I Took 1-Month Digital and Social Detox: Here’s What I Learned

IMG_2470Organizing, traveling, spreadsheets, marketing, crunching, late nights, eyes glued to the screen. Skype calls, workshops, agreements, networking promoting and speaking. Does this sound familiar to you? This has been my life for the past 3 years. Although my work has been deeply fulfilling and amazing it’s also been deeply exhausting. I’m working toward social and environmental justice but at a rate that is ironically unsustainable.

While I was making strides in my work, I was not fulfilling many of my personal ethics, integrities and creative and spiritual potential. I found myself falling into robotic rhythms plowing through projects, not being fully present in everyday encounters-sometimes even with my own team.

Pitching NuMundo at Startup Chile.

Pitching NuMundo at Startup Chile.

I don’t feel in integrity when I ignore a stranger (who might be new friend) because my head is down in my phone answering emails. I also don’t feel right cutting conversations short that seem menial in comparison to a deadline to meet (that I’ve set for myself).

I longed to recover what it felt like to slow momentum and actually feel like I’m making a difference in the world without trying. I wanted to reconnect with my purpose and find that presence again. I asked myself the question, “How can I be a hero for the planet if I haven’t been a hero for my own family?” “How can I show up for social and environmental injustice if I’m not showing up for every-day strangers or missing emails of gratitude from my supporters?”

How can we go on forever trying to make a difference in the world without taking significant, yummy pauses for our own vitality, integrity and ethics?

My precious 8-month old nephew Julian and I during my digital detox,

My precious 8-month old nephew Julian and I during my digital detox,

This past September, my intention was to disconnect and reconnect to myself, to take care of my health and be a fully present daughter, Aunt, niece, sister and friend. In the past, when I visited my home in Michigan, I’d have to squeeze my family in.  

I wanted to reconnect with my own voice and purpose without the influence of social-media. I knew this would be challenging but if it’s something that’ll help me grow as a person, I’m always game.

I thought,“What would happen if I stepped away from all my projects and social media to live with my mom and do a health detox for 5 ½ weeks ?”

So, I survived my “Digital Detox” and here’s why I think all change-makers need to take pauses and how it deeply benefited me:

  • Don’t be a Stranger: It’s absolutely crucial for healing the planet that we first heal our relationship with each other. That means we must value any and all human interactions as important and meaningful. Giving the gift of presence and authenticity to a total stranger could change the world. Taking a pause from work and technology frees you up to be able to gift the gift of presence to anyone who comes into your path.
  • Disconnect to Reconnect: Getting off social media and limiting technology for a significant amount of time is transformational. For those of us who are social butterflies, influencers or just sharing the latest world challenge we face, we all need to remember what it’s like to live without social media. To disconnect can reconnect us to our OWN “news feed”, our own story, our own influence, our inner-voice and even develop a stronger telepathic, empathetic, psychic connection that we already intrinsically have.
  • Be Your Family’s Hero: Although many of us may try to avoid going home because of the inherent challenging aspects (needless to elaborate on), our family needs us more than anyone. Is it more gratifying to be a hero that’s widely recognized or to know you’ve gathered all of your grand-parents stories, taught your nephew a new skill or made crafts with your mom? Our foundation, our roots, our personal ancestry can teach us a great deal about ourselves and the world – if we take the time to listen. Let’s not forget to pause and take that sincere time with our families to exchange growth and inspiration that we can take with us and feel good about in our work.
  • Deepen Humility: I have to name it. I see a lot of people in the community of permaculture, transformational festivals and other modes of healing/empowerment that thrive off of fame and use sex appeal in marketing efforts. I see changemakers hyping themselves through “cool” affiliations and making themselves into a sexy brand. Guilty! (raises hand) If the intention is fueled by ego, it will come and go. If it is fueled by genuine, human attempts to connect all sentient beings – it will last generations. We can find that balance and continue to humble ourselves by taking pauses to step out of the limelight and feel what it feels like to not be constantly admired. It helps to bring humility and perspective.
  • Save Ourselves, Then the Planet: Take a pause to actually check in with our health. Although many of us are generally healthy, how are our adrenals doing? Are we getting all the vitamins our body needs? How are our Iron levels? Are we having healthy and regular bowels? (seriously!) Or have we been ignoring minor health issues? It’s super easy to “deal” with mediocre health in our busy lives. Even if we eat healthy and even exercise, our toxic world requires us to check in with our bodies (and our doctors – preferably holistic) and give ourselves the gift of taking time for healing. If you’re young, great! Now is the perfect time to do whatever you need to do to make sure your spaceship is running 100% so we can continue being super-heros. Our inner ecology is as important as our outer-ecology.
  • Flex Imagination: In my experience, a whole and effective transformational leader makes time and space to journey into the creative realm. Even if you don’t think you’re an artist, you are indeed! We all are. Taking time to channel our inner-artist will allow us to go with the flow, become graceful, accepting and celebrate successes. Flexing our creative self through poetry, song, dance or painting allows us to free our stress, exercise our connection with spirituality and drop our egos. At the end of the day, it takes enormous amounts of creativity, collaboration and imagination to come up with solutions to planetary challeneges. The more we exercise our creativity, the more clear our creative channels will be to change the world, inspire, create, enjoy and share!
  • Learn to Be: We certainly all know how to “do” that’s for certain. Do we know how to “be”? What does it mean to ”be”? To me it means a deep contentment of the now-moment minus the aching desire to outwardly act or participate. “Doing” involves engaging in “productive” activities that our minds think will bring us success and happiness. Being, is the process of inner-fulfillment that allows us to see, feel and gain wisdom we wouldn’t be able to access because we’re too busy “doing”. By just “being” for a month, I feel I was able to access a prolonged deep healing, self-reflection, creativity and a presence I wasn’t able to feel before. In our younger years we’re so eager to fly, excel, create our identity, figure out who we are and live out our destiny. However, it’s finding the center between doing and being that allows us to access deeper levels of wisdom and spiritual messages.
  • Re-aligning Guiding Forces: Taking a pause from our work and technology gives us the time and space to evaluate, clarify and refocus the deepest forces that guides us. We’re constantly evolving and so are our core values, motivations and passions. When we give ourselves the gift of asking ourselves ”what drives me to get up in the morning these days?”, we’ll be able to check in that our actions are aligned with our guiding forces. I do a small retreat for myself at least once a year to dream my own guiding forces.

A lot of us will go and go until we burn out or until a medical issue calls our attention – at least that was the case for me. But, our bodies know best and WILL notify you when it wants you to take a pause. Personally, I always did my yoga and dance practice every day, ate healthy and participated in regular healing activities even throughout my time working. I’m here to say, I don’t think it’s enough. I think we all need and deserve a thorough pause to actually go deep and come out more rejuvenated, aware and healthy!

10 Ways to Empower Youth Leadership

According to the Knight Foundation, statistics also show a gap. ‘Often that energy, that desire to contribute or lead, is going unsupported and untapped, they said.’ Teens and young adults don’t always see a place for their voice and their work.’ They feel unwelcome, perhaps a result of negative messages about youth coming from adults and even the media.

We are running out of time to solve the climate crisis. Every day it seems more people are calling out for climate action, but still, every time global leaders meet they fail to reach binding agreements to curb greenhouse gasses.

Youth around the world feel fear and despair when they think about what climate change could mean for their future. While this generation has the most at stake when it comes to preventing climate chaos, many young people don’t know where to start in addressing this huge issue. Many youth are looking for ways to be a part of the solution, but need the training and support to take the next step.

In light of the issue we are facing, here is a list of 10 ways that you can start empowering your children to be positive youth leaders NOW:

1. Give the youth tools to collaborate and problem solve, brainstorm and reflect.

Providing youth with the information and resources necessary for analyzing issues that affect their lives and environments will help them become strong strategizers on ways to act as change agents in their communities.

2. Encourage them to use their passions for good.

Guiding youth to use what their passions and creativity to share positive messages or bring attention to issues they care about will allow them to find purpose within their passion and use the power of their joy to share important messages.

3. Guide them to believe that their voice matters without judging or criticizing their ideas.

Empowering youth to understand that their voice makes a huge difference in this world and that all ideas are worth exploring will only give them more motivation and fuel to continue strengthening their own power for change.

4. Guide them to understand that people will not always want to listen, just because we would like them to but to not take it personally.

Helping youth to understand that not everyone is going to respond the way you hope they would and that some people may not be ready to hear what you want to share will support their confidence. It’s important to let youth know that when someone doesn’t listen to them, allow that to only make them stronger.

5. Help them learn that sometimes even the most fabulous idea may need a bit more logistical planning.

Guiding youth to help them understand that all visions and ideas take time to make sure they are realistic and well thought through. Help them to know that there are different stages to a project and the first stage is having an idea but there are many stages after that. This will help them understand the full process and not get stuck on one idea.

6. Help youth develop habits, that in the end, they can sustain without ‘suggestions’ or prodding.

Good habits produce sustainable leaders. Youth that have good habits for their own well-being and constant personal progression that they enjoy will help them become strong leaders on their own.

7. Give youth a chance for them to fail but help them to learn to succeed.

Let youth know that failing is not a bad thing to happen, it’s actually important to find out what went wrong so they can improve and make it better the next time they try. Often the way to success is through failure.

8. Employ storytelling of successful youth leadership to counteract negative messages about young people.

Encourage youth to speak about to their triumphs often, to share their victories across all media platforms to reinforce the positive change that has occurred. This will empower more positive action to continue and give youth more foundation and support to work from.

9. Invite the youth to launch a project or idea and support their progress.

Support youth in implementing their project once they feel they have come up with a good strategy and support them along the way. Allowing them to carry out their vision with the encouragement and coaching support will be an empowering experience and let them feel supported in their process.

10. Help them become involved with a youth sustainability program.

Rising Youth for a Sustainable Earth (RYSE) is a collective of youth-led groups that envision a greener and healthier earth through empowerment through education and re-creating our relationships with nature. It’s time for each of us to support the leadership of generations to come who will be most affected by the global crisis of climate change.