Sometimes I Take the Internet Too Seriously . . .

and it’s a problem.

Sigh. It is awkward and a bit embarrassing to write about this in such a public forum like my blog. But I am writing about it because I want a better way of holding myself accountable on this.

You see I have always been passionate and emotional and opinionated. I think anyone who has ever known me has seen this, ha. And a lot of the times, this is great.

But other times it is not so great. Because I get really invested and caught up sometimes in things that really don’t matter. Sure, a lot of the stuff that I focus my energy and passion on matter, but some other stuff really doesn’t matter. And I think the internet is the biggest culprit of this.

I get way too invested in talking to people on the internet. I know people say, remember these are real people you are talking to on the internet. And a lot of the time, I do remember that. Sometimes, I remember it too much, if that makes sense. It’s harder to let it go when you are talking to a real person. It’s harder to let something mean or misleading or deceptive to go unchallenged when you know somewhere on the other end there is a real person reading it. I don’t want someone to read that things that is deceptive and believe it just because nobody took the time to say hey, that’s not true. I don’t want somebody to read that mean comment and think that everyone agrees with said person because nobody took the time to say hey, that’s mean and unfair. And it’s hard to be on the receiving end of those mean comments as well.

Too often, I’m typing things out and along the way, somebody says something and that sometimes upsets me, like really upsets me, like makes me cry, whether or not it was intended or even aimed at me (this is exaggerated by my pregnant state). Frequently Nick just tells me to walk away. But I have such a hard time walking away because it feels like I’m giving in and admitting defeat. It’s not that I don’t think I’m right or I think said other person is right, but that I care too much and I’ve become too invested and I need to just step back because I don’t like the way it’s make me feeling. But it feels like a loss. The worst is when I’ve said I’m done discussing something but the other person comments back anyways. Then I feel like I’m not defending myself if I don’t comment back, but I try really hard to stick to my word if I said I’m done discussing something and just walk away, check the stop following button if I can.

But it’s hard. I struggle with it so much. Am I the only person who struggles with this? Am I even making any sense? Some people would say I take everything too seriously/literally/too much to heart, but part of that is just part of who I am. I have always tried my best to put forth 100 percent effort and mix that with passion and I do take a lot of stuff personally. I can remember stuff that people said to me in real life (and even on the internet) that hurt me – things people probably don’t even remember saying to me. People have often labeled me as too sensitive and maybe I am. And maybe sometimes that’s a bad thing, but maybe sometimes it’s a good thing, because I feel my sensitivity has helped me be more compassionate towards others, to feel more intensely when I hear about other’s sufferings when some people might just turn it off. But sometimes it also just really sucks to feel so much. I don’t always want to take everything as an insult that wasn’t meant as an insult, but sometimes I do, even though I try not to. I’m always over thinking and overanalyzing and now, I am over rambling, so I think I will end it there. I’ve been vulnerable enough for one day. Sometimes I write these things and think about not publishing them, but I think the world is a better place when we are more honest with each other about our lives and our feelings and our struggles, so that’s why I hit publish anyways, even though it’s hard to be vulnerable. But sometimes, vulnerability is what is needed the most.

To My Younger Self: Be Less Busy

Dear Younger Self,

I have to apologize to you. I have to apologize to you because I glorified busy. I thought it was great to be busy. Because busy and involved was the way to go right? Saying yes makes a good line on your resume. Saying no gets you nothing.

Or so I thought. But God has a funny way of teaching us lessons that we need and when I got pregnant with Dominic, I pulled back a lot on what I was doing. Partially because my motivation was hard to find, but partially because I didn’t feel well enough to do stuff. I whittled down to the stuff that was really important to me.

And along the way, I discovered some important things that I wish someone had told my younger self. One: It is okay to say no, the world won’t fall apart if you say no – there is someone else who can do those things. Two: It is immensely freeing not to do all the things.

I’ll tell you something though. I still struggle with saying yes to too many things. I still struggle with saying yes to things that I don’t want to do but feel obligated to do. I still struggle with when people ask what I’ve been up to and I don’t have a good answer because we’ve just being doing the same old same old.

I think in some ways it’s tied up to how you view yourself too. When you don’t value yourself, it’s hard to value how you spend your time. You’re looking for anything, anyone to validate that you are important. And if they ask you to do something, you must be important. But you don’t need a full schedule of busy things to prove you are important. You are important because you are a loved and redeemed child of God. Period. No matter how many or few things you fill your day up with.

Let me tell you something else. I love not being so busy. I love having more of my time back to spend how I want to spend it. This life is short and I only have one of them. There is great freedom in saying no. The world won’t collapse, it won’t end, I promise. Sure I may feel boring some days because I’m not doing everything and anything I could be doing. But I’m also less stressed and more relaxed and I rush around less.

Not being busy is a-okay. I wish I could really travel back in time and tell you that. It would save me a lot of stress and heartache.

Love yourself,

Melissa

Our Morning in Pictures

So in case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t been blogging a lot lately. This was mainly due to my not feeling so hot since I became pregnant, but as I begin to move out of the first trimester, I’ve been feeling a lot better which means back to my blogging! I’ve missed it as it’s one of my primary creative outlets.

So here’s our morning in pictures.

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“I don’t always neglect my spoon, but when I do, it’s so I can stick my whole face in my bowl of fruit loops.”

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We used our Dr. Seuss ABC flashcards to play a game this morning where I laid them all out on the floor and then I called out a letter and Dominic had to find the right one. I wasn’t sure how it would go since when we’re looking at books and we point to a letter, he can only get about 75% of the uppercase letters. But apparently he knows all their names even if he won’t say it, since he got them all when we played this game. He loved it and asked to play again several more times.

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“This is my cheesy face. Clearly, mac n cheese is the best.”

P.S. He is supposed to be napping now but I can hear him in his bedroom singing about la-la-anya (aka, lasagna).

All Your Player Four Questions Answered

In case you missed this yesterday, we are expecting another kid. It is April Fool’s day today, but this is not an April Fool’s joke, which is why I posted the original picture yesterday. I knew I had to post it yesterday or wait until tomorrow, so I hustled my butt to finish it before last night. So I promised today I would answer your questions about player four. I think that will be baby’s nickname until we find out. I’ve been wanting something good to call him/her anyways. If there’s any question you have that I didn’t answer, let me know and I will throw it up here too. :)

How far along are you?

I am almost out of the first trimester. Player four is the size of a tart kumquat. We just heard his/her heartbeat for the first time last week, nice and strong in the 170s.

When are you due?

I am due in late October. Not saying on the date.

But please, can’t I know your due date? I won’t tell anyone. Please, please, please. I’m your friend/cousin/uncle/monkey. 

Are you my midwife or my husband? You’re not? Then you really don’t need to know. I don’t really like the idea of due dates. They’re really just guess dates and only 5% of babies are born on their due dates anyways. I don’t like the date feeling like it’s looming over me and I don’t like people pestering me if I’ve had that baby yet. Answer. I successfully avoided the vast majority of this pestering by keeping Dom’s due date a secret, so I am definitely doing this again. Player four will press start on outside life just as soon as he/she is ready.

Are you going to find out what you are having?

Yes, I like to find out for bonding purposes and because we name him/her right away and start referring to them by name. They are a person, I like to give them their name.

Does Dominic understand that you’re having a baby? 

I’m not sure on this one. Sometimes yes and sometimes no I think. He definitely knows what a baby is and if I look at pictures of other babies he will exclaim baby! over and over again. But if I ask him where the baby is, sometimes he will point to my belly and sometimes he will just look at me like ‘Seriously, lady, I have no idea what you’re talking about.’

How have you been feeling? 

I’ve been feeling okay. I feel like I felt a lot sicker this first trimester with player four than I did with Dominic, but I don’t know if I actually felt sicker or if I just don’t remember how sick I felt with Dominic. I am definitely a lot more tired. This past week or so though I have felt really good so I’m hoping that keeps up!

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Okay, those are all the questions I can think of, but if you have more let me know! I’m hoping that by putting these up here I won’t have to repeat myself a million times. I know I might have to anyways, but it makes me feel better to hope that I won’t lol. Or maybe when people ask I’ll just be like, here’s player four’s FAQ. I’ll keep this updated as we know more – like when we find out whether we are having a girl or a boy!

Adding a New Player

Geeky Baby Annoucement

All your questions answered here.

Learning to Count (A Little)

Please Watch: “I am Ukrainian”

Please note that this video contains violent images from the protests and may not be suitable for children.

One of my dear friends is in the Ukraine right now and I have been anxiously praying that she and her loved ones stay safe and that the situation resolves peacefully, though that that second part is looking less and less likely. It is getting more and more press coverage – every other news story on the radio this morning was about Ukraine. The international community needs to speak out. We need to demand peace for Ukraine.

I stand with the Ukrainians fighting for freedom.

Tuesday Tip: Refrigerating Nail Polish??

So I saw this tip today on pinterest. It said that if you refrigerated nail polish for about 15 minutes, it would make it go on smoother. I was intrigued by this, because I didn’t think that would be the case.

So I decided to test it out. I took my nail polish and stuck it in the fridge, right there next to my milk. Then I waited 15 minutes (and watched The West Wing while I was at it).

While I was waiting, it occurred to me that I should have painted one hand first as a room temperature control. Oh well. You live and you learn.

Anyways, after the 15 minutes passed, I tested it out. I did find that the nail polish did indeed go on very smooth, whether or not it was smoother is hard to say because like I said, I didn’t test it first. But if you are finding that the nail polish you want to use isn’t going on very smooth, it might be worth a shot to pop it in the fridge for about 15 minutes.

This, however, did not improve the fact that I suck at painting nails. Lol. I’ve always wanted painted nails, but I’ve never had the steady hands for doing it.

So here are my nails, and like I said, ignore the not so decent job painting them – I’m no pro!

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Bonus: Painting your nails really helps to brighten up a suck-tacular snowy winter! Spring can come any time now :)

American Refugee Committee

My friend Aude has been working closely with American Refugees Committee for as long as I have known her. I was curious about who they were and what they did, so I interviewed her about them.

Tell us a little bit about the American Refugee Committee (ARC).

ARC was founded in 1979 in Chicago by Neil Ball, a Chicago Business man. It is a disaster relief organization, now based in Minneapolis, that helps refugees and displaced people due to war or natural disaster. It is a non-sectarian organization that works in 3 phases: Emergency Relief, Recovery and Reconstruction. Their programs are built from the ground up: they work with people at the most vulnerable point in their lives, when they have lost everything. They go into situations where they assess what the basic needs for people are. After bringing life-saving supplies, they reach out to the community and work on programs to improve the life of people.

In 2013, they helped 3 million people in 10 countries affected by conflict or disaster.

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Pictured above: Aude with her daughters representing ARC at an activism day 2012

How did you get involved with ARC?

In May 2010, I attended a talk at a library where the CEO, Daniel Wordsworth explained what ARC did in the aftermath of the Earthquake in Haiti. I was inspired by their work, did research about the organization, and reached out to them. The first year, I organized 6 speaking engagements for the staff to come talk about maternal health. After that, I visited their headquarters and one of their Directors told me I should be doing the speaking for them in the Chicago Area. Since then, I have given talks to schools, rotary clubs, senior centers and have attended activism days with my daughters to raise awareness about refugees around the world.

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Pictured above: A small project they did where our Stars of Hope made it to the Children’s clinic in Somalia

What is it about the work that ARC does that just tugs on your heart strings?

There are many things I love about ARC:
-Their staff is amazing. They are passionate, caring for people around the world, and always try to be innovative.
-90 cents of every dollar goes directly to the international programs. Transparency about their budget.
-They hire/train on the ground directly or create a cash for work program in some countries so it helps the economy, instead of having a huge team of aid workers that could be costly: because the people who know more about what is needed to improve are the people who live directly in the refugee camps.
-They give a voice to women and make sure they are cared for through training, micro-loans, and health care vouchers so they can support their families.
-The revenue and support mainly comes from grants (US Government/United Nations/Others) so they have to use the money and be accountable that it was used for the specific needs and programs.
-The money received through fundraisers is to help in case of wars/disasters to send out teams and put in place relief then recovery. (like Asian Tsunami/Haiti Earthquake/Hurricane in the Philippines/Assistance in dire situations in Syria, South Sudan, and the DRC)
-They create innovative programs by asking their staff: they recently created the Changemaker’s Award by asking the around the globe: “If you could do one simple thing, what would you do to make the ARC experience better for the people we serve?”
-The best part is reading comments and seeing the smile of people whose life they have impacted. You can tell they changed lives for the better.

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Pictured above: Raising awareness about refugees at the MLK Day of Service 2014

What can other people do to get involved with ARC?
Check out their website www.ARCrelief.org or their facebook page. Connect with an ARC staff member. They are supportive of any idea you have to help raise awareness, from giving a talk, to organizing a fundraiser or having a conversation about refugees and the organization.

Anything else you want to add?
Volunteering has changed my life for the better. I found my passion and decided to get involved with the organization. I did a lot of research to make sure that I could see the impact of projects done in Chicago for example. I feel like I am part of the ARC Team and very proud to work with such brave people who think first of saving lives.

I want to take this time at the end to echo and expand on what Aude said there at the end. Volunteering is such an important and life changing thing you can do and I encourage you to volunteer somewhere. Wherever your interests and passions lie, no matter what your skills, there is an organization out there somewhere that could use them and would be extremely grateful to you for getting involved.

I also have to add another note. I was concerned with what I read on ARC’s website that they might be distributing oral contraceptives and Aude very kindly contacted the people she knows at the ARC to ask them. She told me that her contacts say that they try and respect the country that they are in and their national guidelines, but in some places they do distribute oral contraceptives. This made me deliberate for a long time about whether or not I wanted to post this, given how I feel about oral contraceptives. Ultimately I decided to post this because I believe in people having the right to be informed and because I also believe those people have the right to make their own choices once informed, even if they disagree with my choices. And I say this especially knowing that not everyone in my synod agrees and not even all pro-lifers agree. I will be, however, dropping them a (polite) note expressing my concerns because I would love to be able to support them one hundred percent without concerns or reservations.

I also want to thank Aude for agreeing to be interviewed. I really appreciated it and I loved learning more about ARC.

Tears, Crying, and Emotions

I saw this Tolkien quote this morning and while I’m not the biggest Tolkien fan, I think he’s on to something.

I don’t know when it happened, but crying has somehow gotten a bad rap in our society. It’s seen as a sign of weakness – especially if you’re a man. It’s not a desirable quality, that’s for sure.

But why is it that way? What exactly is wrong with crying? Is it just someone showing a strong emotion that we don’t know how to handle? We tend to have to keep our emotions under wrap unless they are pleasant ones, because if they aren’t, not a lot of people want to hear about them.

And to be honest, I am a crier and sometimes I hate it. It does make me feel weak, even though there is nothing wrong about it. I mean, if the most powerful man to ever walk the face of this earth, Jesus, can cry over the death of his friend, why have we made crying something so weak? He cried even though He knew He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, because being fully human, He still felt emotions. They are a part of the human experience, not a weakness.

We are uncomfortable, I believe, with strong displays of emotions because we haven’t been taught how to handle them in ourselves. But emotion in and of itself is not bad. Can our emotions lead us to do bad things, things we later regret? For sure, they absolutely can, but that doesn’t make the feelings bad.

Everyone wants to walk around pretending like they have no feelings, bottling it up because it’s not always socially appropriate to express feelings. But I want change that. And I think to change that I have to start by being okay with my own emotions. So I want to apologize if my actions are in the wrong, but I do not want to apologize for feeling things.

Human beings have emotions. Let’s remember that and try to treat others with compassion when they express them.

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