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My Facebook Life

I know I need a Facebook break when I start believing everyone is having more fun than me.

After scrolling through FB today, I realized I have the most boring life imaginable.

Clearly, everyone I know is having an amazing summer. And, I am doing absolutely nothing fun or interesting.

I see friends going to Broadway plays in New York City, playing on the beaches in Hawaii, touring Europe, and dancing at Taylor Swift concerts – on the front row, no less.

I’m doing none of those things.

I realize my Facebook life might look pretty good most of the time too, but today I’m noticing how I’m affected by every one else’s Facebook lives.

paint
We’re not always going on fun dates like this

I see happy couples getting engaged, then married, and then, off honeymooning in paradise. I see couples celebrating anniversaries and welcoming grandchildren.

And, here I am.

Doing nothing.

Really, nothing.

I saw a Disney movie a few weeks ago.

Oh, and I went to a Nats game.

Hmm.

That’s all.

Happy summer to me.

I see my family in Utah wakeboarding, camping, cruising through the mountains with the top down in a shiny red VW convertible. I see them rocking out at Van Halen concerts, getting new cars, going to family reunions, swimming at the pool, and learning archery.

convertible
I’m not always riding in my sister’s convertible either.

Today, Doug and I cleaned out a storage room and went to the dump to toss all our garbage. I also watered my dying flowers.

Facebook worthy?

Probably not, even though we enjoyed tossing boxes of trash over a railing and into enormous trash bins.

Sunday at church, Doug was given a new assignment – bishopric counselor in the Langley single’s congregation. A friend of ours introduced us to this new group of church members, and said, “The Turners are adventurous. They’ll have you out doing some amazing things before you know it.”

Doug and I looked at each other, wondering what he was talking about.

Then, we realized it was that ONE photo of Doug learning to kite board that made him think we are adventurous, daring, and fun.

kite board

Really, we’re not that fun. And, we’re not that daring.

It just looks like that on Facebook.

Apparently, Facebook depression is a real thing.

While we think that we might be happier seeing all the happiness around us, it actually makes us sad.

We compare the peak experiences of our friends to the routine, everyday things in our own lives, and our self-esteem and happiness quotient plummet.

Today, Facebook led me to a blog about my niece who lost weight, got fit, and feels fabulous.

I felt proud of her, and happy that she achieved her goal.

Then, quickly, I got all sarcastic and snippy — comparing myself to her because we all know when you’re twenty-something it’s a whole lot easier to be all fit and sassy then when you’re like fifty-something.

I’m ashamed of myself for that. (Sorry Emily.)

She deserves to be heaped with praise for her accomplishment. Getting fit is a lot of work and she’s earned every toned muscle she’s got.

Shame on me for letting myself become a victim of the FB phenomena.

The Phenomenon of Facebook is a thing you know. I read about it here.

“If you are one of the millions of casual Facebook users whose mood isn’t significantly affected by online social life then good for you,” the article said, “but if you see any of the signs that social media may be causing you to feel lonely, sad, depressed, angry, jealous, envious or anxious, then you should consider giving Facebook a break and working on some of the underlying problems, even if that means seeking professional help.”

I don’t think my jealousy requires professional help at this point, but it points to a problem I need to fix.

Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms can put a purely positive patina over our lives and make us believe a lot of things that are just not true about other people. Yes, we all have some fun times and good experiences and enjoy sharing them on FB but to see a FB post and extrapolate that someone else’s life is all sunshine and roses, is leading us to believe something that isn’t even partially true.

So, when you find yourself thinking your life is all sad and awful and that everyone is enjoying the good life while you slog away at the mundane tasks of life, think again, and remember Facebook is not reality.

Then, think of how going to the dump to get rid of old paint cans has been the highlight of my week.

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A few good lessons from Disney’s “Inside Out”

My friend Stacy sent me a copy of a blog about parenting that she recently read, loved and saved.

The blog, written by Erin Stewart for the Deseret News was about how the new Disney Pixar movie, “Inside Out” sent her a wake-up call.

For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, “Inside Out,” it’s about a girl named Riley whose emotions are in a tailspin because her family is moving.

Inside_Out_(2015_film)_poster

Joy, sadness, disgust, anger, and fear battle it out trying to cope with the transition.

Joy wants to take over, but with all her positivity and happy talk, she just can’t push Sadness out of the way.

io_Joy_standardio_Sadness_standard

The point of the movie is to show that all emotions are necessary and that even sadness plays an important role in our human experience.

To this blogger, who is the mother of two small children, it was a wake-up call to learn that “Sadness is necessary – maybe even more important than joy sometimes.”

As she watched the movie, she felt guilty because, like all parents, she tries to shove sadness from her children’s lives by responding to it with all kinds of cheerful talk about the bright side, the upside, and the sunny side of life.

Her conclusion is that “It’s not our job to make our children happy.”

“I was missing the point,” Stewart wrote. “It’s OK to be sad. It’s healthy to be sad.”

“Just like the emotion Joy in the movie who works to hard to silence Sadness, I have been taking it on as my responsibility to keep smiles on my children’s faces. That is not my job. Joy can’t be forced, just like sadness can’t be ignored. My job is to help them understand their emotions, embrace them and then learn to live with the ups and downs of life,” she wrote.

This reminded me that several years ago, I had a church assignment to work with the teenage girls in our congregation.

An exasperated dad talked to me about the changing moods of his daughter.

“I just want her to be happy. Is that asking too much?”

I’ve asked myself that same question many times, “Is it asking too much to just want them to be happy?”

It’s natural to want our kids to be happy – supremely, consistently, blissfully happy.

But as it turns out, it is asking too much.

As a parent, it’s a lot of hard, painful work to accept that.

I think the core truth here is that we want our kids to be happy for their sakes; but we also want to protect ourselves from their sadness because we can’t handle it.

I’d like to see the “Inside Out” movie from a mom’s perspective – the animated version of what happens to a mom’s emotions when her daughter is sad, disappointed, discouraged or hurt.

Parenting hurts. It’s exhilarating and gives life purpose, meaning and all of those beautiful and deep things, but it also can just plain hurt sometimes.

Is it too much to ask for them to ALWAYS be happy?
Is it too much to ask for them to ALWAYS be happy?

When your daughter’s heart gets broken, so does your heart. When she is disappointed, you are disappointed.

Stacy printed the wake-up call blog and stored it in a drawer to take out and read occasionally to remind her that she can’t and shouldn’t try to shove sadness out of her kids’ lives.

I’m going to do the same thing – not just for the emotional development of my adult children, but also for my own.

I need to learn that it’s not my job to ensure their continual happiness; and it’s also not my job to take on their emotions and feel them for them. That doesn’t ease their pain and only adds to mine.

The big question here is how do I do that?

I’d love your wisdom on that one.