Disconnecting to Reconnect (15 Lessons From Being Off the Grid)
“Life comes at you fast”, the commercial says.
“Raising kids is the longest shortest time”, one cool podcast says.
“The older you get, the faster time flies”, my Grandma said.
Which is all well and good, and you know it’s true, but in today’s world, finding a way to be still (Psalm 46:10) seems impossible. I say ‘seems’ because it’s our
own dadgum fault that we don’t turn it all off and get refocused where it matters.
Knowing myself to be a Type A Driver personality, and knowing how my family operates, it was just time for something different, to find a way to disconnect so as to reconnect.
We went off the grid to an amazing ranch in the Colorado Rockies. No internet, no cell phone coverage, no television. For some of y’all, you just tensed up at the very idea of being gone for any amount of time much less a solid week. Not gonna lie, my DH was stressed over the idea. (“Will we be safe if we are without cell phones?” “Yes, honey, folks have managed this for centuries.”)
Here’s what came back with me after a week off the grid, on a horse.
- You can’t let one asshole ruin your day. Timmy had a day with his horse, Wyatt, which was not ideal. Wyatt was just not cooperating. If you’re 12, and not an experienced horseman, you could just throw in the reins and give up. But our wrangler, Matt, reminded Timmy that just because Wyatt was being an asshole, it was not enough reason to quit.
- If you are the leader, someone will be up your ass. Now, the more common phrase is about how the scenery never changes, but on a horse, someone right behind you can be what keeps you moving and can also aggravate your nerves. Leadership is like that. If you’re not being challenged, you may never go forward-and what moves you forward may be someone who gives you no space. Use it as forward momentum to get up that trail.
- Goats are not discriminating eaters. Seriously, why are leather chaps such a tasty-looking snack to goats?
- Hold your horses to close the gap. How fun, to hear a cliché used in its actual form! On steep mountain trails, you don’t always want to go it alone-it’s not just for safety, it’s for the community. Trail horses do better with other trail horses. You do better with cohorts, too. You don’t always have to be out in front. (Yep, I really needed this lesson.)
- Communication is your priority. This was the big lesson in the arena with Chris, while he was coaching us on how to work cattle. The big cattle drive at the end of the week is not just for guests to feel like they are in ‘City Slickers’ but it’s actually necessary to bring the cattle in for branding. Everything Chris talked about was related to how the communication between horse and rider affects the ability of the horse to work the cattle. Isn’t that everything in life? We talk about communication but it’s usually about that first degree (me and you), forgetting that the ripple effects are the ones that drive change (me and you and then you and someone else and then someone else and their someone else).
- Get back on your horse. We all fall sometimes. No one is perfect and no one gets everything right the first time OR all the time. The difference is what you do next. Do you walk? Give up? Complain? Or do you realize that sucking it up might just be the best option? Maybe you think everyone saw you, or you think you’re stupid/worthless/unlovable/unfixable but none of that is true. The fact that you kept going is the power of you.
- “Mom, we’re going to the saloon.” “Okay, honey, have a good time.” Put this in the category of things you never expect to say to your middle schoolers. As it turns out, the saloon offers a touch of freedom. Your kids need some freedom, particularly in this over-scheduled, over-protective, over-parented world. Guess what? They can handle it.
- You don’t need the internet. Or its carefully cultivated image of what life is supposed to be like (or the image of what YOU are supposed to be like). Once upon a time, the internet was a tool that was helpful. Now, call it what it is. An addiction. Let go of those notifications. Those time-killer games. Those photo-shopped selfies. Instead, go outside with your hair not fixed. Sit down and chat with your family for 3 meals a day once in a while. Play cards. It’s magical.
- You’re never too old. To shoot a gun for the first time, or go whitewater rafting, or get on a horse and ride, or flirt! My 90-year old uncle had never been on a horse or been rafting, and it had likely been a while since he had someone flirt with him (my aunt kept an eagle eye on that situation, never fear!), but he did all of those things and enjoyed the heck out of it. The only time you’re too old for something is when you convince your brain that you’re too old.
- Just because it’s the way you’ve always done it doesn’t make it right. That phrase ‘the way we’ve always done it’ gives me hives, you know. For me, this was finding out that I’ve been shooting from my right side when I should be shooting from my left side. Do I have to spend some time relearning? Sure do! Will it be worth it? Absolutely. I’m already having more fun shooting trap now. Even if you’ve done something for 30 years… ask questions and be open to suggestions and change.
- You never know what your strengths are until you try. Timmy shot a 20-gauge for the first time and missed everything. He wanted to quit and give up. Instead, the next day he tried again and had an 80% rate on hitting the clays. Now, he’s enamored of shooting and wants to get better. He would never have found this ability had he A. not tried and B. not tried again.
- Your kids want to spend time with you. Even teenagers. Take them off of their devices and talk WITH them. You’ll get the hugs you’ve been missing. Laugh at senses of humor that have developed in a big way. See the compassion they have for their elderly relatives. We all found each other again.
- I am not a cruiser, and that’s okay. For some people, vacation consists of a pre-planned cruise and days of just sitting. I’ve always been jealous of that ability because I suck at relaxing. This was an active vacation, with stuff to do every minute, tired muscles at the end of the day, and a general sense of happily being tired. Being physically filled and tired at the same time was exactly what I needed to regain my equilibrium.
- Your phone can be set to autoreply on text. Thank you, Mashable.
- Pay in advance. Yes, this was an expensive vacation. We saved up and paid for it a year ago. Had we not done that, it would have been easy to cancel it or shorten it for myriad excuses!
A piece of me has been rediscovered at Black Mountain Ranch. I don’t know if I’ll maintain this distance from social media very well, or how long the euphoria will last, but I do know that I can’t lose this particular piece again.