Saturday, December 21, 2013


I don't get intimidated easily.  People's level of wealth or education neither truly impress me nor make me cower with insecurity.  What I do have is absolute respect for intelligent people, especially well accomplished women who have a commanding, self-confident presence about them.  I tend to want to be around such people, to glean from their knowledge and learn from their experiences.  It wasn't always this way for me, I admit. I was raised to be in awe of people's profession and money, that for a long time I thought you had to tiptoe around such people.  Then, I became a full pledged adult, read plenty of success books, engaged in conversation with intellectuals, and eventually concluded that while successful folks deserved genuine respect, they were people who truly fit the ultimate cliche--you tickle them, they laugh, you cut them, they bleed, etc., etc., (I've never tickled nor cut such people but you know what I mean.)

I remember interviewing a couple in a school I run in Brooklyn, who hoped that their child would be accepted in our program.  I've interviewed many parents from all walks of life but for the last two years, I've found myself sitting down with more and more successful parents.  I remember seeing the couple by the door, the wife a picture of beauty, a tall redhead who was perfectly put together.  Her husband, like many fathers, was dressed in a suit.  But you could tell that the suit was of the highest quality.  It didn't take a long time for me to realize that he was used to people shuffling quietly around him; his very presence evoked wealth and unfortunately for him, arrogance.  He had an air of impatience about him, glancing at his expensive watch repeatedly, as though his precious time was being wasted in my small, crowded office.  I leaned forward and said to him, "You know, the teachers out there are assessing your daughter to see if she is a right fit for our program. Do you know why you're in this office with me? So that I can assess whether I like you and if you're the right fit for me."  It wasn't true, of course, and I am almost always an advocate for the parents walking in, but he was smug and his energy suffocated me.  He humbled down immediately, and I relaxed. I was able to proceed and tell him truly the reason for the interview.

I realized at that moment that I had strayed far away from my upbringing.  Wealthy professionals no longer floated in the air.  They no longer sat on gold plated pedestals. Not once had I ever sat across any of these parents--or anyone of great caliber for that matter, and felt inadequate.

Unless...I sit across a pinterest, super mom.  Any form of confidence and self-assurance come crashing down.  I'm not just talking about any kind of mom. I mean, moms that bake cakes and decorate them with pretty flowers. Moms that knit matching hats and scarves for their little girls. Moms that show up at every PTA meeting and are at a first name basis with the principal.  Moms that have squeaky clean homes and squeaky clean hair and squeaky clean nails.

I stay far, far away from such women so that I can manage to still keep my chin halfway up.

How do these women do it? I couldn't knit a 2 inch line with full manual guidance from an expert.  I've never successfully baked a cupcake. I mean, my kids are alive and are fed. That's quite an accomplishment in my book.  My nails are cut to prevent dirt from building up underneath.  I have no idea how the principal looks like in either one of my kids' schools.  They go and do well. Job done. Let's not even talk about my hair...

I dropped off gift bags for my daughter's birthday last month and I came home to my husband chuckling.  "Nana said you wrote the wrong room number on the bags."

I wrote her room number?

"I told her you never go to her school so she can't expect you to remember. I said, 'You know, mommy is never there. She can't remember what room you're in this year.'  And you know what she said?"


"She said that you never forget anything about work but you never remember anything with her school."

I stood in that dining room, hands in my pocket, in absolute silence...

My husband continued talking, chuckling every now and then.  He said something about explaining to Nana about my work schedule and something about her somewhat understanding, etcetera, etcetera.  I couldn't respond.  I found a chair and sat down, my hand finding my mouth.

I said, She didn't say that.

"She did."

No, she didn't say that.

"Yes, babe, she did."

Forget the knitting, baking moms. I was outdone simply by present moms.  I was overcome with horror and gut-wrenching guilt.  What I always feared--my children believing work was more important to me--has happened.

I canceled meetings and home cases the following day and called off work.  I drove Nana to school and picked her up after and took her out for pizza. Then, I brought up the wrong room number.  I explained how even though she'd rather stay home sometimes, she has no choice but to go to school.  Mommy's work was the same way. I'd rather be home but...

"Daddy explained all this already," Nana said dismissively, waving her hand.

Okay...Do you understand?

"I don't hate school," she said. "You don't hate your work, do you, mommy? But you have to go.  I have to go to school."

I nodded quietly.  I doubted she truly understood. I didn't understand it myself.

I called my best friend that evening and left her a voicemail.  She was probably in the operating room, or doing her rounds, or saving another life at the number one hospital in the country.  The notion that somewhere, someone I know is just as absent from her children as I was, was not comforting that moment.  We exchanged texts the next day.  We planned to drive and meet each other halfway to work with our hectic schedule so we can sit, catch up, and exchange guilty mother notes.


Who knew that it would be the hardest, most intimidating role?  The judges are brutally honest and their verdict constant.

I've cut some hours off my work time.  I make sure I'm home most days to look over homework, to supervise shower time, and to say prayers and cuddle up at bedtime.

I will never be able to knit or bake or have perfectly manicured nails and know the principal's nickname.  I continue to duck around such women.  To me, they float on air and sit on golden pedestals.  I know my limitations and I know when I'm inadequate. But I can at least be present.

And I recite a room number every now and then. 202. 202.  Just in case I'd have to write it again on gifts.  Not remembering just isn't going to cut it.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Excuse me, will you be my friend?

I have only 3 friends.  I mean, 3 that I consider best friends. I try not to analyze what that word really means and how those 3 fair up to its meaning because if I do, I may actually have less.

The strangest thing is, I'm extremely social on the surface. Throw me at a cocktail party and I'll have everyone engaged, laughing with me, or at me, sharing various experiences, personal or business, talking easily about the past, the present, the future.  But when that moment comes, that awful desperate moment of needing someone to talk to...well, I'm virtually friendless.

I've been thinking about friendship for several months now. One of the teachers I work with, who I love dearly, had the unfortunate experience of losing her best friend to cancer right before Christmas last year. That best friend was her mother. Of course, my upbringing prevents me from ever knowing what that remotely looks like, but what I should've been able to relate to was the army of other best friends who stood by her side at her most difficult moment. Friends from childhood. Friends from the neighborhood. Friends who knew her worst and best traits and loved her unconditionally.  I remember being at the hospital, then at the wake, and eventually at that devastating funeral, and seeing the same group of girls rally around her. I was overcome with a deep sense of lack.  In her sorrow, in her loss, she was shielded by a wall of true, faithful friends.  I did not know what that was like. Not that level of devotion in such great number.

I always tell my husband that I will be surrounded by admirers at my funeral, but friends will be scarce.

"You've always had a wall," my husband once told me. "From the moment I met you. You can tell only very few are allowed in."  And then, because my husband is into metaphors, he proceeded to tell me that that wall had a foyer and a handful were allowed to hang around there. But deep inside the wall?  He hugged me and sighed, "I'm glad I'm in there." He named maybe two more people but he wasn't sure if anyone else was in.

There really is nothing mysterious about me. Like I said in my last blog, I'm really quite a bore so if anyone walked straight inside that wall...well, nothing exciting would await them.

"It has nothing to do with mystery, babe. It's your guard. It's never down."

And I argued to my husband that it has everything to do with my upbringing. Really.  I was taught that friends are there to deceive you, to take, and to mistreat you. And that those that seek friends are lonely, shallow people lacking intelligence and self-worth. And if you know me a little, you would know of course that beauty is of little importance to me. But self-worth? Intelligence? Depth?  They are descriptors that mean the world to me! So while in my youth normal girls were on a quest for true friends, I was on a quest to avoid them. (Also, I do believe my entry, "The Reason Why I Don't Cry", holds the answer to my isolation.)

But this month, as many of you may know, I attended a wedding at Martha's Vineyard. The event was lovely as could be expected, of course, and the groom was tall and handsome. But the bride...the bride who is in her early 30's was not just beautiful and charming, she is immensely smart. She is a graduate of an Ivy League school and she teaches at NYU while running her own clinic. And to my absolute surprise she was surrounded by an army of wonderful, devoted best friends. And they were all, likewise, smart and beautiful. I thought of the teacher I work with. She is by far one of the smartest girls I know and her best friends were all college graduates, from nurse practitioners to pharmacists.

Clearly, smarts have nothing to do with being friendless. Being unfriendly has everything to do with being friendless.  I mean, even the Bible says so.

I told my husband that it's too late for me. I've tried, really, to recruit friends, only to find myself finding a myriad of reasons why the friendship can't work. How do you learn to become a trusting friend at 40? The idea of working on such a relationship exhausts me. I can't picture myself sewing random people into the fabric of my being without careful assessment. Hence, the reason for my solitude.

So, I've turned my attention on my innocent victims. My children.

I ask my son every now and then if he has called his friends, if they wanted to hang out, if he needed me to take them to the movies.  And I'm always more excited than Alanna when her friend in the neighborhood knocks on our door looking for her.  I went by her house recently and asked her mother if they would come over for dinner. I'm not looking to make friends with the mom. I'm looking to make our girls lifelong friends.

"If ever we should both die someday when they're older but without their own family, I want them to have true friends," I told my husband. "I mean really good, amazing friends who will love them unconditionally."

As for me, who knows. Like that wonderful, intelligent bride who found a couple of lifelong friends while walking down the street, I too might stumble on a friend. She would have to be incredibly patient at how guarded I am, how unwilling I am to share my deepest thoughts and my true feelings. She would have to understand that I cannot be on the phone on a daily basis and that hanging out constantly suffocates me. She would have to find my scattered thinking charming and find humor in the fact that I forget every birthday and every anniversary. She would have to realize that I'm psychosomatic and I think every 2 weeks I may be dying of something...and she would have to love me through it unconditionally.

I suppose I should be thankful I at least have 3 friends...I think.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

I was born a sloth

I think I was always a sedentary child growing up.  You wouldn't know it by looking at me and glancing at my brakeless schedule.  But really, if it were not for work and occasional obligations that require moving my joints, I would lay at home all day, surf the web, or read a book, or think about life, or stare into nothingness.  I would go nowhere, see no one, do nothing.  I stay at kinetic energy because when that's interrupted and my true nature kicks in, that energy goes into a screeching halt and I start to gather more moss than should be allowed.

I'm on vacation now, visiting my sisters and their families, enjoying the presence of wild and happy children around me, reveling in the sounds of laughter--with the occasional shrieks of sobbing hysteria because "he hit me, she hurt my feelings, he snatched my toy", etc.,  In between this daycare chaos, my ever outdoorsy sister with her toned legs and flat stomach would ask, "Do you want to go take the kids out?"

Out where?

"Anywhere! We can take them to the park or the zoo or the museum..."

But see, I am now operating only on potential energy and I have started gathering my moss and the idea of slipping off of the couch and putting on my shoes fill me with dread. I am the laziest workaholic I know. And although one would think that self-awareness is half the battle, the war is lost because being self-aware is where it pretty much ends for me. The desire for change is nonexistent.

I have two jobs, I go 100 miles an hour at work, but when that's done, it is downhill from there. Couch, computer, TV.  Unless there's an earthquake, I'm not moving around.

"Don't you wanna see St. Louis?" my sister asked in what I detected to be a restraint voice.

Uh...not really.

"I came to see the kids," I said, scanning the room and wondering where they all went.

"We can take them to the science museum." 

Science Museum. I want to stab my eye.

"Or take them to the Art Museum.  I haven't been there."

I had a quick vision of the 2-year-olds discussing Van Gogh. 

"There's a park nearby," my sister said, putting away toys in the toy box for the third time that hour. Why doesn't she stop moving? I don't remember her moving nonstop like this when she was in New York.

"Okay," I said, hoping that response would settle her a bit and then a couple of hours later she can ask again and I will say ok, and buy a couple more hours until the sun goes down. And who goes to the museum at night? Not me.

Why am I such a boring, lazy homebody? I remember living by an hour per hour schedule in my 20's, from 7AM to midnight, running constantly, going to work, going to class, speaking at rallies, counseling students, planning events, and needing to pencil in a time to see my boyfriend. I was beyond busy. And, really, even now, I've always worked more than one job, registered in school for some certification, my foot on the gas. But whenever I get home or the weekend comes or vacation hits...I transform into the human sloth.

Always on the quest to get to know myself, I've been reeling on this seemingly organic form of laziness. Why, oh why, am I this way?

And no, it really isn't because I'm so busy all the time that I inevitably just crave for some down time.  I truly think I intentionally stay busy because given the opportunity, I would never leave my house and I would just hibernate the whole year through and never bathe or change my clothes.

I fished for a memory in my childhood because I'm convinced that every gift, every deficit, every strength and every defect can be traced there.  I was 7 again in the Philippines, occasionally watching my siblings and the neighborhood kids through the window. I could see a game of stick baseball, kickball, marble flicking, etc., The combination of the noise, the social interaction, the physical activity were enough to make me hyperventilate.  I stayed in my room, drew pictures, read books, and pretended I was adopted waiting for real wealthy parents to claim me. I laid around, moved in slow motion, observed everyone and stayed by myself. No one came and said, "Okay, Chic, time's up. Your schedule now requires activity." I was left to myself, drooling in welcomed boredom, staring at the ceiling, feeling my little soul fall into an endless abyss. That would be interrupted every now and then by an invitation.  "Do you want to play tag? We need one more person." The invitation/demand would often come from my oldest sister who only exerted one kind of energy: kinetic.

"Okay..." I was afraid of her.

"You can't pull out last minute or I'll beat you," she'd snarl.

"Okay...but...I think I may be getting sick."

"You're always sick, you're always sick, you never want to do anything!"

It was true. I was always sick. But it was also true that I never wanted to do anything. No game was ever that interesting. No group of kids were ever that fun. No childhood event was ever that exciting.

When my husband and I started dating, I said, "I'm really boring. You will find that I'm really boring."
But I was the youth pastor, a performer in college, and a school ambassador. I had an infectious amount of energy, I was charming and gregarious, able to hold any type of conversation. I was full of dry humor and wit. How in the heavens could I possibly be boring?

But I was. I preferred to be sedentary and I liked my solitude. I was the human sloth.

Today is our last day in St. Louis and because I had only been to my nephew's school and the thrift store the past 3 days, I reluctantly agreed to go to the zoo with my sister and the kids because I started to feel guilty.  The zoo grounds were fantastic, with manicured grass, forest trees, clean pavements, and a collection of exotic animals ranging from flamingos, to orangoutangs, to tigers and lions. We had a small lunch then we stopped for ice cream as we made our way to check out geckos and pythons.  My brother-in-law was with us and he pretended to be an expert tour guide armed with useless information and we laughed and egged him on.  The kids ran and oohed and ahhed, and they called each other's names and pointed at unknown animals.

"I'm so glad we're here," I said.  "This is such a nice place and we're having such a good time."

And then I felt myself fill up with shame.  I'm a mother now and I have children.  This isn't about a game that's interesting enough or a group that's a lot of fun or an event that's exciting.  This is about family time and as much as what comes natural for others is an effort for me because it is outside my true make-up, I have to stretch my joints and slip off the couch and put on my shoes and get out.  My preference to be sedentary and to be in solitude has to have its own time and only when it does not make my family suffer as a consequence.

So, I've made a promise to myself to do better. That although I was born a sloth, I would do my best to become any other kind of animal that gets up and walks around. And should a moment come when my true nature wants to win the battle, I'll just speak to me in my sister's voice: "You can't pull out...or I'll beat you." And hopefully, that voice will be strong enough to get me off my backside, on my feet, and out the door.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Samaritan

I've told myself that the next time I write a post, it will be lighthearted and fun, that it would evoke laughter and reflect my personality.

But, alas, there's a huge part of me that's deeply reflective and it affects the way I write. So, here it is, the entry I have thought about writing hundreds of times, rehearsing the lines in my head, wrestling with the right time to do it, the right way to do share it with my readers as an objective event in my life without coming across...preachy.  Because that isn't my intent at all.  I just want to share with you something that made me look at everything in my life in a different light, an event in my family's life that my husband and I reflect about almost on a daily basis.

I grew up in a deeply religious home.  The fear of God was placed in me as far back as I can remember. There were rules and regulations that were glaringly from the Bible, sound and true: Do not lie, do not cheat, honor your parents, believe in one God, etc., Then there were rules that were not so categorically Biblical and needed interpretation and explanation and pulling in of other scriptures that likewise needed some explanation in order to make the case of such rules viable: Do not own a television, do not wear jewelry of any kind (wedding rings permitted in some circles), Do not go to the movies, A woman must not cut her hair (not even to trim it) or put on make-up, She cannot wear pants, etc.,

Because I am a cynic by nature, those closest to me knew what I thought about such rules. Some made sense, others did not. I followed all, not because I was convinced God made every single one, but I was convinced that obedience and a humble spirit pleased God above all else. And there was and is that simple fact in my life that remains unshakeable today: I love God deeply and I want to please Him.

Out of all the beliefs that could be questioned, there was one I did not, and I believed it without waiver: We are the chosen ones, the redeemed ones. Our lives are a true definition of Christianity. Everyone else is lost.

And then my daughter, Alanna, became gravely ill and I never would have thought in a million years that not only her life would be on the line, but so would my view of Christianity and the definition of what it meant to be a child of God.

Those weeks, days, hours, minutes, and seconds, were the most horrific of my life.  I had never felt so vulnerable, so desperate, so void of hope, and so full of agony.  I had watched Alanna deteriorate so quickly that I was inevitably in a state of constant panic, expecting the worst at every turn.  In her fifth day at the hospital, when both her lungs blew while connected to life support, I buckled down on my knees to the floor and yelled out her name and I was sure, so sure, that my little girl was gone.

She was transferred to Columbia Presbyterian that Friday, at noon time, amidst an expected snow storm, and we would stay at the precious, miraculous hospital for the next thirty days.

You cannot go through a difficult moment in your life without an army of support. My brother, the pastor, and my church family were of course there, praying, interceding, fasting.  My oldest sister drove every week from New Jersey and seized the heavens for a miracle.  My retired mother-in-law flew in from Florida the very next day, and stayed with my son, and cooked, and cleaned our house.  She visited Alanna everyday, many times taking the subway. My sister from California emptied her savings and flew in within two days and used up all her sick, vacation, and personal days and was an integral part of my sanity those first two weeks. My closest friends provided time, money, and most importantly, strength. Alanna's godmother, a doctor, drove straight from the operating room of her hospital at Maryland, stayed by Nana's bedside for a couple of days, and drove straight back to the hospital, without a moment of sleep.  One special brother from the church, Omari, who had no car, took the bus, took the boat, took the train from Staten Island more than stand awkwardly, not knowing the right words to say. He was just there.  A sister of a friend drove hours from Washington DC, in the snow. She had heard about Alanna's ordeal and she wanted to just give me a hug and a cup of coffee.

There were phone calls everyday and family and friends from all over the world prayed. The support was overwhelming.

But there was one support, one consistent, unexpected support that took the journey with us from the beginning to the very end.

My cousin, Charles.

Because of complex family function worthy of day time TV, unlike all my other cousins, I did not have a relationship with Charles. We did not grow up spending Summers or vacations or holidays together. In fact, Charles did not know about us until he was almost finished with high school, but of course, I had always known about him and his siblings.  My cousins from the Philippines stayed in New York for a short while and it was in that equally short time that I was able to get acquainted with him.

Years later, married and with two kids, I would come across Charles at a neighborhood CVS near my home. We were elated to see each other and I introduced my husband to him for the first time.  My husband would later on comment that Charles was perhaps the nicest of my family he had ever met. We would run into each other a few more times that eventually led to casual birthday party invites for the kids (although, I was the only one inviting at that time!)  I was reacquainted with his wife (she was a girlfriend years back) and I would meet his two children at last in one of those accidental run-ins around Staten Island.

I wanted to stay connected to Charles because eventually, I wanted to save him. He was the only family who did not grow up like the rest of us.  He was nice but he needed redemption.

And then, Alanna got sick...

I remember Charles coming straight from work in that ICU room, dressed in a suit. He was a director of a department in a hospital in Queens. He had had a long day and a long commute and he stayed with me until close to ten o'clock. My husband was home sick with H1N1, the same virus that ravaged Alanna's body.

Charles came back the next day, and then the next.

The day Alanna was placed on a ventilator, Charles and my best friend sent me home. They stayed by Alanna's side. The next day, we almost lost Alanna and she was transferred to Manhattan.

Charles took off work.  He was there, a grave face, standing with his wife.

Alanna's journey of miracle took many sharp turns, uphill climbs, down falls, and large bumps on the road. My unsaved cousin called in sick, took vacation time, and personal days from work. And every Saturday, without fail, his whole family, his wife and kids, would spend the day with us at Presbyterian hospital.  Because Charles is a natural comedian, he brought laughter. Because he was always so full of energy, he brought joy to the room. Because he was simply there...he brought great comfort.

And there were many moments when Charles spoke to me about prayer, and hope, and faith, and holding on, and trusting in God.

I remember being alone by the lobby of the ICU, looking out through the large windows, speaking to God. What was going on here? Where were the religious people? Where were the preachers and the pastors and the ministers who knew about our agony and our desperate moment? Was Manhattan too far of a trek for the righteous and the redeemed?

Except for a handful of people, those who had sacrificed their time and given of themselves, were people we considered lost! The woman who drove hours to give me a cup of coffee and a hug, my Catholic mother-in-law who came instantly, my sister who cut her hair and wore pants--they were not following the exact rules and regulations from the same, exact rule book---and now, here, Charles, the only unsaved relative, was showing the most consistent, deepest display of compassion and support!

God, what is going on here?

I will never forget God's answer: Charles is your neighbor.

I must admit that I stopped for a moment. Then I knew what God meant. He was talking about the Samaritan. The Samaritan who helped the half dying, beaten man in the Bible. The most righteous of men walked the other way, but the Samaritan tended that fallen man back to health.

I was the fallen man. Charles was the Samaritan. My cousin, my unsaved cousin, was saving me.

God taught me the true meaning of Christianity. It wasn't in the rules and in the regulations. It wasn't in the holy clothing and in the Sunday services.  There were preachers and ministers I knew who were aware of our desperate moment. They were no further of a drive than Charles. And yet not once, not once, did they come.

I no longer follow the same rules and regulations. That event in my life had made me less religious but hopefully, more Christ-like.

My relationship with Charles today is quite different. He does more of the inviting than I do. We do not miss each other's events and we are at each other's homes for dinner whenever possible.  I call him, I spend time with him, for no other reason than I love his company.

I know he has started going to church and I'm really happy about it but even if he had not, Charles to me would still be the greatest Christian I have ever met.  I live my life now hoping that I could be the same.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Ode to Facebook

I'm not proud of it but yes, I am quite addicted to Facebook. I'd like to blame this on my addictive personality but I think idleness keeps me socially connected. Or perhaps, the social connections ensure my idleness.

For Christmas, my husband and I finally let go of our archaic phone plans and purchased iPhones (just the 4, we're quite cheap). And now, I'm addicted to the Scrambler game, howbeit the game reminds me humbly that I've overestimated my genius. In fact, based on my results, I might have some cognitive deficits. The deficits may have been brought on by hours spent on Facebook.

Facebook has some advantages, really. Yes, of course, it is overall superficial and should have an age limit---only for under 30, otherwise this site should insult your level of maturity. But aside from random posts ranging from useless (at the mall, woke up tired, eating dinner) to dramatic (I know no one cares about me...This weight just makes me want to give up...I know no one's going to respond to this...) to personal (if you're going to say something, say it to my face!!! some women should just keep their opinions to themselves!!! Grow up, and you know who you are!!!), Facebook has some important function.  It keeps us connected to friends and family (or disconnected, depending on how your responses come across), it allows us to show our creativity (a thousand ways to post a picture), and it gives way to self-promotion (I will be posting this blog on Facebook as soon as I'm done).

But Facebook, I think, might have made me a deeper thinker (except with Scramble, apparently).  The responses of people are quite interesting. You find out so much more about character, principle, and personalities much more than you would at a cocktail party, or perhaps even at a drunken bar.  It is amazing the exposure of the self that takes place in Facebook and because I am egocentric, it brings self-reflection. Am I that way? Do I rant when angry? Is this post craving for attention or pity? Are my vacation pictures shared for the joys of others, or do I just want to brag?

So many times I've read posts on Facebook and thought, "Oh my, I never knew how clever this person was!" "I don't remember them being this funny back in college!"  "Ok, that made absolutely no sense..."

And too many times I've read posts on Facebook and as many of you could probably relate, had to practice restraint.  I sooo want to respond to this post!!! I sooo want to give them a piece of my mind!!!

But I don't. And Facebook has done more than a therapist could accomplish: increase my level of tolerance and self-control. (Okay, I might've fallen victim a few times and posted away, clicked send, and the damage that resulted was irreparable but as in all things, we grow from regretful actions, hopefully...) 

But truly this is what I've learned from this social setting: our responses to our experiences reflect our character. I read an article on Facebook by a mother who lost a child in Newton, Connecticut. I couldn't keep the tears from flowing. Her response to her loss was raw and honest but it was full of love and hope and lacked the bitterness that the rest of the nation would expect.  I saw a video on Facebook of one of the fathers in that same school. He spoke, in a broken voice, about strength and redemption and love and gratitude.  I responded to a friend request from someone I didn't know, thinking he was one of the new volunteers in our church. He wasn't. He suffers from Chron's disease. His friends tagged pictures of him in Midland area helping Hurricane Sandy victims, and he posts pictures of himself in the hospital when flare ups happen. He is the most positive young person I know, so altruistic and full of courage. He never has a post of complaints, just appreciation for healthy moments. I find myself looking for his posts on days when I'm a bit down and I want my spirit lifted. I don't even know him, but I'm so glad for his friend request. His life on Facebook, I find, has helped keep my responses and my character in check.

Sometimes I want to write a dramatic post. Other times, I am tempted to write a personal one. But, thankfully, on those days, I opt for useless ones. Once in a while, I get philosophic and religious. And although I've received several grateful inboxes for those posts, I'm afraid they expose only my serious  side.

Attitudes.  Facebook is laden with them. It's not an honest measuring stick of our true nature, but it does give everyone a peek on what we are about, what we are made of, our intestinal fortitude, our level of maturity.  And although we surrender ourselves helpless to the reading of others and their interpretation, there is a pattern in our posts that reflect the truth of our nature.

I've deactivated several times for this reason. But I keep coming back.  Perhaps it's because I'm a behavior analyst. The behavior of people intrigue me.  Perhaps it's because I crave to share a bit of myself to others. I am outgoing but painfully private. Perhaps I feel the need to stay connected.  One of the rewards is keeping contact with faraway friends and family. Or perhaps, just perhaps, it's truly because I'm addicted.