Tag Archives: unplugging

Slowing Down: In Paris, Sunday is a Rest Day, and No Yapping on iPhones in Public

In June, I went to France for a work trip.  My husband joined me for the first leg, a weekend in Paris.   We were both so busy with work following up to the trip that we didn’t plan anything, except our air travel and hotel stay in a residential neighborhood in the 7th Arrondissement.  We spent the weekend walking around the city and stopping at restaurants or cafes that looked good.  I needed to check my email often for work, and had difficulty finding WiFi much of the time.  I started to realize that I was the only one on the street or in a café with my iPhone by my side.

I didn’t see any French men or women talking on the phone as they walked down the street.  No one was checking in to Foursquare at restaurants.  Kids weren’t texting or playing handheld games.  It was refreshing to see, and it was civil.

On Sunday, we read books in Luxembourg Gardens as we watched Parisian children launching boats in the water.  Shops were closed on Sunday, so families had little choice but to have a quiet day with their families.  I thought about how in my Boston suburb, Sundays are filled with errands to stock up on groceries, a run to Home Depot and prepping for the week. 

Another thing that caught my eye (maybe because I have a 10 year old girl), were the elementary school-aged girls walking hand in hand with their parents and often carrying dolls or other toys that most American kids would deem too babyish after preschool.  It was sweet to see, and I wondered if French children get to enjoy being a child longer that American children.

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Paris is Paris and one could argue that their economy isn’t what ours is, however- the French know how to live.  If only we all put our smart phones away and slowed down a bit.  Let’s bring a little France to America.

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Social Graces: Make the Effort: Send the Birthday Card, Bake the Banana Bread and Visit

My friend L. just moved from Boston to Albany and gave birth to twins.  It’s been almost four months since they were born, and I pictured myself cooking for L. and helping with the babies the first month of their life.  With older kids in school, a toddler, work and everything else, I kept putting off the visit.  I finally realized there would be no perfect time to visit, but I found a nearly perfect time.  My husband was home for the week, L.’s husband was away.   I spent two nights getting to know her gorgeous twins and enjoying her bubbly 4 year-old daughter.  Sure, I helped: I unloaded the dishwasher.  I made pizza one night.  I held babies.  But most of all, I kept L. company and we caught up on our friendship.

The last night of the visit, we stayed up late talking and she told me how happy she was that I made the effort to come visit.  I told her I’d forgotten how much a new mom needs help, even though I should know. 

One of our new neighbors has a rebout with cancer.  I don’t know her and planning the logistics of cooking a meal for their family seems intrusive.  But who doesn’t like muffins?  I could drop off some muffins.

L. & I also talked about the social graces we’ve had fall by the wayside lately.  I have been terrible about calling or sending cards for nieces and nephews, but ironically being diligent about posting a Happy Birthday message on Facebook for people I worked with 10+ years ago and didn’t really know that well. 

Work friends from 10 years ago may warrant a Facebook Happy Birthday posting.  Good friends and family deserve a call or a card.   A mom having her third or fourth baby doesn’t need a baby shower, but she does deserve a visit to admire the baby or a pretty, thoughtful (how about letterpress?) card to welcome the new addition.  Attending a wake is hard to do, but standing in line to offer condolences in person is something I never regret taking the time to do.

Genuine, thoughtful and kind social graces matter.  

ImageAre there any thoughtful ways you reach out?

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Why Work from Home? How about a Snow Day for Us?

There was a major blizzard in the Boston area today which was much anticipated and therefore many schools were closed the night before. Judging from activity on Twitter and Facebook today, it looks like many people were instructed to “work from home”. Even in the Northeast, we don’t have very many storms per winter that make regular commuting dangerous. I understand deadlines, I understand the stock market hours or working with people in different time zones that were not hit by the storm. But what’s wrong with giving employees a day off? Our laptops and smartphones tether us to the job constantly. How about taking a day to stay in our pajamas and cook pancakes or play in the snow with our children? A little respite from work can be just what overworked, constantly plugged in employees need to recharge their creativity. Face it, it’s not easy to work from home when the kids are home from school, giddy with excitement from a snow day. Weekends are used for errands and activities. Snow days are a gift. Employers, give this gift to your employees if you can. And employees- accept this gift without guilt. The work will get done.

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