Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Life as a Facebook Narcissist

(Previously titled Facebook: Narcissism or Consociation?)

Recently, a Facebook friend of mine posted a comment on her wall about frustration with people who, in her opinion, are plagued with narcissism:

You can tell the people on FB who are narcissistic (i.e. absolutely in love with themselves) by the number of photos they post OF THEMSELVES!! LMAO! People, we know what you look like. 200 photos showing the same damn thing (YOU) is not interesting or exciting! SMDH!
I don't think that the post was directed at me, but after reading it, I started thinking about this and paused slightly to consider whether my posts were reflecting narcissistic behaviors. Let me say that I work in marketing and have several Facebook profiles that I maintain, so for the purposes of this blog, I am specifically talking about my personal page. 

I love the consociation created by Facebook. I love everything about the friendly connections created and often check the status of friends daily. My favorite thing about Facebook is that it allows people to stay in touch with those who don't get to connect daily. The name "Facebook" in itself describes the point of it all. Seeing photos of "faces" is a joy and gives me great pleasure. I thoroughly enjoy friends who post photos of their children as it allows me to reflect on how much they have grown. My daughter lives over 500 miles away with her dad for a school year. Her step-mom posts pics regularly so that I can feel included in her daily activities. 

Obviously, the point of my friend's post was that people love posting pics of themselves. Lots and lots of pics of themselves. She went on to say in an added comment:
. . . I just don't feel the need to take hundreds of photos of myself & slap them all over my FB profile. It comes across as self-absorbed & narcissistic, and contrary to what the poster may think, it makes for a highly uninteresting FB profile.
While I completely get her point. I find it funny that she has been my one Facebook friend that I have longed to see in photos. You see, this friend is a reconnect from my high school years. When I first got the friend request, I'll be honest in saying that I couldn't quite remember the connection. I ran to look her up in our 1987 yearbook and had that "aha" moment: "Oh yeah, I remember her". I accepted the friend request, excited to see what she'd been up to. I wanted to see what she looked like, not because I'm shallow, but because I was genuinely interested in her life as an adult. At the time, I couldn't find one face photo of her. Every profile pic, had a lion in the place of her face. I thought, "ok, she is a private person". We have been friends on Facebook for a couple of years, and very rarely do I see her face on Facebook. I will say that she is a very interesting person, probably the most interesting of my fb friends. She is well traveled and wise beyond her years. She has a motivational fb page that allows her to share uplifting quotes and tips on living. I have noticed in some of her posts that she has a healthy amount of self love, but I would delight in seeing more of her face. While I appreciate her love for the lion species, it makes me want to say "you are a beautiful woman, stop hiding behind the lioness!" 

When I see photos of others smiling, it makes me smile. Seeing people happy, makes me happy. When I read posts of my friends going through a rough time, it makes me pause and say a prayer. I checked my own profile, and definitely fit my friend's depiction of a narcissistic person, if you go purely based on the pics posted. I'll accept that label. I even noticed that my blog has a slide show of pics of me with my family. Geez - maybe I need therapy! I'm probably not going to change because I know that my family and some  friends get the same joy that I get from their photos.  

What do you think? Do you consider yourself narcissistic?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Going International

I'm honored to represent Holiday Lanes in the December 2011 issue of INTERNATIONAL BOWLING INDUSTRY MAGAZINE.

Flip to pages 21 - 26 to read more about my super fun job as Marketing Director for Holiday Lanes in Bossier City, Louisiana.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Homecoming Tradition: Mum's the Word

For any of you that know me personally, you already know that my daughter, Laura, is spending this school year with her dad in Kansas. Although I miss her tremendously, I am happy that she is able to spend time with her family there and still be strong in her self knowing that I love her and am OK with her being apart from me.

I received a text saying they don't have the traditional "homecoming mum" corsages in Kansas. My first reaction was "what the heck?!". I've been looking forward to making her homecoming mum for years. The tradition is apparently a Southern thing. The mum is the Pièce de résistance to many Southern girl's homecoming outfits. Typically, the bigger and gaudier, the better.

A homecoming mum consists of the center flower, which can be live or made of silk, three to four feet of streamers with cowbells, ribbons, footballs, and symbolic trinkets relating to the school mascot. Add to the streamers, the name of the person wearing the mum, and their date(if they have one) with stick-on sparkly letters and the mum is complete. Some add plush animals and battery operated light strands to make it as unique as possible. Homecoming mums can be quite expensive. Some pay upwards of $100 for an arrangement that is sometimes bigger than the girl wearing it. In my town, you can even purchase pre-made pieces to add to your corsages at the corner grocery store.

This made me start thinking about homecoming in general.
My first homecoming was at LaGrange Senior High School, freshman year. I still remember the night like it was yesterday. I remember standing in my front yard taking photos with my date - David, and my friends, Rachel, Mike, Chris & Lonnelle. This was before it was popular to have limos for homecoming, but for some reason I can't remember how we got to the dance. I do remember what I wore and being so nervous about my hair and make-up. Back in "the day", girls wore suits with skirt, jacket and hat. I had a charcoal grey suit with subtle pin stripes and of course the high neck frilly shirt. I remember the smells and the night air. I can still hear "Total Eclipse of the Heart" as we danced the night away. When I got home, I put my mum with the purple and white streamers in a clear box and packed it away with all of my other keepsakes. Can you believe I still have that mum somewhere in my attic?

The thought of my daughter not having a homecoming mum makes me sad. I have made several mums over the years for my son's dates, and for friends who didn't have it in them to make or buy one of their own. I have hot glue scars that will never go away. I proudly count them as motherly war wounds. The rug in my living room is set at an angle and one corner secretly hides a blob of homecoming mum hot glue under my couch. Not only is the homecoming mum an integral part of every Southern girl's homecoming wardrobe, it is also a bragging right of mothers throughout Louisiana and other Southern states.

I wish I had thought about making one sooner to mail to Laura. It might have been therapeutic and who knows, maybe Laura could have started a little Southern trend in Kansas. I'm afraid I may have waited too long. Shhh, Mums the word!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Reflecting on my Son

My son, Chase, goes back to college this Saturday to begin his second semester. As I reflect on the past 19 years I am astounded at how quickly it went.

It seems like yesterday when I walked him into Mrs. Fajardo's kindergarten classroom. I remember how grown I thought he was that day. He was happy to start school, while it took everything in me to hold back the tears until I got to the parking lot. That day long ago has been on my mind all week. Each time that I see a little boy, it makes me gasp at how quickly my time with Chase went.

Watching my child grow into a man gives me great honor in being his mom. I know that while I played a part in his upbringing, I can't take all the credit. My parents and sister had a large influence in his life. The bond that he has with my dad is oak strong. There have been many people in our life that have contributed to the man Chase has become. Mr. Brian - his Sunday School teacher, Bro. Barry - our former pastor, his high school history teacher, along with a slew of friends and family. All of these people have lent their time to be a piece of the fabric of his life.

Chase is my oldest child and as a first child myself, I've always felt like I identified with him on many levels. My biggest hope was that he would be nothing like me. I was always introverted and hard on myself. I tried to please everyone and wanted to do everything perfectly. As I observe Chase, I see many of those traits that I had hoped would escape him. But, after thinking about it, I've realized that those traits are also what gives him tremendous compassion for others. It gives him drive to reach goals and it helps him to be humble. While Chase may be a lot like me, his individuality shines. His intellect far surpasses my own and he has a sense of loyalty and honesty that is rare today. His heart and soul shines with a funny mix of sarcasm and wit that balances out the seriousness that he carries. I respect Chase for rising to meet new challenges. He didn't always have any easy time. There were times that I made poor choices for him. Our family unit wasn't always a healthy place to be, but Chase didn't use that as an excuse. He used it to become stronger. His inner strength pushed him to rise above. My heart bursts with pride in knowing that he is a young man of solid character.

Reflecting on my son fills me with pride, happiness, love and hope for his future.

Thank you Chase for being an awesome son!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

What started as an experiment . . .

Social media is so much fun and consumes a large part of my life. The list of sites that I have joined is extensive. I am a fan of the obvious Facebook, Twitter, Four Square, GetGlue, and of course the latest, Google+. I often hear people voice worry over the idea of "checking in" on these sites. I've been warned about the dangers of home theft and of course stalking issues. I can't say that it's ever deterred me from earning my Four Square badges or loyalty discounts.

A few weeks ago, my daughter's step-mom, Nicole (who happens to be my friend), invited me to spend a week of "girl-time" on the beautiful beaches of Florida for some relaxation time. I really wanted to go, but did not commit. The girls arrived in Florida on Monday and each day they begged me to come. I continued to say no. Since my daughter had left the week before to spend a school year with her Dad and Nicole, I really started missing her. I decided that I would show up as a surprise. I did not know where the girls were staying in Florida, but if I asked for directions it would spoil the surprise. I noticed on Nicole's Facebook page that she checked in when they arrived at the beach. The check-in even included a map. It made me wonder if I would be able to find them on the beach based on the check-in. So, my experiment began.

I hit the road on Friday morning using the check-in location to plug into my iPhone Google Map. 9 hours and some minutes later I arrived in Ft. Walton Beach. I pulled into one of the condo parking lots on the Santa Rosa Boulevard and walked out to the beach. Using a photo that my daughter had taken earlier in the day of her sister, I was able to find the condo building by matching the balcony similarities. I knew that I would find them on the balcony because I called a few minutes before my arrival and was told they were enjoying the view. The first thing that I did was post a picture on my Facebook wall of the beach with a caption "I love the beach" and tagged both Nicole and my daughter, Laura. After a few highly anticipated seconds I had no response. Can you imagine . . . seconds going by with no response on a Facebook post? (HA!) It took me about 5 minutes to spot my daughter on the seventh floor balcony. Yelling her name from the white sands below, she waved back at me like it was no big deal.

Within seconds she realized it was me and let out a "Mommy!" that made me happy that I had made the drive. She ran, no I think she flew, down the stairs within a matter of seconds and literally knocked me to the ground with a hug. She almost made me drop the bottle of wine that I had brought for Nicole from a Louisiana vineyard. That would not have been good!

As I was talking with a very shocked Nicole, we both were not sure if we should be happy that I found them or a little bit scared. Although social media is hip and cool or whatever the "in" word might be, I guess the value of the "check-in" is one to be considered carefully. I knew that I could have just as easily found the girls by making a phone call, but it was so much more fun to drive across several states thinking of ways to surprise them. I spent the week sunning in the beautiful 91 degree weather, while reading tweets and posts about the 107 degree heat back at home. It was a great girls week that started as a fun experiment.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Groovin' Girlies

I am not a fitness fanatic. I am not an exercising enthusiast. I am not a healthy habitue'. What I am is a lazy lady who likes food. Now, don't get me wrong, I want to make better choices. I just seem to always find something better to do when it comes time to get my body moving.

I decided this week that I'm going to once again try to get into shape. My first step was to join the Presidential Challenge. The Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) is a six week challenge that is supposed to help you add activity to your life, and reward you when you do. I'm hoping this will keep me motivated. My daughter Laura has committed to join me in this adventure. To be honest, she is better about motivating me than anyone else. We started our challenge last night. We set up our login online, invited a few friends to join our group: "Groovin' Girlies" and logged our first days worth of activity. We were instantly rewarded with a gold spoke on the first week's star. One spoke down, four more to go this week.

Along with this commitment to exercise, I'm hoping to change my eating habits. I have struggled with my weight for years and know that if I ate right, my struggle would be over. I am determined that I won't give up this time.

Do you want to join me in this challenge? All it takes is making the first step. Join my group and perhaps we can stay motivated together. If you don't have an account, create a free account at http://www.presidentschallenge.org/, choose which challenge you want to participate in, and look up our group in the activity tracker using the group number below.

Group Number: 100707
Group Name: Groovin' Girlies

They say if you do something for 21 days that it turns into a habit. Let's hope I make this a habit.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Shades of Gray

Some people have a very "black and white" idea of the world . . . They see "right or wrong", "yes or no", "good or bad", "liberal or conservative". In many cases, there is no room for shades of gray. I appreciate other opinions and gain both intrigue and wisdom by listening to differing points of view. As I get older, I find that my range of gray is expanding. Where I once was set on certain principals and thoughts, I have learned that sometimes I gain more respect of other people by just opening my ears. Now, that doesn't mean I've shed my core values and beliefs. It just means that I'm open to the possibility that my opinion isn't the only right answer.

I was reared in a time when it was advised not to speak politics, religion or money. I always thought it was because it was nobody's business to know how you feel about these things. Now I clearly understand that it was because these topics electrify conversations and cause division between people. It is very dangerous when people believe that their way is the "only" way. Not only does it cause division, but in many cases it causes hatred and violence. Judgement and condescension breeds an unhealthy approach between seemingly sensible humans.

I don't know the answers to life's questions. I don't know who is going to heaven. I don't know who makes the best political candidates. I DO know that when I allow shades of gray into my thought process, I am more likely to find bits of knowledge that help me become more patient and kind to others. At the end of my life, I'd rather people remember me for being gracious and accepting, rather than bitter and close-minded.

So anyway, that was on my mind today,

Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you become "fools" so that you may become wise.
- 1 Corinthians 3:18

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Women who challenge me - part 2

I feel bad telling people no. Even harder is to tell people what I want or need. So . . . I rarely do. I like doing for others and find satisfaction in making people happy. Yes, just call me "Ms. Pleaser." Sometimes, I have let this issue affect my life by making myself miserable, so that someone else can be happy. I've had friends and family tell me to stand up for myself, but I just assumed that it's one thing that I would have to figure out on my own.

For the past year or so, I found myself floundering about my future. I left a job that I loved and was trying to figure out what to do for the rest of my life. (One would think that by age 40 I would know by now. NOPE!) I was having an internal conflict. I knew what I wanted, but I couldn't verbalize it for fear of no longer being "Ms. Pleaser."

I was working as the Marketing Maven for the bowling center, but wasn't feeling it. I wasn't meshing in the environment. In the process, I was not pleasing myself or anyone else. I confronted my boss, Melanie, and she said something to me that, although I heard, I didn't process until later. She said: "You won't get what you want until you say what you want out-loud. No one knows what you want if you don't even know yourself. Don't worry if you don't feel deserving, let it be OK to get something that you don't deserve." Now, she communicated it much better than that. I'm paraphrasing because I can't for the life of me remember the exact words she used. (Maybe I should also work on my listening skills)

I worked for another couple of months for Melanie and then decided that I needed to find an environment better suited for me. I was fortunate enough to find a job at a local church. I've always felt that church work was the perfect place for me. It makes me want to be a better person. I enjoy helping people and the church has many avenues in which to do so. It was a month before I started working at the church and within the first few days, I knew I had made the wrong choice. It wasn't the right fit. But at that moment I knew that I had come to that place in my life where I had to please myself and no one else. Oh boy, this was going to be hard. I remembered the words Melanie told me. I had to say what I wanted and be OK with it. The hard part was telling my new boss at the church, after only a week, that I was quitting. I felt like I let him down in a big way. For a "pleaser", this was torture. It wasn't just the fact that I let him down, but that I was a quitter too. Ugh!!

In my conversations with Melanie, I verbalized exactly what I wanted. I wanted to work from a home office and be able to work on a schedule that allowed me to be more creative and more effective as her Marketing Maven. She took me back and since that time, I am no longer floundering. I have not looked at online job opportunities. I am as happy as a lark! I have exceeded my ability to be creative in ways that I didn't know that I could. I've actually started learning to say no to the things that I can't handle. It feels great! And on the days when I think I'm not deserving, I stop and think about what she said: "Let it be OK to get something you don't deserve".

I don't think I can ever express how much Melanie challenged me. (In a good way!) I am ever grateful for her outlook on life, work and fun. She encourages me to do the best work and brings out my full potential. Thanks Melanie - you have made a great impact on my life!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

An unexpected BFF

I just returned from spending a week in Kansas. My daughter and I stayed in the home of Tom and Nicole: Tom, the man that I lived with for ten years, seven of which he was my husband; and Nicole, the woman he is now married to, along with their two children.

There are certain ideas about friendship that seem to be unwritten rules for society. One rule is that you are supposed to hate your ex-husband's wife. She's supposed to be the nasty step-mother to your children and the point of contention for many of your own inadequacies. This rule just makes it easier for you to say mean things and feel better about your pathetic self.

I guess I'm just not a rule follower, because I have found an unexpected friendship with my ex's wife, Nicole. She is one of the most awesome people that I know. Nicole is one of those people that is so full of love that you just can't help but love her back.

As I was planning the trip, I had every intention of staying in a hotel. I thought it would be best for my daughter, Laura, to spend her Spring Break with Tom's family without me there; not to mention it was just a little weird. Immediately, Nicole would not hear of it. She tried to convince me that she wanted me there because she was homesick for friends. She was excited about the idea of having someone to hang out with who was over the age of four years old. At first I said "no", stuck by my guns and even spent time on Priceline.com looking for an affordable hotel. Then Laura participated in a beauty pageant. I spent a little more money than I budgeted because it was just so darn fun to see her all "beauty'd" up. And then . . . gas prices!! Gee Wiz, they went up to $3.60 per gallon. Definitely a factor that I hadn't planned three months ago. So I broke down and decided that I would stay in their home. Apprehension dissolved as soon as I walked in the door. Tom and Nicole welcomed me into their home and showed me a great time.

Part of the trip was to acquaint Laura with her new school. Laura will be living with Tom & Nicole for her freshman year of high school. While I'm supportive of this decision, I wasn't sure I was going to like the idea of my baby living so far away from me for a whole school year. Nicole, Laura and I visited her new school and it was fabulous. The school is like a mini-college, with many wonderful academic opportunities. Now I'm not sure how I'm going to get Laura to come back home. In fact, it made me want to go back to school just so I can go there too.

A highlight of the trip was the fact that it overlapped with April Fool's Day. Nicole and I pulled off a hilarious joke on Tom. We told him that I was going to move back to Kansas, live in their basement for six months to a year, all on his dime. We were both surprised when he was ok with it. We had to push the envelope and say some really crazy things before he started to squirm. Nicole and I laughed until we cried. That sure told me that we were great friends!

My favorite experience from my stay was the love that I found in their home. I instantly fell in love with Nicole's two girls. I already had somewhat of a relationship with them, but this trip made me confused about who they are to me. I now have feelings for these two babies that I can't really quantify. I'm not going to even try. Love is love, no matter who the person is. This morning when I woke up in my own bed, I missed the sounds of Rebecca singing and Natalie getting ready for school.

I'm so happy that I had the chance to stay for a whole week in their home. It gave me a chance to see that Tom and Nicole are the perfect match for each other. And let me say, for anyone who knew Tom when we were married, this is not a bad thing. Tom has grown into a wonderful new man and only the shell remains of who he was when we were together (with a touch of the old passive aggressive behaviors - haha!). Nicole has done for him what I always wanted to do but couldn't. She has shown him what love in a family means. He is a great dad to his girls and a wonderful husband to Nicole. This was great to see and helps me move passed some of the anger that I've held for too long. One day, I'll be able to let go of it all and until then, hopefully trips like this will help.

Obviously, when I first knew of Nicole, I didn't want to like her, but it didn't take long for me to see the character of this woman. She loved my daughter so much that she wouldn't let me "not" like her. Within a couple of years, we tolerated each other. Another year and I really liked her a lot. I used to tell my friends that if she wasn't married to my ex-husband, I think we could be really good friends. After five or six years, it was at a point where I could say that we were really good friends, even though she was married to my ex-husband. During this week, my friendship with Nicole grew to a new level. And I can now say that I have found an unexpected BFF in Nicole.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Women who challenge me - part 1

I've always been a shy gal. I grew up hiding behind my mom and grandma's legs. As an adult I've struggled over the years with my shyness. Friends who get to know me find this hard to believe. After you get to know me, I'm anything but shy. In fact, friends laugh at the thought.

My early adult years were especially hard. I remember taking months to renew my drivers license because I would have to speak to someone at the counter. I was kind of a loner and often found myself eating lunch in my car so I wouldnt have to eat alone in the presence of others. In my mid-thirty's I decided that I'd had enough. I was assigned as a co-writer on a technical rule book committee. Afterward, I found myself as a trainer implementing the rules in training classes to railroad men. My fear of public speaking was tremendous. My face would get red, I couldn't breathe, and hives spread across my neck. But with this new assignment, I knew I'd have to overcome. I attended a workshop given by an awesome lady, Julie Hile. Julie knew exactly what I needed to get me motivated. She was a fabulous coach and to this day I still find myself thinking about some of the techniques that she introduced to me. Julie empowered me to look beyond my fears and I was able to facilitate many training classes In the years to come.

I'm still frightened to get in front of a group, but each time that I do I gain more confidence. Julie helped me turn a corner in my life. Not only did she help me gain self-assuredness, but she helped me see my potential for future career opportunities. I'm not sure if Julie knows how much she impacted my life. I am truly thankful for Julie, who challenged me to face my shyness.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Still thinking . . .

Haven't started my blog just yet. I'm formulating my thoughts because they are sometimes quite random. It is a bit revealing to let people read and comment on a blog. There is that fine line between "interesting" and "too much information". I definitely want to stay in the "interesting" category.

I do have a blog that focuses on my time as a volunteer Bossier Chamber of Commerce Diplomat. It basically celebrates and promotes businesses in the Bossier and Shreveport Community. Take a look