In 2014, I vowed to spend twelve months without television. Betting and joking immediately ensued among family and friends on how long I’d last. I was addicted to crime sitcoms [“Castle,” “Major Crimes,” “CSI,” “Elementary,” “NCIS,” “Law & Order SVU”] and fantasy [“Once Upon a Time,” “Warehouse 13,” “The Librarians”] and political thrillers [“Person of Interest,” “House of Cards,” “Covert Affairs”], well, you get the idea.
These twelve shows were not the only shows I watched. Add news. With a degree in journalism, being a news junkie is a given. Add movies. Add the occasional documentary and talent competition. I’ve watched absolute garbage after channel surfing because nothing else was on. Addiction and inertia held me captive.
My wakeup call was reading a statistic from the Parents Television Council that children in America watch between four and eight hours of television a day. They spend more time staring at a blinking box than in school! No wonder America has an epidemic of overweight, undereducated children and teens. And what are they learning? Bad behavior from reality television shows and talk shows? Egad. Four to eight hours a day is enough time to master a second language, or learn new hobbies and skills. Righteous indignation rose in me about this monumental waste of our most precious asset–time. I asked my daughter how much time her kids spent in front of the television per day.
And then she asked me how much time I spent. blink. blink. blink.
So 2015 was a test. A cure to my addiction. I wish I could tell you it was easy, that my iron willpower helped me stroll by the big-screen in the living room without temptation. I wish I could say with a straight face that hearing others talk about the shocking season finale of any of my favorite shows didn’t knock the wind out of me. When book club pals asked if I was going to watch the new shows “Sherlock,” “Bosch,” or “Outlander” my resolve quavered dangerously on the edge of quitting this mad personal quest.
Spending a year without television allowed me to read 35 more books in 2015 than in the previous year. I traveled to: Charleston (SC), Jacksonville with my girl pals, San Juan, St. Kitts, St. Barts, Las Vegas, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, New York City, Naples (FL), and multiple trips to North Carolina.
In April, I worked as a stringer/reporter for General Aviation News at the SUN ‘N FUN Fly-In. You can read my articles by clicking on GA News. It was a joy to combine my journalism training with my aviation hobby and get paid for it! What rewarding joy!
Handsome and I also learned gun safety and enjoyed target practice under the watchful eye of a friend from church who had served in the Marines. Getting off the sofa has been rewarding after all.
As we launch into 2016, perhaps many of you will also opt out of television viewing for a year. Imagine all those mean political ads you’ll miss…and the books you will have time to read. Ahem. Oh that topic, let me say that one of my books will be coming out in late spring. So expect to hear more about the book in the coming months. And, yes, it will be available in print for those readers who refuse to read on a tablet, like my mother and mother-in-law.
So let the bets be covered. I survived a year without television! Woot Woot. Okay, so I didn’t learn another language, or discover a cure for cancer, but I wrote more, played more, and spent more hours each day toward my lifelong goal of publishing novels.
Remember time is your most precious asset. Tell me, what would you do with four extra hours a day?
It’s easy to skip television this week because General Aviation News/SUN ‘n FUN Today hired me to report on news at the fly-in all week. Missing sleep much more than television, but this is a happy kind of tired. Last year I worked on the seaplanes beat, but this year due to high water levels (submerged dock, submerged ramp, etc) the Splash-In was cancelled. Click on this link to read articles I wrote last year.
So this year, I’m the roving reporter, chasing down the elusive Breitling Jet Team engineers who had to reassemble the Czech-made L-39C planes from parts crated and shipped here from Dijon, France. Meeting with missionary aviation pilots gathered from the ends of the earth to stay at the homes of local residents while they enjoy SUN ‘n FUN and spread the word about what they do. Getting the scoop on a Grumman Mohawk (N10VD) painted with the names of Vietnam war MIAs in a stirring tribute that’s being called a ‘flying monument.’ And I had the honor of documenting a ceremony in which the FAA’s Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award was presented to ten amazing legends in aviation.
Tomorrow I get to go see the Breitling Jet Team perform. This is the first stop on their first-ever North American tour. Oh, and the Thunderbirds are performing the same day. EEEEEEEeeeep. Pardon my geekasm. There’s just something about precision aerobatics in reeeeally fast planes that gets my pulse racing.
Ah, the smell of jet A and the roar of afterburners….So television? Meh. I’m having too much SUN ‘n FUN to miss the blinking box.
Go ahead and be amazed. This TV junkie has been television-free for sixteen, count ’em, sixteen wonderful weeks. Sure, I ached that I missed the end of season episode of “Major Crimes” and hubby caught me muttering and carrying the remote around the house during the season finale of “Castle,” but thankfully, life has intervened to pull me out of the house and away from temptation.
I’ve hiked in the Smokey Mountains, flown with hubby to lunch in Venice, Florida, spent a few weekends near Asheville, visited family in Las Vegas for a week, and learned how to load and fire various handguns.
My evenings, previously spent in inertia on the sofa–remote in one hand, popcorn in the other–are now filled with stories by Janet Evanovich, Kristan Higgins, John Foxjohn, Sue Monk Kidd, Ian McEwan, Diane Capri, Liane Moriarty, Joshua Graham, and Kristin Hannah. I’ve even discovered books by first-time authors: Deborah Wilding’s Then I Met You, Martha Sibley George’s Goodbye, Miss Emily, and a few others I’m judging for the international Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence contest. Recently enjoyed the second novel by Noelle August. The first book was Boomerang and the second is Rebound. Also read an exciting medical thriller written by a physician friend that should be coming out soon.
I was hired by a national aviation magazine to report on Sun ‘N Fun, the annual general aviation gathering founded by the Experimental Aircraft Association, better known as EAA. Sun ‘N Fun begins next week in Lakeland, Florida. The Brietling Jet Team will be performing airshows, and a few friends will be receiving the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award next week. The son of friends will also be in town after being certified or approved to land on carriers. Is this a great life or what? I get PAID to meet my aviation heroes and write about them.
So, overall I have not missed television. I’m out having fun in the real world and reading wonderful, hilarious, and exciting stories. Oh, and I’m writing a few of my own. One is a 90,000-word suspense story with elements of romance, and the other is an 85,000-word suspense story with elements of romance. My BETA readers and critique partners are chewing through them now. All prayers are appreciated.