From Paris, With Love

by Jenn (eating bender) on April 5, 2010

No, this is not another April Fool’s joke. I haven’t traveled across the ocean, I promise.

I was feeling a bit nostalgic this evening – can I blame it on Courtney’s blog? – and thinking back to where I was during this time of year a few years ago. 2007, to be exact. It’s not that I’m not enjoying where I’m at right now in 2010 – I am, immensely. It’s just that three years ago I was in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The title of my post already gave it away…

Ahh, Paris. Land of my two favorite foods. Bread and coffee. Viennoise and café au lait.

Not my picture, but I sure wish it was.

The city took my breathe away. Although it was bitterly cold while we were there – the forecast said 70* but turned into 30* and rainy for most of the trip – I enjoyed every moment.

I lived that stereotypical Parisian dream for a week. I walked EVERYWHERE. I ate ANYTHING. I disconnected from all electronics. No cell phone. No laptop.

{Though I must admit I found an Internet café to check my quarter grades. Yes, I was that girl.}

Internet cafés aside, I spent 10 days immersed in a culture and soaked up everything I could.

I don’t speak much French – I’m sure I annoyed many people as I struggled to remember the basic phrases to get around the city. But I do speak the language of delicious food. This fact made things much easier when exploring the exquisite culinary options.

Gelato, for instance.

Our travels took us to numerous landmarks. We walked to Notre Dame by day…

…and through the Louvre by night.

I felt like Robert Langdon at times :)

But why am I telling you this?

I talk a lot about social media and how amazing it is that we connect with people we never would have met before through mediums such as blogs and Twitter.

I’ve even made a job out of it!

However, there should always be a time built into our day where we live the way I lived for 10 days in Paris. Disconnected from technology, but connected to the sights, smells and sounds around us. Being completely present – not just semi-listening to conversations from one’s fiance while simultaneously checking email and chatting on the phone with one’s mom. {Who would be so rude…?}

I pondered this as I examined my to-do list this morning. I even asked some of my Twitter friends – irony? – how they balance everything out. They stressed the importance of prioritizing, figuring out what’s most important and breaking it down step-by-step. And remember, “doing a zillion things at once means you will get nothing done!”

So true, my friends.

Although I would like to find that perfect solution to getting everything knocked off the to-do list each day, I’ve realized that it’s much better for my sanity – and, in the end, my quality of work – if I do take things one step at a time. Sure, I may not always respond to emails immediately (anyone who knows me knows how bad I am at that one). I may not get to try that new recipe out like I said I would.

But I will take a small moment of my day to look like this guy…

We could all stand to be a bit more gargoyle-like every once in a while :)

No moving. No doing. No talking.

Just sitting. Reflecting. Thinking. Being.

Gina wrote an excellent post on fighting the stress monster. I think the same applies here. The more time I set aside to disconnect with the virtual and connect with the reality (hehe – remember the days of virtual reality?), the better I am at doing my job in the social media space. I get excited to connect when I’m not connected all the time. Does that sentence make sense?

In short, I enjoy being that gargoyle.

And this is where my curiosity kicks in.

I’ve asked you about friendships you never would have expected from social media and the Internet.

Now I ask, what does disconnecting from technology do for your real life relationships?

I know one person who appreciates it when I power down. I better log off and join him now 😉 How about you? Do you have family, friends or significant others who are not a part of the blog world or the Internet space and prefer it when you don’t have your fingers glued to the keyboard?

Abrazos Accolades (is that the right word?!),

1 Foodie (Fab and Delicious Food) April 5, 2010 at 11:06 pm

Looks like such a wonderful trip! How amazing to be able to go visit Paris! Beautiful pictures!

I do take blogging breaks from time to time. From posting on my own blog and even commenting on other blogs. Sometimes it makes me feel guilty, but I do think it’s necessary sometimes. Because sometimes when you just do it all the time, it’s like you’re on auto-pilot. Sometimes it’s nicer to just take a break from it all, even if only for a day, and then when you come back to it, you can enjoy posting on your own blog and commenting on other blogs, because it’s not a chore or something to check off on your to-do list – instead, it’s something you want to do and something you choose to do.

And yes, taking breaks from blogging and spending time with others is really important! You really appreciate the things that you just don’t get or just aren’t the same when talking to people on the computer – things like face-to-face interaction, getting to see the facial expressions and emotions on people’s faces, hearing the tone of voice when someone is speaking and listening to the emotion in the way they say something, and hearing their laughter. These are things that you just don’t get or just aren’t the same when talking to people on the computer, even when someone leaves a really thoughtful comment or uses emoticons to express emotion. It’s not that comments on the computer aren’t appreciated or important, it’s just that it’s a little different from what you get from face-to-face interaction, or even talking to someone on the phone.

The other thing is that when you turn off the computer or disconnect from other technology, like just turning off your cell phone, it helps you to appreciate the fact that time spent with someone else is something here and now. It tells the person that they are important to you when you turn off technology and you can just talk to the person or take a walk with them or something. It lets that person know that you appreciate their company and that you enjoy spending time with them, and that they are a top priority in your life. And I think it’s a sign of respect to be able to turn off technology and just be able to spend some time with someone uninterrupted. It’s like you’re saying, “The time I spend with you is important. I can turn off the technology for a couple hours and just enjoy spending time with you.” Of course, sometimes this isn’t always possible. Sometimes you need to leave your cell phone on because you’re waiting for an important call, so that’s understandable. Or, sometimes you actually want to use technology and media – like you want to watch a movie or something on TV together. And I think that’s understandable also and perfectly fine. But I think that when you just want to talk and hang out with someone and just enjoy your time together, then turning off the technology is a good thing to do.

And one last point – With blogging, you can always go back to it and put up a new post tomorrow, or go back and comment on someone’s most recent post the next day. But with spending time with people – you can’t go back and spend the time with them that you chose not to. You can’t just get that time back, you know? And a lot of times it’s not a big deal, because you’ll just spend time with that person another day. But then again, sometimes it’s more complicated because when you spend time with someone, sometimes time is more limited, what with conflicting schedules, or things that always seem to come up. Either way, I think that blogging is something that’s always kind of here, and is something you can and should do on your own time. When you spend time with someone else, it’s no longer just your time we are talking about, it’s the other person’s time as well, which needs to be be taken into consideration and is something we should be respectful of.

2 Danielle April 5, 2010 at 11:26 pm

Ah, Paris! Disconnecting is key to maintaining real world relationships in my mind. I think that we can so easily get sucked into our constant virtual connection that we forget how important it is to physically interact with one another. Each and every one of my loved ones can attest to that 😉 sleep well my dear!

P.S. I’m so proud of you for fulfilling your social media dreams! You’re amazing :).

3 Jessie April 6, 2010 at 2:31 am

Haha! I’d totally be that girl checking my grades, too :) Those are some gorgeous pictures – I hope you get back there someday.

I agree that it’s essential to unplug often, to rest, recharge, and spend time with the people in your life. I wouldn’t trade the wonderful people I’ve met for anything, but cultivating the important and meaningful “real-life” relationships is just as important and sharing more of yourself online. Having a well-rounded social life makes you a well-rounded person! :)

4 Diana April 6, 2010 at 2:46 am

Oh definitely. Nowadays I always make an effort to disconnect sometimes. Just to hang out with my family, talk with my mom and dad, etc. Since I’m pretty much all day online (except when I’m at the gym or running errands), when they come home at the end of the day I always try to take a bit of time to be with them. We have dinner together every night and that’s our time. We talk about our days and the world.. everything.
I’d really like to go to Paris one day. It’s so close and there’s really no excuse!

5 Erica April 6, 2010 at 4:00 am

so true! Josh values every minute that I am nowhere near my computer :) Although he is happy that I have my blog and knows that I enjoy it, he also realizes how much it takes away from my time with him! I often have to reminder myself to close to lid on the laptop! Otherwise I’ll be back reading, commenting, searching, etc! Beautiful pictures. I’ve never been to Paris

6 Angela @ A Healthy Fit April 6, 2010 at 4:34 am

I do make an effort to disconnect. I find that all of us are so wrapped up in our cyber lives, it’s easy to forget the things/people that are right in front of you. I am going to Germany at the end of the month and I will be totally disconnected. At first it seems a bit scary, but then more than that…it is exciting!! People did live and interact before Facebook, twitter, and gchat…ya know?

7 Yasmin April 6, 2010 at 6:13 am

I’ve made it a point to shut down all electronics at 7 PM so I can enjoy my dinner and evenings. It’s done wonders for me in relaxing after a long day.

8 brandi April 6, 2010 at 8:07 am

Great post, Jenn :)

Yes, disconnecting is a VERY important thing to do.

My full time job is all on the computer, so between that, blogging, and another (new and exciting) part time job, my life kind of revolves around the computer.

I don’t think it’s a bad thing as long as I have time each day where I’m not just “not on the computer” but when my computer is actually TURNED OFF.

Our new puppy is definitely helping with that since we have to take her on walks or to the park every day, and I love that time.

9 Lauren April 6, 2010 at 8:40 am

I was the same way when I was in Paris…I was there for a week though. It was so beautiful. I didn’t have a cell phone or computer, I was just with my best friend in the world and explored the city. I also didn’t speak French…ran into some trouble with that, because some French people don’t like being spoken to in English. But it was such a great experience.
I love the idea of turning off technology once in a while. My friends and fam are more obsessed with their social medias than I am (constantly BBMing on their blackberries) so I am usually the one to say enough already! I appreciate social media and love all my bloggie friends, but sometimes you need to detach a little and have real human contact.

10 Alisa - Frugal Foodie April 6, 2010 at 9:10 am

Paris is such a wonderful city (but why do all pictures always look gloomy like that – where is the blue sky?) – now I want to go back!

11 Kimberly Rae Miller April 6, 2010 at 9:11 am

Aww, this post made me so reminiscent of my days, as an 18-year old backpacking around Europe. I loved Paris, especially the food, and am so longing to go back now that I’m a grown up and not porting all my belongings on my back–somehow people just don’t take you seriously when you roll into a fancy restaurant with your Jansport.

Disconnecting is a goal I’m constantly struggling with. I’ve literally had to give myself a technology bedtime when I turn off my computer and my phone and live like prehistoric folk without the internet. I don’t realize how draining it is to be connected all the time until I actively take a step back and live sans email/twitter/blogging/facebook. It’s so refreshing, but such an ongoing battle.

12 Tina April 6, 2010 at 9:58 am

This is a great post! I spend every morning by myself in quiet/prayer/reflection time and it always rejuvenates me. But I do admit that once I officially start the “to-dos” of my day I don’t rest enough. Also, I get easily sucked into the computer and I know my hubby and daughter appreciate when I’m not on it. It’s something I know I need to work on.

13 Lara (Thinspired) April 6, 2010 at 10:45 am

Oh, now I’m “craving” Paris today, too! I had the same experiences during my time there…tons of walking and tons of eating: the perfect balance :)

I actually “disconnected” all day on Saturday. It was so refreshing and freeing! But it’s good to be back 😉

14 Jenny April 6, 2010 at 10:48 am

Disconnecting makes for real relationships:) but i do love a good text sesh!

15 Gabriela (froyolover) April 6, 2010 at 10:52 am

Oh, WOW!
Such amazing pics!
Have a lovely week, girl!
Brazilian XOXO´s,

16 The Foodie Diaries April 6, 2010 at 12:17 pm

oooooooooh Paris, i miss you. and your french onion soup. and crepes on the street.

i constantly need to remind myself to disconnect. it’s so easy to always be ON–with blackberries, laptops, etc–that i feel like i constantly spread myself too thin. i think it’s almost expected of us–especially our generation–to be on call, attached to technology at all times. and i know–for my sanity and for my personal relationships–i need to do more to detach. gracias for this post, mi amor. def needed it. hope everything’s going well! xo

17 Rose April 6, 2010 at 12:19 pm

I like the way you’ve flipped this question around – it certainly gave me a lot to think about, for sure. (and by the way – I loved reading about your experiences abroad in this post).

Disconnecting helps me live in the moment a little better sometimes. I’m not worried about the positioning of a plate or the way I smiled in that one picture (and how I want to take a new one). My friends are usually very supportive of my picture-taking ways, but I do know they appreciate when I just turn everything off once in a while. Just the other night, my friend said, “from now on – when we go out – you’re giving me your blackberry!” that should tell me something, I bet?

Disconnecting… always a good idea. Everything should be done in moderation, including the internet!

18 Kristie April 6, 2010 at 2:03 pm

So many times I think I can get away with doing something on the computer while still fully listening to something someone (usually Chris) is saying, but Chris has caught me more than a few times not really listening. We both try to disconnect at night for an hour or two just to hang out together- it’s almost like when we’re not disconnected the time we spend together doesn’t really count?

Also… I SO want to see you when you are here! SO EXCITED! :)

19 BroccoliHut April 6, 2010 at 4:53 pm

Great post, Jenn. I experienced a little of the unplugged lifestyle this past weekend when my computer died unexpectedly. It was actually quite perfect timing–just in time for Seth’s birthday on Sunday. It gave me the opportunity to focus on living in the moment and not worrying about when’s the next time I should check e-mail, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

20 Melissa S. April 6, 2010 at 7:47 pm

can we go to paris together some day? or greece? or italy? anywhere? it would be fun…lets be spontaneous!

and i love disconnecting from everything for a while. makes life that much easier to enjoy.

21 Andrea (Off Her Cork) April 7, 2010 at 8:55 am

Jenn perfect timing! I’m totally going to have a post going up soon about this very topic! Quality time (or facetime) is very important to me. I have to have some sort of face time with Scott EVERYDAY. Even if it’s just a half hour laying in bed reading. It’s got to be something where it’s just us and nothing else. It helps keep me grounded.

22 Kristie April 7, 2010 at 3:07 pm

What a beautiful trip. I’d LOVE to get to visit Paris… someday, someday!

Disconnecting is so hard to do. I feel like I’m glued to the computer way too much, especially lately since so much of my school work/notes/studying are on this darn thing as well. Of course I LOVE it and the connections that technology offers in so many ways but it can be exhausting and draining too. Sometimes it’s just so nice to talk some quiet time to read, write (with a PEN, what a concept! haha) or have a good long conversation with great company.

I need to really listen to that message about multitasking too. I really don’t accomplish NEARLY as much as I could because I’m always trying to do ten things at once. Start one, work on it for a bit, start another, start another, go back and forth between them all… I’m forever starting things but so rarely fully completing them. One thing at a time is one thing I really need to practice.

23 Pure2raw twins April 7, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Lori is in Paris now!!! Too bad you are not there now!!

24 Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo) April 7, 2010 at 10:18 pm

“Oh the irony” is soo true! Yes on the one hand the “connections” make us feel, uh well, connected. But then again it can get to be too much sometimes. A tad overwhelming. Then if (when) I do take the time- hours or even days to disconnect, it feels great at the time. Fun to just live and enjoy life with family and in-person friends. Then all of a sudden I get stressed because I feel that I’m not in touch with my ‘electronic’ friends. Gah! Once I go around and say hi to everyone I feel better.

I’ve come to the realization that I can’t keep up with all the technology- twitter, facebook, all the posts in my reader, AND write my own blog. I may have to just do the best I can with all of it, but perfection is not an option!

Love your photos of paris! I swear I had an ice cream at that same shop! :-)

25 Katherine: What About Summer? April 8, 2010 at 6:03 pm

Ah, from Atlanta with envy.
Turning off my laptop is great for my social life; turning off my cell phone is not. Getting unlimited text messages was like the turning point in my communication with people (thus relationships).

26 Gracie @ Girl Meets Health April 10, 2010 at 6:23 pm

I’m a HUGE believer in “unplugging.” I went to Mexico last month, and I had every intention of using wireless to keep up with blogging/twitter/facebook/etc. When I found out that I was unable to connect to the wireless AND I couldn’t use my phone, I freaked out! I didn’t know how to manage without some sort of internet connection. As you clearly understand from your trip to Paris, it turned out to be the best vacation of my life, and being unplugged had A LOT to do with it.

I need to practice disconnecting much more often. It’s so hard because my entire job is pretty much based on the computer! But I think it’s really important for our *health* and quality of life, for sure.

Great post 😀

27 thedelicateplace April 11, 2010 at 6:53 am

gah! i just got back from paris at the end of march. we had perfect weather 55-60F and sun every day! i walked everywhere and felt free to eat whatever i pleased. probably because the portion sizes were normal and not enough to feed a family of 4 (ahem most american eateries!). i want to go back already!

28 Stef @ moretolifethanlettuce April 11, 2010 at 11:07 am

technology definitely enables me to keep many of my “real” relationships alive and well! so many of my friends are scattered in random places that without the good ol computer i dont know how we’d stay in touch…snail mail/phone can only get you so far. but there is definitely something to be said for taking a break from blogging/facebooking, etc. since i was in the hospital i took a long hiatus from blogging and to be honest it felt damn good! allowed me to be a lot more present in my real life :)

29 RebeccaC April 12, 2010 at 10:10 am

I love this question. My husband and I are both so ingrained in digital culture through our jobs (PR and creative lead at a digital agency) and our personal lives (my blog, both of our iPhones). We often find ourselves staring across the couch at one another, both tearubg our gazes frin the glow of our laptops, like ….”Oh, hello…”

And lately I think we’ve just been so tired of it. I can’t remember my last tweet. And its kind of relief.

30 thewhatkateateblog April 12, 2010 at 4:58 pm

I just watched the first episode of No Reservations today & it was in Paris. After that & your bread photos all I want is bread from France!

31 TorontoGirloutWest May 3, 2010 at 8:59 pm

I’ll confess I sleep with my iPhone and have a constant compulsion to read and write blogs. But I don’t.

You see the Fiance works a four on, four off schedule. So when our free time overlaps he complains if I spend time on the computer. Although, we’re in the same room he feels as though the laptop screen acts as a shield separating us. And he’s right.

So I don’t do the blog thing when he’s around. And admittedly when he’s not around I am so busy doing other things I don’t get to blog as much as I’d like. But I’ve learned to accept it – I just need to remind myself that I don’t do anything blog related for my career and thus I’m a lawyer by day but blogger just for fun. Which means sometimes I can disconnect and choose the Fiance or my puppy instead. :)

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