Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What Began on March 26th and Lasted Until April 1st

March 26, 2009
Today marks the beginning of our first-ever couples detox week. For one week we are going to severely cut back on our use of electronic media. We are going to complete projects we've discussed for ages. We are going to eat healthier meals at home.

"I might die, just so you know," my tech-savvy husband mentions casually over a plate of fish and whole-wheat pasta. I think to myself, a risk I may be willing to take.

Why a detox? We're not talking about a liquid-diet detox, but rather a new approach to life that will (hopefully) allow us to enjoy the little moments together, to savor hobbies that we've been ignoring, and to spruce up our disheveled home. I suggested the detox, of course. This may have been an easy guess. What you might not have expected was a willing response from my husband. I suspect that the reality of the changes we'll both have to make are just now occurring to him, part way through our first day, and that last night when he agreed so quickly he was just trying to help me feel better about the things that I've lost control over. As long as we both approach this week as a team, I'm sure we will both be fine. Perhaps we'll even be more satisfied with our lives! One can hope.

Day One

Starting, I feel a bit nervous. Already today I've found myself desiring time on social networking sites, and in the moment between focused tasks I've nearly walked to the computer, mindlessly, to begin surfing. This may be more difficult than I imagined. Josh also says he's not sure if he can do this, but that he is going to put forth the effort. He's reading as I type, which is a good sign and something that he has always loved but often neglected. I'll be thrilled if he finishes some of the books I picked up for him on my last trip home to the states.
We accomplished so much today, I can hardly believe our success. We moved our large bookcase to the front hallway, and I created a list of every book we own for cataloging purposes. Josh helped Matt build his new computer, adn we cooked dinner for four. The evening moved forward quickly with Trivial Pursuit and friends. To our surprise, though, it was only 8:30pm when they left- what to do with the rest of the night? We read books. What an enriching day.

Day Two

Today began with a scare- I found Trixie with what I thought was blood covering her paw, and spread over her fur and the bedspread. After fashioning a tourniquet from a washcloth, I realized that she was not bleeding. She broke through the casing of a red gel ink pen and her fur was stained, her paws still covered in the wet ink. Not blood. Trixie is lucky that she is so adorable.

Other than my eventful morning, I spent my day working and enjoying more time with friends and my husband in the evening. It was still difficult today to avoid the computer and the television, but I have already felt less compulsion to sit in front of either machine. Josh said he was able to clear his mind and relax this morning, which is apparently difficult normally because his mind is racing. One day away and he's already feeling more calm. I think we're seeing progress!

Day Three

I worked again today, so while I'm at work I feel like I'm breaking our rules because I have to use the computer to process all of my work. However, I usually let myself read online news titles during quiet times, and I've stopped doing that. Also, a co-worker almost spilled the beans regarding the outcome of an episode of a show I missed, and I asked her not to elaborate in front of me. Everyone looked at me as if I had five heads when I told them about our "detox." It's not that strange, right?

Day Four

I had so much free time today! I spent time in the kitchen pre-cutting veggies and making an Italian cream cheese spread for my sandwiches this week. I've been taking lunch to work and my body can already feel the difference. It occurs to me that if I always spent more time doing things like cutting up vegetables or pre-cooking healthy meals, it would be easier on a day-to-day basis to eat very well.

This afternoon, Kara joined me for some fun with stamping and craft products. We both made beautiful to-do lists for ourselves. It was both mentally stimulating and relaxing simultaneously. It would be so nice to be creative with friends more frequently.

I think Josh is cheating at work (he's been talking about computer parts he wants to buy that he found online... hmm) but I'll let it slide because he is still following our guidelines at home. I hope he finds this experience as rewarding as I have so far.

Day Five

We ended up cheating tonight, together, but there was a pretty good reason. We decided that the real underlying goal behind this detox is for us to do more engaging activities together. One of the things we really enjoy is watching "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" and discussing the warped plot lines. There's just something about theorizing together that totally works for us, so we allowed ourselves to watch the most recent episode. Watch and discuss. We're still completely avoiding the internet at home, so this is the picture of success for the two of us. I was not sure we'd even make it this far.

Day Six

Today we made good use of our extra time and rearranged the majority of the furniture in our apartment. I am totally loving the new vibe we've created. We finally put our furniture to good use, divided spaces in a more design-centered way, and created more functional space. We've also been using this time away from our computers to negotiate the sale and purchase of electronics. We've decided to switch to a new iMac computer, and use Bootcamp as our dual-boot option. We'll sell most of our other systems to get rid of some of the clutter and time-suck the lurks around every corner of our tiny living space.

Day Seven

We ordered our new computer today! This is no April Fool's joke. If only overseas shipping didn't take so darn long. All of this time away from technology has given us some great perspective on what is important and what we enjoy. We can agree to sell things that we don't really need, and not to buy other things that will hinder us from pursuing our joint and personal goals. Our apartment has never looked better, despite the red room being unfinished. Our kitchen is clean and stocked with healthier foods. I think we both feel more at peace in our hearts and minds. Once past the initial compulsion to check every web page in my bookmarks, I felt free. This was so easy to do, I can't believe it took me this long to try.

Post Detox

I am finishing this entry a few days past the detox, but I'm going to post it on the last day of the official detox week. In retrospect, a technology detox is absolutely something I'm glad I tried. We have already made plans to detox every month for some period of time. When you enjoy technology, you can find ways to use it and apply its functionality to every aspect of your life. This can be a great organizational tool, but it can also cause you to forget about other important things. Connecting with family can end up on the back burner. Focusing your mind on one project- like reading a great book or making a card or even just cutting up vegetables- becomes so difficult when you constantly inundate your brain with the multitasking expectations of television and the internet.

I don't like myself as much when I'm addicted to technology. I don't enjoy my husband's company when his mind is stuck on the television or what he read on the internet. Returning to a more simplistic existence has done wonders for us both.

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