Nagoonberry

This world. This place. This life.


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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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Mama’s Costco meltdown

I was raised to be nice.

You know that photo that’s going around on Facebook? The black and white one with a roller coaster cars full of women? The women in the first car laugh uproariously, their skirts flying up. The women in the second car are more subdued, but smiling, and clearly enjoying themselves. The unsmiling women in the third car sit with knees pressed together, hands clasped politely in their laps.

We were third car kind of people.

So when I had a mini-meltdown in the parking lot at Costco today, it was a big deal for me; a first-car person watching would probably still be laughing about it.

The meltdown was set in motion a few days ago.

Brady needed to go to the vet, so I made an appointment for Wednesday at 2:30 in the afternoon. That felt like a time that would work with Willa’s schedule. After her morning nap I would drive to town, stop at Costco, head to the vet, and be done in time for her to nap on the drive back home to Girdwood. Seamless.

But then I watched the weather, which forecasted a big snowstorm on Tuesday night. (And it was a big one. I think we got about two feet of snow.)  Friday looked better.

I called the vet. They didn’t answer, so I left a message. They called back when I was pulling my hair out trying to do something with Willa. “Friday at 11:10 a.m.?” I said. “Sure, sounds fine.”

Except it wasn’t.

Friday mornings I finish up The Interdependent Web. At 11:10, Willa’s just starting to think about wanting a nap.

I didn’t sleep well last night. I woke up at about 5 a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep. Then Willa woke up early. I fed her, and put her back to sleep, and I got about an hour’s more sleep.

We rushed around, getting breakfast for me, tea for Liesl, a bit of solid food for Willa and a few minutes of nursing, and then we bundled ourselves up and headed for Anchorage.

Willa started getting fussy at the vet. She was more fussy at Babies R Us, where we stopped for a diaper change and feeding. And by the time we got to Costco, she was in full meltdown mode.

When we finally got back out to the car to head home, I was relieved that the person parked next to us was leaving. I could pull the cart up to the side of the car, and swing Willa’s carseat out of the cart and into the Subaru.

I was in the middle of doing that when, over the din of Willa’s screams, I heard someone say, “Excuse me?”

I turned around. A woman in an SUV asked, “Could you move your cart so I could pull in there?”

I snapped.

“My baby is having a meltdown,” I said. “Just chill out.”

She apologized, said that she’d been there with her kids, told me to take my time.

I realized I’d been snippy, and apologized, too.

And that was that. But I’ve been thinking about human nature today, and so I wondered how much of the world’s evil comes from accumulated stress. From the crankiness that builds up in us from lack of sleep and disrupted schedules and parking lots that are always over-full. From snippy comments and unkind words that we trade like toddlers trade germs at daycare.

I don’t know. But I’m hoping to get a good night’s sleep tonight, and a fresh start tomorrow.

costco


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Please don’t like me

I’ve been trying to figure out if I can change my Facebook settings so I no longer get notifications when someone “likes” a photo or link or status update I’ve posted.

So far, no luck.

Last week, Liesl and I watched the Frontline documentary, “Generation Like,” and it made me want to disconnect from “like” notifications even more.

Here’s the deal. When I see the little white number in the red circle on my phone, I want real interaction with you. When the Facebook tab on my laptop toolbar shows a number in parentheses, I’m hoping you’ve got something to say.

“Liking” has come to mean so many things on Facebook. It’s a nod. It’s a smile. It’s a gentle hand on my shoulder. It’s an acknowledgment that you’ve noticed.

But it’s silent. It’s quick and easy. And it makes me feel like an approval junkie when I get excited by a “like” count.

So please don’t like me. Not unless you really, really like my photo, my link, my status update. And even then, would it be so much harder to type a few words?

Because I’m tired of the drive-by nod, the distracted smile, the easy comfort, the split-second attention.

Let’s be real friends to each other, instead of being stretched thin, “like butter scraped over too much bread.”

The “like”habit is hard to break, but I want to work on it. How about you?


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The sawdust in your eye

Today’s Daily Prompt asks, “Which vice or bad habit can you simply not abide in others?”

My first reaction was, “Oh, I can’t possibly write about that.”

I can’t possibly go on a rant about what drives me crazy about other people.

That’s not nice. And there’s the “people who live in glass houses” problem. Also known as the log in my own eye problem.

But the more I thought about it, the more I felt like it might be fun to just let my inner curmudgeon loose.

So, without further ado, here’s the sawdust in your eye:

  • Loose dogs and their humans. It’s OK if you’re nearby. But leaving your dog out to roam the town all day and all night? Drives me batty.
  • Don’t get me started on people who feed loose dogs, habituating them to the places where I’m trying to walk Brady, while also carrying Willa.
  • While we’re talking about dogs, how about people who don’t pick up after their pets? I picked up dog poop when I was 9 months pregnant, and I still do when I’ve got twenty pounds of baby strapped to my chest. And you can’t bend over and scoop the poop?
  • Drunk people in general, but specifically the loud ones who walk past our windows at 2 a.m. when the bars close. Sometimes it’s really tiresome living in a drinking village with a skiing problem.

And that’s where I’ll stop, for now.

Because as I was writing the list, I realized that there was only so much I felt comfortable writing about publicly. General complaints, about people I don’t know, felt safe. But being specific? Talking about things that really bother me? That’s harder.

I had a really hard day on Monday, because I’ve been (as I tweeted) “Too long downwind of other people’s garbage; too long downstream of other people’s shit.”

But I can’t write the back story of that here. That’s the work of living in relationship, the work of neighborliness, the work of forgiveness balanced with the work of speaking my mind.

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back. . . .

Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, “Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye”, when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye. (Luke 6:36-38, 41-42)


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The Church of Vitamix

willa likes itA few weeks ago a new Vitamix (well, refurbished) arrived here via UPS. I bought it primarily to make baby food for our Willa, who’s just starting on solids.

It’s amazing. A different class than any other blending appliance I have.

I wish every baby-food-making parent could have one. But they’re expensive (my refurbished one was more than $400).

And that’s where the idea came from. What if a church bought one, and invited new parents to prep their food there? As a stand-alone mission—or as part of a larger ministry to parents of infants?


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Zero to Hero, Day One

zero-to-hero-badgeFor the next month (with wiggle room for the realities of baby-parenting), I will participate in a Zero to Hero blogging workshop, coordinated by Christine Slocum for the UU Blog Incubator.
The first assignment is to write an intro post, answering these suggested questions.
  • Why are you blogging, rather than keeping a personal journal?

I want to write. Four hard words to say out loud. And that’s why I blog, rather than keeping a personal journal. Because the work I want to do is that difficult work of saying things out loud. Because too often I mosey through life, one day blurring into the next, failing to notice, failing to be present, failing to really live.

I’m a Unitarian Universalist, and one of the things our congregations commit to is “the free and responsible search for truth and meaning.” I don’t think meaning is out there, waiting to be discovered. I think meaning is something we make. We work it out of the nooks and crannies of our minds, from the careful observation of lived experience. For me, that means writing.

And writing publicly keeps me accountable. With a blog out there for everyone to see, there’s a little voice that says, “Everyone can see that you haven’t written for a while.” And that motivates me.

I like who I am better when I’m writing. Maybe that’s the most important thing. Writing helps me pay attention to my life, and writing makes me like my life better. Win-win.

  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?

I write about the nitty-gritty of daily life. For the past year or so, I’ve written about being pregnant, and then about becoming a parent. I’m a reluctant Alaskan, so I write about the beauty of Girdwood, Alaska, the tiny ski town where I live; it helps me to hold on to the good parts of being here, when I’m struggling with the cold, dark and far of living in Alaska.

I write about Unitarian Universalism, sometimes. I’m a free-range UU minister—which is another way to say “unemployed.” So some of the energy I would pour into parish ministry finds its way into my blog.

  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?

I’d love to connect with my neighbors—fellow Alaskans, fellow Girdwoodians. I’m already connected with other UU bloggers, but I’d love to be more intentional about that. And I’d love to use this blog as a way to connect with people—friends, family, neighbors—who might find, as I have, a spiritual home in Unitarian Universalism.

  • If you blog successfully throughout 2014, what would you hope to have accomplished?

I’d just like to be more consistent. Parenting takes a lot of my time and energy, as does my work editing The Interdependent Web for UU World magazine. In 2014 I’d like to pour more of my energy into my personal writing here on Nagoonberry.

I’ve learned that anything else is unpredictable. Good things happen when you just keep showing up. So I want to show up. Again, and again, and again.


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Transfer complete, at long last

Preparing to meet the MFC

A quick self-portrait snapped in our hotel room before we drove to Eliot & Pickett House

Nearly seven years after David Pettee warned me that “the process tends to move slowly,” the transfer of my ministerial credentials from the PC(USA) to the UUA is complete.

For nearly seven years, I have carried the live coal of vocation with me; now I have a place where I can set it down, and let it catch fire.

In the biblical numerology of my childhood, seven was the number of completion, and that feels about right.

I am so grateful for all of you who sustained and supported me during this long process–– helping me remember my true self, suggesting connections in my new religious home, giving me swift kicks whenever self-doubt had me dragging my feet.

If I haven’t thanked you personally, chalk it up to my MFC-addled brain. I remember you with gratitude in odd moments, when I’m away from a phone, when I’m walking the dog, as my head hits the pillow at night. Thank you.

Some of you have asked about my next steps. I’ve been “cleared for search,” which kind of means “hurry up and wait.”  For now, my main tasks are reading the Settlement Handbook, and preparing the packet of information that I will share with congregations. As the Transitions Office begins posting available positions, I’ll start imagining life in those new places. Even if everything moves at lightning speed, the earliest we would leave Alaska would be late summer, 2013. Given the glacial pace of the last seven years, I have no illusions.

So the next steps are still almost completely unknown, and yet I feel a new sense of security, knowing that whatever direction the path takes, I’m walking “in fellowship” with my new community of faith, together with a new community of colleagues.