Wednesday, April 28, 2010

You Don't Know Jack

A few years ago, I read a book called, Steering By Starlight by Martha Beck. I remember so clearly I was sitting in an airport waiting for my flight. I had read a few chapters and it seemed interesting, but it wasn't hitting any real chords. Then, Martha asked me to do an exercise.  I hate that.  I will read these books, but do I really have to "work" at it?  For some reason, I did this exercise.

It was called, "Telling Your Life Backwards".  You were supposed to choose the three best things in your life.  Then, you chose one of the three.  Next, you came up with the happy event that contributed to having this thing.  The next step was harder.  You had to take this thing and go back further in your life history.  As you went backwards (if you really thought hard), you would find a "supposedly" bad thing that eventually led to the favorite thing.

I forced myself to go through the process.  As I really thought it over, I realized that one of the favorite things in my life (traveling through Europe alone) came from a very difficult time in my life.  I had put it out of my mind and completely forgotten the true genesis of something in my life that brings me great joy.

If you are interested in trying this exercise, go to pages 5 - 8 at this link:

The long and the short of this is that we know that the saying, "when one door closes, another one opens," is true, but we give it lip service and I think we forget it really is true.  When you honestly believe that saying, life becomes much easier.

Here is an article with an old tale that examines that very idea.


You Don't Know Jack

by Jon Carroll
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
San Francisco Chronicle

You get older, things change, and sometimes - most of the time - the change is not good. Noticing that a series of not-good things have happened to you and your cohort, you might become depressed, or at least melancholy.

I am susceptible to that, but I am also convinced by the notion that we have exactly zero expertise at predicting the future. Not that I listen to the angel of my better smartness; aren't we all like that? There are certainly blessings in disguise, but mostly blessings look like blessings. And curses.

And then I came across a tale told to me by a loyal reader and frequent correspondent known to me only as Performs. He is sketchy on the details of the origin of the story; it sounds like Sufi to me, but it could be some flavor of Buddhism. Anyway. It's clearly been updated. But the essence remains. Here it is:

"Many years ago in a poor Chinese village, there lived a peasant with his son. His only material possession, apart from some land and a small straw hut, was a horse he had inherited from his father.

"One day, the horse ran off, leaving the man with no animal with which to till the land. His neighbors - who respected him greatly for his honesty and diligence - came to his house to say how much they regretted what had happened. He thanked them for their visit, but asked: 'How can you know that what has happened has been a misfortune in my life?'

"Someone mumbled to a friend: 'He cannot accept reality, let him think what he wants, as long as he isn't saddened by what happened.' And the neighbors went off, pretending to agree with what they had heard.

"A week later, the horse returned to the stable, but it was not alone; it brought with it a fine mare for company. Upon hearing this, the villagers - who were flustered since they now understood the answer the man had given them - returned to the peasant's house in order to congratulate him on his good fortune. 'Before you had only one horse, and now you have two. Congratulations!' they said. But the peasant said, 'How can you know that what has happened has been a blessing in my life?'

"Disconcerted, and thinking he must be going mad, the neighbors went off, and on the way commented: 'Does he really not understand that God has sent him a gift?'

"A month later, the peasant's son decided to tame the mare. But the animal unexpectedly reared up and the boy fell and broke his leg. The neighbors returned to the peasant's house, bringing gifts for the wounded boy. The mayor of the village offered his condolences to the father, saying that all were very sad at what had happened.

"The man thanked them for their visit and their concern, but asked: 'How can you know that what has happened has been a misfortune in my life?'

"They were all astonished to hear this, since no one could be in any doubt that the accident of a son was a real tragedy. As they left the peasant's house, some said to others: 'He really has gone mad; his only son might limp forever, and he is still in doubt about whether what happened is a misfortune.'

"Some months passed, and Japan declared war on China. The Emperor's envoys traveled throughout the land in search for healthy young men to be sent to the battlefront. Upon arrival in the village, they recruited all the young men except the peasant's son, whose leg was broken.

"None of the young men returned alive. The son recovered, the two animals bred and their offspring were sold at a good price. The peasant began visiting his neighbors to console and help them, since they had at all times been so caring. Whenever one of them complained, the peasant said: 'How do you know it is a misfortune?' If anyone became overjoyed, he asked: 'How do you know it is a blessing?' And the men in that village understood that beyond appearances, life has other meanings."

Also, it has different meanings for different people. Imagine what a day it had been for the emperor's envoy. He arrived at a small village in a bad mood, and discovered that all but one of the young men there were eligible for service. Hooray! He did not know that they would all die or that he himself would be struck down in a terrible battle.

He thought he knew what the day meant, and it did mean that, until it didn't.

In which we learn the upbeat side of a crippled son and a missing horse.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Key to a Well-Lived Life: Lighten Up!

It's amazing how patient and gentle we can be to those around us, but when it comes to being the tough critic, no one is tougher on ourselves than us.  I am a fan of Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and Committed, for her honesty and for the fact that she seems to have been able to tame her self-critic over the years.  If you haven't done it already, now is the time to be nicer to yourself.


The Key to a Well-Lived Life, According to Elizabeth Gilbert: Screw Up (often, and boldly), Learn from Your Mistakes, Repeat.

Nearly all the women I know are stressing themselves sick over the pathological fear that they simply aren't doing enough with their lives. Which is crazy—absolutely flat-out bananas—because the women I know do a lot, and they do it well. My cousin Sarah, for instance, is earning her master's degree in international relations, while simultaneously working for a nonprofit that builds playgrounds at woefully underfunded public schools. Kate is staying home and raising the two most enchanting children I've ever met—while also working on a cookbook. Donna is producing Hollywood blockbusters; Stacy is running a London bank; Polly just launched an artisanal bakery...

By all rights, every one of these clever, inventive women should be radiant with self-satisfaction. Instead, they twitch with near-constant doubt, somehow worrying that they are failing at life. Sarah worries that she should be traveling around the world instead of committing to a master's degree. Kate worries that she's wasting her education by staying home with her kids. Donna worries that she's endangering her marriage by working such long hours. Stacy worries that the capitalistic world of banking is murdering her creativity. Polly worries that her artisanal bakery might not be quite capitalistic enough. All of them worry that they need to lose 10 pounds. 

It's terribly frustrating for me to witness this endless second-guessing. The problem is, I do it, too. Despite having written five books, I worry that I have not written the right kinds of books, or that perhaps I have dedicated too much of my life to writing, and have therefore neglected other aspects of my being. (Like, I could really stand to lose 10 pounds.) 

So here's what I want to know: Can we lighten up a little?

As we head into this next decade, can we draft a joint resolution to drop the crazy-making expectation that we must all be perfect friends and perfect mothers and perfect workers and perfect lovers with perfect bodies who dedicate ourselves to charity and grow our own organic vegetables, at the same time that we run corporations and stand on our heads while playing the guitar with our feet? 

When I look at my life and the lives of my female friends these days—with our dizzying number of opportunities and talents—I sometimes feel as though we are all mice in a giant experimental maze, scurrying around frantically, trying to find our way through. But maybe there's a good historical reason for all this overwhelming confusion. We don't have centuries of educated, autonomous female role models to imitate here (there were no women quite like us until very recently), so nobody has given us a map. As a result, we each race forth blindly into this new maze of limitless options. And the risks are steep. We make mistakes. We take sharp turns, hoping to stumble on an open path, only to bump into dead-end walls and have to back up and start all over again. We push mysterious levers, hoping to earn a reward, only to learn—whoops, that was a suffering button!

To make matters even more stressful, we constantly measure ourselves against each other's progress, which is a truly dreadful habit. My sister, Catherine, told me recently about a conversation she'd had with a sweet neighbor who—after watching Catherine spend an afternoon organizing a scavenger hunt for all the local kids—said sadly, "You're such a better mother than I will ever be." At which point, my sister grabbed her friend's hands and said, "Please. Let's not do this to each other, okay?" 

No, seriously—please. Let's not.

Because it breaks my heart to know that so many amazing women are waking up at 3 o'clock in the morning and abusing themselves for not having gone to art school, or for not having learned to speak French, or for not having organized the neighborhood scavenger hunt. I fear that—if we continue this mad quest for perfection—we will all end up as stressed-out and jumpy as those stray cats who live in Dumpsters behind Chinese restaurants, forever scavenging for scraps of survival while pulling out their own hair in hypervigilant anxiety. 

So let's drop it, maybe?

Let's just anticipate that we (all of us) will disappoint ourselves somehow in the decade to come. Go ahead and let it happen. Let somebody else be a better mother than you for one afternoon. Let somebody else go to art school. Let somebody else have a happy marriage, while you foolishly pick the wrong guy. (Hell, I've done it; it's survivable.) While you're at it, take the wrong job. Move to the wrong city. Lose your temper in front of the boss, quit training for that marathon, wolf down a truckload of cupcakes the day after you start your diet. Blow it all catastrophically, in fact, and then start over with good cheer. This is what we all must learn to do, for this is how maps get charted—by taking wrong turns that lead to surprising passageways that open into spectacularly unexpected new worlds. So just march on. Future generations will thank you—trust me—for showing the way, for beating brave new footpaths out of wonky old mistakes.

Fall flat on your face if you must, but please, for the sake of us all, do not stop.

Map your own life. 

Printed from on Friday, April 16, 2010
© 2010 Harpo Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Broadly Speaking: Law School or Babies

One of my repetitive mantras for the Oxygen Network has been how we all need to find our own paths.  Listening to your heart and doing what is right for you is, in my opinion, the most important step to being content.  No matter how it works out, you have made the decision for you and not because others think it's the right thing to do.

Now, it took me many years to get to this point.  Maybe you were lucky and got there sooner, but have a look at an interesting article by a Stanford student who may just have started this thought process a lot earlier than most people.


Tuesday, April 20th, 2010 | By Molly Spaeth

From The Stanford Daily

Broadly Speaking: Law School or Babies

So my little brother went to his first prom this weekend.

My brother, Maxwell Christian Mueller Spaeth (he was born 6 weeks premature and my mom thought he needed a middle name that really struck a chord with Sweet Baby Jesus), shares a common trait with his older sister: we both suck at prom. Max’s story involves his prom group of 20 each shelling out $46 per couple to ride a trolley around downtown Fargo (the Paris of the Midwest), only to forget to tell their moms to come take pictures. As a direct result, we have no pictures of Maxwell at junior prom.

My story is either less or more tragic, depending on how you look at it. Less tragic in the sense that Mom was definitely there on time with plenty of camera battery taking pictures at my junior prom, more tragic in the sense that I was a pretty tragic-looking junior prom date.

But no matter what, Mom is great because she always loves you unconditionally, regardless of your lack of prom photos or lack of good-looking prom photos. This is great because you’re her baby, and Mom always looks out for the best interests of her baby, right? This concern was perhaps most aptly demonstrated in a conversation I had with my mom last week, as I explained to her how I would like to take a year off and work before deciding if I really want to go to law school.

Her response?

“Molly, I just really don’t want you to do that. If you take a year off before going to law school you’re just going to start having babies and then NEVER go back!”

As crazy as it sounds, Mom perhaps unknowingly illustrated a point that until her little outburst was unbeknownst even to myself: if you’re not moving up, you might as well get out. Here at Stanford, whilst constantly surrounded by such overachievers, the next and obvious place always seems to be up. Not sure what to major in? Well, then double major! Not sure if your paper is supposed to be five or six pages? Write seven! It is so easy to get caught up in the Stanford bubble and the up-or-out trajectory that perhaps sometimes we lose sight of ourselves, deep down and inside.

I visited a cousin of mine over spring break who does paralegal work at a law firm in New York. She, like myself, wasn’t really sure about law school, so she took a few years off to get some hands-on legal experience. As we walked through Greenwich Village, she remarked, “I see the new associates coming in fresh out of law school all the time. They haven’t worked a real job a day in their lives–most have no idea how to make copies, brew coffee or answer a telephone, and all but a few have no desire to respect anyone who does make copies, brew coffee or answer a telephone. They’re smart as hell when it comes to the legal world, but they have no perspective when it comes to the real world.”

I’m all for jumping straight into a post-undergraduate program right away if you’re jumping in for the right reasons. However, if you’re jumping in just because it seems like the next step up, perhaps you need to take the time to consider what you really want deep down. Are you going to marry someone you don’t love just to advance the relationship? Are you going to take a promotion in a job you hate just because it’s more money? Where will it end, and will you ever have the courage not to move up?

For as much as IHUM taught us that everything is gray, it’s amazing how much we still see our own lives in black and white. If we’re not advancing on the career path we’re homemakers; if we’re not producing briefs we might as well be producing babies. There is this inherent insecurity that if we don’t view ourselves as moving up, others will view us as moving down.

But perhaps the grayest, and most courageous, path involves breaking through this deeply entrenched but fundamentally superficial dichotomy. The tracks to career advancement and motherhood are far from mutually exclusive, but the difficulty in their convergence lies in the very nature of their familiarity. The logical paths leading to each are so predetermined, it’s harder to carve where and when you want those paths to intersect. But what our inherently perfectionist campus (and their parents) need to realize is that these paths do not and should not converge at the same point for everyone, and that doesn’t make anyone more or less successful than anyone else.

Mom, I don’t want law school or babies. I want law school and babies. I just don’t want either quite yet.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness

I sometimes think about how I feel when someone I love or trust has been unkind to me.  I feel betrayed and angry and, many times, I let the anger eat me up.  But, as I get older, I can feel what a total waste of my energy it is to be angry with them.   Often times, I think maybe it's my fault even though I am not sure what I have even done to cause them to act the way they have.

What I have learned is how many times it's not what I have done or even that the event involved is that important.  Many times, it's just what the other person is going through in their own lives.  They are unhappy (no fault of mine) and it's hard for them to really live their life and relate to those they love or trust in the way they know they should.

This little story epitomizes that thought and now I try to remember it when I feel hurt or betrayed by someone I love or even someone I don't know that well.  It reminds me that, generally speaking, when someone's life is going well they don't hurt those around them.  It is usually when they are truly hurting that they hurt those around them.

The link to the full article is cited below.


Letting go of anger and bitterness can work wonders for both your attitude and your health, not to mention your relationships. 

A wise woman and her young disciple were walking down the street. Suddenly, out of nowhere, an angry man in a carriage drove haphazardly by the two, insensitively pushing the woman out of his way. She landed in a ditch filled with muddy water. The woman yelled after the man in the carriage, "May you have everything you want!" The disciple, surprised by the wise woman's response, said: "I'm confused. Why did you say that to a man with such horrible behavior?" The woman replied, "Because a happy man wouldn't have thoughtlessly pushed a woman into a ditch."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Only Thing You Can Change

Thanks to all of you who were in on our Heroines Teleseminar with Susanna Liller on Tuesday.  We had over 50 women from all over the country take part.  I will post a link to the tape of it when I get it.

I love the simplicity of this piece.


You can’t change your entire life.
You can only change your next action.
You can’t change a relationship with a loved one.
You can only change your next interaction.
You can’t change your entire job.
You can only change your next task.
You can’t change your body composition.
You can only change your next meal.
You can’t change your fitness level.
You can only start moving.
You can’t declutter your entire life.
You can only get choose to get rid of one thing, right now.
You can’t eliminate your entire debt.
You can only make one payment, or buy one less unnecessary item.
You can’t change the past, or control the future.
You can only change what you’re doing right now.
You can’t change everything.
You can only change one, small thing.
And that’s all it takes.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Great Quote

It probably shouldn't, but this quote makes me laugh....

"A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort."
~Herm Albright
from:    How to Be a Positive Person in Less Than 300 Words

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Time Lost and Found

I think this is one of my all time favorite articles.  Anne Lamott does an exquisite job of explaining why she believes that there really are no excuses for not enjoying your life. This sentence alone says it all for me: "That a close friendship is worth more than material success".


by Anne Lamott

Turn off Twitter.  And don’t clean the house. That’s what it takes to create the rich life you deserve.
I sometimes teach classes on writing, during which I tell my students every single thing I know about the craft and habit. This takes approximately 45 minutes. I begin with my core belief—and the foundation of almost all wisdom traditions—that there is nothing you can buy, achieve, own, or rent that can fill up that hunger inside for a sense of fulfillment and wonder. But the good news is that creative expression, whether that means writing, dancing, bird-watching, or cooking, can give a person almost everything that he or she has been searching for: enlivenment, peace, meaning, and the incalculable wealth of time spent quietly in beauty.
Then I bring up the bad news: You have to make time to do this.
This means you have to grasp that your manic forms of connectivity—cell phone, email, text, Twitter—steal most chances of lasting connection or amazement. That multitasking can argue a wasted life. That a close friendship is worth more than material success.
Needless to say, this is very distressing for my writing students. They start to explain that they have two kids at home, or five, a stable of horses or a hive of bees, and 40-hour workweeks. Or, on the other hand, sometimes they are climbing the walls with boredom, own nearly nothing, and are looking for work full-time, which is why they can’t make time now to pursue their hearts’ desires. They often add that as soon as they retire, or their last child moves out, or they move to the country, or to the city, or sell the horses, they will. They are absolutely sincere, and they are delusional.
I often remember the story from India of a beggar who sat outside a temple, begging for just enough every day to keep body and soul alive, until the temple elders convinced him to move across the street and sit under a tree. Years of begging and bare subsistence followed until he died. The temple elders decided to bury him beneath his cherished tree, where, after shoveling away a couple of feet of earth, they found a stash of gold coins that he had unknowingly sat on, all those hand-to-mouth years.
You already have the gold coins beneath you, of presence, creativity, intimacy, time for wonder, and nature, and life. Oh, yeah, you say? And where would those rascally coins be?
This is what I say: First of all, no one needs to watch the news every night, unless one is married to the anchor. Otherwise, you are mostly going to learn more than you need to know about where the local fires are, and how rainy it has been: so rainy! That is half an hour, a few days a week, I tell my students. You could commit to writing one page a night, which, over a year, is most of a book.
If they have to get up early for work and can’t stay up late, I ask them if they are willing NOT to do one thing every day, that otherwise they were going to try and cram into their schedule.
They may explain that they have to go to the gym four days a week or they get crazy, to which I reply that that’s fine—no one else really cares if anyone else finally starts to write or volunteers with marine mammals. But how can they not care and let life slip away? Can’t they give up the gym once a week and buy two hours’ worth of fresh, delectable moments? (Here they glance at my butt.)
Can they commit to meeting one close friend for two hours every week, in bookstores, to compare notes? Or at an Audubon sanctuary? Or a winery?
They look at me bitterly now—they don’t think I understand. But I do—I know how addictive busyness and mania are. But I ask them whether, if their children grow up to become adults who spend this one precious life in a spin of multitasking, stress, and achievement, and then work out four times a week, will they be pleased that their kids also pursued this kind of whirlwind life?
If not, if they want much more for their kids, lives well spent in hard work and savoring all that is lovely, why are they living this manic way?
I ask them, is there a eucalyptus grove at the end of their street, or a new exhibit at the art museum? An upcoming minus tide at the beach where the agates and tidepools are, or a great poet coming to the library soon? A pond where you can see so many turtles? A journal to fill?
If so, what manic or compulsive hours will they give up in trade for the equivalent time to write, or meander? Time is not free—that’s why it’s so precious and worth fighting for.
Will they give me one hour of housecleaning in exchange for the poetry reading? Or wash the car just one time a month, for the turtles? No? I understand. But at 80, will they be proud that they spent their lives keeping their houses cleaner than anyone else in the family did, except for mad Aunt Beth, who had the vapors? Or that they kept their car polished to a high sheen that made the neighbors quiver with jealousy? Or worked their fingers to the bone providing a high quality of life, but maybe accidentally forgot to be deeply and truly present for their kids, and now their grandchildren?
I think it’s going to hurt. What fills us is real, sweet, dopey, funny life.
I’ve heard it said that every day you need half an hour of quiet time for yourself, or your Self, unless you’re incredibly busy and stressed, in which case you need an hour. I promise you, it is there. Fight tooth and nail to find time, to make it. It is our true wealth, this moment, this hour, this day.

Anne Lamott|
Copyright © 2010 Sunset Publishing Corporation. All Rights Reserved. 

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Talking With Heroines Teleseminar - 4/13

This is from Susanna Liller, the founder of Ruby Slippers:

“Roll up your sleeves – midlife is your best and last chance to become the real you!”  Denise Benatar

Talking with Heroines Teleseminar is on Tuesday, April 13, from 4:00 - 5:00 PM pacific standard time and will feature Denise Benatar.

You can check out and subscribe to Denise's blog at

Denise is a connector. Thank goodness she’s a connector or else we wouldn’t have met! (We’ll tell you the how we met story on the 13th) Based in San Francisco, she runs an online network for women in transition.  Denise was a lawyer who began to go through her own transitions.  She left her career because she knew she “didn’t want to do anything anymore that didn’t hit my core.”  She felt lost after she abandoned her career so she reached out to others and discovered a community of amazing women.   She has created her network because she wants women to know that they are not alone. “I have opened up an unbelievable world for myself.” 

Her dream is to connect women across the country with others who also are feeling lost and aren’t sure about what they want to do so they can be support and a resource to one another.Denise’s blog is a huge resource.  I have sent her articles, videos, tips and recommendations to hundreds of women.  The more she sends out, the more people send resource ideas back to her.  Her library is vast.  

We’re all going through transitions – for different reasons – and the transitions are all different – and they are happening at different speeds for different people - but the journey is the same.  It’s the journey that takes us back to who we really are…the journey to authenticity…The Heroine’s Journey. 

Please join us as we talk with Denise about her heroine’s journey, her experiences with her network of women and how we all have such a hard time believing in ourselves!  Tuesday, April 13th, 4-5:00 PM pacific standard time. 

There are so many of you Heroines out there - on your path, or on your way to finding it. The Journey (that's life's journey) has many challenges and the road can be hard. What I've found through my Heroine's Journey classes (as Denise has found through her network) is that it really helps if you know there are others like you, - that you're not alone!  This is my inspiration for offering these free teleseminars - for us to know we're all in this together - the journey of self-development and personal growth. 

Warm regards,

This is a FREE seminar, but please email me  to sign up for this teleseminar and receive the call in information and handout which has a lot of great information from Denise.   

Circle Power - my book on how to use our connection to the Source within to create a more joyful life is now in print and available for you or for your gift giving.  Click here:  Circle Power

If you have questions about any of my upcoming programs please contact me (207/443-2847) or visit my website 

Sunday, April 04, 2010

The Trouble With Going Off the Grid

I like to think of myself as someone who is open to new things, but I have to admit that I have been lagging behind technologically.  I am still on my old mac...just about to buy my new laptop.  I don't have an iPhone and I only read my email sitting at my computer screen.  Part of the reason is that I really don't want to be connected all the time.  I like being where I am and who I am with without being distracted and, let me assure you, if I could read my email while I was out and about, I would.  I have no willpower.

Yesterday, I saw and I touched the iPad.  I love it.  I am in big trouble now!  But, I still feel like I do not like constant technology connection.  With that in mind, read this very funny piece by Joel Stein from this week's TIME magazine.


Monday, Apr. 12, 2010

By Joel Stein

I decided to ignore the National day of Unplugging — a 24-hour break from the Internet, TV, iPods, GPS and phones — on March 19 largely because I thought it was stupid. I hate those acts of righteous self-denial that people do just so they can brag about them: health cleanses, bow hunting, reclaiming your virginity. So when the organizers called me the following week and asked if I would participate as the first in a series of celebrity unpluggers, I immediately thought, This is a fantastic idea. If it went well, I'd be trading 24 hours offline for hundreds of hours of new self-Google results.
When I told my lovely wife Cassandra I'd be electronically disappearing, she liked the idea so much, she decided to do it too. "We'll make love by candlelight," she said. I was already changing my mind about this idea's being stupid.
Arranging my one day of not using e-mail with the National Day of Unplugging people required 24 e-mails, two phone calls and one Facebook friendship acceptance. The day before I turned off, I talked to the guy behind the idea, Dan Rollman, who is also the founder of the Universal Record Data Base, the online competitor to Guinness World Records. He came up with unplugging as a way of respecting the Sabbath, without all the praying and not going to parties. Rollman, apparently, is working on a record for the most new ways to piss off the Creator. About 20 minutes into our conversation about the joys of jumping off the grid, I admitted to Rollman that not only had I been checking my e-mail during our talk, but I also looked at Twitter, Facebook and the New York Times. "I did too," he said. "I saw my phone beep, and I said, 'I wonder what that's all about.'" When I asked him what it was about, he said he couldn't even remember. I had been outdueled in a game of phone ADD.
Right before sundown on Friday, I used my printer more than I had the rest of the time I've owned it. I printed directions, calendars, phone numbers and notes for the book I'm writing, in case I needed to work on it. I clearly have lost all understanding of how long 24 hours is. And of the fact that I would never write anything longer than my name with a pen. A few minutes later, our babysitter showed up, and Cassandra and I headed off to dinner. We were 11 minutes into our experiment when, sitting in traffic, Cassandra suggested we call the restaurant to tell them we'd be late. Then she started singing Lady Gaga songs a cappella. Then she came up with a Twitter joke she wanted me to memorize so she could send it out the next day. Still, it was nice to talk, or sit quietly with the option of talking, without the other person typing. Or listening to Lady Gaga.
At dinner, when Cassandra went to the bathroom, I had no clue what to do without a phone to pretend to be busy with. So I stared at people at nearby tables, which, while normal in 2000, is totally creepy now. But the real problem was trying to get to a party afterward. We got lost without the GPS, and by the time we got there, Cassandra's friends had already left. "Joel, this is your fault," Cassandra said many, many times. At 11:22 p.m., just four hours into our experiment, she turned on her phone and started mad texting. I could tell that we were not going to light even one candle.
But by the next morning, Cassandra had come around. The idea of unplugging was good, she'd decided. It just had to be done without driving to parties, which, it turns out, is actually the way the Bible suggests. So I decided to tack on a second 24 hours. And other than a few urges to hit the computer to add a movie to my Netflix queue and find out if Switzerland uses the euro, I didn't miss it. Sure, it's a little boring to drive without texting, but I got to focus on driving really fast. And the day felt longer, with that slow, easy laziness you get only on vacation or Vicodin. 
When Sunday night arrived, I dreaded turning my computer back on. I knew it meant I'd have to do work or respond to e-mails from friends and family, i.e., more work. And while the main lesson I took away from my two days is that technology is a gift from God and should never be turned off — one simple text would have kept Cassandra's friends at the party, which would have led to more drinking and Liberace-level candle lighting — I did learn that I'd rather hang out with my wife and son than find out every time someone retweets me. I don't want to feel the need to respond to everything as soon as I can. But I do, of course, need everyone else to respond to my e-mails, texts and calls right away. That's why I need to become a much, much bigger celebrity. So for now, my priority is spending all my time on Facebook and Twitter.

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