Preserving Good Intention

In 2014, my relationship with friends on social media changed. Events happened here in the United States and people took to their Facebook pages, declaring loyalty to one side or another. This is also around the point with Facebook introduced the “hide friends” feature, meaning you could stay friends but just not see their posts.

tree-200795_960_720In some ways, this feature saved many of my online friendships. As people became more and more outspoken, I began seeing them only in relation to their stance on certain issues, rather than as a holistic person with nuances and layers of opinions.

The majority of my friends on social media don’t live near me. We can’t meet for coffee or dinner and our interactions are fairly limited to the filter we choose to present to the world. And, I’d say a lot of my friends have somehow managed to keep social media what it was meant to be: social. They stay away from politics and keep my feed filled with babies and daily life.

I struggle to find this balance. Life hasn’t gotten less complex in the past few years and I know my friends’ opinions on the role of law enforcement, of the conflict in Syria, of the recent elections, and so much more. I know that if I could just invite them to dinner, we either wouldn’t talk about any of this at all or we’d have a stimulating conversation. Maybe we still wouldn’t agree but we’d talk over dinner and our discussion would be infused with our kids and our daily lives.

I’m wondering what the role of justice and activism look like in this age of social media. To stay quiet is to take a stand. To say something can be polarizing. I’m learning to choose my words carefully, to defer to those who have more knowledge and experience, and to use the “hide friend” button as a way of preserving good intention toward my friends.

How do you balance real life friendships with online images? When it’s impossible to sit down face-to-face, how do you remember the nuances of opinion?

Linked with Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “invite.”

BackyardThis post is Day 13 of the Write 31 Days Challenge. I’m spending the month of October writing about the Backyard Justice. You can find the entire series over at my Backyard Justice page.

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Tracing My Own Story

Our speaker yesterday at MOPS led us through exercises in defining freedom in our stories. What are our yeses and nos? How do we achieve those? It was an incredible experience and made me reflect on my journey and what defines me.

vintage-2608934_960_720It also made me think of this journey in seeking justice. So many issues around the very word justice are polarizing. One person’s definition could be completely different from another’s. And it made me reflect that each of our stories have a defining moment of justice. No one responds to world events based solely on their news channel of choice. Though we may be influenced by those particular sources, our own stories and life experiences are really the lens that shades our response.

I grew up in a conservative military town. My family isn’t part of the military but I was surrounded by families and friends who were. I didn’t really think about gun ownership rights and privileges until I moved to France and was in discussion with those who had strong opposing opinions. When I trace my story, those experiences and conversations set me on a path to discovering my own opinions.

I’m thinking about looking at the issues that give me a strong reaction and mapping out my own journey with them. Why do I feel certain way about immigration rights and reform, about gun ownership rights and reform, about education rights and reform? Perhaps by really looking at my own story, I’ll better understand the stories of others.

My friend and fellow blogger, Andrew commented on my post about guns and I appreciate his point of view. (Check out his full, thoughtful comment here, but I wanted to leave you with this:

The problem facing our country is not gun control or an erosion of constitutional rights; it’s far deeper, and it’s called alienation.
We’ve become a country so fragmented by the ability to please ourselves, without having to plug into a physical community, that we consider ourselves virtual citizens of the world…but how many times have you heard the term ‘civic pride’ used recently, except in mocking scorn?
Just as alienation begets indifference, community begets responsibility and accountability. And that is what we need, now more than ever.
How do you step back to recognize your own story in your opinions? Have you ever taken time to map out your journey in relation to certain issues?

 

Linked with Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “story.”

BackyardThis post is Day 6 of the Write 31 Days Challenge. I’m spending the month of October writing about the Backyard Justice. You can find the entire series over at my Backyard Justice page.

Setting a Rhythm to My Days

Autumn is here! We went from a record-high on the last day of summer to rainy and chilly temperatures by the second official day of fall. This week has been cold and rainy, too which has me all snuggly and ready for hibernation.

IMG_6482While I may be in a cozy mood, Elle has decided to totally switch up her nap routine this week. Some days she’s woken up super early; other days I’ve had to wake her so we can pick up Bea on time. Yesterday, she decided that napping just wasn’t for her. I know this is a typical two-year-old regression, but….

I didn’t realize how much I depended on those two hours each afternoon to be a better mom. I knew they mattered and long ago, I’ve made nap time my time. Very rarely do I do household tasks during these quiet hours. This is my time to write, to read, to send emails, to knit or do nothing at all. I use these precious moments as a time to recharge for the intense after school, before dinner hours.

I know this is atypical and that (hopefully!) we’ll be back on track today or by next week. But it has me thinking about those routines I depend on. How I take for granted moments I have each day to recharge and remember to be fully me. I suppose losing things I find routine is how I best appreciate them.

This regression also has me thinking about how to intentionally use my time. How do I set a rhythm to my days that includes quiet hours but isn’t dependent on them? How do I reframe my mindset to finding rest, even in moments that aren’t peaceful? I’m not sure I’ll ever have those answers or find that magical balance but in some ways, I’m glad for the opportunity to reflect on those moments.

Of course, I’d take a solid nap time above reflective lessons any day!

How do you set a rhythm to your day? Do you need daily stretches of quiet or are you able to find energy in activity? How do you respond when life happens and things are thrown off?

Linked with Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “depend.”

Dwelling in the Mysteries of This Journey

We’re in a season of neediness. Bea needs me to walk her to school, to pick her up, to sit beside her as she does homework. Elle needs me to read with her, to get her dressed, to make her lunch, to put her to bed.

IMG_5757These are needy times and it’s easy to imagine life when they can make their own lunches and do their own homework. (Does that ever happen?) But even in the midst of this intense time, the patronizing voice of moms farther along can be grating: Just hang in there. It gets better! Don’t worry moms of littles, this terrible season doesn’t last!

While I’m eagerly anticipating independence, I don’t think this is a terrible season. I know I’ll miss the days of neediness. Of snuggling on the couch and holding hands as we walk home from school. I’ll miss the ease in which secrets are shared and words of comfort are accepted.

I was reading Jan L. Richardson’s In the Sanctuary of Women this morning and she offers this blessing:

That you may have
the wisdom to know the story
to which God calls you,
the power to pursue it,
the courage to abide in its mysteries,
and love in every step.

This blessing can be applied to so much of my life right now, but today I’m choosing to frame it in this season of motherhood. That I may be wise to this story of raising small humans and that I may remember to love every step of this mysterious journey.

How does this blessing speak to your particular season? How are you learning to dwell in the mysteries and love every step of this journey?

Linked with Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “accept.”

Saying Yes to Jammies and Self-Care

Today is looking different than planned. We’re home, rather than on a last road trip and I was planning on laundry, cleaning, maybe a park, but definitely a quiet day. Bea woke up looking tired and complaining of a hurting tummy. I tried all the tricks – eating breakfast, drinking water, did she go to the bathroom?

IMG_6064And then I remembered the power of a mental health day. Maybe Bea really is feeling off. Maybe she’s just tired. Kindergarten has been one huge transition for us and day after day of routine can be too much for a five-year-old.

Growing up, my parents always encouraged mental health days, though I was too much of a “perfect student” to feel comfortable taking one. I knew I wanted to listen to my kids when they needed time off, to encourage rest and rejuvenation. How else do we model self-care and Sabbath-living?

So, we’re here, in our jammies, with no plans. Maybe a movie? Definitely the grocery store. Our deal was naptime so that I could get a few minutes of rest, too.

School is important and valued in our home but I want my girls to know that they are valued and important, as well. That we all need days off and I’m here to support them in all their popcorn and movie day needs.

How do you deal with mental health days and school? Any tricks to knowing for sure what an “upset tummy” is? And more importantly, how do you recognize a need for a mental health day for yourself?

Linked with Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “support.”

Opening My Routines

I love a good list. Checking it off is so satisfying! But I also hate lists when life is busy or when we’re adapting to a new routine. Instead of guiding my days, they seem to mock me – reminding me of all the things I haven’t gotten finished.

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Image from Frog and Toad Together

If it’s on my list to clean the playroom and it doesn’t get done, suddenly it goes from childhood mess to the worst reminder that we live in a pigsty. If I want to map out writing and it’s on my list but doesn’t get done, suddenly it goes from being prepared and organized to wanting to shut down this blog and never write again.

I took an intentional break in July, which was much needed and helpful. But August has been so, so busy. Unexpectedly busy. Surprise houseguests, the beginning of school, life. I’ve been sporadically writing but since it wasn’t planned, it feels chaotic rather than refreshing.

I’m learning to live openly with our routines and schedule. I’m not throwing out my lists and hopes but I am remembering that life happens. That if I’m stuck with a list, I can overlook the necessary flow of our days. I’m giving myself grace as we transition to full-time kindergarten (harder than I thought it would be) and all that having a set schedule entails. I’m giving myself grace as I spend my days with just Elle, letting her lead and learning our own little rhythms. I’m giving myself grace to remember that when writing becomes a chore rather than a joy, something needs to shift.

I’m sure meltdowns will continue to happen and today I’ve cleared our morning to work on that list but I’m hoping to stop and take time to let that list go, too.

If you have four minutes, I’ll leave you with the immortal story of Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad: The List. https://youtu.be/vUGoolwxj0o 

Do you like lists? How do you let them guide you without adding stress?

Linked with Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “guide.”

Choosing to Use My Voice

Tu es tres timide, I was told yet again. Have you thought about taking acting classes? Learning French made me awkward, vulnerable in my ignorance, and timid in starting conversations. I retreated and sounded like a toddler rather than an intelligent adult. In many ways, losing my voice while trying to speak French made me insecure about my voice in other areas.

frogs-1274769_960_720It took some time, but I learned that I’m not defined by my foreign language skills. I do have thoughts and a voice and can contribute intelligently to conversations.

I’m also learning when it’s best to contribute my own voice, when it’s best to amplify the voices of others, and when it’s best to just be quiet. Not because I agree or disagree, but because it’s just not the time or place.

We’re in yet another time as a country when voices need to be heard; when we need to stop and listen; and when we need to recognize our own place in the conversation. In these moments, I recognize that my place is more often than not to listen, not to speak. To really hear the experiences of others.

Often, this means seeking out articles from a different point of view. Ideally, this means being quiet and letting my real-life friends speak. Sometimes, this means using the “hide” function on Facebook, recognizing that it’s not the time or place for debate.

I don’t feel as helpless as I did a few years ago, when I realized the privilege in choosing to speak or not. But I’m also learning that speaking is a privilege and my hope is that I use my voice to help and advocate, not to simply add to the noise.

How do you choose to use your voice? Have you ever wished you had been bolder?

Linked with Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “speak.”