You know this as well as I do: technology connects us, but it also disconnects. I text my daughter to come down for dinner instead of walking upstairs to tell her. I have excellent reading material on my bedside table, but how often do I tuck into a great novel? Not as often as I scan through clickbait on Vanity Fair (oh, but their coverage of the royals is excellent!). Most depressingly, I have the Rocky Mountains in my backyard, but I’m more apt to Instagram them then hike them.
Like most people my age, I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I’m supposed to be active on it for my job – promoting blog posts, TV appearances and the like, but I find it draining, not to mention a major time suck. It doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m convinced, comparison is the thief of joy. We all know that feeling when a frenemy posts carefully curated pictures of their fabulous life on social. That does more for my self doubt than promoting my business.
I’ve realized my best ideas (both personally and professional) come when I’m not tethered to a screen. When I’m disconnected and my mind has the freedom to wander, you wouldn’t believe the brilliant stuff I come up with:) And our family’s best moments happen when we’re active together. True, we share a lot of laughs while watching The Office and Instant Hotel, but nothing memorable has ever occurred while scrolling through our phones.
I police my daughter’s screen time (yes, that could improvement), but not my own. So when I was invited earlier this month to do a tech-free weekend at Assiniboine Lodge, I leapt at the chance.
I decided to go all in. I packed books instead of my Kindle, left my PC behind and unearthed an angst ridden journal, so I could take write old school notes should the urge strike. I did take my phone with me (just in case), but on day two it stayed in my room.
Now Assiniboine Lodge is rustic (code for outhouses), but packed with loads of charm. It’s also historic, which means no-wifi, nor TV. Instead, there are shelves of books and boardgames around a large fireplace in the common room. Besides that, there’s not much else to do except…. explore the great outdoors!
Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park
The lodge is set within British Columbia’s Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park. It’s an epic location – a 15-minute helicopter ride from Canmore. There’s no roads to get to the lodge, but if you fancy the seven-hour ski in, have at ‘er. Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park is so dazzling white and pretty in winter time, you’ll feel like you’re trapped inside a snow globe.
Despite the coziness of the lodge, I was itching to get outside and decided on snowshoeing. I wanted to ski, but it was freaking cold out. Like -26C cold. I don’t last long – less than an hour, but something about being in the fresh mountain air resets your head. At least it does mine anyway. With hand warmers affixed to my sox and inside my mittens, I ventured into the snow-quilted forest. To say it was magical would be an understatement.
Back in the warmth of the lodge, I’m at loose ends. What do I do with myself with no articles to write, no dishes to wash? It’s my natural instinct to jump on my phone, but what’s the point? There’s zero connectivity out here. Turns out when you have tea time to tuck into, IRL conversations with other guests and hot chocolate on the sun drenched patio, time flies by.
Without falling back on my security blanket AKA iPhone 8 I’m forced to be more present. I feel myself becoming more open. I wrote in my journal, “I feel a greater sense of who I am out here. I have to seriously wonder if I’m living a life of intention or allowing myself to be swayed by things I don’t value.” Whoa!
Throughout the course of the weekend I slowly begin to realize what I’m doing isn’t that important. It’s way more beneficial for me to prioritize connections with others and time in nature. That means putting down my iPhone when my daughter comes home from school and encouraging her to do the same. And going for a walk around our neighbourhood instead of cruising Facebook when I need a break.
And it’s pretty fun, being out here in the winter wilderness. I feel like a kid back at camp. Friendships are quickly and tightly forged. I’m delighted by simple yet wonderful things – the scent of woodsmoke! Carrot muffins! A rainbow! And there’s just something about waking up inside a log cabin, staring up at the rough hewn open beams and feeling excited about the day ahead of you.
Before leaving the lodge, I make a pledge. I vow to revisit our family’s media plan – after tracking device usage. Then I want to make a realistic plan that includes ready to-go mindful family activities we can quickly do together instead of resorting to mindless tech usage. Remind me to circle back on that! It’s currently a work in progress.
Admittedly, it’s easier going tech-free at a backcountry lodge, but as the weekend comes to a close, I dread turning my phone off Airplane mode. So I don’t. My phone stays off for rest of weekend. After reconnecting with my family and chatting about our weekend, I had a glass of wine, a bath and a nap in that order. Admittedly, I kind of wanted to zone out with Netflix, but I told myself if I couldn’t sleep, I could reward myself with it. I didn’t need to.
Have you ever done a digital detox? How did you make out?
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