Forget the expensive chocolates. Forgo the flowers. This Valentine's Day, defy expectations by doing something so daring your sweetheart will be begging for more. I'm talking about a gesture so wildly romantic and heartfelt, he or she will remember it for years to come. And it doesn't cost a thing. All it takes is switching off the power.
Yes, my fellow CrackBerry-carrying, cell-phone toting, text-sending friends, it is time to give the people you love a real gift this holiday -- your undivided attention. So here's a novel idea: Turn it off. Just do it.
I'm not saying we need to be off-line for the entire day. In fact, many romantics will be turning to the web this week to look for amorous recipes, to order gifts or e-cards, and, of course, to send mushy emails. My friends at Yahoo! conducted a recent V-Day poll and found that 21 percent of Americans think it's romantic to say, "I love you" via text message. That's cute, but what I really want (and what I would guess most of my friends desire) is some quality time with my husband, without the usual distractions -- even if it is just for a precious hour or two. I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that guys probably feel the same way.
Yes, it might sound strange that a multi-tasking mom like myself, whose very business exists in cyberspace, could encourage my fellow tech-addicted friends to unplug. But I'm not saying do it forever. What I am suggesting is that we could make a bold statement of love and affection by sitting down for a romantic evening and actually gazing into our beloved's eyes instead of checking email on the smart phone every three seconds. Or how about putting the laptop aside and letting your cell phone go to voicemail while coloring valentines with the kids?
Being in constant contact has become so ingrained in our daily lives that it is hard to break away. Believe me, I feel your pain. Before I had children, while I was still working as a news reporter, my husband nicknamed me "Crack" for my inability to switch the damn thing off. And now, as a mom in pursuit of wellness, I think a lot about how managing technology in our lives has become a very daunting challenge, especially because the Internet and mobile technology have given way to so many new opportunities for flexible work schedules. In countless ways, e-mail, voicemail, instant messaging, etc. make it possible for a lot of people to juggle professional and personal commitments. But we cannot lose sight that even such liberating and time-saving innovations can tip the work-life balance away from the priorities we set in the first place. That's the reason a Canadian government ministry recently directed its employees to observe a BlackBerry blackout from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and on weekends and holidays. Now that is a cool idea.