When you have a new baby in the house, there are lots of firsts people expect you to record. I’m finding that the most interesting firsts aren’t his (yet: he’s only 6 weeks old after all) but ours.

We went on vacation last week to Paris, France for the first time as a family. That wasn’t so significant since we travel quite regularly. In the rush to get out the door – since I waited until the last minute to take a shower before climbing onto a plane for 6 hours – I left new smart phone at home. In the previous week I had my teenage neighbor over to show me its mysteries in a way that reminded me of setting up the voicemail for my faculty while I was in university. I never thought I would be so out of touch with technology or so oblivious to the ‘real world’ as an academic. I now know that though those two things may have been some of it, its also that technology behaves like fashion. You are cemented in the decade you grew up in. For me this means just slightly past the gray car phones that came in bags and were the size of your head.

I didn’t realize I had left the phone at home until check in. My husband asked if I wanted him to go back for it. I said no. We did live close to the airport but it seemed silly looking at the departure lines for immigration. The irony was I had brought my old phone, hoping to take advantage of some down time to finish transferring the numbers that hadn’t fit on the SIM card.

We went away for five nights and had a wonderful time. And I reveled in the sunlight, the ancient sites of Versailles and the gardens, the last drenched days of summer in Paris. Would I have been able to if I had my phone with me?

I’d like to think so, but am not entirely sure.

In the hotel, there was no wireless but only an ethernet cord in the room which my husband used most of the time because he is completing an online course.

Again: I wasn’t on email for nearly six days. And I didn’t actually mind.

Instead of the daily irritations staying on my mind, I was completely unplugged for the first time I could ever remember. Instead of the guilt I normally might feel, I felt relief. Partly because I was thankful for the concept of vacations and relishing being with my baby without the objectives of the office hanging over my head. Also because I needed the rest after a three weeks of being back at work.

But mostly because it reconnected me to what I know to be true about myself: I am a writer at heart. Though I may be good at other things, like organizing conferences and throwing parties or introducing people, these things crowd out the discipline of writing.

Every word put into an email is one less word that goes into my book.

And every piece of sugar I put in my month is one less gram of the 10 kilos (20 pounds) I need to lose from our baby’s birth.

These are my goals going forward. To unplug from email and to stay plugged into myself, my life, and my talents.

Join in me in this pursuit for meaning. And let’s share our struggles and successes along the way.

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