Once upon a time, I spent a lot of time staying home watching TV, drinking too much and cursing like a truck driver.  I was masterful at using not just F-bombs, but mass quantities of other colorful colloquialisms throughout my everyday speaking. Becoming a parent changed those things about me.  Seeing how much little eyes and ears pick up on and how quickly has made me mindful of my words and actions, especially around the kids. Sometimes I slip, but I try really hard to say what I mean these days using MY words rather than the colorful stand-ins that don’t quite say what I want them to anyway. I’ve been called “Vanilla”. I’ve been told I’ve become “Plastic”.  I’ve been name-called for being too “good”?  Language aside, while I have never been a nominee for sainthood, I don’t qualify as a bully or jerk either.  Although not everyone would agree with that statement, I know me better than anyone else and can honestly say that if you are one who disagrees, you should probably take a long hard look in a mirror and see what it is about me that bothers you so.

Social media has heralded in a new age of public shaming.  There are lots of behaviors that deserve to be called out as negative, but why is living a relatively clean life and embracing the low-tech considered fair game?  #liveauthentic has become a target spearheaded by a young woman who still has a good ten or more years ahead of her before she gains a clue as to what ‘authentic’ even is, let alone how to live that way.

Socality Barbie has taken Instagram by storm.  I smiled when I first saw the images. I thought the photos were creative, funny and interesting.  As someone who spends a lot of time hiking and exploring around the PacNW, I loved the idea of using such an iconic prop…much along the lines of parents who take pictures every year of their kiddlet with the same stuffed animal or dad’s dress shirt from newborn-college graduate.  I interpreted the use of the icon as ‘if she can do it, so can you’ and smiled that the idea aligned with my own philosophy on hiking and sharing photos via Instagram.  It wasn’t until the photographer spoke (via interview and in an article) that the images were ruined for me.  You see, the images were interesting enough from an art standpoint that, like good art, many people could interpret them in many different ways.  Unfortunately, the photographer explained her idea behind the images and gave it her own words criticizing and mocking those who get off their asses, turn off the TV and actually go outside rather than just watching the world go by on the internet or television.  Do I sound a little miffed?  It’s not because I took Socality Barbie seriously or personally on its own. It is that a few people who presume to know me sent me the article with no qualification or follow up as an apparent comment on my own Instagram posts.

In a nut-shell:  I live my life in spite of all the crap people have said about or to me and I make no apologies for it.  No one person on this planet knows all of what I’ve weathered or survived in my lifetime and I do not presume to know your details either.  I DO know that the places my feet take me inspire me. They impact my artwork. They charge me emotionally and bring me such peace where I used to harbor anxiety and fear.  If the few photos I post from my excursions inspire even one person to go outside and find places that they too can connect with, then I am satisfied that I was right to share.  They aren’t about YOU. They are about me and my hope for others who may need hope.  When dealing with others, be kind.  Remember, if you can’t say anything nice…don’t share it with me.

PS-My self-worth isn’t measured in ‘like’s or ‘followers’ and I’ll continue to live my life as I see fit (don’t get me wrong…it’s good to be ‘like’d but I’ll still be pretty content with my life even if this blog garners no ‘like’s).  If you choose to add to the conversation in a non-constructive or negative way, please don’t ‘follow’ me and feel free to unfriend me.

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