I Get Social Media

Do you feel like you “get” social media, or do you just use it because that’s where all your friends and family are?

I get social media. But to get it, you have to give it.

I am Facebook, Twitter, Instagram girl, but I put myself out there. I’ve seen studies that show the more engaged a social media user is, the happier she is.

Some people complain about social media, “I don’t want to know what you had for lunch.”

I admit I occasionally report what I’m cooking. When I recently updated my FB status, “Making chili, meat and vegetarian,” several cyber friends in several states were also making chili. Coincidence? I dunno. But it was interesting and fun and I felt less alone in my solo chili-making kitchen.

Sometimes I overshare. That’s me. I overshare IRL too.

As a wife of someone with Parkinson’s Disease, I feel connected to friends and family through social media. Apathy is a side effect of my husband’s disease. On social media, I can’t tell if people are apathetic towards me. I try to notice only the thumbs up, the cheers, the interactions that lead to deeper sharing. I affirm people, just like I like being affirmed.

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve connected in person with two different high school friends who were visiting New York. I wouldn’t have stayed in touch with them without Facebook. When we got together, we talked about deep stuff — how we felt different, theater, how we parent, what’s new with our siblings, how we work.

Of course, it’s scary to put yourself out there and swim in the social media community pool. It’s easier and safer, emotionally, to lurk, dangle your feet in the water.

My social media mania has one downside.

I was reminded of this jealousy factor, when I read: More kids than suitcases’ blog post about torturing yourself on spring break. Because yes, just by the look of some other people’s spring break pics, they’re having a lot of fun out there. I saw in friends’ feeds palm trees and London tea (different people obviously.) That made me wish I was somewhere fabulous.

But I was. I was somewhere fab. Making every day fabulous is one of my life goals. (Thanks to my former colleague, Klay Williams!)

Compare and despair. I try to post awesome pictures of me and the kids having a really good time out in the world. (See below!) Because a picture of one of my kids staring at the phone, laptop, or TV is boring. I post about things, people, and events that I want to remember. I don’t want to remember boredom, bickering, apathy, and negativity.

I want to remember doing cartwheels on the beach. I want to remember bike riding. I want to remember making each other smile and laugh.

This post was inspired by the Daily Prompt – Social Network.

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Writing Prompt

At our lunchtime Wednesday Writers group, Rashida Craddock led us on a hilarious exercise. She passed out a list of 26 strange words like cabotage, quire, tittynope, and xertz. And she told us to write a story of one person explaining how to use the word correctly to a child. Even though we didn’t know what the words meant, we were to write as if we did. She gave us 10 minutes.

Here’s a little story I wrote with my word, winklepicker.

“Oh, little one, a winklepicker is not for you. That’s a grown-up word for what grown-ups eat when they’re having their cocktails on the terrace. They have pickles, cheese, crackers, stuffed mushrooms, winklepickers!”

“But Grammy! I saw a mermaid on the terrace when you were having cocktails.”

“Oh, little one, cocktail time is magical. I have seen my share of mermaids during cocktail time too.”

Yes, little one, also known as Juliet, had seen the mermaid. And Brownie, the mermaid, had seen Juliet many times. She’d seen her on the rope swinging in the Elm tree, kicking her legs and climbing high.

Brownie was lost and had to get back to her school. And she believed that the girl could help her return to her school of fish.

I’ve been telling these girls bedtime stories about Juliet and Brownie their whole lives. Made up bedtime stories are the best.

“Now, you run along. Go find your mermaids, your leprechauns, your fairies,” said Granny. “I’m in need of a sleep fairy myself. I’ve been so busy writing invitations to our next cocktail party. And by sleep fairy, I mean a frighteningly delicious mix of champagne, cranberry, and a splash of Kir.”

Juliet slunk away while Grammy tinkled with the ice. Juliet sat on the window seat in the library and looked out the window…. (there’s more but I’ll stop there with my bedtime story.)

I was so happy to be with my lunchtime writing community. I hadn’t been there in two months, since I left the day job. We are such an amazing group of creative women. Don’t believe me? Check out Rashida’s art blog.

What Is Community?

Community is 3 things — hard work, passion and diversity.

Hard work. A ton of research shows you need 10,000 hours of practice to be a world class master. Malcolm Gladwell reported this in Outliers. Hard work, dogged effort and continual engagement are more important than talent, inclination and ability.

Hard work is probably more important than luck. Resilience – not giving up — is key.

Note to self: Remember this when exhausted by my writing load (much of it self-imposed). I am logging my hours towards mastery. I may be closing in on my 10,000 hours of writing. For five years, I have written probably for 3 hours every day, which equals about 5,000 hours. And then considering my writing life before the last five years, it’s possible I’ve nearly got 10,000 hours.  

Another note to self: When talking to my kids, I must praise their effort and not their fabulousity! (But then I’m so crazy in love with my kids that I tell them all the time, you are so wonderful. I guess I should say, your hard work is so wonderful!)

Passion. I’ve been reading Thomas Moore’s A Life at Work. The guy’s good. He talks about following your bliss and paying attention to the stories you tell about yourself – your archetypes and night dreams.

Note to self: Moore says it’s okay to have a whole lot of passions (or 4 blogs!) – for work and life. When I heard Moore speak at Marble Collegiate Church years ago, he said the one word he couldn’t advise as a guiding principle in life is “balance.” Moore said, “If you have to choose between two things — do both!”

The Hero's Journey & The Matrix

I’m with him. I’m up for following my passion and following my bliss. Remember Joseph Campbell and the hero’s journey? Loved it way back when. Still love it today. The Matrix is based on the hero’s journey: http://www.mythsdreamssymbols.com/herojourney.html

Diversity. Diversity is not only having diverse classes, races, religions, ages, but points of view.

Note to self: Do not become so in love and so entrenched with my own point of view that I see the world solely through my own Matrix glasses. 

Thanks to Dominic A.A. Randolph, the head of school at Riverdale Country School who shared these 3 thoughts on what makes for community at a gathering last week.

Riverdale’s tag line is Mind, Character, Commitment, Community. His smart blog post is: http://blogs.riverdale.edu/headofschool/2010/09/25/ms-and-us-parents-day-speech-september-2010/#content.

Wow.

A Church A Night

I love churches so much, that I stayed overnight at Rutgers Church on Friday night.

I was a chaperone for the youth group, about 17 kids from ages 10 to 17, for a church lock-in. We played Charades, made candle holders, played whiffle ball. We sang together in the sanctuary with the lights off. (My kids and I tried to teach the group the song, “Sanctuary,” which we sing really well! Is that bragging? So be it.)

Our pastor Andrew spoke a little during the sanctuary time.  He had made barbed wire to show us and talk about. We discussed barbed wire’s purpose — to keep people and animals out. Andrew talked about growing up in a country surrounded by barbed wire.

He talked about how we have to be the candle light within the swirl of barbed wire.

“This is the symbol for the organization, Amnesty International. They take a stand for people who are in jail needlessly. The light means a lot to people who are living in barbed wire countries or who are living in barbed wire. We can be their light,” said Andrew.

When we blew out our candles we were asked to take the light within us. To keep a light for human rights burning. The fun of the sleepover, the depth of it shone through. The kids and parents are such a great group.

Church is community, I’m coming to see. It is not simply sitting alone in a dark place midday praying. It happens at night and when one is away from the sanctuary too. It happens when we try to take sanctuary with us, create it for ourselves, our neighbors, the world.