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No One Will Notice You’ve Unplugged…And it’s a Good Thing!

What I learned from my summer off-grid in the Alaska wilderness during Covid-19

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mirrorlake at mentasta, DMShepard.com

What I learned from my summer off-grid in the Alaska Wilderness during Covid-19

How many times have you heard or said any of these?

  • I have to take my laptop with me on vacation, but I’ll only check my work emails once a day (but instead you find yourself on it constantly)
  • But I have to sleep with my cell phone, what if something important happens
  • If I’m not online all the time, I might miss that crucial sale
  • I promise I’ll put down my phone in a minute, right after I check this message (then you find you missed your whole dinner with your spouse and kids while you chatted with co-workers through social media)

Would you believe me if I told you one of the biggest lies you’ve been fed is that you’re so important you can’t take a break? That if you unplug, even for a minute, you’re going to miss something important.

Everyone wants to believe that they are crucial, that the world would stop revolving and all work would come to a halt if they didn’t participate in the day-to-day grind.

EMERGENCY

A serious, unexpected, and dangerous situation requiring immediate action

Note that I have highlighted dangerous situation. How often does a call after hours involve a dangerous situation, requiring immediate action, or someone’s life could be at stake?

Yeah, didn’t think so.

The definition of what constitutes an emergency has been twisted to mean employers can take advantage of their employees and guilt them into being available at all hours. Or even our own sense worth. If I’m not on all the time, I’m a slacker, and unworthy. Someone else will win and I will miss out. Everyone will stop following me on social media, and I will just be a nobody forever. A failure.

I’ve got a harsh, but liberating truth:

  • You can take a break, completely disconnect, disappear for a few weeks—AND BARELY ANYONE WILL NOTICE.
  • There are very few things churning in the media that DIRECTLY impact your daily life or well-being. Instead, the goal of most media is there to dangle a carrot in front of you and keep you in a constant state of anxiety and churn.

Don’t believe me?

I did it for the summer of 2019

I know, some of you are probably shaking your head.

“You just don’t understand, I’m so much more important than you. I’m (insert important title/influencer in this spot).”

But I am still going to insist. Unless you are an on-call doctor or a fire-fighter, or some other profession where actual lives depend on you picking up the phone, you can. And you need to.

I self-published my first horror novella in 2019. We also made plans for major construction on our remote property in Chicken, Alaska starting in the summer of 2020.

How was I going to promote my book? I was barely getting our new solar kit up and running. We don’t have cell service, let alone internet. We have a satellite phone for emergencies, but that’s it for now. (And by emergencies, I mean someone died or there’s a fire. But we don’t leave that on all the time either. We just check it once a day).

If I’m not actively promoting and marketing every day, my book won’t sell. Especially not as an indie author starting out. I definitely had some anxiety.

What if we miss out on something? 2020 was turning into a total nightmare. What if something even worse happens?

We pushed forward anyway. The construction at the cabin has been a long-term goal of ours.

We not only built two more cabins, but I installed solar panels and and inverter kit this summer

We discovered an amazing thing while we were out of town.

What was the news saying when we left?

OMG! LOOK THE WORD IS FALLING APART!

  • ORANGE MAN BAD
  • WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE OF COVID
  • SOCIALISM BAD
  • WE’RE GOING BROKE
  • RIOTS
  • SOCIAL UNREST
  • RACISM
  • HATE
  • AMERICA IS TERRIBLE

What were they saying when we returned?

The exact same things, with very little change:

OMG! LOOK THE WORD IS FALLING APART!

  • ORANGE MAN BAD
  • WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE OF COVID
  • SOCIALISM BAD
  • SOCIALISM GOOD
  • WE’RE GOING BROKE
  • RIOTS
  • CIVIL UNREST
  • RACISM
  • HATE
  • AMERICA IS TERRIBLE

What did we REALLY miss out on? The constant negative cycle of anxiety and frustration over things we cannot control or change.

My book sold okay (especially considering much of my marketing strategy revolved around Alaska tourism, and that took a serious hit). I didn’t bleed followers, though I didn’t gain many either. A few people checked in to make sure we were ok, but for the most part, people didn’t even notice we were gone.

But I gained a few things that will help my health and writing far more.

I gained the ability to sit and enjoy my mornings. Sip tea with the cat on my lap and listen to him purr. Focus my thoughts on my tasks for the day. Reflect on where I need to concentrate my time and energy, and not let people or media outlets with other agendas steal that that from me and waste my time.

The serenity of sunset out at the cabin. Sometimes we just sit on the porch with a glass of wine.

Now that we are back in town, we pick and choose when to tune in. I wish I could have done this sooner, tuned out all the noise and anger and just focused on what is important to me. Going forward into the next year, I hope to be even more particular about where I spend my precious resources of time and energy.

I beg of you, for your own health and sanity. Take some time to unplug for real. I know not everyone can go to a remote cabin in Alaska for weeks at a time. But you can turn off the phone for a few hours and focus. You can put the laptop away and enjoy a good book or dinner with your family.

If it’s important, they’ll leave a message. Trust me.

About the Author

Thanks for reading!

I pulled up anchor from a small town in the Mojave Desert at 18 and joined the Navy’s Nuclear Power Program. A diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis derailed my dreams of becoming a super spy. I made limoncello from my lemons and became a super electrical engineer instead. When I am not playing with live electricity, you can find me writing about my adventures in Alaska, my work as a woman in STEM, or my struggles with chronic illness. Our dream is to turn our 31 acres of Alaska wilderness into an off-grid retreat. My first self published horror novella, The Dark Land, is available on Amazon.

Our camping trip into Wrangell-St. Elias National Park as part of my writing reassert for my Alaska novels
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