27 April 2015

How I'm using Facebook

Social media is like looking at the world
from the bottom of a well.
Some time ago I made the decision to step away from social media for a while (specifically, I use Facebook and Twitter). I've posted a few times on each since then, but have largely stayed off the sites.

Social media is like looking at the world from the bottom of a well.

You only get this narrow perspective of what people want you to see, but there's a lot more in the periphery that's contributing to the overall picture.

Sometimes people (at least people I know) do it because they want empathy for what they perceive to be their situations. Others want to share what's happening in their lives, but know they shouldn't (or can't) tell the whole story.

And then there are those who use Facebook or Twitter to create the persona of themselves that they want people to believe is the truth #nofilter. But often, what they post is a shade of who they really are. They want people to relate to them the way they relate to celebrities. So they put a rose-colored lens on their #nofilter pictures, make some vague comment about the utopia of their lives, #blessed.

I got tired of it.

So I've changed how I use Facebook.

I rarely post and I've pulled all my friends (except Bo and a few others) out of my news feed. Instead, my news feed is full of posts from pages I like or want to read from, like The New York Times, TED Talks, Humans of New York, and different news pages. Now I can get my headlines in one place, and they're much better indicators of what's going on in the world than the "trending" sidebar on Facebook.

I don't really miss Facebook. I haven't spent any time looking at my friends' pages. Bo still uses Facebook more regularly, and is kind enough to let me know when there's something I need to know.

I don't see myself going back to using Facebook the way I did before. I may go through phases during which I post a bit more frequently, but I'm happy setting it aside and spending that time on other things.

I much prefer hearing about my friends lives from them, as they are.

No filter.

26 April 2015

Renew your spirit: For Tink, on her fourth birthday

May 2012 (Tink's first birthday party)
Our sweet Tink is four years old today.

She's spending the day with Monty, so we'll be celebrating her birthday this coming Saturday instead. She doesn't know it yet, but we're doing a fairy-inspired party for her, complete with small-ish finger foods because that's what she would eat if she were a real fairy.

Whenever the munchkins hit a milestone, like a birthday or an important first, I can't help but think about how far we've come since they were born. How much they've grown and changed. How wonderful our life has been and is and will be. I think it's kind of standard practice for moms to do, isn't it? (Let's just say it is.)

March 2013
Tink has been my challenge child. My pregnancy was more difficult, the delivery was more difficult. She had to be on light therapy for a while after we brought her home. Then, she wasn't growing properly, so we had to adjust how we cared for her, including a year of physical and occupational therapy.

It was scary for a while. She had appointments with her pediatrician every week to check her weight, and was having blood drawn every two weeks or so to check various levels and run various tests. She went to several specialists, all of whom felt like something was off, but couldn't find anything wrong.

The best answer we got during that time was from the pediatric geneticist who thought she might have something, but was too young to reach the diagnostic criteria. His medical opinion was that she would either be fine, or she would continue to not be fine and be able to be diagnosed. Thanks, man. So helpful.

February 2014
Tink is doing better now. She's healthy and has grown quite a bit. She's still incredibly, ridiculously skinny, but is almost as tall as Puck. (Her size makes it hard to find clothes that fit her, so it's likely that she'll be wearing a lot of skirts and dresses. Not that she would complain.)

She has caught up to her physical developmental milestones, and is ahead in many of her social and cognitive milestones. She can write her letters (and her name), and is beginning to read. She's definitely ready for pre-K!

She gave us a bit of a scare early in her life, but she's growing into a sweet, happy little girl. She is compassionate, helpful, and definitely has the Acres* Irish attitude. But, as my grandmother would say, "We like our Acres girls spunky."

Tink is definitely spunky. That can be a challenge at times, but I'm so glad she's come into her own personality. She's brave and funny and knows exactly what she wants.

April 2015
I don't know what's coming in the next several years. But I know that school will be good for her. She'll be able to learn more even faster, which she'll enjoy. She'll get to meet new people and make new friends, which she'll love. And she'll continue to grow and change and make her mamas proud.

Whatever comes, I know she'll meet it with the perfect mix of compassion and stubbornness to make sure that she achieves her dreams, helps others, and isn't walked over by anyone.

She is already strong and determined and awesome. I know her strength will see her through whatever challenges meet her along her way. And I know her determination will keep her pushing past the challenges to move into better, happier times.

I am so, so proud of you, my sweet girl. Keep doing exactly what you're doing.

Happy Birthday, Tink. I love you.

*Acres is my grandmother's maiden name. Her father was born in Ireland.

23 April 2015

On being cured

Over the weekend, Bo and I went up to the panhandle where her parents live for an appointment.

Before I met Bo, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. She underwent an aggressive chemotherapy treatment, and since going into remission about four years ago, has gotten the all clear on all of her PET scans.

That's good news in and of itself.

At the appointment with her oncologist last year, Dr. F said that because she was out of the danger zone, all her scans had gone well, and she's active about taking care of herself, he was comfortable with doing only one more scan and releasing her a year early (with the provision that she continue blood work for a while, just in case).

Shortly after that, we found out that Dr. F was leaving his office, and an interim oncologist was coming in. Just in time for what was planned to be Bo's last PET scan and results.

We were nervous about the last appointment because we didn't know if Dr. L would continue with Dr. F's plan to release Bo early, or if she would want to finish out the scans instead.

At the appointment, we got the all clear on the PET scan results. Another year of being cancer-free for Bo.

And Dr. L decided to go ahead and release Bo, under the provision that she have an appointment to check for damage caused by the chemotherapy and connect with a treatment center where we live just in case follow-up is needed.

That night, we went to dinner with Mimi and Papa G to celebrate because Bo has beat cancer.

She's cured.

Bo has told me that, for a long time, her life was on hold. She has said that, during her treatments, she lost that time. And through remission, there was always that fear that the next PET scan would be the one to raise a red flag and start everything all over again.

But now she's cured. She fought the good fight and won.

And now she can make that mental shift into the next phase of our lives in which she's healthy and with us, and cancer can be something that happened instead of something that is happening. She beat it.

Congratulations, Bo.

Fuck you, cancer.

17 April 2015

Finding peace

This post was meant to go up on Wednesday, but Bo and I were lucky enough to catch the stomach bug our delightful munchkins brought home, so I spent the day rotating with Bo between taking naps and taking care of munchkins. It was an interesting day.

So today, since there's no update for the FSOG blogging series (I'll have an update at the end of the month), I'm moving Wednesday's post to today.

I've been talking a lot lately about the hippie-ness* in my life.

It's been on my mind a lot.

I think some of it has to do with going through The Artist's Way (reaching the end of week nine), which has forced some introspection, and some of it has to do with focusing on being in the moment more, and mindful of myself and my surroundings.

I'm re-evaluating aspects of my life and focusing on the right things.

And it's bringing me peace.

What's bringing you peace these days?

*By "hippie-ness," I mean focusing more on natural, holistic health, and improving my health rooted in self-care (nutrition and exercise).

13 April 2015

For National Poetry Month: This is Just to Say by William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

NOTE: Today's poem is in honor of her majesty, the Bloggess.

12 April 2015

Renew your spirit with external motivation

My mantra this year is "Keep moving."

With all of the changes occurring this year, I'm using it to remind myself that I have to keep making progress, even if it's only one step at a time. The problem I've been running into lately is that while I have a lot of internal motivation (I have the desire to do what has to be done), I sometimes struggle with external motivation (the actual get-up-and-do-it part).

So I've been trying to focus on external motivation lately, reminding myself of why we have the goals we have, and why I have to do what I have to do. I've been reminding myself about the benefits of taking care of things immediately, breaking things into smaller parts when needed, and using every trick or tip I can think of to help me get through this challenging spot.

The desire to be productive is there. I'm excited about the long-term goals we have, the benefits of using the processes I have in place, and everything else that's involved. I just have to keep reminding myself (for now, at least) that it's worth it to keep moving

I'm glad that's my mantra this year. Maybe it will help me improve my external motivation.

Do you struggle with external motivation? How do you deal with it?

10 April 2015

Fifty Shades: background and baggage

So... I'm reading the Fifty Shades trilogy and watching the film in order to blog about the "phenomenon." I realize I'm rather behind in wanting to do this, but I've been avoiding reading the books since they came out. However, the desire to do this comes out of a conversation I had about the books on Facebook that got me a bit irritated.

I know how I feel about these books, but I want to do my best to approach this blogging series with as open a mind as I can.

Yes, I know what others have said about the trilogy and film, but am going to read it for myself and decide whether or not I agree with them.

So I as I'm reading the first book, I am doing everything I can to evaluate it on its own merits in terms of both content and storytelling. (Because how a story is written is just as important as what story is written.) What does the story say? How does it say it? What is my personal interpretation of the events as the author lays them out? How does the story make me feel? Why?

I'm ignoring, for the moment, my previous reading about the books so I can read the books themselves.

I'm going to try to be objective here.

And we'll see what happens.

08 April 2015

Keeping myself grounded

It is important for me to keep myself centered and grounded. I know that's a term that gets used a lot to use a lot of different things, so let me give you my explanation.

To me, grounding means making an active choice to let go of stresses and worries--especially those that are out of my control--and focus on being in the moment in order to do the things I need to do so I can move forward.

Along those same lines, centering myself means to give myself something to come back to when I feel like the stresses and worries are getting to be too much. It keeps me from feeling like I'm (emotionally and mentally) floating too much.

In the past, it was my Christian beliefs that kept me emotionally balanced and feeling in control.

There are a few ways I keep myself from feeling off balance.

Though I don't practice yoga nearly as often as I would like to, I always feel better when I do. (Which should tell me I need to do it more often, I know.) It gets my body moving, which is good, and since I focus entirely on the poses and my breathing in each moment, I can let go of the other things in my life for just a little while. Even if all I do is a single sun salutation, I feel better. I'm working on doing yoga more often for my physical health as well as my mental/emotional health.

Journaling is also very helpful. I'm currently going through The Artist's Way, and the morning pages have become very valuable. It gives me the opportunity to journal about all the shit clogging my brain before I start my day, getting it out of the way so I can focus on the writing I have to do for work (and pleasure). Of course, it's also valuable to me as a writer because I've gotten lots of ideas out of journaling. And writing is writing, even if no one else sees it.

Taking care of my plants is also a big draw for me. One of the reasons I want more plans is because I have the tendency to fuss over the ones I have. Probably a bit too much. I make sure they have enough water, move them around to make sure they're getting the right amount of sun/shade, get dead leaves out of the pot to make room for new growth, and, of course, talk to them. It's a bit of a distraction, and lets me take a break from the things I need to do.

What do you do to keep yourself grounded and centered?

06 April 2015

For National Poetry Month: One Art by Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant 
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied.  It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

05 April 2015

Renew your spirit with (secular) Easter

Today was Bo's first Easter with the munchkins. (We went a little overboard. But it was fun and happy and wonderful, so I don't even care.)

Around here, Easter is a secular holiday we use to welcome spring. The weather is warm, the flowers are blooming, and we feel lighter and happier and ready to take on whatever comes. So we celebrate it by hunting eggs and finding Easter baskets that, this year, took the form of toy trunks with dress-up costumes and chocolate and toys.

So we've spent the day helping the kids change in and out of costume after costume, convincing them that the chocolate they ate after lunch was quite enough for now, thank you, and that yes, Puck does have to go to school tomorrow.

It's been a wonderful day already.

Welcome, Spring! Good job.

01 April 2015

National Poetry Month

Image source
April is National Poetry Month.

I'm glad we're finally into April for lots of reasons. One of them is ScriptFrenzy, and another is National Poetry Month.

A professor I had in college said poetry is an experience. That little nugget has stuck with me for many years, and is what I use to explain poetry to others.

In celebration of the experience of poetry this month, I'm going to be posting poems and other poetry-related things to share my love of it and, hopefully, introduce you to a poem or poet that you find you enjoy.

Happy National Poetry Month!