surviving social media

There used to be an unwritten rule of etiquette that it was never a good idea to openly discuss religion or politics. Those topics, because of their highly sensitive and personal nature, were better reserved for close-circle conversation.

That line of thinking has certainly gone the way of the dinosaur, and all the more so in this age of social media.

It used to be that to know what a person thought about any given topic, you had to…well, ya know…actually know the person. Or minimally, have a conversation with them. If you were going to disagree or challenge them, you had to do it live and in person.

Unless you were a public figure with some sort of platform, we didn’t just all know each other’s thoughts, beliefs, opinions and political affiliation without having an actual knowledge of the person that held them.

With every advancement in communication, which by and large is a useful, helpful progression in our world, we each, as a by-product, gain a bigger audience. It’s no longer just a politician, a teacher, or a pastor that has a platform…everyone with an account and a password just gained a stage.


I’ve been giving quite a lot of consideration to this stage we all now occupy with our online presence. It’s especially thought provoking during election seasons like we are currently in. It seems like political activity stirs everyone’s fire about ALL THE THINGS, and I know (because, of course, I read people’s posts on social media!) that I’m not the only one who is beginning to feel uncomfortable with the amount of information we are learning about people and their “stances”.

And it’s not JUST political or religious views. People share waaaay TMI about other things too. Personal things. The kind of things that aren’t necessarily a secret, but used to be reserved for one-on-one conversation over a cup of coffee, or minimally a phone call (Remember those? The kind where we used to talk into our devices instead of just pressing buttons?)

Now, before you write me off as stodgy and outdated, hear me out. I am a HUGE fan of social media. Frankly, Facebook is how I communicate with most of the people in my life. And my cell phone? Well, let’s just say there’s no stone throwing coming from me! I text my kids if they are on the second floor and I’m on the first and too tired (lazy?) to yell for them!

I am, by all means, preaching to myself as much as anyone. It’s a social media hole I see myself so easily being sucked into, but I’m hoping that I, that we, aren’t too far along to realize how to come back and bring some grounding balance to our virtual and our real lives.

Here’s my biggest concern with all this. I think we are bypassing KNOWING people and settling for knowing ABOUT people. We don’t see people’s fear, hurt, love or compassion when we only process the things we know about them that we learn from statuses, tweets and soundbites.

There was a quote I read recently that I think gets to the core of this matter.access

This, to me, hits the nail on the head. When I am putting myself out there on social media, I am giving every acquaintance I have, every Facebook “friend”, every Twitter follower, and countless other people even completely unknown to me access to my thoughts and opinions, as well as opportunity to feed back into them, comparable to that which I normally give my friends and family or those that I share conversation with.

Increasingly, this really bothers me. I started a while ago to be a bit more selective with my Facebook posts, and created specific lists of people that I want to share things with. Even more importantly I try (though not always successfully, unfortunately!) to avoid “hot topic” debates or just randomly touting my beliefs…especially the ones that I am afraid people might misunderstand, and with people that don’t actually know me in real life, or know me well enough to know where I am coming from when I say things. (Again, I’m a work in progress on this.)

So, I have general lists and specific lists. I have lists titled ‘Acquaintances’, ‘Friends’, ‘Close Friends’ and ‘Bests’, and I share accordingly. And frankly, I still haven’t tightened things up quite as much as I should. But it’s a step that I’ve taken to restrict ‘access’ to myself…out of respect for both myself and others

The thing is, I’m not a secretive person. Transparency and “realness”  are high values of mine. It’s not that I don’t want people to know the “real” me…it’s more than I actually want to be known for real. I don’t want to be just a profile picture with an opinion. I want to be known for more than the “side” I’m on, and I want my beliefs to be more thoughtful than the latest meme.

And while I appreciate input into my life, the reality is, there is a limit  to the amount and type of feedback I want, and who I want it from. I truly desire perspective and advice, but I want it coming from those that I trust. I want it coming the people in my life that I have real, committed, caring relationships with. I don’t want those voices, that I value and are rooted in the security of knowing that they know and love me to be drowned out by the throng of opinions voiced by anyone who happens to agree or disagree with a status or a “share”. I can so easily get caught up in the vicious cycle of seeking “approval” that nastily takes over my thoughts and stirs up worry and anxiety over what others think of me.

And honestly, I want to think better of others, too. I don’t want to be placing negative assumptions about people’s entire characters based on a “like” or a comment, or something else that is so surface. It can be hard to keep an open and positive opinion of people that you seemingly disagree with on a lot of things if that is the ONLY interaction you have. It seems that we have forgotten that people are more than just a list of bullet-point opinions or arguments. People form their beliefs, not just based on a teaching, debate or understanding of a topic. Rather their deepest held values are formed by their experiences….their hurts, their triumphs, the relationships they’ve had, the circumstances they’ve lived. Sometimes I don’t connect with a person’s thoughts on a matter until I understand their story. Then, I am able to hear not just WHAT they are saying, but have a better understanding of WHY they are saying it. While I may not share their viewpoint, I can certainly at least see their perspective.

Social media often isn’t conducive to this, in part because we cannot see a face or hear a voice. So much is communicated not just in our words, but in our expressions, our tones and our body language. I can read about a friend’s struggle and breeze past it all much easier when it’s just words on a screen than if they are sitting in front of me with tears in their eyes as they convey the exact same thing.

I hope that as the world continues to move at a mind-dizzying pace of technology that we learn to adjust and adapt, and that part of that adaptation is returning to the art of personal relationship. The kind that includes actual human contact, and not just words and personas behind the glow of a screen; conversation complete with eye contact.

I’d like to reiterate that in all this, I’m certainly not trying to convey judgement or tell anyone how to interact on social media. I’m just trying to navigate all of this myself, and process (ironically, via this form of social media…yes, the irony is not lost on me) my concerns about the truth that we are all still people with real feelings, and we owe it to each other not to make snap judgments about people without ever giving them enough respect to have any real, live interaction.

So, please tell me… Do you struggle with the whole social media aspect of our world? How do you find balance, as well as work at keeping interactions positive? Maybe we can learn from each other and help keep the forces of our increasingly virtual reality more positive in nature!

Dear Invisible People…

Dear Invisible People….

Don’t worry…I’m not writing to imaginary friends. I promise that despite what you may hear from my family members, I’m not completely delusional. (Most of the time I’m totally coherent.)


I’m writing to you people out there who sometimes feel like you’re invisible. Like no one sees you. It’s not that you don’t feel loved, or that you have value…just mainly like no one really realizes or acknowledges what you do. Maybe you yourself don’t even feel like you are doing or being anything worth any adulation.

There’s no special appreciation day for you, no day set aside to give a nod to the work you do. And yet you stick at it, day in, day out. And frankly, can I just say, without your work, this old world of ours would likely come to a screeching halt.

Sure, maybe if you, as an individual, quit your job tomorrow the world might not grind to a standstill…but if all the “invisible people”, as a whole did….implosion. Seriously. YOU make the world go round (figuratively speaking of course….because there is the whole God aspect, and the world turning on it’s axis and all that jazz….but you know what I mean, right?)

There are lots of silly “National (fill in the blank) Days”. It seems Facebook is alerting me every other day that it’s National Ice Cream Day (which, hey, even if it’s every week, I can get on board with that one!) or National Dog Day or National Love Your Son/Daughter/Second-Cousin-Twice-Removed Day.

But what about National Trash Collectors Day? Or National Car Mechanics Day? How about National Tech Support Day, or Waitress Day or Regular Joe Working in the Plant/Warehouse/Cubicle Day? Where are those?

And let’s face it, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day….it’s a good effort, but when you’re changing diapers, wiping snot, checking homework, running to practices, cooking meals, grocery shopping, giving up sleep….or, um, other ‘activities’ because the children in your house have grown and freaking NEVER go to bed so there’s never any adult alone time?? (Did I really just say that? Yup. Reality, people…it is what it is.) Well, an obligatory nod in the parent direction once a year is nice, but it’s not the kind of encouragement on a regular basis that says “Keep going! You’re doing fantastic! You are making an impact!”

Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes I feel like I look around and many other people are doing “important” things. They’re hitting their stride, reaching their goals, and making a difference. They’re getting a book deal. They’re climbing the corporate ladder and making the big bucks. They’re succeeding, thriving, and movin’ on up. And I kind of look around, like, well…so, here I sit, doing the same ‘ol, same ‘ol. Nothin’ to see here, so keep on moving. 

Recently a friend posted a very true status on Facebook…

“A little encouragement goes a long way. There is something great about being told you’re good at that thing you love to do.”

….but it kinda made me get a lump in my throat, I guess because I’m in a bit of a dry time in the encouragement department. (Not that it makes the statement any less true, and I realized that no matter how I’m feeling, it’s a good reminder the impact I can have by being an encourager of others! And, DISCLAIMER….that’s not meant as a guilt trip on my husband, friends or anyone! I have GREAT people, and I know I’m loved and all that. So, this is no pity party by any means! So please don’t worry for the state of my mental health…I’m fine.) But what it brought up in me was….

Am I good at anything? What is it I even DO?

Now I know, it’s much easier to see and proclaim truth as it relates to others, so I will admit that I’m still processing and trying to declare this truth to myself as much as anyone; but it brought front and center to me how worthwhile and in need of encouragement MOST people really are.

So, let me tell you….you ARE good at what you do, and you ARE needed. Think about how many people would be impacted if you fell off the face of the earth today. Important people….like your spouse, your kids, your clients. There’s a kind of cliche line from a song, but it’s so true…

To the world you may be just another girl,

But to me, Baby, you are the world


To someone, you are everything. And frankly, all us nobodies that the world never sees, admires or applauds….we make up the majority of the world’s population. It’s us ‘little people’ that actually keep the world going, doing all the day-to-day, mundane stuff that everyone actually NEEDS done.

And here’s a little secret….probably most of those people that you look at and think have it all, are (or seem to be) getting all the glory, the recognition, that are so GOOD at what they do….they very likely actually feeling quite the same as the rest of us. At least the decent human beings among them. (I’m not really talking about ‘celebrities’ here…just normal people who we know, but who always seem to be the best and the brightest.) In fact, someone is probably looking at you (or me) and thinking… “She/He is just so (fill in the blank….organized, talented, intelligent, creative)!!” Yep...I would BET MONEY someone (though albeit unbeknownst to you) is pretty dang impressed with you. But the reality is, we rarely FEEL that about ourselves.

All this to say….if you’re feeling a bit small or lost lately, take heart. YOU are one of the important people!! You’re not invisible, and you matter. You matter a LOT!! Don’t get caught up in the mirage of “doing big things”, or being a “world changer”. If you do the small things, and shape the little world that spins within your four walls, one day we’ll look back and realize that together, we DID big things, and the we SHAPED the world…one little impact at a time.

And one final thought… If you are feeling or have felt this way, take it as a gentle reminder that most others do as well. So compliment someone, encourage them…heck, straight up GUSH over them, just because everyone needs that from time to time, no matter who you are!!

just do it

Everyone is a leader in some realm. Whether you are a parent, a teacher, an older sibling, a coach, a manager or a cancer survivor….someone, somewhere is looking at you, and taking a cue from you. And that, my friend, is what it means to be a leader.

Sometimes we can operate under the misconception that a leader is someone with a charismatic personality and an ability to speak eloquently, and that feels very intimidating. But lately, as I’ve been studying through the book of 1 Corinthians, I’ve found myself chuckling and relating over the apostle Paul’s leadership experiences and realizing how much emphasis Paul puts on trying to debunk this very myth of big-name, ‘celebrity’ leadership.

I can practically see Paul sitting at a rough-hewn wooden table, thinking over the petty disputes and lofty debates of these churches and facepalming himself.

And I have to say, I love how snarky and sarcastic Paul gets with people.  Take a look at 1 Corinthians 4:8, where Paul is tongue-in-cheek ‘applauding’ this church for thinking they are so rich – even “kingly”! – in their spiritual “maturity”….which he has just spent the previous several pages trying to correct, because they’re so off-base.

(Can’t you just hear Paul saying “Great job, guys…you’re now all experts, without any help from anyone! NOT!”)

And you get it too, don’t you? Paul’s sentiments. Because you’re a leader too. 

You’ve lived something, experienced something, learned something the hard way. And SOMETHING is now, to you, more than a theory, an idea or a belief. It’s your reality. And you now have this gem in your hand, this hard-earned or learned lesson that you now have a responsibility to steward well and help bring to someone coming along behind you. And that’s what makes you a leader. Not a certificate or a degree that says you ‘are’ something. Those papers or accreditation (or lack thereof) don’t make you who you are, don’t mean you necessarily have something to offer. It’s the life you’ve lived that has really taught you things.

And I’d also be willing to bet that the things that you KNOW in your KNOWER…those very things that are the gems of wisdom and experience that you hold….they probably came at a pretty dear price. But that’s also what makes you a leader. Leaders are willing to pay the price.

Real leaders aren’t people that can learn some “lines”…some good arguments, some information, some facts, or some doctrines…and then “perform” those with great energy in front of a crowd. Those are actors.

Real leaders are the ones who are willing to get in the trenches of life, do the hard stuff, learn the lessons, take the hits….and then turn around to the watching eyes behind them and say “This way”…and keep on going.

This is essentially what Paul is chiding the Christians about in his Corinthian letter. He’s telling them…being mature isn’t about knowing (or thinking you know) a bunch of stuff. Maturity is cultivated in the “fire”, so to speak. It’s about drawing the “short straw”, sucking it up…and going for it. He compares the apostles “status” as leaders to prisoners of war being paraded in a procession to their death. The end of the line, “buck stops here” kind of thinking. Not exactly the glamorous “position” we like to associate with leadership. He’s essentially saying to them… “You guys SO don’t get this….” It’s not about being “top dog”, but rather, being willing to be the bottom rung so that others can climb on your shoulders.

But a few sentences later he expresses that he’s not railing on them in order to shame them, but rather to give them an accurate picture of what REAL leadership is, and to encourage it to embrace it for themselves. To go for it. To pursue being true leaders. He says “Look at what I’m going through, and imitate me…do what I’m doing!”

Does Paul do this because he thinks he’s just All That? Because he’s such hot stuff he wants everyone to be just like him? No. Not at all. Just like good parents don’t strive to set a good example just to make themselves look good (or at least that shouldn’t be the motivation). They do it because they want to pass something on. They want the next generation to get it. Paul says to this church…”You guys have a lot of teachers, but not many fathers…”

What’s the difference between a teacher and father?

It’s the fact that a father gets down and dirty and takes a whole lotta crap in order to give the best to his kids. Teachers are great, and good, and necessary. They impart important information and facilitate learning. But it’s a more detached role. It’s not nearly as personally invested as a parent.

But a dad (or a mom), or anyone that cares enough about another person to take hits on their behalf…that’s a LEADER.

We need more leaders. We don’t need more personas, more big-names, more celebrities. We need more “fathers” (and “mothers”). Essentially saying…we need more people that really, really care, and care enough to ‘go there’…to the difficult places…themselves.

We need people who are willing to look like fools, to take the heat to push through…and then who are willing to turn around, look someone in the eye and say… “This way. Follow me.”

You see, the very word describes what a leader should do. They aren’t called “senders”. They don’t stand, like a sign-post and just tell everyone where to go and what to do. They LEAD. They get out in front and they go where they want others to be able to go.


So you…yeah, YOU. Someone, somewhere is looking at you. They’re waiting for you to take the step. To say “I’ve been there.” To show them how to navigate the murky waters. They don’t want to just read a book, listen to a TED talk, or watch a YouTube tutorial (though all those things are great). They need YOU to get in the trenches, to be with them in taking the hits, to let them see you wrestle through the struggles. They need you to lead.

So don’t get hung up on whether or not you look good or sound good. Take a cue from Nike (and the Apostle Paul) and “Just Do It”. And take somebody with you. Because that’s what a leader does.

emotions – perception or reality

I have often heard it said…

“Emotions aren’t right or wrong. You can’t deny your feelings.”

I do believe that is true.


Emotions are fickle things; they are like slick salesmen…not always to be trusted or taken simply at face value…

I’m not saying that they are ‘wrong’…but they can be deceiving.

The problem with just always trusting, and acting on, our emotions is that our emotions are not necessarily bias-neutral. They spring from our perceptions of the situations going on around us.

Notice I said “perceptions of”….not necessarily the facts of reality.

Emotions may tell us that certain “thing” will make us happy. Sometimes I can get such warm-fuzzy emotions from a successful shopping trip. However, most times, the reality is that my bank account says I should have found some alternate way to find those good feels. My emotions say “Yes! Buy! Oh, it’s perfect! You SHOULD have this!”, but it’s a distorted reality.


Sometimes my emotions tell me things like “So-and-so is mad at you. In fact, they don’t even want to be your friend. Actually…they never really did like you.” While there might be some truth in the fact that maybe something is off…it could also be that my friend is going through some things completely unrelated to me, and just hasn’t been feeling all that social. The emotions offer me a perspective that might not be rooted in reality.

Emotions also take into account my side of any given story…but not necessarily the other factors at play. I don’t, or can’t, always know the details of what is going on with other people, or their own struggles, and the way all of that might be contributing to whatever situation is at hand. Emotions don’t give me a full-story picture. They only filter through my own lens of interpretation of things.

The biggest red flag for me is when my emotions seem to have a vice-grip on me, and I struggle to shake from myself a nagging feeling of dread, sadness or anger. Those bigger-than-life feelings are usually the ones that, while not ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, sure often turn out to be liars about reality. When I can manage to realize the how disproportionate they are, I try to force my brain to engage over whatever feelings are trying to control me, and purpose to choose to not buy into whatever the deal is my innards are trying to sell me on. I try to ration with myself…

 “There is no reasonable cause for this fear.”

“That person isn’t ignoring you…they have a busy life too!”

“While you may want to just unload and give that person a piece of your mind…in all likelihood, you are really going to regret it if you do!”

(Totally random scenarios to make a point.)

All that to say… I’m not at all an advocate of “stuffing” one’s feelings. I think feelings are good, and helpful…if we learn to handle them properly. They can be helpful…not necessarily always in giving us the honest truth…but helpful, maybe, in sometimes cluing us in to other things that may be going on internally, like insecurity, fear or simply over-tiredness. Emotions are NOT ‘right’ or ‘wrong’…they just ARE. But the question we have to ask ourselves is often more about the “why” that is triggering the emotion.

Emotions are good, we just have to remember they aren’t the end-all and be-all, and they cannot be the only force that drives us. We are not slaves to our emotions. We have to always remember to pair emotions with reasonable thinking and good decision making. They are a vitally important part of the way we are wired as humans…but not the ONLY part. THANKFULLY we also have a brain to engage with our ‘feeler’. Outcomes of actions are usually better when we are firing on ALL cylinders.

Now, if I can just remember IN THE MOMENT to do so!!

Hey, I’m a work in progress, okay? 😉

looking back while planning ahead

I don’t always do #TBT (Throwback Thursday), but today I did. I was working on creating some pro-and-con lists for decisions we are trying to make regarding our house…namely, whether to build on or move…or just wait it out. As I was perusing articles on home additions, and looking up loan interest rates, I took a minute to hop on Facebook and saw some posts reminding me of this weekly social media event…a day set aside for reminiscing. It made me feel a little nostalgic and I decided to see what fun old picture I could quickly unearth and share.

I found one of my ‘babies’, a whole ten years ago when my youngest was merely weeks old, and my now-grown girl was just a cute ‘tween’.

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At first I chuckled…at their silly faces, the baby pudge, and the memory of a bit simpler era when we could stay in PJ’s all day, and life wasn’t dictated so much by the outside world as much as it was by who was getting a new tooth, or needed extra snuggles and naps. Of course, then I also remembered the stress of being exhausted from nursing that little guy round the clock, while trying to homeschool, potty train and deal with daily food battles. The wistful sight turned slightly to a breath of relief that I had made it through those years.

As I looked at those little people, I thought about how quickly they’ve turned into much bigger people (with still more growing to happen!), and that the changes over the past decade is the very reason my agenda for today is largely focused on how to better accommodate this wonderful family of mine…now, and in the years to come.

I realized how crazy-fast ten years flies by. I believe the saying goes something like “the days go slow, but the years go fast…”. As cliché as it sounds, I’m astounded by the truth of this. It renews my desire to make things count…the words, the decisions, the investments. I am reminded that what seems like it can always be “put off until tomorrow” really can’t, because before we realize, tomorrow is actually yesterday…or ten years ago.

It has helped me some in evaluating what the priorities are, even in this tedious process of trying to make house, time, finance and all the other day-to-day type choices. Life is all about trade-offs. For every “yes” we say, we are saying “no” to something else. I want to evaluate and make sure I’m giving my “yes’s” and my “no’s” to the right things.

I don’t want to sit and look at pictures, a decade from now, of my family today and think “We should have just…” or “I wish we hadn’t….” I want to think and act purposefully and proactively. I don’t want to be ruled by tiredness and procrastination, and worry and “what ifs”. I don’t want to be consumed with the petty things, only to miss out on the opportunities. I want to enjoy these days, and weeks and months and hopefully be building on them in a way that will give me even more to enjoy in the years down the road.

Sometimes thinking “lofty” thoughts seems a bit like sentimental “pie in the sky” and a waste of time. But today taking time to reminisce turned out to be quite practical in that it helped to give me some of the very specific “pros” and “cons” that I need to put on the lists I am making right now.  It motivated me to try to put things in practical perspective, and take some “next steps”.

Reminiscing can be both a look back, AND a look forward.

Thanks, kids, for being my inspiration today.

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