Weaving a tapestry

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“The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together.” ~ William Shakespeare

I’m not an ardent fan of social media. As a blogger, I’ve read all the advice that says you must develop a platform. You need to promote yourself to acquire more readers. 

Open accounts on Twitter so you can tweet about your blog. Post your blog photos on Instagram. Plug yourself on Linked In. Use Facebook as a marketing tool; pay to promote your blog.

Advance yourself as a writer by spreading your own publicity on as many social media sites as possible. This kind of advice goes on ad nauseum. At least for me.

Some blog for monetary purposes, I get it. Simple marketing. Fine for those whose blog is a full-time job.  Writing, researching, and posting on a blog in addition to managing a plethora of social media sites would require hours and hours each day.

And frankly, that’s not how I want to spend my time. I’m not that kind of blogger. I blog simply because I love to write and I love to connect with others through my writing. Call it what it is – a calling of sorts.

I do believe this calling comes from the Lord I serve. He’s the one who bestowed upon me this talent and passion for writing. He’s the one who entrusts me to use my words to touch the hearts of my readers, to encourage them, to give them a smile on a dismal day, to provide a glimmer of hope, and maybe, just maybe lead them to search for the one true God.

So while I don’t truly promote myself with several social media sites, I do maintain a Mama’s Empty Nest Facebook fan page, where readers may connect with me as an alternative to commenting here. 

Facebook, oh Facebook. On one hand, I dislike it intensely because such mean-spirited and nasty things find their way to my news feed. But on the other hand, I can’t bring myself to delete my account, either my blog fan page or my personal one, even though I have been oh, so tempted.

Facebook is a dichotomy for this Mama because as much as I rail against it often times, in other ways I truly like it.

It enables me to keep in touch with folks I haven’t seen in many years. Having resided in various areas of the country, we’ve left a string of friends and acquaintances in each place we once called home.

Prior to Facebook’s emergence, the only way we kept in touch with most of them was through exchanging cards and letters at Christmas time. Some we inadvertently and regretfully lost contact with completely.

Facebook corrected that wrong. Connections made there now enable me to view little snippets of our far-away friends and loved ones’ lives through this social media. I smile at their photos. I enjoy their funny statuses. I learn that they are in need of prayer. It is a wonderful way to keep in contact and for that I can say I’m grateful.

This crazy social media site seems like a weaving to me. It interlaces lives in and out of one another. When it shows me a list of mutual friends, I view it as a giant tapestry. Your life interwoven with mine, in an unusual way to be sure, but still linked together by a thread of commonality.

Recently, that happened. That thread of commonality.  Opening my personal FB account one morning and scrolling through my news feed, I paused at a friend’s status and decided to comment on her wall. While noticing other comments, one jumped off the page at me. I didn’t recognize the writer’s last name, but I wondered if it was my friend’s relative, a woman I had known as a child.  

So I did what everyone does – I ‘stalked’ by clicking on the second woman’s profile. I recognized her from her photos even though we have all become – ahem – mature, shall we say?

I knew she had married and moved away from our hometown many years ago, which was why I didn’t recognize her last name. Then I noticed something a bit astonishing. Even though this woman lived in another state far away from me, we had a second mutual Facebook friend in common in that state.

Huh, I thought. What are the odds of that?  Our Facebook friend in common just happened to be a blogger friend of mine.

That ‘six degrees of separation’ thing, I reasoned. Wikipedia describes that phrase’s meaning: “Six degrees of separation is the idea that all living things and everything else in the world are six or fewer steps away from each other so that a chain of ‘a friend of a friend’ statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps.”

All of that to say, Disneyland got it right, it truly IS a small world. And we are all woven together by threads of common ground or interaction in some way, our lives entwined by some close connection.

I can’t even recall how many times I have experienced those connections but another one stands out in my mind. Over 25 years ago, a job promotion for Papa took our family from the Midwest, where we had comfortably settled, to the Pacific Northwest, where we knew not one soul.

During our first few weeks residing in our new home in our new town in our new state in our new area of the country, we began a search for a new church home. A place not only for our family to worship our God but a place we would feel connected, at home, with folks who felt like family.

On our very first Sunday visiting the church that did become our “home away from home,” we were welcomed with friendly greetings and warm smiles. During a meet and greet time, we conversed with a couple in front of us.  

As we answered their questions about being new to the area and where we had moved from, we also mentioned where we were originally from – an Eastern state clear across the country. Faces lit up like a Christmas tree when the gentleman said, “Really?? I’m from there too!”

A tapestry moment. We both grew up in the same part of our state; his family belonged to the same church denomination as mine; our home churches were actually in the same district. And there was someone we both knew – a common thread.

All of those common threads mingled together form a web. A tapestry of life. Of friendship. Of being connected to our fellow human beings. 

And that’s why I will, most likely, choose to keep logging into Facebook to share my blog posts there where many of my readers turn to read Mama’s Empty Nest. It’s the same reason I continue to impart my thoughts in writing here on my blog. It’s about connecting with you, my readers.

You are my tapestry, a lovely interweaving of my life with yours. And I’m very grateful for that.

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men.”  ~Herman Melville

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

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Tired but thankful

cat-animal-pet-mieze-158030.jpegT I R E D …..how many ways can you say it?

Worn out, wiped out, done in, worn down.  All-in, used up, washed out, dog-tired. Bushed, beat, pooped, drained, and sapped.

How about exhausted, unenergetic, depleted, or fatigued?  Throw in a couple 50-cent words while we’re at it – debilitated and enervated.

I’m sure there are more words I could add, but my brain and body are just too weary (there’s another word!) to think any harder.  All of the above describe my overall feeling right now.

See I was up at o-dark thirty as my former Army man husband likes to call early in the morning.  Yes, it was one of those days I witnessed a sunrise as I was driving to my destination today.

I arrived there at 6:50 a.m., unloaded my vehicle with my co-worker, set up an exhibit table, and then stood for most of the day until around 2:15 p.m.  But that wasn’t the exhausting part of the day.  What wore me out the most was talking non-stop to hundreds of teenagers at an all-day school event.  My co-worker looked totally wiped out as we packed to leave, and he’s 31 years younger than me!

Trying to keep teens’ attention with witty stories, energetic ideas, yet good, solid advice and information they need to make the best, healthiest choices for their futures is exhausting.  I like to compare it to being a performer on a stage.  When you pour yourself into your work, demonstrate your passion and sincerity for what you are trying to portray, it takes an enormous amount of energy.

When I attend these events, sometimes I envy the other exhibitors.  They usually sit behind their tables, waiting for students to visit, and tell them a few tidbits of information, hand them a free item, and send the students on their way.  Not us!

We stand at the sides of our exhibit booth, we draw teens in with animated stories and demonstrations, we entertain them while we inform, educate, and inspire them and that is very tiring work.  But the connection we make with young people is priceless and oh, so rewarding!

Students run up to us and exclaim with a smile and an excited voice, “I remember you! You came to my class!”  What a joy they can be when they listen so carefully and tell us, “You are the best table here!” or “I always look forward to coming to hear your story!”

Then there are others who shyly advance, can’t quite look us in the eye, but then they share the hurts that they have experienced.  Those are the students I hope we reach the most.

Today was no exception, no matter how draining it was.  For some students, we saw the proverbial “light bulb” come on; for others, we can only hope we planted a seed.

Teens can be so difficult, but they are my favorite people.  No matter what they say, or how they act, inside the façade they put on, are children wanting to be loved and accepted. Their countenance lights up and they literally beam when you make a caring connection with them.

Let me share an example.  A young girl approached our table with her friend.  She looked familiar to me, but that happens often because I see so many students in several high schools.  She eagerly greeted me hello and then blurted out, “I know you, well, I kinda know you.”

She explained I was in her classroom last year, but then informed me she also saw me at her great-grandma’s funeral. Puzzled, I asked her who that was and when she told me, I wanted to cry.

Every summer, this girl’s great-grandma would endure listening to a neighborhood child prattle on about this and that on her covered back porch, where the heady aroma of blooming honeysuckle would waft through the air.  She would take time out of her busy day to sit on her porch swing with that youngster, just listen, and offer advice.  The youngster was me.

Mrs. W. wasn’t just my neighbor, she was my Sunday School teacher, and she was my summer confidant for many years. Once I attended a seminar on helping at-risk youth, where participants were asked to tell about an adult, other than our parents, who impacted our lives as youngsters. The exercise was to remind us that all children need adults who make a positive difference in their lives. My mind immediately thought of Mrs. W. who in her quiet and loving way was such a blessing to me.

And today the tables were turned.  I was given the opportunity to make a positive impact on Mrs. W’s great-grand-daughter and her future.  When I told this teenage girl about the sweet fellowship I once shared with her great-grandma, the young lady in front of me beamed.  At that point, I knew a very real connection was made, one that won’t be soon forgotten.

Talk about full circle.  So even though, my body, mind, and voice is tired, tired, tired, my heart is overflowing with gratitude for this day and Mrs. W.

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Faint of Heart

pexels-photo-277477.jpegMy Mom used to recite a ditty from her school girl days to me that went like this:  “Tell me quick, before I faint; Is you is, or is you ain’t?”

Now bear in mind that my mother’s school days were in the late 1920’s and 30’s.  But this simple little rhyme is a child’s way of asking, “Are you my friend or aren’t you?”

I find it disconcerting that this childish plea runs through my mind today.  I’m not a young school girl.

I’m a fully grown college-educated woman with a meaningful part-time job at a non-profit organization, married for almost 33 years, in the “down slide” of my 50’s.  I’ve raised three adult children; experienced a couple different careers; been an Army wife and a stay at home mom holding my family together while my husband’s career required frequent overnight travel, and in the span of 20 years, I’ve moved to four different states to live.

Making friends has never been difficult for hubby and me.   Until now.

Remember that my hubby is the early riser and the usually chipper morning person between the two of us.   This morning as he was shaving, I awakened to hear him mumbling and grumbling to himself in the mirror.

I laughingly called out, “You talking to yourself?”  He sheepishly admitted he was.  Then he sat down on my side of the bed to tell me what was on his mind.  The gist of it was that if I ever hint to him that I am ready to move away from the homeland, he’d be ready to go.

Whoa.  Let me explain why he said that.  The last couple years, my husband and I have attended social gatherings where we both felt, for lack of a better explanatory phrase, “that we didn’t belong.”  We’ve met people who we thought were friends, but obviously weren’t interested in pursuing friendships with us and that has become painfully evident to us.  Let me interject here by stating that my hubby is not the most sensitive, easily offended person, so you know when a man notices we’re treated indifferently, there is a problem.

Lately, we’ve experienced a disconnection on more than one level (see my earlier blog entitled “Connectivity” for more insight into that) and friendships here have been one of those disconnects.

In all the places we previously resided, we made friends easily and those friendships proved to be long-lasting relationships.   We still have friends from our military days, friends from old neighborhoods, friends from churches we’ve attended, and I have childhood friends I’ve never lost.  Some of you who read my blog are those people.  We became friends long, long ago and you are still treasured friends of ours even though there are miles and miles that separate us.

So the problem is not that we are unfriendly and can’t cultivate  or maintain friendships.  We also don’t think that we are “Debbie and Donnie Downer” either; we know how to have fun and we like it too!

It’s not that we don’t have any friends.  We both have friends at work and we have many acquaintances, but when it comes to friends to call up at the spur of the moment and say, “Hey, come on over to our house tonight,” or “Want to go to the movies with us?” — not so much.    So we are perplexed about our situation.

We’ve analyzed the problem and constructed some possible explanations.  My hubby is a quiet, reserved kind of guy, contrary to the nature of the job positions he’s held, where it’s perceived you must be a very out-going, talkative kind of person.  He’s worked diligently in his career because he isn’t naturally a glad-hander.

It doesn’t mean he’s not fun; it doesn’t mean he lacks social skills; it doesn’t mean he doesn’t know how to have a good time, and it doesn’t mean people dislike him.  He’s just not going be the life of the party.  So we’ve wondered, is that it?

Or do people mistake his reticence for arrogance?  If so, they are totally misjudging him because my hubby is the least arrogant person I’ve ever met.  He has a true servant’s heart and people who really know him realize that.

Several years ago, we moved back here to my homeland – small town rural area – where I was raised and yet, my husband sometimes feels like an “outsider.”    He grew up in a city, not the suburbs, not the country, but in a row house where his front stoop met the sidewalk and that met the street, where his back yard was bricked and there was no grass (that’s why he loves to be outside gardening and working in our two acre yard).  He did not grow up hunting, fishing, or farming.   Is that it?  Are rural people so narrow-minded that they can’t discuss things you don’t necessarily have in common?  No, we don’t believe that for a minute.

These two observations about my husband could, I suppose, be the cause of our limited friends state, but here’s the rub.  I did grow up here; I am a little more outgoing and talkative, and I’m an easy person to get to know.  If hubby’s personality or the fact he’s not a homeland native is the problem, shouldn’t my personality and/or being a  “homelander” compensate for that?  I don’t think people dislike me and if I’ve ever offended anyone, I try my hardest to make amends, yet I’ve never in my life had such a difficult time connecting with other people.

So what is it?  We honestly don’t know.  Could it be that we were so accustomed to living in the suburbs where friends were easily accessible, sometimes right next door, that we just aren’t suited to rural life?  We don’t think that’s the case and we truly love our peaceful life here in the country.

Is it just one more of those empty nest adjustments to wrestle and contend with?  Maybe.

Tell me what you think – “tell me quick before I faint!”

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Connectivity

pexels-photo-442150.jpegMy mind is absorbed with the idea of connections today.

My handy-dandy dictionary defines connection this way: 1. Union; junction.  2. A bond; link.  3. An association or relation.  4. Logical ordering of words or ideas; coherence.  5. The relation of a word to its context.  6. connections.  People with whom one is associated.

There are connections everywhere we look.  Business wise, you have “connections” to get a job, to win an account, to get ahead, to succeed, to get into this organization or that.

I’m not very mathematically minded, but I do remember that there are many connections that must be made in math as well.   Geometry for one.  Wikipedia says “In geometry, the notion of a connection makes precise the idea of transporting data along a curve or family of curves in a parallel and consistent manner. There are a variety of kinds of connections in modern geometry, depending on what sort of data one wants to transport.”

Of course, connections are essential in technology.  I confess I also am not the most technologically savvy person, but I know that without my computer and yours being connected to the internet, I couldn’t write this and you couldn’t read it.  For simplicity’s sake, connections in technology are like fasteners linking one thing to another.

There must even be connection in the world of dance.  I’m also not a talented dancer, but I am absolutely enthralled watching dance.   Even though I don’t dance myself –well, except in a wild and crazy way when I’m home alone and I have some tunes turned up loud — dancing makes my heart sing.  And in dance, connection is defined as “a primary means of communication between the lead and the follow.”

Watch any dancing show on TV (So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With the Stars are two of my favorite shows) and you will hear the judges talking about making a connection either between partners or with the audience.

In our personal lives we thrive on connections to have relationships, be they romantic or platonic.  Remember the wacky TV show,  Love Connection?  No more goofy a way to make a dating connection with someone than today’s The Bachelor show, if you ask me.  And then there is online dating — another attempt at connecting.

We humans have an inner desire to be bonded or linked with someone, we just don’t seem to know how to achieve it very well.  I need to interject here that our Creator, the Lord God Himself, created us that way.  It was He who instilled in us this need to be linked, to be joined, to be loved, and it is He who fulfills that desire.  But He did not create us to be completely solitary, disconnected from our fellow human beings or from Him.   That’s why He bridged the gap of disconnectedness between His holiness and our sinfulness, by sending His Son, Jesus Christ into this world to save us.  Jesus is our LINK!

So back to connections….we all have family connections.  Again we want to belong, to be associated with a group of people.   I know, I know, there sometimes are family members we’d definitely rather NOT be associated with, but for the most part, we do want to belong to a family, be it native or adopted, blood-relations or family of God.

I just recently attended a “family reunion” that I have never attended in the past, partly because I lived elsewhere and partly because I didn’t really feel like I belonged.   “Family reunion” is in quotations because even though technically I do belong to this family because I am a granddaughter of a person with this last name,  I really don’t have many connections to this family.  Matter of fact, most of them I do not even know.

The connections between my family and this extended family were long ago.  My grandfather with this family name died in 1964.   My mother who had this family name would be 91 if she were alive today.   So yeah, far removed I am, as Yoda would say.

And then there is the theory of “6 degrees of separation.”  You might have seen the movie by the same name.  This theory is referred to as a human web and maintains the idea that everyone on the planet is at most 6 steps away from any other person on Earth.  You can sing “It’s a Small World After All”  here.  Yes, you are quite welcome for me bringing up that inane song and now you will have it stuck in your head all day!

Connections, connections, we truly are inundated with connectivity.  Then why is it that so many people feel the exact opposite?  Why do we feel disconnected? 

I speak for myself.  For all the ways I am connected to others and to my Lord, in one aspect of my life, I feel very disconnected.  Not in a depressive, moody, life stinks kind of way.  In a vital part of my life, I am experiencing a huge disconnect.  And I’m not the only one, my husband feels it too.  (Don’t worry,  my husband and I still are very connected to each other and our family, so that’s not it.)

I’ve been pondering this situation for quite some time now; my husband and I have talked it to death; we’ve prayed about it; waited; worked really hard at remedying it….and still we feel for us, it surely must be time to move on and make a change.

You know what Elton John used to sing?  “Oh, the change is gonna do me good!”

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com