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Posts tagged ‘technology’

Back to Basics

Earlier this week I tried an app called Zombies, Run!  Don’t ask how I found it.  It certainly didn’t involve neatly typing in zombies + running, but instead a meandering journey into the black hole we call the Internet (Yahoo! Mail –> click on newsletter –> view recipe for how to make your own power bars –> click on link at the end of the homemade power bar article –> find some random list of “cool fitness apps” –> get curious about zombies).  Lured by the promise, “Get Fit.  Escape Zombies.  Be a Hero,” before I knew it, I had spent $3.99 in the app store to install Zombies, Run! on my phone. Read more

Calm Amidst the Storm

photo by: david goehring (via flickr creative commons)

photo by: david goehring (via flickr creative commons)

I came across a compilation yesterday called “The Pace of Modern Life.”  It includes excerpts from articles published between 1871-1915 lamenting feelings of continual acceleration, fears about the deterioration of play, and concerns about the dying art of conversation/long-form thought.  Sound familiar?

Swap “tweet” for “letter” in a few of these excerpts and they could have been written today.  We’re fretting about our 240-character “essays” and steady stream of photos in the same way people 100 years ago worried that the efficiency of the post was reducing the value of a thoughtful letter.  This raises the question — is this a technology issue, or simply one of the complicated realities of the human condition?  Is it about a universal truth that human beings struggle to slow down when the world around us seems to be speeding up?

There’s a lot of talk about slowing down these days (at least in the bubble we call Silicon Valley), and there are lots of questions about whether we’re heading down a road where people think in snapshots, not paragraphs and our memories live in the cloud, not in our hearts.  My answer: we need to look at our own lives, our own routines, our own values, and our own priorities in order to find the balance between the gifts technology gives us and the real-life reflection and connection we need as humans.  Each of our needs…and each of our answers will be different.  But I’d bet that slowing down might actually help most of us speed up in the grand scheme of things.

Here are a few simple ways I’m trying to find this harmony (TRYING is the operative word here):

  • Unplugged mornings (running/writing/reading in the mornings instead of typing)
  • Email “blocks” (checking email at set intervals versus constantly)
  • Walking meetings (no urge to check email/phone during the meeting if it’s not available)
  • Tech-free dates (leaving my phone in the car when I’m out with my husband)
  • “Day in review” talks with the kids (lie in bed with the kids at night at talk about their days)

What about you?  Is it hard for you to slow down amidst a fast world outside?  What helps you slow down during the day or week?

Weekend Reflection: Five Things That Stuck Out


Life is full of transitions — big ones like getting married or having a child or starting a new job, and small ones like watching day turn into night and shifting from weekend to work week.  These transitions are a great time to reflect — even if just for a few minutes — on what’s going well and what’s not.  They’re a good time to check in about whether we’re rested or tired…energized or ambivalent…taking care of ourselves or not…and prioritizing the things that matter most.  I consciously thought about these things for a few minutes as I drove to work this morning, taking stock of how the weekend went and what intentions I want to set for the week ahead.  Here are some reminders I’m holding onto as the work week begins…


Little Eyes Are Watching: Our 2-yr-old daughter was busily working on her own in the kitchen yesterday.  I assumed she was “cooking” something in her play kitchen until she told me it was time to begin “spin class.”  She told me she had water and pistachios ready in case we got hungry and thirsty, and she was ready to turn up the music and SPIN (note: she has never been to a spin class…she’s only heard me saying that I’m going to one…so her version of spin class was literally SPINNING, until I was sick and dizzy and ready to fall down).  The point here is: as parents and as people…we don’t always realize how our behavior is impacting the people around us.  If I had spent the weekend watching TV, my daughter likely would have organized a Downton Abbey marathon…not a spin class.  Health begets health….something I posted about a few weeks ago in Cheering Us On.


Deliciousness Can Be Easy: My mother-in-law was visiting this weekend, and she’s a great cook.  What I love about her cooking sensibility is that she focuses on simplicity, and she proves that great cooking doesn’t need to be complicated.  She made a beautifully seared prime rib, roasted potatoes and spinach and mango salad with seemingly minimal effort.  No recipes required.  I covered this idea of simple meals in an earlier post — 3-Ingredient Meals — and I love seeing it in practice.  It’s a great reminder that time need not be a barrier to healthy + yummy cooking.


Technology is Complicated: If you missed it, this New York Times essay, “How Not to be Alone” is thought-provoking as we think about the role technology plays in our lives and how it can shape our behavior.  Here’s a teaser that might make you want to take five minutes to read this: “I worry that the closer the world gets to our fingertips, the further it gets from our hearts.”  If you’re interested in the conversation about technology and well-being, here’s an earlier post about the power of unplugging.


Make New Friends, but Keep the Old: We spent time with three different out of town guests over the weekend (mother-in-law, old friend from Wisconsin, and old friend from Calgary), and I was reminded how important it is to invest in lifelong relationships.  I know it’s cheesy, but I’ve always loved the piece about friends in that famous Baz Luhrmann “Sunscreen” poem/song: “Understand that friends come and go,but for the precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young.”  Both new and old friends add huge value to our lives…and seeing old ones face-to-face is an important reminder that we need both.


The Power of Focus: I don’t have any weekend revelations about purpose to share — after all, it was just a weekend!  But I did do a bit of thinking about focus.  We went to a park Saturday that’s famous for kite-flying, and I loved getting lost in the moment while watching the colorful kits swirling in the air (similar to the Hockey Moments I covered a while ago).  Our lives have the potential to be totally absorbed by distraction, making focus elusive.  Jonathan Safran Foer quotes Simone Weil in the loneliness essay I mentioned above: “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.”  This is so true…generosity to others…and to ourselves.  This leads to my intention for this week…FOCUS.  Less email, more making stuff.  Less breadth, more depth.  Less interruption, more impact.


What’s your intention for the week?  And does it stem from something you did, read, heard, or realized this weekend?


camping beach

This weekend’s camping trip confirmed my love/hate relationship with camping.

LOVE: sleeping close to the ground, waking up to chirping birds, feeling self-sufficient, making campfires, eating trail mix, relaxing in the late afternoon sunshine, experiencing the independence it brings out in my kids, being around fantastic, like-minded people, having easy access to amazing natural beauty (in this weekend’s case, the beach), wearing bright colors, UNPLUGGING

HATE: eating out of a cooler, finding dirt in my sleeping bag, finding dirt in my pockets, finding dirt in my food, finding dirt behind my ears, shivering in the morning, using communal toilets, seeing one too many raccoons, dealing with SO MUCH GEAR (although Sean deals with it, so this shouldn’t really be on this list)

Thankfully — both because Sean has a love/love relationship with camping and because it’s Earth Day today — the LOVE list is longer than the HATE list.  Yes, we will indeed camp again, and I can now refer to this list whenever I’m feeling cranky about the cold and the dirt.  And while all of the things on the LOVE list are important to me, the one that’s extra special because it’s hardest for me to achieve in my normal (electricity + running water filled) life is the ability to unplug.

I didn’t open my computer (and minimally used my phone) from noon Friday until this morning, and it felt purifying and empowering.  I know this is a ridiculous thing to be so proud of — 2.5 days sans computer — but the reality is, it rarely happens.  And even in a short time, it’s amazing how connected I felt to my family and how much I didn’t even miss my steady information diet.

I did a bit of research about unplugged weekends this morning, and found out there is actually a National Day of Unplugging.  I’m sure I was surfing some random website during this year’s celebration, but I’m marking my calendar for next year’s shebang, March 7-8, 2014.  I also found a good article published on making a pretty good case for unplugging.  It’s no surprise, but here are five reasons to steer clear of screens.  They…

  • Limit Ability to Pay Attention: Called “popcorn brain,” chronic Internet users often report having a tougher time focusing and tuning out irrelevant material
  • Increase Stress: This is more for heavy social media users suffering from the evil comparison that social media usage can provoke  
  • Disrupt Sleep: Screens actually emit a blue wavelength of light that tricks the brain into thinking it’s time to be alert…yet 95% of Americans report using some sort of screen in the hour before bed
  • Stunt Creativity: Screen-free time in nature has been shown to boost creativity though.  All the most reason to turn off the screen get outside!
  • Hurt: Yes, sitting is killing us slowly

I opened my trusty MacBook Pro this morning feeling bright-eyed and clear-headed, not anxious or already behind.  Pretty good ROI for just 2.5 days off.  Now the challenge is to make this happen whether I’m sleeping in the wilderness on the weekends or not!

How do you unplug?  Do you notice real emotional and physical changes when you get away from your screens and out into nature?   

Five Cool Health + Fitness Start-Ups

Greatist released its round-up of The Top 50 Most Innovative Health & Fitness Start-Ups last week, and lots of the usual suspects made the list (including Runkeeper, Strava (the fitness tracker I use), LoseIt!, Gympact, and Basis (waiting for this watch to get back in stock to snap one up).  It’s worth looking at the whole list, but if you’re short on time (or long on my opinion), here are five cool ones to keep an eye on!


charitymilesCharity Miles: Charity Miles makes everyone a sponsored athlete!  Through the app you can automatically donate every run, walk or bike ride to charity (you can choose one of their partner charities).  Charity miles donates $0.25 for every mile walked/run and $0.10 for every mile biked.  (Thanks also to Jeff Miller for letting me know about this app!)


natureboxNature Box: Founded to “help people eat healthier and live better” Nature Box delivers a box full of healthy snacks to your doorstop once a month for $19.95.  The items in every box are carefully selected by their team and approved by a nutritionist.  And, for every box sold, Nature Box donates one meal to help hungry children.  The February box included blueberry baked goods, dark cocoa almonds, vanilla macaroon granola, honeycomb sunflower kernels, and trail mix.  If you’re a snacker, this might be a good way to mix up your diet while keeping it whole and healthy!


Logo_Well_Good_NYCWell + Good: I was happy to see this blog on the list, and it’s one of my daily reads and a great inspiration to me.  The content is NYC centric (and geared to women), but fresh and snappy and cutting-edge.  They have a feature I love where they survey an exercise/diet/health guru’s fridge, including photos.  Worth checking out (in addition to Wellfesto, of course)!


fitistFitIST: Piggybacking on the boutique fitness trend, FITist allows users to book an take classes from a wide range of studios and gyms, simplifying sign-ups and saving cash.  It looks like it’s only in LA and NYC right now, but I’m sure it will expand (assuming they have relationships with enough boutique gyms).  I’ve been wondering when someone would build this!




love letters

More Love Letters: If you read this blog even semi-regularly, you know I love letters…and particularly love letters.  So it’ll come as no surprise that I LOVE LOVE LOVE the spirit of this site.  They write and mail handwritten love letters to strangers in need all over the world.  You can write love letters to add to the mix and request one for someone who needs one.  According to their site, at the core…”It’s not about stamps.  Not about stationary.  It’s. About.  Your.  Neighbor.”  Total awesomeness.  I just signed up to write a few love letters.

Have you discovered any new sites, apps, or products recently that you think are amazing?  Please share!


Earbud Face-off: Lady Gaga versus Ira Glass

photo (2)

The sea of options we have to motivate, inspire, and distract us during our workouts is incredible – music, podcasts, and books are all available and easy to take anywhere.  Even with such abundant options, until a few years ago, I always defaulted to music – the light, poppy, top-40 stuff for my high-intensity workouts, and more melancholy sounds for trail running, yoga, and long rides (my needs were so basic that even my old Sony Walkman may have even sufficed).  I wasn’t open to other kinds of media, in short, because I was concerned that my brain and body wouldn’t simultaneously function well enough to digest anything beyond music. Read more

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