Lisa and I lay on our bed Sunday morning, which is currently relocated to the floor of our “Flygirl” camper that we pull behind the Chinook, watching the CBS Sunday morning show. Our bedroom adaptation was necessary due the unexpected street noise nearby here at our Airbnb parking pad in Sumter, SC. This is our winter home until the middle of April (we’ll save the flygirl adaptation story for another time). We have both always loved the CBS Sunday Morning show and can watch it on our laptop via our DirectTV Now subscription.
Yesterday one of the featured stories was an interesting one about loneliness. I doubt many of us are surprised by the fact that while social media offers a lot of positive results, according to a recent study nearly half of Americans now say they sometimes or always feel alone – and one in five says they rarely or never feel close to anyone. And especially among millennials, the ever-present phone may in part be why. Among the people who use social media the most, the higher the odds are of feeling lonely. Dr. Brian Primack at the University of Pittsburgh heads the Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health, says the more social media we use, the lonelier we are likely to be. “This is totally counterintuitive,” said Spencer.
So, why would someone with 3,000 Facebook friends feel lonely? “One is this idea of social comparison,” said Dr. Primack. “People are able to take 300, 400 pictures of themselves and post that one that makes them look like they are that much more thin or that much more attractive or that much more successful. The impression from the outside can easily be on social media, ‘Wow, I can’t measure up with my very normal life.'”
“Yes, social media has contributed enormously to people feeling alone. Someone said just recently to me that, ‘If you have four really good friends, you’re a lucky person,’ [as opposed to] 4,000 likes.”
When I realized later in the day that Lisa and I had not been posting much on Facebook – or especially here on TwoScruffyNomads – about our life and travels as much since our fabulous summer in Idaho and Wyoming this past summer, I realized something in this story inspired me that it was time to post here on our blog.
This CBS story made me realize the importance of what we need to say right now. To say to many of you who tell us that you enjoy following our scruffy nomadic lives. To say it so that we are not only sharing the “mountain tops” (literally) that we so fortunately get to experience so often, but also to share the valleys as they present in our lives.
To share that it is not only the “highs” of seeing six stunning national parks in Utah this past Fall, but it’s also in the “lows” and the grief of the great sadness of losing a loving parent who has been adored one’s whole life, that we feel fully alive. It’s in the fullness of ALL of our emotions and status of heart that encompasses being FULLY alive. And that reminds us that we want to connect with those we love in the fullness of all of these feelings.
We want to be a reminder that many of us share in these feelings of grief and sadness, even if some are not showing it publicly. We wanted to share it right now, because it is the stuff that life is made of. Because we, like many of our friends, have recently lost – or are losing – parents, family and friends that we love dearly. And no doubt this can feel like a very lonely time.
We completed our fantastic vacation time in Utah last Fall around the middle of October and arrived in Gatlinburg just before the first of November for our annual trek to spend the holidays with Lisa’s parents there. One main reason Lisa loves being a traveling Occupational Therapist is that it allows her more time, if she chooses, between OT assignments to spend with her family around Gatlinburg and Sevier County, Tennessee in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Lisa was happy to be home and quickly got into her usual mode of house projects for her parents and organizing MD appointments as she always does to help her parents while we are there. She also loves spending time with her siblings and their families. There were lots of get togethers, birthday celebrations, & many Jr. High and High School basketball games to watch her talented, athletic nieces and nephews. Her mom struggled with complex health issues and in various ways had been declining consistently over the past few years, but Lisa and I saw both positive and negative changes over the next few weeks of our visit. She and Lisa had some special quality time together throughout November and into early December. Then after the first week of December her mom, Marlene, became very ill and after a partial week in ICU she made her way to the pearly gates and into the Heavenly Glory realm that she often talked about.
She was now free of her terribly painful arthritic condition and inability to live life fully and healthily as she wanted so much to be doing. But the unexpected shock of losing her while we were there was incredibly surreal- and as equally painful for Lisa and her family.
She had been Lisa’s rock. The supermom of Gatlinburg. The unconditionally loving friend and mentor to countless numbers both in her own community and their special community of “regulars” at the EastSide Motel for the more than forty years that she and Lisa’s dad had lived there and owned it.
I only got to know Marlene Trentham during the last chapter in her life … a very hard chapter for her. But in her death, I felt that I got to know the full spectrum of a life so vibrantly and lovingly lived for all the other chapters before Lisa brought me into the Trentham fold. Lisa had always talked about the woman her mom had been during all the years before I met her. I had seen the photos of Marlene when she was full of laughter, good health, full of love and humor, and fully living life as God’s heart and hands. But even in her last chapter, the chapter in which I was blessed to see her loving heart and wit, I felt the great love that she had to give. I wasn’t one of her own, but I did love her, and she knew that and she knew how much I loved Lisa – and that was all that mattered – she was happy for us both. I told Lisa the other day that her mom lives on through her. That because she was such an incredible mom I’m getting to reap the benefits of having an amazing woman whom she raised in my own life.
So this winter for us – and this Sumter, SC chapter in our lives – is one of grief and healing. One of being a little more still than usual. Grief has a way of making one lose some of one’s natural motivations and energy. And that’s ok. It’s important to embrace the season for what it is. We’re beginning to get out a little here and there to explore the area around us. We did drive down to Savannah for my birthday weekend and this past weekend we enjoyed some mountain biking on South Carolina’s border to border trail system called the Palmetto Trail. But for the most part we have been content to think a lot about Marlene, for Lisa to shed tears whenever she needs to, for her to stay connected to her family as she needs to, and for this season to be one for feeling God’s loving embrace of our broken hearts.
Never let social media make you think you can’t measure up because people are choosing THE best of 100 photos to put on FB. Never let Social Media make you feel lonely, or more lonely. All of us struggle. We are all living and doing the best we can day by day. We may not post the photos of the tears flowing, or the days we feel “blue” as my granddad, Pop, used to call it. But they are certainly there. But the mountain tops are still there, too, and they will be calling us again. For now the Valleys are equally as important. And equally as beautiful. Because it’s with this wide range of emotions that we know without a doubt we are alive – we are fully alive – and we are thankful that we feel our feelings no matter how hard it may be sometimes. The alternative can have some pretty negative consequences.
“Our social connection is the foundation on which we build healthy and fulfilling lives,” added one of the professionals interviewed in the CBS story. I would like people to start to notice how much they need actual connection. We need vitamins, we need vegetables, we need clean air, and we need connection.”
Thanks to all of you for the love and support you’ve given to Lisa and to me during these past few months. We’re beginning to plan a very special adventure that will begin late summer, early Fall. So we’ll be sharing that with you in the coming months. For now we have some fun weekends in South Carolina planned and we’ll be sharing some of that with you guys via Facebook.
Love to you all –
(Although we did post many of our Utah trip photos on FB, we never created a blog post from that incredible two weeks in October. So I’ve included a few from that trip in the images above. This group of images illustrates the Ups and the Downs … the Highs and the Lows … of real life – sometimes life feels a little scruffier than at other times)
Karole & Lisa