Monday, April 27, 2015

Military Monday: That Time of Year

Make new friends,
But keep the old,
One is silver- 
and the other gold. 

Yes, it's that time of year again. The posting messages are out, the houses are on the market, and the house hunting trips are booked.

April in the military is not just about new beginnings--not just spring and newness and fresh air. April is the time when the realization starts to hit that this too must come to an end. And when the emotional roller-coaster starts it's trek uphill for both the leavers and the left.

There are two sides of each move and, depending on the year, military families experience both. Every year we know it's coming. Some years we leave, some years we don't. Sometimes the goodbyes are more permanent, and sometimes they are more like see you next year. Sometimes blossoming connections get cut short and come to a quick and final end, and sometimes they are just the beginnings of deep-rooted, life-long friendships.

This year our family gets to stay put. It's a relief in some boxes, no stressful search for a new home, no schools to pick and trips to plan. Even writing about it elevates my heart rate and makes me sweat. Heck, we still have boxes from our 2014 move, waiting for me to dive in and organize (and they'll likely continue to wait until the next move...).

But, like every year before this one, staying put is bittersweet...because already the process of goodbye has begun.  I have several new friends who are preparing to move, and although I'm happy for them, it makes me sad to think that we may never see each other again when they do. I know from experience that it is much, much easier to leave than to be left. The leaver has the excitement of new adventures ahead, and the left has a hole where a friend once was.

What's amazing about military families is that they keep doing it. They keep searching out friends, even knowing there's no permanence to the situation they are in. They push themselves to say hello, even when they are emotionally fragile from last year's loss. Some posts they may spend in a rut of loneliness, but they know that maybe the next time, the next place has a BFF just waiting to be discovered.

And the result? Maybe not in all cases, but in my case a wealth of wonderful, life-long connections. Kindred spirits from afar. Friendships across the globe. People I love dearly and would do anything for. Unique, amazing individuals who I may never see again, but who have touched my life.

And I'd like to think, in some small way, I've touched theirs.

Sure I'm sad it's that time of year. I'm sad to know that my friends are leaving. But this world has a way of keeping the connections we make. I know there's a new friend waiting, just around the corner. And I know my old friends are always there.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

15 Seconds

I've been more of a lurker on social media lately, partially because I've been focusing on my latest manuscript, partially because my children have been on spring break...and partially because a lot of what I've seen lately just makes me angry. There's a whole lot of crazy out there, and crazy seems to find it's voice on the anonymous forum of the internet. Un-researched medical claims, sensational news articles and blog posts designed solely for the purpose of annoying and creating a stir. Or thoughtless comments that blow things way out of proportion.

You know what I mean...the anti-vaxxer who refuses--loudly--to admit plain science and then causes a potentially deadly measles outbreak. The celebrity who publicly bashes another because his or her favourite didn't win an award. The president/prime minister haters and lovers and the gun toters/gun haters and all of the others who apparently believe in their causes enough to use foul language, utter threats and just be downright mean.

Does anyone else out there feel that things are rapidly spiralling out of control?

I grew up in an environment where your words--however they were brought into this world--had consequences. I live in a society where honour and integrity are not just buzz words. They are a matter of life and death. I'm trying to teach my children that what they do and what they say matters, and our words can have profound influence on others around us.

So when I pop on my Mac to check on what's going on in the world, it scares the heck out of me to see the lack of integrity shown on a daily basis on my screen.

Don't get me wrong. I love my social media. I think it is a great tool. I love the convenience. I love the speed at which I can find out things--is there traffic on the highway? What's the weather? How is my cousin in France? When is that movie coming out and is it worth seeing?

But rapidity of social media response time often fogs the integrity of the response itself. It's sooooo easy to just post that knee-jerk comment. So simple to post a nasty come-back. Just a couple of key-strokes and that opinionated tweet is out there, ready to wreak havoc on the world. Piece of cake, right?

But a mere 140 characters can have LIFE CHANGING effects.

Ask Justine Sacco, who posted a simple tweet that ruined her life. Or Alicia Ann Lynch who posted a photo of her somewhat-tasteless halloween costume. Perhaps if they had just taken 15 seconds to consider the consequences of their posts, their lives would be different now. And perhaps if the shamers had taken a few seconds and actually thought that there was a real person on the other end of all this...well maybe things would be different.

There are some lights out there, though...beacons in the dismal world of thoughtless posting. I particularly like Emma Watson, who is trying to make a better world, one step at a time. Or Ellen DeGeneres, who seems to have a genuinely good heart, and uses her fame for the better of others.

Do you have a process by which you pre-check your social media posts?

Or are you a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants poster? I'm an agonizer. I write something. I re-read it. I read it again, I wonder what it will sound like to others. Will what I have written be construed as something else? Will it affect a friend or loved one? Will it negatively affect my career? I admittedly suck at twitter chat forums because it takes me so long to get my thoughts down accurately. Heck, this fifteen paragraph blog has taken me five hours to write.

Maybe I'm just old fashioned. But I'd rather take 15 seconds to reread a few words than post a tweet that could harm myself or someone I love.

Or better yet, I'll just not post anything at all.