This is probably going to sound very self-pitying and whiny, but trust me, I am grateful for my life. It's just that things have shifted so greatly over the last few years, it's hard not to be reflective. Given our work and hobbies, not to mention the kid, we've had friendships that cross into several different groups of people. Primarily, for me, that has meant mom bloggers, musicians, tech/social media peeps and PTA parents. Our connections within those groups swelled so much that they crossed over within each other and life was pretty frenetic. Almost every single night there was one, two, three or more possibilities for going out in any one, two or more of these areas. Foursquare was roaring because you could check in, and regularly find out a friend was not only nearby, but often times was in the same bar. If I went to see a local band, I could expect to know many people there. Heck, we used to run into people, all the time, all over.
We have been up at Keystone for almost a week now but it feels like a year. We really needed a vacation. While this has been a sponsored trip, we have just relaxed. You know that kind of relaxing? Where you *literally* cannot remember what day it is? I only know it is Thursday because on Tuesday my whole family SWORE it was Thursday and we all checked our devices to make sure. Today is Thursday. I am almost positive. Humans clearly created vacation to give their mind a rest. Even if we are doing non-restful things (like in the case of Bryan, who has been snowboarding his brains out), sometimes we just need to remove our brain from everyday life, do something different, think about other things. That way you appreciate where you are while vacationing, but also appreciate your regular life more too.
It's pretty clear that I love phones, and tech, and apps. I was excited when AT&T asked me to check out their new app for iPhone called DriveMode. With a tween who also uses a phone and will be driving soon (OK... soon being a relative term here, as in a few years from now)... it's important for me to set a good example on my phone. The problem is - IT'S HARD! When so many notifications come in and life is moving so fast, sometimes I need a little help. DriveMode kicks in once the car is going over 15mph and basically provides a shield while you are driving - silencing incoming notifications. You can also set the app to send a custom auto-reply for you to let people know you are driving. Depending on what screen you have open, a top banner will blink red saying "DriveMode" - which is a good reminder that it can wait till later to use your phone. However, if you really need something, the app provides one button access to 5 emergency numbers, music and the navigation app of your choice. Or, if let's say you are the passenger and want to access your phone - you can quickly turn the DriveMode app off with the big green slider.
I was chatting with a friend recently about our teen years and the stories were the same. While I never had outright bullying, there was a lot of ugly teasing and mean girls. I grew up in an area and a time where everyone was supposed to be exactly the same. My friend talked about how, when he turned 14, all of his friends pretended that they didn't know him. These kids who used to walk down the street to pick him up on the way to school all of a sudden, they would just yell rude comments and keep on going. One of my worst memories from high school was when two best friends just didn't pick me up one night, and then pretended they never even knew me after that. Like we had not been friends for the past however many years. Like I hadn't slept over umpteen times. Like, what the hell just happened? So, yeah, as Dex entered middle school - that time when friends traditionally get judgey - I have been a little, let's say... twitchy. I try not to impose my past experiences too much, because not only is Dex an old soul - he is most definitely his own person. He has generally not really cared what anyone thought and has gone his own way. Part of it, I know, is all that diversity we fight for - one benefit seems to be (thus far) kids like to be different. Less pressure to wear exactly the same clothes and do exactly the same things. I am pretty sure we all owe Glee a huge debt of gratitude.
Sometimes you attend a conference that fills you up with so many emotions, and so much knowledge, it takes you some time to process it. Such was the case for the first ever AYA Summit, held at Google's Washington DC offices and hosted by the ONE Campaign along with their new initiative, ONE Girls & Women. I had first heard of ONE about 10 years ago at an U2 concert with my close friend Marabeth. She and I went to college together and have seen U2 more times (together and apart) than I can count. Bono is a co-founder of ONE, and spoke passionately about the organization then, as he does about pretty much everything. But here is the thing, ONE has become a major advocacy group around the world, so it's not just Bono's voice - it's all of ours - speaking out to fight poverty and disease. Given my background in public health and cancer prevention for nearly 15 years, these issues are very important to me. I was honored to attend the AYA Summit with fellow bloggers from around the world, and meet people who are making such a difference in terms of health, economic stability, energy, human rights - particularly in Africa. As many of these problems affect women disproportionally, the majority in attendance and the majority of the focus was on female issues within the scope of global crisis. "Aya" is a hardy west African fern, and the name was meant to represent the resilience and strength girls and women show during times of great stress.
I have had diabetes for over twelve years now. Probably more, because they were pretty sure I had it for several years prior to diagnosis. The first ten years were a cakewalk. I only took a little bit of medicine and checked in with my doctor and really not much else. Then there was that time in my life when things got rough. I call them the Dark Years. It was when my mom got sick and I got sick and other then that bad time in childhood with my dad, it was pretty much the worst period of my life. The good news is when you have a bad couple years, you appreciate the good ones so much more. After I spent nine months on my back with the ear infection my body didn't bounce back easily. Part of this I know is age; when you're over 40, things just take longer to heal. But it just seemed like my pancreas has decided it just wasn't going to work anymore. So I was taking all kinds of different meds and lots of insulin.
Working from home gives me great flexibility. I am not sure I could go back to a traditional office, ever. But essentially working alone all day kind of fucks with your head. Social networks help. You can pop in and out, chat for a few minutes, see what is happening out there, get back to work. The problem is, you live inside your own head a lot. Sometimes you don't actually talk to a person outside your immediate family for days - or even weeks. You start wondering if you are reading things with a skewed perspective. I know I have become more sensitive.