The Day After (the debate debacle)

Big Bird debuts in Afghanistan.

I went to bed feeling like I’d been at a funeral. (Or an awkward 30th high school reunion.)

Still, it was great to see old faces… all those friends who came out of the woodwork to chat on Facebook–some that I haven’t seen or spoken to in decades.

Did democracy just die?

Did you feel it too?

Thank God for Twitter!

Many of us were able to cut the pain with laughter.

But even the snark evaporated as the agonizing hour passed, and the Twitterers fell asleep.

“Wait,” I typed, “He’ll bring it home.”

But he didn’t.

He still has time.

I woke feeling differently.

Not about Obama or Romney, but about us.

About the election.

Maybe about democracy?

Forget t.v. ratings, but if Obama had been the clear winner, my Republican voting friends who came across the aisle to talk to me on Facebook would be discouraged; and those of us who support the Democratic choice, would lose what little edge we still have.

If nothing else, that debacle made us desperate for “human” contact–of any party.

The absence of charismatic leadership or  at least political entertainment forced us to rely on each other. And Big Bird.

(Can you believe he combined Big Bird and Lehrer in one sentence? Or that he gave the same schoolgirl, “I like you,” to something as considerable as Green Power?)

Honestly, these debates don’t mean much to me and not because I’ve “given up on politics,” but because I know the difference. I know the taste of pure water.

And it’s not Obama.

And it’s certainly not Mitt Romney.

(I couldn’t follow either of them, and I have a college degree.)

Though the jaded say there’s no difference between the parties or their candidates, those who struggle know that’s not true. And if you’re too comfortable to feel the difference, ask your friends around the world… especially in the places where humanity is really hurting.

Maybe this debate wasn’t such a disaster after all, or maybe it was the disaster we needed.

Kelly Salasin, the day after, October 4, 2012

(And may both candidates refrain from using any further anecdotes about that “woman” they met in…  and hey,  if you are that “woman,” please stop talking to them.)

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On the Difference between Facebook & Twitter; and the Vitality of Social Media

The “feel” of Twitter (Renoir/visipix.com)

This quote from author/speaker/teacher Marianne Williamson sums up the greater meaning of the social media explosion around the world for me~ “It is not only our interconnectedness technologically that promises to shift the world we live in, but our interconnectedness humanly and spiritually.”

Erik Qualman, the author of “Socialnomics,” shares a statistic that points to the triumphant human need for “belonging”:  Social Media has overtaken porn as the #1 activity on the Web.

For those doubting the importance of this connection, he also adds, “We don’t have a choice on whether we DO social media, the question is how well we DO it.”

Aren’t Facebook and Twitter the same kind of thing?

It’s true that Facebook & Twitter ARE both forms of “social media,” but they are used quite differently for different purposes.

10 distinctions between Twitter and Facebook

1. You can only use up to 140 characters on Twitter for each post.

2. You don’t have “friends,” you have “followers.”

3. You can generally “follow” anyone you want without approval.

eg. I follow a mom of 3 in Israel who is a chiropractor.  (As mothers, we both use the “FlyLady” system to maintain household sanity.)

4. Twitter users can check out live conversations on ANY topic by using the search feature.

5. Twitter users can create their own topics of conversation by using a “hashtag” at the end of each post.

eg. On Tuesday mornings I sometimes participate in an informal poetry group by searching the hashtag “#poettues and then using that same hashtag at the end of each of my responding posts.  In this way, the participants posts are grouped together.  (FYI: Tuesday morning’s poetry conversation is moderated by a very friendly poet at Writers Digest–and everyone is welcome–see #10 below.)  Other conversations may occur spontaneously or as scheduled events on Twitter.  I once participated in an “#ideaparty” where folks who studied with author/presenter Barbara Sher’s “Wishcraft” helped those of us in need with all kinds of ideas and connections.

6. While Facebook can be experienced as an ongoing friends & family reunion, Twitter is more like stopping in at a lively cafe, filled with familiar and new faces–talking about new and familiar topics.

7. I primarily use Facebook for more personal connections though  I do share “my work” and I do  “network” with my Facebook “friends”–for personal and business needs–even attracting clients.

The vibrant learning community of Twitter (Canaletto II/visipix.com)

8. Twitter has been a place of networking too–but more with colleagues than with friends and family. It’s also been a tremendous place of learning for me with the latest news from individuals and organizations; and with the latest information– and leads–in each of my areas of interest–from parenting to publishing, and everything in between.

eg. This week, I noticed great tidbits of information (and links) on the topic of social media for authors.  Each of these posts had the same hashtag: “#bea.”  I discovered that #bea stood for BookExpo America so I did a Twitter “search” with that hashtag and followed hundreds of live Tweets from the event in New York City.  From there I was able to add interesting publishers, agents and writers to my list of follows so that I can keep abreast of their work in the future. Additionally, I discovered a related hashtag of “#armchairBEA” which was made up of people like me who couldn’t be at BookExpo America in person, but who wanted to follow and participate in all it had to offer. You probably have a sense already of how quickly learning and networking becomes exponential on Twitter.

A seat for all on Twitter (Steen/visipix.com)

9. Because Twitter has a cafe feeling about it, there’s little if any social responsibility to “show up” or “respond” to others. Many people have hundreds, if not thousands of followers, so expecting a personal response is far fetched.

That said, I have developed treasured friendships on Twitter and have had enjoyed exchanges with well-known authors and the like–which brings me to that which I love most about it:

10. On Twitter, everyone has a seat at the table.  And those who come with the biggest purses (of information and love)–are very, very generous.

Click here to follow me on Twitter.

Hope to see you there!

REST!

by Kelly Salasin

Home sickI’ve been called to write for days, but excepting posts on Facebook & Twitter, I’ve rebuked the call. “I don’t feel good and don’t want to write,” I hiss at my muse, but the pressing doesn’t stop.

The truth is that I know I’m on the cusp of recovery because last night I moaned and complained “about” being sick (as opposed to just being sick)—and this morning, I’m ranting and raving about it. “I’m DONE!” every impatience screams.

The older I get, the more I sense that illness is a rehearsal for dying. In fact, I can apply Kubler-Ross’s stages to my simple case of strep:

DISBELIEF-Sore throat? I just got over the flu last week!

DENIAL-I’ll just have an extra big glass of wine.

BARGAINING- I promise to rest tomorrow.

GUILT-Wow, I shouldn’t have gone to that baseball game, gallery walk, the cow parade, that party…

ACCEPTANCE-I WILL stay in bed until I’m better!

DEPRESSION- I can’t do this anymore. I’m tired of feeling terrible.

ANGER-Enough already!!!

Actually, the idea of the stages is that they’re supposed to “end” with acceptance and hope—not with anger– which is where I’m stuck. Needing to ‘reorder’ myself brings me to this morning’s reluctant writing as I add another pillow behind my neck as an olive leaf toward  surrender.

Birth is the other metaphor that comes to my mind during illness. And certainly we cycle thru the same stages during labor. I remember that exact moment of despair in the eleventh hour just before my son was born—which itself lends “hope” that there is something ready to be born in this week-long labor too.

There was once a gift born of a single virulent summer flu that I’ll never forget. As the fever burned through me, I came to the realization that I needed to leave my new job. I resigned there right from our plaid couch with great clarity and peace of mind.  In exchange, I finally conceived our second son that fall.

I have no job to resign now—but maybe that, in and of itself, is what requires my resignation.

My dreams this feverish week have been plenty. One found me removing an outgrown child’s sweater from my closet. Woolen and pale, it hung misshapen with moth eaten holes throughout.

Days later, this rich image continues to speak to me. First it tells me of the winding down of my role as mother to young children. At 13, my oldest graduates this week from elementary school and my youngest, at 8, has begun the bittersweet dance of moving both toward and away from me.

In another dream that same fitful night, my chest of belongings is destroyed by fire and all the letters that I was to read for my memoir are gone. The next day, in “real” time, I find out that my great Aunt Sue has died—one of the last vestiges of my magical childhood at the ocean.  This dream of loss continues to burn in my heart.

Perhaps it was Aunt Sue then, who came the night of her death in my most comforting dream of that evening—delivering delicate skeins of just spun yarn in brilliant hues—placing the soft pile of color on the bookshelves that surrounded me.

“Let things come,” is the quote that serves me of late-  which itself “came” on a bag of green tea. Quotes arrive like friends, emissaries of light, and stay—sometimes for days or even weeks, but never as long as this one–which has continued to teach me through the seasons.

“Let things COME,” I breathe deeply, resisting my urge to strive. I have been striving for as long as I can remember. I see myself as a character in one of those war torn films where a scrappy youth survives the odds by her own tenacity.

In The Empire of the Sun, a young boy makes it through bombings, refugee camps, exile and war’s end surviving by the dogged persistence of his spirit and will. As a Social Studies teacher, I used this film every year, and each time I felt the closing scene in my bones.

Finally reunited with his parents (against all odds), the boy-turned young man–falls into his mother’s arms and finally, FINALLY, closes his eyes.

This DEEP need for “rest” is one that screamed out at me just a few years back when I left my roles in education to take a three-month writing sabbatical. A few years before that, I met “Rest”, face-to-face, in the ending of my mother’s life. The deep exhale of her travail permeated the house as she left her wrecked body.

Why do we “work” so hard at living, I wonder? What is that for which we “strive”? Are illness–and ultimately death–the only ways to truly surrender to our deep need for rest?

“When the world is too much with me,” sings Wordsworth and poets through the ages. No matter how enlightened we may be, we are not spared this weariness. Even Jesus on the cross moans, “My God, my God, why hath thou forsaken me!”

My ultimate rest is dreamed inside a mother’s fleshy arms, warm and brown–my head on my husband’s chest–just like it was last night with our boys wrapped around us.

One cannot force a birth–at least not from home–for the hour of telling–is it a boy or a girl–must come of its own accord. And thus, I wait—and hope—to know what it is hath come of this week’s suffering and surrender.

Now knowing, that if nothing else, the scene of my family in my bed–like a renaissance artist’s rendering- is worth this tiny rehearsal of death.

And remembering too, when in her last weeks in a home re-filled with family, I asked my mother, “Don’t you hate lying here in bed; waiting for someone to get what you want?” To which she responded with the smile of one who has loved 7 siblings, 9 children, 4 dogs and 2 husbands:  “No Kelly, I kind of like it.”

Maybe that’s the whole point of these striving lives we lead… so much are we in need of rest–that whenever our time comes–we’re ready.

in memory of Sue Ramagosa, in her eternal rest & rebirth