Being Present

Unplugging is incredible! I learned that alone time can only be achieved when I’m not “checking-in” all the time. And when I wasn’t aware or connected to the “outside world” could I be truly present in the moment. So what did I do? I will start by telling you that I didn’t unplug from technology completely. Technology can be a good thing. It was, at times, a matter of safety. And some technology isn’t intrusive at all and helpful.

On Friday morning I took care of any loose ends with my office and then made sure they knew that I wasn’t checking e-mail the rest of the day and in an emergency they should text. Thankfully there are rarely “fundraising emergencies.” I put away my iPad and my MacBook and proceeded to prep my phone. I shut off all of my notifications. No numbers in red dots on my iPhone provoking me to look; no vibrations taunting me, “hey, you’re missing something.” The only exception was text messages mainly because on Friday I was planning to be away from my daughter and even during “me time” being a mom is a priority (especially now that I no longer have back up from the other parent) and of course there was always the off chance there would be that “fundraising emergency.” The other thing I did is let one friend know what I was up to and promised to check-in with them at least once a day with a confirmation that I was safe.

First I drove out to Montauk. Even though I had to cancel the weekend trip, I find the annual pilgrimage to pay my respects to my parents to be so good for my soul. I wanted to salvage just a piece of it…hiked around the lighthouse at the point…took the ferry to Shelter Island…visited their grave…ran the 10k race course (24 hours before the race)…enjoyed the pre-race pasta party…was back in Montauk to take a long walk on the beach at sunset. Did I miss some social media opportunities? Of course I did. I wanted to tweet about the fine latte produced by the competent barista in East Hampton; I wanted to post a picture from the Point to Instagram and #lighthouse. And more than anything, I wanted to tell all my runner friends on FaceBook who I wound up having dinner with Friday night (Joan Benoit Samuelson, Bill Rogers, Amby Burfoot, and George Hirsch). But it waited. And so what? I actually survived.

Saturday I was back home in New Jersey and my daughter spent the day at orientation for her summer job. I caught up on some clean-up projects around the house. I know this didn’t appeal to a few of my friends when I had announced my plans for the weekend; but clutter makes me feel cluttered. So to feel good this weekend, some work needed to be done. Sunday I planned a hike. Was hoping my daughter would come with me, but she opted to catch up on Gossip Girl. I respected that she needed to make her own decision about how she needed to spend Father’s Day so I didn’t push. I was also acutely aware of our last big hike that ended with us getting lost and picked up by the park rangers (story for another day) and realized she may still be too. So inspired by my friend’s dad, I set off to High Mountain Park Preserve by myself. About 10 minutes into my hike I took notice of the fact that I was alone and realized that probably wasn’t the best decision. I would never recommend that anyone hike alone. But High Mountain wasn’t too far from civilization and I was bent on following through on the day I had planned. I stayed on marked trails. And I started seeing other people and felt safer knowing someone could come along to help if I twisted an ankle or at the very least I wasn’t the only selection on the “bear buffet.” It was a glorious day and I made it to the summit. The reward was a breathtaking – albeit hazy – view of the New York City skyline.

I finally spent the evening with my daughter at a movie of her choice. I didn’t “check-in” but I had my phone, just in case of that “fundraising emergency.” I had my phone all weekend. I used it to take pictures. If necessary I also had it for GSP, a compass and a way to call police. And of course my daughter checked in with me. Technology isn’t all bad. We just have to take a step back from it when it takes us away from being present…with our environment, our loved ones, and ourselves.

IMG_4072Montauk Point, June 2016

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