Posted in connections, mindset, socializing

A tangent from … May

 I wrote in May about sharing things you feel good about on social media—getting exercise, baking, creating art. (You can revisit that post here.)

At the end of that post, I indicated I had a tangent from it that I would share tomorrow.

I have a huge stash of drafts. Some just notes. Some partially written. Some fully written but I don’t like how they flow so they’re waiting to be rewritten.

Some were timely and will end up just deleted.

This one? Fully written. Flow is fine. No idea why I didn’t post it in May. Enjoy!

“No one cares that you ran today.”

1- You can’t generalize your own dislike to everyone. Even if you and all of your mutual friends agree, that’s still not everyone. If the posts are truly offensive or simply bother you that much, remove the person from your field of vision. (Different social media platforms achieve this differently, but “remove” is also an option in all of them.) It’s not their responsibility to meet your approval with what they share.

2- On the opposite side of that, some people are inspired. I have had people tell me that because they saw this right now, they decided to go do something right now. Typically, these are people who already do the thing and are in a bit of a slump. They’re kickstarted.

3- It’s passive aggressive. If there’s an issue with a person, either have a conversation with them or stop letting their stuff come into your feed.

How we react to things is our own baggage, so being upset about benign posts is often because they poke at a sore spot.

Maybe you want to be doing the thing and can’t (for any of a million reasons) and are angry and/or sad about that.

Maybe you feel like you should be doing the thing and you aren’t (for any of a million reasons—some the same as the previous million) and others sharing their success triggers shame.

Maybe you know the person and you know that what they’re sharing and what happens in real life don’t match (again, for any number of reasons, possibly reasons you’re not aware of) and you bristle at the inauthenticity.

Maybe it’s just redundant.

Sometimes what people are excited about and what you’re interested in listening to don’t match.

The Kid can talk to me about rockets or Star Wars or Minecraft for extremely long periods of time. I could go with the extra-condensed version and be quite content. If these were Facebook interactions, I could just scroll past them (because I don’t have to engage) or I can hide him, or I can unfriend him.

If we have interactions with a person in real life and they always talk about the same thing and it’s not at all interesting, often we stop spending time with them. (Which is unfortunate that we don’t usually say, “Hey! I’d really like to talk with you but this topic isn’t really interesting to me. Can we talk about something else?”)

Social media seems to be a space where we still spend time and just complain about it. If it bothers you that much, stop giving them attention!

Posted in Sunday photos

My photography journey 10Jan21

More macro!

I got some advice on improving my shots and wanted to redo the dog’s eye (I like that shot) but haven’t thought to do it when they’re laying and I’ve had enough light.

Speaking of not enough light… this one is too dark, and I wouldn’t normally share it, but watching Brussels sprouts grow is so delightful!

They’re actually still smaller than grapes. We’ve had some cold nights and I’m amazed the veggies are still growing, but the sprouts, so many tomatoes, chili pepper (or maybe jalapeño—Climbing Daddy would know), onions are all still growing strong! I don’t have photos of most of them. Or, I don’t have photos that were worth sharing of them.

Other shots from around the garden were better as far as light goes. Some are sharper than others. Still work to do; enjoying the process. The lead photo is basil.

The broccoli is starting to show! So exciting!

And a more Arizona-type of plant.

Posted in audience participation, connections, know better do better, mindset, thoughtfulness

Conscientiousness and community

My great-aunt apparently drove later in her life than she should have. I never rode in a car with her but I remember overhearing grownups laughing that she was like Mr. Magoo, where she always turned out fine but there was a trail of chaos behind her.

We’re not always aware of the effect we have on others.

When we hold on to trash until we find a trash can, when we snap at people who we perceive as worthy of our judgement and ire, when we tell someone something we admire about them, when we cut people off in traffic … we affect others. Often, we affect more than just the person we’re targeting.

Do you want your ripples to be positive or negative? Assume there is no neutral. (The option of neutral leads to inaction, and inaction nearly always feeds the negative.)

Take a moment and think of something small that someone (known or unknown) did that affected your mood.

My hikes are much less pleasant when there is trash on the trail. The most common trash on the trails I frequent is bags of dog poop: people bag up their dog’s poop and then leave it on the trail. Pack it out. Leave no trace. Something small that affects countless others.

One day at work, I got three compliments on my dress. Each made my day better.

Small things matter. Offer small things to others. People you know. People you don’t know.

Drive thoughtfully. Give praise. Do favors. Clean up after yourself. Turn the volume down. Send a card. Be patient. Live generously.

Posted in differences, mental health, mindset

Two old women

During the summer of 2019, I got to visit my great-aunt, the twin sister of my late grandmother, my biggest fan as I grew into being a musician.

Whenever I go back east, I make sure to visit Aunt Ellen. I learned on my last visit that she’s in an assisted living facility now—against her will—and lives about an hour away from where she used to live.

When we were young, Mom-mom was my grandmom and Aunt Ellen was The Other Mom-mom. When they reached a certain age, they had different updos and dyed their hair different shades of their former color, but otherwise, they looked the same.

My last visit to her house, I stopped by unannounced. I let myself into the back yard—she never used the front door, probably because the garage was at the far end of the back yard. She didn’t drive—neither did her twin—but her late husband did, and after years of going in and out the back, why change?

It was autumn. The weather was still pleasant, and the screen door allowed fresh air into the house.

I knocked on the door. No answer. I looked through the screen and could barely see the old familiar dining room, with the living room beyond. The same furniture had been in the same places for as long as I could remember.

I knocked again, hoping that my pop-in wasn’t going to give me the honor of finding she had passed. We were just past her 90th birthday.

Still no answer.

The yard wrapped around the far side of the house. A few large walnut trees stood in that space, as well as the totem pole her husband had carved at least a decade earlier. 

Rustling came from around that corner, so I went to investigate. Aunt Ellen was decidedly not deceased. She was raking up the walnuts and leaves that coated the ground; she had three garbage bags done.

We went in the house immediately and she fixed tea and cookies. We visited for hours, eventually taking the visit to one of her favorite restaurants for dinner.

She has fairly advanced macular degeneration and can’t see very well as a result. As is often the case with people in their 90s, she has some hearing loss and wears hearing aids.

While we talked, she said that everything was fine until she turned 90. Now, not so much.

On our most recent visit, Aunt Ellen was 92 or 93 and generally unhappy. The dissatisfaction she found in turning 90 hadn’t reversed—not that I expected it would—and being forced to move out of the house she had lived in for 70 years didn’t make life better.

She lamented her sensory shortcomings and life’s insistence that she remain a part of it. 

For Christmas, my ex-mother-in-law had dinner with us (along with The Tall Daddy, The Climbing Daddy, and The Kid). Grammy is 93.

She has some hearing loss but not as much as Aunt Ellen and doesn’t wear hearing aids. Although we were sitting at a distance, when we didn’t have masks on for the meal, she seemed to be able to hear everyone without issue. Masks made it more difficult. Masks make it more difficult for everyone.

She has her vision. She plays cards and Rummikub, reads books and writes letters.

When we visited Aunt Ellen, The Kid tried to show her a LEGO thing he had with him. She was happy to talk with him about it but didn’t really follow the conversation and couldn’t see the pieces very well.

After dinner with Grammy, The Kid brought out his new LEGO lunar lander and, masked up, gave Grammy a detailed tour. She followed, engaged in the conversation, and told him at the end that she had learned a lot from him.

Both were delighted to have this moment with The Kid.

It was striking to me, as I watched him interact with Grammy, how different it was than it had been interacting with Aunt Ellen. 

So many factors play into people’s dispositions as they age, but I wonder, in her position, how Aunt Ellen could be happier. She can’t see or hear very well and is displaced. Displaced I can see how to manage, but not without critical senses.

I’ve often thought about what life would be like if I lost my hearing. My right ear went deaf in a matter of hours, and I’m acutely aware that at any moment, the other could go and that would be that.

But I could still see. I could read and write and take pictures and watch my boy and see my husband and friends.

What would I do if I couldn’t see?

So much has happened in my life, and I’ve come through all of it. Losing my vision? I don’t know how well I would come through that. Compounded by losing hearing. Especially if I was 93 and displaced.