Sometimes Facebook Makes Me Crazy

I don’t spend much time on Facebook like I did. I go there every few weeks and look at new family photos and then exit the program. There was a time I posted photos and made comments and ‘Liked’ but not anymore.

First off, it took me a bit of time to understand but after I read the posts from family and friends I got sad. Their lives were so full, so rich, so purposeful. They had anniversary photos, new jobs, they had ‘relationship status’ updates from “single” to “in a relationship” and then “married.” Their kids were top-achievers, getting into great colleges, finding employment and getting married. The married children were in contact with their parents, took photos with their children and life was rosy and sweet.


Their holidays were joyful and the only thing missing was Norman Rockwell. Photos of their vacations could have been ripped from travel guides. The more I read, the sadder I became. It’s not that I was envious of my Facebook family, it’s more like I was left behind in the gray room with all the gray colors and gray food. My life — which is pretty full and fantastic, felt sort of …lacking.

It took a bit of detective work  but the pieces fell together and the truth unfolded. There were fights, bankruptcies, illnesses, divorces, job losses and failing students standing there when the camera was put away. This bit of reality didn’t ease my sadness; it just made me realize how childish it all is.

It’s childish for me to compare my standing with someone’s posting on Facebook. kayak2It’s stupid to wish for another life when I have no idea if that person is truly happy or perhaps cries herself to sleep at night. I know where I stand. I know what I’ve achieved and what it took to get me there. I know there are things I want that I haven’t achieved and sometimes I wish I could have a ‘do-over’ but this is where I am – right here and now.

Every now and then I’ll check Facebook to see who’s doing what … and everything I read I’ll take with a grain of salt. No sadness, no comparison, no wishing I had someone else’s good fortune. I know better now.

Technology blues

Adios to my Dell Desktop Computer

My desktop PC has crashed and burned. The “blue screen” of death appeared with a sneer and took away my companion. I had many things backed up and those that were not, flash by in my mind’s eye when I am trying to locate something. “Oh yes,” I say out loud, “it was on my pc in the I AM AMAZING folder.

I am reduced to a slow-moving laptop that is giving me advance notice that it will soon be departing. So, I am backing up my laptop as well.

I have been spoiled to have a desktop and laptop and I used them regularly. I am sort of lost with only having one at my disposal and perhaps, none in the near future. It’s my connection via email, Skype, Oovoo, blogs, Chromecast, Dropbox and on and on.

Does anyone remember when nobody had a computer in their home.?

Do you remember your first computer? Wasn’t it remarkable? The fact that we could dial-up a phone number and connect via the telephone line was amazing. Now that is so outdated and slow.

Our devices have gotten smaller and faster and more mobile. We can connect on the move.

And then I think back to when the telephone in the kitchen was the only device that mattered. When the EXTRA long phone cord was created, I felt liberated! I could drag it to the other side of the room and whisper in privacy!

The first phone recorder machine I remember having was in the mid 1980’s. It was as large as a toaster oven and it gave us freedom to leave and not miss any important calls. And now, our phones and computers can fit in our pockets and can be answered EVERY minute of the day. Our phone is our camera, photo album, email, calculator, radio, jukebox, clock, notebook, game center, pedometer, weather channel, book, newspaper, GPS, classroom, compass, and calendar. In backyard chairessence, our phone has become a lifeline to almost everything we connect to or with.
So, back to the crash of my pc. Bummer. Sad. Boo Hoo.

Ok, so that means I HAVE to out and play. Work in my garden, smell my flowers, rake some leaves, take a walk, admire the scenery, breathe in lilac smells.  So – ok, maybe it’s not all bad, right?

Hope you’re enjoying every minute of this glorious day – Hugs to one and all.

 

Marge Katherine

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Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar

Book Review | Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar

I loved this book when I read it last year and when I reread it last week, I sat in admiration for
Tiny Beautiful Thingsthe words of insight, kindness and advice offered by Cheryl Strayed. She offers advice in a no holds barred sort of way.

The book is a collection of questions and answers sent to Dear Sugar advice column.

The questions ran the gamut of issues – topics include self-esteem, relationships, friendship, death, birth, love, work, fear, happiness and on and on. Some are just musing.

Some replies are pages long. The message in the reply is often quite poignant as Cheryl has a way of speaking to the heart of the person on the other end. Her words hold you accountable. If you are at fault, own it. If the world has been unfair, shout it from the roof tops. If you’ve done wrong, forgive yourself.

With most replies, she relates to something she has experienced. She writes with an openness that makes the reader listen more closely than ever before. As with most issues, the writer probably already knows the answer but can’t see a way out. Some others write because they have a need to unload. Others write with a palpable desperation.

“You don’t have a right to the cards you believe you should have been dealt with. You have an obligation to play the hell out of the ones you’re holding and my dear one, you and I have been granted a mighty generous one.”
― Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar

Some questions ask about love. Will we find love? Is this love? The heartfelt questions span
generations.

“I can’t say when you’ll get love or how you’ll find it or even promise you that you will. I can only say you are worthy of it and that it’s never too much to ask for it and that it’s not crazy to fear you’ll never have it again, even though your fears are probably wrong. Love is our essential nutrient. Without it, life has little meaning. It’s the best thing we have to give and the most valuable thing we receive. It’s worthy of all the hullabaloo.”
― Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar

To get a good understanding of the genuine questions and replies that fill this book, here is a question and a link to the answer. Find the book and read it. The answers and suggestions spoke to my core. Maybe they will do the same to yours.

Dear Sugar,

I read your column religiously. I’m 22. From what I can tell by your writing, you’re in your early 40s. My question is short and sweet: what would you tell your 20-something self if you could talk to her now?

Love,
Seeking Wisdom

Dear Seeking Wisdom…

Creating a Top Ten Book List

I just received an email from a friend listing all her favorite books from 2014.

library booksI decided to make a list of my favorites as well. With a new year upon us, it’s time to read 52 books in 52 weeks again. I am usually pretty good about reading unless I come upon a book that bothers me then I walk away and stay away until the feeling passes. Then when I start to read it again, well, there’s that icky feeling. So either I plow through it or set it aside.

If it’s a book for my book club, I often plow through it so I can be part of the group discussion. The members of this group all have their certain likes and dislikes. They all know if it’s a sad or scary book then I won’t like it. I don’t like graphic stories (war, rape, carnage) and have never had success with sci-fi either. Some of my book club friends prefer psychological thrillers but hate romance, love biographies but detest chic lit and on and on.

deep bookshelfWhat amazes me is when I ADORE a book only to find out other members detested it. How can that be? And I was the only one in the group who HATED the book Gone Girl. They all loved it.

Alas, that’s how it is. Some books speak to one person and not others. I loved A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and some others thought it was BORING. How can that be?

So, stay tuned so I can go over my list of books and decide which I loved the best.

If you have any books to suggest, put it in the comment box.

Now…back to creating my top ten list!

Abiding Gifts at Christmastide 

I listened to someone read this lovely poem titled Abiding Gifts last week, She told me her aunt wrote it many, many years before. It made me sit up straight and listen harder so I could hear it.

It was in a small paper book filled with poems written my women of the same congregation. I feel blessed that I can share it with you.

Abiding Gifts

By Rebecca Doughtery Hyatt

Please bring for me this Christmastide Such gifts that will with me abide. I sorely need each priceless thing That I am asking you to bring.Please bring for me this Christmastide
Such gifts that will with me abide.
I sorely need each priceless thing
That I am asking you to bring.
A Christmas tree – the same bright Star
That shines o’er Bethlehem’s fields afar.
So by that Star’s unwavering light.
I’ll follow there on Christmas night.

And may I find beneath that tree
A present marked  – Humility,
And leave there please a cloak for me
Which plainly says for – Charity.
I need Tolerance –and could use
a large package — And if you choose,
I want a magic wand  with which to find
Faith renewed in all mankind.

Bring Understanding, so that each day
Friendships are strengthened on the way.
With other things – I make this plea-
Bring boundless gifts of Sympathy.
Some kindness please, there’s never enough –
A world to soften at its touch.

Make these gifts attractive and apart
Each will be taken to my heart.
Come down my chimney with your pack
Of Peace and Goodwill upon your back;
Please add a stocking filled with Cheer
For useful days through all the year.
Bring these for me to scatter wide
Across the land this Christmastide.

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Friend Therapy

Lately I’ve been writing about ways to save your sanity. In the insane world in which we live it is sometimes hard to have quiet moments. In my last post, about claiming your space I offered some suggestions on how to make that happen.

This post is going to flip that idea and suggest you talk.  Or listen.

I will refer to this as FRIEND THERAPY. It’s when you are able to share your issues with another person in a safe environment. Yes, we can pay for this and go to a counselor but most times that will never happen.

Women sitting on a dock, having an intimate conversation during friend therapyFriend Therapy happens all the time. It’s give and take. It’s the freedom to badmouth a spouse, regret words said in anger or words never said at all, and cry like a baby. In the presence of a friend, these words are not acted upon, they are not resolved, and they are not repeated. Often just the act of voicing our thoughts is the cleansing part.

In the presence of a true friend, there’s no judgment, just allowing.

Last week, in the presence of a friend I related a story about a time in my youth when i was in a bad car accident. In the ambulance and at the hospital I was holding my breath with the fear that when my mom found out she would ‘drive like a bat out of hell’ and get herself killed on the way to the hospital. In the meantime, my dad showed up and suddenly I was able to be a 15-year-old child again. I didn’t have to be the parent and could just be an injured kid. The relief came through in waves of tears and gut wrenching sobs.

While sharing this story, it was as if I was still holding my breath. My shoulders, muscles and throat were tight… all over again.  What I received from my friend was a hug, validation and silence so I could continue.

When my story was over we discussed the topic of children of alcoholics and she related her story too.  Even with friends it takes courage to share a piece of you. And yet, I’ve found when I put myself out there, I’m met with more understanding and openness from them as well.

There are times, however, when going to a therapist is the right thing to do. In therapy, you can dig deeper and express thoughts without worrying if you are upsetting anyone. A therapist can offer insights and help you remember what’s important. A therapist is totally focused on you and offers a place to lay down your innermost burdens.

Friend therapy or professional therapy? I’ve sat on both sides of the table and know there are benefits to both. If you need talk therapy a friend may be able to help. If you need intensive, long term help – ask around for someone you can trust and schedule an appointment. with a therapist.  Knowing when you need more than your friend can offer is key to getting balanced again.

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Sanity: Mental Health in Motion

Sanity is defined as the quality or state of being sane; especially soundness or health of mind. Sanity comes from the Latin word Sanitas. (Merriam-webster.com/dictionary)

There are many ways to keep sane in this insane world. Previously I mentioned flexibility and the ability to change.

Another way to keep sane is to move. The act of moving, whether it’s up a steep mountain, along a sidewalk or inside a mall has healing properties.  Aerobics, dancing, cycling, running, swimming and walking helps :

  • Increase energy
  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Keep depression at bay
  • Increase self-esteem
  • Elevate your mood
  • Lighten your load (mentally and physically)
  • Improve sleep

For me movement is a huge part of my world.

Walking and talking is even better and makes for an easy conversation. The ability to share stories, offer comments and learn from others during a walk are benefits that last much longer than the act. When the movement takes place outside there are other elements that add to a good frame of mind. Elements might include fresh air, cloud movement, landscape, people-watching,  children at play, artists at work, and more.

marge-gem lake hike1I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve expressed words of gratitude when I was out walking. There’s a feeling of freedom and appreciation for the world around me when I am moving.

The words that spill so easily from me soothe my heart and calm my soul.

“Thank you so much for this wonderful day…
~For this sunshine
~For the open sky
~For strong legs to help me climb
~For my friend who agreed to join me.”

And then there are times when walking alone works best. It allows me time for introspection, problem-solving, ideas for new blog topics, planning, praying and they all help lighten my load.

Movement is a good thing. It’s a reminder that I am alive. It’s a reminder to take care of this precious body of mine. It’s a reminder to say Thank You.

Thank you for reading, feel free to add your thoughts and ideas on what works for you.

For now  – ITS TIME TO DANCE. Turn on video below and move that body!
(We should both be dancin’, yeah!)

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Choosing Sanity: Flexibility

I read about a 31 day challenge that forces me to choose a topic and blog about it. I decided to blog about 31 ways to improve your mental health in this glorious month of October but I was unable to get into the challenge by the deadline date. So, here I am with a great topic and every intention to follow through on my own.

Tip #1 – Be flexible. As you can see, I’ve already altered my original goal, refocused my work and am moving forward. Flexibility is key to a good state of mind. The alternative is rigidity which can be pretty painful in a world where change is the norm.

Looking at the Grand Tetons in Felt IdahoI believe flexibility is an art. It allows one to bend like a willow but still be rooted when it matters.

Adventure comes to the person who is standing with arms wide open!

Staying open to adventure, getting out of your comfort zone and taking risks (even itsy-bitsy risks count) helps us learn new things about ourselves.

What kinds of risks?

  • Talking to a stranger
  • Writing to an author
  • Wearing something different (new hairstyle, new cologne/perfume, bold colors)
  • Accepting a challenge
  • Saying no to a request
  • Asking a favor

When the ‘little things’ happen – like getting stuck behind a train, losing the car keys, an unexpected visit, a long line in the grocery store, how we respond to these events can make or break us. In the big picture, they don’t matter. Ok, in the small picture, they don’t matter either when you have a flexible attitude.

And of course, this flexibility allows me to sign up for a 31 day challenge when it’s 5 days underway and then realize I’m already out of that loop.  Yes, some would stop here and walk away. Really?

It’s about the challenge of finding fascinating topics to share with you during the course of this month. It’s about writing more in this lovely blog.
It’s about learning as I write.
And sharing as I learn.

I hope you stay tuned and enjoy the ride!

Letting Dreams Go

Rustic Rocky Mountain Log Cabin - Can't you just smell the wood fire burning?
Rustic Rocky Mountain Log Cabin – Can’t you just smell the wood fire burning?

I always dreamed about having a mountain home. It won’t happen. I can rent one for a week and enjoy the crisp early morning air, take long walks, make campfires and fly fish to my heart’s content – – but not in my mountain home. And that’s ok. Not only is it ok, it takes a huge weight off my shoulders. If I did own the home, it would be alll the other stuff too — the mortgage payments, concern about forest fires, insurance, fees, winter preparation, utility payments, and on and on.

I feel ok with letting it go. I’ve released many hopes and dreams over my lifetime and replaced them with new ones.

Currently, I am sitting in a yard surrounded by all shades of green. I have privacy, can see the sky and totally enjoy my new environment. My plan began with emptying out my clutter, recycling items, and preparing to leave one home and move into another. Step by step, I released belongings, painted, dusted, and prepared for my departure. I was so ready to move I could taste it. Once here, it took several months to paint, brighten, update, renovate, and recreate my home. I let go of the mountain home and now embrace my city home.

Growing up, I didn’t have a list of goals and achievements I wanted to accomplish. I just went with the flow and found my way after I landed. I learned to be a wife, figured out how to be a mom, worked at various jobs, returned to school, found more jobs and lived in a piecemeal world. I never saw the big picture and how I would make my way through it. I just did it, maybe by instinct or happenstance or just plain luck.

Oh, yeah, about that luck… no such thing for me. My luck came in the form of family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, and even strangers. My luck is a give and take — a phone call, a hug, a card, fresh picked flowers, a dinner here and there — I am not just the receiver of this luck. I give it and I receive it.  My luck is a community event.

Why am I going on and on? (That really is not rhetorical, I forgot…)

marge and sophie
Making new friends along the way!

Oh yeah – dreams. We all know people who are living their dreams. There is a sense of contentment around them. My new dream is not a dream at all. It’s a reality that is in the process of unfolding. It includes living in a city, making new friends, becoming connected and finding a support system. Like the physical move, my plan takes many steps. Getting visible, attending functions, volunteering, making conversation, offering help, asking questions and putting myself ‘out there.’

Can you see my smile?