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

Why I’m childfree (for now).

An interesting thing happens the moment you get engaged, well-intentioned people start casually inquiring about your reproductive habits and plans. Which is funny when you think about it longer than half a second, but we’re all slightly guilty of this faux pas, aren’t we? First, comes love, then comes marriage; we all know what is supposed to happen next and I think we’ve all asked with an edge of excitement, “soo when are you planning your family?”

I have never given this a second thought until I became friends with a woman in college who at a young age understood her expectations and plans for her future did not include children. At that time I was inspired by her knowing her own mind and it was disheartening to hear people tell her, “you’ll change your mind.” Sure, maybe, but why is that anyone else’s concern? Why is it taboo for a woman to know she doesn’t want to raise a child? Or at least not want to procreate in the near future? Admittedly, her decision wasn’t something I was able to personally relate to at that time but heck it is one I supported!

I have always wanted to experience motherhood; so much so that I have considered adoption options and have worked to ensure my career is molded into one that had the potential for a WAHM situation so I could stay at home for the first few years to soak up all that baby goodness. For the past 10 years, I have volunteered at my local NICU, nannied for three wonderful families (such happy years), and am currently a court advocate for foster children – please understand I believe children are a wonderful gift and bring so much joy, there’s no question. Up to a year ago, honestly less, we were firmly ready to start a family of our own.

That said, now that we’re three months from the wedding, that desire has changed. We’ve assessed our life, our values, and circumstances and coupled with me hitting my 27th-year, realized there are things I still want to do for me. As a woman, as an individual, as a wife, daughter, sister, and friend. I am just settling into a happy and rewarding career. D and I are in a great place and enjoying our little life with our furkids. We’re finally in a position to plan trips we’ve been talking about for years: Iceland, Ireland, Argentina … we have the freedom to spend time with our friends with zero notice, see professional sporting games, schedule vacations. We’re so freaking happy right now and I simply don’t feel the need to add to our family yet. Just, not yet. It is empowering to have this choice.

It’s interesting when you slowly start sharing that you’re not ready to be a parent (because those well-meaning people ask, and ask, and ask) how folks respond. Some react with support, some disappointment, and others are just plain floored – these are all valid emotions. When the time comes, though, we will voluntarily decide to add to our family not to provide grandchildren or playmates, but because there isn’t anything else that we want more.

Just a few responses to common questions and comments I’ve heard:

What are you waiting for?
Personally, I want to want a baby more than other experiences

But you can travel with a child
This is absolutely true – when we’re ready we will be thrilled and humbled to share the world with a Tiny T. See? He or she already has a nickname!

Isn’t your life kind of meaningless or lonely? 
Not at all, we’re tremendously happy and fulfilled with our chosen activities and lifestyle.

You really don’t know what tired is/ I never sleep anymore
Let’s not one-up here: tired is tired, work is work – we are all doing our best.

Isn’t that kind of selfish? 
I’m unclear on which part of waiting until we’re ready is selfish. I suppose arguably that could be the case, but this is our time to be. We’re under no obligations. When we choose to be parents, Tiny T will consume our time and we want to give that time freely and joyfully.

The love between a parent and child is unlike any other!
I understand. One day that will be a wonderful experience for us. Until then, our life is overflowing with love from family, friends and each other. Love runs deep all around.

What about your biological clock?
My clock is ticking just fine, I’m good – thanks!

I can babysit though! / You two will have such pretty babies! 
Sorry, thank you, but neither is a good enough reason for us to have a child right now

Not everyone wants the same life and the reasons someone may choose to live their lives without a child are varied and personal. Let’s be honest too, our social and political systems aren’t exactly set up for all families to raise educated, happy, and healthy children. Let’s not pity, let’s not judge, and let’s not make assumptions for why a woman or a couple may choose to be childfree whether in the interim or permanently. There just shouldn’t be any room for shaming here on either side of the fence.

Just something that has been on my  mind lately,
H

Why I’m childfree (for now).

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

Golden North Klaus: Heart & paws in the last frontier

We are coming up on a very special anniversary, and I have found myself reflecting a lot on this wild ride we have been on.

In March 2014, I hung up the phone feeling excited with an edge of determination. I had just seen an ad on Craigslist about a litter of Golden Retriever puppies that were three weeks old and as they would be needing forever homes, the breeders were accepting applications and deposits. After an affirmative from D, my significant other, we talked with the breeders and after careful consideration decided to place a deposit for a pup of our own. It was a mad dash to the bank (because I’m a competitive nutcase) where we placed a hold for our future golden-baby and with relief, were informed by the breeders that we had the pick of the litter.

The day was clear, the sky was blue, and our hopes were high, so dutifully, we shelved any nagging concerns about what puppy ownership would be like and bathed in the excitement. Let’s cut to the chase; I’m an organizer, a planner, and I love everything being in order. The Kon Mari method is my bible. How hilarious it must have been to everyone we told that we were going to be puppy parents: two full-time working adults living on the top floor of an apartment complex in Alaska would be committing to a life with a puppy. The paws, the teeth, the chewing, the messes, and the mischief. I don’t like to half-ass anything.

When the litter reached their six-week milestone there we were, getting lost twice and winding down a forested neighborhood, before pulling up to a fresh looking home overlooking a large green yard with three happy Golden Retrievers wiggling with delight and eager to greet us. We met the breeders and they showed us to a comfortable, clean and well-housed outdoor kennel where the puppies ran to investigate the newcomers. Gulp.

We had decided we wanted a male, so the fluffballs were separated by gender and we were swarmed by exuberant and curious golden bodies and cool wet noses. It was easier to pick our boy than we thought. Though all of the puppies were overwhelmingly sweet, we were each drawn to one of the boisterous brothers. With mom and dad playing fetch athletically in the yard behind us, it was impossible not to be impressed by their color, coordination, and flair. The breeders talked of the dogs like they were family, and it was obvious they were well treated, well mannered, and thoroughly cared for.

Klaus honestly picked D; he made sure he was king of that dog pile and made it clear that D was his person. He was playful, alert, yet sweet and snuggly – our perfect blend. He was given a special collar and the #1 to distinguish him from his brothers and we were told we could pick him up in two weeks, on his eight-week birthday.

When the pick-up day finally came, I was a bundle of nerves. At the time I didn’t handle stress very well and I was suddenly hyper-aware of what we were about to do. Everyone was giving me advice, I assume on a level only comparable to what to do (or for the love of God NOT to do) when you’re pregnant and whether or not to vaccinate your children. I wish I had the laissez-faire attitude that D possesses but then there wouldn’t be any humor to our life.

From that first day, I can say that I have a sliver of an idea of how parents feel. Emotions and reactions ranged from clapping because he pottied outside and not on the rug! Breathing a sigh of relief when we managed to successfully bathe him! Celebrating with glee when he only woke up once during the night!

Our first night with Klaus was an exciting and comfortable success, but then D left for two weeks of training and it was just me versus a 5-pound golden baby. Terror, dear friends. Terror.

Klaus and I had a rough go of things at first. Potty training was more difficult being on the top floor of an apartment complex, but we muddled through. He and I didn’t connect emotionally at first and I was searching for ways to understand his puppy-brain without stressing too much. At that point, I was meeting his basic needs and implementing training, but I wasn’t enjoying him which made me feel like a monster. Which as it turns out isn’t an uncommon feeling.

Slowly but surely, we figured each other out, though, but that’s a story for a later date. In the meantime, check in on Klaus’ adventures on Instagram at @goldennorthklaus

xoxo,
H

+ We have since adopted two cats and one retriever. I have volunteered in our local animal shelter and we are pro-adoption! 

Golden North Klaus: Heart & paws in the last frontier

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