411 Junkie: Unplugged

In the past five years technology has almost tripled in efficiency and productivity. We have continuity across all devices, whether it’s your laptop, your smart phone, or your tablet. It’s amazing! You can continue to work on your research on your phone even though you’ve shut down your computer and have gone mobile.

You can call your friend who is on her yearly trip to Europe, or some place exotic, and talk to her via video chat. Technology is amazing. We’re accomplishing things we’ve never done before.

And yet …

And yet, there are times I feel too connected.

You receive a text from your significant other, but your hands are busy at the moment soaked with dishwashing soap because you’re cleaning the kitchen so you don’t check your text. But two minutes later your phone is ringing because you didn’t text back.

You receive notification from your Facebook feed and ignore it because you’re reading your assignments. A couple of minutes later you receive another notification from your Twitter feed and ignore it because, again, you’re reading your assignments. And yet, another minute later you receive a notification that five emails have come through.

Are we too plugged in? Too connected?

Quite simply, we are. Or at least some of us are. I know I am, that’s for sure.

I have a two Facebook accounts (one for my blog and other personal), I have a Twitter account, an Instagram, SnapChat, About.me, Google+, and I won’t even tell you how much emails accounts.

You’re crazy!

I am.

And I’d like to say that I am able to manage all of it in a way that I create balance in my life. Most times I do, sometimes I don’t.

But I do believe now and then you have to unplug.

And how do you do that?

I admit, it’s challenging, but here are a few things I do to unplug.

  1. I make it a point not to touch my phone or any mobile device when I’m eating, especially if it’s at family dinner – Call me old fashion, but accepting phone calls or watching TV during dinner time was strictly forbidden when I was younger. My parents made it a point to sit us all down for dinner and that was all we did. Eat dinner and talk about our day. No phone calls were taken and the television stayed off. I keep this tradition to this day, especially if my family is eating out. I’m serious. My phone stays in my purse. So does the iPad.
  2. I make it a point to schedule down time – I schedule at least an hour or two of everyday when I turn off all electronics. No TV, no computer, no iPads. My phone stays on only for emergencies and I only answer it if it’s family during this time. This is hard during the week since work takes up most of the day and I am a part-time student whose classes are online, but I definitely do this on the weekends. Instead of waking up and turning on the TV or booting up the computer, I grab a book or a magazine and read. Or I grab paper and write letters. Or I grab my journal and write. The important thing is to stay offline during this time. 
  3. I make it a point to go outside – I know this sounds simple enough but when I first thought of this, I realize just how hard it was for me to actually step outside. Half the day would go by before I realized I hadn’t set foot outside. To change this habit, I started scheduling it with my down time and instead of reading in bed, I’d take my book outside. I’d leave my phone in the house and just sit outside for 30 minutes or so.
  4. I make it a point to wear a watch – Even this sounds simple enough, but how many times have you pulled out your phone to check the time and then saw your email notifications or your social media notifications and decided you’ll just skim your email or just check to see why Facebook flagged you. Before you know it, it took you ten minutes to check the time? If you wear a watch, you won’t have the need to check your phone or any of your mobile devices.
  5. I make it a point to get involved – This may be hard. It was hard for me. I’m introvert and spending time by myself is easy peasy for someone like me. Attending community meetings was a step out of my comfort zone. And it took me a while to actually speak up and contribute at these meetings, but I found myself going two hours without a computer or phone. And the bonus is I get to meet interesting people. Getting involved, whether it’s a community meeting, or volunteering at the local hospital, is a great way to unplugged and instead make connections. Real connections.

In a world where people are heavily reliant on their technology to get through the day, I believe it’s even more important to unplug now and then. And if you’re an active user like I am, unplugging for days at a time may not be realistic. Instead, take it in stride. Thirty minutes here, an hour there. Unplugging helps you reconnect with yourself and others. Unplugging support a healthy and balanced life.


Life 411: Happy Thanksgiving!

This Thanksgiving Day is slowly coming to a close. We’re about ten o’clock at night in Hawaii and before the night comes to a close, I wanted take this moment to reflect upon the day, the month, the year, and count the blessings throughout the year.

First things first, so many things have happened, not all of it good, and I’m not talking about my personal life, but the world in general. There’s a lot of bad out there, especially with the global events that happened in the past month.

But there’s also a lot of good. A quick search on the internet and I couldn’t find one list of good things, except for fashion and award shows. It’s sad that the bad out weighs highlights in the news and things. I get it. It’s their job. And drama, sadness, and conflict get more ratings and reviews and at some level society needs to know about some of the stuff. I just wish that sometimes we can get a little more good news than bad and I know that there’s that moment in the news when they report on the “feel good” stuff, but it’s not enough to balance some of the violence on TV.

Anyway, there is a lot of good still. A few days ago, on a flash back post, I saw something I posted a year ago about someone getting up from the chair in a crowded Starbucks and offered it to me. I blogged about it here. Then there was that time someone let me go ahead of them because I had only one item, even though they were waiting longer than I was. And then another time when someone thanked me for doing my job simply because they appreciate having the change to go to the library and that we’re their to keep it open.

So, maybe it’s not something that can be put on TV, random acts of kindness, because it makes these moments more powerful somehow.

And on this day, I can reflect upon all those random acts of kindness, these small moments that add up, and be thankful to have them. For those who has had a particularly hard and rough year, it’s okay to feel to not feel thankful, but don’t dwell there too long. Take this moment to be mad. Be sad. And then get back to being happy.

I hope everyone had a wonderful, and safe, Thanksgiving!

Week Ending: A week of writing

This upcoming week will be the final full week of National Novel Writing Month and all its equivalents, including National Blog Post Month. The goal for novel writers is to hit 50,000 words towards that novel by November 30th, 11:59 p.m. The goal for National Blog Post Month is to post to your blog everyday.

Well, I am happy to say that as of right now, I have managed to post 20 out of 21 days (even though I wrote that one post on the day, operator error did not post it). I have also written 11,488 words averaging 547 per day. I was thinking about those numbers, feeling pretty good, when I realize these numbers did not count all the writing I have been doing for school.

And I realized this when I was going over this week’s study schedule for my classes. It is finals week for Intro to Social Psychology and our final is a comprehensive exam with twelve questions. Each question has a word limit of at least 300 words each question, not including citations. This is a whopping 3,600 words! It is also mid-terms for Ancient Greece History. Our mid-term is a short paper with a word limit of at least 1,000 words, not including citations. This work alone puts me at 16,088. This doesn’t include the weekly form posts I need to turn in for each class. Each post has a word limit of at least 250 words. which comes out to 1,500 words so far, if I’ve been following correctly.

I am not including any of the letters I wrote or the endless social media communications. I’m only counting writing where writing is the goal and intent. And that is still a lot of words.

In the end, I know it’s not really about the numbers, at least it’s not that way for me. And I am not posting these numbers to brag, but to show how much writing we do without thinking. What I love about this annual event is that it allows me to focus on writing. It allows me to be aware of writing and how much writing I am doing and if I’m writing at all.

There are eight more days in the month. The home stretch. The final sprint. There is Thanksgiving and Black Friday and the crazy holiday season still left on the list of topics to push your writing.

And while I’m not writing a novel, I am still rooting for all those who are.

And while I have a lot of writing ahead of me this week, the importance of free writing or creative writing is just as important as academic writing. I see academic writing as a way to practice structure and prefect content that is to the point whereas creative writing pushes the limits of your imagination and storytelling.

I hope to accomplish both.

So, with eight days left of this wonderful event, best of luck to my fellow participants! Cheers to writing!


Top 5: Rain

It’s been raining all day today.mthe first in the season that it’s rained all day. And it wasn’t heavy rain, more of a constant drizzle. I had to use an umbrella to walk to my lunch spot and my shoes got soaked. I love it!

I love rain. I always get excited when it comes. People think I’m weird because I live in a state where people travel to get sand and sun, but not me.

Top Five reasons to love rain:

  1. You get to use an umbrella! – Seriously though, when do you get the chance to use an umbrella? When it rains, you get to break out that umbrella you’ve been dying to use since you got it on sale at the start of summer.
  2. You get to use your rain boots! – These pair of shoes just sits in the closet for most of the year, but when it rains? There where they need to be. They won’t start a fashion trend, like, ever, but they’re so much fun to wear. And …
  3. You get to jump in puddles! – And you don’t have to be obvious about because you really don’t want to act like you’re five but with rain, you can do it quietly and smile at your inner child.
  4. You get cold! – I don’t like to be hot. Especially in Hawaii because the humidity just isn’t fun. You not only sweat, but you get sticky. And … well, I don’t like being hot. With rain? You get cold. You can get all cozy by wrapping yourself up in a nice sweater or under those brand new quilts. I love being cold. It’s harder to cool yourself off when you’re hot versus making yourself warm.
  5. And my last reason to love rain? It’s so soothing. There’s something calming about rain. The sound rain makes is so rhythmic that it’s ambient noise to put you to sleep. The idea of Mother Nature making the air clean is always a refreshing, and welcoming thought.

Blogging 2.0: A Look Back

So, being that this is NaBloPoMo and all, and being that I’m back to writing, and being that I’ve posted daily, it’s hard not to think about what’s been done since I started blogging. Thinking about how I started, I decided to share how I started blogging.

I think it was back in 2009 when I said, “Hey, I like writing. Maybe I should blog.” Of course, as with most bloggers and writers go, it’s probably not as simple as that–or maybe it is and if it was that way for you, awesome. For me it was sort of that way, but there’s a good chance I mentioned this before. I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and write for public viewing. I mean, everyone was doing it write, I mean right? So, one more blog won’t hurt, right?

And even if no one read what I wrote, I was blogging main for me. To prove to myself that even though I’m posting to the internet, things will be ok. My biggest fear in posting online was that I’d get some pretty nasty feedback. That’s what stopped me from becoming a writer as a career. I mean, what if someone hated what I wrote and wasn’t afraid to let me know it? Could I handle it? Would I keep writing after that?

So, I jumped of the cliff (metaphorically speaking of course, in case that needed to be defined) and launched my first blog as In My Opinion in June ’09. It sucked. Hard. I did get some views, but it was mainly postings of articles I’d read and I’d offer my thoughts and comments on it. I thought I was pretty clever, giving “my opinion.” It was a bold step since I’m one to hide from conflict and the articles I’d repost were on pretty much anything. And nothing earth shattering happened. No one completely hated what I wrote so I didn’t get hate mail, or laughed off the internet. In fact, I didn’t get anything at all. And I realized, even though I like reading all kinds of things, maybe reposting articles on computers, or cybersecurity, or government ideas weren’t as appealing to, say, anyone else. Of course, I didn’t know of SEOs or anything like that so it was just, “here I am world” and then sit back and see what happens.

Needless to say that fizzled out in about four months. Running parallel to that blog, I decided to start one that talked about my life. I called that … well, I forget. As you can tell, that one didn’t work either. And after that I started to lose a little steam. It’s one thing to want to write and a whole other thing to actually write something that people read and if the point of me writing to get over my fear of public writing then people reading blog was an important part of accomplishing that goal.

The year 2012 was a turning point of sorts. I decided to get serious. The fall of that year I decided to go back to school and my writing class gave me a little boost. So on September 24, 2012, I jumped off that same cliff and 411 Junkie was born and in the Spring of 2013, I really started to get serious. I put together a game plan on what I wanted to write about and things I wanted to post.

Three years later, I’m still writing because I renewed my love of writing. I have 168 followers, although that includes Twitter followers, which is a whole lot more than when I started in 2009. I’ve had about 800 views and 15 comments and none of them hate mail.

It’s taken a few attempts, but for anyone who is just starting out or who’s thinking about it, the best advice I can give is to just do it. Just write. Write and post. Write and post about things you really love, or don’t. But the key thing is to get started. There is a gap between my second attempt at blogging and 411 Junkie. It wasn’t because I was off doing profound things. I spent most of the time thinking what I wanted to blog and trying to plan what I wanted to blog about. Looking back, it hindered me. One day, it dawned on me. Just do it!

The key thing to accomplishing your goals is to get started, take action. Put one foot in front of another (again, metaphorically speaking in this case). You never know what’s going to happen if you just stand still. So, jump off that cliff and take that leap of faith. I’m happy with my results. I got over my fear of public writing. While the fear of having hateful feedback will always be in the corner of my mind, I see now it’s a three on my “fear scale.” I’ll recover quickly because people have commented on my posts. They’ve liked my posts. They’ve reshared my posts. I’ve met fellow bloggers and made friends through this blog. So, while there is a chance of negative feedback, there’s an even greater chance of connecting with others and that’s what matters.

So this is my where I land on my feet, look back at the cliff, and say “Let’s do that again!”

A few words on music … and the theatre

I love all things entertainment. Anything that helps people pass the time and helps them to enjoy themselves. This includes things like books, television, movies, theatre, and music. Yes, music.

Growing up, music was a huge part of my life. Both of my parents would play their favorite tunes whenever we were in the car. They would also pop our children tapes so my brothers and I could sing “we all live in a yellow submarine” or every child’s favorite “John Jacob Jingle Himer Smith.” You know the ones I mean. Not only did my parents play their favorite songs, they sang them as well, which encouraged us kids to sing as well. Whether we were good at singing was another matter, but we were taught to enjoy the music. And my father would play his guitar and sing some of the local songs.

So, music was a huge part of my life.

But you haven’t written much about music! Or theatre for that matter.

The trouble I’m having with reviewing music is I don’t really know how to comment on music. With books and film, you can comment on plot lines and/or acting and graphics. With music, I suppose you could break down whether the notes are conjunct or disjunct. I also suppose you could mention the mood or how it makes you feel. I’m not one to really enjoy lyrics, but I suppose I could make an effort to see whether or not a song makes lyrical sense. One of my favorite things about paying attention to lyrics, is they tell a story. It’s whether or not I can make sense of that story. Often times I find myself looking up the lyrics to a song to see if I can figure out what the artist is talking about and then I explore different perspectives those lyrics could talk about, like maybe they’re not taking about loosing their spouse, but maybe a child.

Another challenge I have about reviewing music and/or songs, is that I feel inadequate since it’s been a while since I’ve played in the school band. Yeppers. You’re looking (well, reading, but you know what I mean) at the 1st chair of the Flute section. Don’t you laugh! (general populace who may be laughing) Flutes may not be as cool as the saxophone or drums, but they have merit! But, I have to admit, my first choice was the clarinet. In middle school, I’m pretty sure my classmates didn’t think about their future with instruments, but there was a whole slew of classmates who wanted to play the clarinet. We had over ten, I want to say about fifteen, clarinet players. I don’t know their reasons for choosing the clarinet, but I knew mine. I wanted to learn it for their flexibility across different genres of music. Don’t ask me how I knew that at the age of thirteen. I probably looked it up or something. But the clarinet appealed to me because even though this would be for a school band, clarinets could also be played in jazz music. And I though jazz was the coolest thing as a thirteen year old. My reason was, saxophones were too big for me and too popular. I didn’t really want to play the trumpet or the trombone. So, as far as jazz went, clarinets were it.

But my band teacher convinced me to switch to the flute, if only because the sheer numbers of clarinet players she had and that the flute section had only two players. So, for the sake of music diversity for the middle school band, off I went to join the two flute players.

We didn’t have an orchestra, so strings were out and therefore the piano or the violin. If we did have strings, I would have jumped on the violin bandwagon. That instrument has always fascinated me. And while I always thought I loved the piano, my mom said I was never interested in piano lessons. She wanted to sign me up, but I told her no. What was I thinking?! Anyway.

So, music is hard for me to write about … (of course I say this 600 words later) but I suppose I should give it another shot. After all, I did write these posts about it:

Music 411: Another form of entertainment

Music 411: Weekly Top 10

Music 411: 04/21/14 – Weekly Top 10

Music 411: Weekly Top 10 Playlist, 04/28/14

Music 411: Beyond by William Joseph

Perhaps I should get back on that bandwagon.

And about theatre, I may have mentioned it before but there isn’t much theatre where I live. There are plays and such, but I’m not critiquing children. The Hawaiian Children’s Theatre is the one who usually puts out the plays we do get to see here and well, they always do a good job. But, perhaps I can find some things to do regarding theatre.

We shall see. I have to perfect what I have before I can think of other stuff to add, but it’s in the works.