Blog Lessons – Creating a Gravatar

Doing some extra homework time on learning to manage my WordPress site, I came upon the subject of gravatars.

A gravatar is a globally recognized avatar.  It is a picture or a graphic representation of you which is attached to every comment you make when you post on your site or sites of others.  It’s a way of attaching some recognizability and professionalism to your online persona.

This poses an issue for me…how to you post a gravatar when you’re not entirely sure the picture you take of yourself represents you very well…in short, what if you’re not naturally photogenic.

I’m not being coy here or fishing for compliments.  I truly believe my personal photographs do not adequately represent me very well.  I know.  I’ve seen people’s faces when they see my picture versus the real life version of me.  They are a little taken aback that the photo doesn’t quite match very well.  I’m talking driver license and recreational pass issuers, passport photographers (blotted me for shine) and one young high school boy who said quite frankly “you don’t look your best on camera.”

I’ve had some photos I’ve really liked of myself, but they are few and far between.  I have friends who can snap an amazing photo of themselves and look like they rolled off a magazine cover while sitting at home in their jammies on a Friday night, but I have to take great effort to make it look like I didn’t just move house, cook a five-course meal and go for a jog afterwards.  Shiny forehead, quadruple chins and all…stunning.  (Where did all these chins come from?  I’m pretty sure some just come from the added 10 pounds of the camera lens…how many lens are on me?).

I was tempted to use a simulation of myself, but in my pursuit of authenticity, this doesn’t feel good to me.

I decided then that the internet is the encyclopedia of all things to learn…why not learn how to take a good selfie.

These are some of the tips I unearthed in my research:

  • good light
  • try different angles to find your sweet spot
  • elongate your neck
  • use the right filter
  • take a lot of pics
  • natural facial expressions
  • don’t take yourself seriously, but take yourself seriously

Wow, implementing these tips worked way better than I expected especially good lighting.  It appears I’m not a side profile sort of girl, but lots of pics, a beauty filter on my phone (need all the help I can get for the shiny forehead) and different angles culminated in a picture that was satisfying (albeit the enlarged version is a little blurry).

So, here it is in all its glory….(Please note I did retake this a lot of times)…my gravatar…it’s not perfect, but neither am I…be kind.

2018-08-09 03:05:23

This was all done through Gravatar.

I need to credit the following resources for their advice:

Michelle Phan on taking the perfect selfie.

The Art of Selfie Taking

Selfies 101

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Choose Kind

When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind. – Wayne Dyer

It can be hard to choose kind.  When my anxiety sets in and my confidence is low, I find myself choosing unkind.  I use words to hurt other’s confidence and to raise myself up,  I judge other’s choices in light of what I deem to be right and I use my anxiety as an excuse to control situations and to protect my vulnerable self.  The common outcome after the initial euphoria of being “right” wears off is feeling even lower, even less confident and stained.  I feel like people can see through me and see how grey and ugly my heart is and undeserving.

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Photo by Umberto Shaw on Pexels.com

The only antidote I have found to my cycle of unkindness is a period of resetting my internal gauge back to kindness. This includes having to stop talking, removing myself from Facebook, avoiding negative people, watching some videos of fellow humans being kind or something uplifting, and practicing kindness first to myself allowing myself compassion when I fail, but never permission to quit.

It’s hard, and the cycle repeats over and over again.

However, I do believe the continued trying matters.  Even if I’m far being as kind as I would like to be, my lens of perspective is becoming more refined.  I am getting better at seeing acts of kindness and love rather than focusing on the spread of negativity.  I am getting better at seeing the good in people as opposed to assuming negative intent. I am able to appreciate kindness directed at myself and accept graciously and gratefully rather leave it unrecognized and (dare I say!) entitled.

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Photo by Stokpic on Pexels.com

My spirit is encouraged by my continued growth and makes me hopeful that in years to come I will choose kindness more wholeheartedly and authentically with a whole lot less ego.

So, I need to trim the quote a little…

When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind (as often as you can and a little bit more beyond that). – Wayne Dyer (and Jane)

Day 64 – Why I Deleted Facebook Off My Phone

Two days ago in an attempt to organize my chaos, I made a schedule of where my hours go in a week.  Needless to say, I was shocked, dismayed and disappointed at how my weekly schedule of have-tos illuminated in multi-colored blockiness how little free time I actually did have.

Shocking revelation #1

I work at 40-hour week.  You’d think I’d know how many hours I work, but I am a self-employed medical transcriptionist who sets her own hours and never really bothered to keep track.  Now, I know.  I’m full-time.  I lost 5 hours I thought I had.

Shocking revelation #2

I couldn’t figure out where to fit in family time…the whole reason I work at home was to be here with my family, and I couldn’t figure out a time to create memories as a family where everyone was home.  Yes, the most special moment between individual members are often not planned and just happen, but how do you have those great family “do you remember” reminisces if you never actually find time to have an adventure together (adventure don’t have to be complicated…just trying the new pie place down the block is an adventure).

Shocking revelation #3

Where the heck was MY time?  Where was my meditating, blogging, learning, reading and dreaming time going to fit in?

Sigh.

These were the top three of my revelations.  There were many more.  I know there are many others who work 40 hours and manage a family, but I’ve never been very great at multitasking or living life without a fair amount of margin to handle gracefully the unexpected.

However on the flip side, there was a positive effect to the construction of my calendar.  I began to be aware of how I spent my most valuable resource of time and asked myself how I could spend it more wisely.

Inspiration #1

I noted how much time I wasted taking “breaks” during my work and also when I was transitioning from one task to the other how often I would pull out my phone and surf Facebook.  Surfing once or twice a day would not be an issue, rather a well-deserved coffee break, but my conscience knew it was more than that…quite a bit more.  With sadness, Facebook on my phone got the boot.  I could still check it on computer, but it was a little less accessible.  I also banned myself from “breaks” during work and instead allotted myself a firm schedule.

Inspiration #2

Errand Day.  One afternoon to run errands requested of me by my family.  No little last-minute trips to pick up vegan bread, get a hair cut or drop into the hardware store.   This felt very freeing as I was feeling somewhat resentful of all the last minute requests and times that by 5 people and a multitude of pets, and you spend a lot of time running errands.

Inspiration #3

Cook only on my dinner night.  In our family of five, we have managed to divide the cooking duties over the week and assign everyone a dinner night.  Helps so much, but often as not, I would find myself cooking the two spare days, as well as helping people out during their meal times (people pleaser!).  I’m getting tough now.  I’m cooking the same number of nights as everyone else.  Everyone is perfectly capable of finishing up leftovers or whipping themselves up something simple on those two spare nights.  Today I had a 20-minute nap with the dogs while my son cooked.  Blissful!

Just those three inspirations have freed up a significant amount of time, and I have figured out how to fit in some time almost each day for me and for my loved ones.  There is still tweaking to do.  I haven’t figured out the social life thing yet, but Rome wasn’t built in a day and my calendar won’t be either; however, right now Rome seems the easier build.

I highly recommend the process of charting your time every now and then.  Setting work hours firmly has helped free my brain from having to think about work beyond those allotted times and has brought me back to a place of prioritizing what’s important in this season in my life.

flat lay photography of calendar
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Day 63 – Depression and Unmet Need

While having my fun scrolling Facebook, I happened upon this video on depression featuring Johann Hari, author of Lost Connections.  

He talks about how there is the belief that depression is a result of a chemical imbalance, but actually much of depression is a result of a human being’s unmet needs.

This seemingly little revelation caused me to gasp out loud with both surprise as I’ve never heard depression termed in such a way before and a feeling of rightness as this concept holds a lot of truth for me.

rear view of a boy sitting on grassland
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I have been guilty of sharing that depression is a result of a chemical imbalance to my loved ones, but it never seemed to tell the full story.  It was a trite explanation for an immense issue which was meant to alleviate shame and guilt around suffering from depression, as well it should; however, I still didn’t feel like it covered the heart of the issue and made the solution feel more like a crap shoot in finding the right tools and the correct dose of medication so an individual could function.

The concept of unmet needs resonates strongly as it changes the locus of “fault” from a defective brain (internal) to an emotional, environmental and/or societal reason (external affecting internal), and instead of medicating, talking therapies and mindfulness practices being the only tools in our toolbox for managing depression, perhaps more clarity into the unmet needs of our fellow humans would allow us to take a more individualized wholehearted approach on treating depression, one which not only makes someone function in society, but gives someone a purpose-full life.

I know the reality of this is a long way in the future, and while I feel heaviness for those who are alone in their battle with depression, those who have loved ones with a deeper understanding of depression being a human being’s unmet needs, the more hopeful I am that strategies that treat the heart of a human instead just focusing on releasing more or less chemicals in the brain may make this a better world for those who suffer.

Note: I am never anti-medication.  As in all treatments, they have their time and place.

Day 62 – White Space and Writing

My goal to blog every day for 365 days has been difficult as I imagined it would be, but what I didn’t foresee is that it would burn me out.  My writing dwindled and dwindled until the point where I almost decided to give it up.  It seems blogging and finding time to learn about blogging has been a bigger challenge than I would anticipated.  Apparently when you have a family, they insist on having some of your time…who would have thought?!

However, the embers of this challenge were still burning, albeit pathetically.

fire camping coals embers
Photo by Free Nature Stock on Pexels.com

One thing I have learned this week about the writing process is that it requires white space…that margin of time where you are neither writing nor thinking of writing, but just focused on something you enjoy doing.  For me this week, it was gardening, catching up on a few bloggers I enjoy reading about and giving in to my addiction for a good fix of wisdom from my self-help book collection.

As a result of my white space this week, I return with a fresh batch of ideas, some focus and direction for the week ahead and renewed vigor for the continued practice of my writing.

I encourage you that if you’re feeling that something you love isn’t fun anymore because you’ve over-committed, are spending too much time thinking about it or feel it has become a duty or obligation, take some white space.  I won’t guarantee you’ll come back to your commitment, but the mental space away will at the very least help you reevaluate priorities and just maybe make you miss it enough that you reconnect with the fun in your personal challenge.

Day 62 – Over and Out.

person holding white ceramic teacup with black coffee
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Day 61 – Fear and Momentum

There is much fear in my world.  I hide it I think well.  After 40+ years of life, I have honed my skill of hiding my fear(s) fairly well, but there it resides inside my head ready to bubble up unpredictably and give me yet another broken night of sleep when it feels like it.

However, with the bad comes the good.  Fear can equal momentum.  It can take me from complacency and comfort to facing a challenge head on.  Fear teaches me that I can rely on myself for answers and trust my instincts.  Fear can strengthen, not incapacitate.

Fear and ruminations = panic and hopelessness

Fear and action = power and hope

Such are my ramblings for Day 61, now I’m off to bed.

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Day 60 – Happy Mother Day

I’ve been reading a barrage of Happy Mother’s Day Facebook posts acknowledging all kinds of moms for the hard work they do and the selfless love they shower on their children.

It struck me that Mother’s Day has the same feel to me as our elected officials voting themselves a raise…the uncomfortable feeling that all the energy in this day is perpetuated by the same people being honored.  Hey, I’m guilty.  I love a good dose of appreciation of my sacrifices as much as the next mom and have no issues about asking for it if I have to.

However today, I’d like to flip Mother’s Day a little bit and instead thank the ones who made this all possible…

To my kiddos,

Thank you for picking me as your mom.  Whatever in the cosmos dictated that you were to be our souls to care take, I am forever grateful.  If I had the pick of what children I would have had , I don’t think I would have picked three lovely individuals as yourselves, and my life would have been poorer for it (I don’t have a great imagination).

Thank you for every glass of juice you spilled after I just mopped the floor and every T-shirt I wore that you utilized as Kleenex.  You stretched me to be more patient and to put people ahead of cleanliness.

Thank you for every artistic sketch you drew on the wall and every carving you made into our table.  You taught me perspective, what constitutes real art and that stuff is just stuff.

Thank you for noticing nature and bringing my attention to it.  You taught me to stop and smell the roses and have admiration for all creatures…even the ones with eight legs.

Thank you for having personal challenges.  You taught me empathy for others and to be less judgmental.

Thank you for making me feel sadness and fear at times for each of you.  You taught me faith in a higher power and strengthened my beliefs.

Thank you for allowing me to share your pain.  You taught me to trust in your ability to heal and marvel at your resilience.

Thank you for arguing with me and for challenging my decisions.  You taught me to examine what I believe, to lose what just didn’t make sense for us and to stand firm in what did.

Thank you for accepting my imperfect parenting.  You taught me humility and to ask for forgiveness.

Thank you for having a sense of humor.  You taught me the importance of emphasizing joy and that laughter is the best kind of medicine.

Thank you for loving and caring about me.  You reminded me that I am worthy of being loved and cared for, despite my flaws.

It is indeed a Happy Mother Day.

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