Five Minute Friday: WORTH

Welcome to this week’s “Five Minute Friday.” Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” Today’s prompt: WORTH.

Five Minute Friday

Worth is a concept that presents a challenge to me. It’s easier to ascribe worth to someone else than it is to myself.

Especially over the last three years, after I quit my “real” job and began the patchwork of caregiving + part-time work + life, I have increasingly found myself asking “how do they do it?” when I see friends/acquaintances juggling a “9-5,” family, and community obligations.

I have had several conversations recently with friends about what “counts.” I will admit I am a bit driven by external recognition — certificates, being mentioned on social media, winning awards (I used to aspire to be an FSU “Grads Made Good” but that ship has probably already sailed as far as it being a possibility – unless I write an amazing book – you never know!!). But there are smaller, subtler things that have worth too. A couple of times recently, people have made it a point to mention how they used a green pen I gave them and it made them smile. A simple green pen!

But I don’t give green pens to just anyone. Choosing to give one means something worthy, maybe just to that person and me, but there is optimism in the exchange. Maybe I need to remember to give myself that same optimism, every day.

The caregiving life is full of times you wonder if your choices matter, if anyone notices, especially the recipient of the caregiving. [STOP]

Five Minute Friday

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday linkup.

Everything Worthwhile is Bittersweet

I am delighted to welcome my friend Shea Atkin as a guest blogger today. This post started from a simple Facebook exchange about the fact that healing is not linear. I asked her to expand on that idea, and she did so beautifully. Thank you so much, Shea. 

Trauma Touch Therapy

Why is 500 words of my own story so hard to write? I mean, it’s my story, but where do I start? How do you succinctly craft 500 words together to tell the journey of what feels like a million nights? And what is the texture and content of authentic–and how does it and feel and taste inside this body that I’ve been given?

My authentic heart feels free now, but the process has been messy and I can’t count how many times I wanted to just give up and say fuck it. But sometimes I would say it, and keep on walking and not giving up. As a survivor of sexual abuse and a lifetime of alcoholism and addiction, sobriety was the best thing that ever happened to me. It was also the hardest because I had to take personal responsibility for my healing, recovery and actions (past and present). That will introduce you to true humility and freedom–but with no anesthetic. Raw and unfiltered and interwoven with a lot of grace.

I’m a big believer in synchronicity. I stumbled into massage school at 19 because I was already failing out of community college. My mom said that it would be best to get licensed in a trade so I could at least start making money if I couldn’t make it through college. She gifted me a massage for my 18th birthday and I remember thinking how amazing it must be to have a job where you could make people feel that good. It truly felt life changing. So I started massage school.

As I started giving and receiving massages, emotions and flashbacks started to occur. One day the rape (that I blocked out of memory for 7 years) surfaced fully and unapologetically. That was the defining moment that I knew a) that memory was stored in muscle and symptoms present psychosomatically and b) I wanted to dedicate my life to healing others from this as I continued to heal from multiple layers of trauma.

I continued to transition through 7 more years of active addiction until I finally let go and got sober.

The real work of finding my authentic self really started when I put the drugs and alcohol down. Only then was I able to truly process, grieve and accept the things that happened to me and the things I did to others while caught up in active addiction. I’m still amazed that I was of any use at all in those years but that’s the thing about grace and mercy–it’s free and everywhere.

I was used as a vessel of healing despite my weaknesses and struggles–that is truly a humbling reality. It was at the point when I found out about trauma touch therapy that all the pieces started to come together and I felt like I finally had a little direction on what the next part of my journey would be. As I received my own session of trauma touch therapy and practiced on others, more healing continued to happen.

That’s the thing about numbing–we can’t selectively numb. If we push down and suppress the negative, we also cut off the positive. Sadness and joy can (and should) co-exist, because that is the nature of being human.

All in all, it’s been a wonderfully terrible awakening–but everything that is worthwhile is bittersweet. The light cannot exist without the darkness. Both hold equal importance and until we can accept the “Good” and “Bad” aspects that co-exist inside these amazing bodies we’ve been given–we won’t be free.

Trauma Touch Therapy

Shea is a licensed massage and trauma touch therapist at Abundance Wellness Center. She is also working toward certification in craniosacral therapy. Here are her contact details:

Trauma Touch Therapy

Five Minute Friday: EXPECT

This is my first week to join “Five Minute Friday.” This is the deal, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” Today’s prompt: EXPECT.

Five Minute Friday

I read this “expect” prompt last night, and several different thoughts on it ran through my mind as I drifted off to sleep. First and foremost, I think, are my expectations around this close-to-the end phase of caregiving. As yesterday would attest, I can’t expect to string together a full sentence (written or spoken) without being interrupted. My father-in-law, who sleeps for hours-long stretches now as his cancer continues its assault on him, has his most restless times at exactly the moments I need to concentrate. I gave up yesterday and called the home health agency to hire someone to come attend to him after Wayne has to leave for work, so I can finish the part of my day that is deadline-driven. It’s unfair to Dad for me to be frustrated and stressed about dealing with his bathroom needs (which take FOREVER and result in massive cleanups afterwards) as well as his pain management.

Also on the topic of expectations, he is meeting exactly what the book we were given by the hospice workers predicted about this stage: confusion, talking about loved ones who have passed, etc. Yesterday, he asked for my mother in law, who has been dead almost four years. “She’s not here,” I said. “Is she still alive?” he asked. I responded she was not. “We’re dropping like flies,” he said. It was a rare and crystal-clear accurate moment of lucidity from a man who tried to smoke a slim jim the other day, thinking it was a cigar.

This is all new to us. We don’t know what to expect. It is frightening and there is the sense that we only have this one time to help him navigate his death experience – it isn’t about “not messing it up” but about focusing on it with grace. 

Five Minute Friday

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday linkup.

A Late Cleanup

Personal Organization

Three years ago, I came home from my last day of work at Healthy Kids and placed a box of assorted “office stuff” in our dining room (which we don’t use for dining). There it sat. For three yearsEvery time I walked by it, I used a few brain (and heart) cells thinking “I really should deal with that box.”

As this picture shows, the box fell apart. It accumulated items that had never graced my office (like the “triathlon” license plate holder). I don’t know what was keeping me from dealing with it. Maybe some deep-seated processing I still needed to do about leaving Healthy Kids after almost 20 years. Maybe something less complicated, like laziness.

Time for a Small Win

I am currently reading the book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do by Charles Duhigg. This book is full of many incredible takeaways but I’ll save most of those for a different time. For now, I will point out the author’s emphasis on the power of a “small win” to make a “big difference.”

The power of “small wins” lies in the fact that they create momentum for behavioral changes that evolve into bigger wins over time.

Walking past that falling-apart box was a downer every time. A non-productive downer that did nothing to contribute to the fact that I need to physically clean my environment in order to have more emotional breathing space.

Walking past my sock drawer is the opposite feeling from the “old office memorabilia box.” Ever since my friend Fred Davenport challenged me to blog about my sock drawer (really, he did!) and I cleaned it out as a result, it has been pristine. I take care of it because I feel accountable to my friend (not that I expect him to drop by and inspect my sock drawer).

I guess the difference with the “office box” is the fact that now my accountability is just to myself.

What Was Getting In The Way?

The box and its sad neglected state signify at least three things to me.

No Place to Work

I think one factor keeping me from dealing with the “office box” is that I don’t have anywhere to go (as far as a workspace) despite the fact that I am working around 30 hours a week on my two awesome freelance jobs. The family pictures, the treasured glass “bluebird of happiness” Tenley gave me in kindergarten, the crystal clock that had been a wedding gift and became my office time piece — there is no place for them right now.

When I first started working from home while caregiving, I would move my laptop and other work-related materials into Tenley’s room in order to have a facsimile of a “workspace.” Over time, though, it just became easier to work from the dining room table.

I know our virtual world is making it possible to work from almost anywhere, but I miss the structure of sentimental “things” around me. 

Unresolved Relationships

What do unresolved relationships have to do with cleaning out a box? You would think absolutely nothing, but certain items in the “office box” remind me that loops did not get closed. The framed print of our corporate values like “family focus” and “transparency” reminds me that I never got feedback from the people I had supervised once I received a lateral transfer and was no longer their supervisor.

On the flip side, time has done its work in some ways. One bridge I really felt I had burned turned out to be not so much burned as in need of reinforcement.

I am first and foremost a people person and somehow leaving the items in that box undisturbed kept me from having to accept, again, that there are parts of my Healthy Kids experience that simply have to go in the “it is what it is” category. 

Clutter is Overwhelming and Paralyzing

You know, I don’t know the solution to the fact that I allow clutter to accumulate yet would feel so much freer if I would just deal with it. I recently went to a new place for personal services (think: nails, hair, massages – don’t really want to single anyone out). While I wasn’t unhappy with the individual’s work, I was turned off by the general disorganization at their workspace.

My entire house (except for my sock drawer and the space where the office box used to sit) is a generally disorganized workspace. If I don’t like it when I’m a customer, how does the disorder around me impact my spirit and ability to achieve my goals?

Back to Those Small Wins

I’m not sure what exactly prompted me to clean up the “office box.” Okay, I’ll admit I was running low on blog topics and needed something to talk about.

But I thought about how I feel every time I use that utterly orderly sock drawer.

And how outer order will (may?) bring inner calm.

And I found myself one small win.

Three years late, and admittedly small, but still a win.

Personal Organization

Personal Organization

This post was inspired by the Mama’s Losin’ It writing prompt: Write a blog post inspired by the word: late.

Personal Organization

A Photo Finish for a Helicopter Mom

My husband and I have been surprised throughout my son’s school years when pictures of him have shown up in our newspaper, The Tallahassee Democrat.

There was the “Home Alone”-ish shot of him watching his teachers do a presentation designed to get him excited for standardized testing.

Mom Fail

And the shot from Summer Track in 2008, noting his “shirtless and shoeless” status:
Mom Fail

Photo Credit: Phil Sears, Tallahassee Democrat

You Never Know When Your Shoes Will Matter

As high school graduation day approached for Wayne, I shared this phrase with friends in real life, in Facebook groups, and wherever else I could:

“After this one last detail, I am officially retiring my helicopter rotors.”

What was the big graduation-related detail that I just had to have go my way in order to avoid a “mom fail”? I needed him to have nice shoes. At his convocation ten days prior, I was mortified to see the state of his shoes. (My daughter, who graduated three years ago, was very particular about clothing and shoes, so I had not had a reason to helicopter in for anything related to her graduation ceremonies.)

Immediately after convocation, I told him he needed to get better shoes and that I would pay for them. In the ten days between convocation and graduation, he put some shoes in our Amazon cart that I rejected (they were too expensive and I was pretty sure the only thing he would be wearing these shoes for would be graduation and his any funerals in the near future (we have a relative on hospice care)). I was pro-Amazon because I have a gift card balance but didn’t want to use that much of it on shoes that wouldn’t get worn often.

Once I rejected the Amazon idea, we fell into a pretty typical communication pattern between us. It went something like this, with variations over the ten days:

ME: “You need to get shoes.” Related emotional state: Frustration that it wasn’t getting done, worry about spending more money, annoyance that for the umpteenth time in our parent-child relationship I was carrying the worry-weight of something that didn’t matter to him.

HIM: “Yeah. Okay.” With some variation of “It would be easier on Amazon” or “I’ll get to it” thrown in but no action. His related emotional state: My guess may be wrong, because I’m not him. BUT I’m pretty sure it was heavier on the “will she just stop with the shoes thing?” than on determination to take care of a graduation-related detail and erase one worry off my list.

Graduation Day Dawns

I woke up graduation morning, fretting (still). The shoes had not been bought. He was going to graduate no matter what was on his feet, so as long as the shoes were the “dark” shoes required by the dress code, what did it really matter? Did his ratty shoes really equate to a “mom fail”?

We also had limited time. I needed him home (as he had agreed to be) from noon to 3 because I had plans and we can’t leave my father-in-law alone. After three, it would be almost time to leave for the ceremony. He had a brief period the morning of graduation to do this.

What Happened?

He bought shoes. They are actually shoes he likes, so maybe they will get worn beyond graduation and funerals.

I asked myself multiple times why it really mattered, because out of almost 500 graduates, who would be inspecting his shoes? His diploma would be just as valid no matter what was on his feet.

But, as the Kiger family has learned over the years, you just never know when the local newspaper may take your picture and an entire community (plus all your mom’s friends on Facebook) will see that your shoes did, indeed, look great.

Mom Fail

Photo Credit: Joe Rondone/Tallahassee Democrat

Are the Helicopter Rotors Gone?

Do me a favor and ask me that once his thank you notes are done!

Mom Fail

This post was inspired by the Mama Kat writing prompt, “share a mom fail.”

Mom Fail

Tell Me About Yourself, Mom

In his post, 10 Questions to Ask Your Mom or Grandma on Mother’s Day, Bob Tiede shared ten questions to help us get to know our moms better. I love the questions but feel shy to ask them of my mom, so I decided to answer them from my perspective; maybe my kids will be interested someday.

1. What are your favorite memories of times you spent with your Grandparents?

I don’t think I would have called them my favorite times when I was a kid, but in retrospect, all the times we spent on my Granny and Pa’s porch (my mom’s parents) shelling peas and just “visiting.”

2. What was your grade school like?  What do you remember about your favorite teacher?

I went to two. Roosevelt Roads Elementary (we were stationed in Puerto Rico in the Navy) for kindergarten through part of second grade, then W.E. Cherry Elementary School once we moved back to Orange Park.

Interviewing Mothers

Thank you to pinner Maria Norman for this picture.

I don’t remember disliking any teachers in elementary school. She wasn’t a teacher but (surprise!) I really loved the library, Mrs. Derbonne.

Interviewing Mothers

My friend and I shared a day visiting my childhood home and elementary school in January.

3. Who was your best friend? And what did the two of you like to do?

Easy peasy. Paula Young (now Jordan). We became friends because we both have the same first name. We ended up in different places for high school, but every visit we pick up precisely where we left off before.

What did we like to do? We were in band, we both enjoyed academics. Otherwise I would say “hanging out.”

She is deeply loyal, terrifically bright, and determined to serve her family and her business well (she does!). I love her.

Interviewing Mothers

Paula and me in August 2016 in New Orleans

4. What kind of things did you do as a kid that got you into trouble at home or school?

For the most part, I was ridiculously compliant. RIDICULOUSLY. My most memorable transgressions:

  1. I didn’t clean my room enough (some things never change)
  2. I got pulled out of English class in the 10th grade and scolded for being too chatty with my cousin, Deneen. I was mortified; she was amused that I was mortified.
  3. There was the time I stole baby Jesus, though.

5. Growing up what did you want to be?

I think my rotation was similar to lots of kids (waitress, teacher, that type of thing). I was on a “missionary” kick for a while (and spent the summer after high school knocking on doors all over St. Lucie County hoping to save souls). But the one that comes closest to being a “regret” is not pursuing something medical.

6. Outside of the family, what was the very first job you had that you got paid for?

Babysitting was first, but the first one that made a huge impression, the one I still think about every day, was being a cashier at Spires IGA.

7. How did you meet Dad? How did he ask you to marry him?

Blind date! We went to the Huey Lewis and the News Concert, a setup arranged by our mutual friend Cherie who has declared herself out of the matchmaker business now that she had one success.

I broke up with him in 1989 and moved to NYC to “take my bite out of the big apple.” Over the almost-three years I was there, we progressively took the steps that led to us deciding to get married. I kept telling him I wasn’t ready. One time, when I had just gotten back to New York, I called him and said yes. He officially gave me my ring on the pier at Lake Butler.

8. What is the hardest thing that you ever had to do in your life?

Along with Dad and Aunt Mary, tell Grandma and Grandpa that Uncle Chuck had committed suicide.

9. What is the greatest compliment that you have ever received?

Someone who had been a little kid when I was a teenager working with the children’s choir at First Baptist friended me on Facebook YEARS LATER. It took me a bit to remember her (new last name, no longer four years old) but once my brain was engaged, she said “you made a difference.” I never knew.

10. What is one thing you still want to do that you have never done?  (What is still on your “Bucket List?”)

I still want to be fluent in Spanish. I am so disappointed in myself that I haven’t made more progress toward that. I want to get out of debt. Go to Europe.

Bonus Question:  If your Mom (Grandma) is a Follower of Jesus, ask:  Is there a story you can share about how you came to be a Follower of Jesus?

For me, my spiritual life has been an evolution from doing what I thought I should do spiritually, to doing what most brings me in Communion with the holy trinity. I am *thrilled* Tenley has a church relationship she loves and have enjoyed going to church with Wayne Kevin. No matter what denominations they choose, first and foremost I hope they make time every week to turn to something bigger about themselves.

Strengthening Community Relationships in Hard Times

Community relationships pose challenges at even the best of times. I was excited to read recently that California Governor Jerry Brown has declared California’s drought state over for now. Within days of reading that article, I read that Central Florida’s wildfires are being exacerbated by dry conditions. While Florida’s situation is different from California’s, it still occurred to me that the “for now” part of California’s governor’s declaration is something we should all remember. Crises can occur at any time, and as we learned in Tallahassee last year during Hurricane Hermine, community relationships do better in crisis with a plan.

I am re-sharing a post I wrote in 2015, inspired by my horror at the #DroughtShaming I learned about among California neighbors. It’s an important reminder that community relationships are fragile and it is in our ability to nurture them.

Community Relationships

PR Lessons from DroughtShaming

I have a confession to make.

I used to be an anonymous “PoorlyProofed” contributor on Twitter.

Eventually, I started feeling guilty for anonymously calling people out.

I hate typos as much as the next person, but I started to feel that the negativity behind my tweets was weighing me down.

(It doesn’t stop at PoorlyProofed, admittedly. I even blogged about someone who misspelled “angel” on a luminaria MEMORIALIZING THEIR LOVED ONE WHO DIED OF CANCER.)

But it’s a new day, a new year, and perhaps I have evolved.

I have evolved to the point that I have reached a critical mass in my tolerance for anonymous finger-pointing on Twitter.

DroughtShaming

When I was listening to a recent radio story about DroughtShaming, I couldn’t help but feel that this effort was not going to end well.

The drought conditions in California, and the civic actions that have been taken to try to mitigate the effects of the drought, have resulted in the birth of the DroughtShaming hashtag (#droughtshaming).

There’s even an app.

The citizen reporter stands at the offending area, and GPS knows where they are, so the report already includes the address along with the alleged infraction.

Most people will agree that measures need to be taken to deal with the drought conditions in California.

When I see the glee with which some people use DroughtShaming, though, I have to wonder if their motives are altruistic.

I mean, what are the homeowners’ association meetings going to be like for these neighbors in the future?

Distrust Does Not Build Community Relationships

My husband and I were on the receiving end of a summons three years ago for “high grass.”

We deserved the summons. I won’t argue that. 

Our lawnmower had broken, my husband was out of a job, and we did not have the money to fix the lawnmower.

Because the report was made anonymously, there was no way of knowing who had filed it.

I kept wishing whoever had filed the report had offered to let us use their lawnmower instead.

It wasn’t that we WANTED our yard to be an eyesore.

Admittedly, my feelings probably would have been hurt if I had been approached directly by a neighbor, even if they were offering a lawnmower, but after the summons incident, I have always been asking myself  “was it YOU?” when interacting with my neighbors.

Distrust among neighbors does not build a caring community.

Positively Solve Problems

As communicators, we can play a role in more positively solving problems such as the drought-measure compliance.

  1. Connecting: One of the first pieces of strategy has to be to foster a “we’re all in this together” vibe. California is not going to be in drought conditions forever. The day will come when it will not be news that someone is watering their lawn. We need to help people realize a mutual goal of creating a pleasant community is bigger than the issue of sprinklers.
  2. Acknowledge the Issue: I don’t mean to flit around rejoicing that drought is front and center as a problem. Some events are inevitable in the life of a community. If it wasn’t drought, maybe it would be a proliferation of invasive plants, too much rain, or a strike by municipal workers such as the waste management staff. Be clear that drought is a true issue. Don’t gloss over it.
  3. Encouraging Constructive Action: Getting your neighbors fined or using civic resources to write up tickets has little probability of bringing rain down from the sky or of preserving what little water you do have. As a community, you may be at half time of your water management game, but you can still win if you have the right plays.

How can we, as communicators, help keep the civility reservoir full rather than drain it dry?

This blog post was originally published at Spin Sucks as PR Lessons from DroughtShaming.

Community Relationships

An Easter Adventure

It is Easter today, and I am not in the mental mindset to write either something sentimental or something candy-related. I feel like changing things up a little bit, and doing it in advance of Easter so I can enjoy the day Sunday.

I abandoned “Write a story about a serial killer who leaves his (or her) clues in Easter eggs” (I don’t want to get that twisted.)

I considered:

Write a story where one of the main characters is a professional artist who made him/herself famous by designing Easter eggs.

Write a story that begins with a modern-day pastor being time warped to the time when Jesus was resurrected.

(The above two ideas were from Litbridge.)

My hilarious friends had lots of suggestions, reminding me that “little bunny foo foo was a serial killer” (technically true!) and somehow devolving into twerking bunnies.

In the clearer light of day, let’s consider what our crazy cat, Bella, actually does when she escapes.

An Easter Adventure

For context, Bella is (ahem) an indoor cat. She has developed a codependency, however, with my father-in-law, who goes in and out of our French doors many (many!) times a day to smoke his cigars. I’ve tried lots of methods of trying to keep her in, but sometimes it just doesn’t work. There are birds to chase and there’s grass to smell, after all!

<<<cue mysterious ghostly suspenseful music here>>>

One day, Bella escaped as she had done so many times before.

“She’ll come back,” my husband and I said to each other, something we have said hundreds of times before which had always proven true. After all, the lure of her food bowl eventually wins.

The night before Easter, we were exhausted. I had gotten up early to volunteer at the water stop for the Palace Saloon Race. Wayne, as usual, was snoring away. My father-in-was in whatever land a combination of Percocet and Ativan gets you to, and my son was still out with his girlfriend.

To keep trying to lure Bella in or go to bed?

The bed won.

When I woke up Easter morning, the first order of business was (as usual), pressing “brew” on the Keurig. When the house’s quiet registered, I realized Alice Cooper, our other cat, was the only feline begging me for food.

WHERE WAS BELLA?

I was kicking myself for all those times I thought “I really should make her wear a collar with a tag that has identification on it.” Was she gone for good?

It is hard for me to relax about Bella. As my husband reminds me often, I am the family member who gets most stressed about her disappearances. It’s a long story but the bottom line is: she is my daughter’s cat, she brings us all happiness (when she isn’t destroying the furniture), and I don’t want her to disappear on my watch.

As the coffee finished brewing and the caffeine started infiltrating my system, I got distracted by my usual morning routine of checking email and social media.

Happy Easter! Wished so many friends on social media.

Easter wishes on a screen weren’t quite cutting it. I missed all the years when I was growing up when my parents would have my place at the table set with an elaborate Easter basket I could admire before getting dressed for church. I missed all the excited years of my children’s Easters: candy, dressing up, the famous bonnet contest at church.

This year, all I had to look forward to was giving some chocolate and cards to my husband and son (I had sent Tenley her Easter goodies in advance), and the inevitable first question of the day from my father-in-law: “anyone got a pain pill?”

Since no one else was up yet, I headed outside to get the newspaper.

Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted lavender. WEIRD. Upon further inspection, in the hedges by the mailbox was a plastic easter egg. HMMM. Maybe the Tallahassee Democrat had found the one way to reach out to me that didn’t involve me having to hunt for a password I couldn’t remember. I tucked the egg in my pocket and brought the paper into my house.

Still feeling a little out of sorts, I decided to treat myself to an everything bagel. I grabbed one out of the freezer, wrapped it in a paper towel, and opened the microwave to defrost the bagel.

HMMM. The microwave was NOT. EMPTY. Two mint green eggs stared back at me. Maybe my son had developed a penchant for holiday observances (hey, 17 isn’t too late to learn!) and spread treats throughout the house for me. I placed the mint green eggs with the lavender egg in a bowl.

Wishing I had bought orange juice to have with my everything bagel, I resigned myself to an oj-free breakfast and opened the refrigerator door to grab butter.

NOW THIS IS GETTING STRANGE, I thought.  A pint of pulp-free orange juice had hopped into my fridge. There was no way it had been there the day before.

As I got dressed for church, my mind was tossing around the possible origins of the eggs and the orange juice. I didn’t dare mention it to my husband – it sounded so bizarre.

I stopped by my laptop to take a peek at my social media before we left for church. Where the heck did *this* screen saver come from?

Easter Adventure

And the rainbow of Peeps (my favorite) and chocolate bunny so beautifully packaged (packaging matters) in my chair?

*meow* came a feline voice from the porch.

Easter Adventure

It turns out Bella’s latest adventure had been more about bunnies than birds.

And an Easter “Cat”astrophe was not a catastrophe at all.

Someone got a bowl *brimming* with food after her big adventure.

Currently Happening In My Facebook World

I often laughingly tell people that Facebook highlights have become a steady stream of “isn’t my new grandchild beautiful?” (they always are) and “so sorry to announce that Fluffly has crossed the rainbow bridge” (always sad). We Facebook users are older and grayer than many other social media channels, and it frequently shows.

Prompted by Mama Kat, though, a look at six hot topics in my Facebook world proves there’s more to my Facebook family than birth announcements and goodbyes to beloved pets.

Our Embattled Health Care

While I recognize that the Affordable Care Act is flawed, I also firmly believe The American Health Care Act was in no way a suitable replacement.

Having worked for Florida Healthy Kids for almost 20 years, I became a diehard believer in the power of preventive care, in the potential that can be unlocked if someone thinks out of the box and people with the patience to slog through the mind-numbing details of crafting federal policy and budgets follow up.

This is one of the graphics I received via my fellow advocates at I Stand with Planned Parenthood yesterday and posted to my wall prior to the failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act:

Facebook Highlights

#StandWithPP is (quoting from them): “A group of social media influencers across platforms – from Twitter to YouTube to blogs – saying together #StandWithPP to ensure that women have access to health care services that range from cancer screenings to birth control.” To join, complete this form.

The Emergence of Female Political Candidates, Especially at the Local Level

When I pulled up the Emerge America site while looking for a stat to use about the number of women entering the political arena (especially local) in the wake of the presidential election, I wanted to act on every single action point of the #WhySheRuns effort to increase the number of women running for office (with the exception of running myself), such as sharing the graphic below immediately.

Facebook Highlights

My belief in the power of women to make a difference locally, at the state level, and nationally (as well as internationally) drove me to donate to my friend Nicolette’s campaign for a seat on the Orange County Commission.

While there are traditional still photos of Nicolette and her awesome family on her campaign Facebook page, this picture, to me, best represents what women can do these days to make a difference: talk to people. Explain how to be a part of government. Overcome fears, objections, inertia. Talk. To people.

Facebook Highlights

Nicolette hosts an advocacy training for the Lake Nona Democrats.

If Our Kids Become Our Parents

Alexandra Samuel posted this to Facebook the other day.

If you knew your kids were actually time travelers who will eventually go back in time and become your parents, how would that change your parenting?

Aaaaaaaaaand I freaked out. I have always said that I imagine I overcompensated in my parenting for the issues that I took to the therapist’s couch, and I imagine that overcompensation in itself will give my kids plenty of material for their own therapeutic relationships.

It’s probably unfair to my kids to delve too deeply into this. For starters, I suspect Tenley would create a much more orderly, clean, environment in which I as a daughter would wear  more monograms and less “wow! doesn’t this quirky piece from Goodwill make you feel unique?” items. With Wayne Kevin as a parent, no one would get all worked up about the thousand and one administrative details of life; we would be too glued to YouTube.

Why Neal’s Mom Should Pay $120 For Great Tennis Shoes

My Facebook friend Neil Kramer asked Facebook Nation for help convincing his mom to indulge in proper footwear:

Please tell my mother that she deserves $120 New Balance sneakers if they are good for her feet.

Sounds like Neil’s mom is has a vein of the same self-sacrificing, frugal constitution that my parents have. $120 is, sadly, run of the mill for proper walking shoes these days. Honestly, if I had $120 I would have shipped them to her the minute I saw the post. I suspect the issue isn’t having the $120 to spend but her aversion to spending it “gasp!” ON SHOES.

Just do it, Neil’s Mom. I am sure you deserve it. As I told Neil, go to RoadrunnerSports.Com, and get a special deal on day one of visiting the website ($25 off a $75 or more order) as well as the option of their 90-day return policy, where you can return shoes no matter how worn within 90 days if they don’t work out (for credit toward another pair of shoes). We have tested this feature out and they mean it!

Editor’s Note: Neil’s mom got shoes! She got Nikes instead of New Balance but all reports say she is pleased with her purchase. In other news, Neil has now gone down the podiatry rabbit hole and “plantar fasciitis” is in his vocabulary (as well as words like “pronation“). He may never be the same! 

Why Everything About Everything Bagels is Awesome

In addition to his plea for help convincing his mom to take care of her feet, Neil posted this (titled “remains of everything bagel”):

Facebook Highlights

Which brought out ALL the “everything bagel” lovers on Facebook (me included). In addition to the wonders of the everything bagel (they’re best eaten in one of the five boroughs, to be specific, but those of us not currently in NYC have to do the best we can), we discussed:

And guess what I had for breakfast today?

Disney

Since I wrote about Disney last Sunday, am still coming down from the high of spending a few days there last week, have lots of young friends doing the Disney College Program, and in general have many friends going to Disney right now (maybe spring break has something to do with it), there’s a lot of Disney on my Facebook feed and I’m okay with that!

Facebook Highlights

How about you? How is Facebook edifying (or annoying) you lately?

Facebook Highlights

6 Life Truths From Fast Passes

I’m honestly not sure how you “do” Disney parks these days without a smartphone. With your device in hand and the help of the MyDisneyExperience app, you can plan and coordinate your entire visit, especially the Fast Pass process.

With a Fast Pass, you get expedited access to attractions, character meet and greets, and shows. After my recent visit, a few thoughts on how using the Fast Pass system intersects with six general life truths.

Planning Ahead Pays

If you want to avoid lengthy lines on the “big” Disney attractions, a Fast Pass is a necessity. When we went to Hollywood Studios, Tenley got fast passes for Tower of Terror, the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and the Frozen Sing-Along Celebration in advance. Although I didn’t do the two thrill rides, it helped expedite our trip that Tenley and her friend could do them with a minimum of waiting. And we all enjoyed being able to walk right into the Frozen Sing-a-long without standing around in a line moving at a glacial pace.

If You Fail to Plan Ahead, You Have to Watch Everyone Else Who Did Move Faster

Disney has definitely mastered the art of making long lines look deceptively manageable from the outside looking in. Get in line for something with a 110 minute wait time, thinking “ah … that doesn’t look that bad,” and find yourself enviously watching the Fast Pass holders stream on by, on their way to their fast-tracked experiences.

Standing in Line Isn’t ALWAYS Bad

Although this directly contradicts the above, life is full of contradictions, no? We chose to stand in long lines for several attractions we did not have Fast Passes for, and we had some of the best experiences of the trip during those waits. We spent time talking to a fun family from Oklahoma, discussing the challenges of siblinghood, the pros and cons of uniforms for school kids, and lots of other fun topics. Time flew.

We also played Heads Up! (mostly the Broadway version) and discovered a) how generational some Broadway knowledge is and b) how much fun you can have waiting in line (thanks, technology!).

Sometimes Planning Ahead Doesn’t Make THAT Much Difference

While Tenley and her friend were on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, I chose to do The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. The Fast Pass available to me was 35 minutes away, and the regular wait time was 40 minutes. BUT … I chose to get a Fast Pass so I could squeeze in a little errand I wanted to do. Technically, though, having a Fast Pass only saved me five minutes.

Overplanning Can Result in Missing Out on Serendipitous Happenings

The Fast Pass process can lure you into thinking only the Fast Pass activities are worthwhile. I think much of the Disney Magic is generated by being open to the unexpected, the small-but-magical, the discoveries you can’t force. We ended up doing pictures with Mickey Pretzels at Hollywood Studios (after I oh-so-brilliantly observed “oh, the pretzels are Mickey shaped! (SIGH….)). The lighting at that spot was perfect. Any other angle of the sun and it wouldn’t have worked. We were there at the right time, no Fast Pass required.

Disney Philosophy

If only the magic could have taken care of my cowlick!

The Big Things Have Limits

Anyone remember paper tickets? How after a day at Disney your “E” tickets would be history while you would still have a fistful of the less valuable “A” tickets? The same principle still applies, just via an app. We still can’t (or shouldn’t) do ALL “big things” — discovering the hidden gems matters.

Disney Philosophy

Belle and Lumiere were enchanting, even without Fast Passes.

NOTE: There is plenty of fine print with Fast Passes, like who gets the earliest selection window (60 days for people with reservations to stay on Disney Property), how many you can get at a time (three), and more. Read up ahead of time to get the most out of your Fast Passes (I linked to the official Fast Pass site above but Undercover Tourist has great tips here too)!