Putting On a Happy Face

Recently, I posted something slightly negative on my Facebook page.

Feeling really grouchy & irritable today. You know, more so than usual. Thinkin’ it’s a good day to keep my head down and buried in work.

A friend responded.

Oh, dear – and you seemed so happy yesterday! Hoping it’s a temporary grouchiness and you’re already feeling better. <hugs>

Seeing that post really did help. Those virtual hugs aren’t just data. They’re emotion.

And that emotion that transmits via social media is why I’m generally careful about what I post. There’s research that indicates mood spreads via Facebook (check it out here), and I have no desire to add to the negativity in the world so I put on a happy face. I do the same thing at work, most of the time. I smile. Pretend I’m not hurting. Pretend everything is OK. And I bet others do the same thing. Does that give others a skewed view of our true selves? Probably. Does it serve a purpose to share those darker feelings? Maybe. Probably depends on why you share your darker feelings.

The reality is, my 18 year old daughter ripped my heart out about a year ago, days after she graduated from high school. Recently, I’ve seen pictures on Facebook of prom and posts about senior events and graduation. Those memories will forever be tainted for me, because they feel like a lie (yeah, yeah. I know they weren’t truly a lie. But they FEEL that way). On top of that, we had to have our 13 year old yellow lab put down last month. And now it looks like we’re going to have to have our 14 year old miniature schnauzer put down, likely on Saturday. If, that is, I can bring myself to make the phone call.

So, no, I’ve not been happy. I’m hurting and angry and disappointed and frustrated. But that’s OK. Those feelings are natural, legitimate feelings. We should not be afraid to share them with others, but neither should we let those feelings wrap their tendrils around every aspect of our lives. Do your 500 friends on F/B need to know that you’re feeling a little down today? No. But a quick post to let people know how you’re feeling is OK. Maybe you’ll even get a virtual hug that makes you feel better.

But remember that there is life outside of Facebook.

Acknowledge the feelings.

And then practice a little self-compassion.

 

 

Throwback Thursday #TBT: 8th grade graduation gate album

Here’s a post about the gate album I made for my daughter’s 8th grade graduation. Enjoy!

One of my hobbies is scrapbooking, which dovetails nicely with my love of writing. Those are two things I can do that really get my juices flowing. Over the weekend, I worked on a gate album to commemorate my daughter’s 8th grade graduation. I thought I’d share, since this is a project I’m especially proud of.

1. Pick your pictures. Just pick the good ones. The not so good ones can go into your regular album, but you want a special album like a gate album to shine. By saying good pics, I don’t mean just those that are perfectly composed & lit – I mean those that mean something, those that bring back memories.

2. Pick a color scheme based on your photos or your theme. My album was celebrating my daughter graduating from 8th grade and going into high school, so I went with the high school’s colors – green and black – and added pops of pink and yellow to accent. I let my daughter pick most of the papers since this is her album.

3. Choose your base. I’ve been on a tree hugger kick lately (not sure what’s up with that, but last week I stopped twice to help box turtles across the road), and decided that recycled materials would be good. We still use old fashioned telephone message pads at work, so I started saving the backs of them. It’s like chipboard, basically, about 4 1/4″ x 5″ or something like that. I mounted 4 of them to cardstock (or mounted the cardstock to them. Six of one, half-dozen of the other.) to use as the base, then I built up from there, using 2 across for some pages and 2 stacked atop one another for others. Just remember to trim your pages that are not the base to allow for binding.

4. Scrap each page, leaving room along the outer edges for binding.

5. Bind the outer edge of the album using whatever method you prefer. Personally, I like the Zutter Bind-It-All, but you could also hole punch holes then use yarn or ribbon to tie your pages together. You could also use jump rings through the holes. The reason I like the Zutter binding¬† is that it is easy to use, easy to turn, and is sturdy. Another note: if you use the Bind-it-All (or some other binder), flip your pages so that the album back is at the front when you bind, so that your rings will be “clean” on the outside and the rough binding wire will be concealed inside your album. If you’re not sure what I mean, email me and I’ll send detailed instructions.

And here are a couple of images:

The front of the album (which is actually 2 half pages):

And here’s one of the inside pages:

Thanks for looking – and let me know what creative projects you’re working on.

Empty Nest: Is this really happening?

Lori at Lake Minnetonka

Lori at Lake Minnetonka

Although there’s a ton of information out there for Empty Nesters, there’s very little info about Sudden Onset Empty Nest (more commonly known as What-the-Hell-Just-Happened). For those of us who had a teenager leave home with no warning – and, really, if you were planning to move out, wouldn’t you take clean undies? – it’s not all happy and cheery and cause for celebration. It’s horrible. Like your heart was ripped out, suddenly and with no drugs. Really, drugs should be involved in this. At least a good dose of happy gas.¬† Your first thought will be, no way, is this really happening?

Yes, it’s happening.

And there’s not a damned thing you can do about it. Unless your kid is young enough that you can drag him/her home.

So, how do you cope?

You get through it, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. Keep Kleenexes handy. Eat well (peanut butter ice cream is a mood enhancer). Exercise (nothing beats doing lunges until your thighs are on fire to get your mind off things). Take care of yourself. After all, you can’t control what your of-age child does, but you can control your response.

There aren’t many resources out there for those whose teenagers move out unexpectedly. I found an interesting blog post, which you can read here. Not the same situation, but similar in ways. And like this mom, I’m not going to go into the details. Suffice it to say, I thought my kiddo and I had a great relationship. <SHRUG> Obviously, I was wrong. I have the same fears this mom did. Will she be okay? Have I prepared her for life on her own? Yeah, yeah . . . I know. I did the best I could for the past 18 years.¬† And I was kinda looking forward to the Empty Nest. Just expected it to be coupled with happiness instead of grief. Maybe it would help to have a name. Sudden Onset Empty Nest? Acute Empty Nest Syndrome? Abandoned Nest Syndrome? Flown the Coop? I’ll have to think on that for a bit.

Your turn. What do you call it when Empty Nest Syndrome doesn’t fit the bill? Any tips for coping?