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Life is full of ups and downs. Have you ever stopped to consider if either extreme is within your control?

I’ve lived long enough to know that I’ve lost some of my naiveness from younger years. I believe that life will naturally take its twists and turns and, the majority of the time, we are simply along for the ride.

Yes, we can choose to concentrate on development and eliminate distractions to put ourselves in the best position to learn and evolve. Yes, we can make time for and really listen to those around us in order to build better relationships. Yes, we can make daily choices in order to solidify better habitual patterns.

Yet life doesn’t always go according to one’s plan. You expect the fast ball. You get the curve.

So believing this to be true, I struggle sometimes with my conflicting desire to try to be in control of the uncontrollable.

I want to be seen as a top achiever, as having a firm grip on life, as being compassionate and present in the moment. I want to be seen as trustworthy and able to be relied upon. I hope by controlling “x” in my life, then “y” will naturally result.

The problem with wanting to be seen though is that you need to first answer the question, “Why do I want to be seen?”

There is a big difference between giving off the illusion of having what society deems is “it all” – prestige, power, influence, health, wealth, and happiness – versus what gives you a sense of purposefulness when you are alone with your thoughts. One is a facade, the other is truth.

Why do I want to be seen?

I want to be seen to know that I matter to others. To know that I am of value to them. To know that I make their life happier.

Fortunately for me, my scope of “others” is relatively small. My “others” are also generous in doling out their gratitude. My family in first place, friends and confidants second, creativity sharers third, and so on and so forth. Believing that God sees me in my truest form, I know I am trying to do right by Him too of course.

I believe I originally embraced blogging and other forms of social media sharing as a creative outlet. I love expressing myself through writing. Selfishly, it feels good to know that others find value in what I choose to write about.

However, the social media sharing world from when I first began back in 2009 has spiraled into what I can best describe as social sabotage in less than 10 years time.

I’ve seen people fight about posts and pictures. I’ve seen relationships I once thought were solid fall by the wayside. I’ve seen people needing to be right more than needing to be understood. I’ve seen people (young and old) not wanting to miss out online, while inadvertently ignoring what’s waiting for them to discover in real life.

And while I’ve been watching all of this unfold on screen, real life had a way of moving on in all of its inherent beauty. That’s the funny thing about life. It happens with or without you noticing sometimes.

I watched an episode of 60 Minutes recently that talked about people’s reliance on their smartphones and how Silicon Valley is engineering your phone, apps, and social media to get you hooked. Here’s a snip-it I highly encourage you to watch.

In this episode, Anderson Cooper interviewed former Google Design Ethicist Tristan Harris along with several other guests. Tristan left Google to lead a movement called Time Well Spent, with a mission of aligning technology with humanity.  I would also encourage you to read his most widely read essay How Technology Hijacks People’s Minds – from a Magician and Google’s Design Ethicist.

The information that Tristan shares in his interview as well as in his writing escalates that icky feeling I experience anytime I have my own nose buried in my phone or I see those whom I love doing the same.

My blog posts are fewer and farther between these days. And that is intentional.

I will continue to write. I still want to share (overshare?). I still want you to read what I have to say. I still want to hear from you.

But more important than any of those things, I want to start seeing more and being seen less.

Do you feel the same way?

What can we discover together, yet not feel compelled to share with each other?

Life is most breathtaking when it is unfiltered, with no clever captions, and uncontrolled.

Written by Heidi Woodard

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Boy, it’s been way too long since we last connected.

Not only have I not written here as much as I would have liked, I am behind on following favorite bloggers like One Thousand Single Days, 365til30, Contemplative Fitness, and others. Sorry, random strangers that I now consider lifelong friends, I will try to catch up soon.

I recently stumbled upon something interesting about forcing yourself to suffer for 15 minutes each day on a process that feels seemingly insurmountable. The point of this advice was that people will inevitably procrastinate on doing things that they dislike or that consider impossible to achieve.

But if you manage to devote a minimal amount of uninterrupted time each day to the activity you want to conquer, you will amaze yourself with positive results.

Here’s my dilemma: I am currently overwhelmed with a boatload of activities that I thoroughly enjoy. (Don’t you feel so sorry for me?)

I’ve got the full-time job where I’m getting paid to live a more mission-driven life. I’ve got my weekly blogging for momaha.com and radio appearances on the Pat&JT Show, which both allow me to capture memories of my kids growing up.

Speaking of those kids, I have these three amazing people looking up to me for love and support.

my proudest accomplishments

my proudest accomplishments

I’m training for my third half marathon, partially for the physical benefits I’ll reap, but more so for the chance to beat my equally competitive cousin.

And, GET THIS, I started freelance writing for a new client and recently got contacted by another interested party. If I’m not genetically wired or young enough to be a collegiate sand volleyball player, at least I get to spend my free time doing what I really enjoy: expressing myself through words.

So I guess my biggest hurdle is that my free time is slowing slipping away.

It’s a pretty spectacular dilemma to have. Facebook can wait.

Created by Heidi Woodard

I don’t even know who I’m writing this post for.

All I know is that I can’t stop thinking about events that took place on Saturday and the 3-month old baby who no longer has a mom or a dad to love and protect her.

If you hadn’t already learned about the series of events, a Kansas City Chiefs linebacker fatally shot his girlfriend in front of his own mom, and then drove to a practice facility parking lot where he shot and killed himself in front of the football team’s coach and general manager.

That’s two lives removed from this earth far too early, who are now more recognized than they ever dreamed possible for entirely the wrong reasons.

I can’t stop thinking about an article my friend shared on Facebook about the short- and long-term effects that traumatic brain injury has on the lives of football players. Game Over is the most thorough and thought provoking piece of sports writing I’ve read this year. It’s hard to discredit the inextricable link between athletes who’ve routinely had their bells rung  and the mental aftershock they endure.

It’s hard to accept that my boys want to play football and that they are now old enough to play tackle football like their dad did.

This most recent tragedy makes me think about every person who decides to end their life because of hopelessness, confusion, and mental anguish.

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I had an aunt who committed suicide. Without going into much detail, I was very young when she decided that life was too hard to live. I never really knew her. I wished I would have.

I’m confident I know people today who are struggling. Who are too proud or scared to admit how much they hurt.

A fear of mine is that they won’t reach out to someone before they reach for the gun, rope, or pill bottle.

It weighs heavily on my heart that so many hurt so much.

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I’ve shared my top three uplifting songs before because I believe so strongly in the influence of music.

I also believe in the power of prayer/reflection and of finding peace in others. I believe that blogging is an outlet for many, including myself, to not only embrace but also to escape from the world in which we live.

Never do I diminish another person’s feelings nor judge a person who wrongly believes there is nothing left in them to give. If you are reading this and suffer a sense of despair, I beg you to consider those in your life who you impact everyday. Do not discredit their need to have YOU in their lives.

“Nothing could be worse than the fear that one had given up too soon, and left one unexpended effort that might have saved the world.” – Jane Addams

We all have something to give to this world, even when that something is unknown to ourselves. Don’t ever give up. You are not alone.

Created by Heidi Woodard