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Clean sheets

A few weeks ago, I installed a major update for the calendar program that I use on my phone. I like gadgets and updates and all those techie things, so I jumped in and was so happy to use the new features of the app. Unfortunately, during the next few days, I received several calls about appointments I missed. Sure enough, these commitments were saved in my calendar, but the reminders didn't trigger and I missed them. At that point, I realized just how out of touch I was with my schedule, and I didn't like it.

I used to love keeping a paper planner. In my 20s, when I was single and only managed myself, I would keep my appointments in my head. After I got a little older and had jobs with consequential deadlines, I started to use a paper calendar. When I got pregnant with #1, I began to embrace my agenda by keeping ideas, inspirational quotes, and long-term goals written down. I loved my planners and would relish in getting a new one each year. It was not just a clean, new book, it was part and parcel of the clean slate New Years brings--I could put anything in a new planner. The future was unwritten.

Then smartphones were born.

I turned 40 in 2007, and for my big birthday, I got my first iPhone. The iPhone had been on the market for about 4 months, and I was so excited to receive it. I dove right into it and entered all my contacts, added all my calendar events, ripped all my CDs to iTunes so they could be uploaded to my phone. Happy, happy, happy.

But, I wasn't getting the calendar app; it fit the purpose, but it didn't fill the void left by a paper agenda. I spent close to 4 years fighting with myself to transition to an electronic calendar including purchasing close to $100 worth of apps to find the "perfect" one. Yet I was carrying around this large book and looking out-of-touch, unsavvy, and distinctly middle-aged.

Then the unthinkable happened and the company that published the datebook that I loved sent an email saying that they were going out of business and would not be producing calendars for the next year. It was the push I needed and I decided that I was going to use nothing but my phone from then on. And I did that. And it worked until it didn't, last month.

When I didn't get those reminders, I was annoyed with my phone. How could it fail me? How could the app remove my reminders? Why was there not a huge note from the developer saying "You may lose your reminders" that I had to click before installing?

*Boom* I realized I was blaming my phone, and not myself. Which brings me back to the epiphany: I don't use my brain anymore. Not only do I not know what is in my schedule, I don't remember phone numbers, important dates, the next day's weather report, or even my kids' social security numbers. I rely on my phone for information, direction, entertainment, and communication. I abdicated responsibility for so much of my life, and it is time to reclaim it.

So, along with all the other changes that are coming up this year, I am weaning myself from my reliance on my cellphone. Given the sheer number of things that I need to track for our move, including projects on updating and selling the house, getting long-term visas, passing my DELE A2, and still managing daily life for our family of 5, I have to know that I am in the game, on the court, and being responsible for all of it. Where I've decided that I begin is by reclaiming one of my former loves, my planner.

So, here's to a fresh start for all of us--a year full of empty pages to create whatever we choose to write down!

paper calendar


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