I am definitely someone who embraces technology. While I am not a tech wiz, I have a healthy appreciation for every advance that allows me to do something more quickly and easily. It should come as no surprise that I quickly embraced technical approaches to communication and was an early adopter to email and texting. The faster and more easily I could communicate without actually having to even speak to someone, the happier I was. I long ago stopped buying stamps and gave up the illusions that I would ever send correspondence through the postal service. In fact, once I became capable of paying bills electronically, I really had little use for the mail system except, perhaps, for having packages shipped to me when I shopped online.

As part of my volunteer activities, I serve as Chair of the Board of Managers for the YMCA in my community. About six months ago, our Y hired a new Executive Director who I would have to work very closely with. She and I spent a good deal of time last fall getting to know each other’s styles and developing an understanding of the best ways to work in alignment. She likes to pick up the phone, I typically send emails. She does not receive emails on her phone but will happily send texts. We fell into a rhythm that works for us. Admittedly, given the volume of emails I get everyday between my personal and work accounts (since that is my preferred source of communication), it can be difficult for me to get back to people in a timely manner. She and I were discussing this challenge in order to look for alternate strategies to ensure that we would be able to take care of important matters as they arose. Jokingly, she suggested that I might try a new approach to correspondence – sending things through snail mail. This actually led to a very interesting discussion about the merits of a handwritten note.

We have moved so far away from the personal touch of sending someone a note in your own handwriting – an exercise that requires you to make the effort to get a stamp and deliver it to a mailbox. We evolved from sending birthday cards in the mail, to e-cards via email to a witty and quick message on Facebook to acknowledge those we care about. While Facebook offers an opportunity to reach many people who you would otherwise never be able to send a greeting to, for those nearest and dearest to us, it becomes a bit impersonal to simply send an electronic greeting. And, I say this being the worst offender. I realized several years ago that I had abandoned the effort of mailing out birthday cards with heartfelt notes. In fact, my husband and I had even gotten to the point that we didn’t bother giving each other cards on Valentine’s Day, birthdays or our anniversary so as not to waste the money and gather more trash. It began to disappoint me because I really believed that I was much more sentimental than that and, in truth, once upon a time I saved every letter and card he or anyone else important ever gave me. What had happened to that romantic? How had I completely moved away from a practice I actually enjoyed?

When I was talking to our Executive Director about this last fall, she told me of her commitment to continue to send out handwritten notes and it inspired me. I balked at the time but it began to really resonate with me as I recognized that there is something so valuable about that personal touch. There is nothing that can replace the words that stream from you when you hold a pen in your hand after you have purchased a meaningful card with a sentiment that captures how you are feeling at that very moment. No email, text, Facebook message, emoticon, tweet or any other electronic form of communication could accurately replace that gesture. I decided that, going forward, I would be more conscious, more deliberate, more intentional, more sentimental, more romantic, more connected to those around me and make an effort to produce those notes to ensure that the passion in my words were not lost through a drab electronic greeting.

I’m still very much a work in progress here because I have to always try to remember to make that effort. It does not come naturally to me. However, now I think about it much more and imagine the reaction of the person who finds that envelope in their mailbox and all the emotions that go along with the words written inside. I suppose that I disconnected emotionally from the process and, as my journey continues, this becomes another part of my evolution.

So go out and send someone you love a note to tell them how much you love them. They will appreciate it. I know I would.


Yesterday I was reading the blog of a friend who committed herself to going one full year without buying any new clothes or cosmetics. She had proudly lost a significant amount of weight after baby #2 and reclaimed many of her old favorites that had long gone out of rotation and decided now was a moment that she could revisit her closet and shop there rather than going out and wasting money on discounted designer items that she really didn’t love all that much.

I was intrigued. I love the idea of giving myself a challenge. Right now, of course, I am working on this great weight loss challenge but I have been at it for a while and it is becoming sort of a way of life (yay for me!) so it no longer takes up that much of my mental bandwidth. Without a doubt, changing behaviors takes a significant amount of dedication. I have always subscribed to the thinking, based on conventional wisdom, that it takes 6 weeks to make or break a habit. So, my friend’s commitment of committing to a year means she will have broken it (and likely acquired some new bad habits along the way) and can move on. Given that I am on the weight loss journey, giving up shopping for a year is not really an option for me unless I am prepared to walk around with my pants falling off my butt. I keep telling my son he can’t wear his pants that way so I am not sure I would be setting a good example there. Plus, there are rewards that comes from working hard to lose this weight and one major one is the ability to buy smaller and more flattering clothes to show off my efforts. I am not prepared to give that up (although my wallet might be).

I was walking through Target today, armed with a shopping cart full of items that I did not need as I approached the bedding aisle and contemplated some nice soft, inexpensive jersey sheets. I thought twice about it, thinking about part of my friend’s rationale for her decision not to consume for the year. You wallet will become fatter if you stop unconsciously making purchases of items that you simply do not need. This made me edit my cart substantially. Did I need to buy yet another case for my son’s Nintendo DS cartridges? He has asked for a travel case for the device which holds cartridges but it is out of stock. It can wait. Did I need to buy a lighted make-up mirror? Mine did break recently but I have been functioning just fine without it. The light in the bathroom is adequate and, last time I checked, I am not planning on being on a red carpet or a magazine cover anytime soon so I think I can survive. I dumped out a few other unnecessary items like the umpteenth kitchen gadget that will sit in the drawer after the first time I use it because I really don’t need it but it looked so cool in the store. I wanted to lighten my load. Good for me.

On the drive home, as I was recklessly texting as I drove (using Siri but definitely taking my eyes off the road – no kids in the car so extra points for me!), I started thinking about what else I might be able to give up to improve the quality of my life. I looked down at my iPhone and my new friend Siri (who, by the way, uses no punctuation so it always seems like I am monotone or typing run-on sentences, which is a bit of an issue for me, developers at Apple – I hope you are paying attention), I realized that at this point in time, my biggest addiction lately is to my electronic devices. Last night, we had some friends over and one of them pulled out his antiquated phone which made me laugh because I did not think you could even still make a call from those things. I kept probing him to find out how he functions without the ability to check email, Facebook, or search google for some random, useless bit of information. He looked at me like I was crazy and responded by asking why anyone would need to do that. Good question buddy. Why would we? Not sure but I know that I do. The other day, I was in a client meeting for about 4 hours and I nearly started shaking and vomiting because I was not able to look at my phone or iPad during all that time. To add insult to injury, I had to travel via subway to meet with this client and was disconnected for nearly 20 minutes – each way! I thought the world was going to come to an end. Clearly, I have a problem. Then, I found yet another blog this afternoon by a woman who told about her period of disconnecting from the world over the holiday last week. Perhaps there was a message coming my way?

So, now I am pondering. Is it possible for me to exist in a world where I do not play Words with Friends throughout the day? Can I survive without posting links to my Facebook and Twitter accounts about some of the fascinating stories I come across during the day (and can I give up reading them too)? Would I be ok just listening to music on my radio or CD player rather than exploring my friends’ playlists on Spotify? It scares me. I feel like I am tethered to the world via my technology and I fear being trapped somewhere with nothing to do, nothing to read, no game to play, no updates to check, no mail to read or write. So, I am still pondering. I am not sure I am at a place where I can begin my rehabilitation from technology and I’m not even sure I want to but I want to consider it. Sometimes all this social media and electronic entertainment is a bit overwhelming. It takes me away from things I love doing like reading (on a kindle, of course) or playing a game with my kids or making jewelry or watching a good movie on TV (when was the last time I simply watched a movie without another device in my hand?) And, God knows, I’d be setting a far better example for my kids who seem to be genetically inclined to the same electronic proclivities.

I will continue to think about this and, perhaps search for support groups to help me with my challenge. Of course, how will we support each other without Facebook, email, twitter and texting? Maybe we will call each other on our home phones or simply meet and have coffee. Crazy, just crazy! In the meantime, I’ve got to go post this blog on Facebook!