Lessons Learned and Facebook

In this time and age, I would be hard pressed to name a family member or friend that doesn’t have a Facebook account. My husband doesn’t count. Technology is not his thing and sharing personal information and opinions is not his thing either. Other than him, I cannot mention anyone else off the top of my head!!!

When about 11 years ago, my daughter convinced me to give this new Social Media outlet a try, I would have sworn it was not going to last. Well, that is how much I know. I also refused to even consider investing in it.  So much for my powers of observation. Not only is Facebook thriving, it is so influential that it will continue to be for the foreseeable future. Which proves again, what do I know???

I will be remiss not to point out that most of the time I enjoy what comes and goes and passes for information, the personal opinions, the photos of family and friends that live far and wide. The pages that post uplifting messages that somehow fit a mood, a feeling, a moment. It can be fun and informative.

Unfortunately, as the mood in the world has turn to hate and division and more and more people feel free to express those feelings, Facebook has turned into a minefield. You need to be very careful what you say and pay attention to the smallest of details when expressing an opinion, talking about your feelings on a subject or just wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Thanksgiving or Happy Easter. What pictures you want to share, what you would anyone thinks about a page you like, the quote you posted or the people you admire.

Never mind the kind of news sites you prefer, the people you are voting for or anything about a controversial public figure. Everything is black and white and you must be very careful. How exhausting!!! It seems we not only have the government censoring what we can and cannot see, write or express….now everyone you have friended on Facebook feels they should do it too.

I am not even going to mention civil discourse (a very much dead concept at the moment), or differences of opinion, I am talking about plain bullying and plain intimidation if you as much as express the notion that things can and do have two or three sides to them. “Mine, yours and the truth in the middle” is what I believe. Apparently I belong to a growing group that has learned the hard way to keep their opinions to themselves. How very sad…..it seems the only freedom of expression we are allowed is the one our critics spouse.  Both sides of any issue are guilty of this.

So, back to the lessons I have learned on Facebook. At the beginning, I joked about the four wonderful concepts that this Social Media community has taught me were: Ignore, Remove, Delete and Unsubscribe. We were provided with such choices and with cute little signs for : Like, Love, Surprise, Sadness, Anger. Seemed simple enough, not really anymore, things are now very angry, very insulting, sometimes even dangerous.

If we only want to see and want to hear what we believe, we are not improving communication among our friends and family, or the community in general. If only our opinion is true, if we only hear what we want to hear, if we only engage with people who agree with us, we are bullying everyone else into falling in line or just pack up and leave. A very sad state of affairs, especially when it is not doing any good to society as a whole.

I write a blog about things I have learned and things I am still learning, Facebook provides a wonderful platform for this.  My hope is that out there someone agrees with me and will share my posts. Never my intention to impose or to think I know better. I am not holding my breath, but will continue to do what I think is right. It gives me pleasure.

Life is short. Everyday there are new challenges we must face, new sorrows to deal with, but also new happiness to share, new experiences we want to talk about. I want to feel comfortable with my friends and family, so I can do just that. Having a Facebook account has taught me many things, the ones I mentioned here are not the best ones. Fortunately, I hold hope that the good things about this site will eventually win the day.

P.S. You have to have some rain to enjoy the rainbow: photo by my niece Ana Gregoria

 

Life is a Great Balancing Act!!!

IMG_3342One of my favorite quotes, and I think Dr. Seuss hit the nail on the head with this one. Of course, not everyone knows this. Most of us just go through life pretending that we know what we are doing, forgetting that balance is what makes our life so interesting.

Everything in life is a choice, everything depends on which one choice we make in every situation we face. There is no escaping that fact. Keeping that magical balance in which we know what to let go and what to hold on to is so simple, so important, so difficult.

These past weeks have been incredible hectic. I have had more than my usual share of situations that needed my immediate attention. Yes, we all have one or two of these challenges: from what to do about our mother’s care to what to say to our adult children without overstepping into their lives, from trying to keep in touch with friends we might have outgrown to keeping in touch with the ones that still mean a lot to us, from deciding what is really important in our everyday life to accepting the fact that we cannot possibly please everyone. Talking about balance!!!

Why balance is so important in life? Because it requires more than just picking one option or another. What you keep, what you decide to deal with needs as careful consideration as what you let go and what you just ignore.

In our younger years, we all tried to keep everything in our lives. We did not even consider letting go. Remember when even giving away something was a decision that we weighted carefully? I do remember. This did not only apply to material things, but to emotional, mental or behavioral issues as well. Ah, some of you will say, those were the days!!! Well, I have found out that indeed those were the days, the days of having too much in our plates and juggling too many relationships, emotional challenges, behaviors that were not good for us. Times have change, at least for me they have.

IMG_3333With age and maturity, I have begun to see all aspects of my life in a way that is centered on ME. This is my time. Life has giving me the chance to act as I want, to let go of what I don’t need, to keep what makes me happy, whole and centered. It’s a feeling that makes me smile sometimes and has caused me to change and acquire a new assertiveness.

In June of last year, I participated in a de-cluttering challenge. Not that I needed the idea, but it was pleasant to have company. I have done his before, many times, but it is a never-ending task. It was wonderful to have some company this time around. Letting go of all those material things left space in my home for what I really love and wanted to stay in my life. With less clutter, I appreciate what I kept more.  It has been a wonderful experience. There was another benefit, somehow the challenge is still going. The group is still putting out ideas, supporting each other’s efforts, accepting new members. Why?

Here is the simple answer. Once we let go of material things, we started letting go of emotional baggage, behavioral issues and preconceived ideas. This was the hardest part, but the most rewarding. This was when our change really started and we learned an important lesson. Life becomes simpler and more rewarding, we determine our own expectations without society or family pressure. Liberating. Of course, as with any de-cluttering process, this is a never-ending task.

Any change we introduce in our lives comes with a measure of guilt. This challenge was not an exception. The ever-present feeling that we should be paying attention to everyone around us and if we are not, then we are being selfish: guilt. For most of us women, it’s very hard to shake this feeling, but we must remember that it’s in the challenge of keeping things balanced in our lives, that we achieve a new kind of happiness. Believe it or not, we would also achieve a new kind of serenity. Everyone who knows me, must be smiling by now. I do not radiate serenity, usually, but I am learning fast. Trust me!!!

Life is a great balancing act and, finally, I have arrived at that place where I can manage without feeling guilty……most of the time!!!!! After all, this is a work in progress.

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