Dear Facebook, here are some new rules

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Dear Facebook,

We’ve had this love-hate relationship for a while now. Just last week, I threatened to break up with you for good. I’ve tried so many ways of quitting you, only to return, IV needle in hand. It’s those bite-sized bits of information and affirmation you’ve got at your disposal, just enough of a hit to make me think I can’t live without you.

I’ve spent so much of my last 11 years plugged into your feed, much of it mindless scrolling. I’ve let you simultaneously command my attention and destroy my attention span. There is always something going on with you, never a breather to pay attention to anything or anyone else. I have trouble reading more than 20 pages in a book without you popping up in the back of my mind. I can’t get through a 30-minute sitcom with my son without wondering if you’ve doled out another like or comment.

That’s where the problem lives. I want my attention back — and you don’t have any intention of letting it go. Your sole purpose is to make it all about you.

2019 is going to be different. I’m reclaiming the intention in my attention.

You probably already know this, but I removed you from my phone. I’m sure it was a bit of a shock to know that you were no longer living at my fingertips, but I have to say it feels better. In just a few weeks, the urge for instant gratification is starting to wane. I’ve checked in once or twice a day via the web, so the withdrawls wouldn’t entice me into reinstalling you. I’ll consider this first step towards a healthier relationship with you a success.

Yes, that means I’m not going to completely break up with you. I’ve been sorely tempted, believe me, but then I’m reminded of the good things we’ve shared. The friends I’ve made through you. The networks you’ve helped me create. There’s still real value in our connection.

But we’re going to have some new rules (yes, just like Dua Lipa).

  • One: You will not return to my phone. We need our space. No more mindless interactions. Period.
  • Two: You’re no longer going to be the chronology of my life. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve found myself in conversation and realize I have nothing to share. I’ve shared it all already with you, and you’ve broadcast it out to the world. The world doesn’t need to hear from me umpteen times a day.
  • Three: You’re not going to be there with me in the moment. I’m going to start living for the experience, not the share.
  • Four: We’re going to spend quality time when we are together. I’m going to use the tools you’ve already provided to see what I need to see and avoid the rabbit holes — and I’m only going to share things I’ve had time to intentionally construct.
  • Five: We’re going to be a positive in the world. At our best, we’ve brought a positive light into the world. The things I share with you will carry that compassion and intent.

I know you’re likely snickering, Good luck, buddy. But here’s the deal. I’m done blindly giving you my attention. I know where the deactive button is and I’m no longer afraid to use it.

 

 

 

 

 

This choice called love

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My son is in his first real relationship at 16. It’s wonderful to witness how he smiles and laughs around her, how they just seem comfortable around each other. What impresses me the most is how he gives of himself for her. There’s a quiet ease in which he cares for her, so natural it seems innate.

I don’t know what their future holds, but I do know this: For their relationship to last, to thrive, they will both need to understand that love is not a feeling.

Love is a choice. Love is an action. 

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Presence over time

IMG_9271It’s interesting how those of us in four-season climates talk about the plants in our gardens — in terms of how long they’ll last. Annuals come and go in one growing season. Perennials come back every year, but mostly lie dormant below the ground in winter. Trees and shrubs — we think of them as the bones, the stalwart foundation, that last for years, perhaps a lifetime. We cherish them for their presence over time, rather than their value in the moment.

We do the same for people, don’t we? Read More

Rearviewmirror

Last month, I saw Pearl Jam play at Wrigley Field. Play isn’t quite the right word. Steamroll. Freight train. Destroy. Those are all better ways of describing the energy that Eddie Vedder and the rest of the band bring to their shows. It was my first time seeing them live — nearly 27 years since they dropped Ten — an album I played so much in college that my soul knows every chord and haunting howl by heart.

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Honoring our past, fueling our future

I can remember those days as a kid when I’d get to light a candle in church. The small white votives flickering through red and blue glass. The wooden sticks we’d light from one burning candle and then eagerly decide which new candle we’d bring to life. I’m not sure we always had the proper reverence for lighting a candle in memory of someone no longer with us, but it’s one of my most vivid childhood memories. I can still smell the blend of wax and wick like it was yesterday.

I still love to light candles, still feel a bit of awe as the match comes in contact with the wick and instantly starts to glisten the wax. The flame flickers and then stands tall. Warmth. Light. Two necessities of life. It’s no wonder we burn candles in memory of life lived … and lost. They bring us back, reignite our memory for a few moments, and honor our past. It’s those people and experiences that become the wisdom and fuel for our future.

Diversifying our relationship portfolios

I recently reviewed my retirement savings portfolio and was pleased to see its outstanding performance over the past year. There were a lot of struggles in 2017, but market performance certainly wasn’t among them. I stopped at the diversification charts, and remembered the advice of the financial planner I met with a month after my divorce was final.

Make sure your investments are positioned in a way that reflects your tolerance for risk. 

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Making room for what’s next

For most of my adult life, I thought I possessed a critical character flaw because I don’t have close, lifelong friends. I’d look at people whose inner circle of friends knows what they were like in grade school, high school, or even college — and wonder what was wrong with me.

I look back on the ages of 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, and 45, and my inner circle looks completely different at each milestone, with very little thread between. I remember the moments of the purest, most intense connection with people who now exist mostly in memory or the periphery of life. I’m often overcome with a nostalgic sadness and regret that those moments are no longer on the center stage of my life.

It’s taken me nearly 47 years to understand, but the impermanence of nearly all of our connections is a good thing. 

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An evolving hashtag

As I made my son an egg sandwich for breakfast this morning, I realized just how happy cooking for him makes me. It’s the breakfast he asks for the most, nothing fancy, just simple comfort food.

For the three years after my marriage ended, I’ve used the #singledadcooking to tag the photos of my culinary creations. That hashtag has served me well, and on more than one occasion I’ve run into people who’ve asked me when the SDC cookbook is hitting the shelves. Of late, I’ve realized that while #singledadcooking captures what I am when I cook, it doesn’t communicate why I cook.

I cook for the people I love.

When I’m on my own, I’m more apt to scrounge on leftovers. My inspiration comes when there is more than one plate set at the table.

The cookbook may still be in the works, but it’ll now be titled #FoodIsLove because that better captures the essence of why I create in the kitchen.

Breathing in the joy

Those of you who’ve followed along here know that I’ve been open with my life, with the joys and struggles that make up my authentic story. Early last year, my world, the life I imagined, came crashing down and I raised my armor in defense. I shut down. I swore that I was done living my life as an open book, done with vulnerability, done with deep relationships.

img_6438Then I met K.

She didn’t try to fix or rescue me.

She didn’t ask me to be anything but the broken mess I was.

She gave me space and time to figure my own shit out.

She was patient and understanding so I could work to rebuild myself.

She chose what was healthy for her, and never once asked that I do anything but what was healthy for me.

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Over the threshold of a new year

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Back in October, K and I celebrated my 46th birthday watching Matt Nathanson and Matchbox Twenty perform at the TaxSlayer Center in Moline. Matt opened with the perfect blend of concert, revival, and comedy jam that energized the crowd for Rob Thomas and crew’s last stop on their 20th anniversary tour. The arena went completely black at the same moment a single white spotlight illuminated an empty microphone stand.

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