Digital Declutter Week 2: News Creep

Charming female texting on her tablet after waking up

I’m succumbing to a little bit more  “news feed creep” than is probably “legal.”

It’s hard to escape.

Even when I think I’ve barred all the entrances, I’ll find myself innocently opening a Google Search, and bam, right there below the search bar, sits a tantalizing bit of “Trending News.”

And what do I do?  I hit it. Especially if it’s from The Times or The Post.

I never actually took those newspaper apps off my iPad, just my phone, and now I just don’t open my Ipad at all anymore for fear I won’t be able to resist.

It’s funny, because I’m now reading The Odyssey instead of The Times and The Post and  I just read the part where Odysseus puts wax in the ears of his oarsmen and has them tie him to the mast so he can hear the Siren’s song, but they can’t, thereby saving them all from certain death.

Those icons for The Times and The Post are my Siren songs. I have voluntarily tied myself to the mast, so this means I can just as easily untie myself, so it’s best if I just don’t open the iPad at all this month and risk seeing them. I know I wouldn’t resist.

The latest missive from Cal was about leisure. He’s assuming that we all have more of it now that we’re not dinking around in social media all the time.

He had this great line about, “rediscovering the types of old school, dirt-under-the-fingernails, defiantly analog activities that used to fill our most satisfying leisure hours.”

Among the list of those kinds of things he mentioned as “defiantly analog” was starting a book club.

This is something I have been thinking about for well over a year now, but have never acted on. I was talking  to Nicole Parsons after yoga the other day about this new Odyssey translation and she said, “You should really start a book group, Kath. If you did, I’d join.”

So yesterday I spent a good amount of time moodling and scribbling  about this: how it might work, what the rules should be, etc. and  I got it pretty much nailed down to the point where I think it would be an unquestionable new source of joy for me. I now have a rough draft of an email I’m going to send out to my peeps soon, and start to make it happen.

I think without this media break, I might have thought: I don’t have time for this. And I would have been right.

For me, this whole experiment has been all about reclaiming my time.

I still have worries about where news reading is going to fit back into my life after this, though.  I need a slot for it. A place. I need guide rails, or bright lines, or constraints, or whatever you want to call them, where I can just relax about the news knowing that it all can wait. I’ll get to it, but it will be have to be on my terms.

This is still to be worked out.


The Biggest Loser

I rushed to yoga this morning with my right contact inside out because I overslept.  I stayed up way past my bedtime to watch the season finale of The Biggest Loser.

I am/was shamefully addicted to this show!

I know, I know…

I know all the arguments for why I shouldn’t like it.  I know people on the long, hard path to weight loss who find The Biggest Loser irritating in the extreme.

These Biggest Loser contestants are living in a weight-loss terrarium filled with perfect food, personal trainers, state-of- the-art gym equipment, a team of health care professionals at the ready, and are totally guarded and protected from the outside world and its stressors of kids, relationships  and job.  For them it is a 24-7 focus on weight loss.  Period.

My friends who are trying to lose weight say: Sure!  Put me in that situation and I could lose weight too!  Easy Breezy!

And they’re right, of course.

But still, I am transfixed.  It is like watching an epic, like The Odyssey.  The contestants, like Odysseus, long to return to the homes of their healthy bodies, but on the way they have to travel from the Land of the Lotus Eaters (food addictions), battle with Polyphemous the Cyclops (Jillian screaming: “Unless you faint, puke or die, keep going!!”), have a love affair with the witch-goddess Circe (face food temptations, the eating of which will turn the contestants into swine), and be tempted by the deadly Sirens (going off the Ranch as a reward and being tempted by restaurant food and drink).

Week after week, you watch them struggle, step on the scale, fall below the yellow line, throw somebody else off.

Week after week, you watch them struggle with their demons, but they persist.

It takes a long time.  But they keep going.  And we TV watchers get to see the drama and the incremental changes, week after week.

Change is soooo slow, but it happens.  It happens in 2, 8 11, sometimes 15 pound increments.

Week after week, it doesn’t seem like anything is changing, until BAM!, there’s that one week you go:  Whoah!  Look at her!  Look at him!  Holy shit!

The thing that so inspires me about these contestants is that they persist.  They persist over time. They go slowly. They encounter major frustrations and roadblocks and even hellish weeks when they workout like fiends and don’t lose an ounce, and sometimes even gain!  And yet, they persist.

In the end, they lose huge amounts of weight.  They lose whole people.  The girl I hoped would win (Tara) lost 155 pounds!  It’s crazy!  She’s transformed into a completely different person by the end.  Inside and out.

Then, when they return home, just like Odysseus, they are not recognized at first by their loved ones.  They have to clean up their houses, throw out the suitors (all the crap food in the cabinets) and re-establish their relationships with their “Penelopes”(wives, husbands, friends, kids).

It’s the path of transformation.

In the case of The Biggest Loser it comes via weight loss, but it’s the same process for any transformation.

Slow persistent practice over time.

It’s an Odyssey.

And it inspires the hell out of me.