Saturday, December 6, 2014

Mornings Unplugged

For the long Thanksgiving weekend, my family and I drove to the Oregon Coast and stayed at a cozy beach house with no Internet. The first time I stayed there, about five years ago, I was truly shocked to arrive and find there was no Internet connection, and I was mildly stressed during my entire stay. I now retreat to the beach house at least once a year, prepared to unplug and relax. It’s easier to deal with the shock when you know it’s coming.

This discovery will come as no surprise, I’m sure: Without the distraction of the Internet, I got tons of reading and writing done! Over the course of five early mornings, I drafted notes for two new essays and read two memoirs and nearly half a thick essay anthology.

Duh. When I unplug, I get stuff done.

My usual morning routine is to get up around six so I have an hour of coffee and computer time before my kids get up. If I wake earlier, I get up earlier. I poke around Facebook, read and answer emails, check my online course, and then click back through Facebook and email again until it’s time to shower and get dressed to take the kids to school.

What a waste.

When I got back from the beach, I challenged myself to use that early morning hour (or three, on those mornings when my eyes pop open at 4:00) to read and to write without the distraction of the Internet. I should respect my writing goals enough to give myself those best hours, which for me are in the early morning.

So Todd and I have been leaving the router and modem unplugged before 7:00 a.m. I moved my morning reading and writing space from the living room to the basement to make it harder for me to turn on the Internet just to check this one thing ...

And of course I’ve been getting stuff done. I’ve revised a chapter from my NaNoWriMo manuscript and am coming close to completing one of the new pieces I drafted at the coast, which fits perfectly with the NaNoWriMo material and will become part of that larger manuscript.

I told myself this past week of mornings unplugged was an experiment, but I know I have to make this into a permanent habit. Writing transports me into memory and enables me to explore connections and philosophies and relationships and spiritual convictions. When I don't write, parts of my mind and personality fade away. I don’t experience the world as fully because I’m not exploring my thought life as deeply.

Writing, for me, is a way of living, of experiencing life.

Many years ago I realized that I couldn’t eat sweets for breakfast. If I ate a cinnamon roll or even jelly on toast in the morning, I felt spacey and slow all day. For years now I have avoided sugar in the morning. It’s not even a sacrifice any more.

Last January I stopped drinking Diet Coke or diet anything. I tried cutting processed foods as well, but I backslid on all but the soda pop and fake sweeteners. I haven’t had any soda, diet or otherwise, in 2014. No aspartame or Splenda. I’ve built these small habits of self denial for the sake of my body. Now it’s time to build a new habit into the coming months and years for the sake of my mind and heart. I already know how I will live 2015.

No sweets for breakfast, no Diet Coke, and mornings unplugged.


  1. SO...I feel...bad?...maybe...about your internet issues there? Okay, maybe not. Glad I could be of "help" with unplugging your mornings, though! (And, in case you're ever experiencing withdrawal seizures, you CAN go up to the security building and they'll give you the password to their wi-fi :)

  2. Sweet, Heidi! And you would probably also provide me with an unending supply of Diet Coke and cinnamon rolls! I am so grateful to be unplugged at Whimsea! I have stopped at the security building during that first visit in 2010, but it is far more blessed to unplug with intention -- and now joy!

  3. Good stuff! I know I'd be much more productive as well in the mornings without internet... thanks for the stimulating challenge. Glad you're clearing space to write because, well, you're just so good at it and have so many great things to say.