Could YOU Abandon Facebook?

addicted to facebook

Facebook is a much needed necessity and important way of life for a vast amount of people these days.   In the ever-growing world of social media,  Facebook provides so many opportunities that were not around even just a few years ago.    When I graduated from high school, we did not have social media as we do now, much like  e-mail and cell phones.     Twenty-five years ago, it was difficult to keep in touch with friends or people you went to school with as you grew up and moved on with your life.   I can guarantee you that if Facebook had been around when I graduated from high school, my life would have been very different.

Facebook provides a level of interconnectedness that otherwise would not exist.  I  love Facebook for many reasons.  It helps me keep in touch with my large family who are located all over the country, puts me in touch with friends and co-workers from years gone by and it has provided me with so many ways to meet new people and become involved with new experiences.   Trust me when I say that I have many reasons to be thankful and grateful for the invention of Facebook.

Why do I mention all of this?  I mention it because I was starting to think about what my life was like before I was on Facebook.    I was thinking about how my life is now versus the pre-Facebook days.    Sometimes you don’t realize you need a break from something until you actually get it, and you see how nice it was to just have a little time away.   On occasion, I found that Facebook took up more time  than it should  and I was beginning to neglect or put off important things. What started as a “Let me check Facebook for a few minutes” quickly turned into an hour or sometimes more and, in turn, put me behind schedule in so many ways.   Sine this was becoming a small issue for me, I decided to take a few days off from it and see what it would be like.

This “break” was by no means easy – not at all.   In all honesty, it was so hard in the beginning.   I was shaking and crying and needed to be restrained from logging into Facebook at times (well, not really, but you know where I am going with this).   I  actually felt a little lonely, disconnected and in a way afraid that I would be forgotten or, even worse, that people would not even know I was gone and– in some cases– this was true.

As the days progressed, it was still hard but it did force me to balance my life and the responsibilities I have.  The Facebook vacation was difficult to take. During those few days, I was able to accomplish so much and felt more organized.    Now please understand me when I say that I am not saying that Facebook is in any way a bad thing.   To the contrary, I think Facebook is a fantastic outlet as long as you do not abuse it or let it affect your other responsibilities and priorities.   I am happy to say that I am back on Facebook with a greater appreciation for it.  I’m now able to stop looking into everyone else’s life while watching mine fly by.    There can be a balance and I’m grateful I’ve found it.

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Family Ties

My sister and I spent our childhood pretty much attached at the hip. We have subsequently spent most of our adult lives thousands of miles apart. She has a job that has moved her around quite a bit, I have my own business here in Phoenix and am, therefore, not moving any time soon.

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My sister

little boys

The early years: my sons

For a while, our lives were quite different. She was rising up through the ranks  in her career,  and I was beginning to have babies and trying to start a business while keeping my head above water. She was flying to a premiere in L.A., wearing a fabulous dress and getting her hair and make-up done, and I was trying to get breastmilk out of my work shirt, and trying to picture a life without a “Boppy” and immunization records.

 

 

cute mom and toddler

My sis & niece

More recently, with the birth of her first baby about 22 months ago, my sister  is in the forays of early motherhood and chasing a toddler, and I am navigating a household where no more naps are taken, but two school-aged boys may or may not jump off the dog kennel onto the couch in superhero fashion. The divergence of our lives the past 20 years is narrowing again and our circle is beginning to get smaller.

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A recent family picture

There was a time when my boys were really young and I was a nap Nazi and a hyper-scheduler and every time my sister  looked at me I felt like she thought I had three heads, and maybe I did. I had my second son on a Thursday and saw my first patient in my new practice on a Tuesday. Not exactly the best timing, but at the time, it is what I felt I had to do. I don’t imagine I was much fun in those days, and she probably wondered whether I ever would be again. I wondered if there was ever going to be a time where she would understand the pressures and demands and stress I was experiencing. I wanted her to love my babies as much as I did, but seeing them once or twice a year was not really enough to forge the tight bond for which I had hoped. When your kids are under the age of three, they are only friendly with people they see often, people with whom they have established memories.

Fast forward almost nine years from the time I had my first, and she was finally having her first. Although I hated the desperation in her voice as she was describing the frustrations of no sleep and early mommyhood, I loved being the one she called for advice or for simply an ear. I wished I could have given her a shoulder. It was very hard to be so far away and not have the ability to hold my sweet little niece and give my sister a break without her having to worry about her baby being cared for. Because to me, that is what family does. They are the people with whom you can trust in caring for your most valued possessions without worrying about them. We had two or three days here and there–not nearly enough time for me to be a trusted face for my niece or for my boys to really spend some quality time with their aunt.

Then this past summer came. My sister was in the throws of looking for a different job….she had some time to spare–we planned a family vacation, and then my boys got to spend an extra week with my parents and my sister, her husband, and their new niece. They came home with the kinds of stories that can only come with time real time spent in the company of the ones you love. They loved their niece, they constantly played with their uncle, and they were doted on by their aunt. The story was coming together….closer to what I had always wanted for us.Toddler and her cousins

Now there is a real possibility of her finding work here where I live. I can barely think about it because I dare not, lest I jinx it. They have been staying with us and other family off and on the past few weeks–and any time they aren’t at our house, my boys are wondering when they are coming back. You see, there is no other reason that 9 and 7 year old boys would be so infatuated with a 22 month old cutie pie, except for that family bond and time that establishes and cements these core relationships. My sister is over the hump and confident in her motherhood and I am basking in these boy years where they still let me kiss them. We are both relaxed for the most part, sharing the best bond of sisterhood and motherhood. She watches  me looking adoringly at her daughter and I look at her cracking up at my silly boys’ antics. It just doesn’t get much better. And my niece? No stranger danger with me anymore. This morning I got a kiss and a smile–none of that “Who is this lady that loves me?” look. My sister and I are geographically and emotionally closer all at once. Our lives are converging–no longer parallel three time zones apart…..attached at the hip, and hopefully within the same time zone, state, county, and maybe even zip code.

Sisters

Preparing for Hurricane Irene

I think by now everyone is fully aware a hurricane is coming right up the Eastern Seaboard.  The 95 corridor could be in some trouble.  Things are still unclear as to what the impact will be with power outages predicted, flooding, damage to houses and roads, and issues with oil refineries.  As a precaution, I prepared tonight the best I could.

First of all, my family had plans to see our friends from Peoria, IL that we had not seen in three years!  Our kids are the same ages and same genders.  Our families just seem to line up perfectly.  We had been excited for the past few weeks to meet up with them in Long Island where they are vacationing.  We ended up being very lucky that we had booked the Long Island ferry out of New London, CT on Friday instead of on Saturday or Sunday.  We were JUST able to make our trip in to meet with them.  It was a great day of catching up, and we almost forgot about the looming storm.  Then reality hit once again as the streets of the small quaint town of Greenport, Long Island began to become more vacant, and t-shirts saying “Hurricane Irene Go Away” were hanging in the windows.  We tried to take the kids to the Maritime Museum, but no such luck.  It was closed for Hurricane Irene.  We also learned parking bans and possibly evacuations were taking place just hours after we were planning on leaving.  Luckily, we were able to get our ferry ride back to RI with moderate tides in time to plan for ourselves here in Rhode Island.  Ferry schedules are already being cancelled for this weekend.

So, home and preparing…….  I found Stop-N-Shop to be out of water completely, and I got the last decent loaf of bread.  I also went to Shell to fill up just to find signs on the pumps saying “OUT OF GAS!”  I guess people were here getting ready as we were having fun in Long Island.  We are prepared enough though.  We have food, water, and hopefully I can dig up a flashlight or two.  Two good things to remember: Fill up your tub with water (you can use it for the toilet for flushing if need be and cleaning things), and turn your refrigerator up to the highest level to help keep food longer when the power goes out.

Be safe everyone!  Prepare!  Evacuate if need be!  Take things seriously.

 

Kristin Wheeler

Beautiful Friendship

Childhood 'besties' at our 30th HS Reunion last year

What would I do without my friends?  I would certainly languish –maybe not perish – but definitely languish, without my gal pals.  I have shared here before the personal emphasis I put on my “Green Acres” marriage and my children, and I’ve also mentioned how supported I felt by my community when my brother died.  What I haven’t touched on yet is the great role my friends play in my day-to-day life.  I don’t only mean the friends I see regularly, but also the ones I have known since preschool (pictured above and below) whom I see once in a blue moon.  A friend is a friend for life with me, no matter how little face time we manage to schedule.

Once, when I lived briefly in a new city, I found myself on the fringe of a group of couples among whom most had a long term, even childhood, connection.  One evening my husband and I discussed the effort it would take to truly be a part of this set of people, and we realized it was daunting, and likely fruitless, so we stepped back.  Eventually our move to the suburbs sealed the deal since urbanites view the suburbs as exile, and we were back at square one.  Thank goodness for the East Greenwich Cowesett New Neighbors (www.egcnn.org) organization!  Without it I would be trawling hair salons and supermarkets for friends.  Not only did joining give me something to look forward to each month, but also a play group for my two little ones, a book club for me, and a bevy of women to hang out with.

One of the upsides of a newcomers club is that those who choose to be members want to make friends.  It’s a veritable goldmine of possibilities from which many amazing women have emerged.   Over the last many years I have come to know and love a unique group of beautiful, caring, intelligent, talented, and kind women.  Many of us have travelled together, and whenever we do, I am reminded of how friendships are built – through shared experiences.  The more ways I can find to be around the women that make me smile, the richer and deeper our bond becomes.  Because of this realization, I rarely pass up an invitation to get together.

The "A Mom Knows Best" crew in NYC

I’ve learned a lot about how to be a good friend from these women.  A good friend makes a fuss on your birthday (usually in some kind of group gathering), checks in when you are facing a personal challenge, but mostly finds ways to make more memories, both large and small.  I love it when my phone rings and one of my pals is off to the nail salon for a pedicure and wants to know if I can join her for a little catching up.  Often times, it’s an email blast to go see a movie of a book we all read in our book club, or just a made up excuse to go meet at the local martini bar because it’s been too long.

Longtime friends at my brother John's Memorial

The other excellent by-product of this gaggle of gals is that they have chosen well in the husband department, which makes it incredibly easy to get the couples together.  One of the potential frustrations of friendship is when your spouse dislikes your bff’s spouse, and you can’t do the couple thing.   Thankfully we don’t have that issue, it’s more of a scheduling/babysitting challenge, but we are up to it, and up for it.

Beloved husbands

This summer a group of eight of us headed to Block Island on our now annual getaway, supported by our husbands who stayed home with the kids.  Again this year I came home glowing from all the great conversation, dancing, and laughter we’d experienced together, and I said to my husband, “My friends are a sheer joy to be with – no tension, no bad vibe, just good, good fun.  Amazing.”  His response…”As it should be, sweetheart.”  Yes, yes, but still I feel exceedingly lucky!  There are many wonderful quotes about friendship, but the one that best sums it up for me is from Emily Dickinson, and addresses the ‘wealth’ and ‘richness’ of friendship in a figurative way that appeals to me.  She said, “My friends are my estate.”   So true.

My local posse

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The Kindness of Strangers….

“Sometimes when we are generous in small  ways, it can change someone else’s life forever.”

This saying rings true for a very special woman I have had the pleasure of getting to know this past year.  Truth be told, I would never have had the honor of knowing her if not for her generosity and kindness to everyone she meets.  Her kind and generous ways have changed my life forever.  Let me explain…

I am talking about my friend and the owner of this website, Allison Alexander.It was just about a year ago that Allison’s path crossed with mine.  I was involved in an event committee for a local fundraiser to celebrate the life of Camden A. Fry, a beautiful eight-year-old girl who was killed in August of 2009.  It was my responsibility to reach out to the local television and radio personalities to line up emcees for different time slots throughout the day.   As time passed quickly, I was still coming up empty in being able to obtain any television personalities for the event, and needless to say, I was becoming a little FRANTIC as the event date was less than a month away!

Well, it was around that time that I received an email from Allison, who at the time was an evening news anchor in Providence, Rhode Island.  Allison was unable to attend on that date, but through her kind efforts she went the extra mile for me and not only arranged for an emcee for that day, but she also kept in touch with me until the event arrived.  I still cannot thank her enough for her help and generosity.

The kindness of strangers is what I think of when I look back on this moment in time.  We not only have stayed in touch with each other, but any chance she could do something out of the goodness of that big heart of hers, she would.  She arranged for my son to tour her television station for his birthday, and not only did she show him around the station and introduce him to everyone there, but she also  let him sit and watch the news broadcast, LIVE.  She made my son and me feel welcome and special that day. Words cannot express how much that meant to us.

Just recently, she asked me to be part of a wonderful new adventure in her life.  Allison was developing her own website www.amomknowsbest.com, which is a website not only geared toward moms, but also toward women, in general.   I was touched and honored not only that she asked me to be a contributor, but that she thought I might have something interesting to offer.  It has been an opportunity for me to express my thoughts on many different subjects including divorce, parenting and friendship.    It has also given me the chance to meet the other amazing women who contribute to the website and who have  become my friends.  I thank Allison every day for giving me this creative outlet which has changed my life and my outlook on life as well.

Over the past year, I have gotten to know Allison and she has become a wonderful friend.  She is a person that looks at you and sees all the good in you, all the promise in you and makes you see it too.  She is a diamond in the rough, and I am a better person for having met her.   Allison recently moved with her family out of Rhode Island.  Although I am very sad about her leaving,  I know that through my contribution to her website, and because of the kind of person that she is, we will remain friends and in each other’s lives for a long time.  As I have told her, she is a bright star that only gets brighter…

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