Aloha fellow learn-it-all 👋
Greetings from Diamond Head, O’ahu in Hawai'i 🌺
My brother Mitch visited me last week and that was quite the whirlwind. His first time in Hawaii so made sure to make the most of it. So many new things to do being back on O'ahu since my last week on the Big Island for my half marathon and jaw dropping manta ray dive.
I taught Mitch how to drive a moped. What a rush to be a beginner again. I remember my first time riding Ciao (what I named him), and almost hitting a car on a hill. I soon learned that the turning is with your weight more so than the wheel.
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Now, let’s scoot into letter 86 from a learn-it-all. Enjoy!
📵 Phoneless 48 Hour Reflections
I've felt that my relationship with my phone has been out of my hands lately. I felt too reliant on it.
It was taking over. I feel like Hawaii runs on Instagram. I stay in touch with family on Facebook. Twitter feeds my writing inspiration. It is all adding up to so much. The screen time numbers don’t lie (what if they did though…).
This experiment went much differently than my think weekend earlier this year with an agenda of books to read. I no preparations on a six hour snowy drive. Here are a few steps I took with some rules:
- Set the Freedom software on my laptop to block Internet and put my phone on airplane mode. Let your phone, laptop and watch die. And don't recharge them. Put them out of site, like in a shoebox in the back of your corner with the door shut.
- Cover up the clocks in the kitchen and stop tracking the time. If you own an alarm clock, unplug that too. The main reason I've found that helpful is so that rather than relying on a time to trigger an action of eating a meal, I'll intuitively eat and listen to when I am hungry instead.
- Make sure to have stationary, sticky notes, and a journal to write down thoughts
- Write down the names of a couple street names. I did this in case I was getting stir crazy and wanted to drive to the Diamond Sangha to meditate or to a bookstore I wanted to visit in Chinatown
- Write down WHY you're doing this to ground the intention. Your reason can be way different than mine. I was doing this to find more presence, test whether I needed my phone as much as I though and to seek out boredom.
Create some rules for yourself:
After all of this was in place, I did an assortment of random things that popped up.
Reading old journals. Since living in Hawaii for about five months, I've plowed through two whole journals. I started reading them and it felt like a different person wrote them. I forgot most of what I'd previously done, thought and felt. I started to create a table of contents and it was really fun to give the entries names. Such a rewarding experience to reinforce the ideas of my past self.
Writing cards. The post cards were a fun writing exercise. I think they’re underrated for writers to practice writing directly to an audience of one person.
Writing poems. They’re so silly yet simple. I love them. If you’re newer to writing and a blog sounds intimidating, try a haiku. Language is such a privilege. I’m in love with it.
Getting drenched. I didn't know about the flash flood warning in the valley. It was the first time I was actually cold in Hawai’i. I don't even own a fleece here which seems like a sin being a Midwestern gal whose closet used to be all sweaters in Chicago. I bundled up in sock, sweats and thankfully my roommates fluffy top.
Walking in this World catchup. I started reading Walking in this World by Julia Cameron about seven weeks ago and I’ve gotten behind on the curriculum in the course. It has so many prompts and the reading is so rich that I refuse to read it fast.
Visiting a bookstore. I’ve been wanting to go to Native Books store since multiple friends recommended me months ago and I just now got around to it. I felt silly writing down my contact info on a sticky note for the friend I made, but that worked. No deal breaker or need for my phone. Maybe let’s bring back those nifty business cards?
Morning meditation. My habit this month, I am meditating for at least one minute every day. I started this on October 30th after joining a Zen Buddhist temple.
Some other notable notes on my discomfort with having a watchless naked wrist:
- I am no longer training for a running race so I don’t really need to track every step of data that I take every day. It’s not as important as my past self thinks
- It was a weird experience not setting an alarm for the 9am meditation on Sunday and relying on the sunrise to read the time of day it was. I also know I barely last three of the four meditation sessions which means 90 minutes of silence. What!
- I did a deep-condition of my sun-damaged hair and have no idea if it was 10 minutes that I let it soak there for. I’ll never know and that is completely A-Okay.
I wanted to do a photoshoot to serve as the date I take my artist on (as part of Julia Cameron’s creativity course). One can only take so many pictures of palm trees. Bored of the still life in my apartment and without any models, I turned the camera around. I figured out how to use the aperture, exposure, zoom, and focus on the front facing lens of my Sony 6400 camera. What a hoot that was!
I went snapping shots of myself. Titles of my silly selfie saga are included below:
Captain Jack Sparrow
8th Grade Superlative: "Best Eyes"
I got my first cellphone (the legendary enV2 flip phone) when I was in 7th grade, over a decade ago now. Before that, nothing could ever buzz, ring or zap me out of the present moment. I’m always charging and charging it. I even carry a portable charger just in case. Why don’t I let the little glass box take a prolonged nap?
Yes, there are SO many benefits to a cellphone. Even more so, safety especially as a woman. But to think that about ten years ago, and some change, I didn’t have this thing taking over my attention is mind boggling. I don’t have 300 day Snapchat streaks with my sister and AudiOctober with my daily podcasts is over. Though, it hurts me to think that some folks can’t fathom life without a phone.
Being human doesn’t mean that others get to take our attention. Rather than paying attention to these apps, I want to learn how to be attentive.
My grandma Omi never understood why I was so disrespectful in high school obsessed with my iPhone probably playing Tiny Wings. I’d stare at the screen instead of engaging in a conversation with her in person. She was onto something there with this observation.
I felt so much relief with one less thing to check while sitting in my boredom. I realize this is a privilege as I don't have others dependent on me like a partner or children. Though I highly recommend the experiment of what life without a phone feels like.
Experiment: Try out phone-less days, mornings, or even just an hour at night when you typically are doom scrolling. Let me know how that feels for you. What do you experience?
To tie this in a bow, in the wise words of the stoic philosopher Epictetus:
“You become what you give your attention to. If you yourself don’t choose what thoughts and images you expose yourself to, someone else will, and their motives may not be the highest.”
Per what I mentioned above, I've been on a kick of enjoy writing poems. I feel like they have served as a great vehicle to be more intentional with my word choice and to view writing as music meant to be recited aloud.
Phoneless 48 hours
Brewed a fresh pot of coffee
Beeping heard from three stories below.
Oh, how I love a cup of joe
and to think I quit this routine
not so long ago.
Sitting on my lanai
bound for the south shore swell
On this fine
I questioned my soreness:
Are my bruises actually that bad?
What does Surfline say the waves look like?
Am I missing the gnar?
My Wavestorm will need to wait
for another day.
And so I continued my ritual
Picked up the most brown banana
Mashed him into the kodiak cakes.
No Jack Johnson heard.
No Banana Pancakes song to dance to.
How sad I felt without Spotify
The silence is necessary though
To realize what a blessing music can be.
I remember CDs for Christmas
blasting on my boombox
covered in stickers
from being an obedient ballerina.
Just like Amazon packages arriving
within two days,
Spotify is pure convenience.
We type a song and hear it.
Botta bing, botta boom.
Next best option?
Let’s try the real deal:
I didn't have my ukulele app
My strings were a mess
Far from pleasant sounding.
I send my condolences in advance
to my neighbors thanks to these thin walls
Even the ones with the opera-bound newborn.
No Spendee app to track
my McFlurry dessert last night.
How will I remember the money I spent?
No laundry app to be proactive
With these smelly linens
or sweaty socks.
The banks are closed.
I guess it'll have to wait
for another rainy day.
No Google maps.
Time to go get lost moseying around.
Worst come to worst
I pretend to be a tourist and ask
or lean into the lostness
and hope to be found.
No weather app
To know when the flash flood would flee
Time to get drenched
Covered in goosebumps
And hope for a rainbow eventually.
Good riddance to Twitter,
Instagram and emails
Those three sneak into my subconscious
cast spells on my thumbs
to incessantly check
and capture my attention.
Relentless with their rushes
firing off excitement in my brain.
The seconds, minutes, hours pass
As if it were laundry money
Lying on the linoleum floor.
Perhaps life without a phone isn’t so bad?
🔎 Word to define
Lanai: A Hawaiian phrase for a specific type of porch that usually has concrete floors and are found on the ground adjacent to the home
A type of porch comparable to a patio, sunroom, or veranda. Though, they are different featuring screens or windows that give the indoor and outdoor living feeling. It is usually used year round.
First documented as the name of the sixth-largest of the Hawaiian Islands and the smallest publicly accessible inhabited island in the chain. It is roughly apostrophe-shaped island with a width of 18 miles in the longest direction and a land area of 140.5 square miles (or 68,002 American football fields)
Colloquially, Lanai is known as the Pineapple Island because of its past as an island-wide pineapple plantation. (Fun fact: it take two years for one pineapple to fully grow). As of 2012, the island is 98% owned by founder and chairman of Oracle, Larry Ellison.
My research results are inconclusive on where the transition went from an island name to a part of a home. My hypothesis is because the Hawaiian language nearly went extinct years ago.
Catch me enjoying my mornings with sun streaming in reading Julia Cameron, pondering the meaning of life, and journaling on my lanai.
🌟 Quote to inspire
“Navigators need the stars to structure their voyages. We artists, too, need other points of reference to stay on course." -Julia Cameron
❓ Question to think about
How can I love all the parts of myself, both my favorite and my least favorite parts?
📷 Photos of the Week
While Mitch visited me, we biked 42 miles across O’ahu and ascended 3,000 feet up a volcano across the island. Exhausted is an understatement, but the views were totally worth it.
- To my brother Mitch Vermet for starting his new job this week back in Michigan near where I grew up for UHY Corporate Finance
- To my volleyball friend Scott Cooney for inspiring the question to think about
- To my new bookstore friend Hannah Broderick who inspired me to lean into writing poems again
- To Tom Worcester for sharing the Epictetus quote up top
I appreciate you reading this! If certain ideas resonated or you have feedback to improve my future newsletters, I’d love you to leave a comment, reply to this email, or send me a message on Twitter @JenVermet. If you want to learn more about who I am, I welcome you to visit my online home.
Never stop learning 😁
On my gratitude for sunlight. Vitamin D is so underrated:
On authenticity, finding your tribe and being a weirdo:
A recap from the last letter in a thread on highlights from the half-marathon:
On rejection and being in the arena:
On how I am not in the Christmas spirit quite just yet:
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