Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What Is Your Facebook Type?

What’s Your Facebook Type?
If you are reading this, then you probably read my post on Facebook. 

Ahhh….Facebook, what would we do without it?  Don’t we tend to say that about the latest and greatest….cell phones, laptops, wifi, etc.  Like anything else, once you start using it pretty soon you wonder, “What was life like before Facebook?”  and “How did I ever survive without it?”  I had a friend give up Facebook for Lent.  Another who swore she was going to start a Facebook Anonomous Group.  Friends who don’t use Facebook purposely opt out, cuz they know it’s one of those things that once you start…’s hard to stop.

So, what is the appeal?  Well, I think somehow it appeals to a variety of needs.  Perhaps it allows for an expression of needs that aren’t getting met elsewhere or even for a release of our secret desires.  There are different Facebook types.  There are the competitive types who are in a race to compete to have the most friends.  There are the voyeuristic types who don’t post much but like to secretly spy on others.  Then there are the exhibitionists who put their innermost thoughts and desires out there for everyone to see.  The obsessive-compulsive who are checking FB and posting all the time, throughout the day.  The lonely, who just need to feel connected.   Will you be my friend?  The nacrcissists, whose galleries are filled with photos of themselves.  Then there are those who are seeking closure in relationships or perhaps are wondering if there’s a chance the door still might be open.  For some, the Facebook appeal may just be a means of entertainment and fun.  Yet others, see it as a means of advertising their business. 

There is nothing wrong with any of this, really.  These are all needs we have as humans.  Perhaps it can serve us well if we channel these needs into Facebook rather than express them in irritating ways in our relationships.  So, what’s the problem?  Well, the problem comes when….well, like anything else….it begins to take over your life and interfere with what is really important.  Maybe it’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning.  You walk in your sleepy haze to the computer and pull up your profile.  You squint at the brightness of your screen as your eyes are not yet fully adjusted to the light of day much less to the glare of Facebook staring back at you.  You get to greet your friends without showing your morning face.  Then you check it throughout the day, a multitude of times.  Looking for the latest posts.  Has anyone commented on mine?  It becomes an obsession.  You can’t stop thinking about it.  You’re in a meeting and you slyly glance down now and then trying not to be obvious that you’re paying more attention to Facebook on your iphone (under the table) than to your boss’ boring monologue.  You’re in your car checking Facebook at the red light only to realize the light has turned green after the car behind you lays on his horn.  You’re ignoring your kids beckoning for your attention and find yourself growing more and more irritated with them because you’ve told them, “Just a minute!” over ten times in the last ten minutes already!  Dinner is burning and the smoke alarm is going off.  You’re up into the wee hours of the night pecking at that keyboard, post after post. 

Until …one day you realize, the phone hasn’t rung in months.  You haven’t gotten together with friends in….when was the last time?  Your husband is complaining you never go to bed with him anymore.  You’re debating whether to have an affair with an old boyfriend you’ve reconnected with (on FB).  Your kids grew a foot in the last week.  The house is quiet.  Where is everyone?  Where am I?  What has happened to my life?  Do I still have a job? 

Do you recognize yourself in any of this?  What Facebook type are you?  Me?  Facebook appeals to that 4 year-old in me who fresh out of the bath lifted her towel and mooned her Dad just as he snapped a picture.  I love that I can sit in front of my computer wrapped in a towel if I want to and flash my friends without them even knowing it!  It appeals to my playful side.  I love that I don’t have to care what I look like as I carry on a conversation, as virtual as it may be.  I love that I have been able to reconnect with people whom I haven’t been in touch with for years and learn where life has taken them.  I love that so many of the people who have touched my life are right there at my fingertips…..magically connected somehow.   I love how when I run into someone that I haven’t seen in a while, it’s like I saw them yesterday and we can share a laugh together knowing some of the silliness we’ve shared through Facebook.   Facebook is one of those experiences that leaves you saying, “What a small world!” And, what a comforting thought that can be.

For those of you who realize your Facebook addiction….do something about it.  Don’t wait until your loved ones provide an intervention.  Have fun, get your needs met but then get out there and live your life.  There’s a whole wide, wonderful world waiting for you!

What other FaceBook types can you identify?
What do you love about FaceBook?
What are the dangers ?
Please share…….

Monday, September 20, 2010

More on Meditation

by Diane Reid Stewart, March 6, 2009
I recently commented to a friend…”I’d love to be able to get into people’s heads, you know read their minds, know what they’re thinking.” He said, “Not me!” “Really, why?” I asked. He chuckled.
“What?” I was dying to know what he was thinking. “Oh, nothing,” he said, making me ever more curious. “No, tell me,” I begged. “Well, it’s kind of like wanting to know what’s inside a hotdog. I really don’t want to know.” I just had to laugh. Thinking about what goes through my mind each day and comparing it to a hot dog…maybe not all that dissimilar. Scary thought! I do hope my mind is healthier than a hot dog, though sometimes I do wonder.

I have one of those minds that is constantly going, hard to turn off. “Monkey brain”, my meditation master calls it. That incessant chatter that plays as if it’s on auto-pilot. Ranjit tells me I have an overactive mind. Highly creative. Lacking focus. I remember my first meditation with Ranjit. As I closed my eyes I immediately became aware of the incessant flow of traffic on a nearby highway. In contrast, I heard birds just outside the window quietly chirping. I commented to Ranjit, “My mind is like that traffic… constantly going. I want my mind to be more like the birds…a peaceful, sweet song.”

“Relax….your….mind. Relax….your…. body,” I hear his voice in my head as I breathe in and breathe out. With each breath I begin to focus less on what’s going through my head and more on my breath and my breathing. I chant my mantra in my head in rhythm to the inhale and exhale of my lungs. My mantra…that Ranjit gave me in exchange for a piece of fruit. What does a banana have to do with these words I say silently to myself? I don’t know, but my mantra was exactly what I needed. The words mean exactly what I was hoping to achieve through meditation. Peace.

As I slip into that peaceful place, it’s as if I let go of my mind and body. There is a rising sensation, and I feel as if I’m floating somewhere above my body…aware but removed from the restraints of my own skin. My mind feels as if it opens up, my sinuses clear. All is quiet. A sense of inner peace washes over me. I bask in this sensation, losing track of time and space. Connecting to a universal energy I feel “at one” with the world and all of life.

I open my eyes and hope this peace will sustain me throughout the day. I try to hold onto it, as I’m growing impatient with my daughter slowly gathering her things to get out the door in the morning, or as I’m sitting in traffic that doesn’t seem to move as fast as I’d like. I try to bring it back, as I am bombarded with phone calls and people showing up at my office door…everyone wanting something from me. Sometimes I just have to shut my door and take a few breaths. I’ve trained my mind…to let go with just a few breaths. It amazes me how quickly I can calm the chatter now, after months of daily meditation. Like anything, once practiced enough it becomes more automatic, second nature.

As I’ve come to find this peace within myself, I find I’m responding more and reacting less. I’m calmer and less emotional. I’m clearer in knowing what I want, how I feel, and what my intuition is telling me.
When I have an important decision to make, I might mediate on it and and find I know just what I need to do. If there is a question I want answered, I meditate on it, and I discover I have the answer by the time I open my eyes. A concern, and I give it to the universe in a meditative prayer, knowing it’ll be taken care of and I no longer need to carry it.

Ranjit advised that I mediate 5 out of 7 days a week. He warned me not to stop practicing, and told me I’d lose all that I had gained if I did. So, I deligently got up at 5:45 a.m. every morning to meditate before beginning my day. I was consistent in my practice for many months. Until, I slowly slipped out of my routine. Perhaps it was my daughter waking me regularly in the middle of the night and disturbing my sleep. It became harder to get out of bed in the morning and easier to just hit that snooze button. This went on for a month or two, and I slowly felt the anxiety creeping back in, the negative thinking, the reactivity to external events. I wasn’t liking myself again and how I was feeling inside. I knew what I had to do. I went to see Ranjit.

It didn’t take me long to regain my sense of peace. I was grateful. I didn’t beat myself up for falling out of practice, but knew what I needed to do to get back on track. It was an important lesson for me to realize just how helpful the meditation is and what a difference it has made in my life. Sometimes we need to be reminded of where we’ve come from in order to keep from going back.

So, on those weary mornings when I want to roll over and go back to sleep, I think of the peace I’ll feel if I just sleep-walk to my living room where I meditate. When I think of hitting that snooze, I remember my “aha moment” when I first realized that our world would be so much more peaceful if everyone meditated before starting their day. I remember the commitment I made to myself, to bring peace into the world by first finding it within myself. And, I slowly slip out of my warm, comfy bed out into the crisp morning air, take my seat on the couch, close my eyes and breathe….

Monday, September 13, 2010

Here I Am Lord!

“Here I am, right where I left myself. I wasn’t lost. I’ve been here all along.” - Me

Today’s sermon at church left me thinking about the idea of being lost (thank you Brandon). I’ve been lost before. Have you? I was lost in New York City on my high school senior trip. The gymnast in me stopped to check out a poster of Mary Lou Retton and when I turned around the group was nowhere in sight. What did I do? What most of us do when we feel lost – I tried not to panic. I looked around, walked up and down the street, then went to a pay phone (this was long before cell phones were popular) and called home to ask what to do. I was given the usual advice, “Stay right where you are. They’ll come back looking for you”. So, I went back to that sporting goods store and stood out front. Sure enough one of the chaperone’s showed up shortly thereafter – practically in tears and looking more panicked than I was at that point. I had found my calm again knowing that they’d come back for me. After all, I wasn’t the one who was lost – my group was. I knew right where I was in that moment.

The sense of being lost really is a matter of perspective. When we don’t know where we are in any given moment of time or where we are going we tend to feel lost. Most of us don’t like this feeling. Some though may enjoy feeling a little out of sorts, maybe even like the challenge of finding their way again, or are more comfortable with the unknown.

When we do feel lost though, it’s usually because we are looking for something, someone or somewhere outside of ourselves. We feel lost when we can’t find that “thing” we are looking for. I lose my keys all the time. Are my keys what are lost? No, they are exactly where I put them. I’m the one who is lost, because I can’t find my keys.

After my divorce, I felt lost. I was in a new home. I was on my own. I was responsible for two children. I didn’t know how to do this thing called “divorced.” I didn’t know this new place I was in as a “divorcee.” I was in unchartered territory. A photographer friend of mine looked at a photo of me and told me that I looked lost. Ugh, I hate that I’m so transparent! So what did I do? I started looking for myself in all kinds of places. I seemed to think I’d find myself if I could find love again. So, I started looking for it. Where? I’m embarrassed to admit it but well, here goes… internet dating sites. (Okay, I really hope that was too small for you to read! )

I found love once or twice along the way, or so I thought. Yet, I still didn’t find that sense of calm and peace that you feel when you have found your way again, when you know where you are and where you’re going. My dear friend Ranjit, suggested I was emotionally disturbed. Oh my God, I’m what? I’m a counselor, this isn’t good. I can’t be emotionally disturbed. I had to laugh at the thought of this. So, I asked Ranjit what he meant exactly. His reply, “You are looking for love outside of yourself.” I was looking for love in all the wrong places. I realized then that I had to get comfortable in this place I was now in and know it well in order to not feel lost anymore. I had to learn “to be” right where I was and to love this place. I wasn’t used to just “being.” I was a mover and a shaker. I was on the run all the time. At work , I am known to power walk the halls. Everyone knows it’s me when I’m coming by the drumming of my feet. I run. It’s what I do. I love running. I am constantly on the go. I’m always going somewhere or doing something.

And thus my problem! I’m a human-being. Yet, somehow I had become a human-doing. Perhaps it was the achievement addiction (more on that another time), the perfectionist in me that felt the need to always be ahead of myself, or…..well, whatever it was, it was time to un-do it. So, I learned to just "be." How? Prayer and meditation.

Prayer is talking to God. Meditation is listening. I was used to the prayer part, but I was new to meditation. Had I ever really listened for God? No, not really. I was too busy talking, asking for this or that but not listening for that still small voice inside of me (for which I believe there are many names, but I consider it to be God’s “Holy Spirit”). After meditating daily for a few weeks, I began to experience this profound sense of peace. This peace permeated my day. I felt like everything was brighter, colors more vivid, my daughters’ laughter more delightful. I began to find humor in unusual places, to laugh at myself and laugh outloud. I felt “in love.” Yet, there was no one I was in love with (at the time). Rather, it was God's love I was experiencing.  I was feeling His love for me.  This enabled me to love myself again and this very place I was in. I had done it! I had learned to “just be.” In doing so, I realized I was never lost. I was here all along. I just stopped running from myself and from God and stayed right where I was so He could catch up with me.

Monday, September 6, 2010

"Our Deepest Fear"

One of my favorite quotes is from Marianne Williamson:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.  We  ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?  Actually, who are you not to be?  You are a child of God.  Your playing small does not serve the world.  There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.  We are all meant to shine as children do.  We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.   It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.  And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." 

And this is where I shall very first blog post.  Ha!  I'm doing it!  I love to write.  What do you love to do?  I want to write.  What do you want to do?  I can't count the times I have heard people say, "I always wanted to do _____________."  I want to shout at them, "So, what's stopping you?  Do it!"  Yet, from my own experience, I know there are things that hold me back sometimes - usually my own negative thoughts or beliefs about myself, not enough time, or fear. 

I was taught to be modest, not to brag or boast, nor show off.  Perhaps somewhere hidden in some crevice of my brain, is a memory of being scolded for showing off a cartwheel or bragging about a good grade.  As a result, I learned to downplay my God-given talents and abilities, preventing myself from achieving or accomplishing the very things I most desired to do.  In essence, I learned that it was more important to be liked and to get along with others than to be all that I was meant to be, especially if it meant I was better than someone else. 

So, I went through most of the first half of my life this way, giving more credence to my relationships than to my own talents and desires, until one day I realized I didn't know who I was anymore.  I defined myself based on who I was to someone else.  I'm my daughter's mother.  I'm my husband's wife.  I'm so-in-so's counselor.  But, who was I without these people?  Who was I, Me, Myself?  A wise yogi asked me, "Well, what is it you desire?"  I didn't even know how to answer this question at the time.  I was so used to denying myself and looking to please others.  I began to realize what a disservice this was - not only to myself but to the world.   

Even though I didn't know the answer to this question, "What is it I desire?" I could fairly easily idenitfy what I didn't desire.  I started there.  Then I watched and listened to the world around me and waited to discover what tickled my spirit.  Luckily, I was reminded of just how ticklish I am!  Slowly in time, I began to recognize the desires of my heart again.  And, naturally what followed were my strengths and abilities.  We so naturally love to do what we are good at.  It seems so simple doesn't it? 

So, what is it I love to do?  Write.  Move my body.  Run.  Ride my bike.  Play.  Hike.  Read.  Listen to music.  Sing.  Travel.  As I have reclaimed these parts of myself I no longer fear judgement or rejection from others.  I have changed some of the negative beliefs that were holding me back.  I am going to do what I love and love what I do.  I'm not going to worry about what someone else thinks of me.  I'm not going to hold back my gifts to the world.  My friends will love me even if I'm better than them at something.  They're bound to be better than me at something as well.  We all have our strengths and everyone's are different.  Let us encourage one another to shine our light into the world!

As far as not having the time.....I came to recognize that as an excuse.  We can hide behind that excuse when we are afraid or don't believe we can really do it.  But, if you really want to do something, you will find the time.  Make it a priority.  Then take that first step.  I did.  And, here I am.