Saturday, March 30, 2013

Back Down Again

In situations that drive you down and place seeming limitations on your life's possibilities, there are three routes to survival:

1. Faith
2. Inner Strength
3. Being surrounded by people who pick you up and help put you back together again

Two weeks ago, I picked up a heavy crockpot and threw out my back. It seems ridiculous. But a history of back problems and a genetic predisposition to degenerative discs makes even the simple things dangerous at times. I have been down this road before and the end results were not ideal. Fifteen years ago, I lost the use of much of my left leg and foot so the prospect of heading down a similar path with my right leg frightened me beyond words.

So I did the only three things I knew how. I prayed. I remembered that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. And I called on my friends and family who have visited and talked and laughed and cried and eaten dinner with me.

I could not have gotten through the last two weeks without the people with whom I've chosen to surround myself. Even a short phone call or a voice mail has brightened my days trapped on the couch. (For a social butterfly like myself, bed rest is like prison.) My mom has done my laundry, my sister has taken out the trash, my ten year old nephew calls me to FaceTime almost daily... And my friends have been wonderful.

The diagnosis is two herniated discs. The treatment is a long list of drugs and therapies before surgery. And I will be just fine. It could be so many other things. So many more devastating things. But... This minor setback has demonstrated how truly blessed I am.

My cousin called on a day last week when i was feeling particularly sad and lonely and she said, "but you are not alone Michele. You are surrounded by family and friends who love you."

Yes, I am. My back may be down and out right now but thanks to all of these wonderful people and the man upstairs (as the Catholics like to say), I won't be for long.

Face Time without Facebook

It has been just under two weeks since I decided to stop following the daily happenings on Facebook and I would by lying if I said I didn't miss it. I do but the time I have spent away from hours of perusing the Facebook pages of others have allowed me to focus on blogging more and dabbling a bit in my art which I hadn't done in years. Today, in fact, I hope to start painting again.

Over the course of the last 10 days, I have had more conversations with my friends that did not revolve around plans to go out than I have in a long time. I will say that we are still texting a lot but that's fine. Our relationships are not revolving around catching up on Facebook without actual, real communication.

Shortly after deciding to scale back my Facebook involvement, I hurt my back. Forced to spend time on the couch or in bed because I have been unable to walk has increased the temptation to dive back into Facebook. I have checked emails and I have one big event (St. Louis Cardinals Opening Day Tailgate) coming up that I am keeping track of but reading statuses all day, browsing photos, checking up on folks and all of the other day-to-day activities have ceased for now.

I miss my people but like I said before, I am still around!

We will see what the future holds.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Kindness as Currency

They say that nothing in life is free. Supposing that is true, that does not mean that the only currency with which we can pay for life's things is money. Many have paid for freedom with their lives. Others have sacrificed comfort or promotion or better lives for themselves to benefit others. They have paid the price of whatever that thing is with a currency other than money. Blood, sweat, tears, dignity... all forms of currency.

However, the simplest and most overlooked of these alternate currencies is kindness. Returning kindness for kindness is often the greatest repayment one can offer.

Good deeds are most often not done with the expectation of repayment. But there is nothing wrong with offering kindness in return anyway. When you are the beneficiary of the goodness of another, be grateful, say thank you, do something nice in return. It could be as simple as opening a door, or helping carry groceries or baking a pie.

Kindness is always welcome.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Please Feel Free to Lay in My Lap

Traveling is exhausting. Even when the purpose of the trip is rest and relaxation, getting to and from a destination can be difficult and the journey can be long. Traveling for work always created added stress for me. Life at home doesn't stop because one person is in another state. Responsibilities still need tending and being unavailable for the day to day needs of home and family makes traveling a bit trying.

Travel by plane offers a unique set of challenges:
To check bags or not to check bags...
Getting through security without having to turn over the $9 makeup you forgot was in your bag...
Reaching the departure gate on time...
Boarding without nailing a fellow passenger in the head as you pass through the narrow middle aisle...
Finding the right seat belt parts and extending them to their limit so you can actually buckle them...
Remembering that the other 179 people who are on a plane with you have just experienced every bit of what you have prior to sitting down...
And most of all, deciding whether or not to put your seat back for the duration of the flight...

On the radio the other day, a discussion was held regarding that last travel challenge. Should you put your seat back or not? Is it ok to do because you can or is it rude?

Do you remember the scene in Dirty Dancing when Patrick Swayze is teaching Jennifer Gray how to hold her frame while she dances and he shows her what area is her space? Well, I submit that the space directly over my lap, just in front of my chest, is my space. When the stranger in front of me lowers the seat back to sleep in flight, he or she is basically sleeping in my lap.

Maybe if I was shorter and didn't require a lot of leg room or if I was thinner and didn't tend to spill over into the seats on either side of me, I wouldn't mind as much. Maybe then there would be ample extra space allowing my neighbor up front to spread out and take a snooze. But I doubt it. My lap is my lap. Unless you have properly introduced yourself, bought me dinner and drinks, and I have invited you to rest in my lap, you cannot do so. It's presumptuous and rude.

Now please return your seat to the upright position. Or I might have to jostle my tray table around and laugh loudly for the next two hours.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Facebook Hiatus

Dear Facebook friends,

After weeks of careful consideration, recent events have confirmed that a vacation from Facebook is in order. This has been a difficult decision for me because I find tremendous joy in many of my connections on Facebook. I both blame and credit the social media platform for reuniting me with friends and family I had been separated from for a long time.

Reading about the major milestones and minor happenings in all of your lives enriches my life experience and often overwhelms me with gratefulness. It also pains me at times, pulls at my heart strings, reminds me how important it is to pray without ceasing and pushes me into action when others are in need. I don't know if the Facebook experience can be wholly and properly explained in words. It is an experience that, for me, engages every element of my being at times.

However, Facebook has robbed me of a lot of time. It has pilfered my face-to-face and voice-to-voice time with many of you. It has watered down the things that mattered most before Facebook and it has created an obstacle to growth in so many ways. I need more time to spend with actual people and not just avatars and statuses and online photo albums. I need to write instead of getting trapped in a vicious cycle of candy crush saga. I need to live my life.

I realize that many of us have just started our relationships either for the first time or after a long period of time apart. My departure from Facebook is, in no way, a reflection on you. Believe me, we would not be connected on Facebook if I didn't find at least a bit of fabulousness in you. And I hope when I return, you will still be on my friend list and I will be on yours.

I will still be blogging, both here and on tumblr. Hopefully, I will be blogging more frequently. Those blogs will still autopost on Facebook so you can keep up with my Facebook hiatus if you'd like. I hope to start a couple of new blogs during this time as well as get my children's book published and complete the fictional novel that is sitting on my life's back burner.

And if you really want to know how I am, instead of making assumptions based on a Facebook status or a tweet or a pin on Pinterest, you can reach me via email and by phone. I will have more time for conversations in the coming days so don't hesitate to call or meet me for lunch or dinner or ice cream.

Until we meet again Facebook friends...

All my best,