Our phones can be very helpful. When we get lost, we can ask Google Maps. When we want to see our new niece, we can listen to her coo on her parent's Instagram feed. When we want to find a long lost friend, we can query Facebook and write "Long time, no see!" There's cooler stuff too. We can travel the world on YouTube and study literature's greats on Coursera. When we want to know what the stars are above, Star Map will tell us the names of those constellations. The list goes on.

With our phones, we can also waste a lot of time and attention. We can become narcissistic--depressed too.

Why not set our phones aside for a spell? Ask a old codger for directions and make his day in the telling of the history of that once dusty road. Make the trek see your family and hold that squishy baby in your arms. Risk sending an old fashioned letter to an ancient address and make someone smile as they shuffle through ads. Travel the world--for real or through the stories of others you know. Pick up a book and read it in the bath or lay under the stars of heaven's canopy not caring one bit what they're called.

Turn off your phone--maybe for a day, maybe for a week--and try living differently for just a while. See what you think. See how you feel.

   - The Godmother
Cambodians and their phones: Cambodia is a poor country--one of the region's poorest. Yet, a study by the Asia Foundation showed that nearly all Cambodians have phones and more than half are smart phones. And what do they do on their phones? A lot of what everyone else in the world does. Chit chat. Share selfies. Watch silly or outrageous videos. But, across every spectrum, nearly all Cambodians with smart phones use one tool: Facebook.

When I came to Cambodia and I first stared across the classroom at my students, I looked at expressionless faces. I said something I thought interesting or curious. No furrowed brows. I told a joke. No smiles. I asked a question. Silence. "Who are these people?" I wondered.

I needed to meet my students "where they live" if I was to connect with them at all. Where was that? Facebook.

I broke my rule. I signed up. We became "friends". It was on Facebook that I learned about my students--what they're interested in, what is important to them, what they like. My curriculum started there.

In a society with very traditional, strict rules for behavior, there is limited social space for young people to express themselves. But there are no rules in the digital space (for better or for worse) and that's where they lived "unplugged", as it were. That's where we "met".

"Damn you!" Zuckerberg. And "Thank you" too.
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Did you miss a previous Godmother's Advice email? 
  • #001: Khmer boxing & solving problems
  • #002: Workers' commute & "making room"
  • #003: Bright balloons & dangerous attractions
  • #004: Bats and others' ways
  • #005: Playing in the mud
  • #006: Tattoos and bad habits
  • #007: Make-believe
  • #008: Dental and other care
  • #009: Boat races and collaboration
  • #010: Loads carried
  • #011: Nothing beyond repair
  • #012: Solid bricks
  • #013: Toilet left standing
  • #014: Flying a kite
  • #015: Everyone is held
  • #016: Dry fish in the sun
  • #017: Little children
  • #018: Worth looking for
  • #019: Two-way windows
  • #020: Heroes emerge
  • #021: A wide net cast
  • #022: Take what you need
  • #023: Make your own fun
  • #024: See what the sun smiles on
  • #025: Fly high
  • #026: Open the treasure chest
  • #027: Where greatness lies
  • #028: Practice holiness
  • #029: Say it
  • #030: Read
  • #031: Leave alone to grow
  • #032: Judge the destination
  • #033: Choke it down
  • #034: Think in 3D
  • #035: Counterproductive loads
  • #036: Opportunity to rebuild
  • #037: Just ask
  • #038: Know what you believe
  • #039: Fill a small jar
  • #040: Gift of clarity
  • #041: Worthwhile fear
  • #042: Number One
  • #043: Nature always wins
Background about this email: Several years ago, I was feeling like an inadequate Godmother due to my absence in the US and, consequently, my absence in my Godsons' lives. I decided to send what little advice I have as someone who has been in the world for 30 years longer than they. Thus was born my Godmother's emails--a tidbit of advice each week. I decided to share these emails with friends and others because I feel that  folks need some good, helpful or happy things in their Inbox these days. I hope these Godmother's advice emails are good, helpful or happy for you; otherwise, unsubscribe below.
Copyright © 2020 Maria Montello, All rights reserved.

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