Every year in recent history (with the exception of 2020), my family has gone on a camping trip. We’ve been to Zion, Joshua Tree, Redwood National Park…

This summer, we explored Kings Canyon National Park. Besides being in beautiful nature, I was forced to UNPLUG—in a good way.

Here are lessons I learned while being out in the wild, which can apply to both my life and my writing:

It’s OK to not be virtually “on” all the time

view from rock ledge into sky and valley below
Changing my perspective

The pressure of needing to document everything passed as I settled into camping. And, honestly, people didn’t even notice I wasn’t on social media.

Swap out the “urgent” for the important

Kids going hiking

Sometimes I feel like I need to respond to all requests right away. Out in nature, I got to really focus on the significant moments instead.

Soak in the experience

Sunset with pinks and oranges in Kings Canyon National Park

I discovered moments of awe and immersed myself in them. Taking the time to feel my emotions and observe better makes for being present—and possibly for more vivid descriptions and feelings in my writing.

Relax the body

Jennifer Chow sitting up in a blue hammock
Just hanging around

This was the first time we hung up a hammock. There was something really nice about being on vacation and taking a break. Relaxation leads to emotional well-being—and I’m sure resting my body and brain will result in better writing.

Shake it up

Mama bear and two suckling cubs next to large tree
Mama bear and cubs

Camping offers a complete change of scenery. Whether it’s the startling setting, friendly campers, or encounters with wildlife, the outdoors fuels my creative spirit.

How and why do you unplug?

24 thoughts on “Unplugged

  1. I need to unplug for a bit. Not only from work but from the internet as well. Being out in nature sounds very wonderful right about now. And your pictures are wonderful.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. The only time I’ve been unplugged recently is when storms knocked our power out. Not relaxing at all. But I really really REALLY need a few days of down time. Must come up with a plan to escape. Soon.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. When we go away on vacation, I unplug. I don’t check anything. I usually go someplace where it’s too expensive to use my phone so I tell my family only to contact me if it’s an emergency. So far that hasn’t happened. There isn’t anything that can’t wait until we get back home. My husband get antsy about not checking his email every day. Not me!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Every fall (again, with the exception of 2020), I do a weekend retreat with my church. No phones, no laptops. I usually walk in the garden. Very relaxing.

    Last week, I went to my sister’s for a week. While I wasn’t technically “unplugged,” I deliberately turned off my email notifications and limited my checking to fifteen minutes after I fed my dog and before I made breakfast.

    Next weekend I’m going to visit a friend and I’m sure the internet usage will be scant again. Since I work on a computer all day, it’s nice to put it aside for the weekend and relax.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. It’s so hard to unplug, these days, when folks always assume you’ll have your phone or laptop with you all the time. But I need to do it more often…

    Great photos, Jen. I especially love the one of you in the hammock–that smile!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes, everyone just assumes you’ll have your phone and laptop with you all the time–and expect you to respond quickly!

      Thanks about the pictures. I think I almost got swallowed up by the material in that hammock photo!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m so glad that’s a lesson you took away, Jen! For me, I never turn on the ringer on my phone. My kids are smart enough to fix their own emergencies and when my mom was alive, hers was the only number I let through. I rarely look at email on my phone, but added it for when I travel. I only answer emails and texts when it fits into my schedule, and I pretty much unplug all weekend and most Wednesdays, especially during the summer. I’m on Facebook for about half an hour in the wee hours when I’m drinking my coffee, and I’ve never been drawn to any of the other social media channels. The older I get, the more protective of my time and psyche I am. I do take a lot of photos on my phone, so it’s always with me.

    I love that hammock! I wish we had a good place for one … although every. single. time I’ve been in one I’ve gotten stuck!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. My goodness, Becky! I need to memorize your tips. I love your dedication to protecting your time. (The interesting thing is that the slider on my phone is wacky and will often silence notifications without my knowing it.)

      Shall I tell my kids that they’re smart enough to figure things out on their own? 😉

      As for hammocks, I do often ungracefully exit them!


      1. Ha! It’s less “dedication” and more the realization that there is literally nothing that ever truly, desperately needs my attention. And YES! You should absolutely step away and make your kids figure things out on their own. I already know they’re smart enough to do so. It’s like that shoe-tying analogy. It’s such a pain to teach them to tie their shoes, and it seems like it’s easier to just do it yourself … but over the long-run? So nice. Making my kids fend for themselves is one of the reasons I started going to writer’s conferences. Even if it was nearby, I always stayed in the hotel!

        I wonder if there’s a compilation video of people exiting hammocks. If so, I bet it’s hilarious!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Aw, love this post and your photos, Jen!! I’m glad you were able to unplug in such a meaningful way.

    I’m also a big fan of getting out and into nature to connect with other humans (and myself) without wires or the internet. Camping and hiking are two favorites of mine!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Jen, I love this post! I feel like I never unplug, which is on me. These photos are gorgeous. We took Eliza to Sequoia and Kings Canyon when she was about 5, but we didn’t camp. I wish we had.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, El. Yep, I have a hard time stepping away. When there’s no service, I have to unplug!

      I’ve often gone and not camped, and it’s still a wonderful experience. The camping is nice because it makes you really slow down–and I find that I spot more wildlife when I’m actually there for a longer stretch. Plus, you get those amazing sunrise and sunset shots.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I really enjoyed this post, Jen, especially because I was also “forced” to unplug this past week. We were at the beach with family, rather than camping, and both cell and internet service were sporadic. I always find the waves and gulls and salt air so relaxing. En route, I lost my purse and had to cancel all my cards, change passwords, order a new license, etc. That was aggravating, but also kind of freeing. As soon as I had service again, I ran not to social media, but to my email to unsubscribe from all the marketing emails and unneeded writer/biz “tools”that have have built up over the past year and were driving me insane. Buh-bye, ridiculous time suckers. I have been practically floating with Zen for the last couple of days. I have vowed to unplug more often.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. So sorry to hear about your purse situation, Lisa. However, I’m happy that you were able to relax at the beach. (I also love the ocean and the waves. Not the sand that gets everywhere, but that’s another story.)

      I need to unsubscribe from all those marketing emails, too. (Although sometimes I do wonder if that “unsubscribe” button will actually fix things and clear my inbox. Or do they then realize that there’s a person who’s clicking on their link?)


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