5 Things I Know About Online Friends | Guest Blog

In this day and age our relationships look a little different than they used to. Our circle is wider, more extensive, and we no longer have to rely on only our jobs and local hangouts to meet people and strike up friendships. A lot of us are meeting our partners online, so why would our friendships be any different?

Never underestimate the power of online friends!

I am no stranger to online friendships. For the past several years, most of my closest friends have lived in my computer! It can be hard at times, but I consider myself a bit of an expert at this point. So here are 5 things I know about online friends:

1. They're just as real as face-to-face friendships.

Sometimes people can make you feel like your online friendships aren’t as legitimate as face-to-face ones. But they are! Remember, that’s not just a computer you’re talking to, there’s a real person behind that profile. And isn’t the most legitimate type of friend one that makes you feel supported and loved, no matter where they live?

2. There are tons of different ways to communicate with online friends.

IMG_1998You have a plethora of options with which to communicate, depending on your personality and preferences. Do you like to Facebook chat while you’re feeding the baby? Maybe you like seeing their face, so Skype or Google hangouts are more your style. Or if talking on the phone with little ones is a challenge, the voice message feature can be the best of both worlds. You can post funny stuff on their Timeline. And have you seen the new Snapchat filters today?!

 

3. Your online friends don't care if you're a hot mess today.

You can talk to them without a bra. Or in only a bra. Or with your hair a mess. Whatever, your online friends don’t care! They’re just happy to hear from you. You never feel like you have to impress them.

4. Online friends are there whenever you need them.

Even if they aren’t always online, having their profile readily available at all times makes it really feel like they are always there. When you’re up feeding the baby again, you can send your BFF a message because you know she’ll see it soon. And sometimes you might abuse this just slightly by treating your messages like your own personal journal... but it’s all good, because you know they’ve got your back.

5. Any time spent face-to-face with your online friends is the sweetest time ever.

On the rare occasion that you do get see your online friends face-to-face, it’s the best. They are SO happy to see you, because it’s been months or even years since you last hung out. Online friends know how to cherish time together because it’s so rare. They never take you for granted and you always part looking forward to the next time you can hang out!

We all need friends and support people in our lives. That need is even greater as mothers. We need people we can complain to, laugh with, cry with, love, and be loved by. They say it takes a village - it’s okay if your village is a virtual one.

Authored by: Brooke Duke, owner of Expecting Baby Doula Services. Brooke is a doula in Ames, Iowa. Check her out at www.expectingbabydoula.com.

 

Reach out

Its been a week now. Between the Christina Grimmie shooting, the massacre at Pulse in Orlando, the tragic gator attack at Disney's Grand Floridian resort, the drownings that are popping up in local news stations everywhere, the babies lost in hot cars... our hearts are breaking and sometimes it feels like more than we can bear. We are not over it and we don't know when we will be. #dontsaynothing

#DontSayNothing

There's a trending hashtag right now that compels people to break their silence: say anything, but #DontSayNothing. We follow the stories on the news and while we shiver at how real and personal it feels to us, many of us also struggle to know what to say, think, or do with such tremendous suffering around us. Comments sections everywhere have brought out the best and the worst in people; however, during times of tragedy and collective grief like this one, we gravitate towards stories of hope, stories of people rallying around each other in support and lifting each other up. We look for the helpers, as Fred Rogers would say.

The breaking of our silence must be accompanied with action, and when the news coverage begins to fade, it is our responsibility as neighbors to continue to reach out.

We don't have to wait for tragedy to strike to reach out, but rather we must remain vigilant to the needs of those around us. Tragedies like these are a call to pull our heads out of the sand and pay attention to our neighbors, to bear one another's burdens on a daily basis. It is not someone else's problem. It is our problem. We're all in this together.

Reach out today. Step away from the screen and step in to someone's grief and loneliness. Listen. Hold space. Hold a hand.

If you don't know what to say, don't worry. Ask, "How can I be a neighbor to you right now?" 

When you see someone and ask the oh-so-Southern question of "How are you?" make sure that person knows that you mean it. In fact, let's make it a point to always ask that question out of sincerity and a willingness to listen. 

In our blame and shame culture, be a voice of compassion and understanding. If you see a mom struggling, help her. Bear her burden with her, even for things as simple as helping load groceries or offering words of encouragement instead of scorn and self-righteousness. When someone shares a deep struggle with you, give them the gift of believing them.

When we see the lonely ones, the new-to-town-ones, the ones with no village, WE must be the ones to step in. WE must be the ones to open our homes and our lives. A cup of coffee and simple hospitality costs us little but bears much fruit.

coffee

Reaching out involves an investment, but the return is one that creates a culture of support, a culture where we feel nurtured and loved. Your investment of time and love is not too small. We've committed to #DontSayNothing, but now it is time to #SaySomethingNow. All of us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Do You: Children's Book Life Lessons

Even before I had children of my own, I was an avid collector of children's books. I would keep them in my apartment, give them as gifts, and at bookstores you could always find me foraging through the children's section more enthusiastically than a 6-year-old.  I love them as art, and I love how they can distill life lessons in such a way that even kids can understand. Tennessee has a program called Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, where families sign up to receive one book a month from birth to age 5.  One of my son's favorites is called Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon, written by Patty Lovell and illustrated by David Catrow. The lesson? You do you! You do you, molly lou melon

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon is a book about being your most authentic self no matter your circumstances or what other people say about you.

Molly Lou Melon is a tiny little girl with a big personality and the best grandma ever. By anyone's standards, Molly Lou Melon doesn't have a lot going for her: She's short, has buck teeth, has a terrible singing voice, AND she's the new kid at school. One thing Molly Lou Melon DOES have going for her is that her grandma has given her some advice:

"Walk as proudly as you can and the world will look up to you."

"Smile big and the world will smile right alongside you."

"Sing out clear and strong and the world will cry tears of joy."

"Believe in yourself and the world will believe in you too."

Grandma's advice serves Molly Lou Melon well as she encounters bully Ronald Durkin at school. We never find out what Ronald Durkin's problem is, but he doesn't know when to quit! Molly Lou Melon doesn't entertain his negativity and instead adopts the motto, "You do you." If Molly Lou Melon cares what Ronald Durkin thinks, the reader never knows. She does her own thing, is her most authentic self, and at the end of the week when she wins Ronald Durkin over, she writes her grandma a letter to tell her she was right.

Whether you're a parent, doula, new kid, or just trying to get along in the world, you WILL encounter people who seem to feel threatened by your mere existence in their world. Stand tall, friend, and you do you.

It is tempting to be something less than our most authentic selves in the face of disagreement, negativity, passive-aggressive comments, or even bullying from others. The problem? It never works.

Your most authentic self will never be good enough for some people, and making the opinions of others the metric for your worth as a person will always lead to disappointment. 

Being our most authentic selves doesn't mean we get to do and say whatever we want free of consequence, but it does free us from being beholden to the opinions of others. Molly Lou Melon doesn't go out of her way to impress anyone; instead, she stays true to herself and in the end finds acceptance and is able to share her gifts with those around her. What if she had hidden and pretended to be something else, or made her life about impressing Ronald Durkin? I don't know about you, but I'm sure glad that wasn't her story! And you know what? It doesn't have to be yours, either!

you do you, molly lou melon

 

Take a page out of Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon: shine bright and give the world the best version of you!