01/09/2015 01:19 EST | Updated 03/11/2015 05:59 EDT

10 Messages Being Phoneless Taught Me

504 hours of being fully present and phone-free allowed more human interactions to take place and the delicate dance between life and nature were things I noticed again; how intoxicatingly contagious their laugh is, how much their company feeds my soul, the wealth of the sweet and simple moments, how much had stayed the same and how much had changed.


On any given day my palm accessory aka my smartphone is found in position and glanced at often between reading/responding to messages, speaking with those in my company and shifting my focus occasionally to monitor my next step. When realizing that this small gadget was taking over my world, I created broken boundaries that my phone would not sleep in my bed, it would not have a place at the table when eating nor would I continue to give loved ones my divided attention between typing texts (that had to be re-read before sending) and listening to the words being spoken. It sounded great in theory, but in reality I had gotten so used to being phone present that until I was 'forced' to live phone-free while traveling I failed to notice how much I was controlled by the urgency of a buzz, an alert, a ring and a text. And how much of life was being missed in the process.

504 hours of being fully present and phone-free allowed more human interactions to take place and the delicate dance between life and nature were things I noticed again; how intoxicatingly contagious their laugh is, how much their company feeds my soul, the wealth of the sweet and simple moments, how much had stayed the same and how much had changed. I looked up for a second longer and in this reconnection I was also reminded:

Show Up, Really Show-Up...Every Single Day. I've re-watched his "Every day I Fight" video more often than I can recall and remembered how his Espy speech moved me to tears regardless of how many times I had seen it. On Sunday as I processed the news and watched the tributes, the message of another lesson became even more clear. For so long I had focused on his resilience as he fought his fight that I didn't often make the connection that though I am not battling cancer defined as the "malignant and invasive growth", his message is applied to whatever 'poison' it is that causes dis-ease in our lives and prevents us from functioning to the maximum of our potential. To give the power of who we are to a situation that threatens us, is to quit on ourselves mid-fight and abort our evolution. Whatever the battle, in the words of Stuart Scott, we beat it "... in how you live, Why you live, And in the manner in which you live." Show up & Fight, whatever our dis-ease may be.

Surrender. When you take your hands off of situations and desired outcomes you release the need to be in control and life has an interesting way of bringing things on a course of its own. Far better and more perfectly timed than if you were at the reigns dictating every next step. It takes great courage to let go and totally trust that all things are working to your good, but holding on too tightly restricts the very things you want from coming into full bloom. When we really really believe that there's a mutual attraction between ourselves and our true desires, the nervous energy that tries to convince us that we may miss it disappears, and the ego disguised as control relaxes.

Simple Joys. It has been 18 years since I have been in the same city as my only sibling -- on my birthday. So when this year placed me at a table for two at one of my favourite restaurants with my crib friend, long before closing my eyes and blowing out the candle...the wish had already come true. There was as much love and laughter at this dinner for two than if all my favorites were celebrating with me. Though considered to be simple, any moment spent with people we love is simply priceless. Each day that followed brought with it little drops of love from so many people I know. Here's to more wishes coming true and being present in each moment when they do.

Live Lightly. Chivalry is not dead. It is very much alive, on time, opening doors, saying hello, carrying bags, present, walking a lady to the door, apologizing when plans fall through, holding a hand in prayer and available in a range of accents and packaging - the ability to engage in a mentally stimulating conversation, being a bonus. This is often missed when staring at our phones or intentionally looking away to avoid eye contact with a stranger at the risk that they may smile back and at the most say "Good Morning". Live lightly. Hold the doors for a stranger, look up and smile with someone you may not know. When we give what we ourselves desire out of life, it comes back to us but most of all it sets us free.

Timing. Last minute changes, delays, cancellations, postponed plans, no responses, no shows...and just about any type of interruption to the plan we constructed can at times trouble our lining of frustration. Ahhh, but is there anything more liberating than staying open to the idea that things unfold, or not, just as they are supposed to and always, always for a bigger reason than we can see. We can't always see the complete picture, but we can trust how the pieces fall into place.

Challenging Your Comfort Zone. So many times change is feared or unwelcome because we like things just as they are with known faces and in a landscape that's familiar. Change I've been reminded, is more of a delicate dance allowing new experiences and people to get in position, our hesitation however creates the disruption to the flow. In this dance with life, its best experienced on beat, enjoying the lyrics of the song we're writing. Sometimes it's an old favourite allowing us to sing along to lyrics we know well and often it's a song being written as we move along. When we get comfortable with being uncomfortable what's new or different doesn't frighten us, it awakens us.

Committed Intentions. While packing for this trip my vicious sweet tooth tapped me with a reminder to include gym clothes. With 21 days of carbs, libations and sweet indulgences - all my triggers, I knew I had to work out even if it only included 30-45 minutes of cardio per day. When I walked into the hotel gym at 8am the day after Christmas, it was packed. True enough one might say this is LA, but my bigger take away was that indulging requires a balancing act of boundaries and the discipline to acknowledge when you've had enough. When a healthier lifestyle is a focus, the road map we design to some degree determines the quality of life we live.

No Mas. I accidentally discovered Cafe de Oalla -- traditional Mexican Coffee with hints of Cinnamon and Cocoa at a nearby café and I have been in love with it ever since. During my morning walk from No Mas Cafe -- when translated means "No More", a few thoughts came to mind on New Year's Eve regarding what would not be crossing the threshold into the new year. Not to be confused with a list of things that had gone wrong or stemming from a place of anger. Ironically, this was a graduation of sorts symbolic of what the tests I passed. The promise of the new day(s) ahead with the guarantee that life had already pre-registered me for new courses. It always amazes me to look back at how what was once perceived as permanent in my life was only a stepping stone all along. I treasure these moments and each teacher as passing mirrors; here to show me something about myself in the reflection.

Are You Where You Are Supposed To Be? In one of the world's largest airports I find out my flight has been cancelled and my only option due to the weather is to get on a direct flight from the International Terminal - approximately 20 minutes away by shuttle. The ticket agent leaves the counter to point this lost soul to where I need to go. As fate may have it, the shuttle is there the moment I go through the door. I get to the counter on time, bags checked for free due to the inconvenience and off to security I go. After standing in a very long line for a bit I realize I had not moved. I look up higher to where I see a sign that reads Korean Air. How many times do we end up delayed or distracted by standing where the masses are, not realizing we are actually further ahead of the crowd and slowing down our own progress by simply not being conscious of where we are?

The Filter And The Wall. I feel very comfortable in speaking with friend or stranger on just about any range of subjects. Very seldom is it realized that when the discussion has ended I typically know much more about the other person than they have learned about me. I have often presented that to be an indication that I have mastered the art of conversation, until digging a little further and being truly honest about where the filter meets 'the wall'. I read something one morning which I thought profound: "Interesting thing about walls: you are keeping everyone out, by boxing yourself in". Living in a time where we exercise "freedom of speech," I am left with one thought: Be free.

21 days later, I vow to look up more often.


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