Sunday, January 29, 2017

Mama A's Playground Rules for Grownups.

My darlings and sweet peeps,

Mama A's back from a slightly longer than expected absence on the old internets.  I had hoped that you would be behaving in my absence, but I've come to see that many of you have really played into the whole "when the cat's away" theory and have run amuck.  What is most upsetting is that I'm peering at your social media accounts and feeling like I'm having to peel bodies apart from each other after a scuffle on the playground.  You are disheveled and sweaty and red all over in anger and it's apparent from your ALL CAPS and EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!!!! that you have a lot you still need to say to the world.

Luckily, Mama A is schooled up on situations like this and (using my best classroom management phrases) your behavior indicates to/shows me that it is time to review our basic expectations for communication with others on the social media playground:

1.  Speaking on social media is like speaking into a megaphone on the top of the jungle gym.  Sometimes people want you to get down off of the top so others can have a turn.  Your family loves it when you post adorable photos of kids doing kid-things.  We all love an adorable animal doing adorable animal things.  But if you post political statements on social media, the world is going to respond.  If you would not stand up on a table and shout these statements in a mall, then please don't post them on social media if your friends extend beyond your family and immediate circle of friends.  If you would not pass out paper copies of highly-opinionated and articles to strangers and acquaintances, then think very carefully before you share.  

2.  You are not the Queen B.  Stop assuming the entire world thinks like you, or that you are going to open the eyes of the masses with your enlightening post.  You are not that important.  I hate to be the one that breaks that to you, sweet cheeks, but someone needs to let you know.

3.  Nobody likes a perpetually Negative Nelly nor an Angry Andy.  There are a lot of negative and angry people, and there are a lot of people who don't know exactly how to respond to all of the angry people.  And a lack of response does not indicate that people do not care--perhaps they are taking a little longer to process.  Or perhaps they are keeping their thoughts to themselves because you've yelled at them, too.

4.  If you want to have a friend, you need to be a friend.  If you only want friends who are exactly like you, then you are not promoting friendship.  Listen to the people who have similar and different ideas from you.  Try to understand someone else's point of view and then decide if you agree.  And if you disagree, don't be a jerk.  Sometimes Mama A strongly disagrees with others and mentally punches them in the face, but she would never do that in real life because jail is not fun.

5.  Mean girls (and boys) sometimes grow up to be nice girls (and boys).  And sometimes mean kids grow up to be mean adults.  They just get bigger and louder without a someone keeping them in check.  It's a sad reality.  Look for fun friends who make you smile and let you have opinions and treat you nicely and share snacks with you.    

6.  You cannot expect everyone to stop what they are doing and come play a game with you immediately.  Everyone knows that unless you're the coach with a whistle, most of the time you have to ask someone to come play with you.  And they are allowed to say yes and they are allowed to say no.  If you keep asking people and no one comes to play with you, then perhaps you need to change your approach.  Maybe it's the way you are asking.  Maybe it's because no one agrees that Duck Duck Goose is more fun than Red Rover.  If you're not getting the response you want, maybe it's you after all.

And, for the love of all things fluffy, stop tattling about it.  
I can't make someone be friends with you.   

7.  You build a team one friend at a time.  If you stand and yell in the middle of the playground, then very few people are going to respond.  But if you gather friends and look like you are having a good time, and you encourage others to join when they ask to play, then you will slowly make a difference on the playground.

8.  If you all gang up on someone because that person thinks differently then you, then you've become bullies.

9.  Take turns on the swings.  Sometimes you will speak, and sometimes you will listen.  Figure out when it's the appropriate time.  If you try to push someone when they are far away and high in the air, most likely you're going to get kicked in the face.  But if they are close to you, they will appreciate the assistance and will return to you for more.

10.  Share your snacks.  Friendship starts when we help others with basic needs.  Look around you and do the next nice thing for the person in close proximity.  Share your chips, pick them up when they fall, hold their hands, and don't dump them just because they disagree about the best sports team or political party. #dukestinks #sorry #notreallysorry

My loves, it's really simple.  Most people come to social media to socialize and some of you are using it as a platform--which is totally your prerogative.  But if you want people to listen to your platform, you need to change the delivery of your message.  Check your tone.  Check your "facts" and articles and statements before you post them.

And if you find that someone is consistently making you all hot and bothered with their status updates, then just "unfollow" them before things get out of hand.  You don't have to stop being friends with someone and cut them off completely because you disagree.  Someone is not the enemy if they have a different opinion.  I know good people on all sides of the playground.  We don't always disagree, but that doesn't mean I should love them any less.

My darlings, let's just work together to create a more respectful social media playground.  Let's admit that the past is in the past and it's time to move forward.  Let's choose to stop pushing people down when we're mad and let's sit down next to each other and discuss these very, very serious issues like reasonable adults.  Sometimes that means we're going to have to get off of the digital playground and deal with this in old-fashioned ways.

We cannot always undo what has been done, but we can choose to make today and tomorrow better with our actions and responses.

Love and smooches,

Mama A.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year

After the presents are finally unwrapped.  
After the food has been prepared, presented, and devoured. 
After the house limps its way back to normal under the few remaining presents and scraps of paper and tape and some boxes and stuff that needs to find new homes. 
When you've shopped the day-after sales and were mildly disappointed that all you found were exactly two rolls of paper for next year (must. replenish. pink. paper. for. the. girls.) 
When you've hugged necks of family far and near and the house is quiet once again. 

Then you look at the new year square in the eyes and wonder what it holds in store for you.  

Maybe this new year holds something exciting in store for you.  

A new job, a new baby, a new home, a new relationship, a new marriage. 

Maybe this will be YOUR year--the year that everything finally works for you.  Maybe this year holds the keys to your future.  Maybe this will be the year that everything finally works together and you repair what was broken. 

Maybe this new year is your breath of fresh air.  

Or, maybe this year will be the year that the wind is knocked right out of your lungs.  Maybe this year holds the diagnosis, the loss of a loved one, the end of a relationship, the end of a job opportunity.  Maybe this is the year you will look back and want to erase.  

Maybe this will be the year that all hell breaks loose. 

Sometimes it can be very scary looking at the unknown.  Wondering if you will choose the best and right things.  I often concern myself with the "what ifs" and can make myself sick with worry.  I know in my deepest heart that I cannot control the future.  I know that I can only take each situation as it comes.  And I know that worrying will not add one more minute to my life.  

I know all of these answers and can recite them to anyone else who needs them at a moment's notice. 

But for me? 

I'm working on convincing my head that they are true for all of us.  

Including myself. 

I don't know what my future holds.  I don't know which paths my family will take this year.  I have no idea what's going to happen this afternoon, let alone this spring.  I don't know if we will all be standing around together this time next year.  Life has a funny way of happening every single day.  

But, I do know Who holds my future.  And I do know that He is in control.  And I do know that it's a lot easier if I let Him hold on to my plans and my future rather than hastily working on them with my worried mind.  

I think about some upcoming things my family will face this year.  I already know some bills that will need to be paid.  I already know some challenges we will face.  I also know to expect the unexpected. 

However, instead of filling my mind with worry and uncertainty and fears, I'm planning to repeat the promises I readily believe for others and start believing them to be true for myself.  

Matthew 6:34: Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. (The Message)

reposted from the archives

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Lackluster reality.

The holidays were hectic around my neck of the woods this year.  Between being run ragged trying to manage a bustling calendar of events and life happening full-throttle, and several postal delivery delays, and not being on top of my present-game, I found myself merely days before Christmas frantically doing some last minute shopping.  I had a long list of names and was running low on inspiration, and several stores were closed (I'm looking at you, Harry & David) or had moved on and put away all of their Christmas items several days before the actual holiday (cough cough, Restoration Hardware).

I was burned out and tired and ready to be back home.  

Christmas is my most favorite, but expectation was getting on my nerves this year.    

I don't know about you, but when I'm exhausted, shame and judgement tend to creep around my shoulders, whispering into my ears with forked tongues and pushing down all the joy in my life.  They love to remind me how I'm not measuring up again--words I've said, actions I've taken, things I should have done better--highlighting all of my failures and weak attempts, and squashing my peace.  

Maybe you're feeling the sting of a holiday that didn't quite measure up, too.  Maybe your family is experiencing some major changes--moving into a new house or town.  A loved one is deployed.  Or physical issues and surgeries have resulted in putting your holiday season on hold.  Having a baby or preparing to send your baby to college.  Saying goodbye to loved ones, or dealing with the loss of those who have recently passed away.  Perhaps you've had some issues at work, or you're desperate for new employment.  Maybe you are having a spat with a friend or family member.

Maybe you are dealing with a major catastrophe--I know in my own corner of the world we know people who have been diagnosed with cancer and passed away in a matter of days, friends who have lost their 4th immediate family member this year, and friends who lost their home in a fire days before Christmas.  

They don't make those sorts of greeting cards for the holiday season.  

So what do we do when our lives feel like my Christmas tree--a little dark in the middle because some of my twinkling lights have also decided they are done with this season? 

I'm not sure.  

I've spent my recent days low and quiet at my house, anxious to regain order.  I've been gentle to my body and tried to eat, sleep, hydrate, and move more.  I've slept in and tried to take it easier than usual--being thankful for a job that allows me a decent break around the holidays.  My soul has been itching for creative release, but the words have been slow to come so I've been reading words that inspire.  I'm slowly transitioning my home with winter decorations because hygge and Joanna Gaines are my favorite styles.  I'm listening to music and drinking evening cups of decaf and quieting my heart.   

I can't take care of the people around me if I can't take care of myself.  I need these little small victories of getting through that entire load of laundry and running the miles on the treadmill and organizing one drawer of chaos.  I need those small success stories in my days because I can't always fix the major issues all around me.  

I cling to the words of Isaiah during the holiday season, his words reminding us of the promise of a Savior who will fix this hurting world.  I cry when those words are read aloud because this weary world has been hurting for such a very long time.  I find solidarity in the people of Israel, desperate for Someone to save them from the hardness of life.  They were searching for something, too--and the first Christmas didn't meet their expectations, either.  

They were hoping for a King and got a baby.  

We know now that this Baby saved the world, but we have the luxury of hindsight.  But we don't have hindsight when we're dealing with the present--we want remission but we get a funeral.  We want resolution, but we endure hot tempers.  We imagine greatness and are given a life-sized lump of coal.  

These days shall pass, and one day we will look back upon these times and have the ability to understand why and how this season will be used for His good.  We will understand why weary hearts have endured such pain.  We will see how our stories have been woven together in such a way, much like the Old Testament leads to the Resurrection.  

This is the Truth we must cling to in this season of lackluster reality.  

For yonder breaks, a new and glorious morn. . .



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