Is it Imperative?

I need help. I feel like I waste too much time with nonsense. I am far from over the top on my social media addiction, but boy, do I feel hooked at times. I often feel a low-level bleh feeling about my time spent mindlessly scanning through Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or Amazon. It’s a habit and I don’t like it. Maybe like most folks, I have a hard time balancing healthy issues (i.e. a bit of chocolate here and there, or checking in on Facebook to see what’s going on with my friends) with sometimes wasting what could be considered precious time in the day. I know I sound like I spend hours a day on social media and in reality I’m not even close to that, but my guilt-tripping brain makes me feel like I am. Just that minute here and there during the day or the time warps that suck me in when I have more open time at home.The bottom line: I feel like I waste time that makes me feel yuck and I want to do something about it.

The big question that popped into my brain just a few days ago was, “Is it imperative?” Is it imperative that I sign in to Facebook right now? Do I really need to skim pictures on Instagram? Is it absolutely necessary right now that I look for a new watchband to repair my 1992 Swatch watch (That was yesterday’s time fart. Did I just make that up? Time fart?)? I’ve spent a great deal of time debating over whether I just cancel my social media accounts altogether. It’s very tempting and I think overall I would really like it because I have a far-fetched dream that I would then live like Anne of Green Gables and spend lots of time frolicking in the yard amongst the rosebushes, but I digress. What about everything I would miss? My cousins from all over the country, high school friends, prayer requests, former students graduating…I also think there are many avenues of sharing love, compassion, and the hope of Christ via social media. Plus, there are funny cat videos.

My biggest guilt waves come at me when I’m trying to “multi-task” whilst with my kids. I want to kick myself when I’m looking on Pinterest (that I can rationalize in a heartbeat because it’s re: school lesson plans, dinner, etc.) or my neighbor’s dog pics on FB when I could be looking at my stinking kids! Have you seen my kids? They’re great! and funny! and as every human being that’s ever had a child tells me, this time goes by in a flash! What a cliché, but so very true. I want to squeeze them and not let them get any bigger (well, maybe just big enough for my littlest one to get out of diapers…)

Now I know I need to be realistic here and recognize that there are numerous times I can and need to (without guilt!) multi-task and have my face in front of the screen. But, I can be more aware and try to cut back on the wasteful time. I go back to my main question, “Is it imperative?” Sometimes, yes, and other times I can wait until after my kids are asleep to get a fix of social media, or even more likely, I don’t need to be on the computer in the first place. My book pile is there waiting for me. My husband is full of funny-ish jokes. Lots of living to be had and I’m bound and determined to live it more actively.

Elderly Woes

Our dog, Millie Sue, has a gray beard. She’s skinny and lumpy. She’s become even more skiddish in her old age and barks incessantly to be let in to only want to go back out again in order to escape the terrors of a toddler wanting to squeal and grab her tail. We jokingly tell the story of how Millie joined our family when after a fun day of boating and possibly a beer or two, an offer was made to take one of several puppies from a litter down the street. My parents and a friend were taking one, so why not me, too? I was a grown up, newly married living in my own home and knew we could handle the challenges of puppyhood. I was warned of potty training, household destruction, and the rest, and we certainly had our fair share of ripped carpet and chewed shoes. However, what no one mentioned or warned us about was the elderly phase. 

The same goes for us humans. It stinks getting older. Moving from childhood to adulthood is difficult with the numerous stresses of responsibility (hello to a handful of my high school classmates considering back surgery!), but nothing seems to compare to the last phase of life. Mind you, I’m not yet 40 and God-willing, have plenty of phases left to experience, but I’ve been on the caretaker end and have observed other families struggle through it. It’s frightening to think about. I have recently watched an elder of mine struggle with physical pains, memory loss and it has left them emotionally overwhelmed at times. They were once incredibly vibrant and now feeling helpless and frightened. I know this is not the case with all folks reaching the end phase of life, but so many that I’ve seen have faced difficulties I imagine they never expected to endure. 

This collection of beautiful photography art reminds us that all of our elders were young, lively, and lovely at one point in their life. It reminds me of how much there is to learn from them if we would just sit and make the time to listen. My grandmother, my daughter’s namesake, just passed away in January and what I’ve thought of the most is how much I wish I’d asked more questions. It makes me want to slow down and pay attention to our older generation. Although I carry my manners with me in most situations and am respectful,  sometimes I’ve been guilty of feeling frustrated by a slow driver/ slow grocery cart cruiser and have heard myself talking both louder and slower to elderly folk (as we stereotypically do with those who don’t have English as their first language) as though they’re children. How selfish can I be? What is so important in my life that I need to be rushing and feeling irritated? How little I truly know in comparison to many who have lived a full life. Thankfully, I have grown some in my awareness of this issue over the last few years and try to make a point to meet eyes with the slow grocery cart drivers. As is the case with every human being we pass, what are they going through? Are they lonely? 

 I wonder if those in the last phase of life are reflective of all they’ve experienced and look at us in pity or frustration? What would they have done differently if they could do it all again? How did they manage to work through some of the more challenging hurdles of life? These are the questions we could all ask. We will not live forever and will all meet our time in life that forces us to slow down or lose a reliable physical and mental level of health. I want to be a great deal more respectful of our elders; treat them with kindness and patience and love them. Ask them questions and seek advice. Join me in slowing down and start looking at the silver-haired folks you run into as deep wells of experience and knowledge. 

Do you believe in life after love?

Why I titled this post with a line from one of Cher’s songs, I’ll never know. It’s just what has been in my mind for a few days now as I’ve thought of this topic. Seeing that no one really consistently reads this blog except for my husband, I can get away with things like that. This post’s theme is a “religious” one, which may be why the song lyric came to mind; except with the word “death” as the last word. Get it? “Do you believe in life after death?” (sung like Cher) Is it now singing in your mind?

As I’ve shared before on my previous abortion post, I tend to shy away from hot topics and highly controversial issues on social media. Facebook can be an obnoxious collection of posts, articles, & comments that I really assume not many people pay attention to; especially when it argues your own beliefs, but sometimes I feel lead to add my two cents. I’m not scared to per say, but don’t want to give someone a reason not to like me (which I tend to care about more than I should).

A Facebook friend recently posted this article. It’s titled, “How Secular Family Values Stack Up” and focuses on a growing American demographic that include families raising kids without religion. The research shows that the children from these families generally have moral values intact and not any less than that of a religious-based family. This group demographic refer to themselves as “Nones” as they believe in “nothing in particular”. The article goes on to show that a significant number of these families are as close, if not closer, to their children and passionately provide moral direction and were goal-oriented. A reference to the “Golden Rule” was mentioned as one common, simple principle. All of that information makes complete sense and does not surprise me in the least. There are genuinely good, beautiful, and well-adjusted kids being raised by loving, supportive, and nurturing parents and they are coming from both secular and faith-based families. It’s a fact.

 It seems to me that America is becoming more nonreligious by the minute and less likely to cling to an often-considered archaic, legalistic, sometimes seemingly close-minded, systematic type of crutch like Christianity. To a lot of circles, Christianity in particular, is not appealing and certainly not on trend. Most Christians do not believe homosexuality is approved, are not fans of women’s right to choose abortion, and are not generally open-minded towards other religions of the world. Christianity seems to be at the bottom of an uphill battle with the ways in which it has been typecasted for so long. If you are open-minded and a free-thinker, why would you be weighed down by religion and furthermore, why would you raise your kids under the confines of such a belief system? It generally goes against what is roaring these days, and that is one’s freedom to express themselves and live for today. Seek happiness. YOLO mentality. I get that big time. Sometimes it seems super appealing to me to throw caution to the wind and do whatever the heck I want; to live life freely and not think of anything but the here and now. Not that a Christian lifestyle doesn’t allow freedom (because that is essentially what the Gospel does give), but it’s a different type of freedom.

A problem I see with the referenced article is that there is so much more to someone’s faith than just checking off the box of “religion”. I am personally a believer in Christ, but I came to that decision after much digging and doubt. I mentally debated a lot of the aforementioned issues on Christianity and my natural stubbornness encouraged me to not simply lie down and believe something just because it’s what I’m supposed to do. I hope to never raise my kids to just have a “religion”, but rather encourage them to think on all the evidence for and against a Creator and know why they believe what they believe. The article seems to dismiss the fact that a “Nones” family may be subconsciously encouraging their children to actually not be free-thinkers and open-minded, but rather the opposite, if “religion” (as it tends to be stereotyped) is dismissed as illogical or unworthy of researching. Which leads me to what I’ll be writing in my next post…why I believe what I believe.

Wherever you lie on the spectrum of faith, be anything but ignorant. Research and know what you believe (and give your children the gift of true open-mindedness to explore all avenues, no matter what you may declare as truth).

You’ve Got a Friend in Me

As I soon approach my 37th birthday, I’ve begun to recognize my weaknesses a lot easier than ever before. One of those areas that I have taken for granted and now seems blaringly obvious, is my struggle in meeting and making new friends. I grew up in the same town and maintained friendships from pre-k through high school graduation! It was easy and safe (besides the usual drama of friendships growing up). I am still in contact with a handful of those wonderful girlfriends and had some as a part of my wedding party, but due to distance and busyness of life, they are no longer the “regulars”.

Even beginning college, away from home for the first time and in a whole new world, I was able to pal up with my roommate and sorority sisters fairly easily and now still call them dear friends. It was easier then. Maybe we weren’t set in our ways or too comfortable and that allowed us the bravery to reach out and connect. Maybe it’s because we weren’t as busy with marriage, housekeeping, and raising kids. My college friends, affectionately self-proclaimed  the “Fab 4”, are all doing life, too, and although they will always be my “forever friends”, they are no longer my “everyday friends” that I currently crave and miss.

Maybe it’s because I’m a creature of comfort and have always relied on my friendships and expected they’d always be a part of things, that I took them for granted. As I thought it was supposed to get easier as I age, my own insecurities actually increased as I worked through my great struggles with anxiety (shame, depression, worry, guilt) over the years. This caused me to pull away and shut down and as a result, damage connections with others. One particular friendship, my rock and BFF, very slowly changed because of my pulling away and as we changed, we did so in seemingly different directions. It happens. It’s life and I know that. But it doesn’t make it any easier and I find myself still mourning a reliable friendship that I thought would always be what it was.

So, here I am now and seeing just how tough it can be to be a big girl in adult life trying to make new friends. I’m naturally shy. I despise small talk and feel like a bumbling idiot at times. I’ve always known this, but up until recently, I did not see how it affects this task of pushing myself to meet others. I have recently been in numerous settings, i.e. baby class, school-related meetings, etc., and realized that I can do all the smiling I want (which I try to overcompensate with because I’ve always been well aware that I may come across snotty, when in fact, I’m just shy!), but that’s not going to get me engaged in conversation or moving to the next base in “mom dating”. I’m referring to a book I’m in the middle of reading called, Women are Scary, The Totally Awkward Adventures of Finding Mom Friends by Melanie Dale. It is spot on and is really what has given me a kick in the pants to recognize my need to step it up and get out of my comfort zone. My “kindred spirit” as Anne Shirley would call it, isn’t going to necessarily knock on my door and want to hang out.

Speaking of “kindred spirits”, another issue I need to address is my high expectations for what these friendships will be like. With a friend, and like I do still have with one or two of my “forever friends”, I crave ease and safety. I want a giggle partner that gets me. I want to play together fairly regularly and share common interests (or learn new ones from one another!). Am I signing myself up for the friend version of The Bachelorette? Are these realistic expectations? I don’t know. What I do know is that I’m determined to kick it up a notch and try to reach out more with the other moms, my co-workers, neighbors. I can push myself to ask them questions and just practice being a good listener. That’s enough for now and if anything, it will hopefully give me just the right amount of a confidence to be brave!

Abortion, abortion, abortion!

Abortion, abortion, abortion! There. I said it. I’m fascinated that this word, which my own vocabulary has been devoid of for many years (since it’s a hot topic), is now out and about and even posted on my Facebook page. I would have never thought I’d get the guts to publicly voice my changing opinion on the matter. But I have. I actually felt I had no choice. While growing up and becoming an adult, I would call myself pro-choice. I agreed with my mother, who has been very active and supportive of Planned Parenthood, that it was up to the individual woman what they do with their body. I didn’t think much further on it. In fact, I did not feel any of the emotional tugs when friends or others would use phrases like, “killing babies” or would support their local pregnancy centers. I was never against those programs because they did great things and loved young women going through difficult times, but I was not in support of them. To be quite honest, I did not want to be tied in with stereotypical “ultra-conservative Baptists” with their pro-life platform.

As I worked my way through my late twenties and early thirties, my faith in God formed and took root (not without great struggle as I crawled my way through hardship as noted on previous posts). I also gave birth to my son and began hearing more from Psalm 139. I never shifted to pro-life, but stayed neutral and what I thought was “open-minded”. However, during the summer of 2014, I had a personal event that altered my perspective of what goes on inside a woman’s pregnancy.  I made a trip to the ER while 17 weeks pregnant with complications. I remember being alone in the middle of the night and whispering to the little baby in my belly; hoping and praying for everything to be ok and dreading the idea of having to see my baby if I were to miscarry. I knew that it looked like a tiny growing human in my body and the idea of seeing it lifeless would have been overwhelming. Fast forward to 8 months ago when I gave birth to that sweet little girl that has brightened our life. I now reflect back to that night in the ER and realize that it was her in there; moving and growing. I had already given birth to my son 7 years ago, but this experience shed a new light on it for me.

Then the videos started coming out on Planned Parenthood. My first thought when I saw the headline was that it was probably an over-zealous pro-life group trying to smash abortion supporters. Then I watched. My stomach tightened and my heart fell because all I could think about was my little baby girl in my belly last summer. I couldn’t even watch the whole first video. I watched some of the videos to follow and heard myself saying, “What are we doing!?!” I want to cry out thinking about what is actually happening during an abortion. And I never saw it like that! How many people have been blind to the reality of what really happens? Yes, the selling of body parts seems a bit alarming and needs investigation, but there is more from this exposure that has much greater value and that is the light that has been turned on that has people (like me!) talking about abortion in a different way. Teenager? In college and don’t want to mess up life plans? Already have a couple kids and don’t want anymore or can’t afford it? No longer can we see it as an easy way out if it just doesn’t fit into our lifestyle. Blind to its realities, we act as though it’s no big deal!

You may be one that can relate to my previous view of abortion: “should be up to the woman”, “it’s not even a real baby”, etc. You may have been a bit grossed out by the first video, but have avoided the remaining videos and chalked it up as a distorted video by an crazy group of right-wingers. No matter what comes of the investigation on PP and regardless of whether they have been illegally selling the body parts, we have no choice but to see abortion as what it is: ripping up, sucking out, and destroying a tiny human life. Those are not eye-rolling, dramatic verbs I just used; they are fact. I just never knew it before and now I have no excuse. I will now pray for others to see it; that the blinders will also fall from their eyes and that this will cease to be common practice. I will also pray for the women (some of whom I know and could have easily been me, too) that have had abortions because now their own hearts may be feeling the heavy burden of that choice in a whole new way. If we have put our trust in Him, God forgives us, loves us, and has compassion on us. How do you play a part on this issue? What can you think, pray, or do?

It’s bubblin’…

If you have kids, you know what feeling I’m talking about: The grit your teeth, bubbling joy, want to squeeze them and/or kiss them to pieces feeling. Wow! Sometimes I can’t even handle how cute and amazing my little boy is to me. His serious face, joyful smiles, dimples, crazy hair, squealing, and even stinky booty make my heart sing. Cheesy, yes, but honest truth. I love that God gave us the ability to love and be loved. What an amazing bit of evidence to prove there’s a mighty God in charge. Relationships; they’re so powerful.

Here’s my encouragement to you: Grab a hand, hug a neck, kiss a cheek and look someone in the eyes to tell them how much you love them or how you value them. Feel the nudge and take advantage of it when you want to share that bubbling joy inside. It feels so good, doesn’t it? I wish all of life felt so good, but crappy moments can, if we let them, make the beautiful moments that much more intense.

Treasures

What treasures there are from my textured past! I can pull from my life and find such interesting relationships; most can bring a smile to my face and some probably make me cringe. I love the idea that each and every interaction we have in life is on purpose. That we can influence someone and play a part in their story, good or bad, is fascinating.

Through Facebook, I’ve recently come across my summer camp counselor that had a major impact on my faith in God. She was beautiful to me and I’m thrilled to have found her again. I also found the cute face of my 5th grade boyfriend! My mom saved a Valentine’s Day card that he gave me 🙂 Technology has certainly aided in keeping in touch with people from ages ago. My husband is anti-MySpace, but I think there’s lots of fun to be had and lots of memories to recall through those online outlets.

The same thing goes with this Blogging idea. What a fun and interesting way to understand someone. My friend Courtney shares her life as a photographer and as a mother to a little one with CF. I’m encouraged by her and often times inspired. I’m glad she and so many others are part of my story. God is an amazing author.

Hello world!

It’s me! Emily! What an opportunity to write about the random thoughts that often pop into my head. I love this idea of blogging; that anyone and most likely no one will read my obscure thoughts…could be interesting and oh so very boring.

My title, “Life is so curious…” isn’t it though? The whole concept…people just out there “living”; for what? We wake, do our daily requirements, have relationships with others, strive to gain more and more…for what? I’m a Christian and believe there’s a specific purpose to all of it, but what about those who don’t think much of a Creator? Whatcha doin’ in this life? SOO many brains in this world that are thinking, plotting, stewing…

I’m a new mommy and hope my little one tends to have more of his daddy’s brain overall, but I do hope to give him a bit of my curious brain, too…I want him to wonder and question all that goes on here so that he can gain confidence in a purpose for it all. It’s so curious…a true combo platter of beauty and strife. Not what was intended, but worth living, that’s for sure.