Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: kindness

Are Manners in Online Groups Passé?

So my Dad sent me this the other day and it came just after I had taken my first look around a nonfiction readers group on Facebook I had just found and, man, did it resonate. It got me wondering… Are manners in online groups a thing of the past?

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I’m linking to the poster’s IG profile because I don’t have Twitter.

My dad is right, it applies to just about everything. I’ve had a thought stirring around in my head ever since I’ve decided I should set it all out in words and share it here to see what you guys think.

I’ve been known to be a bit…sensitive and reactionary, and that can get me into trouble. Lately, I’ve been practicing a bit of peace and reminding myself that just because it hurts my feelings, doesn’t mean it’s wrong. And just because some people are a bit insensitive, doesn’t mean they hate me.

An even shorter version might read, “It’s not all about you, Michelle. Take it easy.”

What happened? Sarcasm and judgement.

Like I said yesterday, I’ve decided that in-person book clubs aren’t a “Hell, yes!” for me right now, so I’ve quit looking for one. But I do like to talk about books, and I’d really like to get more recommendations that aren’t directly related to what I’m already reading, so I kept looking for places to go.

That’s when the Facebook group came up. I haven’t joined any of those in a while because no matter what the subject, they can get so dang hostile so quickly. Yikes-aroni, people! Do you act like that in person?!

And then the first time I opened this group page after joining, I found people’s “laugh react” and sarcastic comments regarding other member’s reading choices rather discouraging. Should I post what I’m reading? What if they get hostile about that? How will I respond?

I know a lot of you are thinking, “Who cares what they think?!” I’m sorry, I do. Would you walk into a party knowing that the people around you most likely will call you an idiot for what you’re wearing or your choice in partner?

But that leads me to manners, and back to the post my dad shared with me. That’s what seems to be missing in the world lately. What happened to “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all?”

What I’d love to ask the group is, “If you were in a library, a bookstore, or a reader’s group in person, would you talk to people this way?” Say you’re walking through the bookstore, and you see a person reading over the back cover of a book you don’t agree with. Would you turn to chastise them about considering what it has to say or just keep walking?

If you were at a book club meeting and someone suggested a book for the following month that you weren’t politically aligned with. Would you smirk and laugh at them, and ask why kind of an idiot reads that kind of crap, or kindly suggest something else?

I thought the point of reading books was to learn other people’s points of view, other ideas. And here I am, in a “serious nonfiction readers” group, hearing people publicly ridicule another’s choice of reading.

It’s more than discouraging. We all have our own tastes, our own likes and dislikes. We all have our own reasons for what we do. It has nothing to do with you, so why do you need to be disparaging to others? When I see things that I don’t like, I simply scroll on by. It’s not for me.

…sigh…

It’s things like this that make me sad. It’s why I’m not all that keen on meeting people in person these days. And I so want to be among people. The whole idea of sharing thoughts and ideas in real time, face to face, sounds so wonderful, but I’m afraid it’s only a fantasy.

So Much is IN DEMAND Lately

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Thank you, Writers Write, for all your brilliant help!

What exactly is in demand these days? Toilet paper (for some reason I still don’t understand)? Fabric masks to wear at the grocery store so the people around you aren’t afraid? Patience? A positive attitude? Honesty? Common sense?

It’s been a rough month for me, and that’s putting it lightly. I’m not coping with the stress nearly as well as I would have hoped I would, but I am learning. I wouldn’t say it’s the hardest month I’ve lived through. Being arrested for armed robbery and attempted carjacking and then spending a year of time and money getting my life back was slightly more upsetting. My arrest through me for a loop. By the end of the whole process, my entire worldview had changed. There was no going back, no return to my naïve way of thinking. I was a different person.

What was in demand then was faith that everything would work out fine and some patience with the criminal justice system. What I really wanted was patience from my friends and family. I was going through a traumatic experience, life was completely rearranged, and I was looking at the possibility of losing at least ten years of my life in jail for a crime I did not commit. Could they allow me some leeway and forgiveness if I lashed out in fear and anger, or just felt like being alone?

Somehow this crisis is different. It feels more permanent, more world-changing for everyone around me, instead of just myself and my immediate family. And it feels so unnecessary, like it shouldn’t be happening, not like this. I’ll admit, I’m not dealing with it half as well I would have hoped I would. All this self-help shit isn’t putting anywhere near the “Let it Ride” feeling I wanted to have during a crisis, but I’m learning quickly. I’ve always been one to react badly at first and then re-think and adjust. I’m moving into the re-think phase at the moment.

What’s in demand now? Bravery, for one thing. Fear makes us do the ugliest things to ourselves and others. We can’t run in fear of a virus, not like this. We can’t hide in our homes forever, afraid we’ll catch something, afraid we’ll accidentally pass it to others. We can’t tear each other apart on social media over what we believe we should and should not be doing.

Understanding and space is something else in demand. Less judgment would be nice, too. What if instead of insisting that those around us do what we believe is the right thing, we just did what was right for ourselves? What if we allowed the people around us, in our towns, counties, and states, to decide for themselves what was right for them? What if we automatically assumed everyone around us was making the best decision for themselves with the information they personally have, instead of demanding that they follow our lead?

What else? Let me see…maybe some patience with others when they question the choices we each are making? How about when we question science or what our government is doing and why? What if instead of ridiculing and belittling those that question authority, we listen to them and allow them to speak? What about those that are worried about the financial future of our country? Could we give them a voice as well? It is important, by the way, just as important as your health. You may not get the virus that is going around, but when inflation starts, companies close, jobs and food become scarce, it won’t really matter, will it? Yes, your Grandma didn’t die of the virus, but now the whole town is threatened with starving. It is a legitimate concern and something we need to weigh in the balance when making decisions.

It seems there are a plethora of things in demand at the moment, huh?

And the worst part is that it’s being demanded of all of us at the same time. Not only am I struggling with these shutdowns, so is everyone around me. It’s hard to ask for bravery, understanding, and patience from my friends and neighbors when they need it just as much; like the toilet paper, there just isn’t enough on the shelf for everyone to buy a two months supply at once.

Maybe I’ll have to supply it for myself, retreat a bit and not add to the chaos, or create something here at home to replace it.

It’s Not The Plant

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This plant has been thriving for a couple years now. It’s in the corner of my bedroom, getting the damp soil and indirect sunlight it needed, and making me smile each time I see another leaf bud or another tendril start to grow and reach toward the window.

It wasn’t always this healthy. It came to me as three wilted leaves in a giant plastic pot filled with dried out dirt. I found it in an office with one west-facing window that never had its curtains opened. I’m not a big plant person, but every house has these and I knew it just needed water and bit of sun to thrive.

I’m not sure why I felt compelled to take it home and adopt it, but there I was each day growing increasingly frustrated with my co-workers when I’d leave for a few days and no one would water it or open the curtains in the afternoon.

After weeks of coaxing and no improvement, I decided to throw the whole thing away. The old plastic pot was starting to crack and any day now it would leak all over the filing cabinet anyway. I picked up the pot, carefully so as not to dump dirt all over the office and started walking toward the dumpster outside. Somehow…some way…the plant ended up in the bed of my truck. I might have been possessed by Groot. I just couldn’t throw those three leaves away.

Originally, I planned on putting it in a smaller pot with new dirt, getting it growing good and healthy, and then bringing it back to the office. Maybe I’d put it upfront near the big window and it would do better. Several months later, when it had really taken root and began to climb up my bedroom wall, I changed my mind. No one loved him like me! No one even noticed he was gone! He’s mine!

It’s sick really, the way I feel about plants sometimes.

Why in the world am I going on about a plant? Because no one is worthless. No person’s life is pointless. No matter how young or how old, there is an environment that they will thrive in. Don’t throw people away. Help them to find their place in this world and watch them grow into what they were born to be.

I saw a post about Tinker Bell this morning and my own bell rung. Imagine Charlie Brown talking to Lucy about phobias. “THAT’S IT!” I love it when I have moments like that. I posted the image and returned to comment, and that’s what led me to this post. Yep…animated fantasy movie characters get my mind going.

Here’s the image.

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Whenever I’m in a bad mood, when I’m feeling a bit grumpy and reactive, a little attention goes a long way. You may not need to change anything, fix anything, teach anything; just give me a little attention. “I know your mad.”, “What’s wrong?”, or even “You’re beautiful.”, will generally fix things with me. It gives me the power to resolve the situation myself. My sons are great at this. When they are doing big things, things teens have to do if they are going to move out into the world as adults, I get scared and sometimes I feel neglected. They sit and hug me, ask me about my fears and objections. They listen. And then they go do what they were going to do anyway. They do take into account my feelings, but I know that ultimately, they will do what they believe is best for them. Personally, I think it is the hardest stage of parenting so far.

But wait there’s more!

One of my friends said she didn’t like Tink, that she thought she was a “jerk.” This was my initial response.

“She’s a jerk because she’s passionate, protective, and independent. She’s beautiful and unsure of herself. Jealous to a fault. She’s small and mighty and fearful of being left behind. Her “meanness” is what you see but her motives…are beautiful. She needs to be loved and she’ll die if she doesn’t get that love. She needs unconditional love, not the kind that only hangs around if she’s sweet and gentle.”

All behavior is a symptom of someone’s feelings. We can’t help the way we feel about things. I’m having a hard time explaining this. I keep writing out the words and backing up. Let me start again.

Behavior is what we do when we feel something. It’s a trained action that starts in childhood. I feel cold and I grab a blanket. It might be someone else’s blanket. You might say, “Hey, that person is a jerk. They stole my blanket!” or you could think, “Why did that person steal my blanket?” That question might lead you to understand that the person was cold and needed to be warm. The only thing they have learned to do is take the first blanket they see.

Now, you’re probably thinking, “This woman is nuts. We can’t condone stealing because someone needs something. That’s anarchy!” I’m not condoning anything. I don’t need to think it’s ok for her to take my blanket because she’s cold, but I can understand and not be angry at that person. I can also lovingly ask why she took it and show compassion so she learns better behavior. There are very few people in this world that deliberately do things just to be mean. Almost everyone wants to be socially accepted and loved.

It could go like this.

“Why did you take my blanket? It belongs to me!”

“I’m cold and need one.”

“Well, so am I. It’s not ok to take things without permission, but I can see why you need one.”

“I need a blanket and you already have one, can afford another one, or I don’t care that you are cold.”

“Let’s see how we can get your own blanket without taking one from me by force.”

And you go off to buy her one of her own, help her find one from a charity, or buy one as a gift because you can and you love the person she is.

You know what she learns? Her needs are important and so are other people’s.

So, what does this have to do with Tinker Bell being a jerk? Tinker Bell is “acting out” as they say. She’s exhibiting nasty behaviors to get what she wants because she has learned no other way. She craves Peter’s attention and now he’s giving it to that damn Wendy. She’s jealous and rightly so, since Wendy wants Peter to leave Neverland and grow up.

There are lots of Tinker Bell’s in our life. Our children, our parents, our friends, our lovers, they all exhibit behavior we are not fond of. My children throw a temper tantrum over not being able to finish a movie before bed. My mother texts me a thousand times about where I’ve been. My friend doesn’t call me back because I forget her birthday. My lover is slamming doors and sulking. They are all symptoms of feelings and needs. What if we decided to look around the behavior and seek out what those needs are instead of punishing the behavior? If we knew what the need was, maybe it’d be easier to understand the behavior and help that loved one find a better way of getting their needs met.

Poor Tink. We see her as beautiful and filled with light. She can fly and make others fly, too! What more could you ask for? But really, she’s like all of us. She’s small and vulnerable and doesn’t know her own power. Peter could help her see that if he weren’t a child himself. Wendy does catch a glimpse of it but maybe she’s just too wrapped up in herself at the moment to help.

There’s so much more. I’d like to read the book again and focus on Tinker Bell’s point of view.

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