Share the Love

 

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It’s the little things.

 

“Be brave,” says my spirit.
“Wait,” says fear.
“Have courage,” says my soul.
“Not yet,” says worry.
“Dare,” says my heart.

-Rachel Marie Martin

All of this and more, it speaks to me on so many levels. Thinking about writing, relationships, and my own self-expression, I’m sitting here on a Monday morning, trying to think of something positive to add into the world. I can think of several, but I’m afraid the negativity is sucking me down. I want to write about THAT! I want to say what’s on my heart, but at the same time I don’t want to feed the monster.

There are two big things on my heart this morning. The first of which is news media. Why do we keep watching these people, the vultures of all the ugliest parts of our world? They feed off our despair, our pain, and then feed it back to us as if they are doing some good for the world. “The people have a right to know!” and “Freedom of the press!” is what I hear, but what I see is a group of people getting in the way, clamoring for a good view, and speculating to the world about the disaster that has just happened, spreading fear and terror to the masses. Why? If something terrible is happening in another state, is there anything I can do at that moment to fix it? No. Is there something I should know to stay safe where I am at the moment, therefore needing the information? No. The only reason they are on the tv is to get me to watch, to raise their ratings, and to sell advertising time. This is not news, it’s sensationalism for ratings. It’s making money off people’s fears and insecurities. It took me less than five minutes to be reminded of why I do not watch these so-called news channels.

The second thing is this idea of “stopping hate,” as if hate is what is driving people to hurt each other these days. Newsflash: People have always hated other people. Do you know what’s worse than hate? Despair. We can hate another person and feel no need to take any action against them. But when we despair, when we feel there is no other way, that we have nothing to lose, we lash out in anger. A person in despair acts out in many ways, all of which are prevalent these days. Some medicate themselves with drugs and alcohol, some do themselves harm in other ways, physically and mentally. Some “live for the day” and throw themselves into hedonism, following every desire hoping it will bring them momentary joy. And some commit violence against others. Like a child without the means to communicate his anquish, he decides he has no other choice but to hurt others the way he is hurting, and he’ll use any tool he can find.

How can we help? I can think of a simple way. Stop sharing it on your social media. I know we think we’re helping our cause by raising awareness, but we’re not. We’re only causing people to despair. Every time we point out another hopeless cause, every time we point out the cruelty, the injustice, the hate we find in the world and then blame it on someone else, we create more despair. It’s hard not to do it. When I see how much one person is hurting another, or hear of one cause I believe if we only put our minds to we could fix, it’s hard not click “share” and show others in the hope they will join me against it. But that’s the problem. We’re all trying to get others to join us AGAINST something or someone.

What can I do to help? Spread hope. Spread joy. Share the highs. Share the love. There is so much in this world that is better than it has ever been. Why focus on what is not?

As I sat eating breakfast with my teenage son, discussing these feelings I have, the sadness I find in my social media feeds, he was baffled. His young friends and the pages he follows don’t seem to have this urge to share the negativity for the most part. It seems that’s an “old person” way to use the new technology. We have something to learn from our children.

A couple years ago, my sons taught me how to change my social media feed by unfollowing friends that only post the negative, and not liking and following news channels. I find my news in slower media forms, printed magazines and newspapers. That simple change filled my social media feeds with positivity, science, religion, relationships, and writers I love. It’s been a wonderful change. I do still have a few friends that consistently share the ugliest of things. I love them but I have to tune them out for my own sanity. And then, when something like this past weekend happens, even my most positive friends are shaken, and rightly so. That’s when I choose to put my phone down completely and let the dust settle. I don’t need to know the details as they happen. I don’t need the play by play, the body count changes, or the speculations as to why it happened. That doesn’t mean that I don’t care. It means I’ll wait until the event is over and read about it in a rational and complete way, one that doesn’t tear at my heart as if my own child is dying in my arms for days. Since I can’t control what others post, and I know it will hurt me for no useful reason, I put my phone down and I turn the tv off. I turn to my home, my family, my friends and my local community and live.

What if we all did that? The honest truth is that in this world, people are hurting each other and dying every single day, all over the world. It cannot be avoided. It cannot be worried and legislated away. The only thing that will make anything better is love. Love those around you, love them unconditionally whether they “hate” or not. Don’t push more people into despair by shutting them out. Stop giving people more reasons to feel like they have no other choice but to fight. Love people even when they make bad choices, or choices you believe are wrong. Love people when they are angry and love them when they hate you.

Start creating joy around you. Start creating love. Start sharing love, unconditionally and in as many ways with as many people as you can. And you can start with your own social media feed!

The Clutter Isn’t Helping The Situation

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I told myself to make time for writing every morning and here I am, writing words. While I’m never short on words, today’s question is, “Should I share them?” The charge of “write 1000 words every day” does not imply that I post them for the world to see, right? Sure, take the time to put words on the page. Make space in my day for reflection and the organizing of thoughts. Spill my guts into a Word document for safe keeping, but must I drag you all along for the sometimes torturous ride?

Why the hell not? I mean…you clicked and you didn’t have to!

I’ve been spending some time taking some classes on Skillshare this week and it’s already been worth the $15 a month. Sunday afternoon I listened to Matt Bellassai talk about going viral for an hour. While I’m not all that interested in gathering clicks and writing “20 reasons you don’t suck” articles, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about what makes things sharable on social media. Besides, his helpful hints and legitimate advice were so entertaining. He comes off as thoughtful, intelligent (most comedians are pretty damn deep), and certainly seems like someone I’d like to spend time with. It was an hour well spent!

Yesterday I listened to Roxane Gay talk about crafting personal essays. I only had time for half of her presentation yesterday, but she already has me thinking. I get frustrated with my writing and this blog. Just like the rest of my life, I’m not sure where I fit in, where I’m going, or if I’m wasting my time and energy. And that is why I keep writing, to find the answers! My writing is another reflection of the real me, the one a little deeper down than the one you see on the street, the one you go have lunch with, or even the one you live with. These are the inner thoughts, the questions, and the attitudes I take when I’m alone. Sometimes these are things I want to say but can’t for whatever reason.

And it’s not even ALL I want to say. Many times I have mean, nasty, or snarky things to say. There are things that pop up in my head while I scroll through Facebook or drive into town; reactionary things that are probably best left unsaid. For the love of all things holy, I have a file on my phone called “Things I WANT To Say On Facebook But Don’t.” I frequently copy the offending post to that file and tap out my wanna-be comment and close it. It’s cathartic in that I release that negative energy without looking like an ass on social media.

I don’t always feel like a very nice person and I’m lucky that my personal filter catches things before they come blaring out on the internet. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always function well, or maybe it gets full and things spill over the edges from time to time. Maybe I need to clean that filter a little more often. That’s when you see an uncharacteristic personal judgment post on my wall. Those posts tend to get deleted before too long. But sometimes…oh man…I so want to just say exactly what I’m thinking. Or better yet, just type the word “FUCK!” and leave the internet forever without another word or explanation. I imagine what would happen…probably nothing. My parents would probably text me and the rest of the world would keep on keeping on. I imagine my own self-importance. We all do. More likely, I’d go back several times that same day to see if anyone made any inane comments. That is the depth of my addiction to online validation.

It’s just a passing mood though, and moods can be tricky. They build up into huge waves, crash onto the shore, and slide away to build momentum again. I haven’t mastered the magic of controlling nature. I haven’t become a sorceress that reigns in the moon. I’ve merely learned to be a better surfer. And just because I’m getting good at it, doesn’t mean I don’t let the board slip out from under me and go tumbling beneath the waves. At 46 years old, I have finally learned to notice when I’m being thrashed, and to at least try to control my panic and wait until the waves pass before I search for the surface.

Over the past few years I’ve learned a few tricks to stay calm in the face of the negativity wave; find the breath, make some emotional space, and wait. One thing that doesn’t work for me is seeking the positive. Being content in my negative mood seems to help me most, sinking down into it like a warm blanket of mean nasty thoughts comforts me and helps it pass over more quickly, like not thrashing against the wave as it passes. To do that most efficiently, I need to be alone both in person and online as much as possible. I feel no need to drag everyone along with me. I used to, trust me.

In the past, I’ve reached out to other life surfers, more like frantically grabbed them in my struggle to stay afloat, and all it does is multiply the negativity and create a feedback loop. I feel like I’m starting to sink into a negative mood, and in a panic reach out to someone. Precariously balanced on their own board, they panic trying to pull me up. I feel terrible that I’ve upset someone else, spiral deeper, and it takes longer and more energy to swim back up with every person I pull down with me. Better to go it alone, and know there are still people at the surface waiting for me.

Since I work from home and don’t have many outside responsibilities, these days it’s easy to withdraw. I have only my husband, my nearly grown sons, and a few close family members to retreat from, all of which have learned to notice my behavior and give me space. They wait quietly by, my husband giving me a few extra loves as he moves through the day.

But online life, social media, is still a struggle for me. It’s become a habit to pick up my phone and scroll through my feeds when I’m bored. Even when I know I shouldn’t, I find myself taking a quick look only to find more posts to add to that file on my phone and when I’m being “thrashed in the rinse cycle,” it’s much more likely that I’ll make that comment for real instead of keeping it private in my file.

I’ll put this out in the universe. Someone please develop an app that poses questions to determine your mood before you open any social media app. Depending on your answers it can either put a delay on all your posts and comments or stop you from reading at all until your mood improves. You’d make millions on this one. I have a feeling I’m not the only one that needs it!