The Best Breakup I Ever Had

facebook-dislikeI’m coming  up on a very IMPORTANT anniversary!

The 10th anniversary of blogging here at Grace Upside Down, perhaps?  Nope, although that did happen in September.  (Where does the time go?)

Maybe my 20th wedding anniversary? Nah, not that either, although Home Boy and I celebrated that in September as well.

So what HUGE milestone am I getting ready to celebrate,then?  Come closer and I’ll tell you.

In just over a month. I will celebrate 1 full year since…..

I kicked Facebook to the curb!

That’s right!  After nearly a decade of socializing on perhaps the most important Social Media platform there is, I quit.  Cold Turkey.   And never looked back.

For the entirely of 2017 I have lived Facebook free and, man! I cannot emphasize enough what a positive difference I’ve experienced in the quality of my life – AND my relationships!  (After a brief withdrawal and detox phase that lasted a couple of weeks…it IS a drug, dontchaknow?)

Ah, sweet relief!

Long gone the days when I agonized over why certain people didn’t like or comment on my posts any more, or whether I “had to” like or comment on someone else’s post.  No more of the constant buzzing in my head…..you know, all the conversations (even rebuttals) I couldn’t (or shouldn’t) have.    No more Unfollowing someone because they fell down some Rabbit Hole and started posting bizarre, regurgitated mythology they  apparently thought they were the first to come up with it.

I no longer feel compelled to correct someones spelling/grammar/punctuation (not that I actually DID correct them.  I just FELT like I had to…and stuffed my feelings), or comment with the name of the TRUE author of a quote that someone posted without it (a form of plagiarism that plagues online content and I find particularly abhorrent).

And, most importantly, no more Faux Friendships – many of who were identified AFTER I quit.  (“You shall judge a tree by it’s fruit.” – Jesus)

Do I miss the sleepless nights and heartbreak incurred because someone got jealous of someone else I was interacting with online, or completely misunderstood something I posted and decided to take offense where none was meant?

Do I long for the days when I agonized over some cryptic post by one of the kids, in a moment of youthful angst, that threatened to send me in Hyper Hover Mother Mode.  (The WORST)?

Ohhellno! My life in the Post-Facebook era is full of tranquility, authenticity and more real-life interaction with people than ever.   I have great friendships, and closer ties with them and family alike.

Ahhhhh, the relief! Dear God, the relief of not worrying whether a photo is “Facebook worthy” or not…whether my double chin is showing, or if the muffin top I’ve acquired since menopause is exaggerated!  How free to be with people without the knee jerk reaction of having to chronicle our every move for mass consumption!  We actually just

LIVE OUR LIVES!  DO OUR THING!  And any photos we take are, by and large, for our own personal edification.

I am, I believe, Renaissance Woman.  I spend less time online now than I can remember.  My time at the computer is just a fraction of what it once was.  I’m doing life Old School style, free from etheric tethers to what has, in recent years, become a behemoth of conflict and conspiracy, Russian “collusion” and the stifling of Free Speech, and WAY too many ads for things or ideas I could care less about.

Thank God Almighty, I am free at last!

Here are some interesting statistics about Fauxbook:

  1.  There are 83 MILLION fake profiles.    That is not a typo but it is a lot of deception.
  2.  Turns out that Facebook is BAD for your relationships.  In fact, a study done in 2010 showed “Facebook” was reported as being responsible in 30% of divorces.  That’s 1 in 3, and this study is 7 years old now!  Imagine what that statistic might be today!
  3. Not only are romantic relationships adversely effected, Facebook can be a  friendship killer as well.    I lost 2 long term, real time friendships because of something Facebook related.  Did I insult them online?  Did I post a death threat or a photo they didn’t want to be seen?  Did I go suddenly crazy and become someone completely different , or reveal their deepest darkest secrets to all 350 of my closest friends? Nope.  In fact, in BOTH cases, the women just bailed on me without explanation – unfriending me online AND in real life in the new chickenshit, cowardly, immature way  of “dealing” that has infiltrated our society. And I’m not the only one to experience this.  Three of my close girlfriends have as well…and we’re talking about 30 year relationships just GONE, just like that, over social media.  All of us were left hurting, confused and bereft.  Never again.
  4. Not only a source of jealously and infidelity, Facebook has been shown to cause depression, narcissism, anxiety, low self-esteem and a number of other mental health issues.  If you’ve ever logged onto your Facebook account in a relatively good mood only to log off 30 minutes later feeling like shit, you know what I’m talking about.  Just ask anyone who finds out their ex, only recently to have broken up with them via text message (another chickenshit move used these days), immediately started seeing his old flame.  The one that always seemed to show up on his posts with some flirty thing to say.  (This happened to my daughter).  And don’t even get me started on a personal pet peeve of mine –  the seemingly never ending Selfie Parade some people engage in.  I mean, how many times do we have to see yet another fish-lipped, “I love myself!  I’m so awesome!” post before we start asking, “Who are they trying to convince?  Me or themselves?”  Turns out posting too many of these photos is another big contributor to the Death of Friendship and intimacy – and it’s annoying as hell!

As Facebook (d)evolves over time…the more FB execs testify before Congress and are in news about their shady dealings (influencing in the 2016 election and censoring certain content, to name two), the happier I am that I’m not a part of it. I don’t belong there.  My peeps are in real time, not virtual time.  A day (finally) came when the Cons far outweighed the Pros (I speak for myself personally), and I had the will to say Good-bye forever.

Ever since I unfriended Facebook, my days are richer, more productive and peaceful, and involve more real-time friendtime than ever.

It’s been the BEST break-up I’ve ever had.

Serendipity Sunday

Life is full of magical moments and little synchronicities.

Several happened to me last week and many of them related to my cookbook project.  This might have been the coolest.

It’s been a long standing habit of mine to check two pages of any devotional book before buying it.  Well, I bought one this week based solely on serendipity.

This first photo is from a chapter I wrote back in the Spring entitled, “The Well Stocked Kitchen”.

A Well Stocked Pantry

Now this one:  A page from a little devotional book I picked up last week at the Good Will entitled, “A Grand New Day”.   It’s the page from my birthday, March 30th.

I’m still grinning ear to ear.

Happy Serendipity Sunday to you.

Dance To The Muse-ick

The creative process is such a mystery to me.

Many creatives have rituals or props or specific locations they use in order to practice their art.  And I believe all of those things can be very beneficial.  I may or may not use a few myself.

That being said, there is this spiritual component to creating that’s a little more elusive and a lot more necessary.  Call it your Muse, divine inspiration or Being In The Flow, there’s an untouchable, uncontrollable “MYSTERY” that takes the ordinary and turns it into something special when it shows up. And when it’s not there?  Well, anyone who’s ever experienced writer’s block knows exactly what I’m talking about.

Bleck.

Being in that mysterious space seems a lot like what being in Heaven would feel like, as I picture it.  Time stops, the world disappears and everything vibrates with JOY.  And, like Heaven, no one who gets there ever wants to leave!

I’ve been spending a LOT of time in that Heaven in the last couple of weeks.   Even on those mornings when, at 2 a.m., I show up a little blurry eyed and unsure if anything worthwhile will make it’s way to the page, it does.  On some days, the first few sentences of a new chapter are already running through my mind before the coffee is even finished brewing.  Other days, I have to prime the pump a little bit before anything happens.  I might journal awhile, read something inspirational, pray a bit, let the dog in and out a bazillion times, drink more coffee.  And even then I might have just one word to go on when I sit down at the computer…a general “direction” to head.

But something magical begins happen when I sit down and, by faith, start typing just a few words.  Before long, an hour (or two) is gone and another chapter is complete, including whatever extras I’m adding to each chapter.

Being a crafty chick, I’ve made a lot of things over the years, and I’ve written a lot of things for both professional and personal use.  I know what it feels like to be inspired, and to love the finished product. But I have NEVER experienced anything like this before.  It’s as if I’ve been living my entire life preparing for this very moment, and now the appointed time has come for it all to come together.

Time stops.

The world disappears.

Joy fills my soul.

And I am so very very grateful.

“Take care of yourself, have a good time, and make the most of whatever job you have for as long as God gives you life.  And that’s about it!  That’s the human lot.  Yes, we should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what’s given and delighting in the work.  It’s God’s gift!  God deals out joy in the present, the now.”  –  Ecc. 5:18-20, The Message Translation

In Memorial

My cousin died yesterday. 

I got the news last night, as sketchy as it was, when my brother called.  When I saw his name on the caller I.D., I had a feeling it wasn’t going to be good.  When he asked, “Have you talked to Mom?”, my suspicions were confirmed.

Over the years, Mom has shared snippets of information about my cousin’s health challenges.  A life-long chain smoker, she had been battling cancer for many years in different ways and in different parts of her body. Apparently, enough was enough.  Sometime recently, she decided against more chemo.

I don’t blame her.

After several attempts in reaching K. were unsuccessful, and after receiving an random email from someone she didn’t know, Mom had a feeling something was wrong.  My mother and cousin shared regular phone calls – many in the middle of the night – as well as many many challenges over the course of their lives.  They were more like peers, even though K. called my Mom “Auntie”.   So when she didn’t receive any call backs, Mom reached out to one of my cousin’s friends, who hadn’t heard a thing either.  More calls were made and, unfortunately, the sad news was relayed.  K. passed away in a care facility up in Los Angeles somewhere at around 11:30 a.m.   She was 75.

I keep wondering if she was alone when she left this Earth, or if her husband or mom or my father were there to greet her.  Childless and a widow, we are some of her only blood family.  I’ll phone Mom later  to see how she is doing.  Personally, while my heart is heavy, I haven’t shed a tear…which is weird, I suppose.   Maybe I will psychoanalyze that later, but it won’t change anything.  I simply haven’t cried.  Yet.

My first memories of my cousin are of a young woman, fresh from a small town in Illinois, who came to California in the early 60’s to live with my family while she got settled.  Dixie (her birth name) was the only daughter of my father’s sister.  Dixie came to California with a dream in her heart and never a look back: she wanted to be a star! 

15 years apart, K. (a stage name she took and used religiously for the rest of her life) was everything I wanted to be.  Beautiful. Glamorous.  Brave. “IN”.

I can remember sitting on the toilet in our little bathroom with the pink and gray tile, fascinated as she applied makeup like an expert.  Sometimes she would swipe lipstick against my own little mouth, or brushed my eyelids with color. It made me feel beautiful, like her.  K. had a natural beauty only enhanced with color and contour, her most striking feature being her  blue “cat eyes” – a feature she would exploit to her best advantage with smoky artisanship throughout her life and career.

Because YES, as it turns out, her dream came true!  K. DID become an actress, playing many roles in movies and TV shows, as well as in live stage productions.  It was always exciting to go see her work, or to see her on a TV show.  Dynasty…Dallas….Happy Texas.  A sculptress as well, K. had an amazing voice that was at once classy, sexy and deep, with an infectious laugh.   Therefore, she was a perfect fit for the voice over work she also did. 

Over the years, K. and her husband B. (himself a famous stuntman/actor and one of the original cast of legendary TV show, “High Chaparral”) spent a lot of time with my family …. Birthdays, holidays, weddings.  B. and my father were contemporaries and loved to sit, share war stories and just “shoot the shit” over cigars and beer.  I have a collection of photos of us all together.  K. was the big sister I never had, B. and I  had birthdays 4 days apart, and while we lived very different lives, we all adored each other.

As often happens over time, we lost touch.  It began when my father died in January 2000.  Big Al was the glue that kept much of my family’s “togetherness” together, as it turns out.  After over 40 years of marriage, Mom was never the same after his passing, and family gatherings shifted to my home or my brothers …. the “next” generation taking over the traditions as happens with many families, I suppose. 

After a few more years, B. got very sick and passed away.  K. herself got sick, and, well, somehow the months turned in to years and the Christmas cards stop coming.

Life – and death – happened.  The last time we spoke was several years ago.

Turns out K. didn’t wish there to be any services, recluse that she had become.  That makes me sad, but I respect her decision.  I imagine that after a lifetime of making your living and your life around your “looks”, it would be extra difficult to face aging and illness – and to put that face in the public eye.  She was so very gorgeous, too.  This is how I will remember her.  img001

So as I go through family pictures, and talk with my mom, I will hold a little heart-shaped memorial by myself, in her honor.  Her passing has, once again, put the stark reality of my own mortality square in my sites.  None of us gets out of here alive.  Every day – every moment – is an important one, especially when you reach the age where the years left in front of you are, statistically, less than the years left behind.

Each moment is to be appreciated.  The sound of the rain falling.  The smell of baking cookies.  The laughter of a child.  These are the important things, the simple pleasures in life, that are to be valued.  We are given only so many days here on earth, and in the wink of an eye – like a wisp of smoke – they are gone.

My cousin, may she rest in eternal peace and beauty, reminds me of these things.  Her death compels me to make sure the people in my life know that I love them while I still have the chance.  I am encouraged to follow my own dreams (because even at 60, I still have some), and – most importantly – do everything I can to make the most of what a day brings.

Because it might be my last.

(Note:  I actually wrote this last Sunday the 11th.  Since then, I have cried – a lot and at unexpected and private moments.  Other than that, the rest remains the same.)