Are you ready for a digital sabbath?

What beauty are we missing that is right under our nose?

Digital sabbath

Sounds like a heavy metal band, right? But it is something I have been fascinated with for years, and have been really inspired to try.

The traditional sabbath is about setting down work, machines, cars, phones, etc. from sundown Friday night to sunset on Saturday night. It is a time and space that is carved out for family, for connection, for nature. It is a sacred space for stillness, for contemplation, for creativity. It’s a pause in the week and a powerful ritual.

Wayne Muller, in his extraordinary book Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal and Delight in our Busy Lives, speaks about it so beautifully: “There comes a moment in our striving when more effort actually becomes counterproductive, when our frantic busyness only muddies the waters of our wisdom and understanding. When we become still and allow our life to rest, we feel a renewal of energy and gradual clarity of perception.”

The modern version of this ritual is in the form of a digital sabbath. It is a space we create consciously, where we step away from our screens and our gadgetry, from our blackberries, tv’s and cell phones. It’s a time when we decide not to check our email obsessively and hopefully discover that we didn’t really miss anything anyway. Every time I have experimented with what I call a media cleanse, I have seen really miraculous things. As with any cleanse, you begin to notice when/where you habitually reach for something. What precedes the moment when I check my email AGAIN even though I checked it 30 seconds before? Do I feel bored? Lonely? Is it just a nervous tic? What’s so scary about being in the moment I’m actually in? Am I longing for connection? and if I am, am I finding it in these places? Is there more connection to be found in the woods? or at the roller rink? or inside the pages of a book?

“We have lost this essential rhythm. Our culture invariably supposes that action and accomplishment is better than rest, that doing something–anything–is better than doing nothing. Because of our desire to succeed, to meet these ever-growing expectations, we do not rest. Because we do not rest, we lose our way. We miss the compass points that would show us where to go, we bypass the nourishment that would give us succor. We miss the quiet that would give us wisdom. We miss the joy and love born of effortless delight. Poisoned by this hypnotic belief that good things come only through unceasing determination and tireless effort, we can never truly rest. And for want of rest, our lives are in danger.” Wayne Muller, Sabbath

Longing for Balance

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know that this is one of my obsessions. Finding that balance between living my real life and my life online is a puzzle I am always contemplating. I am highly sensitive (so many of us are) and get overwhelmed easily. A lot of data coming at me in whatever form- advertising, radios playing, email messages, tweets, all starts to feel like noise, fast. My threshold is low for how much media I can take in.

Whenever I hear the words “digital sabbath” my ears perk up. Yes! Carving out a space like that, a sanctuary of time that is about connection, real connection– to self, to nature, to each other- makes every cell in me say yes. When I think about Ben growing up in the modern world such as it is, I get scared that one day he will forever bury his face in a screen (perhaps a video game) and forget how much he loves to walk in the redwoods or perfect his dance moves. He already prefers watching a movie over doing just about anything else. And I wonder how much I am modeling the kind of distraction I am trying to protect him from- staring at my own screen, checking my email, even taking videos of him with my phone while we’re in the park.

I heard an interview with the author of Hamlet’s Blackberry: Building a Good Life in the Digital Age and can’t wait to read it.

Have any of you instituted a Digital Sabbath? How do you find balance? Do you all crave it as much as I do?

I’d love to hear in the comments.


Elevate the ordinary

spools of thread at the dry cleaner, taken with Iphone 4S

So excited to be writing my brand new course, Elevate the Ordinary! (which begins February 13th) For months I have been feeling like I have been on the outside of my creative life- planning, marketing, scheduling courses, dealing with the business of running a creative business. All of which is important and great, but after a while a girl gets itchy.

This morning I promised myself I would stay away from my computer until I wrote at least one lesson I was proud of. It’s amazing what one morning at a cafe can do for your heart! I made some really great progress and when I stopped by the dry cleaners I snapped the shot above- the perfect example of elevating the ordinary.

It’s amazing to me how just one dedicated hour of time to write, or how one photo that makes my heart swoon is all it takes to set me right as rain.


Amelia from Go Go craft at Teahouse, taken with Iphone

I went to a holiday fair at the fabulous Teahouse studio on Saturday. I was delighted to find a craft table from Go Go craft where anyone could stop by and make some fingerless gloves from old felted cashmere sweaters. With a simple pattern and a needle and thread we were on our way!

Wishing you all a little slice of inspiration today- a blissful five minute walk, a splash of color that makes you grin, a few moments to get your hands a little crafty. It’s like oxygen.




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Happy Birthday Ben!

Ben and Nico

Dear Ben,

You turned five yesterday! An entire hand worth of digits! I love the unbridled glee you greeted me with yesterday morning, the beaminess of your face, the pride in which you said, “I’m five today! and I think I’m bigger now. Can we measure me?” (Even though we measured you a few days ago)

I am finally so aware of how fast this is all going. Songs like Puff the Magic Dragon make me weep… songs about little boys growing up and not wanting to play with their old toys anymore or that one about the cat in the cradle? Makes my heart ache. Those moments when I kiss you at school and you politely ask, “Can you leave now?” It all seems so fast suddenly.

And at the same time you are this tiny creature, a sort of gnome that moves about our house, that at times from a distance, doesn’t quite look real. Your daddy likes to say, “Is that thing real? or is it animatronic?”

The way you still need me to lay down next to you while you fall asleep, how you flush with pride when I tell you what a great paper airplane maker you are, how we still have to be sure you win at Go Fish and Candyland to keep the wailing at bay. You are still so small.

We bought you a little microphone gadget for your birthday so you can sing along to your favorite songs, which at the moment happen to both be by Katy Perry. Thank god you don’t know all the words! But it is the purest kind of joy to hear you sing -and you do all day long. I am praying you never stop.

You were singing at the grocery store one day and an old woman passed by and said, “Now that is a happy child…” and I think it’s true. It’s hard to be sad when you are singing your heart out.

I should add that the singing you do is usually “metal” and “hard rock and roll” and rarely beautiful. Although I love it when you say, “Mama, would you like to hear an angry song or a beautiful song?”

Ben, I hope you know that I love your angry songs and your beautiful ones. I love your jewish folk tunes and your Friday Nights. That whatever song is in your heart, I want to hear it. You are a beautiful boy with so much to share with the world. I love you more than words can say.

Your mama



self-portrait in a rear view mirror of a parked car, SF

walking in the Berkeley Marina

portrait of me, taken by Laurie Wagner

Heart cappuccino at Guerilla Cafe

Nico at the pediatrician in his radical tube socks

When words fail you, it’s so great to have a camera with you to help you tell your story.