Like seemingly everyone else in Charlotte, I’m really freaking busy.

I’ve got an 8-to-5 job, I co-founded a business that I spend about 40 hours a week managing and growing, and I have several freelance writing gigs. I have a boyfriend, a dog and a group of close friends whose relationships I value and with whom I try to spend time on a regular basis. Oh, and I try to make time for fitness, meal prepping, journaling, meditating and general “me” time when I can find it.

I juggle all of these priorities with my magical Google Calendar, which is shared with all of the important people in my life so they know when I’m available and when to expect me to be incredibly stressed out.

However, my boyfriend recently pointed out that I’ve scheduled our social life out several months into the future, and that I rarely make time to stay home and just relax with him and my dog. He told me I had too many balls in the air, and I was going to burn out. (He may also have mentioned that he didn’t want his whole life to be scheduled out on my Google Calendar, either … touché. Sorry for the constant double dates, Andrew.)

When he challenged me to cancel all of my plans for the weekend, to disconnect and spend time doing whatever we wanted to do for the entire weekend, at first, I balked. I couldn’t possibly bail on friends at the last minute, cancel meetings, or delegate my side hustle’s event duties to someone else.

But when I accepted the challenge and canceled the back-to-back plans I for the weekend to focus on myself and my relationship, something weird happened: People weren’t upset. They understood. The world went on, despite the fact that I wasn’t following my Google Calendar’s orders.

I was so caught off guard by having the weekend to disconnect and recharge that I wasn’t sure what to do with myself. The idea was to get away from my phone and laptop and to spend the weekend doing whatever we wanted to do. But what do you do during a “disconnect” weekend in Charlotte? We had a few ideas.

(1) Head to the local farmers market.

Compared to my habit of rushing around Trader Joe’s grabbing everything on my hastily made grocery list, milling around the NoDa Farmers Market (located in the Smelly Cat parking lot) as slowly as I pleased to find just the right produce and meat for the week felt incredible. And bonus: now I’m actually excited to cook my dinners instead of opting for the convenience of take-out — win-win.

(2) Play a game or two at your favorite coffee shop.

Back when we just had one full-time job and no other responsibilities (ah, memories), my boyfriend and I made a point to go to Smelly Cat every Saturday morning, grab a cup of coffee and some breakfast, and play Scrabble. We decided it was time to resurrect the tradition, and two things happened: I forgot how much I loved playing board games together, and I learned that “use it or lose it” definitely applies to Scrabble skills. I was rusty, and I lost. All the more reason for a rematch next weekend, right?

(3) Enjoy the great outdoors.

During our “disconnect” weekend, we did this two ways. First, we literally stopped to smell the flowers at the McGill Rose Garden, moseying through the garden to enjoy the beautiful scenery. Then we made our way to the U.S. National Whitewater Center to hang out on the flat water for a while. There’s something so peaceful about enjoying the sunshine to the sound of paddles moving through water.

(4) Get lost in a good book

We had been talking about getting library cards for a while, since we’re both voracious readers, and regularly ordering books on Amazon can get pricey pretty quickly … and can take up all the space in your tiny home office. So we finally went to the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library in Plaza Midwood and opened up accounts. We each found a few novels we usually wouldn’t make the time to read, then curled up on the couch to get lost in our own fictitious worlds.

(5) Treat yo’self.

Most of our weekends consist of us going-going-going without stopping to think about what we actually want to do. So we spent a lot of our weekend asking, “What would make me happy right now?” At various points, that meant stopping at Two Scoops Creamery for an ice cream cone, shopping for new vinyl albums at Lunchbox Records, and picking up a bottle of good red wine from Common Market. Instead of following a set schedule, we followed what we were actually in the mood for … and it made for a pretty damn good weekend.

When Sunday night rolled around, I thought I’d feel anxious about all the work I didn’t get done while I was busy (or un-busy) disconnecting over the weekend. But you know what? I felt relaxed, rejuvenated, and ready for whatever the week was going to throw my way.

Moral of the story: I promise, you have the time to disconnect, no matter how busy you are. And Charlotte offers plenty of ways for you to unplug, if you just give yourself the permission to do so. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

Photos: Alicia Thomas

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