Wednesday, August 12, 2015

What I Gained when I Lost my Smartphone

  My husband and I scooted into the seat at the Steak N Shake.  Its always a treat for us, its one of our favorite restaurants, and the closest one is over an hour from our house.  We were excited.  We only had one of our kiddos since he had just went for an important doctor visit.  We were talking and laughing, when I noticed the couple in the booth across from us.
   They were a younger couple, and they didn't have any kids with them.  I watched them come in the door and walk to their seats.  They settled in and had some friendly chatter for about a minute..  then they both reached into their laps and pulled out their phones.
   I paid attention as they stared at their phones.  They didn't look up..  didn't speak.  They just sat there staring downward.  They didn't look up until they got their food, and even then, they sat their phone at a distance near their plate, glancing down between conversation.

   I remember when I first got my smartphone.  My husband didn't even have one yet, he had a simple phone.  One of my friends got one and I thought that it was pretty cool.  We went to the beach with my Mom and my sister and that's when I got hooked on instagram.  This was after I had already began to struggle with facebook and its constant 'connectivity.'..  but instagram seemed more interesting, and a lot less captivating and time consuming than facebook.  Facebook was too involved, with all the status messages, shared photos and everything..  instagram didn't seem to have that.  It was quicker, and used by less people.  I also got really into the frames and all the fun edits you could do at the touch of a button!  I loved it..  I was hooked.  I needed one.
  My husband bought it for me, and brought it home to me.  I couldn't get it out of the box fast enough.  I immediately got online and ordered a cute pink otterbox to go with it.  I downloaded every app that I could imagine.  I instagramed everything..  from my kids to my dessert, from my clean house and fall decorations.  I was addicted.  I loved songpop and just jumped right back on the facebook bandwagon like it was no big deal.  I LOVED my Iphone.  Intensely.
   Then- my husband got one.
   The thing about fault is that its so much easier to see in others.  It's hard to admit when you have a fault or an issue, but when its someone else doing it, its so much more obvious.  When its someone else.  I would sit beside him at night as the glow of the screen shined over his face in the darkness.  I remembered the nights we spent just talking, laughing..  reading sometimes.  Even the nights we spent watching a movie we were doing it together.  There wasn't anything together about this, we were in our own little world right in front of us.  The thought was fleeting, because I had my own little screen to the outside world in front of me as well...  but it was burdensome to see.

   The next day, I did what I always did.  I searched the internet to find others who shared my same sentiments..  since no one around me seemed to be as bothered by their focus on their newfound appendage as I was.  I ran across this article, USA Today: The Year we stopped talking to one another and read it intently.  It said everything I had been saying in my head for so long now!  It was refreshing to see that I wasn't alone, but it was very disheartening to read.  
   2010..  that was even earlier.  Then it was 2013, so it seemed it had taken me three more years than it did the rest of the world to hop on the smartphone bandwagon.  I think that even the timespan between 2013 and now has advanced leaps and bounds technlologically.  Now smartphones are sometimes less expensive (initially...) than going out to eat.  If you're willing to commit to it for two years, you can normally have one for free.  After buying it for free, it doesn't seem like a lot to spend $150 (or better...) a month to keep it... but that's another issue all in itself.  
   I digress.
   It took me a long time to finally be fed up with my smartphone.  I think it took awhile to settle in my heart to actually give it up..  but I finally did.  It was actually in frustration over my kids attachment to it that finally made me drop it and go for the old basic phone.   It took a LOT of getting used too..  but I think better because of it..
  There are a lot of things that I learned when I gave up my smartphone...

I have learned that I do miss my smartphone.

   The week after I gave up mys smartphone, my sister got engaged.  My other sister was at my house at the time, and she sent us a picture.  Naturally, since they both have smartphones, she got the pic first.  It was awesome that she was here, but it made me miss my 'group chat' that I had among the three of us.  How cool was it that we could share that moment together!  It reminded me of all of our conversations, picture sharing, and laughing.  I do miss feeling that 'connected' to my sisters.
   But- I did get the same picture sent to my flip phone, so I did still get the message, and I still wiped tears out of my eyes once again and was just as overwhelmed as I was when I saw it on Kayla's phone.  So we are still connected, even if its not as convenient and filled with Emojis.
   I also spent all night Sunday watching a Bill Cosby VHS with Kayla and laughing so hard I couldn't breathe.  Would I have spent that time with her if I had my phone?  Or would I have been too busy instagramming and playing on facebook to think about it?
  I remember once a blogger that I follow wrote a list of pros and cons of having verses not having a smartphone.  After the list of the pros far outnumbered the list of the cons, she said, "The list of pros is shorter..  but the list of cons is heavier."  I try to look at it in that retrospect.  Although I do miss my smartphone because of the group chat, because of our games we could play together, because of the gps and just convenience..  the list of reasons that I don't miss my smartphone is far heavier.

I am learning to be more patient

   I suppose that comes from not having to be bombarded with notifications, and from not having everything at your fingertips.  You want to find a passage in the Bible, you look it up.  You want to find a recipe, you check the cookbook.  You want to check your email, you go to the computer, wait for it to turn on...  you get the point.  The world is no longer at my fingertips.  It takes a little bit longer.  If I want to talk to someone, I have to wait a little while sometimes.  I can send them an email but it takes a little more effort, and I don't respond right away, but that's okay.  The world isn't as face paced, and that's actually desirable.  I can't do anything and everything at a moments notice, and that has worked wonders on my heart in being patient.  Patience is a virtue, and something hard to learn..  but its getting easier to practice everyday.

I actually can keep my house 'clean'

   Now I put 'clean' because you can't consider my house clean, ever.  There are toys EVERYWHERE.  My kids live here and they play here, and I refuse to take that away.  There will be one day when there aren't blocks, barbies and hot wheels all over my living room and I will miss that profusely, so for now I'm going to be okay with the clutter, and pray hard I don't step on any Legos.
  So when I say 'clean' I'm not talking about spotless.  I'm talking about the basics, dishes, laundry, clean sheets and organized closets...  the stuff the kids don't mess with.  I never thought I had time for that before, I was constantly overwhelmed by all of the work I had to do around the house.  I never thought that there was an end to the laundry.  I would constantly haggle my kids about their dirty clothes and dirty bedrooms, all I wanted was for it to be done, just once, and I could not understand why it kept piling up.
   I suppose I should have kept better tabs on my time.
   I would 'check out' whenever it seemed too overwhelming.  I can't tell you the time I've spent sitting at the kitchen table or on the couch scrolling through my phone.  It felt good to be able to temporarily escape from this world and get engrossed in another.  A few seconds turned to minutes, which turned to an hour or more.  It was sucking the time away from me, and I just didn't have any time left to give.  Since I cut the virtual lifeline, all of the sudden I see myself running out of things to wash!  I see the house actually being clean, even after a full day of school, crafts and my rambunctious one year old knowing when the big kids are schooling he has free reign over the toys.
   I remember the day I had five children run in the house covered in grass after playing on the slip and slide... five showers, one loud of laundry, and ten minutes of cleaning up grass later, I was shocked at how quickly I got things done without the distraction of a smartphone beeping and ringing and just begging me to pick it up and fall into the virtual world.  I found that it really was a job, but if you just stick it out, its over quickly and we are back to playing blocks in the living room while listening to the rain tap on the porch steps.  Life can be slow and abundant if you refuse to 'check out', no matter how much you feel the need to escape..  if you stick it out, there will be memories, and you can do it.  I promise.

I am less forgetful

   We are actually planning a trip to the library today, because our books are due back.  We need to check out some of them again, and we are on a search for Pete the Cat books.  This may seem insignificant to some of you but to the girl who just paid $15 in late library book fees (those things are like 15 cents a day!) then you have to understand just how forgetful I really am..  but today we knew that the books were due back tomorrow, and planned to go today, and I'm SO proud of myself for remembering!
  I can remember the important stuff, or the stuff that is important to my children and family.  I believe this is because there is a whole lot less on my mind.
  I jokingly used to compare facebook to a Mel Gibson movie that came out about fifteen years ago called "What Women Want."  Its a movie where he can read the minds of women.  There's one part where he's walking through the park and he's really overwhelmed because he hears all the thoughts of every woman that he passes.  Women thinking about what they were supposed to do today, thinking about the men in their lives, talking about politics and things that they like and hate..  he's overwhelmed and covers his ears to drown it out, only to find that the thoughts are bouncing inside of his head!  It may seem like a silly comparison, but to me that's what facebook feels like.  Hundreds of thoughts, hundreds of opinions, pictures...  videos...  song lyrics..  all bouncing through your head.  You scroll through your news feed and see all of these things, and its impossible to believe that it can all just go in one ear and out the other.  There are going to be several things that stick, things to ponder on throughout the day.  You can't believe she wrote that or you really liked that song so you start singing it..  who does she think she is and since when did he start acting like that?  Oh and Lord forbid she cleans her kitchen or goes to the gym without updating her status about it.  Too, too too much to think about.  Useless information, although you dearly love someone you don't need to know their every move much less their every thought.  There's just a lot less on my plate here in my facebookless days.  I am very much enjoying the peace and quiet.

I spend less money when I actually 'plan' spending it

   This goes for the grocery store.  I have a family of six people.  I feed six people almost every day.  That's 17 meals per DAY, since my husband isn't a breakfast person. That doesn't include snacking.  I am also a believer in "you are what you eat", so I know that the things that I feed my family will make them who they are.  I know this because the things I have fed myself over the years have caused me health problems throughout my lifetime, and have allowed food to have a bad spiritual stronghold on my life.  I don't want that for my family..  therefore I strive to prayerfully feed them as best as I can with the provisions God has given me to feed them.   That is not an easy undertaking.
   Too many times have I spent so much time 'escaping' into the world of the internet that I haven't taken the time to do this..  so I've sent a quick text to my husband..  "bring ground beef and sauce."  and we've had spaghetti.  No veggies, no fruit, no bread.. just spaghetti and tea, since theres nearly always teabags and sugar on hand.  When they are tired of spaghetti and I've vegged out all day, I would opt for a rotisserie chicken and some Bob Evans potatoes..  maybe a can of veggies here or there.  I know, that's quick and normal for families, but on the flip side, its EXPENSIVE.
  I'll never forget my hubby's first trip to the store after couponing!  He was so proud as he brought the receipts.  80 bucks saved!  That's a few days worth of dinners!  I saved that much because I was intentional, because I planned out our dinners and our shopping trip!  I just simply don't have time for that when I just randomly go to the grocery store, or don't take the time to commit to it.  I have a lot more time on my hands since I no longer have a computer in them at all times.

Its no longer 'an appendage'

   Now this is not a good thing for those of you who text and call me frequently.  I hardly ever sometimes don't know where my phone is.  I hardly ever sometimes don't know where it is for hours at at time, and by the time somebody calls me I have already gotten six or seven texts that I have failed to respond too.  I'm not a good phone buddy.  That wasn't the case with the Iphone.  I ALWAYS carried it with me.  It was the first thing to go in my purse, and I can't even tell you since I have not had a smartphone how many times I've had to run back in the house to get my phone.  I miss phone calls and always forget to check my voicemail.  I know that seems irresponsible in the age of cell phones and immediate access to them, but honestly..  its just not my heart anymore.
  That seems like a harsh reality, but its true.
  It wasn't just my time, patience, and interest that was tied to my smartphone.  It had my heart tied to it as well.
  I thoroughly enjoyed social networking.  I looked forward to it.  I would be excited about checking it.  I would be excited about sharing.  Without knowing it, I allowed my heart to be caught up in it, which in turn, took my heart away from my home, from my kids and my husband, and tied it to another world that I was only a part of in a virtual since.  Now I'm not saying that I'm not a part of 'the world', or my friends who are truly my friends not just on facebook.  I'm still very much a part of that world, even if I don't email you or text you or 'like' the stuff that you write all day, I still think about you, love you and pray for you!  I try to shoot an email or at least a text message, but just because I don't keep up with your every move doesn't mean I don't love you- I probably love you more since I don't know your every thought and move, and it for certain gives us more to talk about!
  The issue is, there is a world that is a virtual world and it is not real.  There are people who will 'friend' you on facebook and would not speak to you in public.  I have no business being a part of that world and its foolish controversies.  I have no business in your business if you truly aren't a part of my life...  and it makes me feel just too nosey to take part in it.
  Moreso, I've turned my heart to where it belongs..  to my home, and the people in my home.  To my friends and family who truly love me.  MORE importantly, most importantly..  I've turned my heart back to my first love (Rev 2:4-5)  and although I'm not nearly as close to Him as I should be, I can feel that love rekindling in my heart more and more each day.

I have finally learned to love myself and my life

  I can't even begin to describe to you how much I have learned about how comparison can steal your joy.
  I read that long ago, and I've read it several times again and again.  I am in LOVE with Kylie Bisutti's blog post about why she deleted facebook.  I read it and was so comforted in the fact that I was not alone.  It felt really shameful to admit that I looked to facebook to validate myself.  I felt like a real loser lol.  Then, I read her blog post, and all of the sudden I didn't feel so alone.  Someone as beautiful as she, a former Victorias Secret model who feels that facebook lowers her self esteem?  Someone that gorgeous inside and out who will admit that facebook makes her devalue herself?  That's incredible.
   She is absolutely right too.  Somehow, no matter how innocent the life of facebook and instagram may believe, somehow we get duped into playing the comparison game as we scroll through its feeds.  Perhaps there are some people out there who can escape that tangled web, but I'm honest enough to admit that I can't.  I find myself believing I'm not good enough.  I find myself thinking I'm not pretty because I'm not as thin as this girl, or that I'm not smart because I don't have the job that this person has. I find myself comparing my marriage to that of others, well, my husband never writes a status update about me...  he must not love me as much as hers does.  I see my friends spending lots of time with their other friends and it makes me question whether or not they still consider themselves my friends.  I see all the awards that their kid won in school when mine didn't get but one or two...  it makes me look at my life in comparison..  and that made my life not look so great.  However, I believe it was best said by Steve Furtick, "The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else's highlight reel" 
   When we spend a good part of the day losing ourselves in the posts of others that reflect how wonderful their life is, we start to see the mundane parts of our lives and they pale in comparison.  I can't say nobody is going to post their reality because there are a few people who do..  but for the most part, people spend more time posting the 'good' in their life, and hide the 'bad.'  Somehow facebook makes it hard to wrap our minds around that though.
  Without anything to compare my life too, I'm so much happier with my life exactly the way it is.  I love myself because I don't compare myself to everyone else in order to see how beautiful I am, I love myself because I can feel good in my own skin, and I'm married to a man who think I'm beautiful.  I love my kids because they are my kids with all of their good mixed with all of their imperfections.  I love my husband because he is my husband, and when he holds me tight and kisses me deeply I know that I'm the queen of his world, even if he didn't post on his facebook status that he loves me.  My messy world is just perfect for me in my season, and I don't have to spend so much time comparing my life to those who are in..  cleaner..  seasons of their lives, lol.

I take fewer pictures

  You would be hard pressed to find someone who loves pictures as much as I do.  Photography is my passion, and something I'm actually pretty good at (shameless self promotion link) It has nothing to do with taking the perfect with no technical mistakes, or learning the best editing trick..  it has everything to do with moments, and capturing them. It has everything to do with the look on my Daddy's face when he hugged my sister at graduation, as he looked past her hair and fought back his tears as his baby girl grew up.  It has everything to do with the way a brides Daddy smiles at her as he holds her in his arms, knowing it may be the last moment that she really belongs to him.  Its about the way she smiles at the bottom of the slip and slide or the look on his face as they sing and five candles glow against his little cheeks.  I LOVE pictures.  I have a passion for pictures that is deeper than a lot of passions on my life.  BUT- without my Iphone..  I'm taking fewer.
  Not because I don't love them, cherish them, and spend a good part of my life collecting them..  but because I'm spending less time capturing moments, and more time enjoying them.
  I have recently (FINALLY!) began putting my photos into albums.  I still need several..  several photo albums (gift idea to any of my family members who may be reading this *hint hint* haha!) but I have taken the time to compile photos from the then years that Stephen and I have spent creating this life into a little more organized form than snapfish boxes under my bed.  I have found the truth is, although you may take 800 photos at the beach (unfortunately, I'm not exaggerating...) that you really only need about 30 in an album to tell the whole story of your beach trip, without it being completely overwhelming.  Although that moment when Hudson first felt the foam from the ocean grab his cute little toes..  it really only needed to be captured once..  even though I have about 30 pictures of it.
  My name is Stacy Duncan, and I'm addicted to taking pictures.
  I suppose I'm afraid of missing something?  The Iphone made this very easy for me.  I always had it with me.  I could take fifty pics of Sawyer in his play yard in under a minute.  Compiling pics into photos really changed the way I order photos.  I flip through them thinking..  this pic looks JUST like the other four hundred pics of him..  so do I really need it?

  I've spent a good chunk of my life taking pictures, rather than enjoying the moments.
  Yet, I remember, and remember well, one day that I have very few pictures of..  one day that I didn't even take my camera, or never once asked "Did you get a picture of this?"  Not even once.  The only pictures I have are ones that others had taken..  that entire day I didn't care about pictures, not even a little bit.
   That day, was eight years and six days ago.
   My wedding day.  :)
   I plan everything.  I take hundreds of pictures.  I'm a control freak and want everything to be perfect.
   Not that day.
   I didn't care that I didn't have a 'photographer'.  The only thing I cared about was that man standing in front of me, and the fact that after I walked out of that church, the man that I was insanely in love with was going to be my husband.
   I remember it like it was yesterday.  I remember the way he looked at me, I remember how it felt when he kissed me..  I remember how happy I felt, and that I didn't care about anything but him, and that he was all mine.  I remember it so well...  and those memories are worth more to me than a thousand wedding photos.
   I want to take pics, I want to have photos of my children to share..  but at the same time, I want to remember what it feels like to be in this moment.  To remember how tiny Sawyer feels in my arms.  To remember how Callie's eyes light up when she is reading a story to her brother and sees how excited he gets.  I just want to remember..  and I don't want to remember being behind a camera the entire time.
   I love the pictures that I have of myself when I was little..  and theres not very many of them.  My Mom was never a camera buff..  I treasure the ones that I do, but I'm okay with the fact that there's about thirty, not thirty thousand.  I don't need a picture of everything..  life will go on, moments will still happen if they aren't captured.

    Life existed without smartphones for years.  You hear people talk about 'the good ole days'..  those days when you spend hours on the front porch rather than behind a television screen.  The days people actually talked to one another, when they picked up the phone and called one another rather than sending a text message.  It takes a long time to get out of the routine of living a 'connected' life, but I'm trying I'm a believer that there is more to life, that staring at a screen takes away more from life than it adds to it, and I'm out to share that with others.  However, I can't share something that I haven't experienced for myself, so I wanted to share this experience with you.  Its been life-changing, and its given me  life that I didn't have before.  I think I lost myself somewhere in the world of social media, and I'm finally finding myself again.  I may sit here and spew out nonsense, but I believe in a lot of ways that's how you find yourself..  you seek, and one day those words aren't nonsense, and life all of the sudden makes more sense.

  A lot of people take a lot of criticism when they call people out on their Iphone or social media use..  so that's not what I'm doing.  I'm sharing my experience.   I still occasionally use my husbands phone to check instagram or twitter, but not everyday..  and I rarely post.  I'm busy..  I'm busy living, and trying not to document my every move.  I wanted to share with you my heart, and what I've gained since I lost my smartphone.  If it weren't for a blogger brave enough to post something that has given her I'm sure a lot of grief over time because of the people who are offended by her post, (see Dear Mom on the Iphone) then I would have never even thought about the effects being bound to social media can have on my life..  so I'm greatful for others who share their stories, and in turn, I'm just doing the same thing.
  Its a lot better on this side of the fence..  the grass is greener in real life..  trust me..  disconnect, and enjoy.