Life Without Facebook, Week 1

As hard as it might be for you to believe, I’m doing very well outside the walls of the Facebook Kingdom. It is true, I was shocked by the things I found when I looked up from my digital world. There are real trees and birds, babbling brooks and fuzzy squirrels, green grass and fluffy clouds, marching bands and holiday parades, quiet evenings and romantic dinners; all uninterrupted by my former virtual reality. To my amazement,  I learned that there are people living in my neighborhood, around the corner and down the street!  And they will talk to me!

Sadly, there have been a number of people who’ve asked (mostly via electronic methods) why I left Facebook. It’s a hard concept to grasp. However, I am beginning to understand that they seem to care less about my answer than the harsh truth that they “could never” leave the virtual community themselves. They’ve moaned that it is their only connection to people far away. It is their only lifeline beyond the world they live. It is their way of keeping in touch.

My response is simple, “Have you tried picking up the phone?” If Aunt Gertrude is that important to your existence, couldn’t you pick up a phone and ask her how her bursitis is today? Isn’t it just as easy (and perhaps a little more meaningful) to hear her voice as she explains the fall corn harvest, the Sunday church carry-in, or how Uncle Argyle is preparing the house for winter? I suspect it would mean more to her than simply liking the picture of her cat she posted last week.

I know, I’m old fashioned. It’s my generational curse. You see, I grew up in a time when a party-line phone allowed me to listen in on my neighbor’s calls, or know when Grandma Hines was listening in on our calls. We always knew the old woman down the road was listening in because of her emphysema-induced heavy breathing on the line. Ah, good memories.

Look, I’m not trying to return to the technical dark ages. I’m not trying to go back to the good old days shortly before men landed on the moon. But I realized a troubling trend on “The Social Media that Shall Not Be Named”: A person’s page is typically designed to do one of three things.

  1. Show everyone their beautiful family/cute kids/amazing dog or cat (guilty as charged – strike 1)
  2. Show everyone the food they cook/serve/eat (guilty as charged – strike 2)
  3. or Glorify their amazing activities/cars/houses/yards and their great looks. When did duck lips become so popular? (guilty as charged – strike 3)

In short, I’m simply trying to simplify, reconnecting by disconnecting, finding myself by paying less attention to myself.

 

Day 222 – Deep Thoughts

2013.09.14Today a co-worker came into my office and sat to talk for a while.  It’s been a few weeks since I really had a chance to see her and it was wonderful catching up.

She talked about her kids, her husband, her work.  She mentioned her schedule and hectic life.  Our few short minutes together reminded me of something fundamental:  We really don’t know other people.

We see them only on a surface level.  We don’t really know them.  And that is a shame.  It’s only through truly knowing people that we can engage, encourage and love them.  And that is the kind of world I want to inhabit.  That is the type of world in which I wish to live.

Day 111 – Just Can’t Keep Up

Beautiful flowers keep blooming through all sorts of weather.
Beautiful flowers keep blooming through all sorts of weather.

Today was a day in which all the hard work, all the extra effort and all the emotion and stress of the past few weeks finally caught up with me.  I crashed.

I went to work at the normal time and did the normal work but before it was one o’clock, I could barely keep my eyes open.  I drank extra water.  I stretched my legs.  I spoke with colleagues.  Nothing helped.  Before I fell asleep at my desk, I decided to pack my things and head for the door.

Once home, I helped my daughter change the dead battery in her car and went to my neighbor’s home to check on things while they are away on vacation.  I sat on their back porch…and fell asleep.  My wife’s phone call an hour later is what woke me from my slumber.

It was then that I realized that I need a day, a week, a month.  I need a break.

When the patient called me at 10:00 pm last night to ask about their CPAP machine and how they need to change the settings, I determined that tomorrow would be my day to catch up.  Tomorrow would be my day to take some time and relax.  But then I remembered that I have a sleep study tomorrow night and I won’t get home again until 9:30 or 10:00 pm.

I guess my day will have to wait.

Day 85 – Fooled Again

2013.05.17
My portrait for Friday, May 17, 2013.

I learned this morning that the performances I so enjoyed are not over.  Early in the morning, while my coffee was still hot, he called to inform me that the Jazz Choir has one final concert on Monday night and he’s making little pies for the event.

Two things: First, what the hell are little pies?  Second, ANOTHER concert?  Didn’t the last concert last for three-and-a-half hours?  Didn’t the Jazz Choir sing twice?  Aren’t all the kids in Jazz Choir also in Singers or New Dimension and didn’t they already perform?  Do we really need another night at the school?

All that said, I have a conflict on this night and cannot attend.  For this scheduling snafu, I’m truly sad.  Ben is a performer and I wish I could see him one more time.  The up-side to this is that my wife was traveling for work this past week and wasn’t able to enjoy the Thursday night concert.  Now she can go and enjoy the best of Cole Porter and Nate King Cole.  I think they only sing songs written by people who have Cole in their name.

As for my Journey?  Oh, of course.  I mowed my yard and worked in garden, giving me a walk of nearly three miles and a very good work out.  I did eat spinach, mushroom and egg for breakfast, my daughter’s macaroni and cheese with tuna and peas for lunch, and a vege pizza for supper.  Add to the fact that I worked in our garden for a while and I can honestly report that was closer to vegetables than I’ve been in a long time.

And I’m down four pounds.  Perhaps there’s something to this hard work, full sun, and a plate of spinach from time to time.  Who knew?

Day 64 – A Thing of Beauty

2013.04.26After a very long week of work and two or three long weeks without spending time away with my lovely wife, we FINALLY took an evening for ourselves.

It was a wonderful evening, enjoying Final Fridays at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, quiet conversation, and a wonderful dinner at Macaroni Grill.

We actually stayed out past 9:00 o’clock.  Yes, we are that wild and crazy couple.

The funny thing is that during our evening out, we remembered something  that we’ve remembered a hundred times before:  We Are All We Have and This Relationship Takes Time and Intention.

So often, way too often, we spend all our energies on the kids, the house, the yard, our work, our parents…but forget to spend time on what matters most – Our Relationship.  We fail to listen.  We forget to talk.  We pass one another quickly in the morning.  We land at home in the evening, breathless and tired, without really spending time together.

Our relationship, when it is at its worst, happens by accident.  Our relationship, at its best, happens when we slow down, put aside those things that will be there tomorrow or are not important at all, and look at one another closely, listen carefully, and love deeply.

My wife and I looked at a piece of modern art on the 4th floor of the IMA.  We analyzed it for a while and then she said with a laugh, “I really don’t like this…I just think that I could do that…if I wanted to.”  And I had to agree with her.  It seemed too simple.  It appeared too random.  But, the more we looked at the canvas, the color, the shapes, the brush strokes…the more we saw the subtle changes of direction, the amazing layers of color that were not accidental but, in fact intentional.  Some areas were thick with medium built up over days, weeks and months.  Others were thin to the point of exposing the raw canvas.  After a few more careful minutes of inspection, we realized that this piece of art took many, many hours and years of practice.  It didn’t happen by accident.  It could only be successful because of the intentionality and plan of the artist.  We stepped back with a fresh perspective and we both agreed that this was a nice piece of art.

I’m thankful for the times when our relationship receives the same careful attention.  The outcome is always a work of art.

Day 44 – Return Trip

Our return flight to Indy was uneventful and enjoyable.
Our return flight to Indy was uneventful and enjoyable.

Can I stop for moment and marvel at air travel?  How is it possible that 100 people can load a tin can, travel at 36,000 feet above the ground at 300 miles per hour and arrive at another destination half-way across the country in a matter of minutes?

How is it possible that we can take this for granted?

We pay a couple hundred dollars for this adventure, which seems pretty cheap considering the technology of the craft and the skill of the pilots.  But we take it for granted!  Despite the advanced aerodynamics and science, the hundreds of flights in the air at any given time and the amazing success rate, we are still easily frustrated when we don’t get our little bag of peanuts or they fail to serve our complimentary 1/2 a can of diet Coke due to turbulence.

No matter:  It is this exact plane that delivered me home, safe and sound.  The flight was on time and smooth as butter.  I love airplanes and the fact that they return me to my loved ones so very quickly!

Day 37 – My Traveling Buddies

2013.03.30Elliott and Ben will be with me for the next eight days as we travel to Texas and back.

We’re going to see things.  We’re going to do things.  We’re going to make the most of every moment; even if that means taking a nap in the middle of the day.

Spring break.  Senior year.  Finding friends.  Having fun.  Making the most of the journey.  Talking about girls, computers, video games.

I imagine I’ll cherish these moments with my youngest son and I hope he cherishes them, too.

A once in a lifetime trip.

Day 33 – The Lunch Hour

Lunch time with co-workers is the favorite part of my job.
Lunch time with co-workers is the favorite part of my job.

I’m a hard worker.  I think my record is pretty clear on this point.

I show up on time and work late into the night.  I earn my keep and the respect of my co-workers.  However, if we were to take a poll of all the workers in our department, asking what the best part of the work day might be, I suspect that the results would be skewed toward two high points:

1.  Leaving at the end of the day.

2.  Lunch with co-workers.

I know it doesn’t pay the bills, but I’m convinced that this time, this mid-day break, this little pause from the routine makes all the difference in our journey through the eight-hour grind.

Several of the folks in our area choose to eat at their desks, away from the others isolated from their co-workers.  I’ve never understood this.  Why wouldn’t you want to break?  Why wouldn’t you desire the opportunity to laugh about things that don’t matter but make a difference?

I can’t imagine life without lunch with my friends and co-workers?

Day 32 – Will It Ever End?

One last Winter Blast!
One last Winter Blast!

It is hard to imagine that we must endure another round of winter weather but it is true.  The snow blew in yesterday afternoon and it seems that winter will never loosen its grip.  I know in my head that spring is coming but my ice-cold fingers don’t believe it.

I am excited to think that I will soon be able to walk sidewalks that are ice-free.  I will soon have my spade and rake out preparing the earth for our waiting seeds.  I will soon experience the warm sun on my pale skin.

It isn’t happening today, but soon…very soon.

Day 28 – Spring, Maybe?

2013.03.21The drive home tonight I experienced what could be the first true feel of spring.  My jacket was in the back seat, my sleeves were rolled up and my front window was down.  The sun in my side view mirror was bright and warm and I knew that flowers were reaching up to the life-giving light even as I drove along Highway 32.

I even stopped to snap a few shots of the setting sun.

But how am I doing with my weight?

How am I doing with my food intake?

How is my exercise coming along?

I can honestly say, “Terrible.”

I haven’t done well with my intake of food, my exercise program or my weight loss.  After 28 days, I can honestly say that I’m not any further along to reaching my goal.

Yes, I am tracking my food and I am staying under my calorie target.  Yes, I am aware of my waistline.  Yes, I am happier and focused on better choices.

So, perhaps, just perhaps, I am further along than I realize.

If nothing else, the sun is shining today.  That’s always good.

Day 23 – Staying Connected

2013.03.16Our friendship is long-standing.  In fact, my friendship with Dave is one of the longest-standing friendships of my life.

We first met in Seminary (circa 1988) and have been tried and true friends ever since.

Distance has always been a barrier.  Dave’s lived in norther Indiana for the past decade.  We’ve lived in the Indy area longer than that.  To get together, we have to commit a significant amount of time if we ever want to get together.  At one point we tried meeting half way.  Unfortunately, it still required half a day just to meet for breakfast.

But we’ve found that technology provides the answer.  For the past 6 weeks, we’ve connected on Saturday mornings, for an hour or more, via Google Hang Out.  In those 60-90 minute sessions we cover everything from the state of the church, the state of the family, computer technology and life dreams.

These weekly video chats are powerful.  They lift my spirit.  They support my immune system.  They encourage my soul.  They energize me for the day.  In a year in which I hope to grow as a person, reach beyond my day-to-day mundane life, become better…These discussions help in in that journey.  These connection points are just the boost I need to face another day, take another step and stay on the path that leads to my end goal.

These 365 days are not just about my intake of food and my output of energy.  They are about my spirit, my heart, my true self.

I’m so thankful that Dave helps me along that exposition.

Day 20 – Another Drive Home

2013.03.13Sometimes the journey isn’t about food.  It isn’t about exercise.  Sometimes the journey is about the relationships.

I’ve had the privilege of riding to work with my daughter for the past two years.  We worked in the same building together and would, from time to time, ride share to the office.

We enjoyed many moments together; sometimes in deep conversation, other times laughing together, most often with her asleep in the side-seat.

Her employed ends at this office ends this week and I must be honest, I’m going to miss her company in the car.

Day 19 – Another Day of Weighing

2013.03.12I’m at 107.4 today.  Yes, yes, I know that it isn’t Friday but I thought I’d stand on the scales to see how I’m doing.  That’s three pounds in just a few weeks.  My goal is 1/2 a pound a week and I know that the first few pounds  come off the easiest so I’m not fooling myself.

But I’m down nearly 3 pounds in a few weeks and that is a big deal.

I’m thrilled.  Sticking to the calorie counting has made a big difference.

Every day.  Count the calories.  See a difference.

Day 18 – Better…Getting Better

2013.03.11Today was a pretty good day.  I woke up sick and decided to stay home from work.  My voice is barely back, my head hurts and I’m still coughing but staying home helped.

My kids were all home for dinner and it was a great meal and every ate well.

We had a lot of fun playing Perudo and everyone had a good night.

The day started rough but ended strong.  I stayed under my target calorie count by nearly 400 calories.  Each day takes me closer to my goal.

Now if I can just go one day without blowing my nose, I’d be happy.