Kerri Ough made me give up TV for thirty days.
She has a habit of doing that – challenging me to these things that kind of suck and don’t sound like much fun but are ultimately so good for me. I spend a bunch of the challenge cursing her name under my breath, but by the end of it I’m totally sold and can’t imagine why I didn’t do it sooner. Funny how that works, eh? 🙂
So Kerri and I were talking about TV a little over a month ago. We’re both big TV people, often with Netflix on as background noise or something to do in the evening, but recently Kerri had been cutting back to almost watching nothing at all. I, on the other hand, had been ramping up my TV watching without even really realizing it, until it was almost never off.
And then without any real warning, Kerri said, “Let’s give up TV for thirty days. Starting today.”
I had already watched half an episode of something that day (Parenthood, maybe?), but I liked the idea – it sounded just crazy enough to be awesome – so I agreed that we’d start the next day. And then we were off to the races!
It went better than I would have expected. There were challenging times, like when I was sick in bed for two days – I texted Kerri, ready to throw in the towel, and when she found out I wasn’t bored or just looking for a distraction, but actually can’t-get-out-of-bed nauseated, she said “Watch a show and chill out. Sickness is something I didn’t factor in to the challenge.” And then the longer the challenge went on the more I started thinking, “I’ve gone 18 whole days! That’s good enough,” and pulling out my computer to see what was on Netflix. I’m not going to lie, I scrolled through the offerings a couple times – but every time, I thought, “I’m doing so well. Why would I quit now?” and I put it away again.
It wasn’t easy, and I wasn’t perfect, but I’m proud to say that yesterday was day 30 – well, actually day 32; those two days that I was sick I considered a write-off, but I was also determined to make them up at the end! – and I’m so glad that I stuck it out to the end. In the interest of full disclosure, here’s where I made some judgment calls and/or almost ruined it by forgetting the challenge was even on:
How I was kind of not perfect
- I watched most of two playoff hockey games – yes, this is 100% “watching TV” but I’ve never watched a hockey game before in my life, so I didn’t consider it giving in to my usual TV habit, and hockey is something that my brother and I had been sharing this spring since he took me to my first NHL game. I decided that that shared sibling experience was more important than insisting on not watching anything on a screen.
- I went to a movie with a friend – it was half over before it even occurred to me that maybe I was breaking the rules! But I decided that a) it would be rude to get up and leave her sitting there, b) it would be weird to just close my eyes for the rest of the movie, and c) watching TV has always been a mindless turning-off-my-brain solitary activity for me, and this was a social one instead, so it seemed like it was okay.
- I started watching SNL with a couple of the Long Range Hustle guys after their gig the other weekend – and then after about five minutes of almost falling asleep on the couch I realized I wasn’t supposed to be watching TV anyway, and went to bed.
Honestly, other than a couple moments here and there where I mostly just whined to my roommate Emma about how I missed TV and I hated when Kerri challenged me to things, I really enjoyed not watching TV. I read more books, I picked up new hobbies, I started working on an e-course (stay tuned for more info on that!), and I really began to appreciate the silence. There’s something so peaceful about a quiet house. And, not that this should’ve been a surprise, but I’ve been way more productive without having TV to fall back on and zone out to in every spare moment!
If you’re curious, here’s…
What’s occupied my time in this TV-free month
- Re-reading Dragonfly In Amber, the second book in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series
- Listening to The Subtle Knife, the second book in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series, on audiobook (I’ve read it previously in hard copy)
- Brushing up on my live sound skills and getting more hands-on experience with it
- Working on a couple e-course ideas (If you’re intrigued enough by this complete lack of information, sign up for my newsletter and you’ll be among the first to hear more!)
- Going to more shows, and out with friends, than usual
- Just generally living my life, but without Netflix constantly streaming in the background
I’ve also been sleeping better and feeling good generally, now that I’m not falling asleep with some old episode of Friends playing in the background (a bad habit I had gotten into).
As I sit here at 6:37pm on Day 31, I still have no strong desire to zone out in front of a screen. There are a couple shows on Netflix I’m looking forward to getting caught up on (Dear White People and 13 Reasons Why), and I’ve already downloaded the episodes of Modern Family that I’ve missed, but I’m not really in any rush to get to them. Two things I’ve realized are that there are about a million other things that I can do with my time, and that TV will always be there whenever I do want it. So what’s the rush?
So for now, I’m going to put on my running shoes and go hit the Rail Path for the first time since last year. And who knows, maybe when I come back I’ll see what Phil Dunphy’s been up to…. or get back to my book.
Want to keep up with my next adventures and get some tips and tidbits about touring, social media, and life in the Canadian music industry? Sign up for my TinyLetter (I’ll never spam you, promise)!
Featured photo (top of page) by Kerri Ough; somewhere in Newfoundland, April 2016.