How are YOU using Twitter?

A while ago I had a twitter-exchange with someone that ended with his observation that perhaps we are using Twitter in different ways. You see, he’d stopped following me, and although I’ve never met him in person, I felt (and still feel) a little lost without him.

Like an actor on a community theater stage, frozen in the middle of a scene, slack-jawed, lines forgotten as an audience member leaves. Time stopped as I wondered why and resisted the urge to chase after him.

How is it that Twitter brings to mind so many aspects of school yards and cafeterias and gym periods and locker rooms? Fundamentally, we want people to like us. Following me on Twitter is an indication that you like me, and that you’re interested in what I have to share.

The investment in follower-relations is low. I follow you, you follow me. I don’t have to pay more for the service. It seems courteous to follow back, like a handshake or a friendly wave. Relationships can be awkward if one-sided. For the most part, I’m looking for mutual commitment.

When, after we’ve been together for a while, you quietly ease out the back door, I find myself fretting over what I might have said or done to offend you. It’s silly, really; I know that. I don’t expect everyone to like me, and, when all is said and done, I am not sure what I’m looking for in our relationship anyway. But, why did you leave me?

The next time it happened, I asked. I’m not that good with social graces, and I really wanted to know. Talk about awkward! The poor soul was 100% gracious about it and followed me again, blaming an overzealous clean-up of his account.

There are random occasions when Twitter haphazardly unfollows people. I’ve been on both ends of that bug, and it’s no fun either way. But, that anomaly aside, I’m fascinated by the dynamics of social media friendships. Particularly in a realm where people can follow and unfollow me in the span of an unplugged vacation.

In the past weekish, one friend posted a great piece about the interactions of silence, experienced in person but lacking online. Another friend posted on “Five Ways to Make Yourself Interesting Online,” which I found relevant to life, not just the “online” aspects.  Yet another friend tweeted a link to an article on the foibles of social media. It shouldn’t be surprising that my analytical mind kicked into overdrive and I’m forced to crunch on my thoughts and spill them forth so I can get back to work on the million other things I have to do today.

How do I use Twitter?

  1. Communication with my network: Sharing of myself (i.e. “Hey! Here are some interesting thoughts and activities I’m involved in, if you’re interested.”)
  2. Communication with my network: Learning about others (i.e. “… and what are you up to?” caught in snippets, when I’m able to devote a few minutes to a quick scroll through the folks I follow)
  3. Developing friendships: engaging in back-and-forth exchanges of conversation
When I first signed up with Twitter, creating an account under the moniker @YouGottaWonder, I was there solely to communicate with my sisters. First one, then later the other. In between, I began to grow a network based almost exclusively on people I’d met on-line, through the network of blogs I read. Since then, I’ve continued to grow my network, in breadth and depth, just like relationships “in real life.” 

Although in large part I play the follow-me/follow-you game, if I think you’re just a marketer, or you’re responding to something random I tweeted, I don’t follow back. If I do, and after some time you consider me firmly on your hook and you unfollow me, I unfollow you. Quid pro quo. I doubt we’ve developed much depth in our relationship, anyway.

If, by chance, I followed you because of some connection (which turns out to be the case for *most* of the Trifecta and 100 Word writers) and after a few months I realize you’re never going to follow me back, I have to cut the cord. I mean really? You’re all that?

The notable exceptions have broken through Twitter, crossing over into the *other* social media: Facebook, and occasionally e-mail.

It’s a lot like life with just the social, no media. I have plenty of casual acquaintances, particularly through work. At the broadest level are the people I know by sight, but not by name. We smile and nod in passing, and can strike up a conversation in the lunch line, but we don’t really know each other. Then, of course, there are those I’ve spent more time with, and I might ask about the little ones or the latest project efforts.

Closer still are the people of mutual interest and respect. Most of these people are linked via Facebook, so the bridge from Twitter to FB puts people I’ve never met face-to-face in good company. And in that circle, there are always opportunities for greater intimacy and deeper sharing, through other venues (in person or private messaging). These are the people that beckon me, drawing me in, creating a desire for a shared meal, pitcher of beer or pot of coffee. Maybe someday.

There is one other Twitter-group: those I follow simply because they are interesting, or produce content I find relevant. These are not my friends, but they are “all that.” The cool kids. I don’t mind being a follower, if the leadership is worthy.

In the end, I manage my network by choosing who I’ll follow, passing on folks like 革命姑娘, because even though she’s followed by five people that I’m following, she tweets in Chinese and I’m not likely to get much out of it (and I’m tempted to unfollow the five who are following her, because clearly these acquaintances are not too discerning). This is the same way I manage all of my relationships. I don’t consider a face-to-face meeting a requirement for friendship, and Twitter connections are part of my real life.

So, I’d love to know… how are YOU using Twitter?

Posted in angst, exercise, life, Lingering thoughts, Venting, Wants, Wisdom | 3 Comments

The righteous, the wicked and the watchman

There are occasions when progress demands a change in perspective. For some time, I’ve been traveling a rough road, a journey fraught with danger and threats, surprises, elements beyond my control…you get the picture. Working harder, working smarter, not working, it doesn’t seem to matter what I try, I’m stuck in a quagmire of unpleasant circumstances and I can’t break free.

I’ve found comfort in the words of the Psalms;I’m reassured to know I’m not the first to struggle with life’s perils while trying to stay on a righteous path, confronted with wickedness. I’ve prayed for escape, for grace, for forgiveness, for God’s intervention, and yet, I can’t seem to find relief. I’ve made peace with the possibility that I need further refining, in situ. I trust that God’s got a plan and His plan requires me to stay right where I am.

Then, last week, during my morning Bible study, I had a revelation. A revelation only made possible because I was seeking direction, looking for answers, immersed in the Word. I read two passages, from Ezekiel 33 and Romans 13, that came together and created light in the darkness. This week, two more passages came to mind, from Genesis 18 and the story of Jonah.

Here’s how it comes together for me: Back in the day, Abraham negotiated with God for the salvation of the righteous inhabitants of Sodom, for those who deserved life to be spared from the destruction of the wicked. Abraham’s life was not in danger, but his nephew, Lot, a righteous man, lived in Sodom. Upon hearing of God’s plans for eradicating the evil in the neighboring towns of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham felt compelled to speak up in appeal. Unfortunately, the wicked were unrepentant and the cities were destroyed.

When God called Jonah to tell the people of Nineveh of their pending destruction, due to their pervasive wickedness, Jonah ran away. He went to sea, spent time in the belly of a whale, and eventually, reluctantly, obeyed God’s call. In this instance, the people of Nineveh turned from their evil ways and were spared by God’s compassion.

God puts people into positions of authority, according to His will. We are to respect authority; authority established by God comes with responsibility. God tells Ezekiel of the watchman’s responsibilities: when the watchman is made aware of imminent danger, he must sound the alarm that offers opportunity for salvation. If the watchman gives the alert and people ignore the warning, their fate is their responsibility. If the watchman sees the danger but doesn’t give the alert, he is accountable for their fate.

And for myself? In my current employment situation, I am in a position of authority. In today’s business climate, my team’s performance is critical for our ongoing existence. We must demonstrate our contribution to the corporate bottom line if we are to survive. I am aware of the danger, and have sounded the alarm. I am astounded by the behavior of some members of the team. But, given scriptural accounts, I shouldn’t be surprised. Sometimes people are determined to maintain their wicked ways, despite all warnings.

May God’s will be done. The righteous and the wicked remain in my prayers.

For more thoughts on this, go here.

Posted in angst, Bible, employment, faith, Leadership, ministry, obedience, prayer, Transformation, trust, Wisdom | 1 Comment

Double dutch

The world keeps spinning; my world keeps spinning. It’s all a double-dutch set of ropes spinning in a counter-cadence, impossible, yet possible…you just have to jump into the thick of it and keep moving.

I have a dream, a passion, a life that awaits me, magically, in the cloudy euphoria of Future. Fortunately, my faith keeps me lifted up on a path that (for the most part) is free of muck and mire. I’m not merely waiting, quietly, patiently. I’m moving and prancing on the sidelines. I know I can do this. I trust.

This post? Just my way of saying, “Don’t count me out!”

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Happy Anniversary!

Today marks one month to the day since my last post here. I *started* a post a few ago. The title? “I may have imploded.”

Here are my excuses:

I blame parenthood!

Prom was May 13th. We had a gaggle of teens spend the night. I can’t even remember the details that followed as we shifted from Prom to Graduation.

My youngest graduated on June 3rd. We had a gaggle of relatives spend the weekend. On Tuesday following, I dropped off the last of the guests on my way to work. As much as I enjoyed the company, it was about two weeks before I recovered.

Just in time for Freshman Orientation at Texas Tech, last weekend (June 17-19). In Lubbock. I give props to TTU for a well-executed 48 hour indoctrination to the reality of pending separation, independence, etc. For all parties.

I blame my work situation!

It’s been almost a year since the wheels came off the tracks, derailing what I *thought* was a decent career trajectory.

Dilbert watching over Novel in Progress

That coincided with the group critique of the first 25 pages of my first novel. I put the novel on hold while I rode the roller coaster that follows career unhinging.

Our house flipping efforts have been epic, and that post (those posts) have been long overdue. For a few weeks I spent every spare moment helping Mr. H paint, clean, run errands or do whatever was necessary to get the Lodestone property listed. We’re finally there.

In parallel, I fantasized about life-as-a-writer. I participated in a webinar hosted by A-list blogging and Danny Iny of Firepole Marketing. Danny is both inspirational and helpful. Technically, his engagement should *not* fall under the list of excuses. But, the inspiration was a contributor to the implosion.

And, for the sake of inspiration, creation, and bohemian appreciation, I founded the Humans of Austin page on facebook. Periodic expeditions to downtown Austin (Congress, South Congress and the East UT Campus areas) to capture images of the beautiful people of Austin. This trips are invigorating, and, although taxing, always encourage me.

Last week I signed up for an on-line course in pursuit of my real estate license. Why? Why not. If we’re going to make a serious go of the real estate business (we could be moguls some day!), we can be more profitable if one of us is the agent, and I drew the short straw was the better candidate for continuing education. It seems my BS gives me a leg up, no double entendre intended.

It seems that while I dream of writing, I manage to pursue many other exhausting endeavors that preclude my having the energy or mental capacity to sing a note write a word of coherent thought.

Enough of those lame excuses! Tonight, I squeaked out a post. May it be the first of many (more).

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Book Review: The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho

Occasionally, I stumble across the same message so often that a flashing neon sign, with bells and whistles, couldn’t be more effective in getting the point across. Most recently, I keep slamming into “follow your dream.” A few months ago, Mr. H and I watched The Secret (achieving your goals). A few weeks ago, my youngest daughter visited, and we watched Man of La Mancha (“Dream the Impossible Dream”).

And, I recently read The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho, a fable about understanding and pursuing one’s destiny, with the universe firmly conspiring to help. The theme is similar to The Secret and Man of La Mancha, when Destiny calls, you must faithfully go. Although The Secret is New-Agey, and gives too much credit to individual willpower, the starting point is the same. Each individual must discern his destiny, then dare to dream his dream, no matter how impossible it might seem.

The Alchemist is the story of an Andalusian shepherd boy who dreams of traveling to the Pyramids of Egypt to find a treasure. He sells all of his sheep and leaves his life behind, in pursuit of this dream. On his journey, he is joined by an Englishman who dreams of becoming an alchemist, and he is helped by a centuries-old alchemist who dreams of an apprentice.  The tale, as told, is well-founded in Christian principles.

Here are some of my favorite quotes, with links to relevant scripture:

“To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation.” Romans 8 tells of living our lives according to the Spirit, pleasing God. In Luke, Jesus says, “Blessed are those who hear, and obey, God’s call.”

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” The Spirit intercedes on our behalf.

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” If we rely on ourselves, failure is a valid concern. If our goals are aligned with God’s plan for us, such fear is misguided. Jeremiah 17

“The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.” (Proverbs 24:16)

“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.” One of the most frequent commands in the Bible is “do not fear.” Although it is in our nature to fear, it is a blessing to suffer in our Godly pursuits. We are called to walk humbly with God.

“Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.” (Matthew 6:21)

“People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of.” We are inherently dreamers. Abraham was well over 100 years old when God gave him the son he’d promised.

The message is: identify your calling, your dream, your goal…and the universe will respond. If what you pursue is in obedience to God’s will, then of course you will be able to achieve your goals. To doubt would be foolish. After all, God is, well…God.

The Alchemist is a tale well told; it’s an enchanting parable of a young man, a dream and the obstacles he faced in order to achieve his goals. He heeded the universe, the guidance of God, and the magnetic force of his destiny, overcoming all interference and distractions, such as the love of a woman or the theft of his savings.

Each of us has an obligation to discern God’s will for our own lives, day by day, and to set out to obey, trusting that if it is God’s will, it will be done. We must learn to trust our hearts, to pay attention to the world around us, and to respect that while we search for our dreams, our dreams are searching for us.

I recommend this book to anyone who is ready to face the challenge. What is your destiny? Are you ready to pursue it? Do you dare to achieve it?

Posted in Bible, faith, Fiction, obedience, reading, Review, reward, trust, Wisdom, Writing | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

That was then, this is now

Yesterday, I responded to Jeff Goins’ challenge: Declare yourself a writer! Sure, I’m motivated by the contest, but also…I’m motivated by the calling that has been pulling and tugging at me for years. I’ve been inching along this path, occasionally making great strides but mostly moving in fits and starts. Writing 3 NaNoWriMo novels is a great example of that.

Who am I, really? Who am I called to be? I can look back and see who I was (with bias, of course), but I have a lot of questions about who I am becoming. Questions without answers. A vision of a future, but a murky path to get there. Murky? No, not even that clear.

Despite the uncertainty, I do what I can, walking in faith, taking one step after another. Though there might be long pauses between the steps, and occasionally I might sit down (and maybe even shed a tear or two), I am making progress.

This morning, I changed my Twitter profile from this:

Wife, mother, grandmother, woman of faith. Currently: Acting Director of US Engineering Operations for a Taiwanese Company. Someday: writing full-time.

to this:

A woman of faith, rejoicing in the Spirit, seeking Christ, obeying God. I am a writer, making a living as a Director of Engineering Operations.

I am a writer.

Posted in Adventure, faith, Fiction, Inspiration, NaNoWriMo, obedience, reward, Transformation, Wants, Writing | Tagged | 4 Comments

Transformation: I am a writer

In the early 80’s I started college, in pursuit of Engineering. Then, I dropped out. Then, I went back. Then, I dropped out, again. I was out for 6 years. I got married, had babies, and worked as a stenographer. Then, I went back to college, again. This time, I graduated with a BSME 10 years after I started.

For the last 20 years, I’ve considered myself an Engineer. I’ve managed people, I’ve managed projects, I’ve delivered products, and I’ve had a good career. Now, it’s time for change. The last six years have been a journey, and this trip’s not done. I’m transforming. I’m being resurrected. The old me is going away, making room for the new me.

“Hi. My name is Fran, and I’m a writer.”

W: Walking in Christ’s wonderful light, his Word lives in me. I am wonderful.
R: I am being resurrected, coming to new life.
I: Inspired, empowered beyond imagination.
T: I am thankful! Thankful and more thankful!
E: I’m eagerly pursuing the gifts of the spirit; eager to do good, and eager to serve.
R: I am rejoicing!

This declaration (and video) are in response to Jeff Goins’ contest challenge, promoting his new e-book You Are a Writer. I am a writer!

Posted in Bible, Challenged, faith, Inspiration, ministry, Note to Self, Rehab, spirit, submit, Transformation, trust, Wants, Writing | Tagged | 4 Comments

Transformation 2012: Day ___

I’m learning a funny thing about transformation. Well, maybe not funny, but good to know. Transformation comes with a lot of pressure, both internal and external. From the outside, the world resists. From the inside, I resist. I’m squeezed, compressed, twisted by conflicting desires. I yearn to move forward, yet I long for the comfort of where I was.

I sympathize with the pains of childbirth. Not the mother’s pain (having delivered my own and assisted in the delivery of 2 grandchildren, I could), but a pain that, were I to recall it, goes back to my own birth.

God, let me get through this! With just a few more pushes I’ll burst forth into my new life. I don’t want to withdraw back into the warm, safe, prenatal environment that prevents growth. And yet, I do. Because the here and now is squeezing the life out of me.

This isn’t what I’d imagined. Unlike the caterpillar that spins a snug cocoon and sleeps until it’s time to break free, unfolding its wings and flying, liberated, beautiful. No. Instead, I’m breathless and squalling, not yet free.

Somewhere inside of me is bohemia – “a person, such as an artist or writer, who lives and acts free of regard for conventional rules and practices.”

This is the life that awaits, if I can just liberate myself from the shackles of fear that bind me to the life I am living.

Posted in angst, faith, Inspiration, life, love, prayer, Transformation, trust, Wants | Tagged | Comments Off on Transformation 2012: Day ___

Transformation 2012: Day 12

A nice rainfall (last night and throughout the day) means I didn’t need to water the lawn at Lodestone today. Work and volunteer commitments prevented me from getting grubby, regardless.

But my personal transformation got a boost, as I made another trek downtown in pursuit of more Humans of Austin photos. This exercise lifts me up and allows me to relish the fruit of the Spirit. I enjoy the opportunity to flex some creative muscles, letting those juices flow. And, there’s something inherently rewarding in telling people (truthfully) that I’m working on a photography project, taking pictures of beautiful people.

Here’s an example, for reference:

Posted in Inspiration, love, Rehab, reward, spirit, Transformation | 2 Comments

Transformation 2012: Day 11

I began counting the days of this transformation at a random milestone, beginning with the first day of my “vacation.” I spent ten days dedicated almost exclusively to the rehabilitation of a house we’ve acquired with the intention of reselling. Our improvements should net us profit.

Technically, the transformation began in mid-February, when we took possession of the house. During the first few weeks, Mr. H repaired the septic system and much of the electrical wiring. These changes weren’t cosmetic, but they were necessary. He also knocked out a wall that divided two living areas, dramatically opening up the space. This change was remarkable.

Personal transformation is similar – some changes are internal, unnoticed by all but the closest friends and family. These can begin with a change in habits, such as spending time in daily prayer, or taking more time to read, to journal, to pursue hobbies. Other changes are dramatic, like significant weight loss, or career changes. But those changes rarely happen in a day; these changes, also, are a process.

Today, Mr. H and I worked together to prune the cedar in the front, refining the earlier cuts that pared everything but the main, vertical trunk. We also removed the dead bushes that lined the front of the house. When we’re finished with the landscaping, our work with the cedar will be obvious, the scars will show, though the end result is pleasing. We’ll create flower beds, trimmed with edging and filled with mulch; the legacy of the bushes will not be evident.

My vacation has ended, so I’ll be balancing my efforts, helping as I can with the transformation of the house on Lodestone, and continuing with my own transformation.

Posted in discipline, faith, Flipping, Flipping Houses, Inspiration, life, love, Real Estate, reduce/reuse/recycle/reinvent, Rehab, Transformation | Comments Off on Transformation 2012: Day 11