Wednesday, August 27, 2014

No Problems Without Solutions

Have you seen the latest horrible video/image/story about ThisMan/ThatWoman/ThosePeople?

If you're on Facebook, the answer is most likely yes. Someone you follow has been "alerted" to something mean, illegal, immoral, or cruel, and they want you to see it, too.

The stories are everywhere. Just look!

Hypocrites pontificating!
Companies violating!

Bigots discriminating!
Scandals... um... scandal-ating!




I get it. These are bad things happening and your friends want you to know about them.

But why?

What's the point, exactly? What good does it do to learn about these things if you are powerless to change them?

Ah... but what if you *could* do something about them? That would change things, wouldn't it? Instead of just being a bystander and mumbling "tsk, tsk" under your breath, imagine being able to take actions to make bad situations better.

Well, all of this talk about "your friends" and the things they post isn't about other people at all. It's about me. I have been the person posting these links and ranting and raving about the bad people and the terrible things. But if I'm not doing anything else, it makes no sense to post at all.

My solution? No more posting stuff like this unless I also include a very specific, very direct call to action. If I read that a retailer is discriminating against a group of people, I will take the time to look up a corporate contact, share that address or email with my friends, and write a letter myself to the company explaining why I am bothered and what I expect them to do. If I read about legislation (proposed or enacted) that concerns me, I need to make sure that my elected officials hear from me directly. When I share the story on Facebook, I'll include a request to friends to contact their own representatives. And if I hear about something local that I think deserves more attention, I'll reach out to area news teams and encourage them to report on it.

My point is, instead of just railing against stupidity... and really, I'm preaching to the choir when I post on Facebook... I will identify specific actions that can be taken and make it easy for my friends to follow my lead.

Yes, there are problems in the world. But fixing them requires more than just me complaining about them on social media. Actions are what lead to solutions.

Oh, and if you see me forget this pledge, say something. I won't be perfect but I can always get better.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

An End to The Rainmakers.

You know those Facebook memes going around that remind you, "hey, don't take this status personally because it might not be about you"?

Well, sometimes, a person posts something that obviously IS about you. And then you're left wondering how best to respond.

For example, yesterday I posted this:


And this morning, I awake to see this as a Facebook friend's status calling out someone for lashing out at others instead of accepting their own blame for their situation.

Which explains why I'm wide awake at 4:45am writing this blog. Because the person who posted this status is the same person who sent me a private message Friday evening asking if our Rainmakers group could help a family member of hers in need.

I get it. She sent a message asking if I would take the time to check out the GoFundMe page, create a Rainmakers project for it, and try to assist her family. On Saturday, I replied that I would read through it and see how we might help. And then Monday morning, she reads my post and is bothered enough by it to call me out, albeit anonymously, in her own Facebook status.

She says she fails to understand. So for her, and to anyone else wondering, let me explain.

I get it. You have a family member, or a friend, or a co-worker, or a friend's buddy... someone... that you know is in desperate need. You want to help them, and that's wonderful. You think, "hey, maybe Rainmakers could do something?" So you share the information with me. And now it becomes mine to sort out.

But here's what you don't know. Your request for help is not the first one I received Friday. It wasn't even the second. It was the fourth. In one day. And the other three were just as important to someone else.

Meanwhile, I'm still trying to sort out requests for help that came in LAST WEEK. Because the requests keep pouring in. Now that the word is out that Rainmakers has helped folks in need, there is a non-stop flow of stories of people in terrible situations who need help.

And now, to the specific Facebook status criticizing me for my own post:
EDITED OUT.

You certainly got one thing correct. You fail to understand. Because for someone like me, reading endless stories of people hurting breaks my heart. I take it all in, because I don't know any other way of processing it. And then I carry all of them around like they are my own problems, hoping that I will find some inspiration or have a stroke of brilliance as to how I can somehow fix everything.

Here's what else you don't understand. All of these stories over the last few months have taken their toll on me. Learning about so much pain and misery and tragedy has nearly broken me. Where before I was a generally happy person, I've become moody and sad. Where before my attitude was positive and my outlook bright, I've become negative and everything seems dark and bleak.

How can I be happy when there is so much pain and suffering? How can I go about my day acting as if things are okay when they obviously aren't?

And here's some more information to help you understand. That darkness threatened to consume me. My real-life friends are very concerned about me, worried that I'll reach a point where all of this is too much to handle and I'll do something stupid. Yes, a couple of people closest to me fear that all of this pressure will be enough to push me too far and I'll end up trying to kill myself. Yes, it's come to that.

I'm not saying the demands of Rainmakers are the only factors. But they are certainly the most public and the most heartbreaking. Because I know that each and every request is critical to someone, and it is horrible knowing that we can't possibly fix them all.

So you criticize me for making a public statement that I can't save the world? Fine. That's your right. But you should also know that making that post was my way of saving my own life, so you'll understand if I don't feel the least bit apologetic that it seemed to bother you.

Are people to blame because they ask for help? No, of course not. But each of them only knows their story and what they are asking. They don't know that they are one of a hundred similar stories that are asking for the same help. They don't seem to realize that I also have a full-time job and personal demands that require my attention, and coordinating efforts to raise money for other people takes not only time but also energy that I don't always have.

Well, people know now.

You want me to take ownership of my problem? Absolutely. Because of my involvement with Rainmakers, people bring countless stories of need to me with the hope that I can find solutions. But I can't. And then it becomes my problem, because I take them all in and personalize them. It's my problem because I can't stay detached and objective. It's my problem because I hurt for each and every one of these people.

So yes, I agree. It's absolutely my problem. It's me to blame. And it's me that has to fix this for myself.

And here's how this story ends. I'm going to make this very public statement that I am stepping away from Rainmakers. I expect that will be the end of the group, though I am open to someone else stepping up to head the group. If that happens, they will continue to have my individual support. But I am going to save myself first, and that means no longer taking ownership of the dozens of painful stories that have been sent to me.

Yes, we did some amazing things for a few families. But in the end, the need was way more than the resources we have available. And I can't continue to shoulder the guilt of not being able to help all of the people that have asked for it.

To all of the Rainmakers who stepped up when called, thank you. We made a difference in the lives of so many people. It was a good thing and I am so grateful to each of you.

To anyone else - and especially to those who feel it appropriate to criticize - I invite you to step up yourself and take on this responsibility. Open your Instant Messages and your Email to the steady flood of need. Find a way to sort through all of that. Decide which gets your attention and which gets passed over. And then, do something about it.

I tried. It was more than I could handle. Perhaps you'll do better. I wish you luck.



*Edited to add*
The person I quoted here responded by telling me that her Facebook status had nothing to do with me and that she was talking about something else completely. Is that possible? Sure, it's possible. And if it's true, I apologize to her for thinking it was about me. But the two posts are here in unedited form. Make your own call if one is related to the other.

*Second Edit*
She insists that her comment was not about me, and I choose to believe her. Which means that there's another casualty from my current mood, my inability to stay objective and my willingness to reach out and talk to someone directly if I think there is a problem. I have removed her quote from this blog and apologized to her for my words, but really, that damage is done.

Yeah. What I need right now is some serious down time. And I'm going to take it.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Bend Until You Break.

Sometimes, you just have to say enough. And I'm there. I'm officially and completely overextended beyond my breaking point.

I have committed to things already and I will see them through. But if you ask me to do something in the future and are surprised to hear me say "no," know that it isn't about you. It's about me and my need to take care of myself first.

I can't keep trying to be everything to everyone. It's making me crazy. I'm snapping at people I care about, finding myself angry for no reason, and forgetting what a full night's sleep even feels like.

Enough is enough.

To my friends, be patient. I'll work through this. But know that I'll be spending less time on the skyline and more time on my own.

To those who feel they have the right to criticize me for how I spend my time, what I choose to support, and where I choose to help, feel free to piss off. You no longer merit any time of mine nor do I care what happens to you. Go be someone else's problem.

To the rest of you that might be reading along, my only advice is to be as good to yourself as you are to anyone else. And work to find the balance between caring for others and caring for yourself.

And finally, to my husband, who has spent the last seventeen years trying in vain to convince me that I am good just as I am, I get it. I hear you. I'm listening.

You don't have to try so hard
You don't have to bend until you break
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don't have to change a single thing




Oooh
Oooh

Put your make up on
Get your nails done
Curl your hair
Run the extra mile
Keep it slim so they like you, do they like you?

Get your sexy on
Don't be shy, girl
Take it off
This is what you want, to belong, so they like you
Do you like you?

You don't have to try so hard
You don't have to give it all away
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don't have to change a single thing

You don't have to try, try, try, try
You don't have to try, try, try, try
You don't have to try, try, try, try
You don't have to try
Yooou don't have to try

Oooh
Oooh

Get your shopping on, at the mall, max your credit cards
You don't have to choose, buy it all, so they like you
Do they like you?

Wait a second,
Why should you care, what they think of you
When you're all alone, by yourself, do you like you?
Do you like you?

You don't have to try so hard
You don't have to give it all away
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don't have to change a single thing

You don't have to try so hard
You don't have to bend until you break
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don't have to change a single thing

You don't have to try, try, try, try
You don't have to try, try, try, try
You don't have to try, try, try, try
You don't have to try

You don't have to try, try, try, try
You don't have to try, try, try, try
You don't have to try, try, try, try
You don't have to try
Yooou don't have to try

Noooo
Oooh

You don't have to try so hard
You don't have to give it all away
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don't have to change a single thing

You don't have to try, try, try, try
You don't have to try, try, try, try
You don't have to try
You don't have to try

Take your make up off
Let your hair down
Take a breath
Look into the mirror, at yourself
Don't you like you?
Cause I like you




I like me, too. More than that, I really like the me I am when I'm with you.