Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Farewell, Facebook!

Hi! So, you might be wondering where I've been. Well, I've been thinking a lot, spending time with my awesome little family as much as possible (Oh, how I adore them!), exercising consistently (Yeah yeah!), serving in my church's youth program, talking on the phone once in a while, Instagramming a bit, oh, and I can't forget sleeping and eating! ;) Basically, I felt like I shouldn't be blogging for a while, so I kept myself busy with other things. But now I'm back, and I have much to say! :)

Today, I want to publicly say farewell to Facebook. Why would I do that, you ask, especially after I just got back on Facebook in October, 2013? (See "My Facebook Experiment.") I have several reasons for quitting my Facebook habit, so I'll share them here—in no particular order. By the by, I'm sure some of you are tired of me posting about Facebook, but I'm writing about it anyway!

1. I care too much—meaning, I care too much about my family and friends. Maybe that seems like an oxymoron, but for me, Facebook and my extremely caring nature is a recipe for a frustrated Adrie.

You see, I never "friended" anyone I didn't feel completely comfortable with. I absolutely had to personally know someone and have (or have had) some sort of a relationship with that person in order to open myself up to them. (Not a formerly-romantic relationship from years ago, mind you, for my husband is the only one I care for!) If I didn't know a person in real life and have a reason for allowing them into Adrie World, I didn't accept their friendship. Similarly, if I felt that someone had crossed my boundary line of appropriateness, I unfriended them. Furthermore, if I felt that someone wasn't really my friend, or they didn't have caring, friendly feelings toward me in real life, I also unfriended them. You know the type of Facebookers that are purely interested—er, shall I say, nosy—in what's going on in other people's lives, like Gladys Kravitz from Bewitched?! My attitude and actions toward unfriending people might sound harsh, but it was the way I could be okay with sharing so much of my life on Facebook. For the record, I unfriended only a handful of people.

Anyway, back to my over-caring...

I spent a lot of time reading my family and friends' posts on Facebook. I loved keeping up with those wonderful people that I care so much about! I read the articles they recommended. I oohed-and-ahhed over their photos. I researched their stances that were different from mine. I commented on their news, be it happy, sad, mundane or exciting. I truly loved connecting with my friends and family and wanted them to absolutely know I was there for them! :)

All of that said, I felt sadness when my excitement and support didn't seem to be reciprocated. Don't get me wrong, I totally get how busy people's lives are. I understand priorities and have mine firmly in place. Yet I let it get to me when my loved ones and friends didn't like or comment on all of my fun news. *And I completely understand that a lot of my friends/family members didn't like or comment on my updates simply because they weren't on Facebook, or their newsfeed wasn't being fed my updates.

2. When it comes to Facebook, I'm a wimp.

Despite what I said previously in my post "Unfriending vs. Unfollowing," I guess I really can't take unfriending as much as I said I could. As pathetic as it sounds, the last person to unfriend me was the straw that broke this lady's Facebook-back! *Remember, I didn't friend someone unless I felt there was a good reason to so. Thus, it hurt when I opened myself up to them and then they ended up unfriending me. And I know there are probably some people out there thinking, "You're such a baby!", but I don't care! These are my feelings and I own them! :)

Many people have asked me, "How did you know you were unfriended?" Well, it's because I went to comment on, or see who liked another friend's post, and saw my prior friend listed with the box "Add Friend" next to their name. I'd think, "I thought we were friends!" Then—despite all reasonable/adult logic inside me (I do have some! Ha ha.)—I felt badly. I wondered what status update or comment I wrote that was so unfriendable. My sad feelings wouldn't last long, maybe a couple hours, but my friends' actions hurt, nonetheless.

My feelgoods (that's a phrase my little family uses in the place of the word feelings when we're telling someone they've hurt our feelings) were hurt a little when people I care about "Facebook attacked" political positions that I completely identify with, or made fun of my religious beliefs. They didn't "attack" me personally to my "face," but there were many incidents when people I care about shared links, or liked other pages/posts—that subsequently showed up in my newsfeed—that bummed me out, frustrated me, or made me feel unhappy/unkind feelings. I truly strove to not feel that way, but after many months of being strong and pretending to not care, I realized I really did care. No matter what logic I tried to put in my brain, my feelgoods still didn't feel so good. When those instances kept repeating, I came to the conclusion that my Facebook use wasn't worth the time or effort I put forth.

3. The way Facebook operates continually frustrated me.

Up until the day I deactivated my account, I was annoyed at the way Facebook allows everyone's newsfeeds to receive certain posts, but not others. I've written before about their blasted algorithm and my feelings haven't changed. I mean, when I friended someone, or someone friended me, I expected to see their updates! I didn't want to have to check each friend's page every time I wondered about what was going on with them.

Similarly, I didn't want to have to check the "receive notifications" section for each of my friends because then every time someone posted something, my notifications window would have gone bahzonkers-busy. Then I would have had to uncheck all of my notifications each time I logged-on. It would have been so much easier if Facebook would have allowed me to receive all of my friends' updates while simply scrolling through my newsfeed. And I remember it being that way when Facebook began.

That's another frustration I had with Facebook: they were constantly changing their program/standards. It's like one week they were this way, another week they were that way. I'm all for upgrades that actually help people, but many of the "upgrades" Facebook instituted were just a big pain to figure out and get used to!

Oh, and I despised the fact that my friends would see anytime I liked or commented on a public post, or if they were friends with my friend whose status update I interacted with. It's like I had to save my likes and comments so I wouldn't clutter people's newsfeeds. Also, I didn't want to see all of my friends' interactions. I simply wanted to see their personal status updates! Com'on, Facebook, this idea is not difficult to grasp!

I seriously debated about deactivating my FB account for several months before I actually deactivated it on March 9th, 2015. Yet I kept my account active because of my public Enthusiastic Fantastic Facebook page. In case you're wondering, Facebook won't allow anyone to have a public page without having a personal account—which is another big issue I had with Facebook. People should be able to create a public page without having to have a personal account! *Granted, I know I could have used a different email address and created a new account for myself and a new public page, but it really wasn't worth my time!

I honestly thought creating a public FB page would have created more traffic for my blog, but it sooo did not happen...silly me! I hoped I would make some money for my blogging with a public FB page, but that didn't happen either. I think I gained one "like" outside of my personal circle of friends and family. (Thank you to whoever liked my page, that was super kind of you!) I also thought more of my family and friends would have "liked" my Enthusiastic Fantastic Facebook page, but they didn't and their inaction hurt a wee bit. (Refer to reason #1 for an explanation as to why their liking inaction hurt.)

Frankly, I was dismayed to learn about the way Facebook operates its public pages. Before I created my public page, I had zero clue as to how different they are are compared to personal accounts. I didn't realize that FB wouldn't feed my Enthusiastic Fantastic posts to all of my public page's likes/followers. I was frustrated when I realized that even though I had 45 likers, my updates/posts were sometimes fed to only six newsfeeds! Anytime I uploaded my typographic designs to my Enthusiastic Fantastic Facebook album, my posts were only shown to like two or three people—three out of 45! That totally bugged. Yet once I started sharing my public blog posts through my personal timeline, FB showed that my posts were usually shown to about 29 followers. 29 is better than six, but it's certainly not 45!

What was most annoying was this: Facebook's favorite thing to tell me was something like, "To share your post with more of your audience, create an ad (i.e., an advertisement)!" Duh. I didn't realize until I created a public Facebook page just how much they are all about the money. It took a while, but I finally internalized that my personal timeline posts were probably not being shown to as many of my friends/family as I thought they were. And while that made me feel a little better about the lack of reciprocation, I was mainly thinking, "Duh! Facebook really is just a research and marketing machine! They want to keep us guessing so we'll spend more time on Facebook, thus we'll end up sharing more information with the companies who receive our data for marketing purposes!"

It might sound wacky to some, but I think people are working for Facebook for free, and they don't even realize it! Maybe many people realize it, but they feel the benefits are worth the trade-off, or, maybe they just don't care. Yes, I still believe Facebook has some benefits, but I'm no longer willing to sacrifice my time, energy, happy feelings or personal data in exchange for those benefits.

Now I'd like to explain why I'm okay being done with Facebook:
  • I finally feel truly settled in my life—for the first time since I've been married! This tremendously happy feeling helps eliminate my need for Facebook because I feel connected to my friends and family who have stuck with me, despite how many times we've moved. Those dear, wonderful people who have stayed in my life mean more to me than they'll ever know! Thank you, thank youmy peeps, from the bottom of my heart! :)
  • I've discovered Instagram! This lovely little app would have been highly beneficial to me the first time I quit Facebook. Yes, I know Instagram isn't perfect either—one can find inappropriate images if they barely try (Of course, I avoid those like the plague!!), but for the most part, I think Instagram is filled with positives! Here are a few reasons I like Instagram: It's only photos. Then my heart doesn't have to hurt like it did when I was active on Facebook. Instagram takes up much less time. It's so simple to just page down my Instagram feed, look at and like my friends'/family members' photos, and then log-off! Things are so organized on Instagram by hashtags and names, there's never been anyone I couldn't find—unless they didn't want to be found. *Unlike Facebook, I receive ALL of my friends' updates on Instagram, and I know they receive mine! :) I love never having to wonder whether my friends/family saw my posts, or not. I know the only reason they wouldn't see something I shared is if they didn't log-in for more than three days. I've been able to connect with so many new people on Instagram—more than I ever did on Facebook!
  • My soul is much less cluttered, which makes me feel so free!! I didn't realize just how much Facebook filled my mind and heart until I was no longer on it. I've been pleasantly surprised over the past two weeks that I've not missed Facebook one bit. I didn't miss it the last time I got off, but I was a bit concerned this time that I would miss it, so I'm really grateful I'm totally fine! :) Again, I think Instagram is greatly helping in this area because I'm still connected with many of my friends and family. I love that we can still see each other's photos!
  • I asked my little family if any of them would ever be on Facebook, and they all firmly said, "NO!" Knowing that my beloved husband and children will never be on Facebook made my decision to deactivate my account super easy. Again, I don't want to miss out on updates from the most important people in my life!
  • My husband, Greg, loves the fact that I'm not on Facebook anymore. He's never liked it, never will like it, but he supported me when I was on it for so many years. That tells you what kind of a stellar guy he is—always supporting and loving me, no matter what! I enjoy knowing I've done something that makes him happy! :)
  • I still have my blog! :) I will always have my blog! I love Enthusiastic Fantastic, it is my happy place! I have many other happy places, but you know what I mean. Blogging has always been much more beneficial to me than Facebook ever was. Hmm...beneficial blogging(!), I've just created a new phrase! Yay me! Ha ha. Anyway, I don't write perfectly, but I love knowing my words will last for my loved ones long after I'm gone. :)
  • I've continued having good contact with my family members and friends via texts, emails, phone calls, Instagram, and in-person. I enjoy asking them, "Hey! What's new?!" and really meaning it because I didn't just see everything they posted on Facebook! Ha ha. No, it wasn't as bad as all that. Despite what I just said, people aren't incessantly on Facebook. :) But it really is fun talking with others and organically finding out what they've been up to. It honestly feels just like the good ol' days! As my youngest son always jokes—in his best grandpa voice, "'Back in my day,' we used to have face-to-face conversation! None of that new-fangled walkie-talkie-ing through that little rectangle in your hand there!" Ha ha.
In conclusion, when I first perused Instagram with my public Enthusiastic Fantastic account, I found a lovely little saying, "Defend your tenderness." I immediately latched onto that sentiment because leaving Facebook is one way I've chosen to protect and defend my tenderness! Off to YogaX I go! :)

*Update, 05/13/16:
I just read this fascinating article on the New York Times, "Facebook’s Bias Is Built-In, and Bears Watching," by Farhad Manjoo. I highly recommend reading it because it shares even more reasons I'm so glad/relieved/happy I quit Fakebook! Yes, I refuse to be manipulated! #feistyAdrie! Ha ha.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Atonement of Jesus Christ

Today I taught a lesson in my Mia Maid class about the Atonement of Jesus Christ titled, "What is the Atonement of Jesus Christ?" I thoroughly enjoyed preparing for my lesson by reading and listening to scriptures about the Savior's last days in mortality. (See Matthew 26-27.) I also loved reading various Church talks and articles, and watching many Bible Videos—I have come to deeply appreciate them!

(If you've never seen my church's Bible Videos, I highly recommend checking them out, for they are very well done—their dialogue follows the Bible's verses almost exactly! The videos are available for free online and via iOS and Android apps. I love free, don't you?! :) They're also available on YouTube, but I prefer the Church's backgrounds, for they are much less distracting than the endless video suggestions on YouTube.)

We all know the Atonement of Jesus Christ has been talked about for centuries. I've had so many lessons on the topic, I literally can't remember the number! Yet, I don't think we can ever talk about the Atonement enough. In True to the Faith, the first paragraph about the Atonement of Jesus Christ states,
"The word atone means to reconcile, or to restore to harmony. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can be reconciled to our Heavenly Father (see Romans 5:10-11; 2 Nephi 25:23; Jacob 4:11). We can ultimately dwell in His presence forever, having been 'made perfect through Jesus' (see D&C 76:62, 69)."
Will there ever be a time in the history of our world when the Atonement isn't applicable? No, there is not. The Living Christ points out, "None other has had so profound an influence upon all who have lived and will yet live upon the earth." Later, The Living Christ continues, "I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father." (D&C 110:3-4) Furthermore, former Church President, Gordon B. Hinkley stated,
"[Jesus Christ] is the chief cornerstone of the church that bears His name, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. There is no other name given among men whereby we can be saved (see Acts 4:12). He is the author of our salvation, the Giver of eternal life (see Hebrews 5:9). There is none equal Him. There never has been. There never will be. Thanks be to God for the gift of His Beloved Son, who gave His life that we might live and who is the chief, immovable cornerstone of our faith and His Church. 
"We know not all that lies ahead of us. We live in a world of uncertainty. For some, there will be great accomplishment. For others, disappointment. For some, much of rejoicing and gladness, good health, and gracious living. for others, perhaps sickness and a measure of sorrow. We do not know. But one thing we do know. Like the Polar Star in the heavens, regardless of what the future holds, there stands the Redeemer of the world, the Son of God, certain and sure as the anchor of our immortal lives. He is the rock of our salvation, our strength, our comfort, the very focus of our faith. 
"In Sunshine and in shadow, we look to Him, and He is there to assure and smile upon us." – Gordon B. Hinckley, We Testify of Jesus Christ,
Isn't that quote so beautiful? President Hinckley was such a great wordsmith. I can't adequately explain the fondness and appreciation that fills my soul when I read or hear his words. I attribute President Hinckley's wonderful ability with words to the fact that (I think) he spoke directly from his soul to everyone else's soul! What a marvelous gift his words are to generations of people! :)

Three of the many principles/points I tried to convey to my Mia Maid class were taken from Sister Linda K. Burton's Relief Society talk, "Is Faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ Written in Our Hearts?", General Conference, October, 2012:
  1. "All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ." [This point was taken from Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service (2004), 52.]
  2. There is power in the Atonement to enable us to overcome the natural man or woman and become true disciples of Jesus Christ. [This point was taken from David A. Bednar's talk, "The Atonement and the Journey of Mortality," Ensign, April, 2012, 40-47.]
  3. The Atonement is the greatest evidence we have of the Father's love for His children. [See Dallin H. Oaks, Liahona and Ensign, Nov. 2009, 26.]
It's just so true: there is truly nothing in, on, or around this earth that shows God's love for us better than the Atonement. Because of our Savior, we can be forgiven of our sins and gain access back into our Heavenly Father's presence!

Speaking of our Savior, I was thrilled to find out that the entire musical production of Savior of the World is available for free to the stakes/wards/members of the Church to participate in and present as a church activity! Wow. I remember seeing the original production in the Conference Center many years ago—it was marvelous and I felt the Spirit so strongly. I remember crying a little bit as I watched certain parts of the musical. It was so very well done. I wish my stake—with its supremely talented members—would do a production of Savior of the World! I would totally participate in it! :)

During my lesson, I showed the stunning painting Peter's Denial, by Carl Heinrich Bloch. I wanted my Mia Maids to see Peter hiding out on the porch, and Jesus looking at him. Can you even imagine what was going through our Savior's mind?! I think there were probably no words. Even though Jesus was the Son of God, He still had human feelings. I imagine His sadness at Peter's denial must have been profound. They both must have been so disappointed by Peter's actions! :(

I then read Matthew 26:33-34 to them:
"33 Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.
 34 Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
 35 Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples."
I continued in Matthew 26:69-74:
"69 ¶Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee.
 70 But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest.
 71 And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth.
 72 And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man.
 73 And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee. [i.e., reveals you]
 74 Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew."
I tried to convey to my Mia Maids the great importance of never denying our Savior or Heavenly Father. I then quoted a portion from the Young Women Theme, "WE WILL 'STAND as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places.'" Each Sunday, every Young Women group within the Church stands together and says the YW theme, but I wanted to give my Mia Maids another example of what standing as a witness really means. I hope they have the desire to not be like Peter—at least in this situation. But I also pointed out that even after all that Peter did, he was forgiven because of the supreme gift of the Atonement. :)

Because I ran out of lesson time today, one point I didn't get to make is found in D&C 20:22, "He suffered temptations but gave no heed unto them." I'm certain there were endless temptations our Savior could have accepted in His life, yet He chose time and again to ignore every single one of them. And when He could have removed himself from the crucifixion, He chose to bless all of our lives instead. What a fabulous example He is to us! Yes, I have much to work on in my life. :)

Thankfully, I remembered to ask the question, "What can we learn from the Savior's final words he spoke while on the cross, 'Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.' (Luke 23:34)?" I'm so happy my Mia Maids really understand the importance of following the Savior in forgiving everyone—even down to the smallest, most mundane instances in our lives. Granted, I clarified that none of us are perfect. We don't react 100% in the correct way each and every time something bad, sad, annoying, frustrating or catastrophic happens in our lives. That said, my Mia Maids are such strong souls! I have no doubt that if they choose to, they could perfectly follow our Savior's example of forgiveness!

I created this typographic design of John 17:3-4 as my handout for today's lesson. I chose the colors based on what the Savior was wearing in several of the Bible Videos: For God So Loved the World; The Parable of the TalentsRender unto Caesar and unto God.
"3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do."
Don't you love Jesus' words?! He clearly and honestly stated that he did everything our Heavenly Father wanted and needed Him to do. What an exceptional example He is for us to follow. If we pray daily to know and do what Heavenly Father desires of us in every circumstance, we will be unstoppable!

I couldn't help but include these wonderful scriptures, for they are exactly what I'm trying to do in my life. 2 Nephi 25:23,26 (emphasis added):
"23 For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.
26 And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins."
Do I do all of that ^ perfectly? Nope, I don't. Yet I try my best every day. I repent when I mess up—which happens a lot, but I just keep swimming in the right direction! Don't you just love that movie?! Finding Nemo, that is. ;)

Anywho, I'm grateful I've been able to study the Atonement of Jesus Christ throughout my life. Knowing what I know makes me happy! I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of the Atonement—even though I know my human mind can't possibly comprehend all of it. But hey, that's why we're all here on earth: to keep learning, growing and becoming the people our Heavenly Father knows we can be. I have peace knowing this great plan of happiness (i.e., the plan of salvation) is made possible by our sweet, unselfish, perfect Savior. :)