For the past 18 years, (wow, 18 years…) I have been on the internet. Starting with simply using instant-messengers, then research for this or that project for school (internet research was the key to getting me interested in writing a paper in high school – I was fascinated by the speed of the information appearing before me.) Then was the time in my life where I was an internet-social butterfly. I was everywhere. YouTube, Stickam, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram… and was in constant contact with everyone under the sun.
Sounds exhausting, right? It was. But in my twenties, I didn’t realize how much the internet was exhausting me. I had the energy and took the time to keep up with it, whether or not I realistically had that time. As my body has slowed, so has my desire for being everywhere all the time. My friends are probably rolling their eyes, but trust me, guys – it used to be worse. It’s embarrassing to admit it, but it’s true. I know I’m not the only person who has gone through all of this. You can probably relate on some level.
And it’s not just computers anymore. Now it’s on my phone. There are little red bubbles on my home screen containing things I haven’t read… messages, snaps, likes, comments. They’re all there, staring at me, shouting – SOMEONE PAID ATTENTION TO YOU, LOOK!!
Today, the internet is not a choice. We must be on Facebook to keep up with friends. We need to be on Twitter to sell a product. We need to post pictures on Instagram and Facebook to prove our happiness – sometimes, just for the show – the pressure to have the perfect life is a heavy weight. We need to have email to do… well, everything. The internet is how we communicate. We have to have messengers to be available to everyone at all times… whether we like it or not. And if you don’t answer, you will be questioned.
I know that in the beginning these notifications were meant to be helpful, but wait – it takes me away from work, writing, my kid, a show I am watching, friends… all of which should come before the dings and flashing lights on my phone. When did we ask for our phones to demand our attention? I know that some of you will be rolling your eyes at this post and call me a dinosaur. I’m not a dinosaur… but I remember when my anxiety was limited to the cute boy next to me in English asking to borrow a pen, the ONE day I didn’t have an extra one… Oh no, he’s never going to pay attention to me again. Now, my anxiety is sometimes fueled by having unread messages. Likes and comments I haven’t seen. Snaps I haven’t opened. An email I haven’t read or to which I haven’t responded.
Facebook even tells you how long ago someone was on its messenger. I actually get anxious because I know I opened Facebook messenger a few minutes ago, and the person who sent me a message that has been “unread” for hours can see that I was just on messenger, and I don’t want them to think I don’t care… so I open their message and respond, even though I was in the middle of something else.
No wonder I can never focus enough to get anything done. My phone and computer are constantly buzzing. Message. Like. Comment. Email. Snap. Text. Reminder. And I feel obligated to respond right away, so they don’t think I’m a jerk. It’s driving me a little batty right now that there’s a (1) on the Facebook tab on this screen. What is it? A “like?” A comment? I closed my Facebook tab.
All of these notifications pull me away, if even for a few seconds. Right now, I am sitting in a coffee shop. Next to me is a person doing homework (or some kind of work.) I can’t tell you the number of times her phone has distracted her from it. It takes time to redirect your focus after being distracted… and I don’t know about you, but I have a lot to do, and I don’t have time to get distracted every few minutes… and to be spending the time redirecting myself to what I am supposed to be working on. (Right now, this blog.)
Here’s the thing – those things will be there when I’m done doing what I am doing. They. Can. Wait. Nothing on the screen is urgent enough to interrupt my life. If it is, someone will call me.
There’s a couple across the room from me right now having coffee “together.” The thing is, they aren’t talking to each other; their expressions are blank. They’re both scrolling on their phones. They look up at each other once in a while and smile, but that’s the extent to which their interaction has gone. After about half an hour of doing this, they looked up, nodded and walked out silently. It’s not just them, it’s all of us. We’ve become a society of zombies. No, really. We are all expressionless… walking through life staring at screens, letting out little chuckles once in a while. When did we, as a society, decide this behavior was okay? We don’t see the world in front of us, but look at the world in which we are not present. It’s no wonder we are all so sad, we’ve replaced real life with focusing on the things to which we are unable to attend and noticing how much better someone else’s life looks compared to our own. This all sounds harsh, but tell me it isn’t true.
In conclusion, I am working on being unavailable. Yes, really. I want my life back – the one I lived before the internet… When I wasn’t looking at screens. When I looked out the window while someone else was driving. When I didn’t have the buzzing and dinging and people to answer all the time. When I walked a trail and looked at nature.
I am busy living my life right now. Writing. Watching a movie with my son. Eating lunch with a friend. Exercising. Outlining a story. Playing a game. Driving. Whatever it is, it needs my focus, and I need to be unavailable to everything else. It’s not that I don’t love you – whether you’re just far away or we’ve never met. I love you all very much. But I need my focus back, I need to control when I check in and read messages, not letting my devices decide that for me.
While I’ve outgrown the need for constant interaction, breaking this cycle won’t be easy. In fact, just while writing this blog, I have opened my phone four or five times, looking for notifications. #habit
I started breaking this habit of constant connection by turning off every push notification on my phone and computer – except texts. I kept texts on because it’s how my coworkers and family members contact me most often, and I won’t block them from getting to me instantly. All other forms of communication won’t pop up on my screen – because it can wait. I was unable to disable the little bubbles on my home screen of my phone telling me there’s a notification, so I took those apps off of my home screen. I will open them when I have the time and desire… not simply because someone paid attention to me.
My hope is that through this filtering, it will reduce my daily stress and anxiety, and pull me back into real life, living life to its true fullest. I’ll be a lot more unavailable… but I know it will be a good thing for me. In the two hours I’ve had these things shut off, I’ve already started feeling better. I’m returning to the real world… so hey, go do the same. 😉
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I have caught word of too many of my friends passing away recently. No one with whom I am super-close anymore, but friends, and sad nonetheless. I pray for comfort for their families. I thank God for His plan of salvation for us and the hope given through Christ. As a result of this recent news… I have decided there are some things to be said…Munkie Babble | Comments (2)
Now that we all have that song stuck in our heads… it’s time to let it go. Of what am I letting go, exactly? Let me open a small window into my life. Many of you don’t know me personally. For those who don’t know, I have a 10-year-old. He has ADHD.
For a long time, it was hard for me to accept that my little boy was not just being a little boy. I heard it from what seemed like everyone – I wasn’t doing enough to discipline him. And for a long time, I wondered how my parenting skills were lacking, and why I couldn’t get him to just sit still. He was constantly running. Fidgeting. Didn’t understand personal space – at all. I begged and pleaded with him to stay still. Step away from people. The judgment and (sometimes condescending) “words of advice” from others drove me further into beating myself up. I was embarrassed by my son’s behavior, and didn’t know what to do about it. Emotionally and mentally drained, I almost gave up on my son altogether. I had done it all – timeouts, reward charts, redirection, and yes, even spanking. None of these affected my son long-term. I started to believe that I just wasn’t cut out to be a mom. Why would God give me a son, if I wasn’t right for this job?
God makes no mistakes.
Not everyone was this way, but it ate at me so much that it was all that I could hear. It was after a serious talk with someone from his school, many, many tears, and “why can’t my kid be normal” rants to my best friends, that I took down the wall of denial and made appointments for him to be seen by specialists. It took a loving and concerned word of someone who wasn’t even close to me at the time telling me that I am not to blame, and I wasn’t doing parenting wrong. There was more to this story than I could see at that time.
He was diagnosed with ADHD.
Before you jump on the “imaginary medical condition” train, I invite you to spend one day with my son in a classroom setting without any medication. It isn’t an easy task. (Thank you and God bless those of you who have done this and shown your love for him through it.) And let me tell you what it was like to go through the process of diagnosis.
It was the hardest thing to accept a label on my son. You don’t know how hard it was to take those steps into that first appointment. It was even harder to give him a medication that I knew had side effects that weren’t good for him. Here I was, a mother, giving her kid chemicals. And that little boy, trusting that his mother wouldn’t do anything to harm him. I felt the strongest pangs of guilt. But what was I to do? I had run out of avenues, and my son wasn’t outgrowing the hyperactivity and inattention.
To be honest, it was like I had spent 7 years stuck under water, unable to breathe. I was given the possibility of oxygen, but under some difficult circumstances.
I let it go. My kid has a label. He has ADHD.
With each appointment I’ve attended, each article I’ve read, each coping mechanism I’ve learned about, each kind and encouraging word from friends, family, teachers, and even near (to perfect) strangers I’ve heard in the last 3 1/2 years, it’s like being given a bigger breathing tube. I can breathe, knowing there are people, things, resources, other parents – all dedicated to this, and helping my son grow into a strong Christian man.
The issue with all of what I had thought before was this: Having ADHD isn’t a bad thing. Yes, he struggles. Yes, we struggle. It isn’t easy. But we are all under so much pressure in society to be “normal,” that mothers (I) spend nights awake worrying about how “not normal” their child has been created. We need to stop worrying about what’s normal, and just love those God has entrusted to us. Again, God makes no mistakes… He’s got this.
If you look past the fact that he wiggles a lot, you will see a boy who loves to dance.
If you look past his struggle to hold a full conversation, you will see a boy who is excited to know you and wants to be your friend.
If you look past the song he sings over and over – sometimes all 18 minutes on the way to school, you will see a boy with a beautiful singing voice.
If you look past his struggle to put words on paper, you will find a boy with a colorful imagination who has a lot of funny stories to tell.
As of right now, my son will tell you that he wants to be a “mall cop.” I have discouraged this… because I want him to reach his full potential. There are so many better jobs, after all. He continues to insist that he wants to be a mall cop. I have spent too much time thinking about this… wondering what I can do to get him to change his mind.
Then… I started working at a kiosk in the mall. One day, I watched a mall cop whiz by on a segway. (Well, as much “whizzing” as can be done on a segway.) This man broke up a fight that had started next to my kiosk. That’s when it hit me… I was being incredibly judgmental. Someone needs to do that job. And that’s the moment that I let it go. If my son still wants to do that in 8 years, I will support him. If being a mall cop is what will make him feel like he’s making a difference, I’ll stand behind him.
I don’t like to say that there’s something “wrong” with my son. God makes no mistakes, and my mini-munkie isn’t a mistake in the slightest. I believe God allows everything for a reason, and I believe that he was given to me to keep me from judging others and to show me how to love those around me. On top of all of that, I have learned a lot about a specific topic. I’ve studied ADHD in attempt to make my child’s life better. And I’ve read a lot… but there’s no studying something like having it sit next to you every day for 10 years. So no, ADHD is no longer a negative thing in my life.
My son is a loving, compassionate young man. He is someone who will say hi every time he sees you in church because you spent an hour playing video games with him 3 years ago. He will split his cookie in half, because he only has one and his mom might want some of it. He loves God, wants to be included in things the adults are doing, and won’t hesitate to play with kids much younger than him. He will ask if you’re okay, and tell you about the ring he got out of a quarter machine for his mom – the one he loves “because it’s orange… it looks like the sand in Jerusalem.” He will remember your name, and won’t let you forget about a joke the two of you shared 2 years ago.
I’m not done letting things go. There are so many things that have happened and will happen with my son that I will worry and stress about. But then God will put something in my path that tells me to let it go.
So… of what I am letting go? Control. God is in control, He knows what He’s doing, and I need to trust that He’s got it.
I am blessed with a wonderful young man in my life. When it comes down to it, he is a boy who wants to love, and be loved in return. He just has some obstacles in life. We all do. Some people’s obstacles are just more visible than others.
May God bless you.
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In a matter of 10 minutes, I witnessed something this morning that can only be described as beautiful – one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen… and I need to share it with you.
Every week, I deliver the church bulletin to two ladies who cannot get out of their homes. One lives in a particular retirement center that I love. The structure is amazing. I love driving up to it. My son called it “the castle” for much of his life. (Now, “the castle” has a very different (almost negative) meaning… stifle your giggling, close friends and family.) The beauty of what I witnessed today far outshines the beauty of the building I was visiting.
This morning was gorgeous… sunny and a cool 58 degrees. I drove up to the retirement center, and parked in my usual spot. Close enough to get to the door quickly, far enough away to make it count – literally, on my Fitbit. I put my car in park and grabbed the bulletin.
As I got out of my car, I saw a man and woman walking along the sidewalk, slowly. At first, it seemed like every other old man and woman I see walking together on Sunday mornings. But this time, there was something different. He was dressed in a suit, she was in a nice purple blouse and typical old-woman pants. You know, the ones that can be literally any color, and as long as that same color is in their blouse, it works…
As they walked, I saw her moving much slower than him. Not in the way they walked, he was walking slowly to match her pace. But her every movement seemed delayed. It was quite apparent that some physical ailment had slowed her in her old age. What it was is not relevant. I said, “good morning!” as I do to any person I see outside the home when I am delivering the bulletin. He greeted me the same way. She said nothing, but her face was sincere. I continued into the building, and they continued walking.
When I came out of the building, I saw that they had stopped along the sidewalk. He was hugging her. She was only half-hugging him, but he held her so close to him, and was rubbing her back. It was a comforting type of hug. I didn’t stare (though I really wanted to, this was beautiful.) I walked back to my car, and just sat there… amazed at the love that was obvious between these two.
I watched them for a few more minutes from my car. They started walking again, and came to a bench just outside of the door to the center. He helped her sit down – it was apparent that she wasn’t able to do so on her own. Then he took off his suit jacket… I knew where this was going. It was much too chilly for him to be too warm. He wrapped it around her, and sat down next to her. One of his arms was wrapped around her, and he held her hand with his other hand. They sat there for just a few minutes, then walked in the door, holding hands. He was leading her, and she did the best she could to walk with her head up.
I thought of the life these two may have had together. The young love, the children, the fights, the ups, downs, joy and tears. I started to tear up, thinking of his service to her, taking care of her, even in this difficult time in their lives. Though her body was failing, he still loved her heart, her mind, her spirit. This is what real love looks like.
What I saw today brought to mind the Epistle reading this morning… It’s from Ephesians 5, often read at weddings, and joked about by men, saying that the Bible says that wives are to submit to their husbands. They forget to read the rest… The reading is as follows:
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church,his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
The man I observed today blessed his wife in the most beautiful way, by loving her even in her brokenness – as Christ loves the church. He loves us, even in our brokenness and inability to save ourselves. Loved ones, strive for this… you can find a way to bless those you love today.
Until next time… Be well.
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I feel like I owe you guys some sort of blog post. (As if you’ve been waiting for one…)
To tell you the truth, I’ve been trying to write for over a year, and nothing good has come out of these fingers of mine. I don’t feel like I can share anything worthwhile….
To be completely truthful, I have changed a lot in the last few years…. and I’ve seriously considered, more than once, giving up writing altogether. I know that any writer can identify with me there. I believe that there comes a point where we all feel like we weren’t meant to follow the path we thought was carved out for us. I’ve considered telling Tim to shut down the site, and I’d find another groove. But that would do no good to me… or anyone who has gotten anything from the words that come from my fingers. Writing is huge to me… and as much as I feel like I’m failing at it, I can’t give up on it.
I’m not where I used to be as a writer… I am a very, very different person. But here I sit, trying to revive the love for writing. I do love writing, under all the wear and tear of the last few years. You guys have inspired so many of the thoughts that have made their way to MunkieBabble. I appreciate all of that. I am not done writing… and I am still alive.
I’ve had a novel rolling around in my head for the better part of two decades… and I’ve gotten a good start, but I have since scrapped it. It’s not because the idea is bad… It’s actually quite brilliant, I think… if it’s done right. I feel like I need to be at the right mindset before I can do it any justice.
So, don’t think I’ve given up on MunkieBabble or my novel… If you’re my (good) friend, you know that I’m good at babbling… I’m a perfectionist, and am struggling to get anything out of my fingers that falls under “good enough.” I will keep trying… and when it comes out right… It will probably start to overflow. I know it’s been over a year, but give me some time…
Someday.Filed under Munkie Babble | Comment (0)
My day generally begins with me waking up at 5:30am. However, I don’t find my way out of bed until 6:30am, simply because I am busy scrolling through my Facebook feed. I [need] to know what happened while I was asleep. I read Facebook in the morning like one would read a newspaper. I usually roll over, shut off the alarm, and start to read what’s going on in the lives of my friends and family. Then I check in again while I wait for my bagel, coffee, or whatever else may cause me to have a moment to do nothing on my way to work. While I wait, I look at Facebook. I might miss something that someone did, has an opinion about, saw, or found online. (Some of those videos are so far beyond adorable!)
Last night, I decided this behavior needs to come to a screeching halt, for several reasons.Munkie Babble | Tags: Bible, Bible study, Blog, Christ, Christian, Facebook, Family, friends, God, Jesus Christ, Time Management, Twitter, Wasted Time | Comment (0)
So… I know I have been MIA on MunkieBabble lately… Or well, for nearly a year. My sister, of all people, was the one who pointed out exactly how long it had been since my last post… and made me feel guilty for not posting anything to be read. There’s a reason for the missing Munkie… A lot of little reasons, really. But one pretty big one…
The truth is… I have lost all ability to write anything worth posting. I have tried to write blogs four separate times in the last year, and all have failed miserably. I have come up with a topic… rolled it around for a while, and had a great direction in mind. Then… I got to my keyboard and couldn’t seem to get coherent words strung together to save my life. A couple of weeks ago was the last time I tried to write. It was horrible. I failed in ways that are utterly embarrassing. Well, embarrassing to me. I decided I was done writing… I had failed “long enough.” I was ready to call Tim, and tell him to shut down the MunkieBabble site… I just didn’t have it anymore.
I was pretty discouraged that night… I really believed that my days as a writer were over. Thinking about it for the last couple of weeks, I realized the problem. I have been trying to force myself to come up with things that would change the world. First of all, things that change the world are never forced. Second, I have been holding myself to a standard that is utterly unreachable. I have always been this way, in every part of my life. I have expected nothing but brilliance out of myself… and wouldn’t accept anything less.
The fact is, I am a writer. The way my fingers feel hitting keys is something that only writers understand. It’s a feeling of freedom – a feeling of peace. My fingers belong on the keyboard… and I need to continue to write. When I started writing on MunkieBabble, I was out to change the world. I don’t think that will ever go away, but I am a different person than I was 4 1/2 years ago, and my priorities and view on life in general has changed. I need to accept that I am not who I once was. (Honestly, I THANK GOD that I am not who I was then.)
I am unsure of the direction of MunkieBabble at this point… But I do know I am going to be making my writing a priority. I am probably not going to write endless earth-shattering posts… But I will be around and keep you guys updated on my thoughts and things going on in my life.
Where have I been? What am I doing?
This last year has been a whirlwind. I have a brilliant little boy (WHO IS ALMOST 9?!?!?!?!) … and he takes up most of my time. He’s one of the greatest friends God gave me and my absolute number one priority. I am still his mother first, but most of my adventures are with him by my side. He loves to learn, as do I… and we find so many ways to learn together. I will never feel old enough to have a child the age he is… but he makes me so proud.
I work full time, and I love my job. My job is more than just a job… I have gotten to know so many people over the years, adopting extra parents and grandparents. The rewards in working for them cannot be counted.
I help out at MiniMunkie’s school as much as time allows… and I have been blessed by the people God has placed in my path there. I have met so many awesome people, with such unique and inspiring stories. I can truly say that they’ve taught me so much — God places everyone around me for a reason.
When I am not working, with MiniMunkie, or doing things with school, I spend a lot of my time reading. I have always loved to read. Years ago, I stopped reading almost all together. I told myself (and others) that I just didn’t have time for it. The truth — I didn’t make time to read. I could have, but other things came first.
My priorities have changed in the last couple of years. I have done a complete 180, even if none of you have actually noticed a difference. It’s a personal 180, and I am proud of that. I have changed and grown as a person, and I am happy with where my priorities are. I do need to make room in my days to write… I will do my best. I have a goal to get my novel written. That fell behind when free time became very little. But for those of you waiting to read it… It will come. 🙂
For now, I need to get going… MiniMunkie is on his way through town with my mom, and I’d like to see him for a few minutes before he heads to his next summer vacation destination. It’s kind of sad that my 9 year old has a busier travel schedule than I do. He’s having a great time, though, and that’s what’s important. Until next time…
I am blessed. ❤Filed under Munkie Babble | Comment (0)
Yesterday, I went to the post office. Partly checking to see if I had any postcards… partly because I had some to send. To make a long story short, I had forgotten my stamps at home. I dug in my purse until I found the change I needed to buy one. Unlike another time, when I came up THREE CENTS SHORT, I found the coins, and went inside. There was a woman, probably in her late 50’s or early 60’s in line in front of me. I never escape a line at the post office. But I don’t think anyone does. Anyway… I stood there, waiting for my turn.Munkie Babble | Comment (0)
After going to a gas station where they had water in their tanks, my car is being looked at this morning… Just to make sure nothing is wrong with it. It runs fine, but the gas station is paying for repairs and whatnot, so I may as well make sure everything is okay.
Which brings me to where I am right now. I was at work an hour and a half early this morning, and not having had breakfast, I decided it would maybe be a good idea to find something.Munkie Babble | Comment (0)
Seriously, Munkie… No one finds you as hilarious as you find yourself.
Okay! On to my point…
I can’t be the only person who, as a child, sat at the window all day on my birthday, waiting for the mailman to come… because I knew he’d be bringing something for me. Most of my family lived far away, so birthday cards and packages were a guarantee.Munkie Babble | Comment (1)