Nagoonberry

This world. This place. This life.


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How I use Twitter

I’ve been wrestling with Twitter questions lately. What is it? How am I supposed to use it? Am I using it right? How do I read it all?

And then John Scalzi liberated me. There isn’t a right way to use Twitter. There’s simply what works for me—and for you. And those don’t have to be the same.

So here’s how I use Twitter.

  • It’s a condiment here on Nagoonberry. Thoughts and experiences, sprinkled on the right side of the page.
  • It’s a way to track experiences, to encourage myself to pay attention, to focus on small moments.
  • I check in with a few people through Twitter—some I know in real life, some I know only online, and some are one-sided relationships (I follow them, they have no idea who I am)
  • When I get tired of being stuck in Facebook Land, I head over to Twitter to see what’s happening there.

And that’s it. Very much a work in progress. How about you? How do you use Twitter?

 


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How I curate UU content

Sometimes we develop our most useful skills without conscious intention.

I’ve always been a reader, and I’ve always been that friend who says, “Hey, I found this thing you should read.”

I never thought that would turn into something I felt called to do—much less that it has a name.

Almost three years ago, UU World magazine invited me to edit The Interdependent Web. My editor gave me freedom, support, and the opportunity to practice curation, week after week.

Here’s a window into my process.

  • Curation begins with love. This is demanding work, and passion sustains it. I care deeply about helping Unitarian Universalist voices find larger audiences. If you’re thinking about becoming a curator, choose something you love, because you’ll spend more hours doing it than you can hope to be paid for—if you’re lucky enough to find a curating gig that pays money; many people are giving away this kind of work.
  • Immersion is essential. A curator cannot expect to occasionally dip her toe into the waters of her subject. I spend hours, not just reading UU blogs, but also participating in UU forums on Facebook. As Unitarian Universalist content becomes more diverse, my daunting task is to follow it wherever it goes. Blogging is the area of UU content where I’m most comfortable; I’m hoping that some of you may begin curating other types of content—video, design, music, etc.
  • Gathering sources never ends. When I began reading UU blogs, Philocrites’ Guide to Unitarian Universalist Blogs was a great resource. Soon I learned about UUpdates, and taught myself how to use Google Reader. Once I began editing The Interdependent Web, my Reader was no longer just a few favorite UU blogs; instead I collected an exhaustive list of every single UU blogger I found. When Google retired Reader, I switched over to Feedly, where my “All UU Bloggers” folder has 391 blogs at last count. And I’m always looking for more. Are you a UU blogger? Do you suspect I don’t know about you? Introduce yourself . . .
  • Scanning and saving are the first steps each week. At this moment, there are seventeen new posts in my “All UU Bloggers” folder. I won’t read all of them. I’m looking for headlines that grab my attention. What grabs my attention? Specificity. Responses to other bloggers’ posts. Humor (including snark). Something that grabs my heart. A clear connection to Unitarian Universalism. Good writing (yes, that matters, even in your post titles). A great track record as a blogger. Anything that catches my attention earns a little green Feedly bookmark, which puts posts into a “Saved for Later” folder.
  • Reading and reducing is where the work gets hard. Eventually, I have to read all those “Saved for Later” posts. Beginning each Wednesday, I review what I’ve saved, and compile the best posts. My goal is around fifteen pieces of content, sometimes more, sometimes less. That means a lot of culling. Some weeks I wish I could send out apology notes to some of the bloggers whose excellent posts just don’t make the cut.
  • Arranging and distilling are the last steps. I could just list the best fifteen posts, images, videos, etc. But good curation is more than that. I look for intentional and coincidental conversations between posts, images and videos. I look for natural categories. Sometimes things get shoehorned together, and other times there are beautiful juxtapositions.  The format of The Interdependent Web—at least for blog posts—is “introduction, pull quote.” I usually arrange, then find the quotes, then write the intros, but not always in that order. It’s a great format, but it’s very blog-centric, as is most of my process. That’s the growing edge for me—tweaking this process so I remember to look for and include images, videos, tweets, Facebook conversations, Pinterest posts, etc.

Since August of last year, when I returned to The Interdependent Web from maternity leave, I have done this work while also adjusting to life as a new parent. Liesl comes home early on Thursday night to watch Willa while I put the finishing touches on the column, but for the most part, curating fits well into the daily schedule of a stay-at-home mom.

Did I answer your questions—or create more?

I’d love to hear from you about how you’re coping with the deluge of content that social media generates. Do you opt out? Are you grateful for your friends who help you choose what to read? Or are you, like me, the friend who says, “Hey, I found this article you should read”?


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Don’t imagine me drowning

So much of what I read about parenting young children focuses on how overwhelming it is. And it is.

But I’m grateful for every blog post that helps me remember the love and joy Willa brings to my life.

Because the truth is, even though I’m flailing around in the water, I’m not drowning. I’m learning to swim.

So I want to ask you—please, don’t imagine me drowning.

No matter how exhausted I may feel, I parent from a place of privilege. We can afford to have me care for Willa full-time, and I have outlets for the not-mama parts of my brain. For lunch today, Willa will eat ground lamb, butternut squash, zucchini, homemade yogurt, organic rice cereal, and quinoa; it takes a privileged amount of bandwidth to pull that off. Do I need support? You bet. But let’s save the lifeguards’ attention for those who really are drowning.

cubes

I have never done work which demanded so much of my creativity. All day long, every day, one problem-solving opportunity after another comes my way. Every solution lasts only until Willa’s next growth spurt. She keeps me on my toes, and I’ve never felt so alive. Who knew that “helping” with the laundry could begin at eight months? Or that it would be so much fun?

laundry

When you imagine me drowning, I imagine myself drowning, and I lose faith in myself. I focus on what’s hard, rather than imagining what’s possible. Liesl and I spent long months agonizing about taking a road trip with Willa, because we were afraid of how hard it might be. Will it be hard? Yes. No doubt about it. But I want to raise a daughter who faces challenges with courage and determination, with a sparkle of anticipation in her eyes. And if I want to do that, I have to model courage, not fear.


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Choose your kiln

I suck at self-directed change.

I’ve fallen off more bandwagons than I care to count.

I’ve broken so many New Year’s resolutions that I just don’t make them anymore.

When I see a blog post that promises me change in six easy steps, I roll my eyes and move on.

But by any measure, the trajectory of my life includes dramatic changes. I’m a Jersey girl living in Alaska. I was a fundamentalist kid, and now I’m a non-theistic Unitarian Universalist.

How did these changes happen?

I chose life experiences that changed me.

kilnPick any metaphor you’d like—a kiln, a crucible, a glacier, a forest fire—there are forces that will apply pressure to us from the outside, changing us in lasting ways.

For me, it has been: attending college and seminary; working as a minister; choosing a relationship with Liesl; moving to Alaska; adopting our dog, Brady; writing the Interdependent Web; and becoming Willa’s mother.

Next month we’re headed off on an open-ended adventure. It’s daunting—and it will change us.

I’m counting on that. Liesl and I need something to change us, because we’re really stuck—and we’re tired of it.

We’re putting ourselves in a kiln for a few months. Then we’ll open the door, and see how we’ve changed.

Are you tired of being stuck?

Choose your kiln—or your crucible, glacier, or forest fire.

Make it something big.

Make it something that will change you from the outside, in.

 

Photo by bptakoma, used under a Creative Commons attribution license.


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A stile in the Facebook garden wall

I like using HootSuite to post simultaneously to Facebook and Twitter, and today I figured out why.

Thanks to Chris Walton, I’ve been thinking since December about Facebook as a walled garden.

Chris said—and I’m paraphrasing here—that much of the public conversation of UU blogging had moved into the walled garden of Facebook. Particularly into the walled gardens of Facebook groups.

Now, don’t get me wrong here. I love the energy of UU Facebook groups. They are an amazing place to meet people, have great conversations, spark new ideas.

But there is a downside, particularly for a religion where newcomers often say, after years of wandering in the wilderness, “I was a UU, and I didn’t know it!”

The downside is that we’re spending a lot of time and energy enclosed in private spaces, talking only to each other.

We’re having tea parties in our walled gardens—and tea parties have their place.

But we also need to host concerts in public parks.

We need to find ways to bridge private and public.

Which brings me back to HootSuite.

I think HootSuite is a stile in the Facebook garden wall.

Image

What do you think? Are there times when you want to say something to your friends on Facebook—and also to the public at large? What are you using to bridge public and private?

Photo by Tim Green, used under a Creative Commons attribution license.


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Evangelism: a tale of two salespeople

Yesterday I went to Costco for a long-overdue eye exam.

Among other things, I wanted to return to wearing contacts. The optometrist—who has perfect, uncorrected vision—mentioned that he tries out every new kind of contact. He said, “There’s this one—the moment I put them in my eyes, I knew they were terrible. I don’t sell many of them.”

“Because you choose not to, or because people try them and don’t like them?” I asked.

“Both,” he said. “The sales rep told me, ‘Just sell them to people who’ve never had contacts. They won’t know the difference.”

“Ugh,” I said. “That’s why people don’t trust salespeople.”

Later he recommended a brand of monthly replacement contacts, and gave me a pair to try.

I slipped them in my eyes, and despite the five-year hiatus from contacts, they felt great. I could hardly tell that they were in my eyes.

 

This story is really about two salespeople—the rep and the optometrist.

The rep was willing to do anything to sell his brand of contacts. The result? Distrust.

The optometrist tested all the contacts, and only recommended ones that felt comfortable in his eyes. The result? Trust.

Distrust of salespeople is not new.

It’s pervasive. Most of us go out of our way to avoid looking like we’re selling something.

In UU circles, it often keeps us from sharing the good news about the religious community we call home. We’re afraid people will think we’re snake oil salesmen.

But there’s another way to “sell.” It’s the model my optometrist uses. Try something. See if you like it. If you do, share it with people you care about. If you don’t, warn people off.

It’s simple, and it’s trustworthy.

So if you’ve found a religious home that you enjoy, don’t be afraid to tell your friends about it.

Don’t push. Don’t presume that what works for you will work for them.

But don’t keep it a secret. Invite them to try it.

They might like it—or not. That’s up to them.

Your job is to make your religious community a healthy, life-enriching place to be—one that keeps the door open, and has clear signage inviting newcomers to come on in.


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We’re leaving, on the ferry

Liesl, Willa, Brady and I are about to embark on an adventure.

We’re going to load up Liesl’s pickup truck, and board the Alaska Marine Highway’s cross-gulf ferry from Whittier to Bellingham, Washington.

Ketchikan visit

We’ll pick up a teardrop trailer in Portland, hook  it to the back of Liesl’s truck, and hit the road.

Liesl’s dad is coming from Ohio to condo-sit for us. He’ll be here to spend time thinking about next steps in his life, and we’re hitting the road to do the same.

We’re planning a two-month trip, but have no idea how Willa will travel. It could be a much shorter trip!

We have no post-ferry itinerary yet. We’ve talked about driving to Michigan, where Liesl’s mom lives. We might take it slow, and just spend time exploring Washington. Our mid-range plan is to make a loop through the Mountain West.

We have friends and family we hope to see along the way, and places to investigate where we’re thinking about settling down next.

Whatever we decide to do, it will certainly be an adventure.

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”― J.R.R. TolkienThe Lord of the Rings

 

Photo by Jay Galvin, used under a Creative Commons attribution license.

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