Are You Content?

let goIt’s hard to believe I started writing this blog  five years ago. Seems like five months in many ways—and yet, so much has changed and at breakneck speed.  The trailblazers along the social-media super highway—accelerators such as Chris Brogan, Brian Solis, Beth Kanter and Clay Shirky—continue to inspire and challenge my thinking as they constantly reinvent, re-calibrate and re-conceptualize their own approaches to social media, their audiences, the web and their own livelihoods. It is, indeed, an ever-changing frontier out there . . .well, out here, as well.

Where are we five years later? Where am I? Good question.

I suspect I am inordinately philosophical as I review the past five years today. Such monumental milestones. Such enormous challenges. Such “opportunities for growth.” “What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.” Kelly Clarkson? Well, I believe Friedrich Nietzsche said it first.

Having just returned from another day of waiting in the hospital to hear news about a gravely ill parent, I am considering the past five years even more pensively.  Just moments ago, I was straightening the few sparse gray hairs dancing across my emaciated father’s damp, ashen forehead as I watched him fight for every shallow breath.

The weight of the past few years as a single mom has been palpable —encompassing my mother’s death a year a half ago after complications from a massive stroke—as well as other daunting challenges.  Let’s just say, life has been messy. However, thank goodness, the learning has been rich and the clarity gleaming beyond the fog. Fortunately, I have been open to it. Not just about the social media stuff, mind you—but most everything, really— life, love, the way I tick, and  my relationship to all of it—media, circumstances, feelings, places, people . . . That’s the good part.

“I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me

and 90% how I react to it.” 

― Charles R. Swindoll

This awareness is informing my writing, as well. Hence, I have arrived at this very blog post. In fact, I now think our relationship to our content is probably more important than the content itself.  In this new media, mega-sphere world, we have admittedly become obsessed with our gadgets—with the act of communicating. As Sherry Turkle says in Alone Together, we are too busy communicating to really connect.

Ironically, we began this social journey with rabid focus on the technology—the latest whiz-bang toy du jour. What will we do with Twitter? Instagram? Yada? Yada? Then, we moved to “content marketing.” We’re all about the content. The what. Serve it up in giant scoops of frothy, delicious digital goodness—early and often to satisfy Google’s ravenous, insatiable appetites. Businesses and thought leaders have been maniacal about producing “the right content” with the right words at the right time. SEO-yea!  Maximizing, masticating and matriculating . . .

But, now, I think it’s really and truly about relating.  Getting to the heart of the matter, right?  Who are we? What are we about?  Not another refill of the cloying Kool-Aid. After all, what does really matter?

Am I conscious? Am I present?  Am I paying attention? No more facade, thank you.

What does this mean to our marketing plans? Not sure. And more important, what does this mean to our relationships—whether they are with friends, romantic partners, business partners, parents, children, subordinates, siblings, superiors, colleagues, employees, customers, shareholders, vendors, service technicians, teachers, neighbors, customers, students, etc.  . . . or the person behind us in line at Target? Anyone.  You? It means being fully present, in the present—in the relationship.  (And I don’t mean with your phone, but that’s another post.) In fact, the truth is there will come time when . . .

The words don’t matter, because we cannot hear them.

The affectations, witty banter and posh color choices don’t matter, because we cannot see them.

And what matters is simply spirit—being there.

Life coach Martha Beck says, “Little miracles begin happening to you whenever you turn toward your right life – even if it’s in the middle of the muck and mire. Small miracles turn into big ones.” We just need to pay attention.

So, once again, I ask the question, are you content?

It’s an inside job

lemons“You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.”
— Friedrich Nietzsche

Often, the universe dishes up not just one or two pesky, little hurdles – but a veritable tsunami of desolation. The real challenge is  processing it all productively and assessing our authentic truth — not anyone else’s version, mind you, but our very own.  In the aftermath, we do some serious onion peeling — but that’s easier said than done. Life is messy.

I believe these times of vertigo-inducing, tummy-tickling turmoil consume us for a reason — to shake us up and down, over and around — to help us see a new perspective and another side. The trick is identifying the nuggets of wisdom in the swirling vortex and harnessing their positive power to make us stronger, clearer, and wiser — like making lemons into lemonade. (Or sautéing those onion layers into a scrumptious caramelized concoction.) These analogies may seem a little hackneyed, but the truth is that I seem to have harvested a bumper crop of lemons lately — in love, work, family, etc. Sweet turned to sour and fresh to foul.

I read somewhere that this is all a simple law of physics — or metaphysics, as the case may be. “It’s like patterned disorder,” says life coach Martha Beck. “And in nature, it creates beautiful things.” She contends that instead of being tortured, perhaps we are being steered—“dressed as chaos.” It’s all about reversing our assumptions.  Love that!

“Little miracles begin happening to you whenever you turn toward your right life,” says Beck — even if it’s in the middle of the muck and mire. Small miracles turn into big ones. And she’s oh, so correct. The tiny miracles ARE all around me— if I just pay attention.

In fact, here’s one—looking forward to delivering a webinar on Jan. 30, 2013, for NALA, the National Association of Local Advertisers and Jeff Velis, vice president of operations and esteemed former colleague.  It’s called Social Media is an Inside Job. Thank you, Jeff.  Can’t wait!

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And let the new journey begin!