You’ve Got A Friend #CaroleKing #ShaniaTwain #CelineDion #GloriaEstefan

A classmate in my online course, Literature and Mental Health (FutureLearn) shared this YouTube video with me. I love, love, love Carole King and love, love, love this song.  Just have to share it with all my friends.

‘Tis the Season to Receive … Awards!

I have been rather remiss of late. I’ve been honored a few times recently with awards, but I’ve been slow to respond to the award givers.  Time flies.  Seems like just yesterday, I was posing for this picture …


But just last week, I posed for this one … (more…)

Unlucky Day: Friday the 13th

Usually, Friday the 13th is a lucky day for me.  At least, it’s a day I don’t dread.  I love black cats and I make it a point to walk under ladders, so celebrating Friday the 13th is just another way to thumb my nose at superstition.  Except for this Friday the 13th.  Today is my bureau chief’s last work day before retirement, and now Friday the 13th indeed feels unlucky.  I love this woman.  She is the nicest person I’ve ever met:  she smiles easily, has a warm and welcoming demeanor, and rarely speaks ill of anyone.  She is very organized and dedicated to her work.  She has been my buffer between the work I need to do and the bureaucracy that often tries to trip me up.  She knits.

I have many gifts to remember her by.  Here are a few that I can share. (more…)

Writing and Personality: The Introvert Within

I’ve been thinking a lot about my personality type lately.  I’ve had the unhappy realization that even in a virtual world, I’m still an introvert.  It may be easier to project myself as an extrovert, as someone who thrives on being with large groups of people, but it ain’t the truth about me.  My favorite face-to-face social events tend to be one-on-one encounters, such as a long lunch with one close friend.  My limit is a dinner party of four, where I am one of the four.  At the young age of 55, I started to finally embrace the introvert that is me after I read Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.  For the first time in my life, I felt that my introversion was more “normal” than my society wanted me to believe.

But then I reentered the blogosphere and now I have a wide circle of blogging acquaintances, many of whom have become friends that I’ve grown to care about deeply.  I value each one of these new friendships, and yet I still experience that paralyzing feeling I get when I feel multiple demands for my attention.  Like when I open my Gmail account and see 200 new blog posts all wanting and deserving my attention.  These are not people speaking directly to me all at once, but the sensation is the same.  I feel overwhelmed and then I shut down.

So yesterday morning, upon discovering that for some reason WordPress is not sending me the daily digests of the blogs I follow as I requested, I turned to my Facebook page.  I started with Candace Johnson at Change It Up Editing and Writing Services who had shared Lauren Sapala’s blog post on making time to write.  [That is an excellent post, by the way.]  From there, I saw another post Lauren had written called Know Your Type, and Then Sit Down to Write.  Well, there we go.  I was familiar with Jung’s personality test (also referred to the Myers-Briggs test).  [Disclaimer:  what is online is an abridged version of the actual test, and there is some controversy about it.  Still, it’s fun to take and can be very insightful.]  And, true to my introverted self, I love taking tests.  You can take the test here.

I’ve taken this test in the past and as I’ve matured, my scores have changed slightly.  What has not changed is the first letter of the score:  “I” for Introvert.  This morning’s test revealed me to be an ISFJ:  Introvert, Sensing, Feeling, Judging.  To be more specific, I have strong preferences of introversion over extroversion by 89%; sensing over intuition by 12%; feeling over thinking by 38%; and judging over perceiving by 44%.  Over the years, I seem to have become more sensing than intuitive, but my other “preferences” have changed little.  So what’s an introvert like me to do?

I’m not about to retreat into the quiet cocoon of anonymity just because I get a little overwhelmed now and then.  I just need to relearn and pay attention to my limits.  I would never turn back the clock on my blogging, for the friends I’ve gained have enriched my life beyond my imagination.  Not only has my growth as a writer accelerated in the last few months due to the support of my blogging friends, but so has my self-confidence in general.  In my real physical world, I have a handful of friends that I feel comfortable enough with to be fully myself.  It’s a stark, finite number that, while I enjoy solitude, still leaves me uneasy.  Is it me that is incapable of having more than two good friends?  Or is it my immediate physical world that is incapable of accepting me as I am?

In my real virtual world, the number seems infinite.  I am friends with people I never would have met except for the blogosphere, people who live in the U.S. and Canada but also far-flung countries like Australia, Latvia, Italy, Egypt.  For an introvert like myself, this is nothing short of amazing.  For an introvert, this could only happen through writing.

Why I Hate Facebook, But Love My Facebook Page

A couple of months ago, I created a Facebook Page.  You can find it here or click Like on the widget in the right-hand column (gotcha!).  Initially, I was hesitant to start a Facebook Page because I have strong but mixed feelings about Facebook in general.  I managed to avoid Facebook until a few years ago when I discovered that one of my nieces had started posting all her children’s pictures there.  I opened an account immediately.  Seeing pictures of adorable baby boys as they grow up was a huge incentive.  At that time, Facebook was fairly easy to navigate; that was before it started to emulate Twitter.

Over the years since then, I’ve accrued a fair number of “friends.”  A large majority of my friends are actually family (I have a lot of cousins).  The rest are former classmates, coworkers, former coworkers, and a few are friends.  Now, making these distinctions, especially between friends and coworkers, is not to suggest that I don’t consider my coworkers or former coworkers to be friends; many of them are.  In fact, I actually like everyone I’m “friends” with on Facebook; in many cases, I love them.  What makes my personal Facebook account awkward for me is the degree (or lack thereof) to which I can be fully myself.  The thing is:  my Facebook friends represent a vast spectrum of likes and dislikes, political and otherwise.  I don’t hide the fact that I am a “bleeding heart liberal.” (In reality, I’m more moderate, but compared to some people, yup, I’m a bleeding heart.)  Yet, I still feel uneasy when I express my political views, when I express myself.  I don’t separate the political from my personal life.  I don’t because I live the political everyday.  I have a government job so I know first-hand how political winds will affect whether or not I can accomplish my agency’s mission.    I’ve been a social worker, counseling victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, so I know first-hand how legislation can help or hinder a victim’s recovery.  I’ve taught college-level courses in composition and social work, so I know first-hand how university politics can ultimately shortchange a student’s education by not teaching him writing or critical thinking skills.  So, for me, politics is personal.

But I know that my views are not shared by every one of my Facebook friends, so I censor myself, at least I try.  I’m sure there are some friends/family members/coworkers who would like me to try harder.  And there are some friends whose views I totally disagree with.  I don’t ask them to censor themselves; instead, I simply hide their posts.  The downside of that is I then miss the occasional good news, latest baby picture, etc., unless I go directly to their Facebook page, which is not something I always remember to do.  There have been many times when I thought about just deleting my account altogether.  If any one of my Facebook friends really want to stay in touch with me, they have my email address or they can call my mom and get my phone number.  I’ve lived at the same street address for almost 22 years.  I’m not hard to find.

But those pictures of the little ones get me every time.  I have five grandnephews and one grandniece.  They live in different states so to see them grow up, I need to keep my Facebook account.

But I still think of closing my account and here’s another reason why.  Now that I have a Facebook Page, I feel lonelier than ever on my personal account.  My birthday last week came and went with only one person from my personal account wishing me a happy birthday and that was done through a direct message, not on my Timeline.  Yet, I blogged about my birthday and when the post showed up on my Facebook Page, it went “viral.” According to Facebook, it got the most Likes and was viewed by more people than anything I’ve written to date.  Now, I usually don’t broadcast my birthday.  I tend to keep it under the radar, but this year was special to me and I wanted to celebrate.  That so many in my blogging community celebrated with me was a wonderful experience.  That there wasn’t a peep on my personal Facebook account brought me up short.  [Caveat:  three friends from my personal account did Like my blog post on my Facebook Page and left messages.]

The difference is that on my Facebook Page, I am a writer and everyone I Like through that page is a writer.  That’s my focus.  On this blog and through my Facebook Page and Twitter account, I stay pretty focused on writing.  I have nothing to censor and I can be totally myself.  It’s ironic to me that, through my blog, I feel more myself than through any other media.  And I don’t feel lonely.   Yet, I do, at times, on my personal Facebook account.

There’s been many discussions about loneliness and Facebook, studies done, reports published (like this one from the Atlantic Monthly).  My husband cites these studies as one reason why he doesn’t and will never have a Facebook account.  Being a shy, sensitive introvert, I do become easily paranoid (“Nobody likes me!,” “I’m persona non grata and I don’t know why!”).  Thus, I have to remind myself that this problem with Facebook is of my own making.  I should know better than to think that “silence” on my personal account indicates anything.  The dark side of social media is that your expectations get raised beyond reasonable levels.  Before Facebook, I was tickled by every birthday card I got, and I didn’t think about the ones I didn’t get.  A bit more effort goes into selecting and sending a card whereas with Facebook all you have to do is point and click.  And so we (at least I) have a tendency to expect more from people now then I did pre-Facebook days.  And that’s simply not a fair expectation.

I started off this post thinking I had every reason to feel unhappy with my personal Facebook account.  But now I realize it was my own unreasonable expectations that have caused my unhappiness.  I’ll keep that personal account because it’s a great way to see the kids in my family grow, see my mom with her great-grandchildren, occasionally exchange political views with like-minded comrades, and keep track of my wealth of family and friends.   My Facebook Page is for the writer that I am now and the author that I hope to be.

Happy Post-4th of July, 2013

So as I continue to procrastinate this morning–going through my blog reader, making comments on some of my favorite blogs–I see that a number of bloggers had the good sense to post on the 4th of July.  Obviously, they were aware that this is a holiday many people spend celebrating.  How did I spend 4th of July?  As I usually do, holed up in my room, working on my computer.  Virtually, I was away at Camp NaNoWriMo, taking advantage of the day-job-free day to get a big jump on my word count.  Other years, I spent at home since my husband and I tend to avoid large unruly crowds.  We prefer to enjoy fireworks from a great distance. One year, on a business trip to Washington, DC, we got to see fireworks from our hotel window.  We had thought about going to the Mall but when we saw the crowd, I knew that I would have missed the fireworks due to debilitating panic attacks.

When I was a little girl living in the country, I loved 4th of July because we would have a picnic in our backyard and at night I could run around with sparklers.  As I got older and lived in urban and suburban landscapes, being around strangers with all manner of fireworks just made me nervous.  My husband is the same way, so we spend every 4th of July at home, patiently waiting for the fireworks that our neighbors illegally set off to end.  We may grill a steak and and sit on our backporch and try to talk over the crash, boom, and bang, but that’s pretty much the extent of our celebration.  Except for last year.  Last 4th of July we were in San Francisco, CA, and a couple of friends invited us to a small party in a house on Potrero Hill.  The plan was to go up on the roof and watch the fireworks over the city.  If you ever have been in San Francisco in July, then you won’t be surprised to know that we were fairly bundled up.  Some guests even had the foresight to bring their down jackets.  I had a blanket wrapped around me.  Still, a great time was had by all.  I took movies of the fireworks with my Flip recorder, but they are rather underwhelming.  There was fog and very heavy cloud cover so the fireworks had a limited range for viewing.  I clipped snapshots of a couple of the highlights.

Despite the cold and the clouds, this was my best 4th of July ever:  in a city I love, with friends I love, with the man I love.

View from Potrero Hill, San Franciso, CA, July 4, 2012

View from Potrero Hill, San Franciso, CA, July 4, 2012
View from Potrero Hill, San Franciso, CA, July 4, 2012

Caring for Your Writer – 10 Easy Steps for Friends & Family

Too good to let this slip by. Copy the link and make sure your friends and family read this 😉

Word Savant

Congratulations!  You are now the proud owner of a writer!  Your writer will perform amazing tricks for you, such as spending hours and hours by themselves working on something that they may never finish. Or, accumulating a small collection of editors who thank them for their work but it’s just not right for this publication.

You may be wondering how to feed and care for this moody and reclusive creature, who is “writing a novel” but won’t tell you what it’s about.  Writers need specialized care, so here are 10 easy Do’s and Don’ts to take care of this special breed.

  1. Do give them a minimum of 1 hour of writing time per day.  For many writers it may be more, but this is the minimum for a writer to stay healthy.  Also do not make your writer feel guilty about this.  It is really hard for them…

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Can Facebook please all its users all the time?

I’m starting to think that it’s not Sunday unless the New York Times has an article on Facebook.  This week’s story gives a pretty balanced view of the latest controversies with the young whipper-snapper, the absolute latest being Facebook’s lovely (not!) new layout.

But, first, what’s great about Facebook?  Well, the opportunity to rebuild families, as in the case of Karen Haber, whose relatives were torn apart by the Holocaust; and the chance for someone like a schoolteacher in Denmark to friend his prime minister and then get the guy to come and speak to his class of special-needs kids.

What’s not so great?  The fact that too many users still don’t adjust their privacy settings, leaving their profiles (and virtual underwear) out there for anyone and everyone to view.  What’s wrong with that?  Read the story about the guy who got fired for what he wrote in a status update or the kid who got nailed by his dad for underaged drinking.  (After reading this article, I immediately checked my settings to make sure they were still at “Only Friends.”)

People have to take responsibility for their own reckless behavior on the internet, but a poor vision (in this case, by Facebook itself) just exacerbates the willfulness of some to bare all, even the most mundane: “Chris Cox, 26, Facebook’s director of products and a confidant of Mr. Zuckerberg, envisions users announcing where they are going to lunch as they leave their computers so friends can see the updates and join them.”  I don’t know about you, but most of my Facebook friends would not be able to join me at lunch even if they wanted to because they live in other states!

Sigh.  I would be very sad to see Facebook become a glorified text-messaging system or just another Twitter.  Right now, it’s so much more for me:  I stay in touch with friends and family who are scattered across the US; I can follow my favorite writers as a fan; my blog is seamlessly updated to my profile so friends who wouldn’t otherwise visit my blog, can still read my stuff; and I can follow other blogs.  All in one application.  I just hope that Mr. Zuckerberg doesn’t lose sight of the real utility of Facebook.

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