On Social Media, Friendship, and Reality

***Updated post***

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*This I would post on Instagram20160718_100402

**This maybe not, with the freeway overpass in the background***

Social Media makes my life better and worse, opens up the world and closes it off into idealized windows, connects me to amazing people I wouldn’t have otherwise met, and occasionally makes me  resent those who seem to have something I don’t.

I’ve been writing this post for years in my head. It started as a rant after seeing picture after picture of a girls trip I hadn’t been invited on.

For the love of everything people if you go out to lunch, go on a trip with your friends, anything where you didn’t invite absolutely everyone who might feel left out stop posting pictures of it for the world to see!  What purpose does it serve except to make yourself feel cool? oh – you want to make sure it’s included in your chatbooks?? Get a separate account, that no one follows. Even if no one likes your picture it will still get printed in your precious books and sent to your house.

The hurt and anger were real, and unfounded, and slightly ridiculous. Over the years I’ve matured a little bit from this perspective, I think… I hope – we all like to think we are on a better path right?

The message that pinterest and instagram images of immaculate, beautiful homes, extravagent crafts etc are just a moment in time, not the whole picture has been widely talked about. “Don’t compare your whole life to these moments,” they say.

It’s the same for a picture of a group of people that may have gotten together without you. It’s just a moment not the whole picture.

Often I blame other people when I’m hurt when as always there is always a choice, and it’s only myself I can change.

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It’s simply not feasible to invite everyone to everything.

Every Christmas we like to make graham cracker gingerbread houses.  One year I invited a few families to join us. In the middle of the festivities, a friend from a different family knocked on the door looking for someone to play with. We told him to go home and get his family and to come join in, but they were a last minute addition and I felt terrible I might have made anyone feel left out or unwanted.

The next year, I invited everyone in the neighborhood – and it was pure madness. I covered my furniture in sheets to try and avoid getting frosting and candy everywhere, I didn’t get to chat with anyone,  and my house was completely destroyed.

The next year, we did it smaller again. This time, I forbid anyone to get the door and I told those invited to keep it quiet.

I didn’t necessarily like the ones I invited more than anyone else. They were just the ones that best fit the activity, that I hadn’t seen in awhile, or that had kids my kids got along with.

Not everyone to everything – If I’m not invited it’s not a reflection of how anyone feels about me.

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The snapshot that you see is not a  complete picture of reality.

All summer I have been scrolling through instagram posts of a local river/waterfall hike (Little Jaimica).  The photos showed  families and friends laughing and splashing in a beautiful natural pool with a waterfall cascading down on their heads. It looked like a perfect, free, beat the heat activity, so one afternoon I set out with my sister and my parents to find it.

We arrived to find a pungent smell and piles of garbage all along the short trail to the waterfall.

Then, we found, a waterfall… with no way down to the idyllic pool, except to climb directly down the slippery face with a pregnant lady, two adults who had just had surgery, a baby, and six other children. It was exciting and memorable, and only a few tears were shed.

When we finally reached the bottom we found a water snake which sent two of the girls screaming in terror and it was soon obvious that there were at least a couple of homeless people living near this beautiful natural spring, tucked directly under the graffiti covered freeway overpass.  One especially delightful message read “John died here”, inciting speculation among the older kids on what exactly that meant and if they were going to stumble upon something gruesome.

Despite all of that we had a blast. The water was clear and cool, there were lots of places to explore and an abundance of beer bottle caps to collect. Anna has been begging to go back every day since…. Which is not going to happen.

20160718_104006**This I would, even though he would only get in for a second***20160718_104311

**This yes, even though this sweet girl cried if her body actually got in the pool**

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***This one maybe not – with the pile of trash in the background***

The reality was better and worse than the snapshot – it was real.

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True friendships are real and reality is messy and complicated, the bad and the good all jumbled together into a crazy  multi-dimensial picture.

Social Media gives us a snapshot.

Now when I scroll through my feeds and I stumble on a gathering that I was excluded from:

1.)I take a breath and identify the jealousy, because that’s what it is – down at its core – and then I compliment the poster.

Wow that looks like a fantastic group of girls at lunch.

What a great idea for a group date.

You ladies are always so creative.

(Sometimes I’m cheesy, but I aim for sincerity. Writing the words usually inspires the feeling)

It’s empowering. It makes me feel real, free, and grateful for the people in my life.

2.) I remember that I can’t see the whole picture and what they do most likely has absolutely nothing to do with how they feel about me. Just because they went to lunch, doesn’t mean they do it every day, most likely they are cooking and cleaning and working and doing the joyful mundane 90% of the time, just like me. (and in reality the lunch might have been miserable – you never know, the whole story isn’t as easily captured)

3.) I evaluate whether I would have really wanted to go. Sometimes it’s something I might not have enjoyed anyway, if that’s the case, thinking about it any further is pointless.

4.) And then,  if it happens over and over. I stop following the person – because sometimes oblivion brings the greatest happiness.

I can’t invite myself to gatherings, but I can invite others to my own. I can notice who else might have been excluded and reach out to them.

Mostly I do my best to not do it to others.

I enjoy the snapshots and look for the reality; compliment the good and put it in perspective. After all, with the terror, heartbreak, fear, and hate that’s been constantly in the news over the summer sometimes it’s a relief to only look at carefully curated glimpses of life.

 

Mother’s Day In Hawaii

use this one_5I am 2 months late and about $100 short on my Mother’s Day post, and a day late and a dollar short on posting in general. Such is life. I decided to grant myself some grace and not skip over this memory.

I woke up in Hawaii on Mother’s Day to the excited sound of my kids giggling outside my door. I sat up (tried not to throw up – just keeping it real), and smiled as they pranced in holding pictures, handmade cards and flowers. Apparently, Josh had been thrilled the moment he saw all the flowers in the backyard and had been planning on picking some of them for me for days.use this one Then it was breakfast and off to church, where one of the leaders came over to introduce himself and promptly said, “You guys are visiting right?” When we nodded he said, “I could tell because you were on time.”

Fifteen minutes later church began. It was nourishing and fulfilling. The teenage boys greeted each woman old and young with a huge hug and a lei. You could fill their joy in handing them out, it lifted my heart.

use this one_1Then we followed a tip, and fulfilled Max’s dream of finding sea turtles.  We were all a little excited, the turtle not so much.
use this one_3use this one_5After that grand adventure it was lunch from the food truck of my choice (Brazilian cochinas).

Anna had suggested earlier that I might be getting sick because I was eating too much and maybe I should not do that. Ahh the honesty of kids. So I begged Justin to let me tell the kids about the baby as a Mother’s Day present. He agreed and I whipped up a quick hangman game.

Josh figured it out first. “We’re having a baby? We’re having a baby!!”

Anna “No we’re not!”

Max: “But I wanted a baby doggy!”

When we convinced them it was true they were all fairly excited.

We wrapped up the day with a breathtaking drive and the gorgeous hike I talked about in my last post. It was one to be remembered.

The word mother in and of itself evokes powerul emotion in almost everyone. It’s a powerful job. I’m grateful I get to have it and that I learned of it’s power, importance, and joy from my own mother, who learned it from hers, who learned it from hers…Such a legacy of wisdom that I hope to learn from and add to.

On Letting Stuff Go…..and Picking it Back Up

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*These cute cousins are all within 6 months of each other*

This pregnancy….my last pregnancy….I decided to own my morning sickness.  I had no desire to be tough (something I’m incredibly bad at anyway) or to put on a brave face.  When we got back from Hawaii and I could admit how incredibly crummy I felt, I parked myself on the couch and told myself it was perfectly fine to stay there for the next two months, give or take a couple of days.

I would make sure my family was fed – not necessarily well, clothed – matching was completely optional, and felt loved. Anything else I managed to accomplish was just a bonus.

I took Unisom to help with nausea which resulted in some embarrassingly long naps. I slept for almost 4 hours one day while my sweet kids miraculously took care of themselves.  Justin would get home from work, and pick up the slack: cooking, cleaning, and running around with the kids. Max would follow me around with a bowl, and stroke my hair to try and help me feel better. I let this blog and my other writing take the back burner, I stopped getting up early to exercise, read and pray. I was growing a baby and that was about all I needed to do.

I expected to feel physically unwell, what took me by surprise was how emotionally unwell I felt. A sense of purposelessness and unease wrapped around me like a blanket. I cried in my designated spot on the couch – partly due to pregnancy hormones I’m sure – and often felt completely unable to get through the day. I even googled pre-partum depression to find out if it was a thing.

I felt sicker than my other pregnancies. But after looking back through my journals I’m not sure I was that much sicker. I think letting EVERYTHING go actually contributed to my misery.  The days that I  pushed through for a little bit and did SOMETHING were usually better.

There is an and to everything.

rest AND work

letting some things go AND making time for the things that make me me

These last three days I have started to feel like myself again. YAY!!  It has been such a joy to cook breakfast, fold laundry, decorate, rearrange rooms, play, pray, and write. Not all at once of course. Long naps are still a must, but it feels good to pick things back up one by one.

This last we spent time in Montana with family. I forgot my razor at home. I could have easily gone to the store and gotten one, but I’m blonde and it wasn’t ever convenient.  There were nieces and nephews to play with and siblings to talk to.

For this week I can just let it go.

We got home late last night. The first thing I did – after gently locking my children in their rooms (13 hours is a long time to spend together in a car) -was shower and shave. The normally dreaded chore felt amazing.

In our life we have to constantly evaluate. Cull our possessions, our commitments, reevaluate priorities; sometimes we have to let things go. Sometimes we let them go forever, and sometimes we get to pick them back up again, appreciating them more than we did before.