Social Media Vacation, New Year, New(ish) Attitude

Posted on Tuesday 21 December 2010

Last week, we headed out as a family to Disney World. It was a big trip for us as we usually vacation locally (with the White Mountains and Maine nearby, why not?) and I was a bit stressed about work. As a freelancer, I don’t really get vacation time, especially since I have some steady gigs that require me to continue to post content. I scrambled for weeks to try to get ready and never really caught up. It didn’t help that Bug came down with a stomach bug 36 hours before we were scheduled to leave and the night before my last kid-free day to work.

So we packed up a laptop and a netbook, cables, chargers, phones (mine with Internet access) and all manner of gadgety stuff. I knew I’d be working at least a bit on the trip, so I simply resigned myself to the fact and tried to plan out when that might happen. It turned out that I didn’t spend quite as much time on work as I expected, so that was a nice surprise. But the bigger surprise (for me) was how much I was able to unplug and not think twice about it. Yes, I did log onto both Twitter and Facebook (for much-needed comfort when I came down with the stomach bug mid-trip and was alone in the hotel room feeling miserable). And, yeah, I was still obsessively checking my email (you never know when you’ll get a nice surprise via email). But mostly, I didn’t engage. I looked at email and ignored anything that wasn’t either really interesting or really pressing. I peeked at Twitter, but didn’t really converse much. And I posted some photos on Facebook without getting sucked in.

The result? I came back refreshed. The ugliness of the previous week (ironically, at the hands of Disney Social Media) and the slowly building frustration I had been experiencing was gone and I was back to myself. It was  a beautiful reminder of just how fortunate I am, both in my personal life and in my professional one. Maybe more importantly, it was a chance to be thankful for the people who care about me and to knock those who don’t right out of my mind.

My normal approach to all things social media is to celebrate the good, grumble for a minute about the bad, and constantly refocus my sights on what I want most. I try not to take things too personally and I know there will always been another opportunity. And when I don’t get something I want, I either decide it’s not a great match for my goals, or refine my approach to better serve me the next time around. But there are times when the small disappointments start to add up and times when it is clear that nothing I could have done would have mattered. Obviously, that’s when I just need to take a step away.

I have so much appreciation for those people in my life who treat me (and others) with respect and care. I’m excited for 2011. I have some big things in mind, some changes, some new starts, and I’m hoping to be able to really give back to a community that has been a tremendous support for me. And I’m not going to sit around and wait for something magical to happen… I can create magic with the best of them!

Christy @ 5:54 pm
Filed under: Blogging andCountdown to 40
Rejected, Dejected and Old Baggage

Posted on Saturday 4 December 2010

My grandmother called me this morning. I knew I shouldn’t have answered the phone, but she’s been trying to reach me all week, so I felt like I should just find out what’s going on. But I’m in an awful mood today. Why I’m in such a bad mood is sort of lame, but my grandmother’s call was a good reminder of why things like this upset me as much as they do.

So, here’s the kind of lame part: the Disney Social Media Moms application process ended yesterday and left me feeling really hurt and sad. If you know me, you know I’m used to being overlooked for blogging things. My blog isn’t huge and no one cares that I have tens of thousands of readers weekly on About.com. They generally aren’t interested by how much I give back to the community or if I’m a nice person. I sort of accept it with as much humor and grace as I can, even when I feel left out. I have plenty of wonderful things in my life, so I try not to let the bad things bring me down. But this particular process was just really hard. There was conflicting information and I wasn’t sure I’d even be invited to apply (I wasn’t last year). And then if I did apply, would I get in? So when they said it would be first come, first serve, I knew they didn’t mean that quite so literally, but I thought it gave me a fighting chance. When I got my registration (as it was called) in, I felt pretty good. Registration was open for 2 hours and I got in about half way through. So receiving a rejection noticed that my application hadn’t been processed in time was a surprise, to say the least. Finding out that people who had registered after me had been accepted was even more surprising. And hurtful. I actually asked if I had done something to remove myself from consideration. Bottom line is that I’m not the only one this happened to. It happened to lots of us. But when I look at the list of people who are going, it still feels personal. These are people I attended with last year. People who have been invited over and over again to Disney events. And then some people who I’m not familiar with at all.

When my grandmother called this morning, I was thinking about this whole situation. I was trying to move past the hurt. I mean, I’m thrilled for the people who are going. I knew there was a chance I wouldn’t get in, but I hadn’t anticipated the process being setup to make me feel so bad about it. It’s Disney. Disney strives to make everything magical, even when they’re giving you bad news. Disney doesn’t set you up to have a bad experience and make you feel like you’re just not welcome.

My grandmother started out the conversation by saying that she had talked to my grandfather and his wife. I was immediately on edge, since it’s a sore spot with me that I’ve never even met this man. He has never once acknowledged to me that he knows I exist. She told me that she was extremely upset with him because he had sent his (60-something-year-old) son a birthday card with nothing in it. I interrupted to remind her that my own father (her other son) had never sent me a birthday card at all. “That’s not the point,” she told me with frustration. Apparently, the point is that he HAD sent money to my teenage-mom-twice-over half sister for her birthday. The same half sister that my biological father had doted over, even as he was ignoring my birthday.

And that’s when it hit me. I expect this. I expect to not be included. And I handle it with as much grace as I can muster because I’ve grown up not having any other choice. I mean, if the people who are supposed to love you most don’t care about you, you can’t really expect anyone else to, either. An ex-boyfriend once accused me of sabotaging our relationship. And, although it wasn’t quite so simple, he was right. I tend to hold back and wait for something bad to happen. I assume people in my life won’t stick around very long, and I assume that if there’s a special list, I’m not going to be on it. I don’t sit around feeling sorry for myself. I make a lot of excuses and then I just accept that that’s the way things are.

But for some reason, this Disney thing hit me harder than usual. Probably because I have always loved Disney and the idea that Walt built a company around the philosophy of making people happy. He engineered his parks to evoke certain emotional responses… they look expansive when you walk in eager to start your day, but look smaller as you’re walking out, tired from a day of fun. And, until I started blogging, there were no special lists to enjoy the magic of Disney. That was available to every one. We’re taking our kids to Disney World next week, and I’m trying really hard to let this feeling go. Just when I think I’ve done a lot of emotional healing, things like this crop back up and remind me that my baggage is still there, waiting to crop up…

[Edited to add: It was definitely not first-come, first-served. They have said that “there were quite a few factors involved.” But the criteria for me isn’t important so much as a process that made me, and quite a few other people, feel really bad.]

Christy @ 11:41 am
Filed under: Me