Surf’s Up!


I got out tonight for my first run since my race rehearsal Saturday. Oh, my joints were creaky. I cursed the whole first interval as my brain begged me to give up this sport. The saving grace was the strong, cool breeze that reminded me that the hot, steamy runs of the last few weeks may have been my last. “I imagine the waves will be up,” I thought to myself as I turned toward the beach.

Sure enough, downtown shoppers donned jackets, and there were no bikinis or beach toys to be seen. With the rain today and the cool breezes tonight, beachgoers would be enjoying dinner downtown and some souvenir shopping. I headed down to Silver Beach for my third painful interval. Grumpily, I walked when I wanted and said to hell with my pace. This was not going to be a great run.

As I walked through the parking lot at the beach, two pickup trucks careened through the parking lot. Surfboards peeked out of the truck bed. They slammed to a stop right in front of me. Young men and a few young only at heart jumped out in their wetsuits, grabbed their boards and raced onto the beach. I knew I was in St. Joe, but my eyes told me I was somewhere else. The normally calm waters of a summer Lake Michigan had changed the pace.

I read an article just the other day about surfing on the Great Lakes. Apparently, this younger generation has gotten more creative as they grew weary of waiting for a big trip to tropical beaches for surfing. They are starting to surf on the Great Lakes in the fall and winter and even on rapids in mountain streams. I have at least one friend who surfs here in the winter. I find it fascinating.

Our little sleepy Silver Beach was turned Southern California cool as the waves rose and fell to the whip of a windy cool front. People in cars stopped to watch the show, and several photographers with tripods shot from the shore. A wind surfer warmed up with his kite on the beach while another glided across the waves behind him. The sun, hidden behind the clouds, provided the perfect backlight for the unusual surfer’s paradise.

The Chatter #phonebreakup


“Get up! Let’s listen to Colbert’s monologue. I’ll bet he’s yanking on Omarosa!”

“I’m waiting an hour before I get my phone.”

“What? An hour? What about the weather? Don’t you need to know the weather?”

“The weather can wait an hour. I’m not running this morning.”

“What if something happened last night? You might have a text or a phone call or an emergency? What if somebody died? Are you crazy?”

“Well, they’ll still be dead in an hour.”

“This is ridiculous.”

“An hour’s up. Yeah… get it, get it. Let’s listen to Colbert. He’s so funny. OMG, he’s hilarious. Check Instagram. Maybe Ailie has posted some more pictures.”

“I took my social media apps off my phone.”


“I removed the apps. I’m only checking it on my computer now, and Instagram really isn’t that good on the computer.”

“Well, that’s crazy. How are you going to keep up with Laura’s pictures? And what about Jessica’s workouts? You are going to miss out on everything.”

“I’m not going to miss out on writing, nature and my life. That’s what I want to focus on. Besides, I can check social media at work. If I need to I can add Instagram back on occasion. It’s not like I’m never going to use it.”


“This is ridiculous. Are you sure you want to do this? The browser version of Facebook sucks. You can control yourself.”

“No, I can’t.”

“What about Ashok’s Facebook page? Everybody will miss her pictures. And how are you going to keep up with Alisa and Hannah and Christy? You know she’s got those cute kittens now!”

“I’ll live. Maybe I’ll actually call them or ask Christy to text me some pictures of the kittens. I like that better anyway. We are actually talking to each other.”

“Well suit yourself.”


“What are you doing?”

“I’m putting my phone in my desk drawer. What does it look like I’m doing?”

“But you are going into a meeting.”


“But what are you going to do when it gets boring?”

“I’m going to pay attention anyway.”

“What if you have to look something up?”

“Look, dumbass. I have a computer. It has Google installed on it.”

“What if somebody needs you? How will they get you?”

“This is not a work phone. If they need me, they can ping me on Hangouts on my computer or leave me a message. There is nothing going to happen in 30 minutes that can’t wait.”


“This is boring.”

“Yes, it is.”

“Don’t you wish you had your phone?”

“No. I’m trying to pay attention.”

“But this is so technical. You don’t need to know this.”

“Maybe I will. If I don’t listen, they’ll just have to repeat themselves and I’ll look like I wasn’t paying attention because I wasn’t.”

“Who cares what they think?” 

“I’m not bringing my phone into meetings – at least for the time being. Now shut up.”



“Wonder if rabbits get fleas.”


“I wonder if rabbits get fleas. Why don’t you google it?”

“I don’t care if rabbits get fleas. I’m not googling it. I’m working.”

“Yeah, but you hate spreadsheets. And this is an interesting question.”

“Yes, I hate spreadsheets, but I need to get this done so I can go home. Don’t you want to go home?”

“Yes, but I really want to know if rabbits get fleas. I wonder if it’s going to rain this weekend. Can you check the weather? What if there are aliens? Can we see if Google thinks there are aliens? That could be a real problem….”


“You are forgetting your phone.”

“I’m not taking my phone. I’m taking Ashok for a walk.”

“What??? What about pictures for your blog? The sunset might be beautiful, and you won’t have a picture of it.”

“I don’t need another picture of the sunset. I’ve been enjoying walking and just being in the moment. I can take pictures for my blog another time. I don’t need them every day.”

“Well what if something happens, or if somebody needs you? What if Susan texts you, and you don’t answer right away?”

“She’ll know I’m busy living my life. She’s doing this, too, BTW.”

“Breaking up with her phone? Why?”

“Because she wants more free time. Do you realize how much time that phone takes out of your life?”

“But it’s fun.”

“Yes, it can be fun. But it can also be a time suck. I’m just trying to use it more mindfully. Do you realize I’m sleeping better and dreaming and writing more?”

“Yes, I’ve noticed. And I feel happier I have to say. Can we Google ‘does not using your phone make you happier?’ Are you sure you don’t want to take your phone? Why don’t you track your distance on Runkeeper?”







Empowering Restraint #phonebreakup


Okay, I’m sold. All I had to do was put my phone away to charge in another room an hour before sleep, and I’m dreaming like a fool. For years, I’ve wondered why I couldn’t remember my dreams anymore. I never thought that I might not be dreaming. I still don’t know which it is, but I’m dreaming like crazy AND remembering them.

Last night, I dreamed my friend Michael lived in Hawaii. I went for a visit. He wouldn’t ever leave the kitchen, but I went exploring the island. It was different than I would have imagined – it was a dream, remember – and it was fantastical. I met a couple of interesting people who led me through this wildly beautiful landscape. I love having an active dream life. And it means I’m sleeping really, really well. The only thing I’ve changed is not using my phone or computer an hour before bed and charging it in another room.

Since I took my social media apps and the news apps off my phone, I don’t look at it. Occasionally, I go to pick it up and remember that the apps aren’t on there. I either visit the site on a browser – not nearly as addictive or convenient as the apps – or I just forget about it. In fact, I’m actually forgetting about my phone period. I left it at home the other day and didn’t even realize it until an hour later, and I forgot it in my car last night. I’m reading a book at night before sleep, and I’m into it for a change. I have a blog percolating in my mind that’s basically written. I just need to find time to write it down. This breakup thing is working.

I still show a lot of phone time because I listen to podcasts while I’m driving, and I use the GPS to track my runs. I’ll get three hours today just in tracking my 13-mile run. But it’s not active phone time. And I have cleaned up my podcast library so I’m only listening to a handful of podcasts that I love. When I’m done listening to my besties, I drive in silence or listen to the radio. No more randomly listening to stuff that doesn’t matter.

As a coincidence – maybe – I’m also budgeting. I’m tracking my spending and using some discernment about where I spend my money. I feel much more in control. Actually, I’d say I feel empowered. Ironically, the restraints I’m placing on myself make me feel like I have MORE money and MORE time. It’s an interesting paradox. I still have work to do in both areas, but I’m satisfied with my progress.

This weekend’s assignment from How to Break Up With Your Phone: Come back to real life. In other words, do something that is fun and productive in your real life, not your digital one. Hmmmm… that opens up some opportunities.

Y’all have a nice weekend! Try to ditch that phone for awhile.



The Benefits of Paying Attention


Last night I met a couple of my team members for dinner. At one point, my manager said, “Look around this restaurant at the people on their phones.” I looked around, and in the restaurant, every single table was filled with people with heads down, staring at their phones. And every one of them was sitting with at least a couple other people with heads down, looking at their phones.

As I’m becoming more aware of my phone usage, I’ve noticed a couple things. My dog doesn’t get real attention from me when I’m on my phone. She’ll look over at me on my phone, roll over and go to sleep. I’m sleeping better since I put my phone away about an hour before bed. I’ve been charging it in another room. My new app tells me I picked up my phone 36 times yesterday. 36 TIMES!! Today, I actually stashed it in my desk drawer so it wasn’t anywhere near me. I felt a little lost, but I felt present.


I’m trying to leave my phone at home whenever I can. I lock it up in my purse so I can’t easily grab it. I created a lock screen that reminds me where I want to put my attention. And last night at dinner, I left my phone in the car.  Our table actually engaged in conversation. This morning, I deleted all my social media apps and drove to work in silence. It felt liberating.

I’m in the phase of discovering how my phone makes me feel – before and after I use it. I feel anxious when it’s put up. I feel even more anxious when I go to pick it up, and it’s not there. But I haven’t gotten lost in a rabbit hole for a couple days. And still …. I picked it up 36 times yesterday.


My goal is to pay more attention to people, nature and my writing. On Monday, I took a walk with Ashok and noticed the maple leaves on a tree near the sidewalk. It made me think of fall. That made me think of Knoxville and how much I loved fall in the Smoky Mountains. I remembered my sister’s visit to the Applewood Farmhouse restaurant with her young daughter. And I thought of my favorite apple pie at Jollay Orchards in Michigan. That led me to remember my friend Autumn who lives near there. I felt happy remembering those things. My life felt full. I felt excited that fall was coming. I felt connected to friends and family. And I felt all of that because I noticed a leaf instead of a notification on my phone.

When I got home, I used that leaf as a writing prompt for Monday’s blog. Because of one second of being present, I paid attention to a leaf in nature. It led me to pay attention to the people I remember in my life, and all of that inspired my writing. Let the exploration continue. I like where this is heading.


Who Am I?


Last night’s dinner was warm at the last bite. The meat, tender and juicy was saturated in blood. I discarded the innards so that the birds could eat them, and then I laid down for a needed nap. I dreamed of birds soaring against the blue sky and became fixated on one that landed next to me. It’s song when tit-tit teet-teet in a quick chatter. I saw my reflection in its eyes and was fixated on my soul. I awoke before I had a chance to eat it or let it fly.

I licked my fur slowly and hunched behind the grass as the neighbor across the street got in a machine that took her away. I napped again and was awakened by barking. “Idiot,” I thought. “Silence and stealth are the lethan weapons.” I walked toward the sound and peered around the corner to catch a glimpse. Secured by a rope to my young neighbor, the creature was clueless that I was even close.

A rustle underneath the ground caught my attention. I could hear it move beneath the soil, pushing it aside. Little grunting noises were barely perceptible even to me. I could taste last night’s warm offering on my tongue. My teeth ached for the kill. My body surged with energy. Calmness harnessed my nerves, and I waited – until it was time to pounce.

Tonight, I’ll bring home my dinner and watch her scream.

Who am I and what’s for dinner?

The Shoulder Season


Chicago was sweltering yesterday. I kept thinking myself in January bundled up in sweaters and hats trying to keep warm as the north wind howled down the Chicago River. But still I sweated. In and out of the AC, my friend Nancy and I meandered trying to appreciate the warmth of summer but keep from frying in the sunshine. I was so excited to get on the air-conditioned commuter train only to realize that the AC couldn’t keep up with the relentless heat of hot bodies and the summer sun. I sweated all the way back to Michigan.

In Louisiana, I’d know this will be the state of things for awhile. It could be hot until Christmas and beyond. But, here in Michigan, relief is in sight. Boots and scarves are on the horizon with at least a crisp cool front or two possible in mere weeks.

I first fell in love with fall in Knoxville. The Smoky Mountains were a breath away, and the hills were ablaze with orange, red and yellow. Traffic snarls of southern heat warriors plunged the area into gridlock. But, ahhhh ….  the crisp fall air, apple pie and falling leaves stole my heart every time.

In Michigan, fall is a mixed bag. It’s beautiful, and I love the bite of the crisp, cool days. Hiking and camping are at its best as the bugs die down, and a campfire feels all the more cozy. A long run on a 55-degree day is perfection. But it’s also the signal that winter is coming. Oranges and browns give way to winter’s blacks and grays as the temperature falls. Fall is at once lovely in its own right and glorious in its comparison to what come next.

I received an Oktoberfest invite from one of my neighbors yesterday. Upcoming races don names like the Thru the Leaves Trail Run and The Great Pumpkin Race. The young woman at the fruit stand says apples will be in soon. And Labor Day – the end of summer up here – is fast approaching. The sweating will soon be over.



What a glorious day my higher power hath made! What am I grateful for?

  1. I spent the day with Nancy who traveled with me through relapse, recovery, divorce and rebirth. She’s one of those easy friends who totally gets my story and loves me through it. I am grateful for love in all kinds of packages.
  2. I ran 5 miles last nights got, 5 miles this morning, and walked 6 miles this afternoon. I’m grateful for my health, access to healthy food and my stamina. I can sleep when I die.
  3. I am grateful for a job that lets me afford little trips into Chicago.
  4. I am grateful for sobriety. It’s the only way to live.
  5. I am grateful for Ashok who is so patient and flexible with me.
  6. I am grateful for this big, beautiful body of water called Lake Michigan.
  7. I am grateful for ice cream. Even though sugar seems to be really hard on me, the fat content of ice cream makes it a little less troublesome.
  8. I am grateful for my little house in Michigan. It’s a comfortable spot to return home to.
  9. I am grateful for laughter. No matter what troubles occur, laughter makes it more palatable.
  10. I am grateful for peanut butter. It is an inexpensive, tasty, easy to carry source of protein. I couldn’t live without it nor would I want to.

Headed home… y’all have a great week!

The Pacifier


I always tell my friends that leaving is a process. When you are ending a significant relationship or making a big change, it’s rarely a single decision. Most of the time, there are a thousand little decisions and awarenesses that move you away from the current state to the new state. And it usually involves a lot of back and forth, too.

Price’s book How to Break Up With Your Phone is not just a “put down your phone” sort of plan. There is a 30-day calendar that walks you through a process of discovering how you use your phone, experimenting with some boundaries and finally encouraging a trial separation for a weekend. My trial separation is going to fall when I’m on a camping trip somewhere in the Appalachians.

My first thought was, “Oh no. That wouldn’t be safe to be without my phone out hiking. What if I need my GPS? Perhaps I could change the weekend.” After my initial resistance, I talked myself down. Did people hike and camp before phones? Maybe I could pull out a map for heaven’s sake, and navigate the old-fashioned way. Wouldn’t that be a novel idea!

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So, I’m all in. Day 1 – which is on a Monday – asks me to download a time-tracking app. I’ve already downloaded Moments which tracks how many times I pick up my phone during the day and how much time I use it. I have to admit that I didn’t use it as much yesterday. Even thinking about this has made me aware of times I really don’t need it. I went for a walk and coffee with my friend Abby yesterday, and I just tossed my phone in the car. And I used my computer yesterday afternoon at home instead of my phone. That’s one way to get around that damn app!


My screen time yesterday was 3 hours 58 min. Granted, an hour of that was when I was running and using my Runkeeper app. So, I really had 3 hours of screen time where I was engaging with my phone. I picked it up 26 times. 26 TIMES!!! And that’s on a Saturday when I took a 2-hour nap, ran for an hour and walked for an hour and a half without my phone. This is definitely an eye-opener. I’m not supposed to make any changes yet, so today I’ll use it to my heart’s content.

The goal of the next few days is to decide where I really want to place my attention. She encouraged me to answer the question “What do you want to pay attention to?” and save it as my lock screen.


Yesterday, I was driving, and the Benton Harbor bridge went up. I instinctively reached for my phone. I saw that lock screen, and I put it down. I watched a sailboat glide beneath the bridge and some Canadian Geese peck at the ground for food. I noticed that the Whirlpool building on the river had a trail and some picnic tables near the water. “That’s nice,” I thought. And the interesting this is, I felt better. My mood lifted.

All day I noticed how I felt when I had the urge to pick up my phone. Sometimes I was bored. Other times I was anxious. All of the time I wanted to distract myself with something. A phone was what hung on the wall in my parents’ house. It had one purpose. It never solved any of my problems. This is entirely something else. My smartphone soothes me. It relieves my boredom. It assuages my loneliness. At one time alcohol did it for me. Sugar and food serves that purpose, too. It can be an addiction, but it’s most definitely a pacifier.


Instead of reaching for my phone yesterday, I visited with a friend. I read two issues of Runner’s World magazine. I haven’t been able to read through a single copy of Runner’s World for years. Pre-smartphone, my favorite day of the month was when Runner’s World arrived. I’d grab a cup of coffee and devour every word. As I was reading through the May issue last night, a question popped into my mind. I instinctively reached for my phone to google the answer. I hesitated. “I don’t need the answer right now,” I told myself. “This is not an emergency.”




Sorry, Baby…It’s Over


I have noticed lately that I’ve been obsessed with my phone. I’m sick of it. I’m sick of the news. I’m sick of social media (except my blog, of course). I’m sick of comments from mean, nasty people who incite anger and fear in me. I’m tired of missing pieces of conversations because I’m distracted. I’m way tired of looking for it. I’m even sick of charging the damn thing. And, yet, I’m still constantly checking it. Even my dog seems to hate the damn thing.

Psychologists refer to unpredictable rewards as “intermittent reinforcements.” I call them “the reason we date jerks.”

~~ Catherine Price in How to Break Up With Your Phone

I’ve listened to several podcasts about our addictions to our smartphones. Tristan Harris used to work at a tech company where they worked day and night to develop ways to addict us and manipulate our minds. They use psychology to hook us. And they hook us in order to sell our attention to advertisers. In the meantime, we are being used, manipulated and coerced into looking away from our lives, our feelings and our creativity.

Check out this Ted Talk for more on how they do it…..

I’m not going to get outraged by what “they” are doing because that’s not productive. I’m going to do something about what “I” can do. Since I’ve listened to the first podcasts, I’ve changed a few habits. I take breaks every now and again. I removed social media apps from my phone. I turned off all notifications. But, inevitably I get sucked in again. I wake up and do it again…. over and over.

I’m in an addictive cycle, and it’s not good for me. I spend too much money because crap is so easy to buy online. And if I do manage to not buy something I’m obsessing about, the ads haunt me until I eventually give in. I stalk people I don’t even care about on social media out of boredom. And I consume way too much news. I used to be the girl that said, “If it doesn’t happen on my front porch, I don’t know about it.” And , the thing is, I was very happy and content in my ignorance.

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Catherine Price has developed a 30-day program that introduces a new habit every day to help me understand what works for me with my smartphone and what doesn’t. Right now, I’m just blindly driven by the dopamine-induced habits the tech companies have created. I’d like to be able to use my smartphone for my good instead of to my detriment.

Honestly, one of the reasons I don’t write as much anymore is because I’m so distracted by the news that my mind doesn’t wander. In order to write, my mind has to wander, make obscure connections and come up with random ideas. I want to be creative again. So, I’m committing. I’m going to break up with my smartphone. We can still be friends, but the romance is over. It’s just not working for me.


The first thing Catherine says is to recruit a friend to join me. I’ll remind you that we don’t have to give up our phone. This is simply a series of experiments to understand what is good about our phones and what we’d like to surrender. Anybody in?

You might want to buy the book, too. The first section gives you some great information on why that smartphone is killing your memory and your ability to read books, destroying your creativity and maybe even ruining your relationships. What have you got to lose?

Buy: How to Break Up With Your Phone





Sunday Night Check-In: Racing, Friends and Sand


I drove up to Dewitt Mi on Friday night to stay with my new friend Michelle who was going to run The Legend with me on Saturday. She lived in an adorable historical home in downtown Dewitt. We didn’t have a lot of time to visit before bed but we took a short walk downtown where she showed me the local coffee shop and the beloved bakery. I would have loved to visit both, but alas, they were closed when I got there and didn’t open until our race was to begin on Saturday. I’ll just have to go back to let you know how they are.

We drove to Sleepy Hollow State Park just as the sun was rising over the cornfields in rural Michigan. The beauty of a Midwestern countryside is understated next to mountains and oceans. But when the sun rises and sets over the fields dotted with ancient farmhouses, there’s a magical quality to it that always surprises me. What can be beautiful about corn, you say? Well, all I can tell you is you have to see it to believe it.


Trail races are smaller than the big road races. The announcer was providing instructions as we arrived. “There will be falls,” she said. “This is a trail race.” My friend Michelle snickered and whispered, “but we’re all still here anyway.” She admonished those with headphones with a reminder that they were against the rules. If they were going to use them anyway, she warned, they’d better pay attention to other runners passing on the single-track course.

Trail races attract a different type of crowd. The courses are often longer, so the runners are often fitter or just plain daredevils. But trail run participants are a little harder in appearance. It’s not unusual to see heavily bearded and tattoed men with bulging biceps lining up at the start of a trail race. Middle age seems to be the predominant age range although all ages are represented. The starting gun was simple. The announcer said, “go”, and we were off.


We ran through grassy meadows dotted with wildflowers, heavily wooded forests and on well-traveled mountain bike trails. For the first 3 miles, I traded places with several different runners as we adjusted our paces and then eventually I found myself alone. Because I have to pay so much attention to the trail ahead of me, I don’t listen to anything when I’m running on a trail. This race was 3 hours of quiet contemplation of the growing ache in my left knee, increasing fatigue in my quads and the beauty of nature. Volunteers broke up the monotony with frequent water breaks and conversation.

I quit using Gu because of the sugar and caffeine, but they offered it at the water stations. After mile six I started using it, and I noticed a significant lift of my aches and pains and my energy immediately afterward. I will add that back into my fueling routine. It definitely made a difference. By the end of the race, I was tired, but I was not beaten. I am very happy with my accomplishment. Now, the Mt. Baldhead Challenge is in my sights.

My friend Dan from Knoxville passed through St. Joe this weekend. He visits Michigan every summer, and since I’ve been back, he makes a stop here. We toured downtown St. Joe’s Chalk the Block last night and had dinner at the Buck.

Buster approves of Dan… sort of.


Today, we had a hiking and beach day in Saugatuck. It was a great way to refresh after the effort yesterday. We even stopped at Crane’s Pie Pantry for some blueberry streusel pie. We’ll end the weekend with some tacos and maybe even a Lake Michigan sunset. The weekend has been friendly, challenging and fun.


Try to be a badass this week, will ya? You never know what you can do unless you try it!

A beautiful wildflower garden in Benton Harbor….