What My Paperboy Taught Me About Connection

I crushed hard on our paperboy.

You know, back in the day, the cute as hell paperboy would come around every month and collect money for the newspaper.

The newspaper you actually held in your hand and didn’t consume from a computer screen.

I was in love with my blue-eyed, blonde-haired paperboy.

He had this shit-eatin’ grin and was the precise amount of rebel I was into as a pre-teen.

(Hell, who am I kidding. I’m still into the blue-eyed, blonde-haired rebel…and married one. Ha!)

Ok, don’t tell anyone, but I eventually made out with that paperboy a few times. 

We actually became pretty good friends.

Kissing friends. Making out friends. Getting into late-night trouble friends.

And because we were tight as hell over the summer’s, I even went on some paper runs with him.

(Can you even picture me throwing a paper into a yard? I can barely swat a fly without laughing my ass off?)

Anyway.

On some of his paper runs, I would notice paperboy placing some newspapers in mailboxes, then I’d see him chuck some right on the porch (never missed) and every once in a while, I’d see him throw it in a sprinkler-laden lawn.

I was curious – why wasn’t everyone’s paper delivered the same way?

He basically said something to this effect:

“Because I know their preferences. When I collect every month, people tell me how they like their paper delivered and I try to accommodate. But, some can be assholes and those are the ones that get wet papers every now and again.”

Think about that for a minute: a paperboy would come to your door, collect money for the newspaper that’s delivered daily and that’s how it went.

There was no digital payment collection.

Nothing was behind a paywall.

And the ability to read a newspaper “online” was unheard of at that time.

Recently, I’ve started craving connection beyond a digital touchscreen.

I want to hug people when I greet them instead of commenting on social media, “How cute! Adorable picture.”

I want to go down the rabbit hole and peel back the layers instead of commenting on Facebook, “I agree. 100%. Yes!”

I want to hear about your life, not just a snippet or a photo on Instagram. How did that salad really taste? Tell me how you felt after you read that book? I want to hear your story about why you chose this new path?

I want to experience connection with all my senses…not just a tap of my thumb, or how fast my fingers can type.

The online world is so powerful with connection.

So, what if we took those online connections and infused more offline connections?

(And trust me, this is coming from someone who’s a raging outgoing introvert – I need major space, people, to fuel up. I get the allure and convenience of online connection.)

But I also need tangible connection to feel not so isolated.

What if we decided to meet in real life and take a girls trip with our Skype Bestie and laugh and talk until the wee hours of the morning?

What if we opted for that in-person workshop or seminar versus the newest online course?  

What if we chose just one palpable connection over the strongest Wi-Fi and a fully charged MacBook?

Who knows, you might just meet your version of paperboy (or papergirl) and fill your summer with wild adventures together…

Who knows until you step away from the computer/television/phone screen and look someone in the eye and say, “Hello!”

Because I’m learning that even an hour spent with another human – connecting and sharing – can do wonders for giving your scrolling thumb a break.

Love + Paperboy Adventures,

Keli

Bike: Photo by Sabina Ciesielska on Unsplash

I Don’t Want to Live My Life Through Instagram Captions


Why’d you just throw your phone on the couch?” The hubs questions me…a bit concerned.

I shot him straight: “I get sucked into the black hole of social media, I can’t stop scrolling and then when I’m done going unconscious, I feel like shit. So, I chuck my phone at the couch in defiance.

Ummmmm, ok…if that works for you…more power to you,” that smarty-pants remarks with a chuckle.

Except it doesn’t fucking work for me.

Like at all.

I Don’t Want to Live My Life Through Instagram Captions

You know how it goes…you’re moving along in your day…you literally stop to smell the roses and think, “Oh boy, I need to capture these pretty red things on Instagram.”

Pull out phone. Shoot. Click. Upload. Caption…

And wait for the comments and likes.

That’s how I was living my life — notice something, write a caption in my head, make it pretty (aka: throw on that filter)…

And then sit back while I  wrapped my worth in wondering how bangin’ I wrote a caption or not. 

Was I funny enough?

Did I showcase my wit here?

Is this profound enough?

Talk about driving yo’self bat-shit crazy.

In my mind, something drastic had to happen.

Cue the scene where dust kicks up and a lonely woman’s walking down the street to some new destination…except not sooooo dramatic for me…and you sure as hell won’t find me walking down a lonely-ass highway.

For a few years now, I’ve contemplated quitting social media.

Every time I have this major social media consideration I wonder how I can quit social media – for myself – and run an online business.

I mean, isn’t that part of running a successful online business – a bangin’ social media presence?

And holy buckets of cold water, let’s not even get on the topic train that my minor in college is Social Media Marketing.

What the actual French toast?

Here’s where things get even fuzzier (like the murky water you can’t even see your toes in) – I manage my client(s) social media accounts.

Like full on; graphic design, social media captions, schedule, post, engage – the holy bloody social shabang!

And get this…

I don’t hate it.

I actually enjoy it for other people – just not for me.

To make things even cloudier, I believe in social media.

I believe in the power it has to connect people (especially business with their audience/clients).

Heck, my hubs found his bio dad (and half-sister) on Facebook – the power is palpable.

I don’t HATE social media.

I just hate how I feel after I use it (for me, personally).

And life is way too damn short to have those feelings for something I use on a consistent, daily basis.

So, I decided to take a social media detox that turned into a break.

And I haven’t returned from that break yet.

I’m not sure if I ever will.

But right now, I’m not throwing my phone on the couch anymore and I’m not waking up to a zombie scrolling session on Instagram.

Insta was my drug no doubt.

I’m learning how to reconcile running a blog and offering freelance writing/content marketing services without having social media to spread those Keli Conci words.

I can tell you my time is spent actually writing now and not allowing my thumb to take another scrolling hit off of Instagram.

Oh, and not viewing life through what “profound/funny” thing I was going to caption on Instagram.

Life and Business Beyond Instagram Captions  

So, what comes of trying to run a blog and offer freelance services without social media?

Honestly, for me, I’m not totally sure…yet.

Trust me, I’m not the first freelancer or writer to say, “Peace the hell out, social media.”

Writer – and one of my biggest inspo’s for taking the flying leap off of social media – Alexandra Franzen decided to quit social media (years ago) and hasn’t used it since.

If she can do it by golly, so can I.

I want to focus on my writing, on telling damn-good stories, going deeper than a snippet or a caption. 

I want to peel the layers of life in story-form, not just highlight the good in a short-lived Instagram shot.

Give me the pretty, the downright ugly and everything in between — even the things that end up leaving scars and a bloody mess to clean up…

Because that’s real life and I’ll take more of that, please. 

Love + Letting Go, 

Keli

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Dementia + Caregiving…My New Normal

It’s a little over a year now since I (the caregiving daughter) made the decision to place The Vic (my dementia-rockin’ dad) in a nursing home.

Actually, the term used now is Community Living Center and he lives out his days in a “secured neighborhood” (say locked unit and you’ll get some looks and a kind correction around those parts).

Whatever the gentle term is now, the reality is some days I feel like I’m still in process mode from being a caregiver for ten years and watching dementia take hold of my Pops – my favorite person in the whole world.

And other days I feel like I’m finally settling into my new normal.

A new normal that’s odd, yet free because I have my life back.

Strong words right? “Have my life back.”

You’d think I was in a war or something.

Nah, nothin’ like that. 

Or, wait, is dementia and caregiving like war? 

Not the war I will ever know (or want to know), thank God. 

But, I do have my own battle wounds and mental health concerns that dad did when he was a Marine, I’m sure. 

A daily battle between caregiving for my 80-something-year old pops and keeping my head (and my hubs and daughter) above water.

The Vic usually quips, “Semper Fi, M*ther F*cker!” And always faithful to this crazy-ass journey of dementia and caregiving, I am, even when it doesn’t make much sense. 

And isn’t that a lot like life in general? 

Dementia + Caregiving…My New Normal

Well, I’m able to have a thought to myself without wondering if dad needs to go to the bathroom, if he’s chewing enough to not choke, if he’s had adequate liquids so he doesn’t get dehydrated and if I can possibly watch another episode of Everybody Loves Raymond for the hundredth time.

But funny shows like that keep him laughing while I gobble down my food and take a short piss. So, it’s Raymond in the background yet again.  

When dad officially went to his new “home” I was nervous, yet relieved.

Emotions were having their way with me like an ocean wave, yet deep down, the calm was so there. I knew it was the next step and he was in damn good hands.

I visit him frequently and dad even scared us with some out-of-nowhere deathbed moments.

But like the tough-ass Marine he’s always been, he rallied and now when I go visit the dude I can barely keep up with him ‘cause he’s always on the go.

He doesn’t recall my name hardly anymore.
But he does light up when I walk into the room to see him.

And on an adventure like the dementia journey, that’s a win.

Dad’s not aggressive or agitated (thank God & crossing toes and hair strands he remains that way).

Dad laughs — at practically everything — and then asks, “We going somewhere?”

I remark to the nurses (who are straight-up angels), “When dad stops laughing, that’s when we worry, ok?”

Laughter is his barometer and he’s shown us, we should use it more often.

It’s been a tinge over a year since I decided to tap out as the primary caregiver and reassemble my mental health, my relationship with my husband and daughter…my connection with my own damn self that didn’t include all-up-in-your-face caregiving.

What Caregiver Learning Lessons Have I Learned?

I wish I could spout off some really deep schoolings with a nice bullet-point list you can easily scan and maybe talk about with someone else in this caregiver life.

But I can’t.

Because I feel like I’m still integrating.

I’m still trying to “find” the Keli that’s not a caregiver and a wife and a mother.

What I do know is when I see dad, the visits are shorter because there’s not much to say and he usually takes off every couple of seconds.

I hug and squeeze and give him tons of kisses and love and reconcile this is just the next stage of dementia.

In some way though, I gain solace knowing I held him so tightly for ten years.

The caregiver role never goes away I’ve been told, it just changes.

And just like life that constantly changes – over time – I will take in the ginormity that was being a caregiver for my father…particle by particle.

For now, I will just enjoy the tranquility of eating without interruption, a TV screen that’s black and noise-less and the ability to go to the bathroom and scroll on my phone until my legs and feet start to tingle.

Sorry hubs and daughter — the bathroom is now my sanctuary. 

Love + Loving the Little Things,

Keli

How to Rock a Digital Detox

I feel as strong about a good digital detox as I do about not throwing back crappy Gin (don’t worry Hendrick’s, you have my heart).

There’s a distinct difference from the time I started out in the online world (hello 2012) to now.

I’d log-in to Facebook and sound off about all things food, spirituality and what crazy thing my dad was doing and/or saying on the wild journey of dementia.

I loved being online and all up in the social media platforms.

Cut to now and there are so many more networks and features added to each of them.

As a freelancer who resides in the digital world as a career, it can be mind-boggling and overwhelming where to start and invest your time and oh, the changes that occur daily (almost momentarily).

All of this overload led me to believe a digital detox is something we all need (especially if that’s the area we work in). 

Why You Might Need a Digital Detox

One weekend I made the decision to delete my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook apps off my phone.

I was hesitant at first because I began to think I was going to suffer a serious case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).

What if a super, uber-celebrity retweeted my blog?

What if I gained overnight Twitter Stardom?

What if I woke up to a gazillion followers on Instagram overnight?

What if I went viral on Facebook and didn’t even know it?

All those ri-gosh-damn-diculous (and not to mention douche-bag) thoughts went through my social-laced head and I obviously needed to check myself. I mean seriously. Just saying them out loud makes me want to kinda give myself a little twist of the ear.

The mere idea of those questions and potential FOMO had me disputing my sanity AND knowing I definitely needed to delete these apps…like yesterday.

If you’re in the digital landscape and have these thoughts, then ya just might need a digital detox.

If you don’t live in the online world like some of us freelance folks, but still itch for a bit of app-free time, don’t wait for the FOMO feeling to hit you.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Perhaps you eat and scroll.

Perhaps your thumb is all sorts of sore from texting like Billy Joel plays the piano.

Perhaps your kids are like, “Parental Unit, I’m talking to you” while you check your email.

Perhaps you reach for that iPhone like you reach for your inhaler.

Perhaps you just need a damn break from your screen.

If there’s any resemblance here, let’s get our digital detox on, shall we?

But first, we must peel a few layers back…

Know Thyself

If you’re like me, I’m all about that personal development.

If I’m going to do something to help me grow and learn about myself, I want to maximize it.

Because I like to “optimize” most things and before I go into the “how” of a digital detox I want you to know a wee bit more about yo’self.

I’m a raving fan of Gretchen Rubin.

She’s the author of The Happiness Project and many other books which help you know thyself.

And when you know more about yourself, you can make better decisions that work for you. Or so the theory goes.

I first heard the idea of being an abstainer or moderator from her work.

The abstainer thrives without having to decide or justify why they can have, let’s say, a cookie. If you’re an abstainer, you tell yourself, “I don’t eat sugar” and it’s kind of “easy” as that.

Moderator’s need, well, moderation or they will go bazerk saying, “I can never have a cookie again”. Moderators can totally handle having a bite of a cookie without having to go full-on Cookie Monster.

Why the hell am I bringing up the abstainer/moderator talk?

Because this might guide you in how you want to handle your digital detox.

I know people who moderate their digital life with a weekend delete of apps and all things electronic.

I also know people who’ve sworn off social media for a whole year (or more) and chucked their smartphone for a little flippy one. (Oh, hello T9 texting).

Some people need a little digital detox getaway (the weekender’s) and some people need a complete upheaval (ditch that iPhone and deactivate Facebook like the button happy person you are).

When you know what will work for your life, it’s easier to make decisions from that place.

Ok, let’s get into already. Geez, Kel, your tangents.

How to Rock a Digital Detox

The first question you might ask yourself is why do you use social media?

Why do you subscribe to a newsletter?

Why do you visit that website?

I use social media and subscribe to newsletters and visit websites as fuel for inspiration.

When I log-in and start scrolling I’m looking for uplifting, thought-provoking content.

I’m not in it for the news or the polarity it can provide as well (cool if you do, just not for me).

Knowing why you get online is key to knowing how you want to navigate it.

Now for the nitty gritty digital detox tips…

UNSUBSCRIBE

Have a bunch of unopened email lurking in your inbox/junk folder? Unsubscribe.

My rule of thumb is if you don’t look forward to a newsletter or email from a particular person/brand/company then hit that unsubscribe button.

This can touch on the FOMO real heard. I mean, I allowed my Banana Republic emails to keep coming because I loved that one time a year I shopped there and cashed in on my emails and discounts.

Not worth the continual deleting for me.

So, I unsubscribed and placed mad trust in the shopping God’s I’d catch a killer deal for whatever I needed when the time came.

Feel bad about unsubscribing from a newsletter you’ve been on for a looooooong time?

Think about it like this: that person doesn’t want you on their newsletter if you’re not opening it, or potentially buying and/or using what they’re putting out there.

If you’re not excited to open an email or interested to see what’s inside, do everyone a favor and unsubscribe.

I actually encourage unsubscribes from my newsletter frequently; I encourage a win-win on both digital ends.

And remember, you can always subscribe again!

Ahh, love that. The sound of sweet-ass choices.

Just think how free you and your inbox will feel when that ping comes and you’re all, “Oh hell yes, I can’t wait to open this email” versus dreading what’s lurking in your folders.

UNFOLLOW

The same sentiment goes for unfollowing people on your social media platforms. If you don’t want to interact with someone you’re following on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. than clickity-click that unfollow button.

I’ve unfollowed people I thought I’d love forever but just wasn’t pickin’ up what they were putting out there NOW (that could always change).

And whenever I think about them or want to see what they’re up to I go creep on their profile. People change. Ideas are fluid.

Keep checking in with where you’re at and the people whom you subscribe to.

Unfollow, unfollow, unfollow to whatever and whoever doesn’t serve the reason why you decide to log-in to these accounts.

TAP THAT APP (GOODBYE)

This doesn’t have to be a permanent thing, it can be temporary.

Choose a designated day(s) out of the week when you want to go app-less to the ones you just can’t seem to stop unconsciously opening (can you hear the tap, tap, tap?).

With this app-free idea, weekends are a great place to start.

That’s where my digital detox started. I loved it so much for one day, I thought, “Shoot, I’m gonna keep going ‘till Monday.”

When I re-installed the apps on Monday, I felt refreshed and excited to get in there and resume my online socializing.

Not to mention the brain space I was freed up. Holy hell. The Creativity Juice was strong and flowing and I wasn’t about to tell it to stop.

I realized how much space hitting that app icon all the damn time takes in my head (and energy).

Take control back into your hands (and thumbs) and delete that app!

Now, these are but three tips for partaking in your own kinda digital detox.

Even if you take only one of these tips for an unplug, you’re on the up and up for creative energy and time to plug into things that matter outside of social media.

I’m nowhere near utopia with my iPhone usage, but I’m better than I was.

I’ve cultivated more consciousness around it and with those extended breaks of going app-free – when I reintegrate – I can really see where I go unconscious.

We live in a digital world and if that’s not where you wanna spend your time, that is beyond rad (I’d physically high-five you if I could).

If the online world is a place you want to hang give it the boundaries and space that works for you…’cause the Zombie look (you know the one, where you’ve been staring at that screen too long) is so last season. 

Love + Tapping Out From Time to Time,   

Keli