Taking steps to reduce my social media footprint

This past year has really shown me that it is necessary for there to be a separation between my life, our lives, and our (okay, my) social media footprint. The older I get, the more private I get. Sure, I’ll share pictures of our adventures and our pets – most likely after they happen.

Our engagement taught me this lesson the hard way. In our excitement and sheer joy, D lovingly pestered me to share our happy moment online ASAP because his friends and family were waiting for the announcement. After sharing the news and attempting to call numerous family members I posted a picture we liked online, only to realize we hadn’t told a few more people that we love dearly before putting it on social media. Oops. Etiquette fail. It’s a hard truth of this generation that we are all about sharing the highs and sometimes the lows, without thinking twice before hitting, “post.” We (unfairly, just I) received some harsh backlash. The mistake was ours, that is true and we’ll not shy away from that. At the same time, I recognize how much social media can be a blessing and a curse.

These happy moments shared are all about the two people who are experiencing them and sharing with the people who love and support them. This is the world we live in today and bashing others for choosing how and what to share is just ridiculous to me. So I get it, I hear ya, but come on. Let people live their lives and celebrate the way they want to. Lesson learned and ultimately I want this life to be lived for me and us, not anyone else.

When it comes to media, everyone has a different stance and I don’t think anyone is wrong. We’re all just using it in the ways we are most comfortable. Facebook is more about the funny pictures, articles, and supporting other people’s happy life events. So you’ll mainly find me on The Gram and that’s about it! Now, I wait until the evenings, or sometimes even days, weeks, or months to share our days because once those moments are released online they’re not ours anymore. And that just doesn’t always jive with me.

Just a little mind musing,
H

Taking steps to reduce my social media footprint

I guess you could say things are getting pretty serious

I’ve been thinking about the things that solidified my relationship with D. When I started to realize I could spend my life with this cool person. When we first started dating, we had a great honeymoon period: so much to laugh about, adventures to go on, and things to learn about each other. It was fun and romantic, and a whirlwind – until reality set in and we realized we were real people, with things like communication and trust to work on, and insecurities to lay to rest, and compromising to learn.

When we actively committed to doing those things though our relationship went through a few phases from:

fun and flighty
kind of raw and overpowering
balanced and healthy, and then, back to fun.

Growing up together these past 3.5 years hasn’t always been easy, but we have learned so much about who we are and what we are looking for; from ourselves, each other, and life in general, and I hope we don’t ever stop. Here are just a few things that I saw in our relationship that made me realize we had hit that good place that might resonate with you as well:

  • You are strong individual people, who work at being a powerful and balanced couple.
  • There is no room for toxicity, manipulation, or mistrust
  • Your partner’s steady hand works authentically beside your own.
  • Becoming a “we,” does not take away from either, “me.”
  • You can make your partner a priority without compromising yourself.
  • You expect and in return give, a love built on respect, values, and support.
  • Your partner revolutionizes your world; from surprisingly little ways to life-altering impactful ones.
  • Memories of togetherness, forgiveness when needed, and commitment to your future strengthen you and your relationship.
  • Friendship is key, laughter is often and communication is swift and evolving.
  • Forgiveness comes more easily than you’d expect.
  • You win or lose, together as a team.
  • The small things and the difficult times empower you as a couple.
  • Through it all, you want to be the one beside them day in, and day out.

At the end of the day, a relationship is what you make of it. Everyone knows they are not always easy, and they shouldn’t be – people mature and grow with challenges and no two relationships are the same, regardless of how similar. I full heartedly believe that we often need to learn lessons the hard way and that was certainly the case in our love story. I don’t regret one chapter of it.

I’ll leave you with a note by Jane Wells, Marriage Advice from 1886 that has always stood out to me:

Let your love be stronger than your hate or anger. 
Learn the wisdom of compromise, for it is better to bend a little than to break. 
Believe the best rather than the worst.
People have a way of living up or down to your opinion of them.
Remember that true friendship is the basis for any lasting relationship. The person you choose to marry is deserving of the courtesies and kindnesses you bestow on your friend.

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I guess you could say things are getting pretty serious

Golden North Klaus: Between a rock and a hard place

When I stop and look at Klaus now, I can’t believe he and I ever had a rough spot. I was watching Marley and Me the other day and you know the scene where Jennifer Aniston has had enough and tells Owen Wilson that she can’t take it anymore and get rid of the dog? It makes me cringe every time because that was me. No, I would never actually get rid of an animal that I pledged to care for, but that defeatist feeling was there. The exhaustion was high and the patience was low and that my friends, is on me.

The first year with Klaus was rough, to say the least. I’m a control freak and he was, well a puppy. Mentally a baby and I felt like every time we took two steps forward, he bounded three steps back. It was a game and not one I wanted to play.

Klaus was rambunctious, he had separation anxiety. He ate two original Harry Potter books. He then ate Cesar Milan and Marley and Me books. A point made there pooch. He chewed D’s college homework and then his W2. He also succeeded in making D’s iPhone his teething toy. He swiped a full plate of sushi. He shredded two of his dog beds, tore our window treatments, chewed our coffee table as well as our bookcase, and destroyed two pairs of Toms, countless hockey shoelaces, holiday decor, and the kitchen drain plug.

That wasn’t enough, he ripped up a significant portion of our carpet that couldn’t be repaired, it had to be replaced. That was bad. The worst, though, was going home sick only to walk in on a demolished couch. Might I add that this was our rookie mistake in purchasing a brand new couch? How naive of us, “Look, we’re grown ups! Look how hard we’re adulting!” Klaus sure showed us, the cushion stuffing was fluffed around the room like a faux-Christmas morning and I can only imagine that he created a game in which he needed to remove the springs from the couch cushion. It was premeditated. It was surgical. There are not enough words to describe how frustrated, discouraged, and helpless I felt some days.

This dog and I were not on loving, understanding, or patient terms back then. Or at least I wasn’t. What I can say is that he was loving, understanding, forgiving, and patient with me and that says a whole lot more about our characters than words ever could. It took a bit of reflection and with consistency, training, love, and a lot of exercise for both of us, Klaus and I spent a year and a half growing up together. They say that dogs have a way of finding the people who need them. I have always thought that Klaus chose D, but now I know that he chose me too. He knew that I needed to unwind, laugh more, live more, and let go of my depression once and for all. Not a day does not go by that I don’t look at him and feel thankful for his mischievous eyes and goofy grin.

It is interesting to me how the soul of a dog saved my own. It is powerful and humbling to say the least. I am happy, D and I are happy, and that directly corresponds to the light Klaus has shined on our lives. He brought responsibility, maturity, and patience to our home and I am grateful for his heart and sweet demeanor every day. As I write this he is sitting beside me surgically removing the fluff from his stuffed animal. I suppose some things don’t change.

xoxo,
H

Golden North Klaus: Between a rock and a hard place

You should go and love yourself

Something disappointing happened last week and I’ve carried the heaviness of it into this one. I haven’t felt like I have needed to address this topic since my freshman year of high school, and I’m sad to say that with all of the education and awareness available at our fingertips it is an even more pestilent disease today: bullying.

bul*ly; use superior strength to influence or intimidate (someone), typically to force him to do what one wants

Synonyms: persecute, oppress, tyrannize, browbeat, harass, torment, intimidate, strong-arm, dominate, coerce, humiliate

I have thrown my fair share of stones. Everyone looks back at some point and wishes they had made better choices; mature decisions that would have shaped their life more positively or gracefully. This is essential to growing up and it is a right of passage in itself. What has never gone out of style, though, even if momentarily forgotten, is the essentialism of kindness, integrity, and self-respect. Nothing will ever be as classy and timeless as this.

What I saw last week raised serious concerns

it took place on social media
it was shared with the intention to hurt others “for a laugh”
the language was derogatory, crass, & abusive
the content was vulgar mentally, emotionally, & sexually
it targeted both boys & girls (middle school aged children)
it was heavy in ubiquity: spread by children hiding behind electronics

It makes me realize how much time has changed in the last decade and not necessarily for the better. Bullying has warped into something even more sinister at the cyber level and is just as hard to prove as it is relentless. This is worrisome not only because of the frank abuse but because of how personal it is. After having the unfortunate opportunity to see this “story,” shared publicly, I wondered what these kids’ families were doing while their middle schooler tapped out those ugly words, heavy with intention, with their quick thumbs. Just finished family dinner? Discussing weekend plans? Working on a project? Rushing off to practice of some kind? The few seconds it took to perpetrate the content makes me sick. We should all expect better, shouldn’t we?

How would you even begin to monitor online use these days? How do you hold yourself and those around you accountable and responsible for their online footprint? I’m not asking for a friend, I’m asking as a sister of a middle schooler and a woman planning her family. How do you keep children safe online too, not just from the monsters lurking behind fake profiles, but their own classmates? How do you instill in your child the importance of uplifting and supporting others, instead of tearing them down and why does this seem harder today than ever before?

To those sweet babies who had their personalities, behavior, and bodies bashed in a public stoning, if someone hasn’t said it already let me scream it from a rooftop. Do not let a handful of bullies:

alter how you view your reflection
twist how you behave towards yourself or others
compromise your values
belittle who you are

Then, do not be the bully. Do not limit others or label them. Do not put them down. Do not spread more venom in an already difficult world. No matter the excuses you’ll hear about how different, quirky, or odd someone is. Turn your back on the whisperings on the collection of their pigmentation, social class, language, ability, or gender. When someone else spreads hate, do not be the person that laughs or goes along with it. We all, myself included, need to be reminded of this sometimes too.

We can strive each day to leave someone with a smile, a grateful heart, or a stronger spirit. Start small: maybe practice grace, empathy, and forgiveness towards people today. Let’s make 2017 the year to bury bullying. I’ll start right now.

Disclaimer: I have unfollowed the offending accounts which is sad to me, considering these are family friends and children I have had the gracious opportunity to see grow up. The behavior, however, is not something I will subscribe to.  

You should go and love yourself

Crossing that mid-20’s line

I have found myself thinking back over the past few years and shaking my head in amusement, and admittedly some chagrin. Maybe it is because the world is celebrating a new year, fresh with possibilities, chances, and surprises. Maybe it’s because my 27th is around the corner. Regardless, I’ve felt a little removed from my life, like it is happening to someone else because it is so sweet. I’m not meaning to brag, honestly, I am just happily surprised.

Looking back to college and just after, I shake my head and wish desperately I could go back and make different choices. That obviously is normal, but they feel unexpected. I kind of laugh at the antics of the depressed, insecure girl that I was, but mostly I’m sad for her and the wasted time. Which of course is silly, I learned so much from those mistakes. In hard ways, but the lessons are there regardless.

I would say so much to the girl I used to be. Mainly that I should have:

+ been happy with ME and taken the pressure OFF
+ realized my twenties were for fun and growth
+ not wallowed in my own sadness or past hurts
+ been single, give or take an exception or two
+ taken time for me, traveled, and just chilled
+ understood I am simply either a white wine or whiskey kind of girl
+ focused on my education and healthy friendships

I so wish I had lived more in the moment and not been blind to the good things that were in my life. Self-sabotage is quite real, friends. Yes, I think I would definitely do things differently and from that, I would have sparked a lot more happiness in my life and treated others better. Which is all fine and good until I blink and realize that this is what those darkest years were all about. From those lessons and with some help, I can say that the girl I used to be is a shadow of the person I am now, and that is okay. Healing came from all of it.

I wonder if this is when things begin falling into place; people start settling into who they are, knowing what they want, understanding their maturity, and giving back. I’m curious what the rest of my 20’s will hold, but for once I’m not in a rush, I think I’ll just enjoy the ride and remain as ever, a work in progress.

I’m a few days behind, but 2017, I’m ready for this next year around the sun.

Crossing that mid-20’s line

A letter to my sister

With school starting up again this week, I want to take a moment to focus on self-perception in the sense of; we’re all awesome, so let’s treat each other that way. School was always hard for me, not for a lack of friends or laughter, but for going through the typical phases of self-awareness and discovery, and all the lovely complexities of the two. My little sister is starting middle school this week and as much as I want to shield her from the tough times that life brings, there is SO much more to celebrate in the times to come. So, for her and every other girl trying to find their way:

  1. Unapologetically, love the things that make you FEEL something. Find those things and just BE.

  2. You won’t know who you are or what you like if you don’t try new food, music, clothing, and activities.

  3. With makeup, less is ALWAYS more. It can be fun to get creative and change up your look, but don’t try to look like someone else – I can bet there is someone out there trying to look like YOU – and you’re already taken so rock what you’re born with.

  4. You are enough. You can be pretty/athletic/artistic/musically gifted/a great reader/a great writer/a math whiz/spelling champ/a photographer/daddy’s girl/momma’s girl.. Just do whatever makes you happy. Never question what your heart tells you to do.

  5. Eat well, drink lots of water, wear sunscreen but don’t be afraid to play in the sun, and LAUGH & PLAY

  6. You can always care about what other people think, it’s perfectly human to do so. Just don’t let ANYONE get in the way of what your goals and dreams are. That’s how you be your coolest, most groovy self.

  7. One time, I was in a hurry to take on big girl things and you know what? My big girl panties didn’t fit quite right and got all bunchy. Don’t you hate that? Slow down and enjoy this chapter of your life.

  8. Another time, I actually became an adult and it wasn’t as shimmering and glamorous as I thought it would be. There’s a lot of freedom and fun, but what I saw as a kid was a mirage; there’s also this thing called LIFE and it’s going to smack you around a little bit.

  9. Be the kind of friend that YOU want to have and actually need. This means putting down your phone, making eye contact, and LISTENING to hear what they say, not just to respond.

  10. Remember your friends and family member’s birthdays. Even if you just make a card or give them a call – let them know that they are a special little unicorn in your world and they are important to you.

  11. We all want to feel important to someone. Be the person who makes other people feel good about themselves. If you see someone getting picked on, help them up or ask them to sit with you at lunch. You know EXACTLY how it feels to be talked about, made fun of, or made to feel poorly about yourself – don’t keep rolling that ball down the hill. Stop it.

  12. Y[our] parents love you so very much. They show it in weird and annoying ways sometimes, but girl, the day begins and ends with you. They dreamed of you, wished for you, and celebrated you. Don’t you ever forget that and even when they make you mad or you clash at times – just love them. Every day. They won’t be with us forever.

  13. Family, friends, and teachers, and coaches will always have their opinions and advice. Listen to it. Hear it. Then take what feels good in your soul and dance with it.

  14. You’ll know you’re a grownup when you realize you’re out of toilet paper. Why is this the moment? Because until this TP was always there, an infinite resource readily available (from mom and dad), and now, sweet cheeks, it’s your responsibility. Enjoy the time you have now.

  15. You are now and always will be in control of yourself and your surroundings. If someone is being rude, walk away. If you learn one thing please let it be this: the people who want to be in your life will make time for you. The right people will be in your life through the storms and the sunshine.

  16. If you wouldn’t show or tell your parents, teachers, boss or ex-friends and romantic interests, then DO NOT PUT IT ON THE INTERNET.

  17. Don’t be that person that posts rude or cryptic messages about someone on social media. If you have something to say to someone, say it directly to them and then let it go.

  18. You won’t be good at everything you do and that is okay. Excel at what you’re great at and put effort into what you’re not. Not being perfect at something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t aim for the A and use it to the best of your ability.

  19. Lose yourself in the feeling of truly helping someone else. Animals. Children. Homeless. Those without clean water. Those without education. Those without clothing. I bet you’ll find a passion in there too.

  20. There are consequences to poor life choices. Tickle that Jiminy Cricket conscience of yours if he goes quiet and just DO the right thing. I promise life will go a little more smoothly for you.

  21. Don’t lie – be transparent/honest. It’s tacky to be a liar; losing the respect of people around you isn’t cute.

  22. Appreciate the clothing, toys, electronics, food, and clean water you have. The majority of the world doesn’t have these luxuries and it’s easy to forget that and take them for granted. Be a kid as long as you can.

  23. Be kind, sweet one. Be the person people can talk to, laugh with, feel empowered by, and trust.

  24. It’s going to be an interesting ride figuring out who you are and what place you have on this big spinning globe – at some point, you will feel left out, different, and alone. There is a lesson to that. Just wait.

  25. It is good that you are here, so go on and make it so.

With love,
H

A letter to my sister