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Boldness Is Another Word For Temporary Insanity

Taking the plunge…holding up my top with one hand and telling the world to shut it with the other.

Taking the plunge and holding up my top with one hand while telling the world to shut its big, fat, negative yap with the other.

Damn Facebook and their annoying, personalized, Minority-Report-level-of-creepy pop-up ads. It’s depressing when Facebook reminds you of who you are. It consistently vexes me when an ad pops up for the exact shirt I looked at online yesterday. I want to shout to the heavens…You don’t know me. Yes. Maybe I briefly toyed with the idea of that shirt yesterday. But I am a different person now. Maybe I changed my mind. Maybe I don’t like that shirt anymore. Back off! You don’t know my life! But, alas, they do.

And it is because of Facebook and the existence of profiles and cookies and other Internet hocus pocus that I do not yet fully comprehend that I today impetuously spent $400 and 50,000 frequent flyer miles I’d saved up for years on something that up until the very second it appeared on my screen I had no idea existed. Today I registered for BlogU, a weekend conference for women, moms, bloggers, and writers that will take place in Baltimore in June. I clicked on the ad, saw that the conference was being hosted by a few successful, female bloggers on sites I recognized (like Scary Mommy), checked out the seminar topics, noticed that there was an option for a “single room” that was rapidly selling out, jumped the gun, and bought myself a seat at the table. Just like that.

After I’d received my emailed confirmation, though, the panic set in. What the hell are you thinking? You are going to have to TALK to other women now. In real life. For three days. Women you have never met before. Women who are probably better writers than you will ever be. The doubt began to seep in. Suspecting the insidious negativity demon was planning an all-out mental assault, I quickly pulled up the site for United Airlines, logged into my account, and booked a round-trip flight to Baltimore for the first weekend in June. Boom! 

I sat back and stared at the confirmation on my screen, simultaneously dumbfounded and impressed, cycling between abject terror and confident detachment. My whole impulsive display of bravado boiled down to a quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: “Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” It doesn’t get much bolder for a confidence-challenged, fledgling blogger than registering for a conference for writers. It first requires a belief that you deserve to be in that company of writers.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend asked me what career I would want if I could choose to begin it tomorrow. And, for the first time ever, my ideal job description was easy to articulate: I want to write what I want and make money doing it. Now, I don’t live under a rock. I know this is the dream of every poor and frustrated writer on the planet and probably some in outer space too if we are, as I suspect, not entirely alone. Still, I’ve wanted this ever since I was a girl and I stumbled upon a copy of Erma Bombeck’s The Grass is Always Greener over the Septic Tank. As I perused the pages of that book back in my grandmother’s bathroom in Buffalo, New York, I realized that there was a woman out there who was being paid to write her mind. I tucked that knowledge away in the deep crevasses in my brain. A couple of weeks ago it bubbled to the surface and skittered its way out of my mouth before I had the chance to swallow it with good sense again.

Truth is that I’m tired of the self-doubt. I’m tired of the second guessing, the pooh-poohing, the maybe-somedaying. I’m not the best writer on the planet, but I’m not the worst either. Yes. Anyone can write. And it seems that anyone and everyone does. We all have a forum these days. But, there is a time to make an investment in your dream and to have faith in yourself…or at least to be willing to research the possibility of it. I’ve reached that point. And I have a few months to work with my therapist on developing self-confidence or at least the bullshit skills to fake-it-until-you-make-it. I’m hoping that in four months’ time I’ll be able to converse in person with other writers. Maybe even without having to consume a half of a bottle of wine first.

And Then Life Happens

What will you leave behind?

What will you leave behind?

It has been a lachrymose few days for me. And while I’m rarely teary-eyed for long, sometimes my thinking brain gets trampled unexpectedly by my feeling heart and leaves me a bit off kilter. Life’s challenges can explode like forgotten landmines lying in wait, and recently I’ve been privy to more bad news than good. The shock of the unexpected and the gravity of life’s free fall moments got the best of me last week. I’ve been clawing my way from my heart back to my head for days hoping to gain some traction in the present.

Late last week, I learned via Facebook that a former high school classmate of mine died. It’s not easy when anyone dies. It’s more difficult when the person who passed is your age because, well….Hello, Mortality. Beyond that, I hate learning about death through social media. It’s such an unwelcome, impersonal shock filled with unanswerable questions. I can’t say that I knew this person well. He was among the best students in our class, so I was on the outskirts of his life in AP Physics and Calculus. He was someone I knew from the hallways, the yearbook pages, and the sharing of mutual friends. As the news of his passing spread across my Facebook friends’ news feeds and the online memorial tributes to him increased in number, I grieved along with my friends through some sort of osmotic process. The few interactions that John and I shared happened in the more recent past. I knew more about him through Facebook than I knew of him in the real world, so I suppose it was fitting that I learned about his moving on through the same channel. I can’t say that I had an impact on his life in any way, but I know that his life touched mine in the kind of way that makes you realize that we citizens of Earth have more in common than we think we do based on what we see on the outside.

Today as I was driving home after dropping the boys off at school, still absorbed by life’s absurdities and ill-timed departures, I was following a snow-covered van. We traveled along at 55 miles per hour and the snow from the van’s roof blew off in swirls. As the individual flakes whizzed toward my car, it appeared I was making the leap to hyperspace. In the early morning sunlight, each flake was a tiny fleck of gold or silver. I got caught up in the beauty of this pure and simple occurrence. It made me deeply and honestly happy. I felt better than I have in days. It wasn’t a winning lottery ticket that brought me out of my funk. It was a moment of gratitude for life brought about by a random act of beauty I was finally present enough to appreciate.

I can’t stop thinking now about how wrong we humans are about our journey on this planet. We make life into what appears on the outside. We obsess with how we look rather than focusing on who we are personally and what truly matters to us. We stress about where our kids go to school more than we worry about our relationships with them. We want the respect of others, and we think we will earn it with important job titles, tastefully decorated homes, and luxury cars. We are cats jumping at shiny things. We are clueless.

The effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is. Everything you gain in life will rot and fall apart, and all that will be left of you is what was in your heart. ~Jim Carrey

This quote has been bouncing around in my head for weeks. I’ve been wanting to say something about it, and several times I’ve sat down with my laptop to try to coax the words out of my mind. They wouldn’t come. Then our class lost John and it came into focus. All the epitaphs, composed for a friend who left us too soon, collected the whole of John’s heart and put it on display for all of us who regret that we did not know him better. Short though his life was, it was a life lived right.

We who are still here are lucky enough to have this moment. Don’t squander it. Look around you. Be grateful for what you have. Pay attention to those who matter. Don’t bother chasing the shiny distractions. Time is precious. Someday someone will be painting a verbal picture of you posthumously. Make sure you show them your best side now.

Peru Adventure – Cusco/Lima

July 15, 2014

Coffee!!!!

Coffee!!!!

After a lively, late night dinner with our tour group that included the opportunity to make our own Pisco Sours, surprisingly we were up early for our final morning in Cusco. Our first stop was to Starbucks. Don’t judge. Old habits die hard, and Starbucks has free wifi. And reliable caffeinated beverages. And we wanted to Facetime with our sons. We hadn’t seen their cute little faces in days. We were due.

Just another morning in Cusco city

Just another morning in Cusco city

This Starbucks store sits on the second floor of an old building right off the main plaza, so it offers a nice view of the city while you wait for your latte. While we were sitting there, a procession of local, Catholic school children was making its way down the street in front of the store. Some were dressed in uniforms. Some were in angel costumes. All were adorable. It was one of those scenes you just don’t get to see in suburban Denver, so we snapped a few photos to share with our kids.I don’t feel one bit bad for visiting that highly commercial, Seattle-based coffeehouse. The way I had it figured, we were supporting American workers.

Love how the locals use blankets as backpacks

Love how the locals use blankets as backpacks

With caffeine on board, we went out to find some final souvenirs before heading to the airport. Walking around the central area in Cusco is fun. The city is both modern and ancient. You’re just as likely to encounter a hip student on a cell phone as you are a woman in traditional dress walking an alpaca. We lucked out and ran into Ray while we were trying to decide the best place to buy some last-minute gifts. It’s great to have a local to give you tips when you’re not familiar with an area. They can be invaluable in suggesting restaurants and pointing you in the right direction for exactly what you need. It helps when that person is also energetic, fun, and an all-around nice person. I was glad to discover that Ray is on Facebook. Facebook, for all its absurdities, makes the world a bit smaller by allowing me to stay in touch with amazing people I meet along my life’s journey.

Salud!

Salud!

We got to the airport with time to spare before our scheduled departure. While we were sitting there waiting, Andrew went off to buy some snacks. He returned carrying a bottle of Inca Cola. We’d seen this on the menu nearly everywhere we went. Inca Cola is Peru’s answer to Coca Cola. It looks like Mountain Dew, but Ray told us it tasted like bubblegum. Andrew poured us each a sample in a plastic cup and we toasted to our trip and our successful completion of the Inca Trail. Salud! Turns out it does taste pretty much like bubblegum soda, which I thought would be horrific but really wasn’t as disgusting as I had imagined. Not saying I’ll be buying cases of it on Amazon or anything, but I always figure I’m better for every new thing I’m brave enough to try.

Dinner at Saqra

Dinner at Saqra

We arrived in Lima hungry and tired. When we checked in at our hotel for our last night, I pulled up TripAdvisor and looked for a restaurant nearby. Saqra was ranked #14 in Lima and, bonus, it was just around the block from the hotel. It was a definite find. The ambiance was modern, fun, and funky, and the food was delicious. Up until that point, the four of us had been fairly conservative about what we ate and drank because, well, we were nervous about being sick on the Inca Trail. But with our trek behind us, all bets were off. We started with our first official Pisco Sours of the trip. The night before we’d sampled them but didn’t commit. I finally understood why people rave about these drinks. They’re tasty, they hit you like a ton of bricks (hello…cheap date here), and despite the lovely buzz there were no ill-effects afterwards. We ordered a couple appetizers, Parmesan scallops (which were served on their lovely shells) and ceviche to start. Perfecto! I settled upon ravioli for my main course and was not disappointed. The most fun part about Saqra was the restrooms, which were infinitely more amusing after a Pisco Sour. There are two unisex rooms. One is decorated with walls covered floor to ceiling in padded, red vinyl. The other room is entirely mirrored. Neither was occupied, so I had my choice. I won’t share which one I drew me in first, but I will tell you that a second Pisco Sour and another glass of agua con gas guaranteed that I eventually got to experience them both. When I got back to the table, as gauche as it is, I mentioned that the restrooms were not to be missed. I was curious to see what room would intrigue my friends. I’m all about initiating spirited (and occasionally inappropriate) dinner conversation among friends.

After dinner, we were worn out from shopping, touring, sampling, flying, drinking, and laughing, so we called it an early night. We had to rest up for our last full day in the City of Kings. Tomorrow we would tour Lima, visit a museum, and enjoy one last Peruvian meal before boarding a red-eye back to the States. As excited as I was to see our boys, I was melancholy about leaving Peru. Or maybe it was merely the effect of my Pisco Sours wearing off.

Living In A Box

Luke is in a box, but this is a box he put himself in.

My son is in this box, but I am not responsible for how he got in there.

I posted something to Facebook today, an article and linked video clip about Monsanto and GMOs. When I posted it, I was merely doing so because I thought the report was interesting. What happened after I posted it, however, was even more interesting. A friend of mine from grade school responded to it. His response didn’t directly discuss the food issue. Instead, he wrote about the way the news was reported by CNN. I wrote back and said that I was looking to start a conversation about food and not about television journalism. To which he responded with a somewhat longer diatribe, basically accusing me of not wanting to hear anyone’s opinion if it differed from mine. And then I told him that I was interested in others’ opinions and did he care to share his with me or not? I stood there shaking my head because I wasn’t exactly sure how my post had devolved into a partisan issue, but it had and I was disappointed.

The whole conversation got me to thinking about how quick we are to judge each other. I’m just as bad about this as anyone else. We see what we see on Facebook and we assume we know people. We pigeonhole them based on stereotypes they seem to present through their profile. We block ourselves from the idea that there might be more to them than meets the eye. We deny their humanity. We do the same thing with the guy driving the Range Rover who cuts us off in traffic or the mom in the Walmart who is yelling at her kid or the homeless guy holding a sign on the street corner. We know who they are without their even saying a word. We don’t need to know their circumstances or their reasons or their history. All we need to know is what we see. Like an artist working only from a photograph we paint our one-sided portrait of them.

We do this same thing with people we’re close to, people whom we’ve known for years. They exist inside the box we placed them in when we first learned about them. Even though they have grown and experienced and changed over time as we all do, we still want to know them as they were because it’s easier that way. It’s difficult to accept that they have moved and maybe we haven’t made the journey along with them. I don’t know if we do this because we seek the familiar or because we’re too lazy to look deeper. I just know that it happens. In the end, although we look at each other every day, we don’t see each other at all.

The conversation I started about food on Facebook today did enlighten me, just not about food. I’m thinking now about how many boxes I live in, boxes constructed by the people who saw what they wanted to see and closed up the lid without even leaving me air holes so I could breathe. And I’m thinking about how I can take a box cutter and free some of the people whom I’ve trapped. Maybe if I slit open the lid, step back, and pay careful attention I will learn something new about them. And, maybe as with my post today, I will learn something new about myself as well.

Facebook Knows Me Too Well

Yep. There’s witchy old me again.

A while back I wrote a blog about fate, coincidence, and signs. My premise was that life presents you with signs that attempt to nudge you in the direction you’re supposed to be heading in this life. If you’re paying attention and are self-aware, you will notice the signs the first time they present themselves to you. If you’re not, the signs will keep appearing over and over until you take notice and then hopefully hop aboard the clue bus and go forward. I still believe this to be true. In light of this belief, however, I’ve been struggling with something that keeps happening in my life.

Just before Halloween and in honor of that spooky holiday, I changed my Facebook profile photo to a shot of me in a witch costume I wore to pick up my boys from school last year on October 31st. It seemed appropriate to deck myself out on Facebook for one of my favorite holidays. I thought it was kind of a cute idea. On November 1st, I promptly removed the photo of witchy me and replaced it with a photo of me from our trip to Moab last spring. For the past two weeks, though, that photo of witchy me keeps reappearing randomly as my Facebook profile photo without my changing it. It’s happened both on my iPhone Facebook app and on my Facebook page on my MacBook. Now, I’m sure this is nothing sinister, but it’s starting to get a little weird.

When I see that witchy photo, I go in and change it back. Simple enough, right? No need to freak out about it. It’s probably just some sort of mix-up with the cookies from the Facebook app, right? It’s definitely not some type of sign. If it were, what would it be a sign of? I should do some serious research into Wicca because perhaps that is my calling? I should wear black more often? Hats really work for me? Tonight, I told my hubby about it.

“You know that photo of me that I put up for Halloween?” I asked.

“The one of you in the witch costume?” he replied.

“Yep. That one. Remember how I told you a week or so ago that it was back?”

“Yes.”

“Well, I changed it then and today it’s back again,” I said. “Do you suppose someone is trying to tell me something?”

This is when he began laughing.

“What are you laughing at? This is not funny,” I said, right before I started laughing too.

“I don’t think the universe is trying to tell you that you’re a witch,” he said and gave me a hug. “But, it is a pretty big coincidence,” he added in that quiet sort of way that’s meant to be an underhanded remark. Then he started laughing again.

“Fine. Side with the universe. And Facebook,” I said as I changed the photo back to the one of me in Moab on one of my happiest days ever.

Now, I don’t really believe the universe is trying to send me a message with the repeated appearance of that witchy photo, but it does kind of bother me a bit that Facebook seems to know me a bit better than I think it should. 😉

 

 

 

 

 

No Matter Who Is President We’re Still Damn Lucky

“The essence of a free government consists in an effectual control of rivalries.” ~ John Adams

This morning as I was perusing my friends’ status updates on Facebook, I had a sick feeling in my stomach. The election is over. The persistent, negative, and mostly misleading ads will cease. I won’t be getting a half-dozen extra phone calls a day asking me to vote for someone or against someone else. No more flyers on my door. All of this is welcome news. Despite the end of the election, given the postings I saw as I sipped my latte, this country is still a hot mess. And, it’s hard to celebrate anything with that in mind.

Half the citizens of this country are disappointed this morning. Disappointed might be an understatement. Words like disgusted, sick, embarrassed, angryconfused, and bitter are being bandied about by those whose preferred candidate did not win. I’ve seen prayers for help for our misguided nation and entreaties for the second coming to happen now to save us from the next four years. I understand the chagrin. Indeed it was the same sense I had in 2000 and again in 2004 when my preferred election result was denied. I get it. It’s rough.

As my kids were going to school today, we were discussing the outcome of the election. I told them that they need to understand that many people are upset and angry and worried today because of the last night’s election results. I told them that they need to be compassionate and understanding and patient if they hear things said in disappointment that seem not fair or right. We all have had occasion to feel that same way and we should be able to understand where others are coming from.

Last night, after the results had largely come in, we had the chance to talk to our boys and to tell them about the struggles ahead for this country when we are not a nation indivisible but rather a nation split 50/50. We need to find a way to bridge the gap, but I have no idea what that is. People have become so entrenched in their own views that they’ve stopped listening to others. Everything that someone from the other 50% says is immediately negated. People don’t take the time to view the news from different, disparate sources. We like hearing what we want to hear, and this is why we are in trouble. There is no room for disagreement, discord, or discussion. We’re all acting like petulant, stubborn, snotty children. If we get our way, we gloat like we’ve won King of the Mountain. And, if we don’t get what we want, we whine, complain, point fingers, and call names. It works both ways. I’ve seen it now from both sides during two similar elections. It’s not good. The fear mongering, the partisanship, the intractability…it’s unbearable and downright childish.

We try to teach our children to play fair, to be gracious winners, and good losers. We tell them to take turns and share. We remind them not to jump to conclusions or place blame. And, we ask them to be the bigger person, to be respectful, and to be kind. Yet, we’re not setting that example for them. We’re out there making disparaging remarks about the other candidate and calling our president an incompetent boob. Our children see this. What they’re learning from us is that it’s okay to be mean-spirited and that when you don’t get what you want you should cross your arms and pout. They’re learning compromise is failure.

Most of the things I voted on went the way I hoped they would last night (and, no, I did not vote in favor of the legalization of marijuana as I’m sure some of you suspect I would being the liberal I am). I’ve not, however, felt good about any of the victories because it’s hard to be positive when I know so many people who are feeling lost, hurt, and disenfranchised by the very same things that let me sleep easily last night. I’ve been digging around looking for something, anything, that would offer me a reason to feel optimistic. Then, in the midst of the tempest of animosity, I saw a post this morning from someone I know whose candidate did not prevail. He simply wrote: Tomorrow is another day. This is still the greatest country in the world. This man is a Marine. He’s a Christian and a loving and devoted family man. I am deeply touched by his sentiment and by his positive attitude when so many people are seeing the election result as the end of freedom and of life as we know it. This is the type of positive example we should share with future generations. At the end of the day, no matter whose candidate wins, we’re still incredibly lucky to live in this country and we’re still all in this together. We held free elections yesterday and millions upon millions of people voted. That’s an amazing thing. It might be good for us to focus on that as we embrace the next four years and whatever they may bring.

Grow A Vagina And Get Back To Me

The link I wanted my girlfriends to see…the one that led me to yoga

Today I did something I don’t often do. I posted to my Facebook page a link to something that is a politically charged issue. I usually avoid any sort of post that might in any way be construed as inflammatory. I usually do this because I’m not a big fan of conflict, and I don’t necessarily like to splatter my political, religious, or other personal views all over Facebook for the universe to see. Today, though, I got a wild hair and thought some of my girlfriends would appreciate a link to a web page that interested me. The page offered a petition called The Bill of Reproductive Rights. Created by the Center for Reproductive Rights, the bill’s mission is to let lawmakers in Washington, DC, know that women want safe, affordable, and readily accessible reproductive health care. Call me crazy, but as a woman, I care about this issue. Deeply. So, I posted the link intending to share it with my girlfriends who might also care deeply. The can opener turned. Wouldn’t you know it? Worms. Everywhere.

Within fifteen minutes, I had received a post on my link from a friend I knew from college my freshman and sophomore year. The minute I saw his name, I knew his comment would be contentious. You see, this fellow and I are about as far opposite each other on the political spectrum as you can get. Sure enough. He had seen my post and had something to say. I was already regretting my decision. I read his post and took a deep breath. Against my better judgment, I decided to reply to his comment. My comment was short and sweet. I told him that if he didn’t appreciate my right to my own opinion, he was welcome to hide my posts or block me from his Facebook world entirely. I thought that would end the argument. I mean, how could he possibly take it any further, right? Wrong. He took my comment as an invitation, apparently, to enlighten me about how clueless I am. Cheese and Rice. Are you kidding me? His next comment was 158 words long. Yes. I checked. 158 words to elucidate how clearly misguided I am as to what is important with regard to this election…at least for him. Here’s an exact quote:

This whole war on women is a straw man, a distraction that is used to draw attention away from our economy and ALL people’s freedoms being radically eroded.

Well, I can understand why he would see things that way. There are a lot of issues about which to be concerned this election, just as in any election. But for me, this “war on women” will never be just a “straw man” because I have a vagina. It matters a great deal to me what legislators think is okay for me to do with and for my lady parts. Some people want the government to keep their hands out of business. I want them to keep their hands out of my business, my lady business. I did not, contrary to the beliefs of some, post my link to foster a debate. I was simply sharing information. I was not looking for an argument or asking for input. In fact, after I read my friend’s 158-word post, I did what any good feminist, hippie, liberal would do. I took a deep breath and went to yoga to seek the enlightenment my friend was trying to give me.

This election is close. We all have a lot at stake, but that doesn’t mean we have to get in each others’ faces about it. I see political posts by friends every single day that run counter to my own beliefs. But, I don’t hop onto their personal Facebook pages and vomit my opposition all over the place because I respect their right to their opinions and beliefs. I choose to agree to disagree. I’m comfortable with my beliefs and no one, no matter how emphatic their comments are, will change my mind until it’s ready to be changed. End of story. And, yes, friend…I am receptive to honest, intellectual give and take on the subject of women’s reproductive rights. And, the minute you grow a vagina so you have a legitimate stake in this issue, let me know and I’ll take you up on that offer. I’m not unreasonable. I just think you should know a bit about the subject before you discuss it.

Don’t Eat Something That Doesn’t Agree With You…Befriend It

Somewhere lost in our pit of a house, probably stuck in between pages in a book on a bookshelf, is a copy of one of my favorite comic strips ever. I cut it from our college newspaper way back when. The cartoon depicts two alligators, one shoved into the other’s mouth. A banner hangs above their heads that reads “Alligator Debate.” The caption reads, “Al suddenly realized he’d just eaten something that didn’t agree with him.” It cracks me up every time I think about it.

As I watched the presidential debate tonight, I simultaneously followed my Facebook and Twitter feeds. Don’t ask me why I would do this. Clearly, this being the first election in which I had access to such a broad spectrum of individuals via social media, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. While hoping, I suppose, to get a more well-rounded view of what other Americans thought of the debate, all I succeeded in doing was giving myself an even bigger headache than I already had. At one point during the debate, I told my husband that my favorite part of the debate is when it’s over. At least then the fact checkers get the opportunity to dissect what has been said and let us know what was legitimate and what was bunk. At that point I’m ready to start considering what I’ve heard, but I never start the process until I know what’s fact and what’s fiction. Unfortunately, I don’t think (based on what I saw on social media tonight) that very many people take the time to reserve judgment or to consider the other side.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.” I haven’t either, which is why I love this quote. Most of my Facebook friends fall far from me on the ideological scale. If I were to unfriend those with whom I have a serious a difference of opinion in politics, religion, or philosophy, I’d be cleaning out the vast majority of the 311 folks on my list. While I won’t deny that I get great satisfaction from my conversations with the friends who see life through a similar lens, I learn an awful lot from those who disagree with me. So, even as those friends are making comments that make my eyes roll, I wouldn’t withdraw my friendship. Their ideas, beliefs, and opinions, only inform and enhance mine. Although, on nights like tonight when I am bombarded by opinions 180-degrees from my own, I have to dig really deep to hold true to Jefferson’s quote. I have to remember how important difference of opinion is to intellectual growth. And, yes. I have to remind myself not to want to eat the friends who disagree with me.

(If I manage to find that comic, I will post it here. I’m still smiling thinking about it.)

Facebook Is Simply Show-And-Tell For Grown Ups

One of my Facebook profile photos. What does it tell you about me?I don’t know and I don’t really care. I just like it.

I was thinking today that Facebook is the ultimate exercise in show-and-tell. Remember that from kindergarten? Stand up there, show off something you like or care about, and tell people all about it. And, I think that if you treat Facebook (or any social media) that way, it’s a fairly innocuous thing. But, if you find you’re concerned about the number of replies you get to a post or if you’re using your posts to validate your decisions or any other aspect of your life, it might be time to take a step back.

I’ve got 288 Facebook “friends.” The “friends” is in quotes for a reason. All that word means in Facebookland is that I have viewing rights to 288 other people’s lives. I joined Facebook in 2008, so I’ve had years to study the way people use it. Some use it as a soapbox. Others use it for braggadocio. Some, quite sadly, use it to pump up their self-esteem. Some use it to avoid loneliness. Everyone gets something different from it, which is why it fascinates me. But, it all comes back to the notion that we all like to talk about ourselves. With Facebook, we can do it all day and all night and our spewing about ourselves ad nauseam is never considered narcissistic or obnoxious. It’s par for the course. It’s genius, really. Everyone is the center of their Facebook universe. How appropriately human.

I’ve always liked this quote: “What other people think of you is none of your business.” I more or less live by this notion. I learned early on that I am not for everyone, which is just fine with me because there are oodles of people I can do without as well. It’s nice to be liked, but if I’m not it doesn’t affect how I feel about myself. I’m here to find my own way. I don’t want to get to the end of my life and realize I was living someone else’s. Still, it’s easy to get sucked into caring too much what others think of you, especially when you throw yourself onto a social media site and pay too close attention to the responses you get. When you live that way, though, you’re not being authentic. I’ve seen my fair share of folks who clearly use Facebook for personal validation. I know, on occasion, I have been guilty of it too. But, what other people think of you is none of your business. It doesn’t matter. When it’s all said and done, the only person whose opinion about you should matter is your own. So, the next time you post something and no one seems to notice or care, throw yourself a dozen or so mental thumbs up Likes and move on. Facebook is show-and-tell. That’s all it is. Letting it be more than that is a waste of your precious energy on this planet.