My Life Online

Do you believe online relationships are real, honest to goodness friends? I do. I think a lot of people my age think that they have their limits, but I will stand up and say that I can and do embrace them fully.

My first experience with relating to people online began over seven years ago when I joined an online forum for a band I loved. For quite a while I wanted to stay anonymous and protected all aspects of my personal identity – real name, where I lived, family status, etc. But then I really started to get to know these people. We were talking about way more than just the band and their music. I even had two sisters who were also on the forum and it became quite apparent that we were a sister group. So, anonymity started to lessen. A different, more tightly knit online group was formed and we all got to know each other much better. People started meeting each other. In Real Life. This group had people from all over the world – US, England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Australia, Finland, Sweden, South Africa, Croatia, Belgium, and I am sure others that I can’t remember. People were traveling to meet each other, to go to shows together, to make lasting friendships. I also started meeting up with people from around the US for concerts of all sorts of bands and people came to me as well. I went to *London* to see a show and stayed with a group of these people! All the while, we were still growing our online friendships. I’ve had subset online groups going where 4 or 5 of us end up talking about particular issues for months (or years in some cases) and some of this migrated to Facebook. Some of these people I will never meet. Some of them I went to Ireland to see when I took my first solo trip in 2014. But either way, they are real and true friends.online

There are other kinds of online relationships too. Twice I have been involved with men online as well. Now don’t be aghast, I met both of them in person first but neither lived local to me. They were short, intense things and although I didn’t see them very often, it was what I needed at the time. I don’t regret being involved with someone where our primary interactions were online, but I can’t say I would do it again.

Which brings me to the newest kind of online relationship I have started. I am currently at a place in my life where professional counseling would do me good. I have been less than impressed with the therapists I have used in the past, but I know some great ones exist (my son’s is a gem!) Knowing that I am comfortable expressing myself in writing (and I really like the idea of being able to think through what I am saying several times before committing to it…) I embarked on an experiment with online counseling. My therapist is someone I email. Any time I want, as often as I want. She emails me back, usually the next day. We’ve even had a live chat session.  I have been surprised by how well it works for me. The ability to “access” someone anytime I want (rather than once a week) is surprisingly valuable. One of the biggest upsides is that I have someone to “talk” to who’s business it is to listen to me. I don’t feel like I am burdening a friend with my sorrows, my troubles, my whining. Sometimes I have to talk about something over and over and over before I get off my butt and do something about it and friends get tired of that. Therapists, not so much. Sure she asks me the tough questions, but if I ask her to back off, she does – for a bit and then circles back later when it is more appropriate. I know there are many people out there who would say that too much is lost when a therapist isn’t face to face with their client. And I agree there are many, many instances where that would be a valid concern. But for me, this seems to be the right level of support and I know that I was willing to try it because I believe in online relationships and know that they are real.

That’s my experience. Fairly varied, all successful in my eyes. What a world this is when my best gig partners live in New York, Austin, and Arizona, I’ve “dated” a man from a far away city, and my therapist is from the mid-west.

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New Friends

friendslogoI made a new friend. Do you know how hard that is to do as an adult? Seriously, when was the last time you made a new friend? Someone who was a complete stranger to you 24 hours ago that is now saying “Hey, we should do something together!” Don’t get me wrong, I have made loads of music friends and they are precious to me. But we get together for shows. Frankly, many of them live states, even countries away. I’m talking about a meet me at yoga and then go to lunch new friend. AND THAT’S JUST WHAT HAPPENED.

I went to a bar down the street that had a friend’s husband’s band playing. The friend never showed because she had vomiting children (such a legit excuse!) But that meant I was alone. A woman liked my freshly done, just-got-it-four-hours-ago tattoo and we started talking. We had some things in common, she took my number, and lo and behold, she texted me and asked if I wanted to join her at yoga on Saturday. I’m not super into yoga, but I am super into people reaching out to me, so I said yes. Turns out the studio had a sweet starter deal and I will be able to try as many classes as I’d like for the next 30 days for only $29! With it only being 5 minutes from my house, I think I will get my money’s worth. Afterward we went to lunch (sushi!!) and got to know each other. She even said “I hope we can be friends.” How cool is that?

Friends are important at all ages and stages of life.  It’s sad that it’s so hard to make new ones as life advances.  Many times, these are the days when things are changing and you need new kinds of people in your life for new kinds of things.  I hope this new friendship works out.

I bought a TV!

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I haven’t had a TV in six years. Well, that’s not exactly true, there is a TV in my house, a huge analogue monstrosity that sits (and fills) a corner in my family room. But if you turn it on, very little comes through and a high whine is emitted that drives my sons crazy. So it doesn’t get turned on. A long time ago, before broadcast TV was digitally transmitted, I watched my TV. Through the air. Via an antenna (the antenna has long since blown out of alignment.) How about that? I was so far ahead of the “cord cutting” trend, that maybe I am even hip – I’m a “never-corder”. I have never had cable (or satellite or Direct TV…) When I lived in my parents’ home, they didn’t have it yet and ever since I have been on my own, I never ponied up for the expense. And yet I love watching TV. I always figured that with as much as I loved TV, I would watch it all the time if I had cable. So, since it would have been a stretch to afford it at many times of my life, it seemed a good idea to avoid it.

So how did I stop watching my TV in the family room in the first place? Over six years ago, my son’s anxiety was in high gear and I had to work very hard to help him manage it. All of a sudden, he could not be on a different floor of the house than an adult, ever. He would check several time before falling asleep to see if someone was there and even woke a few hours after he fell asleep to check again. Since I was the only parent at home at bedtime, I was forced to abandon the TV in the basement level family room. So I began watching things on my laptop. I started with Netflix, added Hulu, and finally Amazon Prime. I’ve been watching like that ever since.

About a month ago, I needed to change some things up, so I decided it was time to buy a TV. I ended up redoing my entire living room to accommodate the TV, and I love it. It’s now light and airy and just gorgeous! New rug, new curtains, repainted tables, new pillows, and a Craigslist find as a TV console table. My wonderful new smart TV came with Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube right on it. I quickly added ChromeCast to the mix and now everything I watch on my laptop can now be slapped up on my TV. I am giddy with excitement. And am watching a little too much TV!

Losing Weight. Again.

Seven years ago I lost a lot of weight. It was the weight that stuck around after I had my second child and no matter what I did, it refused to go anywhere. It made me miserable, but the likelihood was that it stuck around because I was miserable. In early 2009, I had a miraculous turnaround that brought “self” back to me along with music and a whole host of friends. The weight just melted off. I had no idea how or why. When people asked what I had done, all I could respond was “I got happy.” I even kept the weight off, rather easily. For years.

Then menopause kicked me in the face. I have had very few “female problems” throughout my life, and luckily menopause was not a whole lot different. But weight gain? That came thundering on. Honestly, when it started happening, I didn’t even know it was related to hormonal changes. I tried to ignore it. Terrible things were said during my marriage because of my weight and I was terrified of what could happen now. I felt like I tried to get it under control, but like so many years ago, nothing I did seemed to make any difference. For a year and a half I tried, failed, tried again, and failed yet again.

Then all of a sudden, it worked. Did I just get happy again? No. But looking back I can now see that I did do the same thing I did last time, I just didn’t know what I was doing last time. I am now confident that should I ever have a weight issue again, I DO KNOW what to do about it.

So what DID I do? I adopted a low carb high fat eating plan. This is not just a “diet” for me, it is definitely a change in lifestyle. Here’s the thing that is so surprising to me, this way of eating makes me so much less hungry. Same thing happened seven years ago too, that’s how I first recognized that I was probably unconsciously following a low carb diet back when I lost weight the first time. Since I also have several factors that increase my odds of developing diabetes, a long term change like this could literally save my life. I am not a low carb evangelist though. This worked FOR ME; worked really well in fact. And I do advocate trying it if you have weight or blood sugar issues since it may work for for you too. But I agree it’s not for everyone. Since I am now back to lifting weights too, not only am I back down to the weight I was, but I am also much more muscular. So overall, I think I am well ahead.

It’s so unlikely that I would be able to lose weight, and keep it off, not once, but twice at my age. That first time was luck, and honestly, I did get happy. This second time, while I happened to stumble upon the correct method, at least I am aware now. However, barring any future medical mishaps, I plan on maintaining this weight like I maintained it last time for many years to come.