Reconnecting by Disconnecting

By the time you read this, I will literally be winging my way across the world for a MUCH needed, long anticipated, hastily planned three week trip to Europe with my husband Don. We have got to be the only two people I know who "hastily plan" a trip like this, but when we realized six weeks ago that we both had THREE WHOLE WEEKS when neither of us had anywhere to be for work (thank you XyronHSN and the US Army) - we decided to take a leap of faith. I hope the results will be magical!

yup - FOUR suitcases. Ready to go!

I have to admit though, I've had anxiety. Things are VERY busy at work for me - and I have spent the last two weeks or so making lists, planning ahead, scrambling to get things finished, and trying to figure out how I could work during our vacation.  How much access would I have to the internet?  What about cell phone service? I thought this was completely ok...until I read this article: 

http://www.handsfreemama.com/2012/05/07/how-to-miss-a-childhood/

It was especially appropriate since just two days prior I had been sitting in the airport on my way home from a business trip and noticed a mother and her two children - her five-ish year old daughter (Savannah) and a toddler - waiting at my gate. The mother was texting on her phone, the toddler was watching a video on some sort of tablet, and Savannah was playing with a Nintendo DS. At first I just found it interesting in a "well - I guess that's one way to keep your kids quiet" way, but then a little bird landed on the arm rest of the seat just a few feet away from Savannah. It had probably come through the open door leading out to the runway, and it wasn't anything special, but Savannah was THRILLED. She looked up and I caught her eye and we both grinned, then she turned to her mom, pointed to the bird and said "Mommy! Mommy!" - without skipping a beat, without even raising her eyes off her screen, the mom growled "Savannah - can't you see I'm on my phone?" The look in Savannah's eyes was heartbreaking. The grandmotherly woman sitting next to me and I tried to engage Savannah and talk about the bird with her, but the moment of wonder and excitement was lost.

When I first read the article I thought it didn't "apply" to me because we don't have kids. Literally five minutes after finishing the article I was on our cell phone provider's website trying to figure out my options for service overseas - and then it hit me.  Why does this only apply to our relationships with children?  Why not our relationships with everyone in our lives? I waited and prayed and cried through nine deployments wanting nothing more than to have Don home with me, and now I have a chance to have three weeks of him all to myself and I'm thinking about work.  I am lucky enough to be going to places and seeing things that some people wait their whole lives to see and I am wondering if I'll have access to the internet. I seriously needed to re-think my priorities.

I know none of us want to THINK we are like Savannah's mom - but many of us are. We are friends who go out to lunch but won't put our phones away and check them constantly throughout the meal. We are strangers who have the chance to strike up a conversation and make someone's day - at our kids' soccer games, the dentist office, in line at the supermarket - but we are too busy texting or checking our FB pages. We talk on the phone while checking out at a store, ordering drive thru, riding in the car with our kids. We are missing out on the people and places and every day moments that make life worth living.

So - Don and I have made the decision to disconnect for the next three weeks so we can reconnect with each other.  We won't disappear entirely...my phone works in Europe so if there is an emergency - if our folks need us, or our dog sitter, or our offices, they can reach us - but we won't be calling work and we won't be frantically checking our emails, and I'm not going to worry about this blog.  The new Xyron DT is going to do some guest blogging and I may share a few photos about our trip along the way - but otherwise I feel pretty good about a little radio silence. Well - to be honest - it is totally stressing me out at the moment, but that just proves to me even more that I need to do it.  I need a little time to take a deep breath and just BE.

So I wish for you a wonderful few weeks. Enjoy the end of the school year, the beginning of summer, the start of the bounty that is fresh strawberries and peaches and sweet corn and tomatoes and watermelon. Invite your co-workers over for a cookout, meet your neighbors at the local pool. Disconnect from whatever device you are reading this this on and reconnect with the people who make up the stories of your life. Don and I will be doing the same, and if I ever get too stressed out or feel like I should be doing something else, I am going to think of Savannah and her bird.  I'm going to find my sense of wonder again.

See you in June my friends!