I don’t have an accent; everyone else does

get more done doing lessI spent Sunday night deep in the farmland of Kansas visiting my stepdaughter and her family.

You’ve more than likely seen this countryside as you whizz by on the interstate, but we were at least an hour from the nearest interstate highway – off one of those exits with a long straight road that disappears into the horizon; a horizon that is far more distant than you realize.

Our daughter toured us around their property, the farm, grain elevator and office. A truck arrived with incoming grain while we were there and I had my iPhone out snapping photos while real deal cowboys wondered what the big deal is and who is this chick in a skirt and flip flops up on the ramp taking shots of the grain inside the truck.

Normal is relative. I keep forgetting that.

They do this every day all day and I was fascinated by it.

Last week, during her keynote, Arianna Huffington said, “I don’t have an accent; everyone else does.”

She was just making a joke, but she made me stop and think. About a lot of things. Normal is what we know on a daily basis. I think it’s normal I don’t have trash pickup at my house because the bears will get into it. I have to go to the dump, and when I say, “I,” I of course mean my husband. It turns out most of civilization doesn’t think that’s normal at all.

So we all have something to share, to give, to say, but we don’t because we think we’re normal. And that is part of the storytelling problem.

I didn’t really ready Huffington Post much if at all, nor did I pay much attention to Arianna previously, but this is all changing because I learned a lot from her on how to live life better in 45 minutes of listening to her.

She took the stage to discuss the future of media. I expected more predictions on the demise of journalism and the growth of citizen journalism.


She talked about redefining success. Success is more than money and power – There is a Third Metric: Health and well-being. Quality of life. Balance. She even started a conference on it.

I made a few notes to myself on living better, and I’ve already begun.

Make your bedroom device-free. 

I’ve always done this but now there are no exceptions. The phone charges overnight in the kitchen. Buy an alarm clock, get a real, old fashioned phone for family emergencies only. Leave the devices far from the bed. This will stop me from checking email and Facebook when I wake up in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning.

More importantly, it frees up the morning – the prime real estate for the brain – for bigger thoughts and planning. Rather than getting sucked immediately into email and social updates, focus on meditation, big thoughts, a writing project. Have sex! It’s really good for you. The way you start every day sets the framework for how it will unfold. The days I get sucked into the social and email vortex of reactivity are the days that end with me thinking “What happened to today? I didn’t get a thing done.”

Get More Done By Doing Less

“If you are looking at your iPhone while I’m speaking, you are not paying attention to me. And you are probably missing the best part.”  

I don’t like live tweeting events because my brain is so distracted doing that, I miss out on the opportunity to process the ideas. Lack of presence in the moment causes us to miss out on a lot. I used to people watch a lot more than I do now. Now I stare at my phone and miss out on some great material.

Seriously, though, that hyper-connectivity and pressure to produce more and more aggravates this issue. Productivity and time management sites abound. How to write blog posts on our iphones while waiting for the bus or at the gate, or at the doctor’s office help us make the most of every spare minute. Two weekends ago, I sat out on my deck staring at the mountains for 30 minutes. In that time, I figured out how to move my book project forward – it’s something that has been stalled for about a month.

Porter Gale, in an interview with Srinivas Rao, shared a story about chatting with an older man from North Dakota she was seated next to on a recent flight. She said she talked to him the entire way, and ended up including his story in her book. That sounds like my biggest nightmare – getting “stuck” talking to my neighbor the entire flight. Yet, she relished it; sought it out, and learned much from the experience – something outside of her “normal.”

It made me wonder how much I miss by ignoring my surroundings just so I can get more work done.

My good friend from France was visiting me when I lived in Boston oh so long ago. We were walking across the Commons when she freaked out and grabbed her camera pointing at the squirrels running around. I, and all the other Bostonians averted our eyes from the crazy girl taking pictures of the squirrels.

But now, I think living life with that renewed curiosity could be a great way to live life better.





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  • http://www.writerightwords.com/ Erin Feldman

    I can’t live tweet events, either. First, I feel it’s discourteous. Second, I can’t take notes and make connections if I’m looking for Twitter quotes. That’s just plain silly. I’d rather give my brain a workout rather than my fingers.

    Oh, on a flight to Vegas, I ended up talking with my neighbor for about an hour. She had lived in Vegas for twenty-plus years. Her stories gave me an appreciation for the city.