The Inbox is Always Open

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I wrote a blog post last week about unconditional love. I wrote it about myself and my own unique journey in life, because all anyone can truly know intimately is our own stories.

I received dozens of personal messages in response, both from people that I know and people that I don’t. It was the biggest number of messages I’ve ever gotten about a blog post.

All but one of the messages were people telling me how much my words helped them. People came forward and shared their own stories with me about their journeys with family and friends and spouses, and about how they were trying to find love without a “but” attached to it. I will always honor that trust and I feel humbled when I can create a safe place for those needing to tell their truths.

Two of those messages were from people who wanted to tell me that they were touched by my post, but couldn’t comment publicly for fear that some of their friends may de-friend them if they supported what I wrote. They specifically asked me to remain silent about their contact with me. This always hits home with me, because I’ve been told to “be careful” and “not talk like that, or else” for my whole life. As if my own organic words and thoughts and opinions aren’t valid enough to share. Or are inherently dangerous somehow.

Because of this, it has been a real work in progress for me to even find my voice. The messages I received from those who can’t yet speak publicly remind me vividly of when I was not allowed a voice, at least not one that disagreed with anyone.

But when I write from my heart, almost inevitably a message shows up from someone that I don’t know, or some ex or old friend that I haven’t seen in years, wanting to tell me how mean and cruel and spiteful I am. And to point out the ways that I have hurt them. Because they are quite sure that what I wrote was a direct attack on them personally.

If I look at the big picture and take a helicopter view, or just look at statistics, it appears that my words helped more than they hurt.

Because here’s the thing…. If someone is looking for a reason to make it about them and be upset with me, they will always find it.

Just like if someone is looking for the best in me, they will always find that, too.

After the last drama-filled message that I got, I realized that I stopped writing. Again. Or rather, stopped sharing what I wrote.

Without thinking, I let myself be silenced again.

But since I’m not out here preaching hate or drowning bags of puppies, it’s ridiculous that I should not be allowed to speak. Especially because my words are always about how we are more alike than we are different. They are about common ground and love, never exclusion or hate.

So I am going to keep coming here and speaking my truth. I will not gossip or name names because that is not how I work. But I am a writer by nature. I feel compelled to share my stories and thoughts with the world. I’ve been doing that for many years now, in notebooks and on my blogs and in my articles and in my novels. But I do so in general terms about my thoughts and feelings on love and life.

No one is under attack here.

But it seems that in these divided times, honest feelings and thoughts can be perceived as hurtful or cruel. This is true on all sides, with each and every issue we face. It seems that the mere act of starting a conversation, or asking a question, can be views as “an attack.”

This is true not just for me, but for all of us. I can’t tell you how many people have told me lately that they have been blocked and de-friended and yelled at and black-balled from their people. For small things that turned huge. This is not something that is only happening to me. I get a little more attention for it, is all.

But if we are not allowed to speak our truth, how the hell are any of us going to fix any of this? It seems to me that gossip and ignoring the issues are not fixing America the Broken, or its citizens.

Every person that is my “friend” is here is by choice, and someone I connect with and know. But I’m not selling you anything and I’m not forcing you to stay. I get no monetary benefit from your presence. I merely gain the pleasure of your virtual company.

But you should know that I’m not going to sit down and be quiet about any of the things that matter in this life. It is far too important right now to keep the conversation going.

And if the things that I write bother you, you may want to ask yourself why.

The inbox is always open, folks. At least on my end. But we can’t fix it if we all stop talking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Have It Your Way Era

 

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It seems we live in a world of Delete. Block. Defriend.

Or as I affectionately call it,
The Have It Your Way Era.

 
You don’t like what someone said on your news feed? Delete their comments! This is YOUR Facebook, after all…

 
Are they bugging you with what they post? You don’t like that? Block ‘em!

 
Someone told you that you are using a word wrong? Or maybe they believe the 97% of scientists who think climate change is real? Defriend them. Who needs that kind of drama? You are educated and don’t need anyone to tell you what to think.

 
I’m going to just say it flat out that I find this behavior just ridiculous for grown adults. It’s like Middle School America around here.

 
I have a lot of friends with a lot of varying opinions and faiths and political preferences. People from all over the world with a wide range of lifestyles. I do not block you or defriend you for this. I will boot your ass for name calling and downright threats, but I’d also do that if you were nasty in my living room. But, in truth, most people simmer down with a warning. Or go away on their own. Thankfully, I get very little drama on my feed. It seems that despite all the diversity, I have civil and open-minded adults as friends.

 
But it seems that some adults believe if they delete, then those things didn’t happen. Or maybe weren’t real? I don’t know, because I don’t get it.

 
I don’t do the delete game. I don’t delete, unless I accidently posted a rainbow or something. I will go in and edit small grammatical stuff, because pretty much everything I do happens while I’m wrangling a toddler and a cat and maybe a dog and a 6-year-old. And I’m kind of a perfectionist so I want to sound like I can formulate sentences. But otherwise, what I post, STAYS. Always. You know why? Because I don’t post it unless I believe it enough to stand behind it. It’s as simple as that.

 
And because I KNOW that even if I delete something, that it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. And ultimately, WE still know what WE said. Or what someone else said. We can’t UNDO it or make it unhappen. We all know this, right? RIGHT?

 
It’s like doing something stupid and getting drunk to forget about it. And then you get so wasted that you black out so you just assume that means that none of it happened.

 
Uh, no. It still happened. Still real. You just blocked it out.

 
Which is kind of how so many seem to look at life right now.

 
“I don’t like that. It bothers me. I don’t need to think about that. I’ll block it.”

 
Uh, okay. But it’s still real. You know that, right? And some of the things you are blocking will seriously impact your life, even if you are flat-out on purpose ignoring it all.

 
Which could quite honestly be viewed as irresponsible.

 
So here’s my wish for the day. My challenge to all of you, if you are up for it:

 
Do not be a Have It Your Way Person. To grow as people and as a nation, we need to drop the Have It Your Way Era and it’s selfish line of thinking.

 
We need to grow up and accept responsibility for learning about the world around us. And not just the people that look and think like we do. We need to be willing to listen to different people with open minds, and not just the ones that make us feel good about ourselves.

 
Find who you are and what you believe and share that. Stand behind that. But make it a two-way conversation.

 
Let the world in and stop constantly micro-managing until you only see what you want to see. We don’t learn anything that way. Not when you make sure every door is locked up tight before you walk by.

 
It’s an illusion, this “reality” we try to create in the image of what we want the world to be. It’s not real, not when you constantly shift what you allow into your life.

 
And don’t say it’s only on social networking. Because like it or not, social networking IS where we are.

 

What would the world look like to you if you stopped constantly filtering what was allowed, on and off your news feed?

82 and Sunny

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A friend posted a photo this morning of a car with a license plate that read “82 N SUNY,” which I assure you, it is not. At least not where I am standing. It’s below zero right now. Freaking stupid cold that freezes the stuff you didn’t even know you had in your nose. Cold that makes your face actually hurt. Avoid-outdoors-at-all-costs-cold. Stupid cold.

But this little photo made me pause. And my first thought was, “Uh, it ain’t 82 and sunny here, so, you know, fuck off.” Because it’s cold, and the cold makes me crabby. And everyone else might be crabby too because morning drop off at school today was totally horrendous. So maybe I am not the only one longing for warmer days with sunshine on my face and fresh air that I can walk in without the risk of freezing my face literally off.

But then, the license plate got me day dreaming about swimming in the warm lake at the cabin we rent each summer. I got lost in the thought of just floating there in the water, bobbing on one of the kids’ pool noodles.

I thought about crouching at the fence line photographing a softball game. The crack of the bat and the sweat rolling down my own back from the mid-day July sunshine.

I thought of putting fans in the windows to pull in the night summer air and shutting down the house as the light of day breaks to keep the house cool.

The breeze on the porches and the birds in the vines.

The kids in the yard picking dandelions and racing with the dog. And everything is green.

And a little bit of 82 and sunny crept in. Even though it’s cold enough to cuss about, I found a little 82 and sunny of my own.


 

 

Lincoln the Shrieker

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Lincoln has been shrieking. A stupid loud, high-pitched noise that could make your ears bleed. He lets these rip for 20 seconds at a time, for a variety of reasons. It’s become like a habit. I’m not ashamed to say this to all of you: I HATE it.

I do. It’s like nails on a chalkboard. All the nails in a 2nd grade glass. Like that.

I don’t know when it started. Weeks ago, maybe? A month? A loooong time. And it only gets worse. He’s gotten smarter and he knows how to use what little devices he has in the world. So now the shrieks are a weapon.

In the midst of preparing to have my ears removed to solve this problem, I heard my mom say, “Just ignore him. He’ll knock it off.”

I hear her, in her nonchalant way, because with kids she just knew what to do. And I instantly knew that she was right.

She does that, tells me what I need to hear when I need to hear it. Little things, like how to finish a recipe that I can’t find or how to stop a 5 year old (momentarily, anyway) from being annoying. Or big things, like how to find my way when I feel lost in this roller coaster of life. I am convinced that she is still with me. Convinced in the same way that I know that the sun will go down this evening.

And the best part? As I miss her less, I feel her more. Like she could call out to me anytime from the next room.

And I won’t say the shrieking has stopped, but it’s wayyyy better.

How to Change the World

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My husband and I spend a lot of time talking about changing the world. We talk about what we can change, and it often feels like we can’t do nearly enough.

There seem to be so many problems these days. I peek out of the window of my blessed, wonderful little life and I see a lot of trauma and drama and sickness and sadness and hatred out there. We pay to stream it into our homes 24 hours a day in 3D Technicolor, in the interest of being entertained and informed. We practically bathe in it.

But for being so connected and up-to-date, we are more closed-off and critical than ever. I see far too many examples of how we are downright terrible (to just plain not very nice) to one another these days. At least all the people outside our little circles and families. Those who aren’t our people.

We have forgotten that we are all the same people. We are all human beings. If we seem different, it’s merely because we’ve been raised in different ways and lived different lives. We’re still all part of the same race: the human race. We have forgotten that we still belong to one another.

Did you just roll your eyes at that? It’s because you’ve forgotten.

Maybe we do remember and we want to help,  but what can we do? When we’re too tired to shower and the kids’ lunches still aren’t made and it’s all just hard enough already? It feels like we can’t possibly do enough.

But I don’t think we change the world by huge sweeping gestures. Maybe sometimes, but I think that’s the rare exception, like a winning lottery ticket. I think most of the time the world is changed by small and honest little acts of kindness.

It would be easy to get caught up in our feelings and spread political memes like peanut butter all over the social networks and say we’re doing our part. And it is important to speak our truths. But is that doing anything? Saying is not the same as doing.

So what can you do, today, to change the world?

Hold open a door. Tell someone, with every fiber of your being, that you hope they have a nice day. See what happens when you say it like you mean it.

Catch someone’s eye for a moment and tell them you know what it’s like, whether “it” is dropping the contents of your purse on the floor at Kwik Trip or a toddler meltdown in Aisle 4. (Aisle 4 is always the cookies or candy. Aka, the meltdown aisle.)

If we spent even 5 minutes a day doing or saying something nice for others, we can make a huge difference in the world. Why? Why would that 5 minutes mean anything? Because people have a tendency to follow the good stuff. Meaning, that shit spreads. They pass it on. They pay it forward.

Go out and share some of your unique goodness today. Say something nice to a stranger. Do something nice for a neighbor or friend or someone you can think of who needs it. Do something just for the doing (as opposed to the telling or the wanting something back.) Just go put something nice out there, like a gift on the steps of the universe.

This is how we change the world. (It is also how we change ourselves, if you are interested in such things.)