Monday, August 31, 2020

Unplug for 30 days - Digital Detox

Article, image, and YouTube video by Rain San Martin. Photo of Rain taken at Old Crown Coffee Roasters, by Sage San Martin-2020. 

Welcome to the Unplug for 30 Days - Digital Detox Challenge!

Before we get started, I'll address the most obvious hurdle you will have.  For those who use a computer or digital device in your day job, creative side business, or domestic home duties (which may include remote school, online banking, paperwork, important email)  you are still able to participate in this challenge! Simply do your essential tasks which require computing, then follow as much of this digital detox challenge as you desire. We will also look at ways to minimize time online when utilizing the internet.  Of course if you are able to completely abstain from computers over the course of the next 30 days, you will only more deeply experience the benefits of this cleanse. 

Why I unplug 4 days per week and decided to go for a full 30 days. 

Unplugging is a topic I cover regularly, as being unplugged not only aids in simplicity, it more authentically connects us to the Vintage Lifestyle.  I recall a couple of years back when it dawned on me that society is one step away from living fully inside of a computer "Matrix." It's a sight that is now viewed as normal human behavior: Walking down the street with eyes fixed on a smartphone. Many Trans-humanists believe merging with computers is the next stage of human evolution, yet is this truly living? Imagine taking a plant which is designed to receive its ideal nutrients out in the open land with fresh rain water, natural sunlight, and soil was removed and placed in an artificial environment. Would these living conditions be optimum for a plants growth? Are man-made ingredients superior to organically grown natural foods?  

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Another watershed moment for me was the realization that even as a conscientious user of technology with recreational use, I found myself using computers for every possible task. My goal was to stay ahead of the technological times, keeping my skills fresh. Grocery lists were made with digital spreadsheets, letters sent as email (though I formally mailed letters on occasion). Journals written in a digital document. Music written and composed in a DAW, Digital Audio Workstation. Art created in Photoshop. Every aspect of my "productive" work was executed on the computer when possible.  After the iPad was released, and sites such as Pinterest and Social Media were a way of life, I found myself reflecting less. Being completely taken in by the moment, rather than the practice of silent introspection. My long-term memories were beginning to fade, and my ability to concentrate on long-form reading was also impacted. This was affirmed in the book, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains

Now, rather than asking myself, How can I do this task on the laptop, iPad, or DAW? I ask, can this be done away from the screen? It should be noted that I periodically research relevant computer skills that are on the rise and make sure I stay sharp in this regard. Yet I have learned we can greatly reduce our usage while continuing to be technologically proficient. Not only this, we can be for more intelligent, reaching a greater level of potential when holistically caring for our minds and bodies. Sometimes to go forward, we must go back!

My personal challenge guidelines.

Feel free to adapt this challenge for yourself. Note: If you have a day job or are participating in remote school this is obviously essential computer use! 

I will only use the computer for essential Creative Business work, and domestic tasks on plugged-in computer work days. For me this is Mon / Wed / Fri. Occasionally more days are needed.

My Essential computer use includes:


*Creative Business Work (I Will post to my Blog site and YouTube twice during this time. Recording on a DAW up to 3 days per week. )
*Minimal online shopping as necessary.
*Key home-school assignments.
*Household domestic tasks.
*Online bills.  *Essential email.

No..

*Radio, recorded music, or podcasts.
*Social Media (Unless you must for your job).
*Web surfing.  *Ebooks. digital books. 
*Using Pinterest or internet for recipes.
*Checking news online.
*TV, video, movies.

Life-changing Habit: 

*If you have not already done so, consider switching your smartphone to a basic phone and have texting “blocked” by your phone provider! 

Alternatives:

*Use phone book when possible.
*Go to a live event (if possible..)
*Play a musical instrument.
*Write a physical letter.
*Use a cookbook.
*Write in notebook.
*Read physical magazines and books.
*Exercise outdoors or indoors in silence.
*Do housework and projects in silence, with the sounds of nature outdoors.
*Perform any tactile or creative work in the real world!!!

-May use a digital camera for photography.

The Impact of Being Unplugged

It was in 2015 that I first began to unplug one day per week. Gradually increasing it to four! Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays have been unplugged since 2018. Occasionally I have urgent desk work which requires my attention on these days, yet I remain unplugged from video, social media, music (unless a live performance) and so forth. And yes, I have a basic cell-phone with texting blocked. This lifestyle habit has always been in place. 

I am finding the 30 day digital detox to have a much larger impact. As of this writing, I have only 9 days remaining. My long-term memory is increasingly sharpening. Senses are heightened. I can clearly hear songs replay in my mind. I would consider doing this on a bi-annual or quarterly basis. Doing my essential desk work 3-4 days per week. 

A bonus goal of mine, is a news-fast. This means no newspaper or similar publication.  I do read Whatzup (things to do in Fort Wayne) and Fort Wayne Magazine, yet these are not normal news publications. Recently Whatzup informed me about the 1970s / 1980s Tribute Band, Hairball, which I recently saw perform live at the 13-24 Drive-In of Wabash, Indiana. Amazing fun! A result of abstaining from the news for this extended period of time, has been that I feel more peaceful. The world seems less impacted by the events of 2020. Yet, I am looking forward to checking in with my favorite independent news sites, blogs, and YouTube channels. I'm also happy to view the festive fall Pinterest and Instagram posts once my 30 days is complete. Yet, as be before, I will not be consuming media more than 3 days per week.   

If you haven't already you may view my video on this topic here

Will you be participating in a Digital Detox?  Best of luck!

Rain ⏳

Monday, August 17, 2020

Make Your Home Feel Like a Bed and Breakfast

Article, YouTube audio podcast, and Photos by Rain San Martin
 
I vividly remember the impact of staying at a Bed and Breakfast for the first time in 2007. Wikiup B & B, in Emigrant, Montana was a 45 min. drive from our apartment in Bozeman. With a view of the Emigrant Peak snow capped mountains. Horses roamed the country side. Yet it was the old-fashioned home of yesteryear which provided the greatest respite. Within a grove of aspen trees and cottonwoods stood the 1904 historic farmhouse.  The room in which we stayed was furnished in antiques. Though there was a television, we never turned it on. There stood a full length Victorian style mirror, dresser, and most importantly a sturdy chair in which to journal my reflections. 
 
Breakfast was the highlight of my stay. The pleasant owner prepared fresh coffee to go with the buffet style morning meal, held in the dinning room. There was a view of the vintage kitchen with hanging pots and an old-time gas stove. This was just before the area of mobile devices, so this distraction was mercifully not present.  
 
 
Wikiup Bed and Breakfast - 2007 - photos by Rain San Martin
 
When the stay was complete, I was forever changed. Why couldn't one live like this always, my husband and thought, after celebrating our 5 year wedding anniversary? A couple of years later we bought our home in NorthEast Indiana. One tiny step at a time we've worked toward transforming our 1926 home into a simply furnished Enchanted Cottage, as our style is Rustic Gothic meets Autumn Country Cottage.  Now let's look at the key ways to make your home or place "feel" like a Bed and Breakfast. Please keep in mind, you can choose any theme you wish!

Declutter to Create a Clean Slate

Spend a disciplined amount of time each week on decluttering. Time allotted will-depend on your availability. Note, if it appears you have little time, you can still make tremendous headway if intentional with time-management.  See what activities and commitments you can omit to allot more focus in this area of your life. Clear and clean spaces will make 90% of the restful impact of your Bed & Breakfast inspired abode. Clutter adds visual stress. It may remind you of unfinished projects or detract from your oasis. This is one reason why a freshly opened hotel room feels great.

Quaint Decor - Old-World Style 

Bed and Breakfasts are often characterized as being quaint. Let's take a look at the definition of quaint used in this context, "Pleasantly or strikingly old-fashioned." When looking through a Mackinac Island, Michigan travel guide we can see a couple of common themes when describing various Bed and Breakfasts. 

"Enjoy the true quaintness at Small Point Bed and Breakfast. Relax in the breeze overlooking the straits while you finish your book in a comfy chair. With a hot cup of coffee in hand, marvel at the sunrise on the wrap-around porch"-.SmallPointMackinac.com
 
"One of the oldest Victorian homes on the island built 1884 and carefully preserved by her descendants. Guest rooms individually decorated with authentic antiques creating a tranquil and romantic departure from everyday life!" -ClogHaun.com  (Clog Haun B & B, pronounced CLAW-han)
 
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You certainly don't need to buy antiques in order to create old-world charm. Today there are vast options of vintage inspired decor. For those in an apartment focus on elements you can change such as furniture, lamps, and picture frames. If you own a home, you have the liberty to customize lighting and faucet fixtures. Door and cabinet handles can be bought in antique bronze, gold, or iron. Edison light bulbs are not only long lasting, they are beautiful to look at. Opt for lower wattage lights and avoid florescent bulbs.  The most practical way to do this is to wait until an item breaks. Next, spend a bit more money on a higher quality retro-style replacement. These include fans, lamps, radios, curtains, cookware, and so forth. 

Deep Cleaning

It's difficult to fully enjoy a vacation getaway if it were dirty. This is yet another reason we may subconsciously feel more at ease when lodging at a Hotel or B & B.  Many full-time or part-time homemakers do spring cleaning all through-out the year rather than spring-time alone. Though some may follow spring cleaning lists on a rotational basis, I myself greatly prefer to focus on the areas of the home that need it most. Daily I have a set period of focused de-cluttering or deep cleaning for about  hour. This time also includes a few daily cleaning rituals. Note, my time spent tidying the kitchen and straightening the home throughout the day are in addition to this work. 

 
 
Relaxing or Romantic Bedroom
 
The bedroom should be the last room you would pick for a home office, television, or storage. This space should aid in restful sleep. It can also be a romantic environment for a husband and wife. Our bedroom has a Romantic Gothic themeA cheerful Vintage Gothic Banner hangs behind our bed with strung lights and a flowing black bohemian scarf. A mini-wall gallery features our photo adventures taken at historic Fort Wayne cemeteries in Victorian guilt frames.
 
Home Repairs / Maintenance
 
A Bed and Breakfast is more likely to stay on top of key repairs. Roofing is replaced as needed every 15-20 years. Painting retouched. Electricians are brought in to repair wiring. Bathtubs re-caulked as needed.  A plumber may need to replace your leaky faucet. If these are put-off for someday when you plan to sell your home, it is known as deferred maintenance. It's wise to do a few repairs each year so you may enjoy your living-space now. You keep costs more palatable by handling a few each year. This may reduce stress and worry. Who knows you may even be content to enjoy your home throughout your golden years! 
 
 
 
Breakfast Relaxation and Recreation: 
 
Now for the "Breakfast" part of making your home feel like a B & B. I shop in bulk, once every two weeks, keeping my pantry full. There is no wasting time spent on extra trips. If I'm out of an item, I write the request on my list.  Create a spot to enjoy a lovely morning meal.  Have physical magazines or large coffee-table books from which to peruse, as you linger over your ideal breakfast. A few meal selections to consider are: coffee, tea, fruit, eggs, toast, frittatas, yogurt parfaits, or homemade granola. One of my personal favorite dishes for breakfast are open-faced breakfast tacos with homemade salsa.
 
Now is the time to make your place feel like a Bed and Breakfast.
 
You don't have to wait for a vacation to experience a peaceful respite. Have working bikes ready for outdoor excursions. This is a common amenity offered at many locations.  Be a tourist in your own town! Most importantly, enjoy the journey of creating your ideal home retreat.
 
You may also listen to this article as an audio podcast on my YouTube channel here.

Rain 🌻

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