Unplug & Recharge//

7 Phone-Free Summer Moments That Will Inspire You to Live in the Present This Fall

These anecdotes are exactly what you need to forget your phone on purpose.

Nuroon Jampaklai / Shutterstock
Nuroon Jampaklai / Shutterstock

As summer winds down, it’s important to take a moment to reflect on the most memorable moments we experienced and connections we fostered during the warmer months. While we were all probably tempted to capture some perfect sunsets or beach photo-ops, it’s often the moments that happen when we leave the distraction of our phones behind that bring into focus how powerful the season can really be. 

We asked members of the Thrive community to share their favorite phone-free moments from this summer that are inspiring them to live in the present this fall. We hope their stories will inspire you, too. 

A sky full of stars

“As a mom of three, I always remember the line, ‘You only have 16 summers.’ So for years we have rented a cabin for one week in July to get away as a family. Watching the kids sitting by a campfire enjoying s’mores and talking about life while looking up at the stars we never get a chance to see was, and always will be, priceless.”

—Siobhan Kukolic, author, inspirational speaker, and life coach, Toronto, ON, Canada

A slow, mindful morning

“At a time when we often retreat to or find solace with our phones, I received a mindful moment of comfort this summer. I took a purposeful trip to be with my aunt and uncle. We moved away from our phones and drank coffee, took to the newspaper, and talked as we worked on the crossword puzzles together. Time seemed to stand still. The results were mindful eye contact, slowed breathing, sound thinking, and days without being ruled by notifications.”

—Josh Neuer, licensed professional counselor, Greenville, SC

A true learning moment 

“My favorite phone-free moment was looking over and seeing my 5-year-old son reading to his little brother. It was so beautiful and inspiring — it kept me going and made me feel good knowing that I’ve taught my son to read at an early age. As a mother and a business owner, life often feels like an emotional rollercoaster and it’s hard to give myself a pat on the back, but this moment made it all worthwhile. I really learned how important it is to put the phone down and be a mom first!”

—Nazia DeFrank, CEO, Lynbrook, NY

A sense of stillness with a pet

“I took my cat out for a leash walk when my phone battery died. Buddy and I were tracking a robin across the street. I knew there was no way I’d be able to convince him to go home to charge my phone. I put my earbuds in my pocket and watched the robin too. An hour went by. I was immersed in the sounds of nature on my inner city street: Chickadees calling, squirrels throwing pine cones to the ground, planes flying overhead. I felt a stillness that can’t be learned from a podcast.” 

—Anna Shannon, university committee governance, Calgary, AB, Canada

A bout of photo-free sightseeing

“Over Labor Day weekend, my best friend and I went to my parent’s home on the coast of Maine. I inadvertently left my phone on the counter. We spent the afternoon sightseeing, shopping, and cruising around in the convertible. After the initial panic of ‘how can I not have my phone?’, I found it to be incredibly liberating to unplug and focus on the moment. I am planning to forget my phone on the weekends more often as we move into fall because it felt like a mini-vacation!”

—Cindy J., executive search and HR consultant, Boston, MA

A meditative experience at sea

“Last weekend I went whale-watching. I saw the color of the sky — hues and gradients of blue — blend with the water as the waves rose and fell. The waves alternated between rising gloriously high and falling back into the ocean surface. As I watched that, it put me in a meditative state and reminded me of the restorative effect nature has on us, and that nothing is permanent. Perhaps beauty lies in that transience and the present moment is all that matters.”

 —Vinutha Narayan, global head of strategic projects, San Francisco, CA  

An unexpected diversion in nature

“One July afternoon, my partner and I were fishing at Minnesota’s Vermilion River, near the Canadian border, when we hit a rock and snapped our engine’s propeller. We estimated an 18-hour paddle back to the resort where we were staying, which was not a realistic option. So, we did the next best thing: We settled in to wait for rescue, turning off our ‘no service’ phones to conserve battery life. As the skies darkened, we were amazed by all we heard: fish jumping, loons calling, owls screeching, and beavers thwack-booming the water with their tails. Listening intently — mostly because we were hoping for the sound of a boat coming to rescue us — made me realize just how alive nature is, even in the dark.”

—Bev Bachel, freelance writer, Minneapolis, MN

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