joy

Sometimes You Can’t Choose Joy

I uploaded this graphic that I made to Facebook yesterday.

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Sunday was rough. I had gone non-stop on Saturday…Soccer to race volunteering to meeting with a family member getting married who I’m doing programs for to bedtime. But then Nikki was up at sick at 1:30’ish Sunday morning sick with a raging headache. I took care of her until I left to go cheer/work at a local race. So, I was tired, but I had the opportunity to spend several hours watching people face a horrible day of weather to STILL toe the start line of a triathlon, and then finish under blue skies and sun. The amazing bravery it took to start and then the pride at the finish, I was focusing on that to find my joy. And I needed that because I was exhausted and came home from the race to try to catch up on housework in case I’m next in line for this illness. But I kept thinking of my friends who showed up at that race in the pouring rain and thunder, waited until the storm passed and then under ominous skies and facing wet roads, they jumped in the water to start the triathlon and I just felt AMAZED at the tenacity of humans and was just thrilled and happy even though I was tired and stressed.

I found my joy.

But you know what? Some days you can’t find the joy.

And on those days? These type of graphics piss me off.

I do try to find the joy in every day, but I also have Depression Days and Anxiety Days where those two things are too powerful to overcome and these stupid memes with sunrises and flowers that tell me that it’s MY choice to be happy? Make me want to throw the laptop out the window.

My friend broke her foot once and then couldn’t do a race. And no amount of running shoe meme telling her, “Just get out and run!” was going to be able to inspire her to do the race. And those running memes are EVERYWHERE. They tell you that you regret runs you DON’T do but you never regret runs you DO run. But she couldn’t run. Because her foot was broken.

And some days? Depression and Anxiety are my broken foot. But the problem is? Many don’t see it that way. Many who don’t fight these type of ailments think it’s just a power of MIND OVER MATTER! Choose Joy! And on good days when I’m winning the battle? I can choose joy. And I’m lucky that I can do that most days.

But many days? I can’t. I can’t just choose joy. And it’s not mind over matter. It’s depression or anxiety in charge of that day, and trying to will joy through those days is like trying to run a marathon on a broken foot. No amount of Mind Over Matter will help.

So, please know when I share these things out on Facebook I know some of you want to punch me in the face. Some of you can’t choose joy, even if you’re surrounded by joy. Because the bones in your foot are still broken and nothing will change that. I have days where my goal is to simply make it to bedtime because then I hope to wake up to a day where my bones are healed. Some days I wake up and know this is a day where I’m in control of my approach to life. But many days it’s my anxiety or depression that are in control. So I just make it to bedtime and hope the next day is better.

But today? Today I’m winning. And even though Nikki is still sick and I’m still tired and stressed and my yard is only half-weeded and my water bill is going to be sky high from all of the lice and puck laundry I’ve done the last two weeks…today I’m in control. Today I can choose joy. And I’ll do that for those of you who can’t. And I hope that the next time I’m not in control, maybe you can choose joy in your day on behalf of mine.

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Creating Well Curated Newsfeeds On Twitter

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Someone asked me recently about what I mean when I reference my “well-curated newsfeed” on Twitter, so I thought I’d explain it because it really does help me keep up with news in a way no standards news site does.

First, obviously, you need a Twitter account. Then you need to create lists. It’s up to you whether you leave them public or private. Here are my lists but I’m not sure how that page looks if you’re not me. I have a “private” list called “FAVES” and the only reason I leave it private is because that title carries a lot of weight. I don’t mean “these are my favorite people” but that “I don’t want to miss any tweets by these people/agencies” so I make sure I stay caught up on that list. Commander Hadfield is on that list and so is the Pope. John Green and Eliah. Al Jazeera and Tyler Oakley. These are just people who don’t tweet a whole lot, but often share out stuff I don’t want to miss so I keep them on that list. And I keep that list displayed in my Tweetdeck all the time.

But then, I create topical lists. I don’t normally keep my LGBT NEWS list showing but I did for this screengrab. But – if we’re waiting on SCOTUS news or something I’ll keep that list showing on my Tweetdeck. I keep the Black Lives Matter list showing every day. I keep my local news and weather showing. And I keep my Huntsville friends showing because I don’t want to miss their tweets.

That page is just always open on my desktop so I can keep up with news alerts or topical reports. I’ve made lists in the past for some of the monitoring of global revolts, usually multi-day events.

Here’s some notes: You don’t have to follow someone to add them to the list. As a matter of fact, unfollowing them doesn’t remove them from the list, you have to do it separately from unfollowing. ALSO: Be active in maintaining your lists, if a news source was great for a few days but then seemed to only tweet about their favorite TV show for the next week? Remove them. There are a gagillion people on Twitter, there are plenty of people reporting live from the area you’re covering, don’t clutter up your lists with people who aren’t really helping you monitor an event.

I did keep a general “NEWS” list for awhile, and I kept some of my favorites: Al Jazeera, Chris Hayes, Salon, WaPo – but official news outlets really kinda have to cover EVERYTHING and on any giving day at least 50% of the crap they’re talking about, I don’t care about. So that list became useless. I started, instead, of following causes. I’ve got a few other lists I don’t keep pulled up every day: Reproductive Rights, Inspiration, Parenting etc. There are SO MANY sources of SUCH GOOD information out there. Don’t look at your twitter feed as one non-stop barage of chaos, break it up into lists. That’s the best way to do it. Every year when the Barkley Marathons occur I pull up that list because it’s one of the only ways to get news out of that event since it’s not really “connected” so to speak. Twitter is a powerful way to get news directly from the source, if you don’t mind a few minutes here and there to filter out the noise.

Do you have any twitter peeps you love for any topic/reason? I follow TONS of comedians and while I don’t have a “funny peeps” list…I think I might go make one…

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Why I’d Rather You Just Unfriend Me.

I’ve been tossing something in my brain for awhile – something that seems very unique to me – and therefore has required a lot of my contemplation and twitter polling. (Problem Solving 101: Twitter Polling.) The issue at hand is the way many (“many” = “everyone but me”) handle disagreeable people on Facebook…by unfollowing. Whereas I have never unfollowed anyone, but have unfriended 2 people.

I need to start with a giant disclaimer that I really hope you’ll keep in mind as you read this. I use Facebook very differently from everyone I know. I use it very equally: Personal/Political/Entertainment. I post pictures and status about my kids as much as I post thought-provoking articles about Black Lives Matter as much as I share out news about my favorite TV shows. I do it all. So, I know that the way I handle Facebook and approach it is very different from most people, and I know that a lot of how I look at it is therefore…going to be different.

I also keep Facebook to real world friends. I don’t send out friend requests (because I’m really active on Facebook and I want someone to come into that relationship willingly) and I only accept them from people I know. I like it as an extension of my real-life friendships or relationships. Some people simply use it as a communication tool and so send friend requests to everyone they meet even once, but I don’t do that. If we’re friends on Facebook? I consider us friends in real life. If we’re friends on Facebook? I’d share a meal with you. And not everyone treats their Facebook list like that.

BUT! Here’s what I’ve been thinking. I’ve been unfriended TONS. Seriously. And I still see some of those people out in the real world and it doesn’t faze me at all. I’m nice and cordial even though I know they unfriended me. But I have no idea if people have unfollowed me. And the more I think about it, the more I really feel that if you are going to unfollow me? I’d rather you unfriend me instead.

CAVEAT: This is just about People Who Unfollow Me. Not about People Who Unfollow Other People. I’m not saying we should ALL unfriend instead of unfollow. I’m just saying FOR ME, I’d rather people unfriend me than unfollow me.

Why I Don’t Unfollow People

First and foremost? I’m terrified they’ll find out. And I don’t want to hurt their feelings. If I didn’t care about their feelings at all? I’d just unfriend them. But the idea of unfollowing someone – and then them finding out – really stresses me out. Even just thinking about it stresses me out.

Secondly? I like the other stuff they post. Maybe they post a lot of political or religious stuff I don’t agree with or like, but maybe they also share photos of other people in their family or their adventures and I can take the chaff with the grain of our relationship and just toss away the chaff for the sake of the grain. I can skim past annoying political/religions stuff to get to the other stuff no problem.

Thirdly? I use Facebook’s “block this…” type of options successfully. I’ve blocked all game notifications and requests and I’ve clicked the “I don’t want to see posts from this source” option on several hard-core right-wing conservative sources. Nothing major, I don’t block like…Fox News, but if it’s something titled “Conservative Tea Partiers Who Want To See Obama’s Birth Certificate” then I’m blocking it as a source.

Why I Unfriend

I don’t ever send out friend requests unless A) by accident (done that before from the “people you may know” page on my FB app which looks a lot like the friend requests section) or B) by necessity due to a need to communicate with that person. And if it’s the second reason, I only do it if I really feel like I want to be FB friends with them, meaning I really need to know them in some capacity. So, if we’re FB friends, I probably consider us real friends to some capacity.

So, if you post something that I find truly disagreeable and can’t move past it to the family pictures or adventures then I ask myself: Am I close enough to this person that unfriending them will cause any problems in future interactions? Twice the answer was: NO. So, twice I’ve unfriended people and both times it was for vulgar (VERY VULGAR) and offensive posts about gay men.

Here’s the ultimate question: What if someone I couldn’t unfriend (because it would affect our future interactions) said the exact same vulgar/offensive thing? I don’t know. I’d like to think I would calmly address it. I’ve calmly addressed not-quite-as-offensive statuses before, and I think I do it well, but I don’t know if I could calmly address something as offensive as the things that made me click “unfriend” before. But I’d like to think that the reason that hasn’t happened is because I don’t send/accept Facebook requests from people I don’t know in the real world enough where I could greet them as friends if I saw them in public.

Why I Wish People Would Just Unfriend Me

But what got me really thinking about this was seeing someone who doesn’t agree with me politically (I know because of all of their political posts) responding to another friend that they unfollow people all the time, specifically people who post stuff they don’t agree with. And it hit me: WAIT. Have people unfollowed me? To which my husband said: MOST DEFINITELY. (Thanks, hon.)

And that got me really thinking about it here’s why I wish they would just unfriend me.

  • If you can’t suck it up and scroll past my respectfully written and never inflammatory political posts, then you shouldn’t be able to see pictures of how my kids did at the race this weekend. Or if my Harry Potter posts annoy you so much you just had to unfollow me, then I don’t want you to be able to click on my page to check out the First Day of School photos. I just feel like if I’m accepting everyone else’s chaff and grain then they should accept mine.
  • I don’t like suddenly wondering if I’m the schmuck who doesn’t realize the class is making fun of her behind her back. Because I “like” or comment on stuff on Facebook all the time. What if you posted a selfie from your hike with your family and I clicked “like” but truthfully, you haven’t seen anything I’ve done lately because you’ve unfollowed me. So, here I am interacting with your life and you’ve blinded yourself to mine. I feel like a total asshat if that’s the case.
  • If you don’t see my posts about my status as an atheist then you’re more likely to not think of me when you post memes that say that a lack of “God” is what is wrong with the world. So you’ll post that stuff, it will hurt my feelings, and I’ll wonder I’m pretty open about not believing in God, do they just not care to hurt my feelings or do they honestly think people like me are what’s wrong with the world?

And that’s the crux of it – honestly. Now that I’m realizing people might have unfollowed me because of my postings, I really would rather them unfriend me instead. Because then they won’t see the personal stuff (because I really feel like that’s for friends…and if you can’t handle some part of who I am, then we’re not friends) and then I won’t “like” their stuff (because I think we’re friends), and then they won’t post stuff that hurts my feelings because they’ve never seen me post about being an atheist, or a liberal. And if they don’t CARE if they hurt my feelings then why didn’t they just unfriend me to begin with? I am not inflammatory in any of my political postings. If I was, that would be different. So if someone doesn’t like my political stuff so much they can’t scroll past it in their newsfeed, then they’re not even open to respectful commentary from the other side. And I feel like if I can handle respectful commentary (because I see it often) then they should too. And if they can’t handle my respectful commentary, then I wouldn’t consider us even casual friends so should just unfriend me.

Because I really do look at Facebook as a connection to my friends. I know not everyone does, but for ME…it’s an extension of the arm of friendship. I don’t send out friend requests to people I don’t know and I don’t accept them either. So, since I use it that way, I only want to be friends with…well…friends. And if you can’t scroll past the posts you find annoying, then you shouldn’t get to see the posts about my kids struggles at school. I see anti-democrat anti-liberal anti-Obama pro-Christian pro-Life pro-Gun stuff EVERY DAY from my friends on Facebook. None of it is outright offensive, so I’m able to just scroll past it for the sake of the relationships. So, if someone can’t do that with my postings? I’d rather not be FB friends with them because the personal stuff I post is – to me – just for friends.

Because if you unfollowed me because of my political postings? That means you didn’t see that my kids were in the ER last month. And that really upsets me, that my benign and respectful political posts were so annoying to you that you unfollowed me and therefore missed something major in my life. I mean, seriously. That sucks. Just unfriend me. Then at least I know where I stand. This person finds this part of my online personality really annoying and that’s fine. I’ve been unfriended by tons of people and I’m honestly okay with it. At least I’m not making an ass out of myself and interacting with their Facebook posts when they have chosen not to see any of mine.

If I can scroll past bible verses and pro-Trump memes to maintain relationships – even though I’m an atheist who kinda hates Trump – then someone should be able to scroll past my non-inflammatory, respectful LGBTQ postings. And if they can’t, then – as long as I look at my Facebook friends as real friends – we shouldn’t be friends.

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All But For A Timepiece…

Remember how I quit sleeping with my phone? That’s still going well. It’s averaging me at least an hour more sleep a night I think. The problem is, I have to remember to put on my watch so I’ll have a way to tell time. Before, I would check my phone which means I would see notifications which means I’d check the email/facebook/instagram instead of trying to go back to sleep. So! I woke up this morning and realized,”Shit. I’m not wearing a watch.”

I turned on the light (sometimes I put the watch next to the bed) but couldn’t find and and then was facing this really weird dilemma: Do I wake up? Or try to go back to sleep? I had NO idea what time it was, but I could try to guess? Based on how I felt?

It’s probably 3am…

I said to myself because that’s the whole reason why I gave up the phone in the first place. My body’s weird ability to wake up at exactly 3am was cramping my style. So, I tried to go back to sleep thinking, “If it’s 3am, I could sleep for another 30-45 minutes before I need to get up.”

But I couldn’t go back to sleep by that point.

So! I came downstairs and looked at the clock.

3:17

Meaning it was probably 3am when I woke up initially.

IT IS LIKE I AM A FREAKY ALIEN.

Here’s the thing about being an involuntary early riser – you feel like you should be so much more productive because you get extra time in your day. And – for a few days that’s true for me, especially since I’m way more motivated to be productive in the morning than in the evening. So a day when I wake up earlier than I need is a day when I get much more done in general.

HOWEVER…

When you’ve been fighting with sleep issues for awhile, you tend to carry a general sense of exhaustion around with you that permeates your every muscle. While I’ve been sleeping better since giving up the phone, I’m still not feeling 100% rested from the weeks before. So, this exhaustion that permeates your muscles…it tends to make you settle in somewhere and vegetate instead of actually being productive. I think that’s why I was able to binge-watch The Fosters this summer. Because it’s like: I’m awake. I can’t go back to sleep. But my brain is too tired to do anything worthwhile. So, I’ll sit and watch this girl on this show make the same mistake she’s made 100 times before and see if THIS time something different happens.

(I love the show. But damn, Cali! Are you not noticing a pattern here?)

So. I woke up at 3am this morning. And then I sat at the computer with 10 million things I need to do (photo mosaics and cute questionnaires for a shower I’m throwing this weekend) and all I could really do was stare at Facebook.

Oh. Look. Now someone is trying to say we should celebrate trophy hunting because people in Africa are terrified of Lions. I think this is the Step 5 of the 8 Steps Of Major Controversy In Social Media. Step 5: Someone Comes Out Against The Popular Opinion Of the Masses. Next will be Step 6: The Masses Turn Their Attention To The Person Who Was Against The Popular Opinion.

It’s frustrating because – before I was dealing with that perpetual exhaustion caused by new sleep problems – early mornings were my FAVORITE time. I didn’t mind the periodic 3am wakeup. But now? I stare blindly at something mundane until the 3rd cup of coffee kicks in and then I spend the whole day hating myself for being unproductive AND being exhausted.

BUT! It’s okay! Because I have found a system that works, it just didn’t work for last night because I forgot I to put my watch on. I AM IMPROVING. This exhaustion is fading with a week of better sleep. I’m also reading to fall asleep at night which is great because I had given that up for the “Surf Instagram” method of winding down. So while this entry may seem a little whiny, in general? My sleep issues are MUCH BETTER. And give myself another week or two of this better system and I’ll probably be feeling human again.

This week’s reading material: Between The World And Me.

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The first book in a long time that warranted the use of a highlighter. THE INK KIND, NOT THE DIGITAL KIND.

So, I’ll deal with the exhaustion today knowing that I’m trending toward sleeping better without keeping the phone by my bed! And I’m reading more! Today will be exhausting but as long as I have a way to easily tell time, I’ll get some extra sleep tomorrow!

Now I’m going to go back to vegging out in front of the latest episode of The Fosters where the youngest child in the family is – by far – the wisest of the entire clan.

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It seems we all ate weird stuff as kids.

So, recycling is not necessarily an efficient way to try to combat the excessive amount of waste we produce as a planet. Driving the trucks and powering the machinery still relies heavily on fossil fuels. Hopefully one day we’ll have a more efficient fuel system, but until then we recycle to primarily keep things out of landfills. And – theoretically – cause less things to need to be produced from scratch, but we produce so much CRAP on this planet that gets thrown away, recycling is not really making a dent in that.

But we do it anyway because – again – if we improve our energy sources for our trucks and our machinery, the effects will be more positive.

What we’ve been trying to do more in our family the last two years is simply to create less waste. We started with something easy – we try to avoid buying individually wrapped items as much as possible. We’re not 100% clear of that yet but we’ve at least rid ourselves of it in our lunch boxes 90% of the time. We do this with an assortment of storage all found at Target last year and we kept with this habit for the entire school year. We went shopping for school supplies this weekend (school starts TOMORROW here) and it seems that this is a trend because there are a lot more of those types of storage options now. Another way we know it’s a trend? There are a LOT more options for LARGE lunch boxes this year.

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This pictures shows all of our storage with last year’s lunch boxes. It was a tight squeeze and mostly the kids had to carry their water bottles separately and if I wanted to use slightly bigger containers for anything I had to remove a different container. There wasn’t much flexibility. But when we hit up the lunch box section there were LOADS of huge lunch boxes now! And tons of cute storage containers! So maybe this is catching on which means we are finally in the lead of a trend instead of jumping on right as everyone else is getting off the bandwagon.

SO! We are buying a lot of items in bigger bags and cans and just making our OWN single servings. Yesterday Wes decided he wanted to try some fruit cocktail in his lunch, so I bought a few cans and was joking with the kids on the way home about how I hadn’t thought of fruit cocktail in years and how we used to eat it all the time growing up. And then the flashback came and I started laughing.

Oh. I just remember how we ate it. And I think it’s probably pretty gross.
How?
ON SLICED BREAD.
That sounds disgusting.

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But to me it sounded HEAVENLY because I remember it so fondly and it being such a delicious treat so I immediately came home and made some AND IT WAS AS HEAVENLY AS I REMEMBER.

I posted the pictures on instagram and Facebook to see if this was a weird Zoot House thing or if anyone else did it and it seems it was unique to us. One other person did it and then one person mentioned eating Dinty Moore Beef Stew that way and we did that as well, so I’m thinking maybe my Dad just put EVERYTHING on white bread. But – in the survey process it seems everyone ate SOMETHING weird related to canned fruit and/or bread and/or mayo. So! I thought I’d survey you guys. Did anyone else eat this? If not – what was your weird thing you at growing up because it seems we ALL had something!