouldn't be able to work. The only way that this would happen is if I went on holiday for a week. That's not happening anytime soon.
So, like the previous one, I have decided to stop stressing about this particular challenge and NOT do it.
That said, I can certainly examine my non-productive internet activities and do what I can to limit those. I should be doing that anyway.
#DigitalDetox Challenge 16: Volunteer at a local charity for a day
I can hear the naysayers now, but nope… Not doing this. I give so much of my time as it is to others. I have volunteered to do so many things over the years. It's someone else's turn.
I was an active scout leader for six years when my kids were younger. I started in the scout section on my lonesome. My son was in Keas when I started. So I went to my first jamboree by myself. I volunteered to spend my New Year to look after someone else's kid. I even paid for that privilege when I attended the Australian Jamboree in 2013. And when I was supposed to have the summer off, because they didn't have enough female leaders, I chose to go to another jamboree, leaving my daughter behind with her father.
Don't get me wrong, I have some fond memories from my time as a scout leader, but it's time for someone else to make those memories.
I have also volunteered for to serve on the committee for various writer organizations. It's a thankless job, and for some reason, the role gives people permission to be shitty to you. But I did it because I knew how important it was to the writing community.
On a monthly basis, I present writing workshops to a group of international writers, and the topics are things they have chosen. And this is NOT a paid position. The only thing I get out of it is the chance to test a brand new presentation on a group of willing guinea pigs.
I volunteer to be an ML for NaNoWriMo every year, and have done so since 2015. And that is exhausting work!
And I'm not the only one in my family who volunteers a lot of their time.
My husband was on the committee for not one but two different scout troops. He was a scout leader himself after I stood down, putting him in a situation where he was the contingent leader for his first jamboree (which he attended by himself, because our daughter had dropped out of scouts by then). He volunteers to be an assessor to the competence assessment board for our local body for professional engineers, and for a time, he was the chair for our local chapter of Toastmasters.
My daughter volunteers her time at the SPCA, and next year, she's looked at volunteering to be a dance teacher assistant at her studio.
And my son also volunteers at the local steamers association, driving the trains around for little kids.
Seriously, folks, I think my family and I give enough back to the community. Don't make us do more.
#DigitalDetox Challenge 17: Start a book club
I'm a writer. I'm an editor. A book club sounded like a good idea.
I'm not into the traditional book club concept. I critique people's fiction novels for a living. Why would I want to do that for pleasure?
However, the number of books on writing craft and the publishing industry easily counts in the thousands. So…
During November, I took the time to build a Discord server for the Black Wolf Book Club. Yeah, the irony of using a social media platform to do a #DigitalDetox challenge is not lost on me, but I wanted the group to be international, and this was the best way to do it.
All of my readers are invited. All you need is a Discord account of your own and an interest in reading writing craft books. Visit the Black Wolf website for more information and the invite links to the book club.
#DigitalDetox Challenge 18: Have a bubble bath
In theory, this is a great idea. In practice… Not going to happen.
I don't have a bathtub large enough for an adult. The bathtub in my house is this little half-tub thing that was great when we first bought the house 16 years ago. Our son was four and our daughter was only a few months old. Because of the tub's size, it didn't take long to fill it to get the bath ready for the nighttime routine.
However, I don't think we've used the bathtub as an actual bathtub in over 10 years. It's actually where we tend to put the laundry hampers, so they're out of the way.
So, unless I want to spend money to find a bathtub elsewhere (adding more stress of a different kind), this is logistically not possible.
You might have noticed that I've skipped over challenges 12 and 13 in this post. That's because I'm still working on them. Unlike some of the other challenges where I've found a legitimate excuse to not do them, for these ones, I can't say the same. Besides, I want to them.
But I'm also continuing to look ahead, working through multiple challenges at once. So many of the new challenges coming up will take me a long time to work through them. So I don't feel stagnate on this #DigitalDetox thing, it is best to be working on a list.
So, here is the list of the challenges that I'll be working on over the coming weeks or months (and for one of them… years).
- Challenge #12: Make a photo album
- Challenge #13: Go for a hike with friends
- Challenge #19: Organize a picnic in the park with friends
- Challenge #20: Learn a new language (This is one that will likely take years, but I've already decided which language I want to learn.)
- Challenge #21: Write a letter to your favorite magazine (I supposed I should actually read magazines first. LOL)
- Challenge #22: Give a stranger a compliment
- Challenge #23: Read a book (LOL Not a challenge, but sure… Okay. LOL)
- Challenge #24: Learn to play an instrument (I would say that I could pick up guitar again, but that would mean that either my husband or my daughter would have to lose their guitars. I have the strings in the opposite direction to what they use. Left-handed strings. It's how I first learned as a child, and the brain is still wired that way.)
- Challenge #25: Turn off all digital devices before bed (Again, not a challenge, because I already do this—every day—and have been doing this for years.)
- Challenge #26: Do a retro pastime, i.e., roller skating or play bocce (I have no idea what bocce is, but I have seen that roller skates are back in fashion. But I foresee a family bowling night on the books at some point this summer. It's summer in New Zealand, for those who don't know.)
So… How is your own #Digital Detox challenge going? Which of the upcoming challenges will you be joining me in?