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My Technology Diet

Ladybird Johnson Botanical Gardens, Austin TX Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Ladybird Johnson Botanical Gardens, Austin TX
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

I need to go on a diet.  A technology diet, that is.

I’m not going to claim that I’m leaving social media or anything crazy like that.  I’m not.

Technology isn’t inherently good or bad; it’s just a tool.  A hammer is just a tool.  It can be used to hammer in a nail, break a window, or as a murder weapon.  The hammer is just doing what you tell it to do.  Same with technology.  It can be a wonderful tool, but it can also be a horrible distraction.

I had some quiet time recently, where I was writing in my journal and just thinking.  My last published story happened in 2013.  2013!  Two years ago.  I had a prolific year for published stories in 2011, and I was wondering what happened.  I used to have tons of ideas, and then they dried up.

At first I thought it was my job.  I had a very stressful job for awhile, but I’m not at that job anymore.

Last night, I realized that it’s my love of technology that’s stopping the flow of ideas.

There was a time when I couldn’t imagine why I’d want a Smartphone.  This was probably in 2007.  I begrudgingly got my first Smartphone because we moved and I was lost all the time.  It was guaranteed GPS, and my husband really wanted me to get on board, so I did.  I’m not sure when my phone became permanently attached to me.  I take it into the bathroom.  It’s in my hand when I move around the house.  I use it in the grocery store (for more than just shopping lists).  I surf the internet or play games when I’m waiting in line.

And because of all this, I have no space in my head to just think and wonder and dream.  I realized that my ideas have “dried up” because I’m not giving them any space to grow.

So I’m going on a technology diet.  I’ll still surf the internet and use my laptop.  But I’m going to (try) to stop carrying my phone with me everywhere.  I’m going to try to put my phone down and look around when I’m in line.  I may actually go back to paper grocery lists, just to remove the temptation.

Have you ever gone on a technology diet?  Do you think it’s something you should do?

Roatan, Honduras Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Roatan, Honduras
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Last week, as I’m sure everyone knows, the Supreme Court legalized marriage equality.  I saw a lot of celebration on my news feed. There was also an article shared about a pastor who stated that he would set himself on fire if gay marriage was legalized, and many of the comments I saw were things like, “Has he done it yet?” “Fire! Fire!” and so on.

I feel bad for that pastor.  How much hatred does he have to have inside him for him to threaten to light himself on fire because of something that has nothing to do with him?  How much must he hate himself to make those statements? We’re a culture that’s easily angered.  We’re intolerant of his hatred and intolerance, and our knee-jerk reaction to such stupid statements (because yes, I think it’s stupid to light yourself on fire because other people now have more rights than they did a month ago) is to bring gasoline to his fire, to jump on the hatred bandwagon.

I’m not hitching a ride.

I get why it feels good to respond to his hatred and anger in kind, but it doesn’t do any of us any good.  From the time I was little, my parents told me “Two wrongs don’t make a right,” and no matter how much we pretty it up, that’s what the sentiment boils down to.  Righteous anger might feel good, but that doesn’t make it right.

If I tried to talk to that pastor and met his hatred with more hatred, I pretty much guarantee he wouldn’t hear anything I had to say. If, however, I met his hatred with compassion, perhaps he would hear me.  Maybe not.  Maybe he would hear some part of what I had to say.  I can’t make others listen, but I’ve found that if I treat people with respect, it almost always has better results than treating them with disrespect.

There are a lot of people I don’t agree with.  There are opinions that offend me.  But if people respond to intolerance and offense with hatred, it just perpetuates more hatred.

It might be difficult, but I encourage you to remember that when someone is awful, your hatred won’t make them better, nicer, or more tolerant.  After all, nothing you can say will be worse than what they live with.  People who spread hatred have to live with themselves.  Treat them with kindness, because they’ve already sentenced themselves to life in a prison of hate.

Hello, and welcome to Feel Good Friday, where I focus on the positive things around us.

On the Apache Trail, Arizona Photo Credit: Doree Weller

On the Apache Trail, Arizona
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Blind cat and her human go on adventures.  This is a sweet story.

Preschool in Seattle visits a nursing home.  The kids perk up the elderly residents, and it’s good for the kids too.  I think this is wonderful, and I hope more places start doing this.

Police officer sings to a toddler to calm her after she’s involved in a car accident that killed the rest of her family.

Child opens a lemonade stand to pay for an iPad.  When a cop sees what she’s doing, he helps her reach her goal.

Dad and daughter do 39 Acts of Kindness for their birthdays.  What a nice way to celebrate.

Have a fabulous weekend!  And remember, be kinder than you need to, and focus on the good whenever you can.

Moonshyne on my shoulder, her favorite sleeping spot.

Moonshyne on my shoulder, her favorite sleeping spot.

I took a bit of a break from blogging.  Not on purpose.  It’s just that I couldn’t seem to get my head on straight.

My cat, Moonshyne, died on May 25.  She was 18-years-old, and I had her for almost half my life.

I’ve dealt with other pets dying of course, but none that had been such a constant companion.  For 18 years, she was there every time I came home.  She would curl up in my lap or on my shoulder when I sat down, and slept with me many nights.

I’ve dealt with human loved ones dying, but in those situations, my grief was never the most immediate.  It was always someone else whose need was greater, so I managed those much differently.

I thought I was prepared to lose her.  After all, 18-years-old is by far, the oldest cat I’ve ever had.  As people have said to try to be supportive, “That’s a long time for a cat.”  She obviously wasn’t the oldest cat in existence.  Some cats live to 20 or even 25, while others die much younger.

I wasn’t prepared for my level of grief or for the fog I went through afterward.  Being trained as a therapist, and having done work as a grief therapist, I know about it, of course.  I know that it’s a pretty typical grief reaction, which actually doesn’t make it any easier.  It wasn’t that I felt depressed or that I was tearful or anything like that.  I just literally couldn’t get motivated to do anything.  Or if I would get motivated, I’d get sidetracked.  Everything seemed to take much longer to do than it should have.

Then, on top of that, I broke my finger.  I was so irritated at first!  But as I’ve developed a 9 finger typing method, I’ve realized it’s not such a big deal after all.  It’s only a finger.

When I’m stressed out or upset, I read.  (I know, big shock, right?)  But I don’t read just anything; mostly I want to re-read.  I call them “comfort books” which I’d prefer to comfort foods any day.  This time around, I’ve been reading through JD Robb’s In Death series, starting from the beginning.  I realized that I started feeling better before I was aware that I had been feeling bad.

It’s always interesting when I live out lessons from therapy.  I knew that the magnitude of the loss doesn’t necessarily predict the reaction, and that when you don’t deal with other losses, sometimes they come back and hit you, forcing you to deal with them when you least expect them.  This time around, it was my turn to deal with something difficult, more difficult than I expected.  At least I knew what to do: treat myself kindly.  So that’s what I’ve been doing.  I treated myself kindly, and I think I (mostly) have my head on straight again.

Hello!  It’s Motivational Monday.  Here’s today’s quote.

Roosevelt Lake, Arizona Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Roosevelt Lake, Arizona
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

“We are at our very best, and we are happiest, when we are fully engaged in work we enjoy on the journey toward the goal we’ve established for ourselves. It gives meaning to our time off and comfort to our sleep.”
-Earl Nightingale

I’m definitely happiest when I’m busy, but not busywork-busy, actual goal-directed, productive busy.  So as you start your week, when things seem tough, remind yourself of what goals you’re working toward.

So, in case anyone has wondered where I’ve been or why my posts have been rather sporadic, here’s the deal.  It’s been a rough couple of months.  I’ve had several hand injuries, the most recent of which is a broken pointer finger.  The good news is that it’s on my left hand, and I’m right handed.  The bad news is (as anyone who types will understand), it’s my pointer finger.  As in, I use it much of the time when typing.  Mr. Google couldn’t tell me what percentage of the time it’s used, but my guess is that it’s a lot.

If one of my other fingers were damaged instead of that one, I could probably have an easier time of typing.  As it is, typing has become frustrating for me, as I’m usually a touch typer.

So, bear with me.  I’ll try to get back to a regular schedule, and I’m learning to type with 9 digits.  If I make any unusual typos, blame my damaged finger.  :)

Life Lessons

“Never blame anyone in your Life. Good people give you Happiness. Bad people give you Experience. Worst people give you a Lesson & Best people give you memories.”  -Author Unknown

Another original Zentangle by Doree Weller.  I'm so artsy!

Another original Zentangle by Doree Weller. I’m so artsy!

Everything and everyone in life is there to teach you something.  Next time something bad happens, instead of being angry, upset, or resentful, step back, look at the situation, and ask yourself, “What am I supposed to learn from this?”

Often, our knee jerk reaction is to say something like, “I’m supposed to learn that people are backstabbers” or “I’ve learned that men (or women) aren’t trustworthy,” but the problem with these lessons, is that’s like saying that all fruit is gross because you ate that sour orange once, or because that one apple you ate had a worm.

When you’re trying to learn a life lesson, remember to take away only what will help you, and leave the rest.  Sure, some people aren’t trustworthy.  So if that’s the case, maybe the lesson is to listen to your gut next time.  Or to listen to that friend who warned you she didn’t like Mr. Liar-Liar.

Everything’s a lesson, so as you go forth on this Monday, look at every negative experience as a lesson.  Sometimes it makes those tough experiences more palatable.

Go forth and get ready for a wonderful week!

Happy Friday, everyone!

Austin, TX Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Austin, TX
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Colorado artist ordered by police to stop stacking rocks under an obscure city ordinance.  When he protested online, the city attorney called him personally to let him know that he had told police to not give out tickets for rock stacking.  This is why power doesn’t reside with any one person.  :)  A happy ending.

Plus sized lady shares her yoga practice on the Internet, showing that yoga is for everyone, not just a particular body type.

When fifth-graders saw a special needs boy being bullied, they helped him, and from then on, befriended him and have protected him from bullies.  There’s an article and a video; it’s a really sweet story showing the absolute best in people.

Baltimore schools have removed paperwork requirements in schools with high poverty rates, so now every child can get free breakfast and lunch.  Children should not have to go hungry; I just hope more schools jump on board with this.

IKEA pledges a billion dollars to help with climate change.  IKEA has always been about using sustainable materials and less waste, so this is just another thing they’re doing to help.  Corporations can sound good, but IKEA puts their money toward positive change.

I usually post stuff like this on Wellness Wednesdays, but I’m a little off this week.  I hope to get back on schedule next week.

IMG_3545First off, I want to say that I’m pro human rights.  Therefore, I support Caitlyn Jenner and her right to be whoever she feels that she is.  It’s none of my business if it’s a choice or a biological imperative; I’ve never seen why that matters to those of us on the outside.  Undoubtedly it matters to people who are trans, but I don’t see why anyone should have to explain any of that to me.

That being said, the media coverage on Ms. Jenner, calling her a hero, got me thinking.  There have been a lot of posts from people showing military personnel, saying that the folks in uniform are heroes.  I have a lot of respect for our military personnel, and it sort of bugged me to compare Caitlyn Jenner to people in the military.  But then I realized a few things:

1.  It’s not a competition.  The people saying that Caitlyn Jenner is a hero weren’t saying she was more of a hero than our military personnel.  They were just saying that she was a hero, and a hero can be a lot of different things.  Many people in our military are undoubtedly heroes.  In my mind, the fact that we can have a hero like Ms. Jenner makes our military personnel even more heroic.  It’s because of them that we can have a hero like her.

2.  We need heroes like Caitlyn Jenner.  People who are trans aren’t widely accepted yet, and Caitlyn Jenner will be a hero for some people, perhaps making it easier for some people to be who they are.  Gay people and trans people are still bullied and sometimes assaulted for being who they are.  Caitlyn Jenner de-legitimizes that reaction.

3.  We need to stop tearing others down.  In this social media world, it’s so easy to have an opinion on everything, and those opinions are often negative.  There’s a lot to be said for “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything.”  Celebrities are people too, with feelings.  Maybe they won’t ever see your opinion of them, but does that make it okay to say nasty things? Practice being kinder to others, and you’ll feel kinder toward yourself.

4.  And last, it’s okay to have a respectful dissenting opinion.  If you think being trans is wrong for any reason, I respect your opinion, as long as it’s brought up in a respectful way.  Just being down on Ms. Jenner and saying disparaging things makes me just overlook your opinion.  You can disagree with everything I said, you can believe she’s not a hero.  As long as you disagree in a respectful manner, I’m on board with your right to that opinion.  That being said, it doesn’t bring anything to the table to cloud the issue, to post pictures of military men with missing limbs, talking about how Ms. Jenner is not a hero.  There’s no comparison between the two.  How do you know that her coming out didn’t save someone’s life?  How do you know that someone who was contemplating suicide didn’t get help because she came out?  How do you know that someone who may have otherwise completed a hate crime didn’t pause because Bruce Jenner, Olympic Gold Medalist, came out as a woman?  You don’t.  Neither do I.

It’s just something to think about, that’s all.

“Hero” is a very personal label.  If she’s not your hero, that’s fine.  But she could be somebody’s hero, and I respect that.

Last but not least, I wanted to share this link.  One of the people who mocked Caitlyn Jenner got a lesson in irony.

Living Gently

Happy Monday!  Here’s your thought to start the week:

140217-5

Live gently today, love much, and if you’re holding on to something so tightly that your knuckles turn white, maybe it’s time to let it go.

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