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Will Disengaging With My Phone Make Me More Productive? A True Social Experiment

This morning, between texting a friend, responding to a few emails, and keeping my daughter entertained at a coffee shop, I read an article in the New York Times that talked about our technological culture where we have sacrificed meaningful conversations and real moments for surface connections.  It wasn't the first article like this I've seen, and certainly my husband has forwarded me no less than three in an effort to get me to change my ways, but this one came at a time when I was ready to hear it.

I know I'm on my phone too much.  I am constantly trying to squeeze in a quick text, tweet, email or facebook post, all in the name of business.  But I also know it's a type of compulsion.  The emails and messages pour in, and I get stressed about them piling up or leaving someone's question unanswered. . . and there's always the possibility that someone has posted a life-changingly humorous photo of a kitten with a conversation bubble.

I am a born multi-tasker, and I feel if I can respond, export, touch-base in those in-between moments, I can move through my to do list a little more quickly.  But I am curious to know if this is even true.  If I set aside certain times each day to respond to emails and check in with social media outlets (a necessary evil for what I do) and spend other times more fully engaged with the people and the life in front of me, will I get more done overall?  Will I feel more balanced and less frenetic and scattered?  Will I train the people who are trying to reach me that I am not always available, and that a delayed response does not mean a lack of interest?

I suspect at the very least I will feel more balanced, and I hope a change would make me more productive as well.  And I know it will make me less annoying to the people around me.  I don't want to be "that person" to everyone I know, and I especially don't want my kids to think of my phone as the sixth member of our family.

So an experiment.

1.  I will set aside two times per day to respond to emails and check in with social media. (I do use Hootsuite to schedule tweets and Facebook postings, which is amazing.)

2.  Since I know that if I have my phone on or with me, I will look at it, I need to be ok with turning it off or leaving it in my car at certain times, at least until I can break the habit (I am so pathetic).

3.  Definite times of disengagment with the phone will be 6pm (or when I get home from work, whichever is earlier) to 8pm during the week.

4.  I will turn off my phone during coffees, lunches and other arranged social and business events or meetings.

Starting to wonder if my phone will ever be on. . . But let's give it a try.

Tomorrow is Day One.  Will you join me?  Do you think it will work?  Give me some support or feedback.  I'll check in twice per day. . .


Bus Bash!

On Saturday we had the big reveal of Lady Blue at the Bus Bash event at WonderRoot.  It was a mini trial-run of what the pop-up shows will be like on the road trip next year, as well as a fundraiser for the trip and for WonderRoot's artist exhibition fund.

In case you missed it, here you have four hours of fun condensed into one minute of video (click on the image to play).


Life is a highway

and you'll see my bus sitting on the side of it. . .

Today I picked up the bus.  After the Test Drive of Terror, I was more than a little apprehensive to drive Lady Blue from the mechanic's place to the gallery.  My husband brought me up there, but he had to follow me back in his car, and so the Lady and I were left alone to find our way with each other.

We started off tense and unsure, but pretty soon I realized she was a lover, not a fighter.  We went through many stoplights together with nary a stall.  Here's a short clip of that magic moment when we found each other.

And then, we hit a snag.  I was confidently accelerating on the highway, but Lady Blue was decelerating.  Where did we go wrong?  The closer I pushed the pedal to the floor, the slower she went.  And then I pulled over, and we were done.  Engine wouldn't turn over.  A slap in the face.

I called the mechanic, and apparently when the gas gauge says half full, what it really means is empty.  Luckily, a hero was on the way.

The Lady started right up, and I got off at the next exit to get to a gas station.  The mechanic (let's call him Richard) followed me, which turned out to be a very good thing.

Yes, that's gas on the ground.  Easy in, easy out.  Apparentlly my "H.E.R.O." tore some rubber seal between the gas pipe and the side of the bus when he put the gas in.  But Richard worked it out, and I was soon back on the road, alone with my Lady.

We arrived safely at the gallery, and I feel we are in a good place now. We've had some long talks, and I think we are going to be fine tomorrow at the Bus Bash.  We are excited to move forward and forge a beautiful relationship together.


Pitching the Tent

On Saturday we have our first pop-up show in a pre-Crusade tour experiment of sorts.  This will be the big reveal of Lady Blue, and we'll have our art tent full of photographs from The Ten for sale, a food truck, live music, and lots of enthusiastic fans.

Since we are not art festival veterans and purchased our tent (without instructions) off Craigs List, Meghan and I thought it would be a good idea to give it a trial run before Saturday morning.  Generally I'm a pretty competent putter-togetherer of things, but I do tend to finish a project with at least one unused piece, resulting in a mostly functional but slightly shabbily constructed finished product.  Eh, details.  

Here's a quick (very quick) video of the trial run - pitched up right in the gallery.  And yes, there are a few unused parts. . . they're probably not important.


Tattoo you, Tattoo me

I got my first tattoo when I was 30.  It was about my kids, my life at that moment.  I was in New York City on a girls' trip, and I was holding the hand of my oldest friend.  It was perfect.

I got my second tattoo in Portland during Photolucida, a photography festival.  I was holding the hand of my best friend, and yes, I put a bird on it in Portland.

So I'm all about the time and place.  It also matters who I am with and the challenge I am currently facing.

If you are reading this blog, you are well aware of the challenge.  I am totally committed to this Crusade, to working toward an incredibly challenging goal, to driving an undriveable bus around the country.  But if I think about it for too long, my head will explode.

This is my tattoo - it is a famous quote by Rabbi Nachman of Breslav: The whole world is a very narrow bridge.  The most important part is to not be afraid.

Recognize your challenges, face your fears, work to cross your bridge.

You are watching me cross mine.  

A big thank you to Jason Houston for taking these pictures and being my person.