Cuba Libre – My Vacation from WIFI

My husband and I got back from our vacation in Cuba on Tuesday. It’s a beautiful, laid-back place and so nice to get away from a piece of Toronto winter. But let me tell ya, instead of feeling refreshed and re-energized, I’m still riding the Caribbean-style, laid-back train. Cuba’s residue is still with me – the warm sun, no cooking for myself and most especially NO WIFI.

That’s right, you heard me – no WIFI at the hotel. It sounded scary to me at first too. I thought, will I go crazy? Will I really be able to really shut my business’s doors for a full week?

Having no choice kind of makes the decision for you but it also turned out to be such a blessing. I let go of my phone and emails to let my mind go blank – almost to the point where I couldn’t care less when the hotel staff was less than forgiving of my Spanish skills or our bus was more than 40 minutes late.

I really haven’t been able to reach this state in a while since I’m sure we all feel is near impossible when life is going on a mile a minute with text messages and social media posts to get to.

Letting go in Cuba was an amazing reminder of what life before technology was like. People actually just sit around and talk! They draw maps or they physically walk with you to show you their favourite place to eat. There’s no Uber. There’s no Yelp. And no one on Instagram is going to LIKE my seafood dish except me.

Then one day while we were in beautiful Havana, we came up to a park. I knew something looked a little ‘off’ but I couldn’t quite pinpoint it until I stared, bewildered, just a little longer. Then I realized it- everyone was on their phone. Every single person in the park had his or her head down and wasn’t talking to anyone around. It was really creepy. Apparently this was one of the ‘hot spots’ in the city that are few and far between.

After days of being without any connection I felt sad at first for what could be a very social and lively park. I almost shook my head with judgement.

Luckily, I caught myself because I realized that I almost didn’t notice how this picture stood out among the rest of the city. I almost didn’t catch it because it’s so commonplace at home.

It was such a quick moment but it made me realize how much I depend on technology and maybe even have a bit of an addiction (or maybe a big one…). But it also made me realize how lucky I am to have Internet in my home and be able to do business online.

Interestingly though, after only having to live about four days at that point without Google, I judged these people in the hot spot who were just trying to enjoy being connected to the world at large like anyone else.

It’s a strange feeling. And I think it’s a debate we are all having with ourselves more often . On one hand, if you’re in your thirties, you probably remember land lines and pen pals. I remember watching the entire countdown on MTV just to see my favourite Michael Jackson video at number one.

Without YouTube, we had to sit through all the other music too, which sometimes took all afternoon. And then when I wanted more, I would put on my MJ album, but be bursting at the seams to dance harder, knowing I couldn’t because it would make the record skip.

Ahhh, the good ol’ days.

There are the memories and there are the things I’m glad are in the past. I’m grateful for technology but I’m also grateful for vacations from it so I can get some perspective.

For me right now, I think I’m still trying to hang on to a little more of my disconnected life. Cuba reminded me so much of life before technology and social media ruled my time. And while I have no interest in going backwards or cutting out social media out completely I am making a commitment to be more aware of when I choose to have my head down.

Are you having this debate? Are you condemning technology on one hand but addicted to its conveniences on the other?

I’d say, before condemning technology, see what your experience as a thirtysomething can bring to it. For example, online dating may seem unnatural, so how can you add some good old fashioned charm to the conversation or make her feel like you can transport her to a simpler time? Go with the flowers or the mixed tape (or playlist), call instead of text, know where you’re going so you don’t need GPS.

What are your beliefs about social media? Does it make us more or less social? Does it make  YOU more or less social? When are other times you could make a phone call instead of sending a text or email?

OR, when could you send a personal email instead of resending a meme?

I’d love to get a personal email for you about your thoughts and questions. Contrary to what I said about technology, I AM ready to get to work with new clients, starting next week.

If you’re ready to get your priorities straight and start being the success you’ve always wanted to be, get in touch today! We’ll chat about where you’d like to go this next year and create an action plan to get you there whether it’s in your career, dating or spiritual life.

Let’s chat today – support@ashewoodward.com

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How to Love When Dating Rules Have Changed

This past Friday night I got talking with a friend about how excited I am for an upcoming vacation to Cuba with my husband. Naturally, I expected him to be excited for me and give me some advice on things to see, but instead it struck a surprisingly different chord with him.

He started talking about how he’s been traveling so much on his own and how much he’d love to be able to go somewhere and share the experience with someone. We both agreed that sometimes it is nice to travel alone but there are some places and some times, like Valentine’s Day and special occasions, that it’s nice to be with someone you love.

This lead to a discussion I can’t seem to have enough of lately which is why it feels like it’s getting harder and harder to find love.

Some say everyone’s standards are too high, others say the Internet is to blame for our lack of integrity and ability to dismiss possible connections with a ‘swipe’. There’s also the common belief that generation x and millennials are lost when it comes to love because many of them are children of divorce and the fear of getting into a relationship is clouded by the possibilities of where it inevitably leads.

Sigh.

I have a lot of friends who are trying or have tried online dating, some successful, others not. I hear so much frustration with finding people online to begin with and then being disappointed when meeting face-to-face.

I hear a lot of confusion about this hook-up culture we’ve created, where we get together ‘for the moment’ (if you know what I mean…), but nothing more is expected or considered.

Not only that but sexuality and gender roles are in flux and being experimented with and explored. Not only could this be confusing for potential partners but even to ourselves, becuase it can put us in an unbalanced and unconfident place – not the greatest head space to be in when trying to find an ideal partner.

What we do know is that it never comes down to one thing. There’s no one thing or one group of people to blame for what dating is like in the 21st century.

And let me remind you that it’s especially unfair to only blame ourselves for not having found the right person yet. But it’s equally unfair to say that it is everyone else and not you. We’ve all contributed to this and if we don’t step it up or change the behaviour ourselves, we have no right to complain.

Not being out there and experiencing it all myself, I certainly would never look you in the face and say that “Just give it time for the right person find you,” or some other positive outlook crap – and I hope you aren’t saying this to your frustrated friends either – it’s condescending and terribly unhelpful advice in every way imaginable.

I may not be in the trenches but I certainly hear and feel this pain that’s everywhere I was heartbroken to look into my friend’s eyes across the table as he describes how sad he feels when he comes home and there’s no one there to greet him.

But I gave him my hand and I shut my mouth. I just listened, every once in a while reminding him to not be so hard on himself.

None of us can deny that the rules of dating have changed. No more are we taking as many chances with asking someone to go out in a face to face situation – that’s what texting is for, right? But are we losing our nerve?

If the world was only filled with Matthew McConugheys and Sandra Bullocks, maybe we’d all catch each others’ eyes easily and swoosh our hair behind our ear as ‘the signal’. But to catch someone’s eye nowadays we have to cut through a lot of noise and so it takes patience and maybe a little more creativity.

We have to find a creative way to make him or her look up from the smartphone.

We have to dare to interrupt him even if he’s got earbuds in.

We may have to let our guard down a little more so that she sees you’re not ALL about your bros, ironic beards and craft brews.

And let’s not let technology rob us further by being the focus of your date. Turn off your phone and turn up the charm. Give him or her your attention – phone is not only off, it’s away and out of sight. I can’t promise your date will follow suit but at least you’re setting your standards. If all else fails, you could point out how much nicer it is to have your phone off so you two can really chat.

Take risks. In the online dating world, people are answering a lot of the same ‘getting to know you’ questions. While these are great and small talk is necessary before you go for the intense questions about your parenting style, there are still ways to make things more interesting.

Where are you from? (good) 

Where’s your favourite place in the city? (better)

What are your hobbies? (good…ish) 

What’s the next thing you’re going to cross off your bucket list ?(getting better)

Do you have any brothers or sisters? (ugh!)

Do you have a weird family too? What are some of your family traditions?

(You can use this one after the delightful anecdote of your crazy uncle and what happened at last year’s Christmas in July barbecue).

I personally think that the best advice in all of this is that you have to roll with the times. Smartphones, Online Dating and a general unease in the romantic world are part of our lives now. Knowing this, we have to find ways to get a little creative to push out the fog and the noise that can cloud people’s judgments.

We also have to remember that in real life we deal with more frustration in dating than we see between lovers on TV or in movies.

We may also have to deal with the fact that we may not get married by the age we always thought.

But the one great thing about things being in flux is that we can refine a lot of the crap that wasn’t really working anyway. Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that dating was any easier twenty or thirty years ago. Back then, meeting someone in a bar or at work were really the only two options. At least we have the entire world at our fingertips!

And if you’re sick of travelling alone? Well, there’s an app for that.

Seriously: travelmates.com.

😉

So, yes, I’ll be taking an ‘off the grid’ hiatus this week but I’ll have space for new clients starting February 26th. If you’d like to have a chat about where you’re heading this year, get in touch at support@ashewoodward.com with the Subject line : COACHING 2017

Go to ashewoodward.com for more info

Avoiding bad news lately? Here’s what it could cost us all.

So the last thing you may want to read is another article, post, blog meme, tweet, headline, status about Trump, right?  BUT WAIT!

Before you ignore, hide, sigh, cancel or avoid social media, I wonder if you’ll do something for me…

Ask yourself really why avoidance is sometimes our first reaction to “bad” news.

 

I’m hearing a lot of people talking about cancelling their social media accounts lately, at least for the time being.

Is this you?

Do you feel like it’s all just too negative? Too heavy?

Do you maybe feel like you don’t know enough about politics or the situation to actually comment?
Are you sick of how all this news makes you feel (helpless, vulnerable, angry)?

When Trump was elected, I tried to stay positive, saying that maybe this will help us wake up to many problems. Looking back, this may have been a little too light-hearted as far as approaches to politics go, especially now that we’re faced with executive orders that fill us with a whole range of mostly intense emotions.

But the favour I ask of you is to consider what this avoidance attitude can mean for us all. If we avoid social media and try to ‘keep positive,’ what are we missing? I’m not talking about FOMO (fear of missing out), but the larger conversation of our times.

We’re being asked to really examine our thoughts on race and religion in particular. Can we afford to ignore what we might really be thinking, feeling or the ugly side of what we’ve been conditioned to believe?

Is there a reason Trump’s comments and actions create a stir in us?
Is something being reflected back?

I have no political background. I’d even go as far as saying it’s scary how little I really know about politics and I’m Canadian. But I still have an opinion.

And it’s this.

In the last election, Americans were faced with deciding between 2 less than desirable options. And instead of making a choice, many chose to avoid and not vote at all – in fact, around 95 million voters did not cast a vote.

Even with my limited knowledge in American politics, I know there’s more to it than that. However, we can’t ignore that the votes of 95 million people would have made a difference. Maybe the same outcome, maybe not. But it would have been a different conversation in America.

But I get it.

I mean, how many times have we all been in the same place where there are hard decisions that need to be made, but we do nothing instead?

I get it. I’ve done it. It’s just easier.

But know this: taking no action, is an action. Make no mistake – you ARE making a choice; indecision is a decision.

We may not all need to take action and march and protest. Some of us do and that’s good and important; it’s such an amazing freedom we have the right to express. But there are other ways to be heard.

We can be aware of what’s happening, have an opinion, but not let it ruin our day; not let it steal our hope; not let it leak into our mood at home or work.

And if it does, let’s agree to reflect on what these feelings mean for us and not shy away from the lessons we could learn.

How do we really feel? Angry, sad, hopeless, sexist, racist?

Right?

Wrong?

Or, it may be making us question the role of leadership completely. Who we choose to follow says a lot about us. We’re saying that we like where this leader is taking us and we share that vision.

But when we question certain decisions made by our leader, our own identity comes into question. And that can be uncomfortable. And that makes us want to hide.

If it’s all getting to be too much, take a time out. Sometimes we really nee a break from it all. But use some of that time for reflection. Get your opinions sorted, without the help of the media.

You may also find you become more reflective in other areas, or more decisive from now on. You can let the lessons from all of this leak into, or even saturate all areas of your life.

The worst thing isn’t the situation that we’re in. The very worst

would be letting it all be for nothing.

Click the link below or shoot me your thoughts at support@ashewoodward.com or start the conversation here or on the Facebook page.

…Start the conversation indeed…

Get started with the power of personal coaching. Check out my site and packages available to get down and dirty with your ugly thoughts and all their delicious lessons. ashewoodward.com