Are You Looking for the Elusive Village? WANT AD: VILLAGERS NEEDED

Sep 23 2014

If you’re lonely, this is for you.

If you’ve wandered and searched and hoped for your Tribe, this is for you.

If you’ve moved and left your Tribe behind, this is for you.

If your Tribe moved and left you behind, this is for you.

If you’ve wandered the Jungle and called and called, hoping for an answer, this is for you.

If you’ve found your Village and want to welcome the wanderers – if you’ve found your Tribe and will let more in – this is for you.

And if you keep asking where that damn, elusive Village is, anyway, this is for you. 

WANT AD:
VILLAGERS NEEDED.
Friends needed.
YOU are needed.

I’m talking I.R.L. here, folks; In Real Life. Not in some kind of ethereal way, although you’re definitely needed in the cosmos and on the world wide webs, too. Right now, though, I’m talking about making Friends in the Flesh. People you can hug without the {{{curly brackets}}}. People you can hug with your ARMS. People who are hoping for a Tribe, too. 

ID-10065346Because as much as you long for community and connection, someone is longing for your friendship, too. I know it’s true, because I hear from dozens of you every day. Hundreds per month. We NEED each other. Online – this space and others – is an excellent, important start, but for many of us, it’s not enough.

We’ve talked here over the last few days and weeks and months about connection. Human connection. What it means to be authentically ourselves. And to share pieces of our hearts. And what it’s like to need a friend. An IRL friend. In Real Life. 

And I will tell you – I think about you every day. Every single day. Your stories run through my mind and rifle through my heart, and I ask myself over and over how I can help make connections. Because words on a page are my art, but YOU – your uniqueness, your value, your preciousness, your deep, abiding worth – YOU are my heart.

So we are going to try an experiment here. And it may go sideways or upside down; it’s hard to say. But we’re going to try a Human Connection Experiment.

Some of you have expressed over the past few days your wish for a “dating” site for friends. A place you can post a profile or a personals ad and call out online for In Real Life friends. A place to connect. And I believe sites like that are in the works! Coming to an internet near you!

The problem, of course, with the find-a-friend sites will be the profile. And the time to create the profile. And the monitoring of the profile. And the popularity contest inherent in looking at profiles and picking and choosing. And the questions – the ever-present questions: How authentic can I be, anyway? How messy? And will anyone see the magic in me? 

So I thought to myself, “It’s too bad we don’t have something like that here in this space. Because these people are already a RAGING MESS. Out loud! In our hearts. In our homes. And we LOVE it this way. This wild truth-telling. And we HONOR the mess in each other. Because we know it’s our path to the magic. To the magnificent. To the magic and magnificent, which are born not out of perfection, but from truth and terror and triumph and trying.”

And then I thought, “Why not, Beth? Why not at least TRY to connect these people you adore to each other? To set up, wherever possible, pockets of authentic friendship?” And I came up with lots of answers for why not: it’s logistically challenging; maybe no one really wants that; other people can do this better than me; there are forums for this kind of thing… and I’ll probably even set one up myself soon… a COMMUNITY FORUM… it’s better to just wait for a better forum, Beth. 

But I couldn’t come up with a GOOD reason why we shouldn’t try, because I’ll take logistically challenging if it means you get to meet a friend. 

So here’s what we’re going to do. IT’S EXPERIMENT TIME. We are going to use this space right here – this imperfect space that isn’t set up right for this AT ALL – to meet In Real Life Friends. 

I am going to write our profile.

And you – if you want a friend, if you need a Tribe, or if you’re willing to let people into your Village – are going to tell us if you want in. Instructions are below.

Here’s my part. Here’s our profile. This is who we are:

  • We are people who are imperfect.
  • We are people who are a mess.
  • We are people who are wild and wonderful and weird and wonky.
  • And we are people who are learning that we are enough and valuable and worthy as we already are.
  • We are people who understand that friends are made from humans; awful, awesome, horrible, heroic, endearing, irritating humans.
  • We are people who live in a mess and with the mess and through the mess, and we know that it’s knee-deep in the mess that we find the magic.
  • We are people who are weak.
  • We are people who are strong.
  • We are people who are weak and strong, sometimes all at once, and lost and found, which is where we discover grace.
  • We are people who rise above it all and put one step in front of the other and keep going in the middle of the madness.
  • We are people who can’t take one more step and sit, immovable, smack-dab in the middle of the mud.
  • We are people who cry at night and who need a Google Earth zoom-out button so we can see the other night-criers and know we’re not alone.
  • We are people who wave at each other in the dark and who hold hands while we wait for the dawn to break.
  • And we are people who need each other. Truly and deeply. Imperfectly and full of grace. We are people who need connection. And friends. And a Tribe like us.

So now it’s your turn.

Your part. 

Your chance to be brave and bold – if only for the minute it takes to make a comment, because bravery and boldness only happen a minute at a time, anyway – and raise your hand and say, “I want in.”

If you want to be part of this Experiment — this opportunity for connection and friendship, whether you’re looking for a friend because you don’t have one right now, or you’re eager to open your already established Tribe to new friends — please reply below in the comments section with three things:

  1. Your first name. (Last name is fine but not required.)
  2. Your email address. (As is normally required to leave a comment. NOTE: This will NOT be shared publicly, but WILL be shared via a private, group email with others from your region who sign up for this experiment. This is how I’ll put you into contact with each other.)
  3. Your location, like this: City, State/Province, Country. 

My comment would look like this:

comment

And that is all.

Over the next few days, I’ll collect your names and your regions. Broad regions, probably. Like states or provinces or small countries or large cities, because I won’t know how close, exactly, your towns are to each other. And then, on Saturday, I’ll start to email you as regional groups**. To say, “HEY! You’re all from Ohio!” Or “Hey! You’re both in Sydney!” 

I know this is weird. I know it requires a measure of trust. I know it’ll work out for some and not for others. But it’s worth a try, don’t you think? And it’s a worthy experiment, just like all of human connection. A worthy experiment.

I hope you’ll join me.

Love,
Beth

**P.S. Everyone will be placed in a group. Those of you who have others from your region will be placed by region. Those of you who don’t have others from your region will still receive an option to be part of an online, email-based group. I know that won’t work for everyone, and that’s fine, but I want to be sure everyone has an opportunity for some kind of contact. OK? OK. Now get on with commenting. Be brave, just for a minute, but also know I’m waving to you in the dark and holding your hand ’til the dawn arrives.

UPDATE: Some of you want to know if you can opt to JUST be email buddies and NOT have regional contacts. YES. Yes, if this is how you want to participate and connect, YES, ABSOLUTELY. To opt into an email group, please follow steps 1 and 2 above (name and email address) and simply write “email” as your comment, instead of your location. 

UPDATE #2: It is NOT too late to join. As I mentioned on the Book of Faces (aka, Facebook), I HAVE sent out groups as of today, Saturday, September 27. HOWEVER, it is never too late for more members of the Village. You can still leave your info below and I’ll add you to a group as soon as I can.

Old and Young Women Holding Hand photo credit to worradmu via freedigitalimages.net

5 Quick Questions About Connection

Sep 22 2014

It’s time for a new edition of 5 Quick Questions!

This is my opportunity to get to know you better, and it’s one of the best things we do here because it turns out you are very good at truth-telling, friends. To those of you who used the last few volumes to delurk, it’s wonderful to meet you! And to those of you who’ve been around a while, mucking about in this space and putting your feet on the furniture? You’re always rad. Thank you.

As you may know, 5 Quick Questions can be anything from the EVER IMPORTANT What Is Your Family Booger Rule? to the more serious (and my absolute favorite because you were so deeply honest) Questions About Faith.

Today, though, I want to ask you about Personal Connection because your responses to the story of Melanie’s 16th Birthday broke my heart wide open and made me feel humbled and sad and strong and weak because you so willingly gave us pieces of your hearts to hold. I treasure that gift. I do. And I ache with you. So many of us are lonely. And wounded. And have received the message that we’re not valuable or worthy of friendship. Which is a bullshit message, but still painful… and sometimes we believe it even though it’s not true.

I ended that story by saying Life Gets Better. And We Find Our Tribe After Too Much Searching. And We Discover We Are, After All, Deeply Worthy of Love, and Worthy of Celebration, and Worthy of People Who Show Up. 

I believe every one of those things. To my bones.

But sometimes it takes too long, doesn’t it? And it’s too much work. And it’s too much of us showing up and putting ourselves out there and feeling hurt when our efforts aren’t returned the way we want them to be.

Several of you asked important questions after that story. Questions filled with longing, like, “But where and how do you gather a tribe? It can be so very hard,” and “Where is that damn Village, anyway? I’ve been lost in this jungle FOREVER  

I wanted to answer you IMMEDIATELY with SOLUTIONS, because I’m a Fix It girl at heart, but I’ve lived long enough now to know there isn’t a quick fix to feeling lonely or feeling lost. It’s a process. A climb. A ladder with many rungs. A muddy path through a jungle. Or just Jungle and a machete to carve our own way.  

 

The problem with Tribes is they aren’t static. Tribes are evolutionary. They ebb and flow as people come and go, emotionally and geographically, and we don’t usually know who’s going to stick around until they’ve stuck, you know? And sometimes the same people stick and unstick and stick again, because tribes are made out of humans, and humans, as we all know, are just awful. And awesome. Horrible. And heroic. Steady. And unstable. Which makes seeking the Village so very risky. 

The good news is, we all come to the Village weary and wounded. And I know – that sounds like the bad news, but I swear it’s not. The good news is, we all come to the Village weary and wounded, which means there’s a tribe full of people who know how to lay down in the mud with us. How to look at the sky and just breathe for a while. How to offer a hand up when we’re ready to stand. How to let us heal slowly. 

Which is why I’m coming to all of you today with 5 Quick Questions about Personal Connection. Because we are wiser together than I am alone, and this question of community needs all the wisdom we can muster, and our stories, too.

And so, without further ado, here are:

ID-100400665 Quick Questions about Personal Connection and Finding the Elusive Village

  1. When in life were you the loneliest?
  2. Do you have a Village? Have you found a Tribe?
  3. If so, who are they, and WHERE, EXACTLY – with GPS precision instructions, people! – did you find them?
  4. If you could give any comfort to our friends here who are lonely, what would you say?
  5. If you could give any advice to our friends here on how to find the Village – how to seek out your tribe – what would you offer?

Here are my answers:

  1. You can find my answers here and here. Both times upon becoming a mama. And I was pretty lonely when Greg and I first got married, too. Change is hard on the heart. Go figure.
  2. Yes.
  3. Precisely, I’ve found my tribe in my family, my church, my town, and here online with you. My parents are excellent tribe builders. My brother, my cousins, my sister-in-law — all of us have done a huge amount of hard work to choose each other, over and over again. Also, my church – North Valley Friends Church – has had a huge impact on my tribe. Our little town in Newberg, Oregon, has been an amazing place to grow our family. And THIS SPACE HERE has changed my life immeasurably because you are the world’s best at letting me and each other be REAL. 
  4. I would tell you that even though you’re lonely, you’re not alone. I would tell you there’s someone out there who needs you to be part of her tribe as much as you need her to be part of yours. I would tell you there are seasons of life that are hard. I would tell you there’s light, not just at the end of the tunnel, but along the way, and I would tell you there are people here to hold your hands in the dark until you can see the dawn coming.
  5. I know this song is about falling in love and wasn’t intended necessarily for friendship, but I love the song Try, by Pink. I think it speaks so beautifully to the risks, the reality and the richness of relationship.

    Ever worry that it might be ruined
    And does it make you wanna cry?
    When you’re out there doing what you’re doing
    Are you just getting by?
    Tell me are you just getting by, by, by?

    Where there is desire
    There is gonna be a flame
    Where there is a flame
    Someone’s bound to get burned
    But just because it burns
    Doesn’t mean you’re gonna die
    You’ve gotta get up and try, and try, and try
    Gotta get up and try, and try, and try

OK – your turn. 5 Quick Questions, friends, because I only have a small piece of the puzzle, and we need your piece, too.

 

Open Hand With Glove image credit Ambro via freedigitalimages.net

Important New Acronym for Families

Sep 18 2014

My friend, Kim, told me about a new acronym tonight. 

It rocked my world, so accurately does it describe ours, and, if you’re part of a family, it’ll rock yours, too.

Now, Kim’s the friend to whom I rarely speak, not because there aren’t things to say, but because words aren’t usually required to say them. 

I see Kim and, instead of talking, we hug. Tight, I-mean-it hugs. Tight, I-mean-it, hang-in-there hugs. Tight, I-mean-it, hang-in-there, oh-my-word-I-am-SO-weary hugs. Tight, I-mean-it, hang-in-there, oh-my-word-I-am-SO-weary, HOLD-ME hugs. 

And we nod.

Kim and I nod at each other a lot across crowded rooms. At church and at schools. On playgrounds and at the coffee shop. We see each other, and we nod.

The Knowing Nod.

The I See You Nod.

The I Love You Nod, and the Someday We Might Get to Have Coffee Together Again Nod. 

The We’re in This Together Nod.

But tonight, after we Hugged and Nodded, Kim used words. WORDS. Because she invented a new acronym and she knew I needed to know.

F.F.F.L.S.D. 

Turns out, Kim’s family fell totally apart the other night. All of them Freaking Out. All of them Wild Eyed. All of them spewing Angst and being tackled by Exhaustion and crumbling under the weight of OH MY GOSH, ALL THE THINGS. All the Things are Coming at Us, and there is no where – NO WHERE – to Duck and Cover.

In other words, their Family Poop Hit the Fan.

You know?

You know.

I know you know.

And so Kim said to the family, mid-freak-out, “We are in FULL FAMILY FRONTAL LOBE SHUT-DOWN, you guys. FULL FAMILY FRONTAL LOBE SHUT-DOWN.” Because there was no one left in charge of the brains’ ships. ALL of the brain cells had jumped overboard. The fleet was utterly adrift in rough waters, and every single brain was taking on water. Frontal lobes all lost at sea. MISSING IN ACTION. 

Thus was born the acronym.
F.F.F.L.S.D.
which stands for
Full Family Frontal Lobe Shut-Down

photo (86)

And, like all good acronyms, it’s really simple to remember, even while in F.F.F.L.S.D., because all you have to do is follow these two steps:

1. First, yell, “EFF! EFF! EFF!” Three times. REALLY loud. First three letters of the acronym? DOWN.

2. Then yell, “L.S.D.!” Like the drug. LSD. As in, “OH MY GOSH! YOU ARE ALL TRIPPING ON ACID RIGHT NOW.”

And if EFF! EFF! EFF! YOU ARE ALL TRIPPING ON ACID! doesn’t describe a total family melt-down, I don’t know what does. 

 

Here’s Something Thoughtful to Do When You’re 40 and Your Parents Are Out of Town

Sep 17 2014

You’d think when you’re 66 years old and your daughter is 40, you can finally leave home for a few weeks to go on vacation and ask her to water the plants and trust she won’t throw a party and raid your beer in your absence.

You’d think that.

But you’d be wrong.

You know what’s fun to do when you’re 40 and your parents leave town? I mean, other than steal their convertible and act confused about why the mileage is always suddenly higher than when they left, which you’ve been doing for years.

What’s fun is throwing a party at their house because they were foolhardy and unwise and gave you their house keys, car keys and the garage code.

And even better than throwing an unauthorized party?

Is sending them pictures like this… 

photo 1 (70)

…of a police car in their driveway.

And this…

photo 2 (77)

…of beer bottles and some random couple on their bed.

And decorating their house for their return like this…

photo 4 (34)

… just, you know, to let them know you thought about them while they were away. 

Because you’re very, very thoughtful.

And you want them to know you missed them.

And that they should never, ever, EVER leave town again.

Or think you’re responsible enough to water the plants.

The End

P.S. Some of those pictures might be the teeniest, tiniest bit staged and may not reflect the actual nature of the party.

P.P.S. I might have flagged that cop down while he was driving by. And I might’ve asked if he’d do me a favor. And I might’ve mentioned it wasn’t actually law-enforcement related. And he might’ve looked at me like I was propositioning him before skeptically asking how he might help me. And I might’ve said, “I’m 40 and my parents are on vacation and I’m throwing a party without their knowledge.” And he might’ve started laughing before he offered to pull into the driveway and turn on the lights. And I might’ve told him he’s the BEST police officer in the WHOLE WORLD. You know, MAYBE.

P.P.P.S. I also might’ve just met those people who are pictured on my parents’ bed. And they might’ve offered to pose for it after seeing the cop in the driveway because they heard I was sending sketchy pics to my sweet, retired parents. And now I might be working on a campaign to force those bed people to be my friends forever and ever and ever. 

P.P.P.P.S. My parents gave me their house keys, car keys and garage keys, “just in case something happened,” but they didn’t give me their bank codes and passwords. Weird, right?

P.P.P.P.P.S. My parents used to be missionaries, and they love Jesus very much. The Bible tells us I am their reward. “Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him.” Psalm 127:3

P.P.P.P.P.P.S. Some people think the Bible can be interpreted different ways. Those people are probably wrong.

On Holding Pieces of Each Other’s Hearts

Sep 15 2014

She waited on the front porch on her 16th birthday. She waited for her friends to arrive and for the party to begin.

Instead, the calls came in, one at a time. 

The “sorry, I can’t make it” calls. The “not coming, after all” calls. The “oops, I double booked” and the “something came ups” and the “I have to wash my hairs.”

In the end, no one came.

No one.

And she left her porch to go practice driving with her mom.

Party abandoned.

Heart… well, as you might imagine.

I don’t know how long it took my friend Melanie to start telling the story of her 16th birthday. How long it was before she talked about what happened and what she thought it meant about her value as a person and a friend.

I remember she told me last year, at the beach, in her quiet voice as we watched the waves crash, their magnitude powerful and overwhelming. And it’s a funny thing about stories; when you listen to the true ones, they crash over your heart. Powerful. Overwhelming. And my heart broke for 16-year-old Melanie, even though it’s been 30 years since she lived it.

I knew it was a gift Melanie offered. The vulnerable things always are. The ways we unpack the pieces of our soul and hold them delicately in our hands, like the small, wild things with nervous eyes and twitching wings and hearts running away in their chests. We hold them carefully, trying to communicate they’re safe. That we won’t hurt them, at least not more than they already have been. And then we whisper to our most trust-worthy friends, so softly we can barely be heard, “Come look what I have,” and “Shhhh… don’t scare it.” The best friends look. And are gentle. And say, “Oh, sweet thing.” And try to help.

I don’t remember what I said to Melanie when she told me the story of her 16th birthday. Probably wow. Or I’m really sorry. Or that sucks. Or some other inadequate thing to acknowledge that 30 years may pass, but it’s still important to nod at the pain. To hold the vulnerable pieces. To communicate, somehow, “This piece is precious. Do you know it? I’m so sorry it was broken. You didn’t deserve this. You should’ve been treasured.”

My friend Melanie turned 46 recently, and I was invited to attend her birthday party last weekend.

Her friends threw her a Sweet 16 Party.

Another shot at a Sweet 16, except they called it a Sweet 16…+30. 

And here’s my guess: I bet there was a part of Melanie that was afraid. I know a part of me would have been. Because what if no one shows up again, you know? After they’ve seen the piece of her heart, held carefully in her hands. They have the power to hurt it. 

But Melanie said yes to the party. 

She took the chance at having her heart handled with care, which is the most trusting move I know, to say, “This part was hurt, and I’ll let you hold it with me.”

photo 2 (76)We brought Melanie little, ridiculous gifts, like Hello Kitty loot. And nailpolish. And candy and socks. And sparkly bags. And cards that said stuff like, “I’m so glad I got to come to your party! My mom is such a bitch. It’s not like she said I couldn’t take the car to go out with Jake. I thought I’d be grounded forever.

And we laughed and played and laughed the night away… until we got tired and went home before midnight because we’re old.

And we sang happy birthday, the twenty or thirty of us who came. The twenty or thirty of us LOUD women who came. But first, to the light of a birthday candle already lit, my friend Leslie asked Melanie to tell us about her 16th birthday. And so, in the candle-lit kitchen, with the lights dimmed low and all of us crowded around, she did.

She held out her heart. And she let us hold it with her.

And then we sang happy birthday. Loud. Because that’s who we are. And because we meant it. And Melanie buried her face in her hands and wept. And laughed. And wept. 

And I know I say this every time I talk about authentic, compassionate community. I know I do, but I mean it.

It was a holy moment.

A holy, redeemed, painful, precious, beautiful moment.

And then someone yelled, “FUCK THOSE BITCHES who didn’t come to your party!” And the rest of us chorused, “YEAH. FUCK THOSE BITCHES.” 

And we laughed and laughed. Not because they were bitches, necessarily. But because we were together. And life gets better. And we find our tribe after too much searching. And we find out we are, after all, deeply worthy of love, and worthy of celebration, and worthy of people who show up.

And that was holy, too. 

……..

In honor of Melanie’s birthday,
and in honor of holding pieces of each other’s hearts,
please use the comments to let us hold a piece of yours.

What’s your story?

If you need a gentle friend, this is your space.
I’ll monitor the comments section closely, but I have a suspicion, based on the kindness you continue to show each other here, that I won’t have much monitoring to do.
You are some of the very best heart-holders I know.

What Can I NOT Do Today? A Guest Post by Shawna

Sep 12 2014

What Can I NOT Do Today?
by Shawna of Not The Former Things

I have always, always been a planner person.

This has been true since a very young age – I remember when I was four years old, I wanted my mom’s written-in calendar so much, I would’ve preferred it to any toy. I begged to go to the office supply section at every grocery store, just to stare longingly at the pens and pads of paper. When I was in college, I spent way too much of my scholarship fund in the bookstore. Even today, when a friend pulls out her planner, I have to take a look. It’s been a part of me as long as I can remember.

Throughout my life, I have planned away, making one to-do list after another.

Then, I became a momma.

Then, I became a stay at home momma.

Then, I became a stay at home, homeschooling momma, to exceptional children with special needs.

Then, I became a very tired, overwhelmed, have no idea what to do next momma.

And then, suddenly, the to-do list and planner didn’t quite do the trick anymore. In fact, they mocked me. Instead of being the cherished friends I had grown to love, these tools became yet another symbol of my failure as a mom.

At first, I thought it was the type of planner. (I wish I was joking…) I seriously thought maybe I just needed a different type of planner – one more suited for a mom at home instead of a mom at work. Turns out it wasn’t having the wrong planner.

Then, I thought maybe I just needed to use it differently. I spent an afternoon recreating page after page to more accurately reflect my life – changing travel pages to meal plans, and lists of important numbers to therapist contact info. Turns out it wasn’t the way I was using the planner.

It wasn’t until our lives became so completely complicated with sleepless nights, violent, damaging meltdowns, and what felt like emotional trauma all over the place, that I finally realized – no amount of planning would change our circumstances

Somewhere, in that mess, I began to understand that there would be much, much more on the to-do list, but most of the list would be things I had never had to accomplish before. Things likemake it home safely after a car ride 15 minutes or more, or just make sure only things in this room are broken went straight to the top of the list.

At first I fought it. I was sure if I just tried harder, woke up earlier, stayed up later, and worked faster, I could accomplish every single thing on my list. What’s worse,  I thought my children should be able to keep up as well.

I am here to say, it was just not possible. It brought me to my knees (spiritually and figuratively).

I just could not keep up.

So, slowly but surely, I let go.

I asked my husband what was most important to him – turns out he could’ve cared less about 75% of the things I was freaking out over every day. Then, I asked the boys what they wanted. Playing with them (big sigh and mommy conviction followed) and feeding them were the top requests. In fact, they were the only requests (now that I think about it, my husband’s requests were not that dissimilar…). Suddenly, my list was getting a lot smaller.

WhatNotToDoToday

A year later, I am surprised at how comfortable I have become with all of this. So much so that I worry sometimes that we are too relaxed. (I actually have a good friend who has promised to keep me accountable. If I completely lose it and start sliding down the slippery slope of sluggard-dom and total filth, she is the one nominated to put me in check!)

Now, instead of feeling like a failure when I see my huge to-do list, I am trying to mentally start checking things off my not-to do list each morning.

Silly? Yes.

But I find there is so much more room for grace and freedom, when I am not holding myself to my own unrealistic standard. There is so much grace in saying, “Oh well. A perfectly scrubbed kitchen floor is just not the season we are in.”

There is so much joy in living life with my family, my eyes and heart focused on them, rather than all the things that need to be done around them.

So, what are you NOT going to do today?

………

This essay was originally published at Not The Former Things.

Shawna

Shawna is a wife to a wacky, voice actor husband, and a momma to two uniquely challenged little boys. She finds herself increasingly required to live beyond the limits of her crazy self, and serve a wonderfully complex family – where High Functioining Autism and Learning Disabilities are schooling her every single day. She blogs about the messy and the painful, the sweet and the laughable, and how Jesus is in the midst of it all at Not The Former Things. You can also find her on Facebook

The Way Car Campaigns SHOULD Be

Sep 10 2014

School started last week, and my oldest transitioned to a new high school as a junior. Because we did months of research ahead of time, though, and because this was a transition she requested, it went perfectly.

FYI, by “transitioned,” I mean “didn’t transition at all,” and by “perfectly,” I mean “horribly” and “terribly” and “we’ve scrapped that plan and are trying something else entirely.” 

So… you know. It’s been a rough couple of weeks, trying to figure out how to listen and be supportive and make wise decisions and guide without dominating. For the record, I am NOT good at guiding without dominating. I’m more of an I WILL DOMINATE THE HECK OUT OF THIS and FIX IT and IF EVERYONE JUST DOES WHAT I SAY, WE WILL ALL BE FINE mama, before I remember that I want to be a collaborative and compassionate mama, which kind of blows that whole domination thing to pieces. In short, it sucks. 

photo 1 (69)Before school started, though, we went on a road trip. Abby, me, and her friends, Jenna and Camille. We went for two reasons:

1. We seriously needed a distraction from the back-to-school blues, because sitting home STRESSING OUT about starting a new school wasn’t going to be good for anyone. Not ANYONE.

And 2. GMC loaned us a a car

We had a ridiculously great time, probably because no one brought any siblings, not even one of us barfed, and we were all equally committed to finding every single Starbucks in the Puget Sound of Washington. It was, in all ways, an ideal road trip and perfectly timed.

Now, listen. I don’t know what GMC was thinking, loaning me a car, and clearly they didn’t check with any of YOU before they did it because we are a WHOLE BUNCH of truth tellers around here, and I imagine, because you know me, you would’ve told them NO; DON’T DO IT, GMC! But they didn’t get ahold of you (WOOHOO!), and God knows I wasn’t going to fill them in on All the Things That Can Go Wrong With the Woolseys, so when they said, “Hey. Want to use a car? No writing or online review required!” I thought to myself, “Self? This is a chance to use a car that doesn’t smell like dead cheese. SAY YES.” So that’s what I did, and now here we are.

And can I be honest here? I just hate car campaigns. Because all of them show blissful country drives with smiling, quiet families gazing peacefully at idyllic scenery, and none of them show the kid who insists on putting his boogery finger over the line to piss off his brother, or the teenager slumping and sighing and eye-rolling at the nerve of you taking him on a family vacation, or the baby who gets dreadfully, terribly carsick at the first bend.

So, while driving the GMC Acadia was honestly rad – easy to drive, perfect control, great features, gorgeous interior, really comfortable, lots of room, blah, blah, blah – and I would buy one in a heartbeat if we could manage a new car payment (which, HAHAHA), I wish we could start a whole new way of advertising cars, ’cause let’s talk for a minute about what we really need. 

Show me how easy it is to wipe vomit off your seats, and I am sold.

Show me a car with a feature that repels dead cheese smell, and I’ll swoon.

Show me a car that comes equipped with a mini-upholstery vacuum/shampooer for spot cleaning the chocolate milk spills and squashed goldfish crackers and random body fluids, and I’m in. 

Here’s what you need to do, GMC: show a commercial of a family on a road trip.

You know, a REAL one.

Real family. Real road trip.

The infant with explosive diarrhea up his back.

The dad catching the toddler’s puke in his bare hands.

The teenager demonstrating with every expression and minute movement how annoying it is that she’s required to be in the presence of such disgusting excuses for human beings.

The mama with a mouth guard because she has to bite something really, really hard.

At least two kids competing in a sing- scream-along to Frozen’s Let It Go.

And then show the mama driving: 1. using the Blind Spot Assist feature to change lanes, 2. using the GPS Direction Navigation to find the nearest stop because OH MY GOSH, VOMIT SMELL, 3. using the (seriously – you should make these features, GMC) Mini-Upholstery Cleaner and Dead Cheese Odor Eliminator at the rest area.

Then show the mama using the Reverse Camera to back up and get back on the road safely in the midst of all the distractions … and unapologetically starting the DVD player with wireless headphones for all the passengers to get ‘em all zoned out post-puke-pocalypse. 

And tag your campaign with this slogan: At Least the Car Was Easy.

At least the car was easy! Because every family who’s driven more than a block knows the family part won’t be easy, what with being made of humans and all. But we drive cars anyway, both for convenience and for vacation. We know it’s going to be hard, but it’s also FUN and deeply, horribly worthwhile because we’re making memories, damn it.

Ooh, ooh! There’s another car campaign for you! Making Memories, Damn It. 

Someone should pay me for this stuff. This is marketing GOLD, I just know it. 

Listen up, folks. This is your chance to talk to a major car manufacturer. And I know this isn’t what GMC intended when they loaned me a car. They intended to have me sell you on the Acadia. (It’s really great. Swearsies.) But I’m very bad at following even implied directions, and I think this is too good a chance to pass up. We have GMC’s ear. What do you want in a car? Like, for real

Comment Below with Your Favorite Feature, please:

  1. Mini-Upholstery Cleaner. (Let’s pretend we would clean our cars if we had these!)
  2. Dead Cheese Odor Eliminator.
  3. Or another idea of your own.