Gathering my thoughts: Is social media becoming like cable TV?

Outside my window:  Clouds are gathering. It's blisteringly hot out there, so I'm grateful for the hope of rain. Last summer was so lovely--light and cool--that I very nearly declared myself a fan of summer. Very nearly. This summer is heavy, humid, and hot. I am seizing those early dawn hours for all they're worth. 


Listening to: coffee shop noises. 


Clothing myself in: An arm party. I tired of my basic black Fitbit band and bought a couple of these. Then, I discovered that they don't hold quite as well as the authentic Fitbit ones do. So, I looped a bracelet with a clasp through the holes in order to give myself a back-up should the band clasp pop open. Then I thought that looked a little odd, so I added a leather bracelet. Then I wanted to tie the colors together so I added a cheap bangle I picked up at LouLou in Charlottesville while shopping for Easter treasures. And now: arm party. It's a little much for a Monday morning. 


Talking with my children about these books:  It is an extraordinarily beautiful, wonderful thing to witness my littlest thoroughly immerse herself in the world of Laura Ingalls Wilder. We have all these gorgeous picture books. Nick used to insist on no fewer than five every night before bed--for probably a year. He knew them all by heart and so did I. We've all listened to the audio versions of all the books multiple times over the years. And everyone in the house has curled up with Laura all to him or herself for at least a season. 

But Laura and me? Well, let's just say that sometimes I think Laura saved my life. I think those books in my own childhood were a kind of anchor, a window on a time that was simpler, if not kinder and gentler. Laura clarified for me the way families work, ideally. She opened up for  me a world that was safe even when it was scary. She was my role model, my sister, my best friend. I'm so not overstating all of this. I even named a baby for her and when living life with that baby wasn't to be, I thought myself ever so clever when the next baby was named for Ma, Pa, and the Pope, all in one. (And oh, how she has lived that name well!)

So, as Sarah plays with Little House paper dolls in the comfort of a suburban sunroom on a ridiculously hot June day, her Mama loses herself again in the world of Laura, this time with a much anticipated Annotated Autobiography. Dear old friend! How grateful I am to bump into you again after all these years. How happy to know that in my middle age, you come along beside me and we pick up where we left off. You are still teaching me, still pointing me in the right direction.

Thinking and thinking: Do you think that social media is beginning to feel a lot like Cable TV? As I scroll through Facebook or Twitter, the headlines from posted links are nearly always a bit sensational. They play upon our impulses to want to know more, to want to be the first to have and share information, and to be entertained. Then, there are just the "regular people" status updates. They are a lot like edited "reality" TV shows, I think, showing parts and portions of ordinary life made a little extraordinary in the framing. What I've noticed most though is my reaction to it all.

Seven or so years ago, before the current president was elected the first time, I discovered talk radio. Prior to that time, all my drive time in the afternoon rush hours was spent listening to children's CDs and audiobooks. For some reason, late that summer, I started listening to the pundits. They fairly screeched worrisome news and they played the same distressing soundbites over and over. And the banter. It was the banter that really got to me. Back and forth, snark level rising all the while. it seemed like the whole point was to entertain with arguing. No longer was it about information.  At home, out of the car and away from the radio, I found myself bantering, even if just in my head. The manner of being carried over, just as a style of speaking invades my workaday world when I listen to a good book. Only this one got "booster shots" on a daily basis. One evening about a month after I'd begun my daily foray into the world of politics on radio, I found myself extraordinarily distressed. I've always loved politics, been a bit of a newshound, and engaged in DC life in real life. (I was even a Capitol Hill intern, before calling oneself that made people snicker.) I couldn't figure out why I was troubled when talk radio entered my previously serene driving time. My husband nailed it. "I think," he said, "you're way too sensitive for talk radio these days." And he was right. Later that fall, I would find myself on complete bed rest and I would be introduced, for the first time, to cable TV (news and reality shows). For me, a very bad idea. Too sensitive for that, too. So, I watched hours of cooking shows for weeks before my baby was born ,because the news shows made my heart rate doing alarming things. 

That brings me to social media. Here's what I see: It's like news and reality shows mixed together in one long 24/7 airing of the worst of us. Every once in awhile, there's a nugget of good there and that keeps us coming back, ever hopeful for the good nugget. Mostly, though, it's bad. And we banter! It seems like every other person (at least) really just wants to fill time with an argument. I can post a picture of clear summer sky and say, "Oh how blue the canvas is today" and someone will come along and tell me, "You know, it's not really blue. Scientifically speaking...." What the heck? Do we really need to quibble every little thing? Is that just the nature of some people and those are the loudest voices? And then, I click it closed, and the whole quibbling, snarky thing follows me around in my head.

Sadly, in the last year, social media has become increasingly divisive where the Church is concerned, too. I'm not ready to throw out the baby with the bath water, but I am becoming very aware that social media takes meticulous, thoughtful curating to keep it from being the near (or immediate) occasion of sin. We cannot be casual users of the Internet, not at all.


“I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.”
— ~Audrey Hepburn


Carefully Cultivating Rhythm: Are you a Sunday planner or a Monday planner? I think most systems assume a chunk of time on a Sunday to plot and plan for the week ahead, making to-do lists and meal plans and double-checking appointments. That doesn't seem to work too well for me. I've decided (and accepted) that I am a Monday planner. These daybooks are part of my Monday framing for the week and so is a settled session with my paper planner first thing Monday morning. That means, of course, that if something comes along in the planning that takes significant time or attention, I could be in trouble when all my people awaken and expect Monday to happen in person and on time. I need to be good to go when they are. Still, it's worth popping out of bed early. I think more clearly on a Monday morning than I do late Sunday afternoon. But that means these daybooks will continue to go up on Tuesdays instead of Monday, because really, I can't write them until my Monday writing time. Works for me..

Creating By Hand:  Kristin is out of town this week. If I'm going to sew, it's going to happen without her. Also, Sarah Annie has told us all we can no longer refer to room with all the windows off the kitchen where her art supplies and many toys, books, and manipulatives are stored as "the sunroom." Henceforth, we are to call it "Sarah's Studio." And she might have been heavily influenced by Pinterest when describing her vision for the room. Whatever it takes to get her to clean up the mess...

Learning Lessons In: Marriage. This has been a challenging season. We are spending nearly as much time apart as we did the year we were engaged and living in different towns. It's ridiculous, really, what life keeps throwing at us. Just when we think we have all the details worked out, something changes; something switches things up. We are learning to lean in together. To figure it out together. To stop fighting the waves and to instead to ride them out. Together. Even long distance. These are advanced marriage skills, for sure. 


Encouraging learning in: Still focusing on the basics this summer. I was invited to try out K5 Learning. We're just getting settled and looking at the results from assessments, so I'm not sure what to tell you about it yet, but I'm hopeful.


Keeping house: I have committed to a date and time for a graduation party. Let the house and yard prep begin. Oh! And yesterday, when we went together to Home Depot to by new filters for the air conditioner, my husband actually told the sales guy that our house is "practically immaculate." It is absolutely is not, but for that one brief, shining moment, I reveled in the idea that he even thought he could say that;-).

Crafting in the kitchen: After a long hiatus, I've found my cooking mojo again. I am not a natural paleo cook. I don't think bacon is a food group and I kind of gag when meat is on the menu again. So, I'm back to this kind of cooking and the plates are pretty and creative and beautiful and tasty and healthy. Let's just say this morning there was spinach in my husband's coffee and he was happy to have it. That's some serious winning, there, folks. 

To be fit and happy: I've repurposed one of those several Fitbits I bought last summer and made it my own. (I shall not divulge whose it was previously.) I started back at Day 1 of Couch-to-5K and I downloaded a great new novel to listen to for 11+ hours. I already don't want that book to end. It worked. I'm motivated to get up and out of bed every morning. I'm listening again and I'm reveling in the morning peace. And I'm running. This time, I know better where this is all going. I need to run. It really does help keep me sane. But I also need to remember that too much of a good thing isn't a good thing for me. Ever. 

Giving thanks: Mike and I were talking recently about how the decision to stay in northern Virginia when we first got married has played out over the last 28 years. We stayed here because family was here. Neither of us really are typical "NoVa types." Mike travels a lot and he knows lots of places he can see himself liking better than we like here. I travel a lot, but mostly only to one place. And I know that there suits me better than any place else in the world. We talked about how we made the decision to stay in northern Virginia because of our extended family. Then, in a poetic God move, Patrick made the decision to go to Charlottesville for the same reason. And God has smoothed all the bumpy seams out in a pretty tapestry of here and there. Both decisions--the one made 28 years ago and the one made 3 years ago--have impacted the lives of far more people than ones who made the choice. It's kind of awe-inspiring--and definitely gratitude inspiring-- to see how it's all worked together for the good.

Loving the moments: when I stop and notice the people blessing the lives of my teens and twenties. Good, good people. I'm praying so hard for all of them. 

Living the Liturgy: I'm glad to be writing Lord, Hear Our Prayer again. Kristin nudged me that way. Now, it's my favorite writing session of the week. 

Have you seen this week's Summer of the Psalms free printable? It's over at House Unseen. It's gorgeous and Dweeja's very brief reflection brought tears to my eyes. You just know she gets it.. So, my meditation for the week is this:

Print it and frame it or make a screensaver or wallpaper of it. You can see Cari's pick right here and  mine is here. Visit Kristin each week to see the whole collection posted at Vine of Plenty. 


Planning for the week ahead: This week is going to challenge us, for sure. Rehearsals and recitals, homecomings and leave-takings, graduation parties and final performances. 


Final performances. I've staunchly not allowed my mind to go there, to contemplate even for a moment that Mary Beth will dance her last recital this weekend. I've not let myself turn over in my head the whole idea that never again will all four of my daughters be in the same show. Not let myself dwell on how magical it has been for her to be both student and teacher at the same studio. Nope. Not going there. 

Dang. Nothing like crying in Starbucks.