Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Why I Almost (but still kinda) Quit Facebook


I used to give a lot of my time to Social Media (facebook in particular). More than I’d like to admit, really.   I gave it my time, my attention and oddly, some of my heart.

I’ve really loved being able to check in with people throughout the day. Some are people I see regularly, and others are people I wouldn’t be able to stay in touch with as often without it. I’ve heard people denounce social media proclaiming its evils and how we need to have authentic, face-to-face encounters. I do have authentic face-to-face relationships, but I also enjoy the connections I’ve built through social media.  Some of those connections, I’ve built into “in-person” friendships. This has been the case, in varying forms, since I joined Facebook almost 8 years ago.

Recently, I’ve realized that more and more of the personal stuff I’ve always looked forward to reading has disappeared.  Now, I log in to see endless quiz results such as “What Kind of Tree Are You” (I guess Barbara Walters was really on to something), or “What Disney Character Are You?”. Of course, there are also plenty of posts allowing me to easily click a link to read political, religious or entertainment content.   Don’t let me leave out the animated (and creepy) ads for how to shrink my belly fat (are these targeted ads?) among others. 

As a fledgling blogger, I like the ease of being able to push content this way, and of course I always hope that what I say resonates with people in a way that they would want to “share”. I just wish the individual pages were a little more balanced with the personal touch that in my experience, is almost gone.

The kicker for me, came a couple of months ago when I came down with the flu.  This was no stomach bug, or respiratory ailment that I always called the flu. This was influenza of the rotten kind. The kind that gave me the “ah ha!” to finally understand why every year, caution and warning aimed towards babies & the elderly went out.  It sent me to the Urgent Care three times.  I had a fever for five days, I didn’t eat for a week and barely kept down any fluids. (bummer those 7 pounds came right back- pthhh) My limbs were weak and my arms shook so much that if I needed to text someone, I could only voice text. (which is “fun” when you can’t fix what autocorrect screws up!) I was exhausted, couldn’t sleep and I had a constant headache.

All of that to say: a) Next year I’m getting the flu shot and b) I dropped off the face of the internet and it didn’t seem to matter.

Now please hear the intent of what I’m saying.  This isn’t a victimized pity party. (ok, I did cycle through that for a couple of days, but thank God that’s all it was.)  What I realized is the relationships I called meaningful, were less so than I believed.  I was off social media for a complete week, before popping onto facebook just to offer a free week in Tahoe we couldn’t use. Other than that, I was off for 2 ½ weeks before I heard from anyone.  I received a message from a long time friend with whom I have only occasional facebook interactions. I was pretty touched that she even noticed.  After a month, I heard from a friend that I had almost daily interactions with. Five to six weeks later, a (literal) handful of others reached out.  The part that got me thinking though, was that none of them were the people I thought of as friends, who I interacted with on a daily basis.  Interacted - where I commented, they commented, we conversed, etc.  I was really surprised. 

As I thought about it more, I wondered why I should be surprised.  Facebook, in particular, is “all about <the collective>  me”: What I’m doing, what I’m looking at, where I’m going, what I have, what I rant about, etc. There are a lot of people who really are interested in engaging in those things reciprocally, like friends would.  Through my experience though, it seems they are the minority.  

I’m a good friend, a loyal friend, and I’ve realized over the years, I expect the same. Because of that, I’ve been burned, and I’m sure a lot of it is my own doing by expecting or hoping for the same (too much) from others.  But there have also been those people who seemed to want that kind of a friendship when the reality is they want it as long as I was doing the work. If I called, texted or reached out and if I set up the coffee, lunch or hike, then all was good!  If I never instigated or even followed up on the occasional “hey, we should get together” comment with “sure!” , throwing out specific dates and times, nothing would happen.  When I stopped being the one solely pursuing these people, the superfluous relationships (that mostly drained me) stopped. After a brief moment of licking my wounds, I realized I felt more freedom. This was in part due to letting go of the frustration and frenzy I felt by doing the relational heavy lifting so to speak, but it was also in the knowledge I gained of how I was putting my unrealistic expectations onto other people.   I expected them to be a friend they weren’t able to be, at least not with me.

I’m trying to find the balance of using social media day to day. I’ll probably rely heavier on my blogging account and Twitter, and use my personal account for lightly browsing here & there. After all, there are still the people (like my long time friend who first messaged me or the across-the-street neighbor who moved 2000+ miles away), that I love being able to keep in touch with more regularly and the personal account easily affords that to me. (And let’s face it, the computer has ruined our penmanship!)  

Seriously though, social media does help us to keep in touch, including my family and friends with whom I do see regularly. I’m just learning how to sort through the rest who mutually feel the same. 

Thursday, April 02, 2015

April Fool's Day 2015!!!!!

Ahhh, April 1. 




Light showers or sunny skies, who knows what Mother Nature may bring. Regardless, I know what I will bring and that's lots and lots of pranks to my family.

I have loved pranks since I was young.  I remember  going up to my mom, with my mouth full of air, and having her squeeze my checks. Sometimes I would put a small drop of water in the corner of my mouth to try and trick her into thinking it was full of water. No dice. She would still squeeze the air. One day, I filled my mouth full of water, wiped it dry and went to my mom as usual.  She squeezed! The joy! The exhilaration! It was a feeling I loved, and thankfully, she responded positively. Later, I would join friends prank calling after school. We would randomly pick people out of the phone book and ask the old standby, "is your refrigerator running?" among other silly things. We thought we sounded so official and mature, but obviously we were deluded by the mischievous fun we were having. It didn't matter. It also didn't matter what they did when they answered. While some people played along, and others got mad, we would hang up unable to stifle our laughter. I'm (only) a little embarrassed to say the prank calls continued into high school. I laughed even harder then.

I categorize an acceptable prank as anything I could do to someone, that I wouldn't mind if it were done to me. I'm not down for anything mean that causes damage, physical pain or a mess that costs more than a broom or 10 minutes will get you

I started celebrating April Fool's Day with my family in 2004. I would do little jokes here and there, but the kids were young (2-10) and it was mostly just a fun surprise for dinner. As the years went on, I started doing other fun things here and there, including in their lunches.

It's been 11 years and I'm starting to have to repeat old tricks. The kids are older now and the surprise has turned to seeing what they might be. My high school son has friends who have seen his lunches since middle school, and they gather near him to see what silliness this year's lunch will contain. 

I had a list of shenanigans and tomfoolery I was planning and started executing them the night before. There are always some I have to cut, but after all, April 1 will come again next year. I made a to-do list dividing everything according to deadlines, and then got to work.

The night before:
I covered each of their bedroom doors with caution tape. 

I stuffed newspaper into the toes of their shoes.

Last summer, I procured a collection of signs from a clearance table at a hardware store. I posted one on the back door and one on the bathroom.

Next, I got to work on lunch.

  • Sandwiches were pb&j. I bought small, plastic frogs that I cut in half and placed in the sandwiches.
  • I did a chip switch I've used before and filled the bags with a different kind of chip. I had to carefully (and partially) open the bags. After shaking out the chips, I replaced them with different chips. With a little white glue I closed them with paper clips to hold closed until they dried.
  • Dessert was a small bag of candy that looked like peas & carrots.
  • Everything was decorated with a pair of googly-eyes, including the tangelo. 
  • To finish, I wrapped everything separately in Elmo wrapping paper.
Goodnight!

Once everyone left for the day, I started on the rest of the list.

I put electric tape over the remote and my son's computer mouse.  He checked it before he even used it, and he told me later, he hid the power cord in case I planned to mess with the computer. Later in the day, it took a couple of minutes for my oldest son to remember what was going on with the remote.

Next I copied a trick Jim often played on Dwight from the TV show "The Office". My youngest is a fan and so the night before I made the first layer in a bowl of Jell-o. In the morning, I was able to put my son's pocket knife in the center and pour the second layer of Jell-o over it. 

For dinner this year, my youngest requested the meatloaf & mashed potato cake I've made a couple of times. It's now become the dinner tradition. Along with that I planned to serve mini-watermelons, crescent roll carrots and some (regular) cranberry sauce. 

For dessert I made little mint seedlings. A Martha Stewart version of the worm in a dirt cup. (my non-Martha version included instant pudding vs. her make from scratch. um...no)




All of my kids think the Nicolas Cage memes are funny. I had a bunch of photos printed at Costco and then put them around their rooms. 

Later, I knew my daughter was attending a hockey game, so I went to her house to "decorate" her room. It included a lot of googly eyes, a rubber snake, a plastic spider and quite a few Nicolas Cage photos. The best part for me was that she left her laptop open.  I changed her facebook profile and cover photos...she still hasn't noticed.

It was a very fun day. What made me even happier was hearing about the pranks my kids pulled. 

My adult daughter and her co-worker friend had the closing shift did a few before leaving. 

  • They wrote stacks of notes that they put on top of all the ceiling fans. 
  • They set all the timers to go off at the same time.
  • They filled plastic cups of water all over the manager's office and some with fruit punch.  With the colored cups they spelled out "April FoolZ". 

My middle schooler put those "exploding" party snaps under the toilet seat at home. 

My high schooler had a few up his sleeve.
  • He drew on the photos of himself and brothers and sister we have hanging in the hallway. (on the glass)
  • The night before he made a whole post-it-note pad that he taped the troll face to. 
  • He also sacrificed a dollar bill taped troll face to the ripped off corners. He hid them and even pranked two of his teachers. They both laughed.  He got to see the whole thing play out with his favorite teacher who has a great sense of humor.  It included the light in his eyes when he discovered the corner of a dollar under papers on his desk, and the "crushing blow of despair" when he realized he was foiled. 


We all had a fun day.  I can already start my to-do list for next year with the things I had to scratch.

Click here for all of the photos with links to the recipes & instructions.

How about you?  Did you have any fun?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Jumping In

A day turns into a week, a week turns into a month, and so on.

I've said it before. I can't seem to get all my ducks on a row at the same time. Sure, when I stay focused, I'm really productive, but there's always something left behind.  People often liken a busy life to having a full plate. The thing is, we all have different sized plates.  While some may be able to physically and mentally manage a dinner plate, others have salad plates, chargers, platters or maybe even a teacup saucer. 

I think I'm in the salad plate category with a dinner plate of stuff, and right now, there's not anything that can really change about that. So, as things are piled on the plate, the stuff at the bottom is left undone.  Sometimes the items shift, but there's always something left at the bottom. (sheesh, if I could only grasp the idea of really eating this way!)
     
I was really focused on staying ahead of the game through the holidays, and I did.  It was probably the smoothest year yet. That said, many things were left undone. And I got sick.  Not just a cold but really sick. (I'm pretty sure it was pneumonia, but honestly, I didn't go the the doctor. I looked it up online
-shut up- and 1. had all the symptoms of viral pneumonia and 2. set a deadline to go in if I wasn't getting better.) Keep in mind, I self diagnosed my gall bladder a couple years ago. :)

I'll even go on a tangent here. I was so out of it starting a few days before Christmas, that I lost (or rather threw away) a couple of gifts.  I ended up buying replacements, only to find 2/3 of the originals. Also, and this is the kicker, one of the gift cards I bought my brother-in-law (of 15 years), who is deathly allergic to chicken...was for Chick-fil-A. This was my thought process: Their marketing is all about pictures of cows, so...lots of beef. In my (lame) defense,  I've never eaten there before. (I did later replace the awful mistake with a Wendy's card, knowing he likes Frosty's.) But really, come on.  

Anyhow...all of this long-windedness to say, my blog was on the bottom of the pile. Back in September, I really felt God telling me to finally start publishing it. I'm still trying to figure out what that all looks like.

So for now, I figured the best way to jump back in was to jump back in. Really, sometimes it's hard to come up with 5 & 5. Often I find 7 & 2, so this is a good exercise for me to really count my blessings. (OOH! G#6 - I got to see White Christmas on the BIG screen this year. It was fantastic!!)





Laments:
1. Feeling like I'm dropping the balls everywhere.

2. I've had a LOT of headaches lately. ick

3. Um...regarding #3 below, I told Dale we were going to the wrong camp. We couldn't figure out when we arrived, where everyone was. (Everyone was very gracious when we did arrive.)

4. Lame drivers still get the best of me. That's both a lament at their lameness and that I let them get to me.

5. I have to go to Costco today.


Gratitudes:

1. I've been super productive with some major things. I have and am continuing to majorly de-clutter my home.  I'm pretty good at this and thought there wouldn't be a lot, but it seems there always is more. Kathi Lipp's new book, Clutter Free had been the current impetus for this.  

2. The other productive thing is I am 95% finished with out tax prep.  The last few years I have been an April girl.

3. I'm so thankful for our Yukon.  After years with a van that broke down about every other month, having a reliable means of transportation is a gift. Also, because there are a lot of seats, we were able to offer rides from the High School Winter Camp back home. 

4. the Bullet Journal system.  It really has revolutionized my life. What I love it that everyone uses a similar bases system, but then tweaks it to their own personal use.  Plus, in a time where I don't really have any artistic outlet anymore, this is a small way to get it in. 

5. That we have money to buy groceries at Costco. (silver lining, right?)

Friday, December 05, 2014

Secrets


Have you heard the song by Mary Lambert called "Secrets"?
(FYI - she does say "sh!+" in the second line)




As she lists her “secrets” she moves into the chorus and sings:

"They tell us from the time we're young
To hide the things that we don't like about ourselves
Inside ourselves
I know I'm not the only one who spent so long attempting to be someone else
Well I'm over it...
I don't care if the world knows what my secrets are (secrets are) 
So-o-o-o-o what"

I love it! I think it's fabulous. Whether or not her secrets apply to you, the overall message, to not let those secrets define you (or the fear from them getting out) should be freeing to us all.

Shame & blame. Conform. If, as friends we don’t accept others for their quirkiness or differences, we are saying the same thing. More than that though, are the things we feel (or are told) we need to hide to "save the family name" or to not bring "disgrace" on yourself or others.

First of all, there's nothing I can do, that would disgrace me from the love of Jesus. I could certainly make him sad from my choices, but he won't cast me aside from embarrassment. He is the ultimate in love that no one can measure up to.

We have to remember that people's actions are their own and things out of people's control should be met with sympathy and a desire to help, not to ostracize them.

On the way home from a fun trip to the mountains to saw down our Christmas tree, (why do people say “chop”? No one chops their tree from tree farms) we saw a woman driving a VW bug: a bug decorated with 60’s style, bright flower vinyl stickers...all over.  It had dangly balls at the roofline inside the car, and she had lashes on the headlights.  These were not “I drive for Lyft” lashes, but more like vinyl stickers. 

My first reaction was an audible (shaming & judging), “Wow! That’s some decoration!” and most of the people in the car agreed with me. Then I paused and thought (and then said) “Good for her. She is enjoying her car. That’s cool.”  While it may not be for me, it made me smile to think she was enjoying it how she wanted to enjoy it.  Either that or she was driving her daughter/mom/friend/brother’s car, but still willing to use it for her needs!

There are definitely things, secrets, that have held me back over the years. I’ve had some successes, particularly in the past 5 years, in letting go of them and trying not to let those things/feelings be the boss of me. Instead, when I choose to start revealing things, or telling someone, “me too!”, I am being the boss of my secrets and they start to lose their power. There are things in my family that I wouldn't tell just for the sake of telling because others continue to live in fear or shame over them. However, when those things overlap into my life experience and into who I am, I refuse to carry their shame anymore. Do I bring up painful experiences just for the heck of it? No. But I won't let their shame blame me for who I am anymore.

Of course for every 2-3 steps forward, there is a step back, into the comfortable (though unhealthy) shame, embarrassment and general low self-esteem, where hiding the secrets lies. As I continue to make more progress climbing up out of it though, I start to see more light and how things are better up with those who are living in freedom.

Jesus tells me I am enough...the way I am. That shouldn't preclude me from continuing to emulate him more, but it doesn't mean I need to wallow as a victim over things out of my control.

Are there secrets you’re holding on to? Tell them you're the boss and don't let them control you anymore.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Strike! (or It's More Than Just the Turkey)



I was lamenting on facebook about how I was thinking of going on strike again. Yes, again. I actually did once.  

At first I thought that if I stopped doing the things I did for the kids, eventually they would get the hint. (They didn't.) I stopped doing the dishes. I stopped doing their laundry. I stopped making their lunches. I even stopped asking them to clean their room.  That one in particular surprised me.  I never thought I'd do that, but I also never pictured having three boys share one room. I also never grew up around boys and didn't realize the level of mess in which they will survive. I would still make dinner, and serve my husband, but they had to set their own place. I did everything I could so that it didn't impact him.

It didn't work.  I don't know if they really got the concept, and I was freaking out inside over the mess. I don't remember exactly how it was resolved. I think I had them help me clean it up, but it certainly didn't have the impact I was hoping for.

I also realized it had a lot to do with my heart. When I get in that space, I often forget to take a step back and think about why I'm really frustrated.  Yes, it could be as simple as people not doing what they're supposed to do, and how I feel like it's disrespectful, but that's where my discipline & accountability with them should come into play. It shouldn't be throwing a fit like a pre-schooler. 

I also recognize that it comes from a selfish place.  When I'm focused on myself, I am, obviously, less thankful. 

There will always be people who seem to have it better, but there are always people who have it worse. The problem though is that I shouldn't be comparing myself in the first place.  

Once I hear God whispering (ok shouting) to me, I take a step back and I am grateful. 


I'm thankful that I live in the U.S.A. I'm thankful we have so much here. I'm thankful that I am usually warm enough (and if I'm not, I have coats, blankets or a wood burning stove that will do the trick). 

I'm thankful that I have food. Even if I'm down to slim pickings, I'm nowhere near starving. Cans of plain chickpeas and tuna sound nasty together, but it's there if I need it.

I'm thankful I have a vehicle that works. And after having a van that got to the point of breaking every other month, I'm thankful this one runs, has heat, a/c (since currently I need both in one day) and working windows. 

I'm thankful for my dog. She has been such a lovely addition in our home and I know she has helped with my depression.

I'm thankful for medication. As much as I also loathe it and don't like how it makes me feel, I'm thankful I have the choice to use it, and that it keeps me stable to have healthy, balanced relationships.

I'm thankful for my friends. The ones who walk closely through life with me and are the family I've chosen, and the ones I see here and there. The ones I see in person, and then ones I see online.  The ones I've had for decades, and the ones I've made this year. And the ones that make me laugh.

I'm thankful for my family. So many people come to this country and leave their family behind. Others move to other states for jobs. I have family within 10 miles at the farthest. My kids have grown up having relationships with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

I'm thankful for my core family of 6. They make me crazy frustrated, bring me to tears and feel anger and sadness I never knew I could feel. (And which goes both ways, I'm aware!) But oh how sweet life is with them. It's richer than I could have ever known. They make me laugh with humor similar and different than mine. They teach me, forgive me and love me. They love each other and seeing that brings the good tears. They bring me joy I never knew I could feel.

I'm thankful for my husband. Though he is definitely part of my core family, he is my partner in life, my best friend and my true love. He shows me daily he loves me in all sorts of ways. He is an example to me, our kids and anyone he's around how a man of integrity conducts himself. 

I'm thankful I have the freedom to say I love Jesus without fear of prison or abuse. I'm thankful Jesus loved me first and picked me. I'm thankful he picks us all. 

It's an endless list and though I love using sarcasm, it is most definitely filtered (usually) through a sieve of a grateful heart.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, pausing to reflect on some of the things you have to be grateful for.