Tag Archives: communication

Facebook is Killing Me…Not with Kindness

And it’s killing you, too.

Back in the day, when someone was a known criminal or evil doer, the townspeople would get together and hunt them down. There always seemed to be a surplus of pitchforks, so everyone could carry one as they ran. (Not very safe, people of yesteryear.) Some folks with very good balance and short hair could carry both a pitchfork AND a torch.  Yeah, an open flame. This angry mob would get themselves riled up at Farmer Jenkins barn and then run through the streets screaming and crying out for the mischief maker. Getting the hell outta Dodge was probably the best idea for the troublemaker if he wanted to avoid the tarring and feathering that came next.  Ouch.

angry mob

Luckily, tar and feathers aren’t used as much anymore, but that angry mob mentality is still very much alive in our society. Even in polite society, if there is still such a thing.  Our standards for others are so high that we are instantly outraged with any mistake, large or small. No one is allowed an error anymore. Especially if you have any sort of celebrity status. Yes, of course I have examples.

The Oscars 2017

If you are a follower of this blog, you will know that I’m not a fan of the Oscars™.  (I put the TM in there to be funny.) I am an avid movie watcher and I appreciate each and every person who is involved in the making of a film from best boy to starring actor. (What does a best boy do anyway?) That being said, I don’t like a group of elite rich folks telling me what movie is the best. The whole process is fixed and ridiculous. Here’s Adam to tell us why:

Should filmmakers be recognized and awarded? Certainly!  How about we let movie fans vote or let professionals be judged by their peers in a non-televised event?  They can tell us about it afterwards. We can write them letters and tell them they’re great. (Thanks Joe Walsh!)

joe walsh

But I’m straying from the point here. If you were awake on Oscar night or the next morning, you heard about the Best Movie announcement “epic disaster.” No, there wasn’t an earthquake or violence of any kind, but Warren Beatty was involved. Mr. Beatty and Faye Dunaway were tasked with presenting the award for Best Picture. They were given the wrong envelope and subsequently announced the wrong movie as the winner. A few minutes later, the mistake was realized and the correct film was announced. People were disappointed, I have no doubt, but everyone is okay. No one was taken to the hospital, the roof didn’t collapse and no one’s “goodie bag” was taken away. Later that evening, it was announced that the two accountants from PriceWaterhouseCoopers handed Mr. Beatty the wrong envelope.

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These two people were instantly vilified in the media. As per usual, folks who were unaffected by the accountants’ actions were crying for the accountants to be fired immediately and banned from the Oscars for the rest of their lives. And we should all get to throw an egg at them. Brian Culllinan and Martha Ruiz apologized many times and said they were “devastated” by their error. It was revealed that Mr. Cullinan was engaging in social media right before this fateful error, so that makes it even worse for some reason. If he had just been standing there picking his nose, would that make it okay? In an admirable twist of fate, PriceWaterhouseCoopers did not fire the two accountants. They are quoted as saying it was an “honest mistake.” The two accountants lost their gig at the Oscars, but their company kept them on.  An honest mistake.

Ryan Lochte

Remember that guy? Ryan Lochte is an Olympic swimmer. He has won 12 Olympic medals and currently holds four world records. That’s pretty fantastic and he did it all before he was 31 years old. This guy knows what he’s doing in the pool.

Swimming - Olympics: Day 4

Then the 2016 Olympics in Rio happened. Ryan was finished with his events and went out on the town with a couple of his teammates.  Four young men at the top of their games partying in Rio. They got drunk, they did dumb stuff. Lochte was accused of vandalizing a gas station bathroom. A security guard pulled a gun on him and the others to make them stop. Lochte handed over some money to pay for the damages and the story got way out of hand from there. So, Ryan was probably upset about the incident and told his Mom about it over the phone, but he didn’t tell anyone else. Somehow, a FoxNews reporter heard about the incident and reported it. The International Olympic Committee and Ryan both denied the allegations, but then there was the video footage.  Whoops. So now Ryan was caught lying to his Mom and possibly the Olympic Committee and now had to save face in front of the media. So, he did some creative storytelling.

Everyone turned on Ryan in a heartbeat. He was a beloved American athlete the day before, but now he is the scum of the earth. He finally admitted his wrongdoings and was quite severely punished.  He was banned from professional swimming for 10 months, he would miss the 2017 World Championships, he was not allowed to visit the White House with Team USA and he had to forfeit $100,000 dollars in bonuses.  He also lost most of his endorsements, including Speedo USA, Ralph Lauren, Airweave and Syneron Candela. ESPN estimated he lost a total of 1 million dollars.  But I’m sure it was way more than that.

Did you ever lie to your Mom when you were in your 30s? Did you ever get drunk with your friends and do something really, really stupid? Well, I did. (Sorry Mom.) Thank God there wasn’t social media during my public drinking days. So glad I don’t have to relive those moments with the world looking on. I get it, lying is terrible, especially when acting as an ambassador for your country, but I feel the punishment did not fit the crime. He didn’t tell everyone what happened, his mom did and then he was forced into a precarious situation.  Now instead of being remembered for being one of the best and most decorated swimmers in the world, he’s that swimmer who lied in Rio. Everyone on social media ganged up on Ryan, judging him harshly for making a choice we might have made in that situation. It’s hard to know what you would have done until you’re in that exact situation.

It’s so easy to be anonymous on Facebook. Just yesterday I was scrolling through my newsfeed and I saw a news article about a celebrity speaking out against Trump. A person I know personally and love commented on the article in a very startling and vulgar way. It made me very sad. I know my friend would never speak to someone like that in person. Not in a million years, but on Facebook, it’s okay. I have other friends, people I love mind you, who constantly pummel Facebook with political posts that judge the current administration harshly. Although I don’t agree with most anything Trump says or does, he’s not even being given a chance to say or do anything. He is constantly met with a mob of folks ready to burn his house down. And then there’s an equally angry mob of Trump supporters who will burn everyone else’s houses down. It’s a constant ping pong match on social media that I’m tired of looking at.

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You may be thinking that I should just stop logging onto to Facebook. You’re probably right, but like you I am addicted to it. It’s something to do while I’m bored. I like hearing from my friends that they like my writing or my band’s video. I like seeing pics of people’s dogs and cats doing silly things. I try to scan past the negative and rejoice in the positive. I’ll listen to the news in my car and watch on TV when I get home. I’m not looking to be totally ignorant of the world’s events, but I can’t rely on Facebook as my sole and correct news source. I can’t join that angry mob. I want to hear every side of the story and make my own conclusions. I’m not going to demand that accountants resign from their jobs for making a mistake. I’m not going to sign a petition to ban Ryan Lochte from swimming for the rest of his life. I’m not going to take on your political crusades because you think I should.

What I’m getting at here is that you should think for yourself. I certainly encourage you to share your thoughts and views with others and then listen to their thoughts and views. But do it in person. Go to a town hall in your neighborhood and speak your mind. Let your voice be heard by the people who need to hear it.  But, before you speak, take some time to carefully consider your position. Did you gather all of the facts about the story? Did you put yourself in the same situation and think about what you would have done?  Can you forgive another human person? Does this issue greatly affect the outcome of your life? How about a little less judging and yelling and a little more compassion and thoughtfulness? Also, please do some research and check your facts BEFORE you share and rant.

And some pictures of your cat would be appreciated.

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Give Yourself a Break…Election 2016

Greetings Friends,

I wanted to write you all a quick letter because I have something to say that I feel might help one or a few of you. I tend to stay away from politics. As you know it’s a very hot topic right now and it stirs passion and high emotions for a lot of us.  That being said…

Scrolling through my Facebook page today I see a lot of people who are angry, sad, confused and scared. Not everyone feels this way, certainly, and that’s okay. Everyone is entitled to their own choice. I am comforted by the words of Barack Obama as he speaks of tolerance and acceptance and unity. He is so eloquent and I will miss him come January. I hope he will continue to lead with dignity and hope.

Here is what I want to tell you. Are you paying attention?

You need to disengage for awhile.  Look away.

I spent a long time this morning pouring through Facebook reading article after article about the election. I was consumed and couldn’t think of anything else. I couldn’t even focus on the work I was supposed to be doing.

I’m not saying you can’t feel sad or angry. You sure can, but you need to take a break. Pull yourself away from the computer or the TV just for a short time. 30 minutes. Go outside, look at the sun. Watch a bird fly. Take your dog for a walk.

I decided to listen to some music. I picked a song that reminded me how much I love music and how much I love my husband. Then I got to thinking about how much I love my family. No election can take those things away from me.  While listening and writing this to you, I feel like a person again. I’m breathing.  I’m celebrating creativity and love.  My heart is full and I am grateful.

Please, take a break today.

Sending my love to all of you…pass it on.

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Is This Cup Half Empty? (Dedicated to Ray North)

I’ve been struggling with a thought lately. Here’s my question: Am I living life to the fullest? What does that even mean? I hear people talk about it all the time, but who actually does it? I asked some of my friends and family what they thought.

I have a friend at work. Yeah, can you believe that? His name is Joe. He is a writer. Not only is he a genuinely nice person, but he makes me laugh every day. He’s one of those people that just makes the day better. You can give Joe the most boring topic and he will think of something clever to write about it. He self-published a children’s book, They Don’t Make Books About Uncles and he’s working on a play that I know will be successful…he’s just that kind of guy. Although I’ve only known Joe for a short time, I very much admire him and I know that he has changed my life for the better. He has inspired and encouraged me to write and create and try. That being said, I asked Joe what it means to live life to the fullest. We have the same job and it’s not always glamorous. Yes, we write and create, but there are rules and guidelines to follow and it can get monotonous and frustrating. It’s not always easy to be a creative type in the corporate world. Joe told me that it’s hard to live every moment to the fullest, but it’s what you make of the good things that happen. He said we have to fully enjoy the successes and the happy times. I happen to know that Joe’s family and friends are very important to him and he works to cultivate those relationships. Immerse yourself in the great moments and don’t worry about the small, mundane stuff. Maybe work is just what you have to do to get to the next great moment. I think Joe is on to something. He seems like a happy person to me.

Jeanne and Joe

I also discussed this topic with Steve. You all remember Steve; he’s my husband. You may remember him from such blogs as…you get it. I asked, “Steve, are you living life to the fullest?” He said, “Well, I sure am busy.” That’s not what I meant and I’m sure he knew that. Steve’s passion is music and sound. I believe that when he’s playing music or recording, he is doing what he loves most. In those moments, he is living life to the fullest. In our discussion, we talked about how it may be hard to live life to the fullest when you have to worry about bills and money. One cannot simply travel and take time out to write a novel or produce an album. How can a person be happy when he is hungry or homeless? Well, that’s an interesting thought. Is it only rich people who can really take advantage of a full life?

Jeanne and Steve

I have been listening to a book by Elizabeth Gilbert called Big Magic. In this book, Gilbert talks about living a creative life. It’s a choice one makes to pursue their creative endeavors in a responsible and mature way. She explains that creating is free. It’s for the rich and the poor. She mentions that if only the rich could create, the world would surely be a boring place. She cautions her listeners/readers to never make the artistic craft a burden. Work at it because you love it. Don’t do it to impress other people or even make a living. Do it for yourself; to make you happy. She describes a different way of thinking about being creative and talks about her path as a writer and novelist. She wrote Eat, Pray, Love for herself to work through her own life issues. It just happened to resound with millions of readers. (If you’re a creative type, I would highly recommend listening to or reading “Big Magic.”)

While I’m tossing all of these ideas around in my head, something sad happened. One of my brother’s best friends from high school, Ray North has been battling cancer for awhile. After a brave fight, Ray passed away on November 10th. My brother flew to Texas where Ray was getting treatment to be with him and to ultimately say goodbye. I hadn’t seen Ray since I was in high school. We went to the same school, but my brother and Ray graduated the year before I started. Basically, I knew Ray through Paul. Since I always thought my brother was pretty cool, I knew that Ray was cool, too. He was really cute, he could sing, he was in marching band and he had this killer smile. Oh, and he wasn’t rude to me, his friend’s stupid kid sister. Paul recently talked about when he walked into his new high school as a sophomore, he was very nervous. Ray was one of the first people to talk to Paul and made him feel welcome, including Paul in the “cool crowd.” That’s pretty powerful stuff. That’s a gift you never forget about.

At Ray’s wake and funeral I learned even more about him. He has a lovely family. A beautiful wife and four happy kids. Paul and his friend Eric, (also one of Ray’s good friends from high school,) made a slideshow about Ray. In every picture Ray’s smile shone. There were pictures of Ray goofing around with his family growing up and then enjoying happy moments with his wife and kids. I am not kidding, at Ray’s funeral, the church was packed. Not one empty seat. And it was a pretty big church. I was astounded at all of the lives Ray had touched at church, at work, through Scouting, or just within the community. Everyone in that huge room loved Ray. He wasn’t the type of guy you sorta liked. You could only love Ray. One quote from the homily stuck with me. It’s a quote from Lord Baden Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts.

“No one can pass through life, any more than he can pass through a bit of country, without leaving tracks behind, and those tracks may often be helpful to those coming after him in finding their way.”

Every person who spoke was touched by Ray. Ray enriched the lives of others just by being himself. He created a happy life for himself and for those around him. He wasn’t rich and he wasn’t famous, but without a doubt, he lived life to the fullest.

I’m not sure what got me thinking about living life to the fullest, but God or the cosmos, or whatever you believe in, brought me an example when I needed one. So, I’ll take a dash of Joe, a pinch of Steve, a generous portion of Elizabeth Gilbert and mix it all up with Ray to fashion my own life from now on. It’s probably not something I will be good at every day, but at least I have some wise and trustworthy guides to lead the way. I wish I could tell you exactly what it means to live life to the fullest, but I’m not still not entirely sure what it means. I think it’s a different story for all of us. It’s about finding contentment and creativity inside of yourself, loving everyone as hard as you can and ultimately leaving behind a legacy of infectious joy. Also, if you have a killer smile, that could really help.

Ray

I Do…or Something. Wait, What?

monkey wedding

When I was a kid, no one knew what divorce was.  Well, some people did.  My parents did, in fact.  I was rather oblivious to the concept that I am now well aware of.  I promised myself that when I got married, it would be forever.  One time.  Guess what happened?  Yep, divorce.  Half of my marriages have ended in divorce.  That sounds horrible, but I’ve only been married twice.  Why is it so hard to stay together?  What is everyone’s problem?  Geez!  I know what my problems were, but I’m not sure what everyone else is going through.  Before I was divorced I assumed those divorced people were stupid.  They did a dumb thing and blindly married someone they didn’t even love!  Ok, I was wrong.  Sometimes the journey of life takes twists, and we don’t have the proper footwear.

                I met my first husband in high school.  I was 15, he was 18.  Was it love at first sight? Not really. He was the first boy who paid attention to me. Oh, and he made me laugh.  A lot.  I watched him stress about getting into college while I was blissfully enjoying my sophomore year of high school.  It never occurred to me that he would go away.  But go away, he did.  Oh boy, his departure was the stuff Lifetime movies are made of.  Hugging, crying, carrying on…I was a wreck for weeks.  My boyfriend was off to college…for 11 years!  Well, of course we saw each other every few months and for Christmas and sometimes Spring Break.  As his life was going in the right direction, mine was going in the wrong direction.  I was pretty convinced when I was 19 that I was going to marry this guy, so I just had to wait it out. I got through high school and stumbled my way through a couple years of college.

                One day I got tired of being alone and found a jerk of a boy to hang around with.  I broke up with my long-time guy to have someone local.  Luckily, he treated me like garbage and I got out of that situation in a few months. That’s another story for another day.  My long-time beau and I remained friends and when he came home to visit, it was like we were still a couple.  When things got financially horrifying for me, my guy would sometimes come to the rescue as I sobbed to him over a pay phone. (Yep, they still had those then.) He would order me a pizza from another state and send me a little cash to tide me over.

                When he would come home, usually for a weekend or week, it was like a vacation.  We were constantly out eating at nice restaurants, going to concerts and shopping.  Life was wonderful when he was around, but then he would leave again.  After a few years of dating other people, some more serious and meaningful than others, we decided to officially get back together.  Three of his graduations later, he was a doctor and I was a college drop out.  Great news! He’s coming home for good!

                It was exciting at first to set up a new place to live in together and get to know each other again.  We knew a marriage was coming, but it was really up to him when.  The big day arrived and we were engaged. He came up with a nice idea to propose and presented me with a beautiful ring. First red flag, we just got engaged moments ago, yet we have nothing to talk about for the rest of dinner.  Hmmm…interesting. Never mind.

 Planning a wedding can be really fun, especially when you’re not worried about money. I busied myself picking flowers and tablecloths and sampling foods. Our wedding day happened during a massive snow storm. Like planes sliding off the runway storm.  After the ceremony and right as we were arriving to the reception, we got into a big fight.  He said something exceptionally stupid to me after he told our limo driver to drop us off a block away from the reception in a blizzard.  I told him to never speak to me that way again and blah, blah, blah…Not a good start.

                Ok, we’re married now! This is gonna be great, right?  Not so much.  He had a good job and I stayed home all day.  All I had to do was make dinner.  After awhile, I didn’t even do that anymore.  I was so bored and I had no direction or motivation.  He would leave early to get to work and come home in the evening only to ignore me.  He would sit and read the newspaper, (yeah, a newspaper!) and then fall asleep.  Every single night.  Paper. Sleep.  I would wake him up to tell him to go to bed.  I was miserable.  I told my husband that I wanted something more.  I wanted to talk with him and go out and explore the world.  I told him that when I would watch romantic movies I felt sad that I didn’t have a love like that.  He was quick to tell me that the romantic love depicted in movies just wasn’t real.  I was crazy to think that every day would be wonderful.  It would be nice if any day was wonderful, though. Yeah, he really said crazy.

                Well, as you can imagine, things went sour. We tried marriage counseling, but I was already checked out.  I think he was trying, but it was too late.  I’d like to add that he is a very good man and a very nice person.  I did love him for a long time.  I still miss him, but I couldn’t settle.  I didn’t need him to rescue me anymore and maybe that made him less appealing to me.

It’s interesting how fate works sometimes.  As my marriage was falling apart in an ugly fashion, I met the man of my dreams.  Being a little older and a little wiser, I entered into this marriage with my eyes open.  It just feels different and better.  Of course not every single day is filled with romance, but  a lot of days are.  I’m not interested in anyone else.  No one has turned my head at all.  I’m not sure who has a perfect relationship, but this one’s pretty good and it’s certainly worth working on.

                Why am I telling you all of this?  Well, I was wondering why some people stay together and why some people part ways.  Sometimes when I’m thinking of a new idea to write about, I’ll take a poll on Facebook.  I asked, “What is a tool to a successful marriage?” I was surprised that I received many replies. Here’s the funny thing: most people, I’d say about 90% of people replied with, “Communication.” Ok, that’s not funny by itself, but what was funny is that most people replied without taking the time to read what anyone else had written.  We all think communication is important, but maybe we don’t know how to do it.  A big part of communication is listening.  Another big part is paying attention.  I think part of the reason my first marriage failed is that I wasn’t communicating well with myself.  I wasn’t paying attention to the signs at all.  I had major doubts a week before my wedding, but ignored them.  I wasn’t happy with how our life was proceeding, but I ignored it.  I didn’t allow myself to be heard and my first husband wasn’t offering any information either, until it was too late.

                Maybe you’ve heard it said that in order to be in love with someone else, you have to first love yourself.  Part of loving yourself is listening to your own thoughts and acknowledging them.  When appropriate, why not share those thoughts with your loved one?  I tell my husband all the time that we’re a team and we’re in this life together. That means good times and bad times.  We have also established that neither one of us is a mind-reader. I still feel butterflies in my stomach when I know I’m going to see him.  He’s the first person I think of when I wake up and the last person I think of before I go to sleep.  When I watch those romantic movies now, my eyes are full of tears because I know exactly how they feel.  Who knows, maybe someone will make a movie about me.  I’m sure they’d get Kate Winslet to play me.