Choose Wisely: Social Media Can Be Friend Or Foe

Lots of friends are leaving or at least cutting back on social media exposure. There’s too much negativity, too many lies, too much sales and not enough meaningful interactions.

And I get it.

I have learned things about longtime friends that I do not want to know. For many, it is a window into the soul that tells me that I have been frighteningly wrong about the hearts and world views of many.

Then there are the people who provoke feelings of inadequacy because their lives look so perfect. They’re buying cars and taking expensive trips you could never afford. Plus, there’s always someone peddling something. That high school friend who ignored you for twenty years until she decided to sell 31 bags comes to mind.

Social media can be downright annoying and sometimes hard on your mental health.

But there is good too. Facebook and Instagram have given me access to all sorts of people and information that would otherwise be much more difficult to find.

That’s why I am careful of how I cultivate my feeds. There are some people who I unfollowed years ago because I know their contribution to my world is detrimental. They bring stress and negativity. They don’t earn their keep because they only point out the wrong without offering solutions. They have nothing good to say about anything.

I like people who can be realistic, who talk about the bad but encourage intelligent dialog. These are my people.

I follow some news organizations that report fairly and thoroughly. I belong to groups and pages that provide me with beautiful images, inspiring words, book recommendations, travel ideas, vegetarian recipes, mid century advertising, home decor ideas and all the other things I find interesting.

I know which pages have followers with useful comments and which pages to avoid the comments. Blocking trolls and scammers is easy. So is unfollowing a page that you don’t care for anymore.

In other words, I manipulate social media to make it work for me.

Instagram seems to naturally attract a more positive audience than Facebook so I’m starting to dwell more there.

If you don’t believe me, follow CBS Sunday Morning on both platforms and study the responses on each. Say they post a story about visiting a national park. On Instagram, the comments will mostly be from people saying how much they love that place, want to visit, vacation memories are amazing, etc. On Facebook, that same story is loaded with complaints and people who blame this president or that one for something totally unrelated. It’s like they’re just looking for a soapbox to vent whatever asinine thing is on their mind.

People really can take anything good and mangle it into a travesty.

All the same, social media has given me a chance to connect with people I have met once in real life. If not for social media, I wouldn’t have taken the Ford Tri-Motor airplane ride last year. I wouldn’t be anxiously awaiting the West Virginia Book Festival where I will finally get to meet author William Kent Krueger this fall. I would not have found the Apple Seed storytelling podcast that has brought me great joy.

The Whole 30 would be much harder if not for social media as it has helped me find great recipes for black bean meatballs and realistic ideas for batch cooking. I may never have found the British version of the sitcom Ghosts!

Cousins scattered across the country would be mere names in a family tree instead of friends. A quiet coworker who loves her cats, flowers and rocks would just be a nice lady I chat with briefly. The man I connected with in a fascinating conversation about race while standing in line at a historic house would just be a memory.

This book! I saw a review in a book group and knew it was for me. I’m halfway through and it’s wonderful!!

HOW would I get all my ideas for random road trips? Sometimes they send me to get a grilled cheese sandwich in a great diner two hours away only to discover a neat abandoned theater and country roads that feed my soul. You never know where one simple tip will lead!

So yeah. Social media can be terrible. But my life is richer thanks to social media. It’s all about how you choose to use it and who you allow to have a voice. Not everyone deserves space in your head so they certainly don’t deserve space in your social media feed.

Choose wisely.

Wellness Wednesday

I have been unnaturally tired for the last couple of weeks and I endured a headache yesterday. It made for a long day.

As my workday ended, I decided that Wellness Wednesday would be the theme of the evening. So I stopped for a walk on the way home and savored the fresh air, stopping occasionally to touch the bark on a tree or to examine the light hitting a shallow stream.

My house needs a good cleaning, my closet is in shambles, the trash needs to go out and the list goes on and on. Fortunately, these things can wait a while so I fed Scout and went to bed.

Warm pjs, soft pillows and a purring kitty cat are my idea of self care. Here’s hoping today is better.

Sometimes self care is candles and a bubble bath. Sometimes it’s doing the work you have been putting off. Sometimes self care is drinking the water and eating the vegetables. Sometimes it is surrendering to the demands of your body and just going to bed.

Learn to listen to your body and learn to know the difference. Understanding what you need is a true skill and one we all should master.


This has been a challenging week on a number of levels. When things turn difficult, I try to be mindful of the good in my life. After all, negativity breeds more negativity and it’s easy to become so focused on the bad that you can see nothing else. Gratitude is a key to happiness.

Here are some things I’m grateful for today:

1. It’s Friday and it’s a long weekend for some of us here in the US.

2. I have plans to see my cousin this weekend. Before starting my No Spend Challenge, I decided to give myself a budget for a movie and lunch out because I have been that excited to see the new Tom Hanks movie. We will walk in the sunshine, see the movie and have a bite somewhere.

3. I’m reading a really good book right now. A Man Called Ove is actually the basis for the movie I’m going to see. The curmudgeonly hero is quite relatable.

4. I spent last night doing fun chores including some decluttering and styling shelves with things I already owned. Decluttering doesn’t equate drudgery and can actually be fun!

5. Season three of All Creatures Great and Small on PBS began Sunday night. It’s a short season of just seven episodes but for those seven weeks I have a reason to look forward to Sunday night. If you haven’t seen the show, I highly recommend starting with season one. It’s the best thing on tv right now.

6. I have a roof over my head and can afford to buy groceries. Many people are not so fortunate right now.

7. Adventure season is just around the corner and I think there will be some good ones this year.

8. Pictures are a return ticket to places and people we want to remember. The above picture is from a rainy Saturday in NYC. The below picture was sent to me by a cousin this week. That’s me with my parents in 1977. What an angry baby! Looks like I could have benefited from some gratitude way back then!

9. My cat likes me and has spent as much time with me as possible this week. He is a sweetheart.

This is not the full list but these are the highlights. What are you grateful for today?

Make A List

Lists are a great way to keep track of the things that are important to you. They help you know what to pick up at the store, which chores to do when, and what to pack for that trip.

Lists are also powerful tools for getting your life on the right track. If you’re struggling to declutter life, here’s one way lists can help you. It’s a three step process.

1. Make a list of the things that matter to you.

2. Make a list of the ways you spend your time.

3. Compare the two lists and adjust accordingly.

Keep repeating this process until the two match.

This sounds simple but can be a surprisingly difficult thing to navigate. I began working on this years ago when my volunteer activities began to feel like a full time job that cut into my mental peace.

You can use this strategy for helping to know what to keep when decluttering, how to spend your money, how to use your time, and what’s next in life.

Give it a whirl and see what you think. You may be surprised at how the values you live by stack up to the values you say you have.

It’s worth a shot, wouldn’t you agree?

People, Flowers And The Flaws We Share

Most of the spring flowers at Franklin Park are spent but there remain a few patches here and there. I scurried across the way to get a closer look at this cluster.

It looks nice enough from a distance. The colors remain vibrant and the flowers stand up straight.

But look a little closer. Most are starting to wilt and look a little rough around the edges. They will be gone in a matter of days.

It’s a natural process, the fading of spring bulbs. The petals will drop and the leaves will brown before dying back. These bulbs will lie dormant beneath the ground for the next three seasons before they begin to push through the earth into the sunshine where they will bloom, starting the process again.

Their lifecycle is ruled by the seasons. It’s an elegant, complex process that we take for granted.

I walked away a little disappointed but thinking about how much these flowers have in common with the average human.

The average person looks fine from a distance. They appear to move through their day, doing what they need to do and to be ok. It’s when you take a closer look and get to know them better that you notice the cracks in the veneer, the flaws.

Stick around very long and you’ll notice that almost every person has insecurities, quirks, anxieties and annoying habits they have developed through the seasons of their life.

We all are changed by what happens around us and by what happens to us. Sometimes we are made stronger, smarter, more resilient. Sometimes we are irreversibly damaged or broken.

These flaws are often harmless but can be destructive both internally and to other people around. We become tired, impatient, scared and vulnerable. We lash out, shut down or simply walk away.

While humans experience seasons of life the same as those spring flowers, we don’t have the luxury of receding into the ground to rest and recharge. We can recede into the darkness – both the literal of our homes and the figurative of our minds. Tragically, we tend to judge or worry when we see someone doing that.

If only we were more forgiving of ourselves and others as we cycle through difficult seasons or find ourselves stuck in a place that is unhealthy. I hate to say it but the flaws are often what make us interesting. Many have hard earned emotional scars, remnants of trauma that have helped shape us into who we are. As I grow older, I’m more conscious of my own and am more likely to own them now than ten years ago. I am proud of my resilience and that I have chosen this path.

If you are struggling for some reason, give yourself some grace. Don’t deny yourself something you want or a future you deserve because of your weaknesses. Weather this season, no matter how long it may be, allow your mind to rest, and trust that you’ll have the opportunity to grow again if you want to try.

Let’s face it. Life would be easier if we were flowers.

All You Have To Do

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

Use yours wisely. Tomorrow is a gift, not presented to everyone.

Get out of your house. Do what makes you happy. Smile. Spend time with people who matter. Ignore the ones who don’t. Put down your phone. Look at clouds. Take deep breaths. Take a road trip. Relax in a hammock. Read the book. Eat the ice cream. Buy the dress. Do the thing. Whatever it is.

Just use your time well.