Just my two cents

Musings on social media and the world as I see it


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An extended leave of absence, explained

half fullFor a long time, I struggled with doing regular blog posts. Then, just when I had gotten into a semi-regular blogging routine, wham. The proverbial you-know-what hit the fan.

First, a colleague at work resigned so I was doing double duty filling in for that role while still doing my own job. Then the holidays were upon us. Then we put our house up for sale after finding a house we loved. (Anyone ever heard that selling or buying a house is one of the five biggest stress-inducing events in life? Believe it.) Now, combine that with a personal health situation (nothing major, but still…) and there you have it — all the ingredients for the recipe that makes a blog post just about the last thing on a to-do list. In fact, the thought of writing a post just added to my stress. I felt like it was one more thing I couldn’t possibly add to my already filled days.

My hubby always reminds me that things could be worse and that we are very lucky. Sometimes he loses his patience with me because I lose focus on that. He’s right and I do appreciate all the blessings we have been given. Though, in the middle of times of stress and change, it’s not as easy  to remember that. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. It’s easier to see the glass as half empty. So I’ve made a conscious effort to focus on the good things in life, to be more positive and see the glass as half full. Along with that is being grateful every day and not allowing “things” to overwhelm me. Going back to blogging is all part of it, because writing can be so cathartic (if it’s not viewed as a chore). I’ve also gone back to a regular exercise routine and some yoga thrown in a few times a week, and eating healthy and a few other things that contribute to a more serene, happy life.

I’m grateful for the life I have. I feel very lucky to be at a point in my life where I basically enjoy what I do for a living, and am able to pay my bills every month and have a husband who keeps me focused on what’s important, and two dogs who make me laugh every day and show me what unconditional love is. The other stuff is, well, just that — stuff that sometimes gets in the way of things. But we shouldn’t let that “stuff”  let us get sidetracked from what is really important in life.

So here I am, writing my first post in about four months. I’ve also decided that I don’t necessarily want to always write about social media. So you may see some more personal posts thrown in here and there, and I hope you don’t mind. A colleague and friend I’ll call “E” actually made this suggestion to me. She a wonderful writer who has a fantastic blog I really enjoy. All of her blog posts are personal ones. She writes as a way of getting her emotions out and on paper, a sort of therapy; it’s a release for her, a way of coping. “E” went through a recent family tragedy, and right now is dealing with a serious medical issue with a loved one too. She has a lot more to deal with and feel stressed about than me. It’s a definite reality check when you see how much others are facing. It can make you feel silly, really, to think that you’re overwhelmed by things that are trivial to so many people who are going through much bigger issues.

So that’s where I’m at right now, and for those of you who are reading this, thank you for still being here! I hope I don’t disappoint in this and future posts. Because anyone who takes time out of their own busy life to read anything I might have to say is just one more thing I’m grateful for in this life. And of course, thanks to “E” for the encouragement to write this post and get back to this. Sometimes all we need is a little push, and we should be thankful for those too!


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What a week: Bomber tweets, Manhunts, and Big Papi’s F-Bomb

b_strong_blueAs I sit here on a Sunday morning with my coffee, I’m trying to make sense of one incredible week. Earlier this week I wrote about the Boston Bombing. That was the beginning of a whirlwind week, culminating on Friday with a manhunt the likes of which this country has never seen.

I, like so many Americans, sat glued to the TV all day and night Friday. It was difficult to think, even more difficult to work. To me, when you work in social media, it seems a bit trivial to conduct business as usual. I find it a little strange to be tweeting, “Don’t forget your sunscreen,” when the entire city of Boston is in a first-of-its-kind lock down and a terrorist is being hunted by thousands of officers.

So I tweeted and posted on Facebook to show our support for Boston and sent messages of hope and safety to all the officers working so hard to protect us and sharing important news and updates. While working, I had CNN on in the background, unable to tear myself away from this historical event.

During the coverage, CNN showed tweets from Suspect #2’s Twitter account. While the Twitter name was blurred out, I and other viewers were able to make it out enough to figure it out and find his account. And what a chill I got. The thought that I and anyone else interested was able to read the thoughts of a cold-blooded killer through social media just kind of, well, freaked me out!jahar tweets

To think that two days after the bombing, after killing innocent people, he actually tweeted this: “I’m a stress free kind of guy.” Wow. There were other tweets, like telling another Twitter user that a story and photo he posted about the bombing was a fake story, and another talking about buying something on the black market.

I’ve often thought that social media was a wonderful way to share information, meet people and bring people together virtually. The thought that you could read the tweets of an evil mind was just so far out of my thought process, the reality felt like a slap across the face this week.

But the good side of social media spoke loud and clear as once again social media exploded when the news of the capture came at 8:45 p.m. Friday. While as we watched people in Boston and Watertown cheering the police, the capture was confirmed by an amazing tweet from the Boston Police Department: “CAPTURED!!! The hunt is over. The search is done. The terror is over. And justice has won. Suspect in custody.”

Ahhh. There it is. Once again, through social media we all unite, we connect, and we know the truth, even though a lot of false information may be out there. It’s important to weed through the info and find the true facts.

The whole country was pulled together throughout the week. Yankee Fans were singing “Sweet Caroline” in Yankee Stadium (seriously??? LOL!). Boston Strong became the tagline and the hashtag that represented an entire community coming together, strong, resilient, not letting go of its freedom or its ability to return to normalcy. So much expressed in two simple words.

And so on Saturday, the Boston Red Sox took to the field. It was an amazing opening ceremony kicked off by a moving and emotional slide show accompanied by the Jeff Buckley’s version of the Leonard Cohen classic “Hallelujah.” Volunteers from the Boston Marathon took to the field, members of the Boston Police Department, the Police Commissioner, Governor Patrick and so many others. As Red Sox fans joined together to sing the National Anthem and wave their Boston Strong signs, the world came together, again, united and celebrating. I sat watching from home, with tears streaming down my face, emotional, grateful for all the work of those amazing officers who risked their lives to capture the suspect. Tears flowing down my face, with sympathy for those injured and lost, and happiness that the terror was over.

The ceremonial first pitches were tossed by heroes like the off-duty firefighter who rushed to the scene to save lives, the brother who sheltered his sisters from the blast and was injured himself, and the father who pushes his son in his wheelchair in the Marathon every year for 31 years. Heroes. And the tweets went crazy.

And then Big Papi, David Ortiz, took to the field with a microphone. And he said some wonderful words, and then he briefly summed up the entire week in two sentences And while I don’t usually swear in blog posts or on social media, this one deserves repeating: “This is our fucking city. And nobody is going to dictate our freedom.” Fenway Park simply erupted with cheers.

Well said, Papi! And while I thought he would be fined for his live television F-Bomb, I was thrilled to see this tweet from the FCC chairman, Julius Genachowski: FCC tweet

Amen! All is at it should be. We are America, we are strong, we will not be defeated. It’s too bad it takes a tragedy to bring a country together and support each other, even if social media makes it easier.

One amazing, emotional, historical week. What will you remember most from this week?


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What’s really important in life

hugs

Thanks to Sterben Edelweiss for this great pic. http://sterbenedelweiss.deviantart.com/art/Hugs-319958604

It’s really easy to get stuck in our daily routines. For many of us, that routine is filled from morning to night with texts, phone calls, emails, and social network posts from laptops and desktops and smartphones and tablets. Usually, it all seems like what we’re doing is the most important thing in the world.

And then, you get a phone call that stops you in your tracks and makes you realize that the things that seemed so important really aren’t in the whole grand scheme of things.

Yesterday morning I got a blast from the past. It was from a dear friend from college, Deanna, who tweeted a picture of me with her mom. In fact, she was my maid of honor in my first wedding. We were very close for years, but then life happens and people change and move on. She moved to California and I stayed here and then, well, life just continued.

We sporadically kept in touch through the years (more years than I’d like to count!), first by letters and then through email, back in the days before social networks. Yes, I am that old. Of course more recently, we’ve shared more through the magic and ease of Facebook and Twitter. She’s been back from California for about 10 years, and although we had tried to make plans to get together, it just didn’t happen for one reason or another.

When I saw that picture yesterday, I was flooded with many happy memories, some that I had totally forgotten about. I spent a lot of time with Deanna and her family, and those were some of the happiest times of my life. But sometimes the past becomes the past and we don’t think about it. Maybe because we get wrapped up in everything that life brings as we get older.

Deanna’s mom, Mary Ann, was an absolutely wonderful and wise woman. She was quick with a smile and a laugh and truly enjoyed her children and their friends. She always had wonderful, calm advice to give if you needed it or asked for it. She also lost her husband way too early to an incurable brain tumor, and she did it with poise and grace that still amazes me to this day.

Having been in touch with Deanna, I knew Mary Ann had been very ill, and I knew it was just a matter of time. And so a few hours after I got the picture, I sent a message to Deanna through Facebook for an update. And less than a half hour later, my phone rang. It was Deanna, choking back tears, telling me her mom had passed about 20 minutes before, surrounded by her family. She was no longer suffering and was finally at peace and reunited with her husband and love of her life, Neil.

We did not talk long, just long enough for her to know I cared and I sent my heartfelt condolences and tried to comfort her during such a difficult time. And even though we have not seen each other for years, she said there would be a small memorial service for “Meeps” and she’d love it if I could come. And our conversation ended with an “I love you” on both ends.

And it’s when you get a phone call like that, when you hear another person’s pain, and when you feel the kind of empathy I did, that everything just falls into place. You see things with greater clarity. You understand that the important things in life are not the deadlines or the content or the branding or how many hours we spend working.

What really matters are our connections to each other, our shared experiences and emotions and our constantly changing relationships. It’s about being a good friend, a supportive daughter, a loving and caring spouse or partner. And it’s about being there for others when they need you, especially during the difficult times.

And so now I will reunite with a friend, and it’s such a shame that it took something so sad to bring us together again, in person. Because really, there is nothing like a warm embrace to show someone you love and care for them – and that’s not something any social network can ever provide.

So take the time to be with the people you care about. Pick up a phone and make plans to see them. Hug them, kiss them, share your feelings with them. That’s what life is really all about.