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Watch What I What?!?

12 Jan

Hold the phone, we have a winner for Christy’s new favorite commercial.

We don’t have network television, (we watch with a computer hooked up to our huge tv, and make do with Hulu and Netflix) so I don’t know if this ad has been around for a while and I just haven’t seen it. But I saw a slightly shorter version today for the first time and I almost spit out my fizzy water, because it’s the best counter cultural ad I’ve seen since that one Dove commercial.

I am forever telling my high school students to be filters of culture, not sponges. Sort of along the lines of “in the world, but not of the world,” but more specific. Being a filter of culture is all about looking at that which we take in with a critical eye. It’s asking ourselves “what message is this sending?” “What am I being sold?” “What assumptions am I being asked to make?” “Is there an ideal being set that I’m asked to buy into?” The questions one can ask are staggering. I apply this to television, books, media, news, music, and especially advertising. This is the first time I’ve seen a commercial ask the questions.

Watch What You Watch, sponsored by the Girl Scouts of America

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Friendship (And Other Concerns)

11 Jan

Have you ever had a moment where you’ve gotten a glimpse into a simple truth from a completely random source? A funny thing happened to me the other night. Not funny “ha ha,” but funny “huh.”

photo from alison tyne photography on etsy

A few of my girlfriends decided to form an impromptu virtual book club because we’d all been tweeting about how awesome The Hunger Games are. We were sitting around discussing the books, having a great time, and decided that the club needed to keep going. For that to happen we needed another book. We were all throwing out titles of books we’d read or heard were good, and Lady D. brought up a book she’d been thinking about reading: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling. And something funny happened. As soon as we heard the title, every lady at that table said with one breath “oh my gosh, yes!” No, we weren’t saying we were into reading the book (though I have read it since then, and it is very funny), we all had the same reaction because at one time or another – probably more often than we care to admit – we’ve had that fear.

To be honest, I was completely shocked. I’d thought that was my fear. I looked around the room at all these beautiful women, women who I look up to, who have struggles and fears, sure, but who always seem to have it all together. Women who have fabulous tailored wardrobes and don’t struggle to find the right balance of accessories. Women who don’t call their friends after they’ve had too much wine to say how much they love them because they’re worried that no one cares. Women who look like the type of girl who could get a handful of friends together at a moment’s notice because everyone wants to hang out with her. And they all worried that everyone was hanging out without them, like I do? Shocked.

Not long ago I decided to get some wise counsel because I was feeling insecure. I realized that, after years of work and study, I’d learned to accept love from God and I learned that I was worthy of the love of my husband. But for some reason, I still felt like having friends was a fluke. Not all the time, but sometimes, I feel like an imposter who is living someone else’s life, and as soon as I do the wrong thing or say the wrong thing people are going to realize their mistake and won’t want to be my friend any longer. It’s a horrible insecurity for a 99% secure person to have, and I needed some help to get my mind to go somewhere positive when I started feeling insecure. My wise and wonderful therapist gave me some great advice, but nothing drove the stupidity of my insecurity home more acutely than seeing all these amazing women exclaim as one because they recognized themselves in a clever book title.

On New Life Live the other day, Dr. Henry Cloud told a caller with a question about excessive worry something along the lines of “you can’t keep a bird from flying over your head, but you can keep it from nesting in your hair.” So simple, so Philippians 4: 6-8. It’s what I did when I was learning to love God, refused to entertain the persistently knocking thoughts that said I’m not good enough for Him to love me. It’s what I did when I learned to love A, brushed away the thoughts that clung like cobwebs, saying that I didn’t deserve the love he was offering. So here are thoughts that I will work on letting fly over my head, like a nasty sea-gull that I would never dream of holding on to long enough for it to build a nest:

If people really knew me, they wouldn’t like me.

It’s A that people want to hang out with, I’m just the tag-along.

My friends are hanging out and I’m not invited. Do they not like me? Are we really friends? (This one is has been especially popular lately, thanks to twitter.)

People don’t get my humor and think I’m weird.

I’m too much sometimes, I need to be more like everyone else. (That one makes me laugh when I think about it, I love being uniquely me! But it still rears its ugly head sometimes…)

If I didn’t call/text/reach out to people no one would ever hang out with me.

No one really cares.

Fly away, crazy thoughts. You make no sense, you make me sad, and in the light of day you aren’t real. I won’t let you steal my joy. I am loved by many, and even if I wasn’t, I am loved by God. And that’s more than enough.

Do you ever let thoughts you know aren’t true get you down? There’s healing in sharing, my friends. Say it out loud, and know you’re not alone.

(Re)Learning to Dream

5 Jan

Did you ever give up on a dream because life got in the way?

photo from thewonderforest.com

It seems like everyone is talking about dreaming lately. I suppose it’s fitting; we tend to examine our lives more closely every time January 1st comes around. From a talk I recently attended at my church on helping women to achieve their dreams, to several blogs on my blog roll, to talking with my best friend about whether we have the right dreams for our lives right now, having dreams is on the brain. The most common lament I hear, especially from other women, is that they don’t even know how to begin to figure out what their dream is. Either they don’t know how to look ahead, the future is too big with too many options, or they’re just not used to thinking about their own desires anymore.

I’ve had some amazing responses to my 30 before 30 list since I made it public. Friends have shared their own lists with me that they dreamed up a long time ago, others have started lists of their own. I’ve had more than a couple of my (crazy, loveable, absolutely fabulous) aunts ask me what I thought about them making a six before sixty list, or other some such integers, which I told them was an amazing idea! I never thought when I published my little list that I would get to hear all about others’ dreams, both the ones they look forward to and ones they’d given away. Which got me wondering: how do we keep dreaming when life keeps on coming?

When I starting writing down what I wanted to accomplish before I turned thirty, I surprised myself by thinking about all the things I’d ever wanted to do instead of shooting blindly into my future. For example:

When I was a kid, running down the street to ask the neighborhood kids “want to ride bikes?” was the highlight of my Summer’s day. I stopped riding sometime around junior high – I must have outgrown my bike or something – and haven’t been on one since. But I always looked wistfully at the kids cruising the strip down Huntington Beach while I was on vacation and envied the bike messengers streaming down the streets in SF when I lived in the city. So “Own and Ride a Bike With a Basket and a Bell” went on the list.

I love school, I’m good at school, I was happy when I was in school. I stopped going before I reached my personal academic goals, so ‘Go Back to School’ went on the list.

Since turning 21 I’ve been invited on approximately 50 wine tastings trips. Due to consistently poor timing I’ve been able to go on exactly none. I’ve dreamed of going wine tasting on a gorgeous Spring day, wearing a sundress and sandals, laughing with the man I love while sipping a wine that will remind us of this perfect day months later when we open a bottle to compliment the perfectly prepared meal I set on the table. So that went on the list as well.

Every time I tried to imagine what my life might look like years from now, and what sort of goals I’d have to set to get there, I got so hopelessly overwhelmed that my potential dreams quickly drowned in the sea of possibilities. The future is large and nebulous, but my past? My past is set. My past is a vast ocean of memories – times I was happy, times I was inspired, times where I felt like I was doing exactly the right thing for myself at the time. Our pasts are a veritable field of dreams, ripe for the harvest.

Jon Acuff wrote a brilliant post on what he calls ‘dreaming backwards’, and he had this to say on dreaming:

Instead of asking forward-facing questions like, “What do I want to do with my life?”, we dream backward and ask, “What have I done in my life that I’ve loved?” And the answer we get is not a bottomless, faceless list of options that could apply to anyone. It’s a personal, small, uniquely tailored to our hearts and our souls, handful of life experiences that made us feel alive.

It hurts my heart when I hear people say they don’t know how to dream anymore. So this is my antidote to being overwhelmed with possibility and not knowing where to start: start by thinking about times you were happy, when you were doing something you loved, when you felt needed. Think about what you might have done if no one ever said “you can’t.” Think about what you were working towards once upon a time, before life, finances, relationships, and busyness got in your way. Think about it, and then dream big. Because life’s too short to live it halfway.

What dream might you dare to revisit?

Why Facebook and I Are Not Friends

21 Nov

I am not on Facebook. It became a thing for me when I overheard my two sisters discussing a trip one of them had taken. “I didn’t know you went to San Diego for a week,” I said, to which one sister replied, “you’d know if you were on Facebook. That’s how I knew.” “Or I’d know if you would pick up the phone and actually call your sister!” I replied. I’d heard “you’d know if you were on Facebook” one too many times, so that day, not being on Facebook became a thing. And anyone who knows me knows that I don’t give up on things easily.

There are a million reasons why I should be on Facebook. For all intents and purposes, I am a prime candidate to be part of the Facebook generation. I have friends and family around the world, I’ve mentored high school students for eight years now, and we know how they grow up and graduate and move. But I just can’t bring myself to do it. I know myself really well, and if I let myself go I have no doubt that social media would replace actual communication as my main form of connecting with people. I’m an incredibly social person, and I like to be caught up and involved in the lives of those I love. Currently I do this by seeing them at church, at work, at Bible study, and reaching out when I haven’t seen them for a while. Not being on Facebook forces me to send a text, to make a phone call, to physically do something to reach out and be present in their lives. Sure, I miss things by not having access to their regular status updates, but when we get to talk in person it’s real. Just being on Twitter makes me feel like I’m getting caught up on my friend’s lives by reading their 140-character soundbites. But that’s not real connection.

Rachel of the hilarious MWF Seeking BFF wrote about the perils of falling for Facebook today, and it reminded me that I’d been meaning to write about this for a while, as I keep getting asked why I’m not on FB. “But you can catch up with people you knew in high school!” “But you can see all the things your friends like and get recommendations!” “But you can post updates and get instant feedback, which is really validating!” All good arguments, but you know what I say?

  • Anyone that I want to be in my life is in my life. I have a hard enough time keeping up with the people I see on a regular basis to spend an hour looking at the walls of old high school friends that I haven’t seen in years. That’s an hour that I could spend having coffee with a real friend, and building a foundation of personal face-to-face friendship that no virtual interaction will ever be able to replicate. Sure, I wonder from time to time what bygone friends are up to, but that’s what email is for. The benefit of keeping up with everyone I ever knew does not outweigh the cost it would have on my current friendships.
  • If I need a recommendation, I call a friend who has good taste and ask them about it. Often this results in a plan to get together to pursue whatever it was that I was calling about, a plan to get together for drinks soon to catch up, or at the very least a ten minute chat during which we personally update each other on our lives. Actual social interaction, people. Get into it.
  • I’ll admit it, I like to feel like people care about what I say and what’s going on in my life. I get excited every time a comment pops up on this baby blog of mine, or I get an @ response on Twitter. It’s validating. It says to me “I have thoughts, I have a voice, what I think and feel matters to people.” I have no doubt that it feels great to have people post messages on your wall on your birthday, or put up sympathetic emoticons if I post that I’m having a bad day. But I’ve noticed that that type of validation is a double-edged sword. My real life bff @MelissaMcAlpin tweeted recently “You know when you post something revealing on FB or twitter and nobody replies.. That’s like the webs version of an awkward silence.” And she’s exactly right. When we post we start looking to those things for validation and when we don’t get a response back it sucks. I’ve tweeted about a bad day and felt like I disappeared into the white-noise of the internet when all I got back was crickets. So maybe not being on Facebook means I’m missing out on regular feelings of validation, which I’ll be the first to admit I crave. But I’ll take getting less validation online, because I have friends who call me. Who text me at the last minute to see if I want to meet up. I get voice mails on my birthday from far away loved ones singing to me over the phone. I get invitations to things in person, usually prefaced with “hey, I know you’re not on Facebook, so I wanted to make sure you knew about this get-together I’m planning…” Would that all happen if I were on Facebook? Maybe, but I doubt it.

So Facebook and I are not friends. Maybe we will be one day, because I do see the value in that type of easy communication. (In fact, I’ll be posting a counter-argument tomorrow about why I might consider joining Facebook, because I’m masochistic enough to like being my own devil’s advocate.) But for now, I’m happy with my life and the friendships I’ve made and maintained the old-fashioned way: face-to-face.

So what’s your take on Facebook? Worth it or not? I know I’m in the minority, so I’d love to hear why you love it or choose to live without it.

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