Back at it.

Fortyish days ago I announced that I would be taking a sabbatical from social media as my Lenten fast.

I did. It’s over. I’m back.

I’d be lying if I told you that I wasn’t feeling ambivalent about diving back into social media or my digital life.

I would also be lying if I told you that I stayed away completely over the course of the Lenten season. The last two weeks were filled with scrolling Instagram at least once a day (all the pretty pictures!) and the occasional tweet. I can tweet with the confidence that very few people will see my tweet, let alone interact with it, unlike Facebook, where I either have too much feedback to respond to or I’m left wondering why no one noticed  my clever status update. It’s crazy making, for all of us. I’ve actually seen people post status updates asking why no one responded to their last one and even asking for a “show of hands” via likes or comment to check in on who is seeing their posts. That’s not a good look for anybody.

Twitter hasn’t been that way for me. I know very few of my scant following personally, and I just don’t find the platform as engaging. So when I chirp out a tweet, it’s kind of like I’m typing my thoughts into the ether. It’s very Zen.

During my fast, I realized that I actually hate Facebook (the only platform I almost entirely avoided during my fast). Unsurprisingly, I recognized it has a really negative impact on my mental and emotional well being. I used to think that when people said things like  “There’s just too much negativity and anger out there on social media,” that they weren’t facing reality, or worse, dismissing the experiences of people with less privilege than they have.

And at some level, I stilll do think that, but, there really is a lot of negativity and anger out there. You can’t take a  casual dip in bad water without walking away feeling a little bit sick.

Unfortunately, Facebook is the platform that affords me the most connection with the people I know IRL. Which, when you live across the country from family and other loved ones, matters. My grandfather passed away two weeks ago, and it was encouraging to see the outpouring of love and support for my family there.

Taking a break also highlighted for me how much I actually enjoy social media. It’s easy for it  to feel like this addictive, somewhat necessary evil. There’s this perspective that social media is sucking away our ability to focus on any one thing from more than five minutes and connect genuinely with others, but it actually can be just a hobby and something to be used for fun.

I haven’t been using it for fun, though. For a long while, I’ve been trying to build “something” with my social media presence, but I haven’t had any direction or purpose beyond attaining followers. Instagram can feel like a game in that way, but even the game of gathering followers gets boring fast.

After this Lenten fast, I still want to build “something”, but I have a clearer vision. I know more about the community I want to build. I can recognize the quality of the work I want to put out into the world.

And I want it to be enjoyable. It needs to be. And it needs to be healthy, which means it might all happen very, very slowly. I  feel like my mind is constantly running through a never-ending to-do list, punctuated by the needs of my toddler. This makes everything feel like it's taking twice as long as it needs to. This is painful for me, but I’m learning that it's a better way of life to go along with the process instead of against it.  It offers me a lot more room to breathe.

But I'm grateful for the opportunity to share my thoughts and my world. And as always, friends, I’m grateful for you. thanks for following along.

IT'S (a)LIVE!

 

I wrote a little bit about race and motherhood and somebody wanted to publish it!

You can find it here on the ParentMap website: https://goo.gl/c1fiLX

 

 

A Good Love- In Celebration of Year Four

Like many girls of my generation; I was raised on a steady diet of rom-coms and teen magazines. 

I had small town, conservative Christian, and traditional Latinx cultures all reminding me that it was best to marry young, and that the greatest and most honorable thing I could ever do was be an excellent mother to my (many) children.

In college, my friends and I would stay up late in the night, fuelled by fantasies of these perfect lives with these perfect men who were strong and handsome and could make us laugh and love Jesus and be loyal and provide for us and our families and and and....

 All the while implicitly developing expectations for ourselves as wives and mothers : beautiful, wonderful homemakers and hostesses, devoid of ambition, desire, and need outside of the ambitions, desires, and needs of our husbands and families.

Eventually, all of my friends got married. So I moved. Admittedly, to find a husband somewhere else. It's all I knew.

By the time I got married, four years after leaving home and four years before today (well, last Thursday, to be exact), I had no real idea of what saying that particular "Yes" would mean.

There were moments when it was brutal; the uncharted territory of trying to learn someone, after two years, I barely knew, the loss of complete control of my own life, the loneliness that gnawed at me still. And, not to be forgotten, the overwhelming fear that because our marriage wasn't "working" the way I was taught it was "supposed" to, that we were failing--that I was failing.

It took another two years and a baby for me to loosen my grip on these things. Well, maybe two and a half years. The first six sleep-deprived months of motherhood made me a raging heap of hormones and paranoia.  But after that things were fine.

I mean, they weren't just magically fine. Maybe for the first time, Ryan and I started functioning as a pair, instead of individuals wrestling over where and how we spent our energy, money, and time. Those resources, obviously, were being gobbled up by our baby.

And we were left behind as two bedraggled, exhausted people somehow able to see, through the spit-up and sweat, each other more clearly.

It took parenthood to make me realize that Ryan wasn't just some prize that I got for being so "good and faithful" and for "saving myself" for marriage, or even a prize for "sticking to my convictions" and "not settling." He suddenly wasn't a prize at all, he was just a human with flaws that are harder to hide without a full night's sleep. Just like me.

I don't think that Ryan would mind me telling you that, for most of his life, he's been fixated on being "perfect", on being exactly what you need him to be, on being "good." He wouldn’t mind because he's open and honest and true. But I never really would have known the extent of that if he didn’t have to give up on being perfect after becoming a father.

In the past two years, I’ve learned more about my husband than any before. He has unconventional (read, generous and un-American) ideas about how to spend our resources and live our lives. He embraces limitations and failures and human-ness, including his own. He has healthy, realistic expectations about life. He’s the most gracious person I know.

And that grace has brought me freedom. Freedom from the expectations I had of marriage and motherhood, expectations of what I should look like and how I should act. Freedom to be funnier and smarter and more skilled than I am beautiful and polished and domestic. Being with Ryan has freed me from the grip of the woman I thought I was supposed to be, and ushered me into the burgeoning fullness of who I am.

 

A good love will do that to you, I suppose.

 

A Small Cry through Angry Tears

The Latino mayor of a city just south of me was physically attacked by one of his residents, the man claiming that he wouldn't let the Mayor bring any more of his "kind, illegals" into "his city".

A middle-aged Latina in Colorado was attacked by two white women simply for daring to live in their neighborhood.

An elderly Mexican man, in his early nineties, was violently beaten with a brick by a black woman and several young black men who shouted obscenities at him and told him to, surprise, surprise, "go back to his own country."

And the latest I've heard was a story shared in church a week ago. A young man, who we'll call Manuel, was a leader in his church in Eastern WA, active with the youth. On their way home for a summer missions trip, the youth group stopped at a McDonald’s in Idaho where Manuel was beaten by a White Supremacist to the point of hospitalization. The last I heard, he was still in the hospital and not doing well.

As I hear more of these stories, I find myself wanting to bear witness to them. Growing up, I was well educated by my family on the existence of racism, the dangers of it, but it was always an isolated evil. “Some People” had it, maybe even most white people had it; but we didn’t think of it as something active and present in our day-to-day lives.

And stories like the ones that I just told, didn’t exist. Well, not in the world created for me by my family. They were sensationalist headlines, stories whispered across a kitchen table, isolated events.

But obviously, they aren’t anymore. And these stories need telling. They need to be grieved with shouts and angry tears, and they need to be stopped. I think growing up, no one told these stories because they were afraid of the monsters they contained, and they believed that eventually these monsters would go extinct. But I’m not and I don’t. With the president happily spewing his hateful rhetoric like gasoline on a dumpster fire, white supremacists, neo-Nazis, skin heads, what have you,  are boldly attacking POC.  And it seems like more than ever, they’re coming after people who look like me.

I don’t live in an active state of fear, but I wonder if sometime soon, I’ll need to. I don’t really worry about my family, but every time I hear stories like the ones I just shared, I think “That could have been someone I love.”

I don’t have a strong, encouraging, rallying message here. I just want these stories to be heard, I want people to be outraged and moved toward action. And that includes me.