Voyeurs or Friends?!

When Facebook first came out it seemed like a cool way to travel through space and time, to reconnect with new and old friends, coworkers and family. Slowly though I wonder if it hasn’t become a venue for voyeurism more than a place to share information, thoughts, friendships and images. I feel like there are times when someone is posting something extremely personal, and I’m uncomfortable viewing it. Suddenly I am engaged an extremely personal conversation with someone I know very little, or only as an “acquaintance.” The level of information being imparted for all to view, is sometimes cringe worthy and deeply private.

Without warning I find myself brought up short by knowing the ins and outs of someone’s IBS, ,(irritable bowel syndrome), their divorce and hatred of the ex, or a photo of…”what is this on my back?” I wonder, is there no one else that can look at that thing growing on your back to decide what it is and more importantly how to treat it? Must I be scrolling through my timeline with my coffee, barely awake only to see a boil the size of a small bird perched on your back, gag a little and sit back and wonder..wth!

Back in the day, there was a saying, “TMI”, too much information. It is my nature to be guarded and less likely to share personal successes and failures with “virtual strangers.” Make no mistake, while we are all FB friends, we are strangers in one another’s daily lives. It’s difficult enough to be talking with someone who is bashing their ex in real time but at least, hopefully you know their back story. On FB, it’s a momentary blurt of information without context. It doesn’t account for nuances, for two sides of a story, or for questions. Instead, we’re left with judgements and I wonder, what knowledge have I gained? Is there value in knowing you hate your ex? What if I like your ex as a person?

Have we reached the point where the “likes” are the driving force behind the posts. Who liked it, who commented, who started trolling to initiate hate and discord? Who is listening?? Is anyone listening? Perhaps that is the problem. In our lives it seems things are moving so fast and now everyone has a way to gauge who is moving faster? Who is traveling, who is getting married, having babies, buying houses/businesses, going to fantastic parties and meeting amazing people? How do I measure up? Am I losing?

In a way, it sets us all up for dissatisfaction with our own lives. Why am I not getting anywhere when everyone on FB is going everywhere? How can we live our lives with gratitude and be in the moment if the moment is only there for the sake of the post? If the motivation for having the experience, is so you can post it, are we really connecting to one another? I have been out with friends and while we are hanging out having fun someone inevitably says, let’s take a picture and post it. Suddenly everyone is primping wondering if they look alright, how do I compare with everyone else and Boom…you’re completely out of the moment. Transported again through space and time as the picture is immediately posted and you pray that everyone likes it, I mean really likes it so that everyone can see you’re doing alright. Is it a validation of who we are or are we voyeurs in other people’s lives, constantly watching, trying to measure up and wondering, am I liked?

If you combine this with the unprecedented hacking of FB, I wonder if we are soaking up hate and division more than we are benefitting from the connectedness of sharing? Have we lost the ability to see beneath the surface? Are we all just creating movie posters of our lives without the story. For me as a writer, the post is the cover of the book but the richness of the person is in their stories. Without knowing the rise and fall of triumph and the agony of defeat it seems less meaningful, less authentic. Almost like we are inviting people to look at us, to judge us, only don’t look too closely. Just tell me you like what you see.

Laughing until I cry!

 

My “Ant Maureen” and me!!

 

This is me and my beloved Ant Maureen and this is the nature of our relationship hysterical laughter until we cried, trying not to pee our pants, and my aunts bellowing belly laugh that made me collapse into uncontrollably giggles. This picture sums us up perfectly and thankfully for eternity. Just looking at it makes me smile and more often than not, burst out laughing and lately it makes me cry. Well sob might be more accurate since she passed away two months ago on her late daughter’s birthday. While it may have been expected, it still drove me to my knees.

The impact she had in my life is impossible to calculate. She was a teacher, a mother, an aunt and my best friend. The person I could talk to without a filter. Without weighing each word and it’s effect. She was a safe person for me to share my demons and my dreams. My safe place to land. She softened my edges and made me empathetic and sympathetic first for myself and wisely she understood it would translate to how I treated others.

She took in misfits and strays and her easy non judgmental ways soothed lost souls who longed for acceptance and peace. Her job as a drug and alcohol counselor was her career but her calling was her ability to listen with her whole body. Leaning in, letting the words wash over her and then she would softly ask, “have you considered?”

This was her gift. Nudging me to look in different directions for different solutions. She challenged me to think deeper and to let my instinct guide me. She never judged my choices until after I’d blunder through one mishap or another. Sitting next to her as we drove all over the Northeast I’d confess my latest trials and tribulations and she would just chuckle, call me a turkey and on we would ride.

I don’t know how many miles I rode with my Ant Maureen. For over 25 years I would call her up and say let’s go for a ride. She never asked where she just said pick me up and off we would go. To nowhere and everywhere. We solved my boy troubles, life’s troubles, her troubles and we laughed until we cried. Miles of road disappeared and on we rode laughing, exploring, sharing and me slamming on the breaks to jump out and take pictures. Miles and miles of love shared in the tiny confines of my car.

I’m still adjusting to my grief. I know she’s crossed over to a better place. She’s no longer in pain, mentally and physically. Above all she’s with her beautiful and beloved children who predeceased her, Ian and Drucilla.  So my tears are for me, my loss, and my best friend. On those beautiful days or lonely overcast ones I’ll look to the sky and ask…Do you wanna go for a ride with me? The wind will shift and in the whisper of the trees I know I’ll hear, “sure let’s go!!”

Godspeed Maureen! I pray you’re home safe, whole and in the arms of your true loves. I’ll miss you everyday and hear your voice in my heart until it beats no more. I love you always. ❤️

Summer’s Here!

          Finally summer has arrived! The northeast has been pummeled with constant rain and windstorms for what seems like months. Nevertheless, my family surged over the finish line ending freshman year of high school for Noah and 6th grade for Jordan.  As I write this it really begins to hit me for the first time, I have children in high school and middle school. I mean I know that but to see it in print….

      Luckily for all of us, pre-teen angst is similar to my halftime angst. I call it halftime because it sounds better, more optimistic. Or maybe I’ve just been living with boys for too long. Middle age sounds dowdy, decrepit, and old. Like a clock slowly winding down, tick tick. Halftime sounds optimistic like there’s more of the game left to be played. There’s still time to reevaluate prior mistakes and successes, make adjustments big and small before the second half. A do over of sorts. I may be rationalizing a bit here but  a bit of self-delusion may be all I’ve got.

      Predictably, this year has been filled with the unexpected intermittent, uninvited  hot flashes, skin and body/image changes you would expect at this age. There are the inevitable mood swings, temper tantrums, irritability, interminable sleep marathons, insatiable hunger, (which can lead to tantrums, but I digress), sleep deprivation, exhaustion, talking endlessly to people who don’t seem to understand the english language, and frustration! Indecision, indifference and confusion often lead to complaints such as: “I’m bored” to “I never get to do anything fun”, and my personal favorite, “I just need time to myself.”  This daily litany and self-analysis is enough to drive a person crazy. And it’s not just about me, if you think all of that sounds beyond unbearable, the boy’s moods swings, temper tantrums and changes have been no picnic to live through either.

      Still summer is a transition and a welcome one at that. We can seclude ourselves on the deck, at the beach or tucked cozily on our beds reading (me), watching tv, playing video games, with an occasional grunt which passes for conversation, (boys). This summer I have decided to just live without a plan or a goal.  Okay decided sounds like I had a choice my sons thought otherwise.

      With the usual complaints and occasional disdain from my sons, the consensus is that: “we don’t need you to plan every minute of our day we’re older now”. Fair enough, (If only that didn’t include the constant hurrying up to wait and “oh didn’t I tell you that I need $20. and my game is 45 minutes away and I told you I need a ride and we have to pick up….Why aren’t you dressed????”). What? Nobody told me! Which is inevitably followed by the bemoaning sounds of “Oh Mom!” There is the ever-present muttering, mumbling and criticism which haunts my days and sometimes nights. Any other men/boys and I might have broken up with them by now. I mean I’m supposed to get life advice from a 15 and a 12-year-old? Yeah right, (cue eye roll). See, I’m learning.

      Since they’re so smart, I’m taking their advice. Here’s to staying loose and letting the summer unfold, teenage style. Despite the challenges of living with boys who crash into walls, spill any liquid they touch, break every glass/plate/cup we own, and don’t get me started talking about bathroom hygiene and cleanliness.,(don’t fret, a trick of the trade for teenage boys, Axe body wash, minus the body wash part), it’s gonna be a great time.

      We are living it up, enjoying life, and spending time together, mostly. We’re gonna take it easy and go where the wind takes us. It’s only half time but I like the way the first half of the game has gone so far. Here’s hoping I kick butt in the second half. 

      

 

 

 

Pondering…

Let me begin by wishing all of the Mother’s out there, a Happy Mother’s Day. I know being a mother is challenging and rewarding and exhausting and fulfilling, and overwhelming and exhilarating, and that’s all in one minute. So yeah to us! Even if you’re not a mother, congratulations if you’re  a caregiver to someone you love.

I can’t deny I love my sons beyond measure. Being their Mom is the greatest joy and the greatest test I have ever endured. I pray that when they’re in therapy talking about me, and they probably will be, they remember that I tried with all my might to be the best person/mother that I could be. I know I don’t achieve it all the time, (cue the eye roll from my sons), but I’m aware most of the time when I miss the mark. Each night I pray that I can do better and be better tomorrow. Some days I’m fabulous! Some days I bite!

I know that I have dropped out of sight lately. I needed to take some time to mull over the ever-changing landscape that is my life. I’m going to admit something that my family and friends already know, I ponder, deeply. I gather information about whatever I may be going through, the bigger the problem the longer the gathering process goes, and then I go to ground. 

I take all of the advice, solicited and unsolicited and I mull over every inch of every discussion or thought. I write but my thoughts are so jumbled that they’re not fit to share. My ability to see photographs in daily life, dries up. I turn inward and I shut down emotionally. On the outside I am functioning but on the inside it has all turned blue, dark blue. Sounds are muted, light diffused and hazy and I roll through my to do list like a mantra but my brain is quiet, like walking outside after a snowfall, cushioned.

After awhile my synapses start firing again and I reemerge things slightly out of focus, but resolved and undeterred. Recognizing that I need to put the past in perspective, let go of the incessant chatter of regret and embrace the possibilities of now. I’m through hashing and rehashing the old and am ready to turn my attention to what’s new. It’s not all roses and sunshine but the light has shifted, altered in a way that affords me the vision to see the nuances and mystique of my life. This one life that I have.

Change is hard. Ha, who doesn’t know that?! Necessary for sure. Unavoidable without a doubt. Dealing with it is the key. Inquisitiveness, self-awareness, truthfulness, and resilience are an all equal measure, the only way to rise again. Each of us handle life’s challenges in our own ways, unique to the people we are. Hopefully I’ve come through and have learned something along with the pain and sadness.

I think spring is a good time for new beginnings. I’m surrounded by renewal, rejuvenation, resilience and endurance. For me, a reminder that life moves on even when I find it necessary, no imperative, to slow it all down and pause. The earth keeps revolving and luckily my friends and family love me through the brilliant blues of a summer sky and through the abrupt ever-changing storm that arrives on the horizon and rushes through my life-like a hurricane. Destroying and restoring a new balance and order. A new flow and for a change, I’m ready. 

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Transitions!

Moving from one familiar place to another unknown and unfamiliar territory causes me angst. Even if I know the change is good for me I still find myself looking longingly over my shoulder at what should or could have been, wondering if I’ve made the right decision. Should I go back or trudge blindingly forward? 

Finally with apprehension and trepidation I  slowly turn my head and my focus to the challenges ahead. I take a deep breath, square my shoulders and I plunge on. I promise not to look back. I try not to relive only the most wonderful memories and glamorize the things I’ve left behind. I remind myself that I am moving on for a reason. I remind myself that letting go of people, places and things is very difficult for me. Often it is the absolute last resort as I am a born problem solver. I try getting over a problem, through, under, around, ….exhaustion ensues and I have to admit I’ve done all that I can. Again and again. Time to let go. To go where?

Truly it’s not the flying, plummeting, free fall that I mind so much, exactly. No, it’s the terrifying white knuckle moments right before flight that is my nemesis. I cling, shredding my nails, clutching tightly until my arms cramp, making useless and futile bargains with God in a vain attempt to forestall the inevitable…. letting go, saying goodbye. Moving on. Falling into the hollowness with no flight plan and no parachute.

Finally, I slowly loosen my death-like clutch on the past…. I release myself to the fates and to the winds of change. I will attempt to be gracious, open-minded, curious and kind. I will use this time of transition to become a better version of myself with my newfound knowledge and enlightenment. I will open my arms wide and appreciate the storm of change as the past whips by with the sound of a locomotive and the silence of transition approaches , engulfs and hopefully cradles me.

It is here my work will begin. I will land in a different place and my climb will begin anew. Ascending and trusting the Godwinks I must now rely on as if my life depended on it, because surely it does. I’m in uncharted water apprehensive and uncertain. It will be here that my new purpose and my faith will collide. Trusting that while I am uncomfortable and tentative I will prevail. I will pray for guidance and strength to trust that deep in the dark abyss of transition there is a safety net that is as yet unseen.

It is a comfort and a relief to know that I am not alone. At the very least I hope to find that I am braver than I know.