heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 6 of 7: The rise of the smartphone zombies

(Image via Flickr.com)
“Casting a curious gaze down on planet Earth, extra-terrestrial beings could well be forgiven for assuming that we humans are programmed in every move we make, by a palm-sized, oblong, slab of glass.
More perplexing than that, who on earth could convince them otherwise?”
– Alex Morritt, Impromptu Scribe

This picture says it all, really.

We’ve become addicted to our phones and tablets. We walk around, with our eyes glued to our smartphones, rather than enjoying our surroundings. At restaurants, our eyes involuntarily stray to our phones – multiple times – while in the company of friends and loved ones.  Even more alarming, some of us do this while driving.

It’s dangerous.

It’s anti-social.

And, in my opinion, it’s ridiculous. We look like smartphone zombies.

So, what’s the solution? Granted, we do need our phones to communicate. But just like most good parents should limit the amount of TV and video games that their children should engage in, so should we adults minimize our unhealthy obsession with our smartphones.

I know this may sound old-fashioned, but how about leaving our phones in our pockets or purses while enjoying dinner. Communicate – face-to-face – with those around you. Studies have shown that excessive use of these mobile devices may cause psychological damage as it relates to the development of interpersonal relationships. Humans are, by nature, social animals. This type of behavior is counter-intuitive.

If we keep it up, it will not end well for us. The negatives outweigh the positives (including the convenience).

A 2017 study from Cambridge Mobile Telematics (CMT) found that in 52%  of all car accidents, drivers had been on their phones – 29% were driving over 56 miles per hour. According to the study, the most common driving distractions are texting, browsing social media and email – each averaging approximately 135 seconds in duration. These are real statistics. It’s NOT fake news!

Will it have to take some type of epic catastrophe or tragedy to make us stop? I hope not.

I entreat all smartphone zombies: please, please limit your cell phone use! You’ll have a better quality of life. More importantly, you’ll live long enough to enjoy it.

(Image via Wikimedia Commons)

 

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heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation #5 of 7: Do it yourself

(Image via Freestockphotos.biz)
“Having someone do certain things for you is like getting someone to chew your food for you.
It might be easier to swallow but it loses all its flavor…
And you want the flavor!”
Ze Frank, American online performance artist, composer, humorist and public speaker

The concept of outsourcing has, in my opinion, reached new and ridiculous levels.

Portable car washing services. Portable dog bathing and grooming services. Gardeners. Housekeepers. Pool services. Handymen. Personal shoppers. And on and on.

Are we no longer capable of doing things ourselves? We seem to be a disposable society – very quick to throw away money on unnecessary expenses. Imagine how much money we would bank, if we took a few hours to take matters into our own hands.

Tell me something: whatever happened to washing our own car on a sunny Saturday morning or afternoon, with our favorite music blaring in the background?
And does it truly take that long to rake our leaves or mow our lawn? Really?

Do we really need the dog cleaning mobile to drive up to our home to bathe and groom our pup? It will take us half an hour – tops –to do it ourselves. And we’ll share some bonding time with our pooch.

Are we really that busy that we can’t take care of our own homes and basic chores?
Have we become too self-important for our own good?

Granted, I’m old school. Very old school. As a child, I was brought up to clean my own room and help with the house chores.
Today, I still do everything myself. Along with my husband. Whatever we can do ourselves, we do. Whatever we can fix ourselves, we fix. Neighbors often shake their heads when they see me doing yard work, painting my house or pressure washing my driveway. They look up in shock when they see my husband straddling the rooftop with his chainsaw – trimming overgrown tree branches.

I’m very busy. My husband is very busy. We both value our time. Yet, we still do everything ourselves. It’s invigorating. It’s gratifying.
A little manual work is good for the soul.

Maybe we, as a society, should stop spending so much time on our smartphones, exercising our texting thumbs and, instead, start doing some of our own work around the home. It’s good for us. And, it’s actually a lot of fun.

Just sayin’….


(Image via Flickr.com)
“If you want a thing done well, do it yourself.”
Napoleon Bonaparte

heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 4 of 7: Celebrate life… every damn moment of it!

(Image via Pixabay.com)
“Serenity is the balance between good and bad, life and death, horrors and pleasures. Life is, as it were, defined by death. If there wasn’t death of things, then there wouldn’t be any life to celebrate.”
Norman Davies, British-Polish historian

Here today, gone tomorrow. I’m in the throes of an existential crisis at the moment… thinking about how fleeting and finite life truly is.  There are many questions (about life and death) that none of us can really answer – questions like, “Is there life after death” or “Is this all there is, and then there’s nothing?” I have these “crises” every now and then… and when they happen, I always reach the same conclusion: celebrate life… every damn moment of it. Don’t worry about the alternative.

It’s a great coping mechanism. For example, for decades, my husband and I have enjoyed candlelight dinners every single night – complete with music (usually jazz or blues). And we still do. Also, I take the time to dance – even when I’m alone in the house (although my cats find it quite disconcerting). I plant trees and flowers in my yard… it’s wonderful to see things grow and flourish. There are so many ways and reasons to celebrate life.

The rest will happen… at one time or another. No need to preempt it. Just seize the moment and savor it.

“Make the most of yourself for that is all there is of you.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson, American poet, essayist and journalist

 

heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 3 of 7: Remove “hate” from the vocabulary

(Image via Pixabay.com)
“Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.”
Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

I’ll keep this one brief. Not too long ago, I was speaking with a neighbor. We were discussing a number of things and I realized I used the word “hate” and “loathe” at least three or four times in the conversation. Phrases such as “I hate crowds” or “I loathe commercialism during the Christmas season”… these words flow from my tongue easily. Yet when I play back these conversations in my mind, I am distressed at how negative they sound. By nature, I am not a negative person. Yet my vocabulary says otherwise. I intend to remove the word “hate” (and any of its synonyms) from my day-to-day vocabulary (and mindset).

“Hate” is an awfully strong emotion. And, in the world of social media networking, haters are coming out of the virtual woodwork. It’s disturbing. It’s sad. There are many angry people out there. They need to chill out. We all do.

(Image via Pixabay.com)

Farewell 2017 and Hello 2018!

“We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives…not looking for flaws, but for potential.”
Ellen Goodman, American Journalist

Like any other year, 2017 had its share of peaks and valleys. Personally, I will not be sorry to see 2017 go. And I am approaching the next twelve months with cautious optimism. I am very curious to see how it all pans out. 

“Each day hands me a clean sheet of paper upon which to write. Therefore, I would be wise to write without ever having the need to erase.”
Craig D. Lounsbrough

Many blessings for 2018 and may tonight’s New Year’s Eve celebration be filled with laughter, good food, plenty of bubbly libation, and the company of those you hold dear!

And, as always, a very special shout-out to my family and friends across the globe.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the first of my annual seven New Year’s Revelations (not to be confused with resolutions.. I stopped making resolutions decades ago!). 

And a new chapter begins ….

Cheers!

heatherfromthegrove

The best prayer is Thank You

bird weather

“‘Thank you‘ is the best prayer that anyone could say.  I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.”
~ Alice Walker 

As we begin the week of  Thanksgiving in America, it is important to remember, respect and show compassion to all those who do not have the luxury of a warm meal, a place they call home, or the safety net of a regular income stream. It’s a time to remember to be grateful for the blessings that we have. In many instances, what we take for granted are often luxuries to the less fortunate. 

It’s a time to reflect and think about how you could make a difference, a dent in this insidious epidemic that is Hunger.

Check out the Humanitarian Efforts page of my blog if you are interested in learning more about how you can help fight hunger in your community. And see what wonderful work is being done by three well-respected hunger relief organizations in the United States, Canada and around the world.

Gratitude (a prerequisite for happiness)

I, for one, bow my head in thanks for the sweetness and light of my family, friends and my beloved “children” (my pets). 

Humility (not always palatable for many)

There are those who are, by nature, humble. Then there are others who have learned how to be humble. I fall into this latter category.

I guess we are all a ‘Work in Progress’ …  

Thank you for stopping by.

 

Image via landypf.blogspot.com.

The power of a book

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.”

James Baldwin

 

 

Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 7 of 7: The best is yet to come

“We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched.
Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives…not looking for flaws, but for potential.”
Ellen Goodman, American Journalist

Much to the wry amusement of my friends and family members,  “The best is yet to come”  is a mantra of encouragement that I use quite frequently. Especially since the Great Recession of 2008. I believe the saying comes from Robert Browning‘s poem which begin’s with “Grow old with me! The best is yet to be… .”

The phrase is also the title of a 1959 song  written by Carolyn Leigh and composed by Cy Coleman. Although it was originally written for singer Tony Bennett, it was Frank Sinatra who made the song famous. He recorded it in his 1964 album, It Might As Well Be Swing, accompanied by Count Basie and directed by Quincy Jones.  On the 25th of February, 1995, The Best Is Yet To Come was the last song that Sinatra sang in public and the words were immortalized on his tombstone.

I am a “glass is half full” type of person and so it is not really surprising that this is one of my favorite sayings. I truly believe that there is always something to look forward to and that every problem has a solution. We navigate our lives through a series of peaks and valleys. The valleys are made bearable because we know that, eventually, there will be peaks. And oh how glorious are those peaks! Well worth the wait and hardship. Optimism and Hope. May we all continue to have them in abundance.

2017 is going to be a simply “Mahvelous” year. I feel it in my bones. Or is that my early onset arthritis…? Just kidding.  

And please remember to:

Take the time to read (a book),
Walk the walk,
Let it go,
Feed your brain,
Get some sleep,
Be the architect of your own destiny,
and, of course,  rest assured that
The best is yet to come.

heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 6 of 7: Be the architect of your own destiny

“New Year – a new chapter, new verse, or just the same old story ?  Ultimately we write it. The choice is ours.” 
― Alex MorrittImpromptu Scribe

I will keep this post brief.  The choices we make, whether proactive or reactive, set a chain of reactions and events in motion. How we act (or don’t act) and what we say (or don’t say) will  play a pivotal role in how we engage with others and in what we hope to achieve in life. Sometimes we find excuses for our own inertia or our bad choices. We play the blame game: “It’s his/her fault that this happened, not mine.”  In some instances, this is correct. But they’re the exception, rather than the rule.

Let’s face it, there are times that bad things happen. And it’s no one’s fault. But it’s how we handle  the hard times, the tragedies and disasters that determines our forward path.  The person who deals with hardship with humility, integrity and grace is the person who will likely also use every life experience – be it good or bad – as a lesson to learn from. True wisdom is hard-earned.  

So let 2017 be the year we, each of us, write our own life story. Let’s hold ourselves accountable for our actions and our words. 

Let the first chapter begin.

“Your life will be no better than the plans you make and the action you take. You are the architect and builder of your own life, fortune, and destiny.”
– Alfred A. Montapert

heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 5 of 7: Get some sleep

“The best cure for insomnia is to get a lot of sleep.”
W. C. Fields

I think I must have been a cat in a past life.  I’m not sure whether I’m nocturnal by nature, or simply an insomniac.  One thing is for certain: I do not sleep very much.  And when I do, it’s a light sleep that is easily disturbed by sound or motion.

Most “night” people (a.k.a. insomniacs) know, in theory, that sleep is essential to good health and well-being.  In practice, however, we fool ourselves into thinking that we’re doing some of our best work late at night, when everything is silent and still.  Actually, a good night’s sleep will boost overall productivity by a much greater degree than a sleepless night will.  

5 simple reasons why sleeping through the night is a good thing:

  1. It improves your memory
  2. Boosts creativity
  3. Gives you more energy
  4. Makes you feel younger
  5. Makes you look younger
“Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night.”
William Blake

5 medically-proven reasons why prolonged bouts of not sleeping can kill you:

  1. May cause inflammation which, in turn, may result in high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, premature aging and death
  2. May cause your metabolism to slow down and your weight to increase
  3. May make you accident-prone
  4. May contribute to depression and/or mood swings
  5. May adversely affect your immune system – making you more susceptible to colds, viruses, pneumonia
“Your life is a reflection of how you sleep, and how you sleep is a reflection of your life.”
Dr. Rafael Pelayo

Did you know that approximately 40 million Americans suffer from over 70 sleep disorders? I kid you not.  

So, how much sleep do we really need? Although it depends on the person, the general credo is that 7-8 hours sleep (for adults) is ideal. The National Sleep Foundation has provided a chart showing the ideal sleep duration per age group, including the ideal time to go to sleep – see below:

sleepchart

Personally, I intend to make an effort to sleep more (and earlier).  The odds will not be in my favor, if I don’t make this critical life change.

To all the insomniacs out there: please, please get some sleep!

“And if tonight my soul may find her peace in sleep, and sink in good oblivion, and in the morning wake like a new opened flower then I have been dipped again in God, and new created.”
D.H. Lawrence