Operation Hermit

I saw this meme on Facebook the other day and thought about how perfect it was for how I am feeling lately. Hermit Meme

I may not be hermiting (yes, I made it a verb) in the truest sense of the word, as I can't seem to stay away from the mall and/or Anthropologie when it is "Extra 25% off" day, but I am spending a lot of my time by myself, with myself and on myself. Or with my family or my dog.

Most people who meet me think that I am an extrovert. The life of the party, the loud, obnoxious one, the social butterfly. I am not going to lie, I love a room full of people. Conversations buzzing, laughter erupting, everyone connecting and sharing and coming together.  That kind of energy is wonderful and contagious and I get caught up in it and I usually come down with an acute case of extrovertedness at these times.  Promises of "we should do this more often" are made and "let's go for coffee" is said more times than I can count. And then I go home, take some Advil, have a good rest and after a few days of social media love bombs back and forth to everyone, am fully recovered from said attack. I return to my hermit cave (real or virtual) and retreat into myself and my little life and I feel safe. I feel unencumbered, happy to just be folding laundry or reading a book or playing Candy Crush, or doing all the mundane little things that make up my daily life.

My first assignment for the Year or Writing course that I am taking was to write down 20 ideas. It's harder than it sounds, trust me! One of my ideas for an essay or post or poem or something, was this statement:

Alone is freeing.

Maybe it is because I am a mom and being truly alone is often times a luxury. Maybe it is because I come from a family of four kids and I didn't grow up knowing a lot of alone time. And maybe alone is a way to not have to deal with a lot of the often nasty, mean, and bewildering world around me. Whatever the reason, I find being alone, with my thoughts, or with no thoughts, a very peaceful, soul {re}filling, calming way to be. When I am alone, I feel free. Free to figure out what going on in my head and in my heart and free of all the things in life that sometimes weigh me down.

My favourite moment in my days right now is right after I drop the kids off at school. I then head to the dog park with Willow and at that time of day, we are often the first ones there. It is an especially peaceful place right now, in the middle of winter; white and grey, somewhat bleak, not a soul in sight and all I hear is the crunching of my boots on the trail, the running of four legs zipping by me at top speed, and the intermittent knock-knock-knocking of the local woodpecker trying to find his breakfast. I find myself breathing deeper, walking taller and appreciating this space and time away from everything and everyone more and more every day.  I like to think of it as my daily moment of meditation. Me, Mother Nature and my puppy, all together in that moment and yet all alone.

It's not that I don't want to see my friends or be around people. Quite the opposite really, I love being around people. I just like being around people and pretending that I am doing so enclosed in some kind of bubble. I can see and hear everyone around me, but I don't necessarily have to interact with anyone. I can immerse myself in my book or my laptop or in eavesdropping on strangers conversations, while still feeling like I am part of the world. I do this bubble thing a lot. I think it is probably a bit of a coping mechanism. I can truly enjoy a trip to a busy mall or to Costco or the grocery store with two kids in tow, because I enclose all of us in the bubble and continue on like no one else is around and we have the place all to ourselves. I liken this bubble strategy to that scene in a movie when a couple falls in love or has a big dance/kissing scene and everything and everyone else just fades away and the music swells and nothing else matters. If you ever see me out and about and I am in "the bubble", I probably won't see you until you come up really close and actually pop it. I will then be a bit disoriented and likely forget your name and say something particularly stupid and incoherent and then walk away from you while you try to figure out why I am being such a bitch? It's not you, I promise, it's just me readjusting to the sudden shift in air pressure outside of my hermit-bubble. It takes a few minutes...  Expect a text later with an apology for my flightiness. 

Last week I had lunch with a friend that I haven't seen in a long time. It was nice. She is a really wonderful woman, someone I admire and a truly gifted artist. It's sometimes funny how life works. People come into your life when you need them the most and I didn't know it at the time, but I really needed to spend some time with this person. I feel like she gets me on a different level than my other (younger) friends. We talked about this "hermit-ness" that both of us sometimes do and decided that we needed to have a club for all of us "Closet Introverts". After lunch, as I thought about this a bit more, I realized the irony of this plan.

Here's the thing. I know who my friends are. I know that no one is sitting around saying, "Damn, that Natasha is sure being a bitch for not calling me or making an effort lately!". I know that if anyone IS thinking that, then they are likely not really my friend. My friends know that I need to be a hermit now and then in order to get my brain to work properly. My friends know that a true connection is not based on the amount of hours spent together. Like anything really meaningful in life, I firmly believe that friendship is a quality versus quantity thing.

So you know what Internet Meme, NO, I am NOT being a bad friend lately, I am being a really GOOD friend to myself. I am giving myself what I need to live a wholehearted life and what I need right now is to be a really AWESOME hermit! And I thank every one of my true friends for letting me do that and for never judging me for it.

In gratitude,

natasha~

P.S.  (Update) Look what I found tonight! I do love that Audrey Hepburn gal.

AudreyHepburnQuote

 

Friend?

You know when you write a word over and over and over and over...and eventually it starts to look somehow wrong?

Or when you use a word over and over and over and over, like "OMG, I love that sweater!", "I love that movie!", "I love that couch!", "I love these socks", "I love pomegranate lip gloss!" and eventually the word LOVE loses some of its true meaning and meaningfulness?

I think this is what has happened to the word and perhaps by extension, the concept of a FRIEND. Quite specifically in the realm of social media.

I write this after almost a month of not writing a whole lot because of personal issues and insecurities about myself and my place in this online world and with my friends within it.

Recently on Facebook, I was 'un-friended' and blocked from someones personal page. I did not think this was a big deal. We are not very close and have more of a professional relationship than a personal one. I read her status update before she removed me (and quite a few other people too) and I respected her decision to keep her page personal and for her close friends and family members.

Remember when that was what we used Facebook for? To keep our friends and family updated on our lives. Remember how fun it was to post pictures of the kids and our vacations for all our friends and family to oooh and ahhh over? When we could write personal messages on our pages and not worry about who was lurking about to see where we are and who we are with and who we are talking to? When no one was taking screen shots of our pages and forwarding them on in emails to other people for God knows what reasons? When every App on earth wasn't asking to 'GeoTag' you and announce to the world where you are "checking-in"?

Back then (a whole two years ago, if that even), you had maybe about 67 friends on your Facebook page and hadn't even heard of Twitter. And every one of those friends was either AT your wedding or at one of your birthday parties in the past 5 years!

So, {at least in my mind}, this begs the question....

Has the inescapable realm of Wifi, and unlimited data plans and Twitter and Facebook and Google+ and FourSquare and... and... and... completely wrecked our understanding, interpretation and definition of FRIENDSHIP?

Think about this for a minute.

How many of your {insert number here} Facebook friends would drop everything and come over to watch your kids if you were stuck in bed with the worst flu of your life? How many would dog-sit for you in an emergency? How many would buy you coffee and give you an ACTUAL hug if you were having a really bad day? How many would pick up the phone and call you....or even have your direct phone number for that matter?

What then constitutes a true friend? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of the word is this:

Definition of FRIEND

a: one attached to another by affection or esteem   
   b:acquaintance
a: one that is not hostile
   b: one that is of the same nation, party, or group
3  : one that favors or promotes something (as a charity)
4  : a favored companion

 

I do believe that there are levels of friendship and some friendships are closer than others. Some are deeper. Some are based on a long history together, some on mutual life experiences, some on similar belief systems and some on the simple foundation of a love of all things shoes. And these days, some are IRL and some are SOF (strictly online friend - I think I just made that up).

For the sake of full disclosure, I have ONE Best Friend. I have known her for over 20 years and she has seen me in all my good, bad, ugly, beautiful, sick, elated, sad-beyond-belief and so-excited-I-could-fly glory! And I hers. And we RARELY talk via social media.

On the other hand, I have 190 Facebook Friends. And if I sat down and set up some form of criteria for who and what I truly believe a friend is, I know that this number would decrease significantly. Or at least be divided into categories.

I found this post by Kristen Tennant about the four levels of friendship and I think she does a pretty good job of describing these levels or categories.

Category 4 friends are people you say hello to and maybe stop and chat for a while if you run into them at the cafe or bar. They’re probably friends of yours on Facebook, but if it weren’t for Facebook, they would have almost no clue what’s going on in your day-to-day life.

Category 3 friends encompass a lot of people like co-workers, members of your church or community, the parents of your kids’ friends, and others you see and talk to regularly but don’t necessarily go out of your way to get together with. Every once in a while, you might decide to call them up and see if they want to meet you for lunch, or you might invite them to a big party you’re having, but the expectations of your relationship are low and the interactions are casual.

Category 2 friends can get more complicated, because the relationship is deeper, but the expectations often aren’t clear. They’re your go-to friends when you feel like getting a group of people together on a Saturday night, or you want to go out to dinner to celebrate a birthday, or you feel like inviting someone over for dinner. These are the friends you spend time with once or twice a month, but I also think we keep ourselves (or our hearts?) at a bit of a distance, to protect ourselves from feeling left out, hurt, or disappointed when they don’t come through.

And Category 1 friends? I think I would describe them exactly the way my nine-year-old daughter would: They understand you—they get who you are at your core, which means you can completely be yourself around them, without worrying what they will think. Category 1 friends like to spend time doing the things that you like doing best. And they always want to see you. Whenever you feel the urge to see them, they’re ready and waiting, thrilled to see you if they can possibly make it happen.

Now, no, I am not about to go and categorize everyone on my Facebook page, but I will make the case for having Lists on Twitter and Facebook and deciding how much you want to interact or share with these lists. You can set these criteria in your account privacy and settings pages on both platforms and on Facebook, no one knows when they are added/removed from one of your lists and on Twitter you can make both private and public lists.

How you use social media is of course your prerogative. These are after all your pages and what you do with them is your choice. So if you want to remove me, un-friend me, un-follow or block me from your friend list or your feed because we really are not much more than acquaintances or we have more of a business relationship than a personal one, go ahead, it is OK.

I will not be offended and I will respect your wishes.

And if need be, I generally know how to get in touch with you outside of stalking ...uhm, I mean, social media.

Natasha~

P.S. And now for my favourite song about Facebook by the incredible Kate Miller-Heidke. (WARNING: EXPLICIT LYRICS-NOT FOR THE KIDDIES!!)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0FdR7dEAYU[/youtube]

P.P.S.  I'm BaaaAAAAACK!!!

Photo Credit: Wonderbra Print Ad. 2009. Reza Behnam-photographer.

30 Days of Truth: Day NINE - Someone I did not want to let go, but just drifted.

Today is my day NINE of 30 Days of Truth and it is about someone in my life who has drifted....

She is still around and I see her a lot, but our relationship is not the same.

When we first met it was like we were meant to be forever friends. She looked at me with her beautiful brown eyes and had the most beautiful golden locks and I said to myself--how can I NOT be her friend. She is the most patient being I have ever known and can sit and listen to me for hours. She was (and is) still my most loyal friend.

She stayed by my side every day for two months when I was on bed rest while pregnant with our first child.  She has this weird sixth sense and has always known when I am sad or hurt or in pain and tries her best to comfort me.

We have traveled together and experienced many firsts together. And we have a lot in common. She loves the woods, the mountains and swimming, as do I.

Although she will never be a mommy herself, she has taught me more about nurturing than a lot of others. How to pay attention, to be patient, and most importantly to love unconditionally.

We don't do as much together as we used to. Kids and life in general have taken up more and more of my time. I miss the things we used to do. Going for long walks in the river valley, taking exercise classes together, heading to the mountains for a weekend getaway, and much more.

The thing is, that no matter where my life has taken me, she has always been there for me. Ready to go at a seconds notice, whenever I call. And my kids love her too! She has unending patience with them.

So although our relationship has changed in the six years that I have known her, she is now and has always been so, so dear to my heart. I know our friendship will keep changing and one day we will do more with each other again.

For now, I believe she knows how much I love her still.

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....and really how can I not?  Just look at that face!!

 

My Willow

Lots of love, Natasha~