A New Perspective on Cell Phones

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I know I complain often about cell phones and how they disturb living in so many ways but today I would like to offer a new perspective.

Last week I mentioned my mom was in the hospital. I was so relieved to know that I could get up to the minute updates from my brothers and sister. Sometimes having a phone in the pocket can come in very handy in those moments you really need to reach someone. My sister in law even snapped a photo of her in her hospital bed so I could I could get a look at her with my own eyes.

Last night my nephew made his first television appearance on ESPN. I was so disappointed I would have to miss it because I would be watching my daughter in her homecoming parade. While I was there, my sister sent me the video of him on TV right to my phone. I was so grateful and proud, I even shed a tiny tear. And the best part of all was hearing the family cheering in the background the second they saw his face on TV.

My niece is my little ray of sunshine. Nothing makes me happier then when she bugs her mother enough to let her FaceTime me. I love looking into her beautiful face. It is such an amazing gift.

I’ve mentioned that I don’t live close to home. I remember the year my birthday fell on Easter. Not only was I sad I wasn’t with extended family that day but I didnt even hear from them. I was sure they must have forgotten me. Then, I checked Facebook and they were all there in a video singing happy birthday to me.

Honestly, the cell phone really does help me feel connected in so many ways and disconnected in so many others. There is a very fine balance between abusing its privileges and talking advantage of all it has to offer. Somedays I love it, some days I resent it but I can’t deny it has much to offer.

What are your feelings about cell phones? Do you love them, hate them or flip flop between the two?

What Mark Will You Leave?

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Everyone stop and take a deep breath. Pause. Ask yourself, how am I feeling today? It seems that generally we just expect the worst from everyone. We are so defensive that it may cause us to miss opportunities to connect with people around us. What has happened to us all? How did we get this way? Why do we feel the need to be on the defense? We have stopped feeling like we can trust the people around us. We have to question their motives before we can have a simple conversation with them. Even when we get a compliment, it’s hard to decide if someone is being serious or if someone is  passing an insult in our direction with a cool voice and a smug smile. We need more kindness. We need more friendliness and complements and gestures that show we are still caring human beings. We have to prove ourselves again, as silly as that sounds. What if we could expect the best from everyone? What if we were motivated from the heart instead of our self-serving minds? People are not horrible. Not all of them. I’ve been fortunate to know so many amazing people. They come and go. That’s just the way life is but they are there when I need them and that is what counts. Everyone serves a purpose in our life. We may not understand it at the time but everyone we meet has an effect on who we are. Think long and hard next time you speak or act. What kind of effect do you want to have on the next person you meet? I suggest you make it a good one.

Do You Notice?

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There is still no food in the house because we are still in the phase of removing the food source for those pesty moths. We decided to go for dinner and settled on Buffalo Wild Wings. I told everyone they had to leave their phones at home and then felt foolish as we sat surrounded by a thousand tv’s. There was no conversation over the hooting and hollering going on over stupid football games. I couldn’t help but wonder how different relationships might be if we were as passionate and into each other as we were a random football game. It was like someone punched me right in the gut when I glanced around to see families and couples staring at the screens. Is that what we have become in this world where you can watch tv anywhere you are, including the bathroom? We are so distracted. We are so afraid we might miss something on the mighty tube but we have no concern what we might be missing in our own relationships. How could we though when our attention is always someplace else? Who has time to notice anyway?

If Only…

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Yesterday we went to a baseball game. While I was sitting next to my son I noticed how the color of his eyes complimented the shade of his hair. I noticed how dark his freckles had become in the recent sun. I studied his face until he looked at me awkwardly and said “what?” I was staring at him and it was clearly making him feel uncomfortable. This morning I wonder if he will remember my face. Once I am gone and my memory is all he has left, will he remember me? Will he close his eyes and see the details of my face? Will he remember it with clarity?

It saddens me that people don’t look at each other anymore. They spend so much time staring at the glow of a cell phone or the screen of a laptop that they don’t look at each other. Not the way we used to at least. The distractions and the constant buzzing and texting and beeping keep us from really connecting. We see the shadow but the details are fuzzy. I wonder if anyone ever imagined how each breakthrough in technology would break down the relationships that meant so much to us. I wonder if we ever imagined that someone would choose a tiny machine over our own company. I wonder if the world wil ever be the same. Play dates are replaced with FaceTime and talking hours on the phone is replaced with emojis and lol. If only we could rewind. If only hindsight really was 20/20. If only we could undo the damage already done. If only we looked at each other the way we used to. If only..

Are You Missing You’re Life?

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I bought a book that has resonated with me on a very deep level. It’s called Hands Free Mama by Rachel Macy Stafford. The book is about her discovery of how wonderful life can be without distractions. How many important conversations do you miss because you are checking Facebook or reading emails? How many times have your kids tried to tell you something important while you give them a fragment of attention while staring at a glowing screen. In fact, when is the last time you paused long enough to really look into someone’s eyes? It hurts to acknowledge the truth but one line I love from the book is “The truth hurts, but the truth heals.” If we are not willing to take an honest look at ourselves and the part we play in our relationships, there will never be an opportunity for change. I think of the countless mornings I walk out to the kitchen to see the back of my husbands head as he is lost somewhere in a sea of email. I think of each evening he comes home to find me in the same place rushing to get dinner on the table and not even pausing for a second to look at his face and say hello.

Often, I feel very much alone. Even sitting in a room full of family, there is often little if any conversation and not a single hint of eye contact. Someone is listening with their eyes glued to the tv while another is in between laughing quietly to herself at the latest snapchat. I’ve thought long and hard about having a mandatory time that everyone shuts it down. Computers get put away and phones are turned of and put out of sight. We are addicts of technology. If we add up the time I spent on my ipad, my daughter on her phone, my son playing video games and my husband on his laptop, the results would be devastating. I cannot even bring myself to realistically count because I know how disturbed it would make me feel.

My point is this. There is nothing more precious than human contact. To feel someones presence in close proximity is about what interaction should be about. Find a way to give that person at least as much time, focus and attention as you would a casual snapchat or a habitual text. In fact I challenge you and myself, to give that person so much more. It is no wonder so many people feel depressed and alone. A glowing screen cannot replace a real conversation or one on one time with someone we love. We have allowed it to happen and it is now our responsibility to make it stop.

I was telling my mother about the book and we were talking about how we’ve convinced ourselves that having a good relationship is sitting side by side with the tv on, laptops in hands. I told her how nice it would be to really connect with someone simply by holding hands. Her response? Who does that anymore? She makes a great point. If our hands are already full with so many gadgets, connecting on a real physical level will be a thing of the past. I am committed to finding my way back to simpler times. Times when I felt loved and appreciated and a bare minimum….seen. Human touch and feeling someone’s eyes staring back at yours is just what we need to become un- numb. Relationships feel so robotic anymore and I want to feel so much more. How about you? Will you join me in becoming hands free?

The New Normal

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We used to say I’ll see you later, now replaced with I’ll text you later. We are spending countless hours of quality time with our cell phones and very little time in the company of actual people. It’s a lonely world and the new normal is actually eating me alive. I miss the times when friends got together to talk or shop or sat down to enjoy a meal together. Now a days, everyone is always so busy doing what exactly I don’t even know but just trying to schedule a time or day to meet is so exhausting that usually I can’t even get past that step. It can last days, or weeks and sometimes even months, all the while resulting in texts and messages back and forth that never amount to anything more. I wish it didn’t bother me so much. I wish I didn’t used to have people I adored and loved right on the same street always available and up for any adventure. I wish I didn’t move around as much as I do having to start new friendships and saying goodbye to people I had grown so close to. It’s hard and it’s exhausting and sometimes I think it’s easier to just stay lost and alone. Every time I say goodbye, I leave a little piece of me behind, until one day, I woke up and realized there wasn’t enough left of me to lose.

My wish today is that everyone who reads this reaches out to someone. Call them up, invite them for coffee but make an effort and follow through. People need people, not silly cell phones and computers that make them feel even more alone. Make time now because time is the one thing that runs out quicker than we believe it will.

Give It A Try

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Getting by in this busy world has always led me to believe making time for the people I love should be at the top of my priority chart. Lately though, I’ve discovered that spending time together does not necessarily mean spending time together. If one of us is watching tv, one is on a computer and one is on the ipad then we really aren’t interacting at all. It’s hard to focus in on people these days. There are so many distractions and so many alarms and notifications that it would be a real challenge to give someone my full attention. I challenge everyone who reads this to look someone straight in the eyes when they talk to you today. Put down your phone or computer, turn off the tv and give them the most precious gift you can….your full attention. See if you can do it and let me know. I’d love to hear about your experience.

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Ipod, Ipad, I pray

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I talk to my parents everyday and I have to admit some of our silly talks are downright amusing. Today I called and my dad seemed pretty agitated. He explained he was late for a doctors appointment and when I asked him why he doesn’t get going, he told me he was still waiting for my mom to get ready. Apparently, she had running behind because she was completely absorbed in her ipad. I get it. While she was here visiting, I was frustrated with her as well and for the very same reason. This is when he lost the argument. He said, “Kim, do you know what I saw on a church kiosk? Ipod ipad, I pray.” It was pretty obvious my dad was insinuating that praying has been replaced with little handheld devices and I admit, to a point, I tend to agree. However, I own and ipad and I am proud to admit that not one night ends without me laying in my bed saying my prayers. Then I asked my dad if he prays every day. His response? “I have to go Kim”. Guess what? He will not touch an ipad and I think it’s pretty safe to put myself out there and guess he does not pray each and every day.

I am slightly offended over the insulation that people who have phones and computers do not pray. That their God as to say has been replaced by endless hours of texting, typing, checking email, and playing video games. And though I agree that people waste a great deal of time on things that are less important than living and practicing religion, I believe a person of faith will still make time to pray even while owning every technological device on the market. So, a little chuckle for my dad trying to make a silly point. He just wasn’t going to win this one with ME.

What They Don’t Tell You At Best Buy!

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Lying, deceit, fraud, lying by omission. To me, they are all one in the same. One thing I do not like or tolerate is dishonesty. It is a breech of trust and can end a relationship. Does it happen? You bet it does. What I didn’t know is that it is happening at Best Buy. We have always been one of their most loyal customers. If we needed something, off to Best Buy we’d go. But recently I have been very disappointed. I am feeling misled, rooked, robbed and I wanted to warn others about the ongoing scam.

We often purchase the insurance when we buy an expensive item. We have had iPods and Beats replaced no questions asked. What we didn’t know is that recently their policy has been tweaked and you probably have no awareness of the wool being pulled over your eyes. We questioned the sales people at length, each and every time we purchased a new phone. We asked the same questions over and over at least a dozen different ways until we were sure that the coverage on phones covers all damage except extensive water damage any number of times. Just like we anticipated, Kayleigh cracked her screen. We traded phones and moved on. Recently she broke her screen again. I remember verifying that there was no need to buy a screen protector and an expensive case because the phone would always be covered. So, apparently there is a new clause. For the phones we purchased before the new year, there is no deductible if something breaks. That is exactly what we were told. However, once you get a replacement instead of a refurbish your contract starts over under the terms of the new year. So, even though we paid for 2 years of coverage, the FIRST time something goes wrong on Scott or Chases phone, we will have to pay the deductible. What sales staff tells the customer and what actually happens when you stand before the Geek Squad are two different scenarios. So here’s the rub. Since they didn’t have a replacement for Kayleigh the first time and made the decision to give her a brand new phone, this time, even though her contract should have been grandfathered, we owed 150.00 deductible.

Hmmmmm….no one ever mentioned a deductible. Not one time when we separately purchased all four phones at different times from different employees, questioning each one, at length, every single time. Not one of them mentioned a deductible. And what’s worse is if they replaced her phone with a new one because they didn’t have a refurbish available, why were we being punished for a decision they made without consulting us in the first place? Especially if it would result in a major change in the conditions of our contract.

Scott and I pleaded our case on how there was a clear lack of communication in the store and how customers were being unknowingly misled. This time only, they waved the fee for Kayleigh’s phone and we are seriously considering having Chases insurance cancelled and refunded for a prorated amount. Scott and I pay monthly so we can just cancel.

The lesson here is this. Even when you are cautious and ask the right questions, you can still be misled. Fortunately for you, I care enough to share my story with whoever is willing to read it and pass it on. We have to look out for each other. We have to have each other’s back. That is what life is all about. Learning from mistakes and sharing the lesson with anyone who will listen. Lesson learned here. I hope you share some of yours as well. Just be aware, you will pay a deductible if you have insurance with Best Buy on your phone UNLESS you got it before the 1st of the year. And if you got it before, don’t let them replace your phone with a new one or your old contract will be null and void. Hopefully someone can learn from our disappointment.

The Pain of Isolation

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Hello blog. I’ve really been neglecting you lately. I’ve been spending the last 25 days with family visiting from out of town. My last one left just this morning and I am frustrated with myself that I paused long enough to feel the emptiness.

I guess you could say I am a loner. Moving around has scarred my heart and I decided after this last move I was not going to open it back up. Relationships are hard. They require time and effort and allowing yourself to be vulnerable enough to let others lives entwine with your own opens up the option to be hurt when the time comes to say goodbye. I didn’t realize how removed I’ve been. I’m just satisfied enough to have a small number of people to go to a movie with or lunch or an occasional shopping trip. But the truth is, the depth of those friendships are pretty shallow. I tried at first but decided going through the process of weeding out the ones who like to suck what they can get out of you while giving nothing in return forced me to shut down. Relationships are not as enjoyable or rewarding as they used to be. It seems conversations turn into arguing over who knows more. Deciding what to do and where to go turns into a battle of strongest will. The comfortable “let’s spend time together” relationships seem to have disappeared for me.

As long as I stayed shut off and didn’t allow the loneliness to creep in, I didn’t even recognize the absence. I enjoy doing things alone but I let myself forget how good it feels to do things with someone else. In a world where a husband and wife’s interaction occurs while bumping into one another at the sink to brush your teeth at night and the constant distraction of cell phones and iPads making it impossible for someone in the same room to even hear what you say without repeating yourself at least a dozen times, there comes a time when you throw in the towel and say “I quit, I’m done” and the shut down recycles and starts all over again.

These are lonely times we live in. Communication is broken. People talk more but listen less. I don’t even know if they hear much at all. They just wait to respond but never actually listen to what someone says. They don’t know what’s going on because they are not paying attention or miss the details that get lost somewhere between checking email, texting or playing a silly game on their computer. All the while, people are hurting and feeling alone and shutting down. How can you compete with the fancy gadgets? You can’t so you just shut down. Relationships are falling apart and phones and computers spend more hours in people’s arms than a friend or loved one. We are giving hours of our time and attention to gadgets but we can’t take a minute or two to look into someone’s eyes sitting across from us in the same room and actually take the time and devotion to hear what they are trying to say. There’s never a good time because people are always so busy.

It’s a sad thing to say but it’s easier to try not to compete and drop out of the race. Why give people the opportunity to make you feel less important than a piece of technology? I am grateful for the company the last few weeks. I don’t even have the words to express how good it felt to sit outside and just chat with my mom for hours. I forgot how it feels to be surrounded by someone all the time who just wants to spend time with me. It hurt like hell to say goodbye and now I am forced to make a choice. Do I continue to be a loner or do I try and open myself back up?