The joys of going offline

Since we all got smartphones do you remember a time when you completely hopped offline? Prior to the Christmas break I couldn’t. And I didn't realise how much I desperately needed to until December 25th hit. I went offline for almost two weeks.

I'd been entertaining the idea for a while. For every reason I loved being connected, there was also a side of me that felt that being constantly online, always available, became tiresome.

These days the social media space and the professional space are inextricably linked for me, and most people. My phone is the home for almost all communication. Except for real face-to-face connection and my love for old-school handwritten notes.

I wanted a break from the neck-tilted-downward-to-glowing-screen. Live life away from capturing it all. A break from filtering images, broadcasting, emails and the sometimes social media obligation I'm sure all of us feel - right?! At least sometimes.

So what happened? I went through a life audit. 

I didn't anticipate to. But putting away the habitual action of unlocking my phone to check my email, Instagram, Facebook whatever - had me observing how I used the Internet and how others were using it around me.

Firstly, I knew that in 2013 I had wasted a heck of a lot of time online. Those moments where I got sucked away from something that's far more important in front of me, around me while I'm scrolling, liking, commenting. Even doing it in the presence of people I was spending time with and they'd naturally do the same. Ridiculous.

Over my break, I could see my pre-offline behaviour in others. Couples, friends, family members in cafes and restaurants all around me sitting in front of one another, by each other's side, physically there, but giving their attention to their mobile phone.

The result? I've finely tuned my manners in the company of others. I instantly worked out ways to be far more economical with time.

The scrolling, liking, commenting can happen sparingly. Shorter emails to everyone. Communicating with friends via long form emails - no more. Picking up the phone, FaceTime (for free), or Skype makes up for writing and re-editing written catch-ups. And when phone calls turn idle, it's okay to say, "chat next time."

Twitter. The news as it's breaking? Not necessary. For years the television hasn't been on in my house in the mornings because the urgency, the content - murders, kidnappings- was all something I found extremely stressful as I started my day. I get the business of news, the competition for sources to be the first to deliver information. I also know that I can play catch up with the richest sources of news when I really need to.

Then there's the benefits of being offline and fully present. No interruption. No streams of information coming at me from all over the world. 

More time was spent completely engaged with every activity I shared with my family. That Peppa Pig Big Splash Show in Piccadilly Circus? I didn't take a single sneaky photo to blast to the masses about how awesome my afternoon was. I just told you waaaay after the event on this blog instead. Boom! Or the urge to quote-tweet Barry Humphries while he was thanking us patrons during his Farewell Show in London? I took in all his positive reflective talk in real time.

As we constantly share our lives through technology, my aim is to not allow it to take away from living in the moment. I'm sure many of us do it better than others, sometimes though, especially from offline mode I do see myself slipping into that world a little too much. So much so this offline mode is something I'm going to practice regularly. I'm talking chunks of hours in the day, most weekends and even whole adventure trips away.

All the people that I know online will all still be there when I get back.


Mostly written in:

My Home in Los Angeles

Chunks written in:

 The Natural Kitchen

77-78 Marylebone High Street

London W1U 5JX

& on American Airlines Flight 137 from London Heathrow to LAX

Listening to: Jazz in The Natural Kitchen, London and silence

Image Credit: http://jayroeder.com

Be With Nature

The other week my dear friend Marija and I headed from Melbourne to Sydney purposely to see Janelle Monae at the Vivid Festival. *Please note a lot of my blog posts will likely reference Marija as we do travel a heck of a lot together and we go to tonnes of gigs. The plan was to head to the newly refurbished MCA - along the way we crossed Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens. Marija insisted we take the scenic route through the Botanic Gardens.

Having lived in Sydney for about 7 years, I realised I could count on both hands the amount of times I've been through the Botanic Gardens. And on all occasions certainly not mindful of the space around me as I would have just been there for work - to film something, MC an event, to interview someone - IN and OUT.

But this trip was certainly something special. The moment Marija and I walked from the Macquarie Street entry into the Gardens there was a huge shift - sonically - from traffic to pure serenity in just one step. And energy, we were instantly in paradise. I suddenly felt completely at ease and at the same time thinking WHY THE HECK DIDN'T I COME HERE MORE OFTEN WHEN I LIVED HERE?!

It was paradise in an instant. Being still, then walking through the gardens and speaking softly, Marija and I also spent some time trying to walk with our eyes closed and we instantly became more aware of the sounds of all the different birds around us. Trees around us that have grown through the decades while the facade of Sydney's city goes through constant change.

And then we saw this thing.


That my friends is a badass Royal Botanic Greenhouse. Again, lived in Sydney for 7 years and I didn't notice this thing til now. Amazing!

I reflected on the years that had flown by in Sydney while I sat in the gardens by the bay and then by this excellent greenhouse and thought - so much time spent rushing, to tick off things on To Do Lists, from one appointment to the next, and these pockets of paradise in our own cities sit patiently waiting for us to enjoy them.

The memory I have looking at this image is that instant sense of calm and a huge reminder to take time out. Even from the busiest schedule to just be with nature. A lot of my youth was spent in the garden, certainly not as elaborate as this but it still had just as much influence on my sense of calm and nostalgically my connection to family (another post for another time).

When we're away on holidays we quite often visit famous parks but don't really enjoy our own. We have it so good here. So I'm making it a regular thing. Getting back to what's familiar and what I enjoy the most. A simple thing, but something truly rewarding. Be with Nature.