Sunday, April 22, 2012

Community ~ The Value of Social Networks

Social butterfly, was a term my family always used to describe me from my earliest days.  My earliest memories are ones of getting on my tricycle, riding around the city block on which we lived, and stopping by to visit with the neighbors.  I would visit from one house to other, collecting cookies and stories along the way.  Stories were shared with other neighbors as I worked my way around the block.  I did not know it then, but I was, at a very early age, learning about the value of social capital.  In a sense, I was using that social capital to allow information to flow, bonding to an age group that was much older than I, and establishing my identity as an individual and as a part of my community.

I remember a college textbook used while I was in college in the early '60's that spoke of the tricycle path that led to social connections between the adults in newly forming suburbs.  The paths that lead to social connections have always been interesting to me.  As one who needs community, I have certainly seen many changes in how we form and participate in social groups or community.  Even ten years ago, I never could have imagined that in my retirement years, I would become a part of a viable community that is created through the use of the internet.

I have not read the book, Bowling Alone, by Robert D. Putnam, but I am very interested in what he has to say about the value of social networks.  His basic premise is: "social capital refers to the collective value of all social networks."  He also speaks of "the inclinations that arise from the networks to do things for each other," He refers to this as "Norms of reciprocity."

Blogging and Social Capital

Blogging has created a whole new world for me.  When I first began blogging, I never could have imagined the world that such an activity would open up for me.  First of all, I just want to thank my blogging friends for being a part of my life.  Your comments have meant so much to me.  They have given me hope, courage, and comfort.  You have made me feel less alone.  You have encouraged me.  You have made me laugh.  You have given me new things to think about, and you have made me see things in new ways.  

Since January, my physical world has at times become very small.  The concussion that followed the fall I suffered on January 2nd, has resulted in lingering headaches, dizzy spells, and avoidance of many things that were very much a part of who I am and what I do.  I have not been able to drive.  I am dependent on my husband to take me where I need to go.  I am unable to participate in large social gatherings.  I have trouble in crowded or noisy places.  

Added to the challenge of recovery from a head injury, I have also been dealing with arrhythmia where at times my heart is either beating very fast, or I am suffering from palpitations, some of which are due to AFib.  It has not been a fun time lately.  I am on a new medication and wearing a heart monitor.  We shall see where this journey takes us.  

In other words, the social butterfly's wings have been clipped.  I don't know what I would do without my community of bloggers.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being there, for reaching out, for caring.

A Few Highlights Since Easter

Easter Sunday, now already several weeks away and very old news, was worth noting.  Easter Day was a glorious one for me.  Early Easter morning, my husband I drove to Colorado Springs to attend church at my former home church with a dear friend of mine.  She and I have known each other since college days. We reconnected about eight years ago, and the friendship has blossomed.  I count her as one of my dearest friends, and one upon whom I can always count for a listening ear.  She is so wise, caring, and intelligent.  I always come away from our conversations and times together a much enriched person.

Linda & Sally
Village Seven Presbyterian Church
Easter 2012
Linda's husband is also someone I first met in college.  We had speech class together.  Linda and I went through rush together back in the day when we were 'rushed' to join a college sorority.  While we pledged to different sororities, our friendship has become one that seems like we are sisters of the heart.
Greg, Linda, Sally

After church, Linda and Greg left to have dinner with family, and Jim and I went to the Cheyenne Mountain Resort to meet my daughter Amy for brunch.  The food was plentiful and delicious.  While the day was certainly not like Easters from the past, we made the most of it and enjoyed our time together.  
Mom & Daughter
After brunch, Amy, Jim, and I made our way to the cemetery to remember our dear Julie who was born on April 8, 1976.  Amy chose tulips for Julie, and I chose some daffodils for my father's grave that is next to Julie's.  He was also an April baby.  We hugged each other and cried as we remembered the sister and daughter who always figured so largely in any of our previous Easter celebrations. Crying always is cleansing for the soul and helps in moving on in our journey of grief.  

A Special Gift from My Husband

Later in the week after Easter, my husband totally surprised me with a special gift.  He took me to dinner at a very nice new restaurant in town.  After dinner, he stood up, took something out of his pocket, and handed me this:

Yes, can you believe it?  That is a box from Tiffany's.  We had wondered into the store while we were in Salt Lake City last month.  Of course, I had to try a few things on just for fun.  He then called the store, ordered one of the rings I had admired, and had it shipped to our home without me ever even suspecting a thing.  

Our 20th anniversary is coming up in June.  He said he couldn't wait until then.  He wanted me to have a new wedding band.  It is a simple band of diamonds set in platinum.  That is exactly what I wanted; he just didn't have to go to Tiffany's to get it.  Of course,  I was thrilled that he did.  

That is a wrap-up of what has been happening around here.  I hope to get back to blogging a bit more regularly soon.  In the meantime, you all are in my thoughts, and I greatly value this community of bloggers.  My best wishes are sent out to all of you.  


Joanne said...

Yes , The blogging world has become such a blessing in so many lives ( mine included) I am so happy that you had a Great Easter....and what a great Husband you have. Yes, he could have gone to another store to get that ring , but he wanted to get the one you admired at Tiffany's. Now that is LOVE!
Blessings, Joanne

Jeanie said...

I so agree with you, Sally, about our blog friends being a valuable part of our social network. I am so glad you have felt support during the time this year when you have been limited in your other social activities.
Though your Easter was different it looks like it was special in it's own way.

Rita said...

What a wonderful early anniversary gift!!
Great pics of your friend and daughter. Looks like you had a great time.

I agree. I never would have thought I would have met a network of such wonderful people online through blogging. What a blessing! :)

MerCyn said...

It is wonderful to hear you had a great Easter. Our blogging connections may be unique and different social ones than in the past, but they are real and appreciated, and as you say, help us get through some otherwise bad days. good luck on your recovery.

DJan said...

I so agree with you about the importance of this new activity called blogging. The universe of my important people now doesn't need to include personal face to face time, but I know so many people now who care about me, and I care about them. About you.

You have really been having a hard time lately. But being surrounded by so many who love you, and your incredibly sensitive and wonderful partner, well, I'm not worried about you now. Please keep letting me know how things are going, I really look forward to hearing from you. Here's a sincere virtual hug coming your way. :-)

laurie said...

beautiful gift and beautiful post!

Linda Myers said...

It's hard to describe our blogging community to people who don't.

Such happy pictures!

I expect you will recover from your injury but it will take more time than you want it to! That's how it's been for me.

rosaria williams said...

Happy Anniversary! So good to hear things are moving along for you. You look great and must feel so much better.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

You have so many gifts in your life, Sally -- not the least of which is that wonderful surprise from Jim! You have the gift of marriage to a longtime love rediscovered, the gift of long friendships, the gift of loving children, as well as the gift of being a treasured member of the blogging community. We're so happy to be there for you -- and your caring and comments and wise and lovely posts are gifts to us!

Jackie said...

I am fortunate to have kind and thoughtful blogging friends. I count you as a sweet blogging friend, Sally. I'm so very sorry that you continue to suffer with the problems after your fall. I am hoping that as the weeks and months pass, you will notice that you are feeling a bit better each day, and one day you will notice that you don't notice anything wrong at all! That's what I hope and pray.
Your husband "done good!" :)) (Pardon that one; I couldn't resist.) What a sweetheart he is, and I know that your upcoming anniversary is special for many reasons...and to add to it is the beautiful ring that he bought for you. What a thoughtful and lovely surprise.
Your smile is heartwarming. I love to see smiles such as those of yours and of your daughter. Beautiful!
Have a great week, my friend.
Hugs and love,

Beth said...

My blogging family is very dear to me so I know what you are feeling. They have stood beside me and held my hand on more than one occasion.

I have A fib too and I wore a heart monitor for 1 month between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Combine it all with the sleep apnea and it does blow ones mind.

I hope things get better for you each day!!

Thisisme. said...

Hi Sally. I so agree with you about our blogging friends. I really do think that our lives have been enriched so much and, as you said, who would have ever thought that, in our retirement years, this whole new world would have opened up for us. I am so very sorry that you are still having problems from that fall, as well as other health problems. You are certainly in my prayers my friend. You always look so lovely in your photos, with such a beautiful smile. How wonderful to meet up with your old friend again. I am glad that Easter Sunday was so special for you. Truly lovely photo of you and Amy. I know that Julie would have loved to see your smiles that day. And then we have the icing on the cake - your wonderful new wedding band from Tiffany's. What a super surprise for you to celebrate (early) your 20th wedding anniversary. Your husband is a real keeper! Lovely post. Please take care and know that we are all thinking of you. Hugs.

Arkansas Patti said...

Aww, what a sweetie that man is!!! Such a keeper. You have really had a boatload of problems and emotional pain but having that man in your corner, family to hold on to, and friends who care is such a blessing.

Rose said...

What a wonderful gift from your husband! Social networking has certainly taken on a whole new meaning since our childhood days. I think sometimes many of us spend far too much time staring at computer or smartphone screens, and yet there are benefits, as you have so aptly described them. I've met some wonderful people through blogging who have made my life richer in many ways. I'm so glad to have met you this past year, Sally! I'm sorry to hear that you are still suffering the ill effects of your fall as well as other health problems. I hope that each day brings you more strength and that you will soon be feeling better.

Jenn Jilks said...

What a wonderful story!
I was isolated for a time, and blogging kept me connected with people.
I still don't play well with others, though!
Respect wildlife!

Olga said...

So beautifully stated. You are blessed in many ways--even in the way you can turn your pain into balm for others.

Friko said...

This is a lovely catch-up post. Full of memories, good days, sad days and a happy conclusion.

Just like life is. Meeting friends, being part of a community, cherishing family and being surprised by one's closest friend of all.

I hope your health picks up. The aftermath of the concussion is lasting rather a long time but the effects will surely wear off eventually. I know about AFib, it's something one has to learn to live with. Good luck to both of us in this respect.

Sharla Greenway said...

What a lovely gift to receive. Sometimes it is nice to spend time away from our virtual blogging world and spend time with our family, I have found it much enhances my blogging.

LC said...

You have said so well what blogging friends have meant to me following my stroke a year ago. I am praying for your health and for your Jim, your family and friends who are supporting you during this difficult time.

It was so good to see your smile in the photos throughout this post.

I Wonder Wye said...

Lovely post/ lovely life -- and what an awesome hubby! A box from Tiffany's alone is exciting, but a diamond band for the 20th?? wonderful! Love the photo of you two girls -- and your daughter, who looks like you, is gorgeous! blessings...

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Oh my goodness, how romantic is that?! A true treasure indeed. And your daughter is absolutely stunning.

I too have felt closer to the world since I became a part of social networking. It brings people together who would never have otherwise met, and that, in most cases, can only be a wonderful thing.

CJ x

Chatty Crone said...

What sweet sweet stories you have there. I love blogging and my friends I've made here. Your Easter looks sweet. I hate that you are STILL hurting. Your daughter is beautiful. What a wonderful ring and hubby you have there. You are blessed.


Mage said...

It's hard to slow down just when you have so much you want to do. Last year I couldn't drive for months after collapsing, and it certainly did change my world for a while. I hope you soon get back to a comfort zone where you know what's happening.

What a beyond dear husband you have.

Susan said...

Oh Sally, I'm sitting here in front of the computer and my eyes are filled with tears. What a heartwarming gift that was from your hubs after the lovely dinner. He is quite a guy and you must be quite a gal!

Thank you so much for your visit and comment to my blog. The crystal piece you referred me is actually quite small---not punchbowl size. But it's very pretty. I LOVE crystal and cut glass (guess you'd never guess, right? ha ha)

Take care. Susan p.s. The wonderful blog friends one makes is the best part of blogging. Of course, I love writing and sharing photographs, too.

Terri Tiffany said...

I am glad I stopped by to read your update. I didn't realize you had fallen and were injured. I'll be praying you heal fast! And that surprise ring! Wow! I've actually wanted something from Tiffany's since my husband is distantly related to them. You are blessed!!

Linda said...

Being a new blogger (two months now), I especially appreciate this post. I am really sorry to hear about your health related issues. I will pray that your condition improves.

Thank you so much for sharing.

Kay said...

Blogging has certainly opened my world up too although I've had a hard time keeping up during and after our trip to Japan. I just wrote my last post about our 18 day trip to Japan and they are all scheduled to go up. Unfortunately, Blogger has a glitch right now and they don't post when they are supposed to. It's frustrating when they try to fix things that weren't broken and make it broken.

Thanks so much for visiting and commenting when I was away. My life is so crazy these days with finishing my blog posts, getting ready for my daughter’s visit and working on the travel photo album for my mom. Sigh…. I should be back to normal by June. I hope.

I do love the Tiffany things, though that's not why I named my daughter Tiffany. Your band of diamonds would be exactly what I would want. You have such a beautiful husband. He's a perfect complement to you.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Oh, Sally, you look so happy! I am so sorry that you were hurt and haven't been feeling well though.

Thank you so much for stopping by to visit; it has been a long time since we have been in touch.

I appreciate you and my other blogging friends so much. Like you, I'm a bit of a social butterfly too.

God bless,

Kathy M.

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

I'm sorry your recovery is having so many complications, but clearly you do manage to have some very special moments with your loved ones. You like that ring from Tiffany, m'lady? Then you shall have it! What a lovely gesture to let you know how much he loves and cherishes you.

troutbirder said...

Interesting comments about "social networking". I enjoy the depth (&writing) that blogging allows. Much of what I've seen about "tweeting & facebooking" seems rather superficial.
My Mayo Clinic doctors have my onetime drastic AFib problem under total control. For five years I've taken three pills a day and haven't skipped a beat both literally and figuratively. Hang in there! :)

"Auntie" sezzzzzz... said...

Sorry for the troubles, but so happy for the lovely things, which have been happening, in your life.

Lots and lots of gentle hugs...


"Auntie" sezzzzzz... said...

And my gracious but I love your softly curly hair!!!! Just LOVE it. Used to have mine something like this, "way back." But had to have a perm, to get curls. :-)

Lucky you! Yours is natural.

Gentle hugs,

Heidrun Khokhar said...

Your struggle sounds very familiar. My blogs have been spars and my mood has been off. I treat my racing heart with 25ml of benedryl every 4 to 5 hours and it usually helps that racing. But as soon as I eat unfamiliar goodies like at a baby shower my heart does it
s number. So then I head for the teaspoon of baking soda and water. That's supposed to aid in neutralizing whatever caused the onset of too much adrenaline. And so it goes. Heart check ups yielded little.
But like you I find comfort in exchanging ideas on the net because I have left the social scene for the reasons you describe only I never bumped my head recently.
And now there are times when the computer screen makes me feel unwell! That has me upset in a big way!

Jeanie said...

I know just what you mean about blogging, and one of my happy spots is knowing you!