Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Facebook Follies: UNFOLLOW

It’s been nearly four years since I wrote the original Facebook Follies post, outlining a few observations I’d made during an 8-year love/hate relationship with Facebook. I went back and read it last night and not much has changed in four years. People are still crazy and for some reason, I can’t look away.

Dont expect me to share your "I love Jesus" message on facebook. I love Jesus. Jesus hasn't logged on to Facebook...Ever. God doesn't even have an account. Telling me to "repost if you believe" only appeals to folks who still send chain letters. With a stamp. The same people who are still waiting on something great to happen to them at 12:01 AM every day. Wake me up if it happens. I'll be asleep. - Original Facebook Follies

I don’t even know if this feature existed four years ago, but since the Follies I’ve discovered the “UNFOLLOW” feature on Facebook. It’s a game changer, allowing you to remain “friends” (I use that term oh, so loosely) with someone but never see anything they post. I have something like 500 friends and only follow 17, selective people.

If you feel a little overwhelmed – and a lot annoyed - when you log onto Facebook, follow these simple steps to weed out the cringe-worthy fodder. 

Anyone still taking selfies out of boredom: UNFOLLOW
It’s one thing to show a new haircut (looks great!), yourself visiting an interesting place (wish I was there!), prove healthy makeover progress (I'm constantly amazed as what people can accomplish) or anything with a group that involves a selfie stick (yes, selfie sticks promote team building, or something).
But it’s another thing to post a selfie only to solicit attention.
You stage the selfie, retake the selfie six times, edit the selfie, post the selfie, then compulsively check the selfie to see how many likes it got. Then post about being tired.
You’re tired? You’re bored?
Have you tried not taking a selfie and taking a nap, instead?
Because I’ll tell ya, we’re all exhausted, too.

Anyone who constantly posts articles based off sensationalism: UNFOLLOW
There are some ridiculous articles or images in circulation regarding things that Americans truly worry about: food production, politics, self-awareness and the environment. Do people actually believe what they read on Facebook?! And why do they share it? It's one thing to spread a message you may believe in; it's another to click "share" before even considering the validity. Here is a recent screenshot:

Do you really think these foods would still be on the shelf if there were any carcinogenic concerns? Think before you share. Don’t scare other parents. They have enough to worry about.  

**Also, disagreeing with someone doesn't always warrant an unfriend/unfollow. Sometimes the best way to learn is to observe what the "other side" (in any matter) shares. You may not always agree, but you can always be respectful. 

Anyone who constantly shares misquotes: UNFOLLOW


Shakespeare tweeted just last week that this makes him very angry. 
Buddha retweeted it – so you know it’s true.

Anyone who posts a photo of a baby still covered in afterbirth: UNFOLLOW
I shouldn’t have to explain this. There is a time and a place. Shut off your phone.

Abuse of #blessed: UNFOLLOW
Life’s blessings can some in a lot of different forms and it think it is wonderful when folks recognize that. But when everything - everything - in your life is described as #blessed, it’s kinda hard for the rest of us to keep up. Especially when you’re #blessed enough to use #blessed regularly to promote personal success. Constantly. Sometimes you being #blessed has nothing to do with your success. Most who abuse #blessed (there is a difference in using it and abusing it) don't even explain how the #blessing has changed their heart or their life. Not everything is a #blessing.  Sometimes it’s a result of hard work or money. Bless your heart. 

Over use of lol: UNFOLLOW
Some people really do intend to “laugh out loud” when they use “lol”.
But the large majority who “lol” just typed something that they’re not completely confident in, so they end the statement awkwardly. Lol.
We're all on to you, repeat offender. Lol.
I’d love to use some screenshots, but I know the guilty read the blog. Lol.

Weekly #MCM and #WCW posts: UNFOLLOW
If you have to publically renew your shaky pseudo-vows with your (in)significant other on a weekly basis, you have more issues than just picking which photo to post. Besides, everyone already knows you have a perfect relationship. Except for those who know you in real life.

Constant sales pitches: UNFOLLOW
While I admire your entrepreneurial spirit, please, I’m begging you: Quit directly asking me to soak it, cover it, wrap it, drink it, shake it or burn it. There was one week that I received three messages from the same person asking me to join three different teams. Your products seem to really produce results but your sales pitch makes me want to take a nap. Trust me, I've bought my share of burners and Spark; but the constant invites to change my life through a lotion really wear me out. It is discouraging to never hear from someone for years, then suddenly they want to sell you something. Good luck! I expect you to be 30 inches thinner, self-employed, wrinkle free and driving a Lexus the next time I see you.

And on that note I’ll wrap it up. No pun intended. 
Keep these ideas in mind next time your news feed needs a shake down. Facebook can be a really powerful tool if you actively control what you see.  Believe it or not, I've stuck to these guidelines so closely, I rarely see any political slander in my newsfeed. What a relief! Can you say #blessed?

Lets end this on high note. Facebook usually does a great job of inserting personal interest groups into my timeline. This little ditty showed up just yesterday:

You got it wrong, Facebook, 
you got it all wrong. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Running On Empty

I really like alone time.
Driving alone.
Working in an office alone.
Tuesday nights left alone to write.
Cody’s travel schedule grants me just enough alone time. I don’t mind being alone and getting things done solo as needed, but I’m always glad to see him come home. As I write this he’s working his way east, making his way home from Denver. It’s been two weeks since his truck pulled out of the driveway; it’s time.

It got cold after he left. 

Nothing this farm hasn’t seen before, but working against artic chill as a team of one can really extend morning and evening chores. The biggest obstacle I have encountered solo is frozen float balls on waterers, followed by frozen valves on waterers, followed by frozen pipes leading to waterers. The adult version of Frozen isn’t nearly as fun. On these particular waterers, when the water level hits a certain point it will automatically refill. But when the pipes, valves and balls are frozen, the water level stays low enough that cattle can’t drink from the tank. Sometimes the tanks simply ran on empty, waiting on sunshine to thaw things while I was at work.

Legend (the internet) tells that your mind is supposed to be able to answer most of the questions rambling in your head if you just learn to relax and wait for the answer. I did this on day two of frozen water and learned nothing except the longer you wait for an answer to fall out of the sky the more frozen these deals become. 

They were just a tick ready for a thawed water system. 

In week two the Kubota began putting around as slow as I did across the sheet of ice that lay quietly under the snow. I told my faithful orange friend (one of two that we have) that we still have a lot of ground left to cover and it better not give up just because temperatures were going down. Zipping around day and night, I didn’t think to check the diesel fuel gauge until it was too late. I got it parked in the barn and chored the old fashioned way: by foot. I had been running the Kubota on empty. Dad told me later that I was lucky that the Kubota started right back up after running so low on diesel. Sometimes when it sucks air you have to go to such lengths as draining the fuel line.

One evening I finally reached a point of relaxation in my day when I got a chill. Not a creepy, Dateline chill but rather “this house is flat cold” chill. The furnace had been running since I came in for the night (I lined the registers with gloves, a hat, long johns and socks) but it was still chilly. I went down to the deep, dark depths of the basement where our historic fuel tank lives and “PING”ed down the side of it. Lower, lower…lower………………..
PING rang loud and clear. We were completely out of fuel oil on a 0º night. I was running our house on empty.

For two weeks I’ve worried so much about getting things done that I hadn’t focused on taking care of intricate parts of this place. Do you ever feel that way? Running in so many directions to fulfill obligations and responsibilities that you fail to take care of the greatest working part: Yourself.

Maybe you’ve given up a few hobbies that really brought you joy because there is no longer time.
Maybe you’ve started missing your kids’ events because work demands that you prove your commitment.
Maybe you’ve let your health decline and your weight increase because you put yourself behind everyone and everything else going on around you.
Maybe you’ve cut out a couple hours of sleep to knock out just a few more emails.
Maybe you’ve gotten so emotionally tied up in a situation that you’re having a hard time focusing on anything else.
Maybe you have trouble saying no.  
Even the things you love can wear you down. 

I put myself in a bad situation with the Kubota and the fuel oil: When fuel gets that low, the machine will continue to draw fuel – or air – through the filter to get the job done. It will continue to try to run, even on nothing. And when I’ve given it nothing but air to work with, damage can happen. And homes can get down to 40º. No kidding. That’s chilly.

Isn’t it the same with you?
When you’re physically or emotionally running on empty but you continue to operate, can’t you feel yourself wearing down?
Be aware of that. 
We may not be equipped with a physical gauge that will tell us when we’re running low, but certainly we know ourselves. Pay attention. Sometimes the most important thing we do for ourselves in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.

Dad came up last week and helped me feed hay. As we were shutting the gates and finishing up for the night he stopped right on the lane in the barn lot, looked at me in four layers of winter wear and said, "I can tell you're really happy. And that makes me happy." 

I wanted to confirm his words but the frigid air had frozen my cheeks. I felt like I had just chewed on ten pounds of ice.  I just nodded, tried to speak and hugged him. It was enough. 
It's important to keep that - your happiness amongst all of this running on empty - in check.
And your water levels. 
And your diesel fuel. 
Especially your fuel oil tank. 
But always, your happiness. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Last Time I Did This

The days following Christmas always seem to be a downer time for me. There is just something about taking down all of the Christmas décor that dampens the cold January mood. And opens one’s eyes.

I was replacing garland with a springy (too early?) arrangement when I found a sure sign that 2016 was the time to get organized: In the bottom of a silver boot vase was the name and phone number of a gal I was supposed to call back in….June. A hundred bucks says I got in a rush to tidy up the homestead – company was probably at the door - and threw this little tattered note into the closest hiding spot I could find: a flower vase.
I’m very resourceful.

But that is sort of how I’ve operated as of late: 
Committing to so much, that I have time to do so little, well.

So I’ve determined that 2016 is the year to get my affairs in order. I searched for and found an old Franklin Covey planner that someone gave me a few years ago. I had great intentions for that planner, and 2012. So great, in fact, that on the first page I wrote my very ambitious 2012 Resolutions:


The discovery of this time capsule sent me couchside for a few minutes, reading through the things I wanted so badly to accomplish in 2012 and the emotion – or passion – that lied behind each stroke of the pink Sharpie.

Some goals seemed so easy to hit everyday: 
11. Give Dixie more attention. 
She was such a good dog; little did I know she’d be gone in less than two years.
While others seemed quite lofty, even four years later:
6. Venture with Christine – 2013 launch! 
We were two friends with a plan; one that never truly got off the ground.

But one stood out boldly.
(Get down to) 130 lbs?

9. Stop Looking – God’s timing is perfect!
What a nonchalant note for something that quietly weighed on my heart often.  

But I did it.
I quit questioning possibilities and wondering what might have been and remembering how things never actually were.

And fourteen days into 2012 I met the one who is so worth God’s (slllooooooooooowwwwwwwwww) timing. 

I haven’t made a serious resolution, since.

Cody and I were in the truck recently catching up on to-remembers and to-decide-upons before he leaves for the National Western Stock Show. I usually take notes and still send 101 text questions throughout the duration of his trip to ensure I’ve not forgotten something. Or let something die. The last time he did this, I dealt with frozen blue ball waterers and sloppy, thirsty cows who didn’t help the situation. Let’s hope this year is different.

The conversation turned to life talk within five miles and Cody mentioned something else I wrote down: We’re trying to control everything, but in reality we have control over nothing. What a true, scary thought. It reminded me of 2012 Resolution Number Nine: Stop Looking – God’s timing is perfect!
Stop looking.
Planning like we’re in charge.
Tough pill to swallow, at any age.

I read about a challenge the other day asking people to give advice to their 16-year-old self …in two words. I love a good challenge.
Be unique.
Never settle.
Travel often.
Be confident.
Don’t straighten your hair.
Or use box color.
Stand up straight.
Trust your gut about people, I'm serious. 
My two-words list could go on and on...

At an age when I’m trying to get all areas of life organized in an effort to simplify and enjoy, I think this challenge came at a perfect time. I’ve found that when I’m worrying often and letting concern take over my heart, it’s usually at a time when I’m trying to do everything myself. When I feel at peace, it’s usually because I remember that God is in control. What a thought to keep in my back pocket for the tough days ahead!

The last time I did this, I was able to truly focus on only a handful - but they turned out well. So I’m making a resolution to write down four – simple – phrases what will serve as my guides for the year ahead. No books, or businesses, or weight goals:

Give it to God.
Take care of myself.
Be present.
Keep it simple.

I’m going to plaster these bad boys in every nook and cranny in my life – simply, of course.

What might your guides be? 
Twenty total words or less.

Now, how could these guides help me to quit hiding things in oh so random places in an effort to tidy up our homestead? Well, they probably won’t. That lesson is going to come after I misplace something important. Like, really important.
Like a passport. I’m on #3.
Or a social security card.
Has anyone had to have one replaced?

I  would hate to go back into that social security office.