Going Off the Grid

On my walk the other day, my phone died right after I took this photo, which I’d been waiting for the conditions to line up for all Autumn. And I mean right after, as in I took the picture, and the next second my phone turned off. I actually worried that maybe it didn’t save properly, but instead it turned out absolutely perfect.

Going Off the Grid >> Life In Limbo

This meant that for the rest of my walk, I was unplugged. Really, truly unplugged, which doesn’t actually happen very often. I didn’t know what time it was, I was waiting for friends to text me back, I wanted to take more pictures of my beautiful surroundings, my mom was about to phone me, I wanted to listen to my podcasts or my music. Safe to say: I noticed myself get mildly irritated that I wasn’t tethered to my phone and couldn’t access all the benefits it gives me.

Ew! Gross, right? I try to live my life as quietly as I can (no notifications, no vibration or alerts from my phone, Do Not Disturb almost 24/7) and am constantly experimenting with ways to reduce my addiction to technology (this week’s test: putting my phone in grayscale to make it less fun to play with). But even though I work on this stuff all the time, having my phone decide for me that I couldn’t use it was a bit jarring. I still wanted that connection! I wanted to be tethered to my loved ones and listen to things I like! I wanted to be plugged in on my own terms.

If I’m honest though, even when it’s “on my own terms” I still find it hard to manage my compulsive checking. I’m constantly trying to set rules for myself to reduce this tendency, but I don’t always follow them. It really does work best when I remove the temptation completely: having Airplane mode on overnight so I’m not tempted to check messages before breakfast, turning off data use for apps like Instagram so I don’t constantly check them while I’m out and about. (Perk: I haven’t run out of data since making that change.)

On an episode of Happier, Gretchen and Elizabeth interviewed Moby and asked what his #1 tip was for people to be happier. I loved his answer, but it kind of has haunted me, because I have not very often followed his advice. Here’s what he said, in a condensed form:

“Make an effort to be around nature. Leave your phone at home. Don’t go into nature and listen to podcasts. Give yourself a break from the world of people. Don’t look at a screen, don’t listen to music, don’t check Facebook, just give yourself an hour of looking at this world that has nothing to do with humans.”

The truth in this advice rings through for me loud and clear, despite the fact that I find it hard to follow.

Today I’m going up north for one night with a friend, and I want to go off the grid a bit. I want to pretend there’s no cell phone reception or wifi (for all I know, maybe there really is neither!) and get quiet instead. I want to use my phone as a camera and a note-taking device, but not a connecting device. I don’t want to look at Instagram, or Facebook, or my email. I want to write in my journal and take pictures with my big camera and just be.

Because here’s the other thing? When I got home after that peaceful walk and plugged in my phone, I had one text message and no missed calls. I hadn’t missed anything, and I’d gained so much.

Inspiration: November 17

Every week on Friday, I share a list of the most interesting and inspiring content I’ve read lately here on my blog. You can expect thoughts on productivity, happiness, balance, spirituality, politics, and more. Subscribe here to get updates. See archives here.

Inspiration November 17 >> Life In Limbo

The case for practicing radical honesty and transparency in business and our personal lives, with lots of examples from the corporate culture at Netflix. My friend Sonja shared this with me, and we’ve agreed to start playing Stop-Start-Continue. Stay tuned…

I put every single book on this list onto my to-read list. The ladies at The What read voraciously (a lot more than me) and have impeccable taste in books. Can’t wait for their top 25 non-fiction picks next week.

Reminder: the world is a little bit crazy, but we can do good, hard things. We can be kind to one another. We can smile, hold the door, and take a deep breath while waiting in line. See also: my favourite thing of all time (that I think about almost every single day), This is Water. I just re-watched it and bawled, as I always do.

Who wants to try this brunch timing trick with me?! So fun, so whimsical, so practical.

I have been struggling with this idea so much recently, so reading this post was a breath of fresh air: “Here’s what I’ve learned is the key mental habit of simplicity: noticing the mind’s tendency to want more, and don’t believe it.” Gotta love a shoutout to Byron Katie, too.

I really liked this “gift guide” post because it de-emphasizes buying stuff for the sake of stuff. I’m trying to be more mindful about gift-giving this year, and I like the idea of focusing on things like delicious food, good experiences, and memory-keeping.

I’ve been trying to remember lately that writing and walking are my very best tools for thinking and processing my emotions. I liked this simple post about how to keep a journal for personal development – it reminded me of ways I can “think out loud” the next time I have a decision to make. His reading list also looks good, although it’s 99% male authors.

A nice reminder that you never can really know what impact your work might have on someone else. You just have to keep showing up and doing the work, having faith that it will land with the right people.

I had a mysterious stomach ache for most of this week, which definitely put a damper on my energy! Even still, I had a great week talking philanthropy at Tuesdays Together, taking photos, writing blog posts, getting cozy with some friends. I’m happy it’s the weekend though! I hope you have a wonderful weekend too. xo.

How to Trust Your Gut

I think the theme of this year has been learning how to trust my intuition in a concrete way. I’ve always been intuitive (I am an INFJ, after all), but this year has been particularly full of opportunities to listen to the still, quiet voice in my heart and actually do what it says. It’s also been a pretty big wake-up call about how often I try to “paddle upstream” against the current because of what I think I “should” do.

How to Trust Your Gut >> Life In Limbo

Whether it’s the clients I’m choosing to work with, the food I’m choosing to eat, the events I’m choosing to attend or the friends I’m choosing to have in my life, this year has shown me that it’s actually possible to listen to my intuition and by doing what it tells me, to end up in a better situation. Not just possible, but crucial. Not just a better situation, but an incredible one.

This whole interview was so fascinating and interesting, but the piece that stuck with me most was this:

“I often receive messages, as we all do. You receive the intuitive hit, and then whether it’s the instant later or not so long after, or the next week or month, the doubt creeps in. And then you start to analyze and prevaricate and procrastinate around what you already know, what your soul has told you. So I’m trying to get a bit more elegant with allowing myself to receive the soul hit and then just commit to it wholeheartedly.

It’s the resistance to the message that trips us up. It’s the fears around scarcity and lack and pain that stop us from following that inner guidance. It’s the doubt, and the questioning, and the concern: Am I really okay? Do I have to hedge my bets?

Part of me wants to say: of course you have to hedge your bets, at least a little. But the other part of me says, you can do it if it makes you feel better, but it’s a little silly. It’s probably not necessary. You’re really okay. I promise. 

Within the last year, I was also introduced, via Jess Lively, to Abraham Hicks and the Law of Attraction (the real one, not The Secret one). I am particularly drawn recently towards the idea of going with what flows instead of trying to force an outcome. In this episode, she talks about “the river” of life, and how most of us are constantly trying to paddle upstream to the goals and outcomes that we think are “right” for us. But when we listen to that inner voice and do what comes easily and naturally, magic we could never have imagined comes into our lives, effortlessly.

There is no easy answer for learning how to trust your intuition. It’s a daily practice, and it’s (more than) a little scary.

A lot of it is about taking a deep breath and committing to the action that feels right but that you don’t quite understand. It’s about remembering that the universe is always working on our behalf but not always working on our timeline. It’s about getting grounded again and again and again in what’s really important to you instead of what the world tells you is important. It’s about not relying so much on your own power. It’s about, put simply, having faith.

What I can tell you though is that it gets easier. Each time I trust that voice inside (less woo than it may sound) and notice the good things that come into my life as a result, I have the confidence to try again.

Today I was feeling weird, so I went for a walk in the gloomy weather because it felt like what I needed. About halfway through, the sun poured through the clouds and lit up the sky, and I saw a rainbow that felt like it was just for me, since I was the only one on the beach. It felt like a private sign from the universe: You’re doing okay. You’re doing it right. I later talked to my mom on the phone, who told me that she’d seen a big rainbow at around the same time. On a day when I was feeling strangely homesick for my mom, we both got to see the same rainbow at the same time. When things like that happen, how can I doubt? 

Yes, We Are Angry

Several weeks back during the #MeToo campaign, an article of suggestions on how to be a feminist ally came up in my newsfeed. In the comments, a male acquaintance had commented something along the lines of “Yikes, this is put in such an angry way! If it had been put differently, maybe it would be received better. Especially that last point!”

Yes We Are Angry >> Life In Limbo

The last point he’s referring to was: “Don’t read a list like this and think that most of these don’t apply to you.” (Another point on the list I’d particularly like to mention here was: “Don’t get defensive when you get called out.” However..)

There are a lot of things wrong with what this person wrote, not least of which is the fact that the list – which you can read for yourself right here – doesn’t come across as ‘angry’ to me at all. It’s straightforward, it’s clear, and it doesn’t mess around. True, it doesn’t “soften the blow” (read: perform emotional labour) for you, and it doesn’t sugar-coat things or try to make you feel better about yourself. But angry? I don’t read it that way.

Just for fun though, let’s play along and presume that it was written in a furiously rage-filled tone.

The first thing that comes to mind is: Um, duh? Of course women are angry. Lots of men are angry too, about the exact same things. Because guess what! These issues matter and they matter for everyone. Can you think of one feminist issue that is not utterly infuriating? I can’t. For so, so long, we have lived with the narrative that angry women shouldn’t be taken seriously. It gives me hope that I and many others have finally come to the conclusion that we can turn this one right around: Yes, we are angry. How could you possibly not be angry? 

The other thing that has stuck with me and haunted me was his suggestion that had there been less anger implied in this article (an emotion, we have established, that is incredibly valid in this conversation), the information it provides would have been considered somehow more valid or acceptable. Had it been presented in a more “measured” way, this man would have considered it worth his attention. Had it been “less angry”, he might have deigned to actually listen, or (at a stretch) even found a way to learn from the content inside.

(Do I sound angry? Good. Because I am.)

Privilege takes many forms, but one of the features common to all kinds of privilege is that it grants those with it the ability to look away. If you are not personally affected by something, you are, by definition, able to ignore it. You don’t have to care because it’s not “your problem”.

And there is such privilege inherent in this person’s statement. It reads as though he’s saying: “Do the work to present this information to me in a way that I find acceptable, and then perhaps I will consider what you are saying. Until then, I don’t have to care, I don’t have to listen, and I can feel very free to ignore this cause.”

Of course, though, that’s not how this works. It is not my (or anyone’s) job to convince you why you should care about social justice and human rights issues. The issues are real and important, and we’ll be over here fighting them with or without your support. Yes, your privilege grants you the ability to not care or participate or get involved, which is “fine” (it’s not fine)…just please don’t pretend to be a supporter of the cause in the meantime.

Lindy West recently wrote, in a beautifully powerful piece for the New York Times, that women are finally brave enough to be angry. She writes about the historical dismissal and rejection of angry women and the preponderance of women who have been labeled as angry even when they’ve behaved in a neutral or straightforward manner. Dismissal and rejection are powerful, painful forces, and we have not always been strong enough to face them.

Personally, I still don’t feel strong enough to face them. I keep my anger to myself and work through it with the many other angry women in my life who are struggling with these issues every day. There is a private, seething rage that is happening for women behind closed doors, in living rooms, through text messages, over the phone, in group chats. We are seriously grappling with the force of our anger, the sheer power of it, and the way it makes us feel helpless. We don’t do it publicly though, because we know what it means to be an “angry woman”, and we know how they are treated.

Nevertheless, we are exasperated, furious, and spluttering at the unfairness that we all have to make sense of in the world. We make jokes to each other: “Which famous man was revealed to be a sexual predator today?” and laugh awkwardly until we realize that yep, there actually were three such stories in the news that day. We wrestle with the fact that although we support them, we also somehow resent Spacey’s male victims for being so easily believed and validated, while countless women in similar situations were (and are) instead shamed and bullied. We privately feel afraid when the people around us reveal themselves to be at worst, misogynistic and racist, and at best, apathetic.

So as I write this, I am angry but I am also scared. I know what it means to be a woman who speaks her mind about things that are upsetting, and I know the risks. I am used to my private anger because as any woman instinctually knows, it’s not safe to share. But because I am trying to be brave enough to be angry, I’ll end with this quote from Lindy’s article that resonated with me and so many of my friends:

“I did not call myself a feminist until I was nearly 20 years old. My world had taught me that feminists were ugly and ridiculous, and I did not want to be ugly and ridiculous. I wanted to be cool and desired by men, because even as a teenager I knew implicitly that pandering for male approval was a woman’s most effective currency. It was my best shot at success, or at least safety, and I wasn’t sophisticated enough to see that success and safety, bestowed conditionally, aren’t success and safety at all. They are domestication and implied violence. To put it another way, it took me two decades to become brave enough to be angry. Feminism is the collective manifestation of female anger.”