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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The worst Lenten sacrifice ever

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This year I made my worst Lenten sacrifice ever. No, I didn't give up chocolate or Diet Coke...that's child's play. This is even worse than when I gave up sitting on my couch. This year I gave up Facebook and I am struggling, people.

I know that lamenting here about the sacrifice makes me a Pharisee who walks around in ashes and cloth asking for attention. I promise this is a one-time only whine because holeeeeey smokes, what have I done?!

I've been nudged to give up Facebook for Lent by a good friend for a few years. A couple of times I tried to dictate one day of the week during Lent would be Facebook-free. I called it "Holy Thursdays." Let's just say I had minimal success with that. 

A few weeks ago, I got this urge from inside that I should give up Facebook for Lent. I ignored it. Then some friends started saying they might do it too. I let the idea rise to the surface of my brain again. But I just didn't know. Finally, on Fat Tuesday, I just decided to go Facebookless or go home. I hastily wrote a "see ya after Easter" note on my 4th Frog Facebook page and my personal timeline. Then I handed Annie my laptop and told her to change my password. 

Wow. This is hard. It hasn't even been a week yet, but I feel so isolated. I can't tell you how many times I want to shoot a quick message to someone, only I can't because I don't have their email address or phone number. I'm just connected via Facebook.

I wonder how certain friends are doing and what new fun my group of blogging friends is up to. And my Catholic moms group is no longer just a keyboard away when I want to share a prayer request or tell them that Robbie decided for this Lent he is going to start listening to the homily.  

Of course, I could give up this giving up of Facebook. I could say it's too hard. To which my mother would reply "Do you think Jesus thought it was too hard to climb up on that cross and die for you?" But I am determined, at least for today, to persist. 

It's the community that I miss on Facebook. Ok, and some of the "which color M&M are you" Buzzfeed quizzes. I've attempted to find community among the tweeps on Twitter. I'm not new there, but it's just not Facebook. In my experience, tweeting is like farting in the never really know if anyone realized you did it (or tweeted it in this case) before the wind takes it away unless someone says something. I can count on one hand the number of times a Facebook post went unanswered or at least unliked. (So, I might be supposed to learn something about humility I suppose.)

My resolve is strong because Annie changed my password so I don't have a choice I truly believe this was a message from my heart. I consider this first week the detox phase. I've spent the time trying to fill the void with Twitter and Words with Friends, you know, just until the shakes pass. Now I feel myself ready to move into the purpose of this Lenten sacrifice, to seek what I'm supposed to find in this digital isolation. I have some books to read, some letters to write, and yes some praying to do. 

Can I make it five more weeks without Facebook? I'm going to try. But I'm pretty sure that on Easter morning the first thing I'm going to do after I snatch the Reese's eggs from my basket before Mike can get to them is to have Annie log me back into Facebook for my own resurrection of sorts. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Give her an inch, she'll get her nose pierced

Remember when I gave in and let Annie dye her hair black? Let's call that an inch.

As her 18th birthday approached, she asked if she could get her nose pierced. I had to think about that one. Mike was definitely against it. I was about a 6 on the "don't do it" scale. But I thought of the several people I know who have tiny little diamondesque studs in their olfactory organs and decided it wasn't so bad. I talked to Mike and we agreed that yes, when she turned 18 she could get her nose pierced.

There were a few stipulations:

1. She had to get it done at Metamorphosis, a reputable, hygenic "body shop" that was recommended to me by my young-and-hip-go-to-colleague at work.

2. No nose ring. Not on the side. Not in the middle of her nose so she looked like a bull. She could get a stud.

3. She had to pay for it herself.

Yesterday was the big day, which conveniently coincided with a day off school. Annie made plans with two of her besties to go their favorite restaurant for lunch and then head to Metamorphosis. I suppose I could have tagged along, but it was also Robbie's birthday and his school got out early. So I picked him up and took him to lunch at Chick-Fil-A, his favorite.

After our lunch, I came home to take a little nap -- I was up until 2am getting the requisite birthday wrapping and birthday decorating done. Just before I dozed off, I sent Annie a text asking for a picture of her new jewelry. Then I promptly fell asleep.

About 45 minutes later, she called me. Sleepily, I answered the phone.


"Hey mom, it's Annie. Did you get the picture I texted you?"

I fumbled to open the text message, glanced at the picture and with my eyes still cloudy from sleep said, "Oh, cute." She had a little silver stud on the side of her nose.

"Um. Did you see both of them?" That would be the mile.

 photo 99C68B7A-21D5-416B-BE7F-A2BAA67434E6_zpsdfnrjhxi.jpgBoth?! With that I sat straight up, fully awake and clicked back to the picture. Holy boogers, Batman! She had two studs in her nose, one on either side. I was honestly speechless.

"Mom? Mom...are you there? Are you ok?"

"I thought you were going to get a tiny, sparkly stud and instead you had a BARBELL put through your nose?!" I wasn't quite hysterical, but I wasn't quite in love either.

Annie assured me it was not a barbell. It was two individual stud piercings.

"Are you mad," she asked me, although I could have asked her the same question with a slightly different meaning.

The truth is that I wasn't mad. I was a little stunned. But honestly, I did think the picture she had sent me was pretty cute. Plus, look at that oh so happy smile. So, I promised her it was safe to come home. Then I sent Mike a message:

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Perfect response.

So here it is, one day after Annie's 18th birthday and I'm the mother of black-haired acTRESS with not one, but two nose piercings. 

Little did I know on the day that she was born looking like this:

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that 18 of the shortest years in history later, she would look like this: 

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What a spirited, lovely kid, double nose piercings and all.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

8 things you can do about 50 Shades of Grey

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Yesterday, I wrote a post called "Fifty shades sick of this" describing my sadness and disgust over the existence of and hype surrounding the Fifty Shades of Grey movie. I didn't know what the response would be. Maybe people would call me a prude. Maybe people would call me out for being judgmental. Maybe people would just ignore the post all together.

What happened was the post resonated with a lot of people. It has been shared many times. It has started multiple CIVIL conversations on the topic. Not everyone is in agreement. A few see the story as a romance. Others find some redemptive value in the story as played out in the trilogy. The majority, however, expressed similar feelings to mine, that the film and the books are a glorification of sexual abuse and the permeation of the story into nearly every media stream is dangerous.

So now what? Do I sit back and just periodically check my blog analytics to see how many people have read what I have to say about Fifty Shades? Nope. Now, my mind is on to thinking about what can I do, what can you do, what can we do in response to both the movie and the media hype surrounding it.

The list below is a start. Although I compiled the list, the ideas and links were shared with me throughout the day today. Please, if you have other resources or ideas to share, add those in the comments.

1. Don't go to the movies. Well duh. Don't go see Fifty Shades. But maybe don't to the theater at all this weekend. Show the theater owners that you won't support a company that chooses to show the Christian Grey trash.

2. Go to the movies (hey, it's a woman's prerogative to change her mind) and see a movie called Old Fashioned.  It also opens this weekend in limited release. The website says "Chivalry makes a comeback." I could get behind that.

3. Educate yourself. Read from people far more educated than I am why Fifty Shades and the
circus surrounding it is harmful to young people. Dr. Meg Meeker, a pediatrician, said "There is no question that any child under 25 will be negatively affected by it." Read more of her thoughts here.

If you haven't read the books -- or if you have -- educate yourself about what's in them and why it is harmful. This article discusses 50 abusive moments in the novel.

4. Talk to your kids. Need some help? Check out this article written for young people by a psychiatrist.

5. Talk to your husband and your girlfriends. Share with them why you feel so strongly about this movie and the messages that it sends. Maybe they feel the same way. Maybe they don't. Just start the conversation.

6. Put your money where your outrage is. Huff Po shared an article about an advocacy movement #50DollarsNot50Shades which is encouraging people to make a contribution to a domestic violence shelter instead.

7. Have sex. This author suggests the best thing you can to combat a world that celebrates sexually abusive relationships is to nurture your own loving and intimate relationship.

8. Pray. If you are Catholic (or if you're not) there is an "event" on Facebook called the 50 Hail Mary Pledge, asking people to pray 50 Hail Marys on the show's opening day (February 13). Or set aside 50 minutes of time to pray, or even 5 minutes. You could even get radical and pray outside the theater.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Fifty shades sick of this

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Dear Christian Grey: Go away.

Dear E.L. James, creator of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy: Stop writing.

Dear American media: Find something worthwhile to celebrate.

I am sick to death of hearing about Fifty Shades of Grey the movie. I'm tired of turning off the commercials as they air on TV. I switched radio stations about 4 times today because every station I tried was having some discussion about or parody of the movie.

When I googled the name of the author of the series, I saw that the Fifty Shades franchise (books, movies, "pleasure packs" that are advertised on the radio) is identified as "provocative romance." Yes, and ISIS is just a "bully."

There is a part of me that doesn't feel qualified to host this conversation here because I haven't read the books. I was going to. I had plans to borrow them from someone I know. Everyone was reading them and I didn't want to be left out.

Then a friend, who is also a child sexual abuse survivor and an author, posted one short message on Facebook. She said that proliferation of books like Fifty Shades of Grey made her sad because the idea of dominance and sexual power is what fuels so many child abusers. Suddenly, the books weren't just something to read and chat about on Girls' Night Out. They were...and are...seeds of evil.

So, I haven't read the books. I haven't tried heroin either and I'm still strong in my belief that it's not something that I want to get into.

As a mother, I felt an obligation to talk to my kids about the movie. Annie will be 18 (!) in two days, old enough to go to an R-rated movie. But that didn't stop me from asking her not to see it.  Charlie is only 15, but I told him the same thing. I said that some kids may go see it, might sneak into see it, but that I was really adamant that he not watch the movie.

Sex, I told both of them, can be an awesome thing. But it's something for two grown, consenting, married adults to discover together. (Yes, I said married. Yes, several people will disagree with me and that's ok. They are my kids and this is how I choose to parent them.)

Reading a book or watching a movie that reduces sex to animalistic urges is not going to lead to a healthy adult sex life. Watching a movie is, in my mind, worse, because the images are provided to you. Nothing is left to the imagination. Instead, those images become burned in your mind. When I was a teenager, some of the families I babysat for had HBO. I watched a few of those "HBO After Dark" shows and I'm sorry I did. Why? Because now, 30 years later, those images still come back to me. There are some things that can't be unseen.

Both kids promised that they would not watch the movie or read the books. Of course, what else would they say? "Actually Mom, I planned to buy a ticket to the Spongebob movie and then sneak in to Fifty Shades." I'm not with them 24/7. But at least I made it abundantly clear what my thoughts about the movie are and if they are presented with the sad opportunity to watch it, I hope they remember our conversation.

Then I went to my husband. He is certainly an adult and can make his own decisions. But I wanted him to know how I feel about the movie and to ask him to respect me by not watching it. If we didn't talk about it, how would he know?

I'm not a Puritan or a prude. I wouldn't presume to tell people what they should or shouldn't do in their own bedrooms and their own relationships. But I don't need or want a front-row seat to what goes on behind their closed doors.

The only fifty shades I'm interested in seeing are variations of pink, yellow, lavender and green -- fifty shades of springtime.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Can't we all just get along?

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I love social media and technology. I love living in an age where I have access to news from around the world and opinions from people who are not mirror images of myself. I love being able to connect with and stay connected to people I would not have even ever heard of if Al Gore hadn't invented the internet (wink). But sometimes social media wears me down.

The conflicts and heated exchanges between the vaxers and the non-vaxers. The tales of politicians losing sight of the people they were elected to represent. The constant "you have to stand up, speak out, do something about..." The evil lurking in our world and the video proof that exists to dispute claims otherwise. Even my favorite morning radio show has made a weekly feature of "mean tweets" where they share downright ugly things people have tweeted about the show's cast. Sometimes it's enough to make me want to chuck my computer and iPhone into the nearest body of water.

Today is one of those days. Today is one of those days where someone on Facebook or Twitter would argue that drinking milk after 10pm will give you colon cancer and make your children ugly. I know I shouldn't shoot the messenger -- it's not the vehicles of communication that came up with the ugliness and terror and incivility they share. But when so much of the world's hatred and disrespect and even just foolishness are out of my control, cutting these stories/tales/opinions off at the source is one thing I can control. 

When I wake up tomorrow, I will ask that God help me face the challenges of my day and of the world with renewed vigor and hopefulness. I'll focus on what I can do to make my corner of the universe a brighter, more loving, more peaceful place. Maybe I won't turn on the radio. Maybe I'll choose to not engage in a conversation that won't matter in five years anyway. Maybe I will step out and take a stand for something that will indeed matter in five years. 

I don't know exactly what I will do. What I do know is that it's time for me to walk away for today. To log out of Facebook and turn off the TV. To lay my head on the pillow and have a conversation with God, thanking him for my blessings and seeking forgiveness for the wrongs I've done.  And to pray that tomorrow we can all just get along a little bit better.