Hashtag – insert snappy title – emoticon

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with social media. Well, I should narrow that down to Facebook actually as I still have no idea what the point of Instagram is and I could never be confined to 140 characters, so Twitter is out.

So yeah, Facebook. There’s so much about it to love. It’s enabled me to connect with and stay in touch with family overseas, friends I worked with in London or met on travels, random people I’ve met once and don’t really know but have since found to be kindred spirits… And how else do you find out these days about an engagement, birth, new job, new pet, or when someone has been to the gym.

Yeah, the gym ‘check ins’ and selfies…those fall into the ‘things I don’t love so much about Facebook’ category.

But has social media allowed us to step into each other’s lives a little too much? To cross boundaries that we wouldn’t normally cross? Why is it that, on Facebook, we feel a right to comment on someone’s post or photo or event attendance? Or enter into a discussion with a friend’s friend that we don’t know. Or to criticise that person? Is it a right, considering we are posting these things on a social forum? Or is there a line that it’s just uncomfortable when someone crosses?

For me, as a relatively private person, I still find it rather unsettling when someone comments on the fact I’m going to a certain event or about someone else’s post on my wall (or my post on someone else’s!) To me it’s like eavesdropping. I don’t know…it just feels sort of nosy!

But on the whole, I’m a fan. I see no harm in a more connected society; in a closeness that can occur in spite of physical distance. It’s like a world that I’ve created for myself, filled with the people who mean something to me. That’s pretty special really.

You can never go wrong by investing in communities and the human beings within them. – Pam Moore

Advertisements

Less drowning, more waving

I read a post on Facebook the other day that said “Stop glamorising busy” (or words very close to that).

As 21st century women we think we have it all. We’re so proud of our ability to multi-task. “What’s that, dear? Iron your shirt, while I cook this Michelin star quality meal from scratch, while home schooling the kids and knitting jumpers for underprivileged penguins at the zoo? Not a problem!” Or, “Of course I can man the giant jumping castle at the school fete on Saturday. I can fit that in between the washing and housework and visiting my grandmother in the home, and whipping up a costume for Julie’s ‘Under the sea’ 30th that night. And yes, I can pick up the meat for the sausage sizzle on the way.”

Sound familiar? We all do it. We almost compete to be the busiest, the most tired, the most stressed…

Is it because we really do want the kudos of being ‘best able to balance work, life and great hair’, or is it just that we don’t know what else to do; there doesn’t seem another choice; and we’re basically just looking for sympathy…sympathy that will never come because all our friends are, metaphorically, on the same sinking ship.

The more I talk with my friends and other women I meet I hear the same story over and over. We’re sick. Our relationships are suffering. We’re tired and irritable. When we do have that elusive thing known as ‘spare time’ we just want to hide away like hermits, eat chocolate and watch ‘The Bachelor’ re-runs.

In the pursuit to ‘have it all’, have we lost joy?

How do we get that balance back? I have my own ideas, and my own plan, but would love to hear yours. What are you doing to find your joy?

“There is more to life than increasing its speed.” – Mahatma Gandhi

The view from under my bed

On a Tuesday in July, at 10.15am, Laila put on her coat and favourite scarf as a defence against the bitterness of the day outside, walked through her front door – locking it behind her – and quickly walked the 100m to the corner of the street.

At 10.45am, after standing at the corner for 26 minutes, frozen with an irrational fear of stepping onto the crossing, Laila turned around and quickly walked the 100m back to her house, unlocked the door and went inside.

The same morning, Howie’s alarm woke him at 5.15am. While dressing, he put his left sock on and then his right sock. Then he took off his left sock and then his right sock. He then put on his left sock and then his right sock, took them off again in the same order and put them back on again. He left the house – locking and then unlocking the door three times – got in his car and drove to work.

While these situations may sound far-fetched, or even comical, to those in the community suffering from mental illness they are neither. I don’t profess to be an expert by any means. But in my own social circle I have friends who are affected by anxieties, breakdowns or depression. Probably more than I know about. What about you?

Mental illness can affect anyone. Your neighbour, brother, workmate. Just ordinary people, trying to get through the day. For some, it’s just an underlying feeling of unease, of sadness, of confusion. For others it can feel like drowning on dry land.

According to Headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, around one in every ten young Australians aged from 18-25 will have problems with anxiety. For those aged between 13 and 17, the figure is about one in 25. As a nation, we have a responsibility to provide resources for anyone suffering a mental illness. As community members, we have a responsibility to show compassion, tolerance and caring. As the statistics show, the reality of mental illness is that, if you are not directly affected, someone you care about probably is.

Illnesses do not discriminate. What if Laila were your sister, or Howie your best friend. Or if you were the one filled with a deep and weighty sadness, withdrawn and isolated – forced to view the world from under your bed.

“When ‘I’ is replaced by ‘We’, even illness becomes wellness.”

 

 

Let your light shine

What do you want to be when you grow up?”

It’s the question we often ask our kids. And if they’re under 10, the answer is usually something along the lines of fireman, policeman, vet, ballerina or princess. Which, of course, are all noble professions!

I wanted to be a teacher.  

I also aspired, at various times, to be a private detective, a truck driver, a writer and – more than likely – a princess. Mostly, I wanted to be a wife and mother.

Sometimes we achieve these things. Sometimes we don’t. Often, between childhood and adulthood, our ideas, realities and capabilities evolve. Or sometimes we grow up and become a fireman.

How do you want to be when you grow up?”

Kids might look at you with a puzzled expression if you ask them this question, but fortunately it takes us a long time to grow up – if ever. So there’s always time to work on ‘how’ we want to be.

Faced with this question, I’m willing to bet a fair amount of us would say things like ‘kind’, ‘loving’ and ‘generous’. And I think often we believe that somehow these things are hard wired into our genetic makeup. You either have ‘em, or you don’t.

I’m not so sure. I definitely think some people are predisposed to certain character traits. But if we approach developing our character as we would career skills, there’s no reason we can’t strengthen our character resume. We can identify ‘how’ we want to be – whether it be tenacious, independent, adventurous, creative, caring, gracious…the list goes on – and work every day on strengthening those traits.

Who do you want to be when you grow up?”

This sounds like a sillier question than the last one. Unless you’re still set on becoming a princess, that is.

In today’s society we – and particularly our kids – are bombarded with illusions of Hollywood happiness and the power and privilege that come with money or celebrity. Social media provides in-your-face updates of the supposedly perfect lives of our friends. Our lives may seem boring or insignificant by comparison.

But the reality is that often, when you scrape the surface or look behind the carefully created image, there will be flaws and failures, just like anyone else.

The only person you should really want to be is you.

Being you is something no one else can do. Not one person on this whole planet. That makes you incredibly special and unique.

You can choose ‘what’ to be. You can choose ‘how’ to be.

And even better, you do it perfectly.

Marianne Williamson wrote:

“We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Let your light shine.