The Yoga-Pant Years and What A Good Mother Looks Like

God has blessed me profoundly by surrounding me with wise mothers from early on in my own motherhood. This was something I totally took for granted until I started a community moms group and had my eyes suddenly opened to the stress, anxiety, and insecurity that most mothers face on a daily basis.

I had been oblivious to the judgemental nature of “other mothers”.

I had been unaware of controversies ranging from cloth diapers vs. disposables to what brand of sippy cup you use. (I am not even joking.)

I had been mercifully sheltered from society’s idea of The Perfect Mother and was virtually skipping down the lane of Young Motherhood. Not that I didn’t have my share of troubles, mind you. But I took them in stride as normal setbacks, oblivious to the fact that hundreds of mothers in my community were daily feeling like they were “bad moms”.

Shortly after starting the moms group and realizing that I’d practically had a fairytale existence when it came to being a young mom*, I discovered a new passion: freeing moms up so they could enjoy their blessed roles as mothers.

I was constantly telling them, “There’s no one right way to be a mom. If you love your child, you are a GOOD mom!” But I often felt like I was swimming up-stream against a massive down-stream current. Occasionally, it felt like I was making a difference, but mostly it felt like I was talking to a wall. The culture of motherhood as it’s portrayed in television, via celebrity mothers, and through our own unrealistic expectations (of ourselves AND of others) is so utterly pervasive. I eventually realized that, like a lot of other freedoms, it had to be grasped by choice. It’s cliché but it’s true: you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink it.

In retrospect, I think I likely did more good than I’ll ever realize. While freedom is something to be chosen, it can be helpful to have someone yelling about it all the time—makes a body more conscious of its existence, for example. ;)

I decided to write this post after reading a blog post by another mother who outlined what a day for her looks like. She’s a mother of five and has very solid goals and values for her family while also being a writer and a team-player wife.

At one point, she mentioned that she showers,dresses, and puts on make-up every day because she believes she feels better when she looks better and it’s beneficial to her family when they see her looking presentable. She added that it doesn’t take that much effort to put on clothes rather than yoga pants. But it was the next part that I loved her for—she wrote:

(NOTE: while my children were very little, I wore yoga pants daily, no makeup).

It was a breath of fresh air! Why? Because there are some things that I know in my gut I’ve just got to give myself permission for and it’s SO NICE when that gut-grace is validated by Another Mother!

I’ve heard other mothers exonerate the benefits of getting dressed and putting make-up on; Fly Lady even advocates tying your shoelaces. And I tried that; I really did. But it just wasn’t edifying for me—and by proxy, it was unedifying for my family. I was less likely to clean house if I felt all done up; I didn’t want to get sweaty after fixing my hair! And jeans are not comfortable for getting down on the floor multiple times a day with my babies. Getting nice shirts spit up on or smeared with boogies made me a frustrated, irritated mommy. We’re not even going to talk about the agitation of having mascara running down my face when frustration and stress gave way to tears!!!

In other words, hearing an older, more experienced mother acknowledge that she started off in yoga pants freed me up even more than I already had been. It took away the last niggling bits of doubt & guilt and replaced them with the drops of grace I’d been missing.

And that’s what I want to impart to mothers everywhere, at whatever stage they might be in: whether you’re in the Yoga-Pant Years, the Bridge Club Years, or something in between, give yourself permission to do it WELL, not perfectly. Do it in a way that edifies your family, regardless of pressure and perspectives from the status quo.

What does a good mother look like? Well, I’ve seen all kinds: frazzled and yoga-pant-wearing, pristine and accessorized, exasperated and helpless, tender and wise…but they all have one major thing in common—they love their kids and they regularly sacrifice their own needs and desires to take care of their children’s.

THAT’S what a good mother looks like; don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. ♥

*I use the term “young mom” to mean “new mom” or “mom of littles”. It does NOT mean “young in years”!

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Planning Ahead For Looking Back

Every year, I wish I’d done a better job of documenting the previous year. I’m not one for New Year’s Resolutions, mostly because I don’t trust myself to follow through, but this year, I’m making one: Better documentation of life throughout the year so that, next year, I’m not wishing I’d done a better job of it!

I’m sharing my ideas and plans here for two reasons:

– It might inspire someone.
– I would love—read LOVE—to hear your thoughts and ideas about how you document various aspects of your life.

And now for The Details:

Evernote* has been on and off my radar ever since it first came out a few years ago. I have decided to use it as a hub for my Better Documentation because:
» I’m a geek and I like things in the cloud, rather than on paper. (I can always print it out on paper, if I get a hankering.) Evernote is The Ultimate Portal to “the cloud”. I can use it on my phone or on my PC or via my email from someone else’s PC! (I use Gmail because I also like my email in the cloud.)
» I like to do everything with my phone— (no, EVERYthing. I’m writing this post from my phone [thank you WordPress!] and I’m annoyed that they haven’t yet developed a phone that turns into a car — and also a bed ;)). But when I don’t feel like thumbing it out on my phone, it will be nice to be able to access/add to my notebooks from my computer.
» I can create multiple notebooks and post pictures, videos, notes— even files! —to them. It will be a virtual library of scrapbooks, without the clutter! Evernote also has the handy capability of searching for text within images!!! So if I jot “Dream House Floorplan” on a napkin while at the coffee shop, draw out the floorplan, take a picture of it and upload it to Evernote, I can do a search later for “dream house” and Evernote will find that image! That’s just geeky coolness, even if I don’t end up utilizing that feature much. ;)
» Did I mention you can also share individual posts and/or whole notebooks from Evernote with your friends and family??

So those are the reasons I’m picking Evernote as my primary tool for accomplishing this year’s resolution. On to the good stuff…

The Resolution
1. I WILL take a picture of my family once a week (group or single shots). At the end of the year, I’ll have at least 52 pictures documenting how we have changed in appearance.
2. I WILL write a diary entry every day, no matter how short. I plan to include Weather, Mood, and Highlights from the day. I HOPE to include daily details as often as possible, but realistically, it’s going to be tough enough just getting the basic details down on a daily basis. But the FUN part of all this will be in two years, when I can look at diary entries from exactly a year ago and see what we were doing and how I was feeling (and whether or not it was raining that day too!).
3. I WILL take more pics and videos of the kids!! These will be posted to Evernote with a specific tag so they can be meshed in with everything else but capable of being separated into their own group for easier browsing.
4. Lastly, I plan to have a virtual scrapbook of get-togethers, parties, and other events or special odds & ends. It will contain things like pictures of birthday cards, movie tickets, group photos, cherished gifts, favorite clothing, etc.

Interestingly enough, as I was brainstorming all of this yesterday and today, one of my best friends was apparently having a similar inspiration. She discovered something called a “Smash Book“. You can see a short but very descriptive video of it here: http://youtu.be/_PFsArr4Z1s

Basically, it’s the papery, non-geek version of what I’ll be doing with Evernote— and it’s pretty cool. If you’re not a cloud-freak like I am, or if you like being able to touch mementos, you should check it out. It’s a great concept, and while they sell everything you could possibly need to make one, there are lots of YouTube videos on how to make your own.

So there you have it: my ideas for better documentation of my family’s life in the coming year. Did any of it inspire you?

Please share your thoughts, suggestions, and original ideas because I would love the opportunity to be inspired by YOU! :)

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*I was not asked to promote any of the products mentioned in this post nor was I compensated for said promotion. The entire post is comprised of my own thoughts, opinions, and preferences.

The Cure for Anxiety – Part II

via Google image search

I have long used Psalm 4:8 to help quell anxiety at night, as I’m falling asleep (that seems to be when it hits the hardest).

I will both lie down and sleep in peace,
for You alone, Lord, make me live in safety.

It helped a lot of the time, but there were also a lot of times it didn’t help. This morning, in my Bible study, I learned that part of the reason it didn’t always help was due to a lack of context for Psalm 4:8.

Didn’t I mention earlier that context is everything? ;)

There’s a verse that comes before Psalm 4:8, that I was previously oblivious to:

You have put more joy in my heart
than they have when their grain and new wine abound.

Wow.

After the season we’ve come through (unemployed and living with my parents for 10 months with 95% of our belongings packed away in a storage unit during that time), I have a brand new understanding of joy. Despite the hardships we experienced over the last year, God literally poured joy into our lives the whole time. There was always something to be thankful for; numerous times that He displayed His powerful provision and gracious compassion. I spent a surprising amount of the past year filled with exuberance and gratitude! How weird, right? But it seems the tapestry of trials is God’s favorite backdrop for displaying the power of His joy. Coming out of this past year, I am more aware than ever before of the “tiny treasures” that He has peppered my life with:

  • hot water and showers
  • tea with cream and sugar
  • my bright and adorable children
  • internet access
  • a smartphone
  • video games
  • a comfy bed
  • more than 5 outfits to choose from
  • nail polish
  • the beautiful landscape of New England
  • the crisp and cheerful air of fall turning into winter
  • tv shows that make my husband and I belly laugh together
  • music
  • a variety of textures and flavors in food
  • books
  • sparkly things
  • and the list goes on!

Dwelling on these types of things on a daily basis has increased my joy such that, I don’t freak out when things go wrong (the check engine light is on in my van right now), and I’m more peaceful, calm, and content.

Despite the increased sense of peace and experiences of joy, however, I still suffer nights when my anxiety is extra-tenacious. Last night, it was fear of my children being taken from me while they sleep. I was exhausted after a long week of unpacking but that didn’t stop me from getting out of bed two different times to check the door locks and then to check the window in their bedroom. The second time I crawled back into bed, I breathed a fervent prayer to my Heavenly Father to “please quiet me with Your love”…I knew I wasn’t going to fall asleep without His help that particular night.

My time in God’s word today expounded on this issue for me, pulling two different areas of my life together — the joyful part and the anxious part — and sewing them together beautifully.

You have put more joy in my heart
than they have when their grain and new wine abound.
I will both lie down and sleep in peace,
for You alone, Lord, make me live in safety.

It’s not just focusing on the Lord that keeps me anxiety-free; it’s also soaking in the joy that He has graciously poured into my life! This is where the aspect of mental discipline comes into play — a pivotal part of managing anxiety. Trusting in my Heavenly Father’s goodness and sovereignty is a huge part of the battle, but the other part is taking ownership for what my thoughts are about.

Can I make an embarrassing confession? Last night’s anxiety was my own fault. My husband and I watched a show together that made a reference to a “classic” horror movie. Against wisdom and sound judgement (and mind you, the Holy Spirit definitely nudged me on this one but I ignored Him), I looked up this horror movie on Wikipedia. Right before bedtime. Really. And of course it involved sweet babies and helpless mothers. So you can make a very educated guess as to what my thoughts were about as I was trying fruitlessly to fall asleep!

Last night, Psalm 4:8 was not sufficient to bump my train of thought off the tracks and my JOY was derailed.

God’s compassion never ceases to amaze me; He didn’t let me suffer long. He answered my prayer last night and not only quieted me with His love before sleep, He continued the process in our time together this morning. “Here,” I could hear Him saying. “This part is important and it would have helped last night.”

It’s not the first time I’ve received the gold nugget of truth that my thoughts are a powerful component of anxiety but for some reason, it hit me anew this morning. God is merciful and ever so kind to me, teaching me this lesson over and over, in a myriad of different ways and I think this time, it’s going to stick.

I have a hunch tonight’s sleep will be even sweeter…

The Cure for Anxiety – Part I

“This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? Can any of you add a single cubit to his height by worrying? And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these! If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you—you of little faith? So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  (Matthew 6:25-34 HCSB)

You don’t have to be a follower of Jesus to benefit from the last part of this passage:

“Don’t worry about tomorrow…Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

If you are a follower of Jesus, there is even more benefit in this passage: Jesus tells us that our Father God takes care of sparrows and GRASS — how much more will He take care of us, in spite of our “little faith”, because we are worth more than many sparrows?

It is an incredible encouragement — one I’ve held onto tenaciously these last ten months, and one that has even been proven by God’s provision in our lives these last ten months.

Nevertheless, I want to focus on verse 34 today. There is something for everyone, in this verse,  and perhaps even enough that one who is not yet familiar with the friendship of God might be spurred forward toward it.

“Don’t worry about tomorrow…Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

If one were to treat this as a pill, prescribed by a well-known and trusted physician, how might it change one’s life?

Rather than hypothesize, I will tell you how it has changed mine.

The other night, I was sitting in a home school meeting, listening to the mothers discuss — what seemed like at the time — HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of things that their children had to do in order to finish high school. I began to feel overwhelmed…and then I began to feel anxious.

“I will never get all of this done!”  I thought. “It’s impossible! It’s too much! I must quit home schooling now!  (I’d only been doing it for three days, mind you.) Oh, but I  can’t quit! I am positive that God has told me to school my children at home! Whatever shall I do?!”

It is a true wonder that I did not throw myself to the floor with wails of despair. God is merciful in His sovereign interventions, is He not?

It must have been in just the moment I might have considered throwing myself to the ground with wails of despair that God spoke in my spirit.

“Fae,” He said, gentle and deep — He almost sounded amused. “Is all of this happening today?”

The wailing and spazzing in my brain immediately paused. “Well…no…”

“Then you don’t need to be thinking about it, do you?”

I gave a little laugh (internally, mind you). He was right. (He’s always right.) But just in case I had inclinations to doubt or disregard Him, He brought to mind Verse Thirty-Four.

Truthfully, that is not the first time we’ve had that conversation — and it undoubtedly will not be the last.

But it works. It nips anxiety in the bum and anxiety scurries off yipping every time.

As I said in the beginning of this post, you don’t have to be friends with Jesus (also known as The Great Physician) to benefit from His prescription. I like to call it Verse Thirty-Four.

And perhaps, when you’ve experienced His remedy for this particular malady in your own life, perhaps you might just be curious enough to find out more about this Man and what He wants with you.

Curiosity inevitably breeds bravery, and bravery will serve you well — for, as C. S. Lewis taught us through the “person” of Aslan,

The Great Physician is not safe –
but He is good.

Better Blogging: Things I’ve Learned

1. Preach at yourself. Change those inspirational exhortations from “you” to “I”. Example: “God is present in the little things; you just have to open your eyes” — that sentence is more relatable and impactful when written this way, instead: “God is present in the little things; I just have to open my eyes.”

This is a phenomenal little tip; I don’t understand how it works, but it *does*! Shannon Popkin over at Tiny Paragraphs taught me this, when I submitted to her Yellow Ball feature. It totally goes against the way I write naturally but she is so right—it really does have a more powerful and personal effect when you write in the first person.

2. Keep it short. I actually learned this back when I tried vlogging—videos under two minutes got a lot more views than the longer ones, and as a viewer of vlogs myself, I rarely watched more than the first two minutes. It had to be reeeally engaging to keep me past that point.

Blog posts are the same: if they’re not engaging enough and/or if my readers are short on time, the majority of my writing gets lost. When I write, I assume all readers will be short on time, so I try to write for two minutes of reading or less. Of course, sometimes the subject doesn’t allow for that, but usually, it’s *also* engaging enough to compensate.

3. Don’t try to write if there’s a poopy diaper within smelling distance. That is to say, don’t try to write during distractions! If I can smell a dirty diaper while I’m writing—and worse, if the smell wafts in and out, my thoughts will likely be fragmented, hurried, and inarticulate. I do better if I confront various distractions first and then sit down to write. (Although, as a stay-at-home mom, there are rarely NO distractions; but I can usually minimize them. i.e. “Honey, can you change Bubby’s diaper?” ;))

Have you discovered techniques that make for better blogging? Please share them here or, better yet, write your own post and link me to it—we can hold a potluck of sorts, tips galore! :)

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These tips are from Kina at Human In Recovery. I thought they were quite excellent.

1) Add visual interest: Using photographs you’ve taken yourself or make sure you are using “borrowed” pics according to legal fair use and copyright laws, If you have several pics, utilize the embedded slide show feature, or link to a YouTube relevant video, preferably a song that connects to the content in some way. Use spacing and formatting to break up text and give the readers’ eyes a break.

2) If you can’t keep it short (800-1,000 words max) try to break it up into a series of posts. Then you can add visual interest and keep the reader engaged and wanting to come back.

3) Get interactive and involved with your readers. When you notice a comment, like, or follow try to respond in a timely manner. Go visit their site and leave a comment or like of your own (as long as it’s sincere and authentic). If you read something on someone else’s blog that gives you insight, makes you think, or inspires you to write a post of your own, include that information with a link back to their content, don’t just re-blog. Ask questions on your posts that invite your readers to comment. If you receive an award or invitation to participate in a game of blog tag and you aren’t able to play or you feel it isn’t in alignment with what your blog is about, give the one who tagged you the courtesy of a reply. By tagging and linking to you, they just sent their readers to your site.

Battling the Busy-Man

As I get older, I’m learning that if I don’t intentionally prioritize things, my subconcious will do it for me. When I say, “I don’t have time for that”, what I’m really saying is, “Something else has a higher priority than that.”

Right now, my highest priority is a quiet life.

Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before.
1 Thessalonians 4:11 NLT

I made this my top priority this past December, while we were in Florida; I was realizing just how burnt out I’d become. So upon our return in January, I made changes to ensure a quiet life. Oddly enough, life has a lot to throw at me to equally ensure it doesn’t happen! I’m amazed at how naturally my ‘yeses’ come out and how deliberate I have to be if a ‘no’ is going to come out.

I really, really hate being busy. I’ve hated it for a long time, but when I saw this verse hanging up at my mom’s house, it was like a heavy burden was lifted— I no longer felt guilty for wanting a quiet life!  And it gave me the sovereign permission I needed to start simplifying. Fewer commitments, fewer engagements, less busyness.

If you’re like I was, feeling busy and burnt out, here’s 7 tips I’ve picked up so far, in my quest for a quieter life. :)

1. There are too many good things out there for me to dip into a little of everything.
2. God created me with a unique combination of temperament, abilities, stamina and desires. He doesn’t waste anything and neither should I. It takes time to find the thing I can best serve at; serving in little things while I work it out is better than being a bump on the log while I work it out. I can start with serving the people I share a house with, at the very least. (Doing a chore that isn’t mine, spending extra-quality time with someone instead of mindlessly entertaining myself, etc.) This helps cultivate a servant’s heart (something I really struggle with, for a variety of reasons) so that, when I *do* figure out what I’m cut out for, I’ll have a headstart in having a willing heart. ;)
3. It’s okay for me to say no to lots of things! It’s not okay for me to say no to everything.
4. My blog, friends, husband and family are FABULOUS sounding boards for figuring out what needs to get cut, what my talents are, what my weaknesses are and how all those things play into or against leading a quiet life.
5. Leading a ‘quiet life’, I’m finding, is not dull and it’s not sitting around doing nothing! It’s using my God-given Combination of Everything as efficiently and productively as possible. There’s still emotional stress to my day; there’s still work to be done. But I’m fulfilled at the end of the day, I’m not burnt out, I’m not frantic.
6. The enemy will fight this endeavor of mine. For starters, his top priority is rebellion against God and His ways. But I’m also figuring out that ‘busyness’ is one of his most effective tactics for stifling spiritual growth. ‘Distractedness’ could be another word for it. But being aware that he’s trying to sabotage me is half the battle and renews my resolve to be intentional about how I spend my time.
7. There are seasons of God sowing into our lives and seasons of harvest. The sowing times are the hardest for me; they involve a lot of…nothing. At least on the outside. But it’s also a resting time, a time to take it easy, savor the moments and rest. I’m slowly learning not to be afraid of resting time or feel guilty for it. It’s productive in its own way, although visible results are slow in coming.

Ironically, it’s hard work to have a quiet life. But it’s so worth it…

How I Made Facebook Stop Hurting My Heart

In the Beginning, Facebook was for friends. It was a safe place for putting it all out there without having to drive to your friend’s house at three in the morning. Parties lasted for weeks after they were over through the pictures that were posted and the comments that were made. Dating was sweeter, friendship was deeper, and skipping class was an organized crime. Facebook was GOOD.

Then one day, suddenly, Facebook exploded. With no warning, all of your stuff was suddenly visible to your mother, your boss, and your girlfriend’s dad. Those pictures of you at the local diner with straws hanging out your nose were no longer hilarious — they were mortifying. The sweet, romantic pictures of you and your girlfriend snuggling in the backseat of your best friend’s dad’s convertible on the way to the beach — well, let’s just say one dad raging about his precious baby is bad enough; you were *positive* your friend got permission to take the car out!

It took no time at all for Facebook to become very, very BAD.

The good news is, it *can* be good again. And I’m going (to attempt) to show you how.

This blog entry had a bazillionty different titles before I started. Why I Hate Facebook; How Facebook Hurts; The Evils Of Facebook; Why Facebook Is Bad For Your Heart (The Metaphorical One, Not The Physical One). I actually really liked that last one but it was too long and, quite frankly, it was beside the point. Because we all hate Facebook, we all know how Facebook hurts, EVERYONE agrees that Facebook is evil, and if you sat and thought about it for long enough, you could come to your very own conclusions as to why Facebook is bad for your heart. The point REALLY is: How To Make It Stop. And since my methods might not work for everyone, I picked the title How *I* Made It Stop. (That’s a paraphrase really. If you’ve gotten this far, you already know what the title is.)

I’m not going to bother giving the whole backstory of when I realized Facebook was making me miserable or how long I vacillated between posting too much on Facebook and disappearing from it for days. It’s likely so close to your own story, telling my version of it would just take up unnecessary amounts of time. We’ve both done enough unnecessary time-wasting on Facebook so let’s try to avoid that here.

What follows are the steps that I personally took to make Facebook work for me without having to delete my account and sever all connections to the online world (which I actually tried once. And it sort of worked, except for the part that I no longer knew ANYTHING that was happening in my friends’ lives. This is a separate problem with Facebook that I’ll maybe address at a later time).

Step 1: Open your newsfeed. Start reading.

Step 2: Unsubscribe* from every person whose posts make your stomach feel wonky. (Or your heart).

Step 3: Next, go to your subscriptions list (click your own name to go to your own profile and then click on the link ‘Subscriptions’ right under your profile picture).

Step 4: Unsubscribe** from every person on the list who makes your stomach or your heart feel wonky.

Step 5: Go to https://www.facebook.com/bookmarks/lists. Click on the button in the upper right-hand corner that says ‘+ Create List’.

Step 6: Name your list something that communicates to you that these people are safe, they love you, and you want to share your life with them. You could try something like “People Who Love Me” or “Teddy Bear Therapy”. ;)

Step 7: This step is the most important because it’s the hardest one to do. Are you ready? Only add people to this list that don’t make your stomach or your heart feel wonky!!! It will be hard, at first, to figure out who these people are. You’ll add a bunch and then change your mind and take some off. You’ll skip some and then go back to add them. Here’s my advice: If your finger doesn’t AUTOMATICALLY start clicking on a person before your brain even registers what’s happening, they should not be on your list. In other words, if you have to think about it, you probably shouldn’t.

Step 8: Promise yourself that for one week, you won’t post ANY pictures or status updates to ANY LIST except this one list***. After one week is over, you may realize you never want to post anything to your entire friends list ever again. Or, if you’re like me, you may decide that you don’t mind sharing something “publicly” every so often but the majority of your stuff will go to The One List (to rule them all…*giggle*).

Step 9: At the end of one week, evaluate how you feel about Facebook. You *should* feel better. If there’s still wonkiness, you either need to unsubscribe from some more people or you need to take some folks off of your One List.

Now, this is by no means a one-size-fits-all program. (*snicker* Program. Isn’t that great? Doesn’t that sound so official?? *cough* Sorry, I’m getting a little carried away. The giddiness that comes from freeing yourself up can make you act a little funny.) So here are some things to keep in mind, if you decide to try this 9-step Program. (*grin*)

  • Unsubscribing from people can be just as hard as picking folks for your One List. Keep in mind that you can visit their profile anytime to see what they’ve been up to. If they have ever posted anything at all that made you feel wonky, you NEED TO UNSUBSCRIBE in order to experience the full benefit of Facebook For Friends Only. (Yes, I just came up with that name. I think it’s perfect. FFFO for short.) The advantage to forcing yourself to visit their profile in order to see what they’ve been up to is that you’re never subjected to their posts when your stomach is already feeling wonky. You have 100% control over your exposure to them. This is healthy!
  • Sometimes, I have to temporarily unsubscribe from someone. Maybe they’re posting too much about politics or they’re just being plain negative. Do what you need to do (privately, without making people feel lousy) in order to make your Facebook as edifying as possible. Don’t feel bad if you’re one of my best friends and you have to unsubscribe from ME for a little while! Just don’t tell me that you had to. ;)
  • Facebook SHOULD be for friends only, but it has turned into a giant networking scheme. You can actually use this to your advantage by segregating your posts so that professional connections see things that friend connections don’t see and vice versa. You can post pictures of straws up your nose and have it be hilarious again. You can post pictures of yourself in the awful sweater Aunt Martha sent you for Christmas that only SHE can see (and she doesn’t have to know she’s the only one who can see it)! There’s actually a lot of power hidden in Facebook’s unfriendly labyrinth-like interface; you just have to know where to look. I’m happy to help anyone who asks.
  • There are a million and one reasons why Facebook might be making you feel overwhelmed or depressed. This 9-step program does NOT cover all of them. It might be as simple as: You need to spend less time on Facebook and more time in real-life connections. Schedule some coffee dates. Set a timer when you get on Facebook. Make Friday “Facebook All Day” day and ignore it the rest of the week. Somehow, set boundaries for yourself so you’re not baring the neck of your life to Facebook’s vampire-like effects.
  • Lastly, but most importantly, Facebook is not for everyone. It’s OKAY to just leave it behind. Much like alcohol, it affects everyone differently. Some people get addicted, some people get sick, some people have a grand old time. If you’re not having a grand old time, try to figure out the reasons why and then address those reasons. (i.e. Moderation, filtration, etceteration)

Please feel free to share your own Facebook experiences in the comments. There are a lot of people out there who need to know they’re not the only ones. I realized several weeks ago that I was not the only one experiencing The Wonky Phenomenon when a friend posted to Facebook in a rare honest and heart-wrenching moment that Facebook makes her feel lonely. I really can’t put into words just how refreshing her confession was. And it was STUNNING how many people piped up and shared that they felt the exact same way!

It’s possible that you haven’t experienced any wonkiness ever, because of Facebook. If that’s the case, that’s WONDERFUL — and you are in the minority. So I would just ask you to please be careful how you post to Facebook. It’s true that you have a right to post whatever you want; since Facebook’s implementation of the nifty Unsubscribe feature, you have even more freedom to post whatever you want because hey, people can unsubscribe if they don’t like it, right? Right. Nevertheless, try to be nice. If you find yourself posting something and secretly hoping it makes someone jealous, you shouldn’t post it. If you’re upset with someone on your friends list, that status update box is NOT where it should get worked out. And the fact that you hardly ever look good in pictures does not give you the right to post the one good picture of you that also happens to make your best friend look fat.

Facebook is for friends. BE a friend. Don’t be mean. Don’t be spiteful. Don’t use it to spread your favorite flavor of propaganda. Use it to build friendships. Use it to make meaningful, healthy connections. You’ll find that life gets a lot more fulfilling when it’s not all about you and your latest Facebook post. ;)

Disclaimer: This post was not written about a certain person. It was not written TO a certain person. I can honestly say that the only people who came to mind when writing this post were the two people I mentioned. So if you’re afraid that I’m “secretly” condemning the way you use Facebook, I’m not. If you think I’m trying to find a catty way to let you know that I unsubscribed from you on Facebook, I’m not (and I probably didn’t). This post was inspired by people who have been hurt by Facebook (including myself) and it’s largely written FOR the people who have been hurt by Facebook. So if you’re feeling lousy about yourself, STOP. You’re the only one who knows your heart when you use Facebook so if you’re feeling condemned, you’re either hearing your own heart or you’re being paranoid. There’s an easy solution to both problems. ;)

* You unsubscribe from people in your newsfeed by hovering on their name and waiting for the pop-up menu to load. Then hover over the Subscribed button and scroll all the way down to “Unsubscribe”.
** You unsubscribe from people in your Subscriptions by hovering over the “Subscribed” button and scrolling all the way to the bottom for “Unsubscribe”.
*** There’s a drop-down area next to the POST button that lets you choose who can see the update. This is where you’d select your one list.