The Path Towards Thriving | Living Hands Free

Throughout 2014 I'm planning to blog about my One Little Word journey as I investigate what it means for me to thrive. I don't have a set schedule in place but will share as I identify areas, recognize strengths or weaknesses, ask questions, learn lessons, and hopefully make life-affirming choices along the way.

No. 1 | I believe that for me to thrive I need to live a less distracted life.

"You know we're going to have an intervention about that soon right?"

We were sitting on the couch after dinner, chatting and getting ready to play a couple rounds of Mario Bros on the Wii.

Darn it (that's not really the word that came to mind but you get the point). "Yes," I replied and felt a wave of shame wash over myself.

My connection to the phone and the online world is powerful. It's where most of my work-life exists (I'm on the type-A, take-care-of-this-right-this-very-minute, obsessive end of the personality spectrum), where many of my friends exist, and to be honest, sometimes some of my self-worth is mixed in here too.

I put my phone face-down on the couch next to me and turned to face him, "I know."

In my head I could rationalize it. I was waiting for him to get things set up. I was probably checking my email one more time because I'm responsible and I pride myself on being accessible and taking care of stuff immediately or I was peeking at Facebook seeing if any responses were needed or if there was a comment on a photo I'd recently posted on Instagram.

But I knew he was right.

I need a major iphone boundary check.

Another evening we had a discussion about parenting after Anna refused to put her coat away. She was exhausted and defiant. I was exhausted and not ready for battle because it seems like battling is all we do lately. During the discussion he said he thought she was mean to me. He had watched, unsure where to step in and when to step away.

It was a good talk about who we are and who we want to be as parents. I listened carefully, trying hard not to take anything too personally, listening instead for suggestions I could implement the next time an opportunity arose. It was hard and easy at the same time because I know what he was saying was coming from a loving place and that he was right.

As I reflect on how Anna and I have been interacting lately I think so much of it comes down to me being a distracted parent. Distracted by my work, distracted by the dishes in the sink, distracted by the running list in my head, distracted by pressures both real and imagined, distracted by a million other things.


I don't want to be this person. I know there are times when I've been less distracted but over the last couple of years I've become that person again and it's definitely time for a re-alignment.

I have lots of excuses for my distractions but really none of them matter more than my relationship with my kids and those closest to me.

It's time to start living that way.

I wrote out the above stories a few days ago as I started working on this post.

Since then I've taken a few steps forward and a few steps back. The simple act of acknowledgement - and for me this has been a growing acknowledgment over the past few months - is starting to result in me actually taking action.

One of the first things I'm doing is reading Rachel Macy Stafford's new book Hands Free Mama. Rachel runs a blog of the same name that you might have seen me mention or link to in the past. She's a wonderful story teller and truth teller and is really inspiring life-changes by encouraging people to get connected to what really matters. I reviewed an advance copy of the book last year but feel like I'm really reading it for the first time now. And PS - this book isn't just about creating meaningful connections with your kids - it's about removing the distractions that keep us from deeply connecting with the people we claim to care about most.

One of the suggestions from Rachel is to go public about your intention to live Hands Free so here I am.

Hi, I'm Ali and I've been living distracted for far too long and I'm ready to let go and make a very meaningful change in my life.

Tonight I started reading a chapter book out loud to both kids in the evening. It's an opportunity for the three of us to do something together that doesn't involve a screen.

We're starting with Charlotte's Web.

Related Posts

Sign in or sign up to comment.

218 thoughts

  1. Detoxing from the Smart Phone » Mom Writes Life says…

    […] the start of the year I was reading a blog post about distractions and being too much into the phone and […]

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. Jen says…

    Lovely post Ali. I have been struck that even though all 4 of the people I know who are connecting with OLW this year have selected DIFFERENT words, we all seem to be searching for the same thing - a less distracted existence, where the people and things that truly matter come first. It's a lofty goal.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Jen says…

      Oops! Hit enter too early! What I wanted to say is that I am starting to wonder if we're all just being a little bit too tough on ourselves? Not necessarily about technology distraction - but about the idea that we (especially women) have trouble concentrating on a single item because the never ending internal dialogue in our brains never.ever.stops. Right? I am going to continue to choose (my OLW) to engage with my kids and my spouse and the hobbies that I adore rather than check FB But I think I'm also going to choose to recognize that part of the distraction in my life that keeps me from those things is simply the necessities of running a family and being a Mom and having a career and the way my brain functions. Just my 2 cents :-)

  3. Jamie Fisher says…

    Beautiful. You are beautiful, your words are beautiful, you make life feel beautiful. I wish I could have an "Ali" in my neighborhood. :)

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. Around Here | January 2014 | Ali Edwards says…

    […] that reading chapter books out loud to my kids in the evening is just awesome. After writing my post about distraction a couple weeks ago I really did take action and it’s continued to be something I’m super […]

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. Kate says…

    I've always admired your authenticity from afar over the years. One place that I have a suggestion to visit from how I've seen your beautiful open and committed heart is the Conscious Discipline website-aka Loving Guidance with Dr. Becky Bailey. Her work aligns with the values you constantly journal about. She is working to help parents and teachers work on discipline as a practice (not a punishment) and with a Conscious present state of mine in our adult brains. After 25 years in the classroom this revolutionized my teaching experience. Good luck. Piaget calls the four year old stage (Your Four Year Old--Wild and wonderful).
    Wishing you well and looking forward to this year of reflection as I renew.

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. OLW 2014 | Areas of Focus | Simple Scrapper says…

    […] is ultimately about distraction and creating space in my mind. My efforts towards the first two areas should significantly impact […]

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. TracieClaiborne says…

    Ali - thank you for sharing "Hands Free Mama' and her blog. I have just read several of her posts and pretty much cried my face off. I loved her post about the day she stopped saying "hurry up." Oh my heavenly love I am HORRIBLE ABOUT THAT! I do good about staying off my phone with my child but I spend entirely too much time overall on the computer. I often wonder if I will look back and realize I wasted entire years just staring at the screen. I'm going to continue to follow your journey and read the Hands Free Mama blog and I'm going to do better. When you know better, you do better. Thank you for being transparent.

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. My Simple Adventures says…

    […] have taken time this past week to follow Ali Edwards advice to put down my phone and be present in the place that I am in. That could be from exhaustion at the end of some really […]

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. lindsey says…

    very brave post. beautiful. just what i needed to hear.

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. Renee V. says…

    Good luck to you. I need to do the same thing. It's so hard these days. I like the book idea, especially the excellent story of Charlotte's Web!

    Reply 0 Replies
  11. weekend favorites @ Gabi says…

    […] LOVE this post by Ali Edwards. Ali and I chose  the same one little word for this year. She is amazing. I love […]

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. Kaly says…

    Thank you so much for this post. Exactly what I need to hear. December was really hard for my little boys and I. Lots of fighting and butting heads. Little did I realize, until all the stress was over, was that all they wanted was me- a lot less distracted. This is perfect and I will look into Hands Free. Thank you.

    Reply 0 Replies
  13. Narelle says…

    Amazing, and just a little challenging, thank you Ali! As the working mum in our family, (my hubby stays home with my two little ones) - it's definately a reminder that I need and need big time right now.

    Reply 0 Replies
  14. For the Love of Small - Be More with Less says…

    […] inspired by Ali’s story and let one little word make you better by getting real about who you are and what you […]

    Reply 0 Replies
  15. Gail says…

    What a lovely and authentic post - thank you for sharing!

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Diane says…

      I've just come upon this post by following links in your "About Here" layout post, and found a very resonant feeling with where you were at in January.

      Our family is a small unit, myself, my husband, his daughter and our dog (not forgetting a snake). Like you, half my life seems to exist online, I work full time and I'm trying to set up a business of my own as well. Being present for my 13yr old stepdaughter is a difficult reality to deal with, and we have all struggled with our phones and tablets etc. And not just being present for the humans, but for the animals too - it's all too easy to pick up the phone and not the snake, as the snake does need attention and handling to maintain a decent "relationship". So many people forget that too...

      We have no TV in our house. That is to say, we have no beamed in Satellite television. We have a physical television, and we have a DVD player, but watching the box is something we only do at weekends. The rest of the week we have a restriction on rectangle time, but it's all too easy to forget, or pick the phone up to check an email and BAM before you know it 45 minutes have passed, and you're late getting to bed.

      I need to put my phone down. I also need to get my business running. But ultimately, Livvy needs me and quality time together now is spent in Zentangling, or cross-stitching, or card making together. Every so often it's sharing ice cream and having a girly chat. I'd like to get her journaling more. I am blessed that she is a loving, caring girl and we have a good relationship.

      So, thank you for your insights. You have reaffirmed what I have known and felt for some time, and been working on. It's comforting to know that someone as successful and well known as your good self is having the same issues we all are - gives me hope that my business will be successful too.

      Time to be more present.....

  16. Project Life® 2014 | Week Two | Ali Edwards says…

    […] was the week I wrote about living Hands Free and included it as a 6×12 […]

    Reply 0 Replies
  17. Why FOMO Could Be Hurting Your Scrapbooks - Simple Scrapper says…

    […] 2014, it’s quite easy to stay permanently tethered to the cloud. But as many have written, along with that comes feelings of disconnection and even loneliness. FOMO today stems from this […]

    Reply 0 Replies

Sign in or sign up to comment.