I peeked through my eyelids at the dark room. There was no noise except the sound of my dogs, Trapper and Copper sleeping in their beds below. I rolled over to grab my cell phone to see what time it was and was shocked to read 11:30 a.m. Rolling myself out of bed, I walked out of my bedroom to be blinded by the sunlight shining through the house’s front windows.

Despite it being lunchtime, I decided to make myself a waffle. As my feet brushed across the cold kitchen floor and with a waffle in my hands, I headed back to the bedroom and closed the door. I propped my head up on my pillow as I ate breakfast surrounded by two dogs licking their lips in hopes of a bite. I remember thinking, “What am I going to do for the rest of the day?”

My doctor ordered me to stay off all electronics and relax in a dark room to allow my brain time to heal from the concussion I suffered during a hot air balloon ride. For people who know me, slowing down is not something I’m an expert at and going from 100 miles an hour to zero seemed unfathomable.

As I lay in my bed trying to come up with an activity to pass the time, I recalled an assignment I received during my undergraduate degree. My professor assigned a project where we could choose to critically analyze a music video for discriminatory elements or we could choose to stay off all technology for 24 hours and write about it.

While no one in my class opted for the first option, I realized my current situation afforded me an opportunity to learn the lessons my professor had intended. Every time my Apple watch or iPhone go off, I look at the notification. It’s a conditioned reaction I have to technology. Even with my doctor’s orders swirling in my mind, I noticed myself checking my phone and watch, so I had to turn off the notifications.

With my phone and watch silenced, I glanced around the room. OK, surely this can’t be that difficult to just relax and besides, I have Copper and Trapper to entertain me. Although they didn’t get the memo, they did keep me comforted as they curled up next to me on the bed.

After the first day of no technology, boredom set in and I thought about the next 14 days. Thankfully, I received a message from Maunette Loeks asking about coming over for lunch. Her daily lunch visits were a highlight of my day as we visited for an hour before she returned to work.

Maunette also gave me a great idea to help pass the day.

“Have you ever listened to audiobooks?” she asked. “I listen to them during car trips to pass the time.”

I downloaded an audiobooks app on my phone and picked novels like “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “The Happy Prince.” Listening to the narration, I was transported into the worlds of the characters on a journey that left me guessing what would happen next. Despite not being allowed to read, audiobooks provided me a way to imagine the scenes and escape the confines of my bedroom.

The books were a great escape for me during my time off, but as if a concussion and rib bruising weren’t enough, I also caught a virus going around, giving me pneumonia. Having a fever and cough was a surprise blessing as it wore me out and helped me sleep most of the day. The timing was also good as I was already out of the office.

As the series of events unfolded following the balloon incident Aug. 17, I realized how disconnecting from technology was more challenging than it sounded. A little rest and relaxation may seem boring, but it can rejuvenate the soul and refocused me on connecting with people around me.

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Lauren Brant is a reporter with the Star-Herald and the Gering Courier. Contact her at 308-632-9043 or by email at lauren.brant@starherald.com.

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