Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Reconnecting

I really like Facebook.  I mean, I REALLY like Facebook. I have a zillion friends (I actually have 652, but who's counting?).

Facebook has allowed me to keep up with family and close friends that live far away, to see their kids grow up through pictures, to keep abreast of big and little news, to rejoice and sorrow and pray with them, even though I am nowhere near, and may never even see them in the flesh again.

I like Facebook because it has allowed me to reconnect with people from my past, both distant and near. This includes people I met on the first day of kindergarten, as well as my former tenant.  I have learned so much about these folks that I may have known only superficially before, and have become close with a few. Facebook has fostered the growth of these relationships.

I like Facebook because I have met new people through it. Yes, I know that I haven't REALLY met them, at least not in the flesh, but I have met their ideas, thoughts, jokes, ideals, needs and photos of their life. People friend me and I friend them, mostly because we have something in common, be it our faith, our musical or artistic interests, or, a common friend.  I have met choir directors and singers, clergy, iconographers, knitters and spinners, chefs and down home cooks, gardeners, readers, Orthodox and non Orthodox, crafters of all sorts.  I have learned so much from these people, enough that my life has been enhanced.

I like Facebook because it has allowed me to meet and follow people that I admire for one reason or another; people with skills and gifts that I admire or aspire to.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

35

Facebook has a function where you see all your posts over the years for that day. Today, I was brought up short by the one I've quoted below. I'm saving it here, because as I read it, I understood how far I've come, and I think to be reminded of that from time to time. Putting it here will keep it safe for rereading when I think the sky is falling. I don't really want to repost this on Facebook, so here it will go. This post is from 2013:

Age I was given: Bev. Cooke gave me 35
I lived in: a fog, but otherwise, in San Jose, CA, around the corner from the Winchester Mystery House. I lived with my daughter and husband and our little lhasa apso named Harry, as well as my parents, Ed and Bea who came when the baby was born (of course), and stayed after the baptism (the happiest day of my entire life) for my mom to have very delicate open heart surgery which she nearly did not make it through. Once she was nearly recovered, the year of hell commenced. Thank God, and I really mean it, that my parents stayed and were there to help and support during that year.
I drove: a red Nissan Sentra, and Jerry drove a white Ford Escort
I worked at: maintaining equilibrium during this most difficult year in which I went from supreme joy at finally becoming a mother after 11 years of trying, to dazed fear of losing my daughter to cancer. In between, I attempted to maintain my medical transcription business which did survive - barely. I worked at becoming knowledgable about childhood cancers, nutritional support and being a strong advocate for my daughter's medical care. I worked extremely hard at forcing my insurance company to pay for my daughter's treatment which they tried to skip out of. And to think that some people say we have the best medical care in the world. Not.
I wanted to be: Living a different life. Anywhere other than where I was. I wanted to take my daughter and my dog and run away which I did do six years later, and learned that running away changes nothing but the scenery. But really, when I was 35, it was what I didn't want that stands out. I didn't want to be the one that everyone relied on - I wanted someone to rely on. I was exhausted from carrying the weight of our life. I didn't want to be the mother of a miraculous child who had cancer. I didn't want to watch my daughter change from a chubby, happy baby to a hairless, emaciated, solemn gnome. I wanted to be at rest and peaceful, but there was little of that to be found, except during liturgy, but I couldn't attend every week due to my daughter's health.
I feared: Breaking, and I came so close... My daughter's death - I used to have nightmares of her in her little wooden casket. Once in a while, I still do. I feared that everything I had built my life around - God - wasn't real. I feared that my husband and I would never recover our relationship after this, and we never did. I feared my own weakness and sinfulness, since I felt that every aspect of our family rested on me. I feared making a wrong decision. I feared that I would never be able to forgive the weakness of some people that I depended on during this time. I feared that life would never again be the same, and it wasn't. I feared that my faith and my love would not be enough, but I was wrong. Lord, I believe; help my unbelief was my prayer. Also, Isaiah 40:30. Mostly, I feared not surviving intact, no matter the outcome of that awful year of 35, when every aspect of my life blew up. But I did. I really did. And it was only through the grace of God.
And that is more than you EVER wanted to know about me, Bev!
"Like" this status and I will give you an age!
LikeShow more reactions
Comment
Comments
Elizabeth Winkelmeyer Much, much love. ((((((((hugs))))))))
Don Fausett I am not asking for your age. I just liked reading this. I hope it was cathartic for you to write it.
Carol Wetmore It's a gift to have your insight. You survived!
John Plummer Thanks for sharing some of your story. Isn't it amazing to look back at life and everything which has brought us to this moment? Wishing you every blessing --
Rebecca Magaziner Matovic Thank you for sharing this, Denise. Words fail, but thank you.
J. Max Sullivan I love you, Denise. God bless you.
Karen Rubino Wow God bless you<3 span="">
Anna Bennett Thank you for sharing this!
Kathy Pieracci It is amazing when you think you are alone, He is always by your side....thank you for sharing
Shanna King Thank you for writing this... Hugs...
Denise M. Babineau Thank you everyone. I just want to say that my life is good, and even though I've hit bottom a couple of times in my life, and 35 was one of them, I think that it was necessary for me to understand what is important in life, to get my priorities strai...See More
Peter McGurrin I've come to realize I don't even know 'how' to put aside my own strength. When I do, it feels like someone other than me doing this...thanks Denise
Maha Adranly Love you Denise. I remember all of that!!

Friday, December 02, 2016

Waking Up

When I wake up in the morning, I usually lie in the bed for a few moments, thankful that I'm alive, and then I check my email and Facebook on my phone. I always start with the notifications, and I get probably 30 to 50 every time I check. I look for notifications that someone has made a comment on one of my posts, or notifications from my real-life friends and family.

This morning, I was shocked to find two comments by a long time friend of nearly 40 years, an archpriest who has dried my tears and celebrated with me many times. I care what he thinks as he is usually a clear thinker, and truthfully, I care what he thinks about me.  He said this: Trolling for political fights is unbecoming. , and also this: I don't like them and think I'll have to take a break from them.

I checked, and we are still FB friends, which is a relief, but I'm shocked into re-evaluating what I've been doing on FB this political season. In this country, we have freedom of speech, at least for the time being, and I am free to say whatever I want and to express my disgust at that odious person who has been elected as President, and the people who voted for them. I have done everything that I could to point out how unfit he is, how his entire platform is the antithesis of what this country was founded on and is all about, how dangerous he is, how his character and narcissistic personality make him unfit, how he is surrounding himself with cabinet nominations which read like the who's who of disgraced and unfit assholes, how he is ignoring all advice and security briefings.... on and on. Yes, I have been loud and clear about my thoughts, whether through spot-on memes, or my very clever and erudite postings. Very loud and clear, and I am secure in the knowledge that half the voters think I am right and Trumpites are wrong.

Someone, was it Peter?, used the term echo chamber, and I immediately understood that it was the correct term to use for FB postings. The feedback that I get from my postings is from people who agree with me. I found that to be a validation that I am right, and it encouraged me to keep posting. Jonathan said that I post aggressively. Ole said that I post so much political stuff that he (and others) can't find posts that I refer too.  So, it seems to be matter of tone and quantity both.

A few weeks ago, I had dinner with Senya, who wanted to understand why I am so anti Trump. We had a wonderful and respectful conversation, and I think I was able to put forth my thoughts clearly. She wanted to explain her thoughts, and I understood her - we have much more in common than we thought - but when I look back on that conversation, what I took away from it was that she carefully considered the platforms of both candidates, and she found she disagreed with most of Clinton's platform and disagreed with less of Trump's platform; in other words, she wasn't truly voting FOR Trump, or maybe just a little - she was voting AGAINST Clinton, just as I voted against Trump. I would have voted for pretty much anyone who wasn't Trump. I probably agree with Clinton a bit more than half of the time, don't think she is a criminal, think that the visciousness of the attacks on her have to do with her gender mostly, that she was held to an impossible standard, a standard that no man has been held to. I'm a Bernie fan. Had he been the candidate, I would have voted wholeheartedly FOR him, not against Trump.

Anyway, today, I am brought up short. Julia said last week something to the effect that FB posts are not useful; they don't effect change and there are better ways to work politically. Peter said the same thing this week. I didn't pay attention, but I am paying attention today. I am convicted of trolling. Yes, that is what I was doing with my questions. I don't consider my questions or my defense of my questions to be a straw man as Ole said, but I was trolling. I guess I trolled because my person lost the election in a way that makes it clear that half the voters think I am wrong, and I am never wrong. Being wrong is uncomfortable and I know myself well enough at 61 to understand that I am riddled with the sin of pride and my pride is rearing its ugly head once again. THAT is why Fr. Basil's words sting so much. I'm convicted. My behavior online is, indeed, unbecoming, and I fear I have trashed relationships in prideful need to be right, relationships that are important to me.

I'm really not sure what I, personally, need to do about this situation other than to ponder it some more, ask forgiveness through confession, and perhaps forgiveness of some people I have offended, beginning with Fr. Basil. The problem is that I seem to be incapable of leaving this particular sin alone; I keep returning to it like a dog returns to eat his vomit. Sometimes I have a moment of clarity and I disgust myself, but mostly not. I just keep on my way, chipping away at little minor sins, and resolutely ignoring the big guns under the surface. This election has rubbed my nose in it and I have reacted badly.

I also truly believe that the damage to our republic and to our way of life, our ideals and our foundations may be irreparable, and if we allow the Republican legislature to run hog wild, life as we know it will cease to exist. I truly believe that. I truly believe that it is my right and my duty to fight those who want to strip away our rights and very foundations of this country. I truly believe that is exactly what is happening with the economic war against the middle class that is being waged by Republicans.  Jonathan advocated silence because everytime I post, I give Trump and his Republican cronies more power. I don't understand how that happens, and I don't believe that silence is the answer.  All that is required for evil to triumph is for good people to remain silent. I see the truth in that statement and it has been played out in history many times, including in Germany prior to WWII. Ah, I've said it - I mentioned Nazis, and therefore everything I say can now be ignored. Sigh.

I just don't know how to proceed. FB memes and posts are not changing anyone's mind and seem to be alienating people. That is not my intent. I don't want that. I want dialogue. I want understanding on both sides. I want to find common ground. I want us, everyone, to unite to fight the forces that are destroying our ideals, and Trump is only a symptom of that, not the cause. My behavior has been counterproductive. It's got to stop. I need to sit back and regroup. I need to sit back and repent. I need to find a way to walk this minefield.

I am named after the Theotokos, and she is my mother in ever sense of the word. It is said that she spoke seldom. I, on the other hand, speak often and loudly, and in the speaking, I work out my understanding of problems, and pontificate because, after all, I know best. I can do better. This is a form of slavery, really, and in the post communion prayers, is a prayer to my patroness, the Theotokos, that says it all.  May I truly pray this prayer today:

O most holy Lady Theotokos, the light of my darkened soul, my hope, my protection, my refuge, my rest, and my joy. I thank you, for you have permitted me, the unworthy, to be a partaker of the most pure Body and precious Blood of your Son. Give the light of understanding to the eyes of my heart, you that gave birth to the True Light. Enliven me who am deadened by sin, you that gave birth to the Fountain of Immortality. Have mercy on me, O loving Mother of the merciful God. Grant me compunction and contrition of heart, humility in my thoughts, and a release from the slavery of my own reasonings. And enable me, even to my last breath, to receive the sanctification of the most pure Mysteries, for the healing of soul and body. Grant me tears of repentance and confession, that I may glorify you all the days of my life, for you are blessed and greatly glorified forever. Amen.