This Is Why I Won’t Unfriend You

unfriend“I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.” – Thomas Jefferson

Something has been really bothering me for a while, and I have to just unload.

There is no surprise that we are a nation divided on so many levels these days. We can’t seem to find common ground on many topics. From religion to politics to the war of words between each other, there is an undercurrent of “I’m right, you’re wrong.” There are no disagreements between people anymore, as differences have evolved into “wars.” People have become entrenched in their camps, drawing lines in the sand, seeing everything in black and white, allowing no room for gray.

For the umpteenth time in several months, I have seen people post statuses on social media, and then request of their friends and followers the following: “If you don’t agree with _______ (fill in the blank), then unfriend me.”

Wow.

Whether it is political, social, religious or whatever, the premise is that if I, or others, don’t believe in their cause or with their opinion, they don’t want my friendship online.

But I also take that as they don’t want my friendship. At all. Period.

I take umbrage with that.

I am blessed that I have a huge family and many friends and colleagues. If I have sent a friend request to someone, or accepted an invitation from another, it is because I value the person and want to be in contact. I want to share in their joys, accomplishments and celebrations, offer support during tough times, commiserate about the weather, engage in dialogue, share recipes or great places to dine, see what is happening in their lives. I want to see photos of their family, vacation, garden, artwork or how much snow was dumped in their corner of the world.  I want to read their blog posts, or read what they found interesting or enlightening. For me, there is a connection with the individual – online and offline – and I feel privileged to be a part of that friend’s life.

But I am growing weary of the the “un-friend” me requests. I may not share your religious, social or political views. I may not like your favorite animal or artist or movie or music. I may not like your haircut or the way you clean (or don’t clean) your house. I may not like the state you live in or the hobbies you have or the car you drive. I may not like the charities you support. I may not like that you don’t support charities. I may not like the joke you shared or the beverage you drink. I may not cheer for the same team you do or like your stance on something or agree with your parenting views.

But I like you.

With all our differences of opinions. With everything that makes us completely different or polar opposites. We have a history. We have shared life and secrets and dreams and conversations.

I like you. My friend.

Why do we need to be in complete agreement on everything in order to remain friends? Why do our differences – or our perceived differences – have to be the end of a friendship – online or in person? Is it easier to let people out of our lives with the click of a mouse than over a meal at a local diner?

Maybe we can just chop our online friend lists so easily, because we see each other as a status with a profile photo and not for who they really are – a living, breathing person.

If I were to unfriend someone each time we didn’t see eye-to-eye, I would be posting statuses and photos for my own enjoyment.

Go ahead and unfriend me. That’s okay. But for the sake of friendship, I won’t unfriend you. Because with all that is wrong in this crazy world, we can’t have too many friends, whether we are in agreement on all subjects or not.

What do you think? Share in the comment section. If this post resonates with you, feel free to share with others.

© Lynne Cobb – 2014

 

Dressing rooms, blue jeans and a midlife crisis

I have been accused of being “too picky.” Personally, I prefer “selective.” A perfectionist? Maybe.

That could be why I detest shopping for clothes.

Especially blue jeans.

I can’t seem to find the perfect jeans, which is why when I find an acceptable pair, I wear them over and over. Honestly, I could just kick myself for not buying several pairs of the acceptable jeans, because they became my Favorite Pair – and now they are way beyond fixing. Not too long ago, and totally pushing my luck, I did indeed wear Favorite Pair to the store. Just a quick dash in and out, I told myself. But then, I ran a few more errands. And, when I got home, to my horror, I noticed that somewhere along the way, the patch that held my jeans together fell off.

Yikes! I’m not sure I want to know how many people saw the gaping hole in my jeans. I am not a teenager anymore.

But I digress.

Knowing that this search and try-on process is going to take me to where I don’t go mentally, I decided to arm myself for battle, and make things easier by wearing my awesome, comfy yoga pants instead of my back-up pair of jeans, which I don’t care much for. Plus, they were in the laundry pile, since they have been overused with the demise of Favorite Pair.

Ah, my yoga pants. I use them for exercising and as my errand-running back-ups. And, well, when I realized Favorite Pair was probably going to become further worn-out with household chores, I started wearing my comfy black yoga paints. To clean. With bleach.

Thank goodness that a black Sharpie marker covered my mistake.

Anyhow, back to the hunt.

I dug through piles of denim, like a dog digging for a bone. My favorite style of jeans has to be here, I thought to myself, as panic set in.

Nope. My favorite style is gone. History.

Which meant finding a replacement.

Great. I became overwhelmed at all the choices, but marveled at all the fashionable opportunities available. Why, with a little luck, maybe even I could look like that mannequin!

So, as with any change, I embraced a new look with an air of excitement and a bit of apprehension, plus two sizes of style of jeans, because, Lord only knows which clothing manufacturer’s styles and sizes are going to fit. I dashed off to the changing rooms, with anticipation of my new look.

After the first few attempts, I started to get worried. Nothing fit. So, accepting that I probably gained a little weight – though Favorite Pair never let me know that – I started looking at other sizes. And other brands.

No luck.

Getting frustrated, I literally wanted to cry. In a sea of clothing, I was drowning in waves of panic. Nothing fit ME. Negative thoughts started popping into my brain, like the clothing manufacturers having a “thing” against me and women my age. The dream of looking like the mannequin – gone, just like the youthful body I once had. I felt old and washed up – as if I couldn’t do anything right. Negativity was oozing out of every pore, and I started thinking of all my failures, especially my chosen career path. How could I have known that my favorite industry would change, and be replaced with a cool, new style that, no matter how hard I tried, I just had the hardest time getting a good fit? Like my faded old blue jeans, I guess I miss my “faded” old career.

Tears of frustration welled up in my eyes. So, this is midlife, huh? Well, the fighter in me came out, and had a smack down with my toxic emotions. And I got back into the ring.

Yes, I was getting older, and my body was changing – that’s life. Yes, there has been some serious grief and loss and change in the past few years, but there has also been great growth and love and joy. There are going to be frustrations – that’s life, and that’s not going to change. And it is a good life, so keep moving along.

Wiping my tears, I stepped out of the changing room and put the all of jeans that didn’t fit on the “don’t want” rack. Seriously, I had tried on at least 16 pairs of jeans. I apologized to the woman who had to restock them. She smiled and said “No problem.” I think she saw the mascara smudges from my tears.

“There is a perfect pair for you out there,” she said, and pointed me in another direction. “Just keep looking.”

She was right. Not just about finding the jeans, but by reminding me to never give up.

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

On hope and rainbows

“And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.” – Gilbert K. Chesterton

This past Sunday brought an eclectic mix of weather. Warm sunshine and then a cloudy gust to cool things down. The plastic resin chairs bounced across the yard like beach balls. We had an occasional sprinkle of rain, and then the sun was out. This pattern repeated itself throughout the day and into the evening.

I was cleaning the kitchen just after dinner when a beautiful burst of sunshine seemed to just pop out of the darkness. The glorious sunshine was joined with a downpour like I hadn’t seen in a while.

“It’s the perfect mix for a rainbow,” I thought to myself as I headed outdoors. Trust me when I tell you that I wasn’t disappointed. Across the evening sky were not one, but two rainbows. (My oldest daughter was able to snap a quick photo – see above.)

Looking at the double rainbow, I began to tear up. The beauty alone was enough to bring one to tears, but it was the rushing downpour of memories that caused me to be misty-eyed, but smiling at the same time.

Rainbows have a new meaning to me. On July 22, 2011, we were informed that the ventilator my dad was on had to come out. Though it aided his breathing, the apparatus was beginning to do more harm than good. My siblings, mom and I waited nervously while Dad went through the procedure. He came through it, was breathing on his own, and he was finally off the sedation. (Because of his Alzheimer’s, Dad was sedated so he wouldn’t remove the numerous tubes and wires attached to him.) Finally, he was able to see us! And we could see him – with his eyes open! It was wonderful – we were all crying and smiling – because after two long weeks, we had Dad back. He made eye contact with each and every one of us, smiled at us like he really recognized us, and he even tried to talk. We were able to leave the ICU room confidently, though we knew he had a very long road to recovery.

Later that evening, Dad started going downhill – and fast. Mom stayed with him all night, and we all started coming back to Dad’s room in the wee hours of the morning. By the afternoon of July 23, Dad was moved to Hospice care on another floor. His room was packed with us kids, our families and my parents’ siblings. We took shifts taking dinner breaks so that Dad wasn’t alone. Mom came home with me, where we tried to eat. We knew we had to go back to the hospital, but dreaded even thinking about returning.

A storm blew through, which gave us a few more minutes to linger over the dinner my husband had made. After a few sips of coffee, Mom was heading back. I would meet up with the rest of the family later, as I was waiting for my youngest daughter to return home from a week-long trip.

It was still sprinkling when we walked my mom outside to her car, and then out of no where was this bright, fleeting, intense sunshine. In its wake, we witnessed the most beautiful rainbow. I hugged my mom and told her, “Look, Mom, no matter what happens, it’s going to be okay. God‘s got our backs.” My phone started chiming – I was getting texts from other family members who saw the rainbow, too. The texts read: “Did you see the rainbow?” and “God’s promise.” We all felt tremendous hope and comfort in that unexpected rainbow.

Five hours later, in the wee hours of July 24, Dad was on heaven’s side of the rainbow.

In all life’s storms, there really is hope and comfort in a rainbow.

And now in the rainbow, for me anyways, there is also a smile from my dad.

“When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” Genesis 9:16 ESV

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

Playing in the sandbox

“I think when I was two years old in the sandbox. I think I formulated my basic philosophy there, and I haven’t really had to alter it very much ever since.” – Boyd Rice

My oldest son has been out of the house for almost five years, leaving home for basic training. Not too long after that, he got married, bought a house, and eventually faced a deployment. He also got to experience other “grown-up” realities, like budgeting, running a household, mourning the death of his wife’s grandmother – whom he just adored, and then mourning the loss of his own grandfather.

A boy when he left, he has grown into a fine young man. Of course, my heart bursts with pride for him, and for where life has taken him.

I love that he calls home to bounce ideas off of us; to ask questions and lay his concerns about life before us. Just recently I remembered something he said to me about a year ago at a particularly rough time.

“I wish I could just come home and go play in the sandbox.”

The sandbox his dad made was his and his siblings’ favorite spot to play. There were Hot Wheel cities, bridges made of sand and sticks, hand-carved paths for flowing rivers – which were then filled with several buckets of water. The kids and their friends would play outside in the sandbox for hours on end.

We have a shared memory, as I fondly remember the sandbox my dad had made for my siblings and me. The stuff we built and the fun we had. We, too, played for hours at a time.

A sandbox is a refuge for kids. Close your eyes and imagine the soothing feel of the sand as it is running through your fingers; or the sensation of squeezing the sand between your toes; or the therapeutic process that takes your mind off your troubles while you are busy building a sand castle.

“I wish I could just go play in the sandbox” has become our saying when life gets tough. I’ve repeated this wish to him during many conversations we’ve had regarding life, stress and when his grandfather was suffering with Alzheimer’s.

Just the other day, we were notified of a friend’s death. It was the same day that we heard that a dear neighbor is struggling with an aggressive form of cancer. And it was just a day after hearing of the very public struggles of a well-respected family in our area. There was other bad news that day, but those three illustrations surely make my point.

“I wish I could just go play in my sandbox,” I said to myself. And so I did. Closing my eyes for just a few minutes, I was in the backyard of my childhood home, playing in the sandbox. My dad was working in the yard, the sun was shining, and the warm sand felt wonderful on my bare feet.

And, for a just moment, all was right in the world.

© 2012 – Lynne Cobb

Note: this post was featured on Midlife Boulevard on Jan. 24, 2014.