Fireflies in Autumn

... sometimes we find things in the most unexpected places ...

I pulled the title for this blog post out of a variety of conversations I was following (more lurking to be honest) among my friends on Twitter. One friend mentioned that the fireflies were lovely. Another small group of my friends were discussing the merits of Autumn as a season, particularly since this week's been full of the usual summer mugginess of South-Central PA. I think they were pining for cooler weather.

At first I thought the concept of "Fireflies in Autumn" might be a poem, and it still may be someday. But for now, it's something of an idea that's floating in my head, like little sparkles in the night. Only flashing from time to time enough for me to know they're flying around... See what happens when my brain slips into poetry mode? I digress...

Fireflies don't belong in autumn. They belong in early/mid summer. Everyone knows this. But I was thinking about the things that don't belong together that are often seen or imagined by those who want to see them. Like small talk & superficially sharing lives through 140 characters at a time.. and the fact that I have a community of people who I can count on.

What a surprise it'd be to find fireflies in autumn! And what a surprise it was to find such amazing people on Twitter who are now part of my network of friends.

The image of fireflies in autumn is like the the beauty of Twitter. All those things that wouldn't necessarily come together on their own become connected through something manufactured. But that doesn't make the connection any less real. I've received incredible amounts of love over the past year or so from people I've met through twitter. People I may never have otherwise met.

This week's been very rough for me. I've been dealing with a lot of impending change and I've been feeling (quite literally) under the weather. But this week I've received love and encouragement from some of the most unexpected people both on and offline.

If you're not on Twitter, I recommend it. I thought it was stupid when I first heard about it, but it's led me to some incredibly important people that I now cannot imagine living my life without. No matter what I'm dealing with, there's almost always someone out there who can relate and lend support, and on the more "superficial" level, there's always someone out there with a common interest!

So, in honor of a surge of overwhelming appreciation for my fellow tweeps, I'm gonna do a #FollowFriday (#FF) here. It's a Twitter thing, where people suggest to others who they should follow. I don't like the usual incarnation of #FF, as it's usually just a list of usernames tweeted by someone with little to no explanation as to why I should follow them. If I wanted a random list of people that you follow, I could just look at your following list. So my list is here, with some of the many reasons why I love a small sampling of the people I follow.

Fellow Autumnophiles:
  • Jeff - web cartoonist (Zoidland, Frank & Linh, & The Ouro Bros.), techie man, and my hubby - source of endless love, entertainment, and amusement
  • Jeremy - self proclaimed "best" Jeremy ever, co-producer of The Ouro Bros. comic strip, and father of my future daughter-in-law
Fellow Photinophiles: (yes that is a made-up word for firefly lovers)
  • Sara - socially conscious, health conscious, and my spontaneous coffee date to remind me that my kids aren't the only crazies on this planet.
  • Susan - kindred spirit, writer, dreamer, adventurer, and one of those people that I can hang out with even when I feel anti-social
Other awesome people who have taught me that Twitter isn't stupid:
  • Ami - amazing artist, owner of the best dog in the world, beautiful singer, and my friend forever. It's her fault I signed up for Twitter. She still likes to remind me how dumb I once thought it was. Yes, Ami, you're right. ;)
  • Jamie - the mother of my future daughter-in-law and the Martha Stewart of Twitter... if Martha were actually cool
  • Kirsten - one of those moms who just always seems to understand
  • Ken - Social media guru & host of Frank & Linh, owner of "The Porch," and "that guy" we all love to pick on
  • Shanelle - Hot momma-to-be, owner of Bliss Baked Goods - the place to satisfy all your sweet-tooth needs
  • Meg - Amazing photographer and all around sweetheart
  • Brenda - one of the strongest women I know, who's walked through hell and lived to talk and smile about it
  • Jennifer - one of my most recent surprise encouragers with a huge heart
This is, by no means, a comprehensive list of all the cool people on Twitter, but they're a good group of locals to start with. :)


Redefining Friendship in an Online World

I've taken an unofficial poll on Facebook. Only two questions, but I think I'm good to write this post now. Granted, my poll combines answers of about 2 dozen people, obviously sampled from my Friends List which consists of a small percentage of Facebook users.

I had a "friend" decide that we weren't really "friends" and she "unfriended me" on Facebook (FB). Now, this in and of itself isn't a problem. We all do it. The FB world is a place where mere acquaintances become labeled as "friends" because it's our only option for keeping track of our connections online. Now, as nice as it is to think that FB would create an "acquaintance" option, it's likely not going to happen, because there just isn't any point to complicating matters that way.

However, if you do as I have done, there are many options in privacy levels by creating groups and allowing only certain parts of your profile to be seen by particular groups of people. It takes time to set up your groups and their settings, but you can get as specific or as general as you want to and customize it to your needs. (As a side note: I have no idea why everyone gets up-in-arms over FB privacy all the time; if your settings are set, you're safe.)

Granted, this can also create problems in relationships, particularly if you do something stupid which messes up your settings and you end up not allowing family members to see your profile at all. Oops & sorry! Not that I would know anything about that, of course.

Back to this "friend." We met on Twitter, in part of a local network. We've met in person, shared some very personal information, and we've even gone away for a weekend with a bunch of other online friends. And this is why her "unfriendship" hurt so much. I thought we were friends ~ actual friends. She decided to spend more time focusing on her "real" friends, and I respect her decision, but I was a bit baffled as to how it happened that I wasn't included in that category.

And, since I know this will be asked: Yes, I do make a lot of friends online and, yes, I have many online friends that I've never met in person. I don't use Facebook to meet people; I don't friend random people. I have, however, met a lot of locals whom I now consider friends (many whom I've met in person), and I have met several people in various online forums or games, whom I also now consider friends.

It's no different than making an acquaintance in any social setting. Sometimes an acquaintance becomes a friendship, sometimes it turns into an anti-friendship (I don't have enemies). And sometimes, an acquaintance is just an acquaintance.

A lot of people I know, this "friend" included (by her own admission) use social media as just a game. It's not. There are real people on the other side of the wire(less), with real feelings.

I use FB to "organize" the people I know, to bring together people I know from all different aspects of my life (both on and offline) and keep communication lines open. As I see it, this is the point. Not to be the end of all relationships, but to facilitate social networking and ultimately open communication.

Sadly, too many people use social media to avoid personal conversation. People say things, directly or indirectly, to people online that they would NEVER dream of saying in person. Because the computer is a convenient place to hide from actual conflict resolution.

So the irony: friends who aren't friends, and a vehicle meant to improve relationships that serves to divide people in a lot of cases. I've learned all of this the hard way, and I'll be the first to admit I've allowed and contributed to this problem. I've lost several relationships by not remembering this simple rule:

Do unto others as you would have them do to you, both on and offline.


This is not goodbye...

"it makes a difference
that i’m feeling this way
with plenty to think about
and so little to say"

This morning I sat with Gramma. That's about all it was ~ just sitting. We talked a little, but she was tired and lost her train of thought often.

Her health is deteriorating rapidly. It could be days, weeks, or maybe months (but "months" is far more fantasy than reality, I think).

She's a fighter. I've written about her before, and we've been blessed to have far more time with her than I thought we would at the time of that blog. So maybe there's more time now than I think. But I kinda doubt it.

She can't be alone anymore. Her legs are giving out. Her lungs are giving out. And several other organs have already gotten to the point of "critical."

In explaining the situation to my 6yo, I used the typical, cliched and, frankly, hollow lines:
"She's going to stay with Jesus."
"You can still talk to her whenever you want to; she'll hear you."
"We'll see her again someday in heaven."
And his response was, "But I'll miss her; we should have gone to see her more." And this is what everyone regrets when a loved one passes on.

I don't do good-byes. I don't even say it. I yell at people for saying it to me. It's just "Later," or "See ya," or just hugs & kisses ~ something that says, "This is not good-bye; it's just a chance for us to miss one another until we see each other again."

But I'm tired of saying good-bye to Gramma. I'm tired of seeing her in pain. I'm tired of knowing how defeated she feels. I want to let her go. I want to see her as I saw her when she drifted to sleep today: in peace and rest.

And I truly believe what I told my son. We have our memories, and we'll have the things she made with love for us. It's not good-bye; it's just a much longer parting than I like. And it means I'll miss her. A lot. I should have visited her more.


Soundtrack for this post: "Films for Radio"