Random Thoughts


Well how did that happen? I just realized that I accidentally skipped my November Random Thoughts post. I’m betting I was too distracted with the new site launch. Oh well. It happens. But today, I’m back with another installation! Feel free to share your own random thoughts in the comments.

– On Friday, I did a Facebook Live Broadcast. If you’d like to see it, I’ll embed it here, or you can watch it on Facebook. Several people have written to me to ask if I could upload the Facebook Live Broadcasts as podcasts. I’m intrigued by the idea, but don’t have an answer for you yet. If you have an opinion on what you prefer — video or podcast — I’d love to hear.

– I talk a bit about the Oakland GhostShip Fire in the FB broadcast. And as I’ve been reading about the fire, I realized I’m a little numb emotion-wise. The amount of sadness in my head has definitely gone up in the last month (in good part because of election aftermath) and I feel like I might be lingering on the fringes of another deep depression. It’s time to talk to my doctor about the dosage of my current medicine. To anyone else battling depression right now — I know it can get worse for many people when winter sets in — please don’t hesitate asking for and getting help.

– Maude Blair will be home from Paris in just 8 days! Not that I’m counting. : ) We’re so excited to have her home. This will be the first Christmas that we won’t have all the kids with us, which will be strange, and I know I’ll appreciate having Maude home all the more. Plus, she can drive! It’s so helpful to have a 3rd person who can run errands.

– Things we have asked Maude to bring home from France: hot cocoa mix, Orangina candies. And that’s it! I was sort of surprised by that fact, but I realized that much of what I love from France, I can now get online.

– This week, I have a high workload for Alt Summit. Lots of brain work, and hundreds of small decisions to be made. I find the work challenging but also satisfying. Sometimes I think I should shift the dates of the conference till the Spring, so that it’s not hanging over me during the holidays. I need to think about that.

– I took a semi-break from Facebook, at least on my personal page, over the last month or so, but I started sharing there again last week. I’m having mixed feelings about it. I’ve realized there are some relationships in my life that are strengthened by Facebook and others that are weakened by Facebook, and that it’s not necessary to follow or to even be Facebook Friends with everyone I know in real life. But I realize everyone uses Facebook differently (if they use it at all).

Some people read updates and articles but don’t comment or interact much. Others use it just to stay in daily touch with close friends and family. Others use it to discuss current events (raises my hand!). Others only use it for professional reasons. Others prefer only lighthearted or comic posts and steer clear of anything serious. Still others use it as their main news source. I’d love to hear how you use Facebook.

– On Saturday, I posted a link to an article about Russia interfering with our elections. I appears to be a true bipartisan issue that concerns people across the political spectrum. Another country messing with the U.S. elections? The fact confirmed by the CIA? I can hardly believe it. I know many people, no matter what their political beliefs, are very upset about this, and upset that the information was withheld from the public. I wonder if the response to the issue could end up being a unifying event for our country. What are your thoughts? Are you following the story?

– Today, I’m trying to get Hamilton tickets. I’m number 79,414 in line. Not joking. Apparently, all of San Francisco is trying to get tickets. Hah! Olive got really into Hamilton about a year ago, and now all her younger siblings have all the songs memorized too. Have you heard of it? My kids talk about it so much, that I assume the show is common knowledge, but last week I met 3 people who had never heard of it. So now I can’t tell how widely known it is. And hey, if you happen to have an extra ticket you want to sell, let me know.

– The house is 99% ready for Christmas. The decorations are out, the lights are up and it’s looking very festive. Oscar suggested the addition of a couple of poinsettias under the entry table (he’s right, they would look great there), but other than that, I think we’re good to go. Now my attention is turning to gifts. I’ve shipped off anything that needs to be shipped, but I’m only about 30% done on gifts under the tree. For some reason, I’m feeling like I have extra time to shop this year. I think it’s because the kids don’t have school next week, so we have a whole week with a flexible schedule. How about you? Are you done with your holiday prep? Do your kids have next week off?

– I’m in a purging phase and am selling off some furniture we no longer need — a coffee table, a wicker dresser, the big red industrial storage bin shelves from the office. I haven’t sold stuff in awhile. What do you guys use these days? Craig’s List? Chairish? Has anyone tried the FB marketplace? I’m out of practice. Would love your tips/advice!

I think that’s it for now. Please feel free to respond to anything here, or bring up your own topic. I always love hearing what’s on your minds!

P.S. — I post my random thoughts each month. You can find them all here. Also, wrapping guide here.

53 thoughts on “Random Thoughts”

  1. Oh, I would much prefer a podcast. I love listening to podcasts while running or when in and out of the car!
    And I hear you on fb. I took it off my phone after the election and am slowly easing back in, but with more caution and awareness, I hope.

  2. I’m not even sure why I have facebook myself. I use it to see when people have babies and read some news articles which is just NPR & buzzfeed, but I almost never post and don’t get a lot if any of personal friends/family updates. Never the less I find myself looking at it all the time!!! ARH.

  3. Ugh FB. It is funny because before the election hype started up (Nov 2015?) I had pretty much stopped using FB. It felt like the newsfeed was mostly ads or information from people I didn’t really care to read about. After Nov 2015 I started using it as a way to discuss my horror of the GOP’s candidate. I also deleted it from my phone after Nov 8th and have not added it back. I still check it but find it is mostly depressing. I need to find another way to stay connected to the resistance during this time other than FB.

  4. I use it for discussion and lighthearted talk (about a 20/80 ratio). I too deleted it from my phone, but…the force is strong with that one for some reason.

    I unfollowed (not unfriended, though) my entire family post election, and wish I’d done it sooner. I highly recommend that for the people you want (/have) to keep in your life, but fb weakens the relationship.

    1. I was going to ask this questions as well! Would love to hear! Perhaps you and Maude could do a post together about this..?

  5. I loved Facebook when it first came out (around 9-10 years ago) but then when EVERYONE seemed to be on it, I started getting burnt out. After Sandy Hook happened, I couldn’t take it anymore and went cold turkey for about 6 months. I rarely look at it and have also taken it off my phone. (I prefer the online version that the mobile app anyway). I have unfollowed everyone I don’t really need to know about and I highly recommend it too. I have also downloaded the “Pages” and “Messages” apps so I can keep up with a few groups and get my messages (on a rare occasion someone uses it to contact me) so I don’t need to check it online.

    I think your comment that it strengthens or weakens relationships hits the nail on the head!!

      1. Meaghan Anderson

        Wait! There is a dacebook groups or pages app???? That might improve my facenook life immensely. I’ve been soooo disappointed in people lately – even those I agree with politically.

  6. I mostly abandoned Facebook last July after stopping during vacation and never getting back on and it has been so liberating!I knew I spent (wasted?) a lot of time there and that it stressed me out, but I was surprised at how little I’ve missed it. I do keep my account and occasionally will check for personal messages or check up on someone (maybe every few weeks?). I’m sure it’s difficult to cut ties when your work depends on social media connection, but my Fear of Missing Out has not happened! I would fret about other people’s drama way too much (and I never posted anything)!

  7. I took Facebook off my phone about a week before the election, and I haven’t missed it at. all. Sometimes I do log in on my computer, because I have family far and wide, and it’s nice to see what they’re up to. But more often, I realized that I just don’t miss it. I think more and more people are using it to express their opinions and fewer and fewer are using it to share about their lives, and it’s the latter that I really loved. Please! Start posting your kid and cat photos again! ;)

  8. Argh, FB. Like others I find myself sucked into it, even when I know I could (and should) be doing something else. What a time sink! I love keeping up with far-flung friends and family, but so much of what I see now is articles. While I appreciate that to some extent, and do find my horizons broadened, it can be self-reinforcing in terms of it being people whose perspective is generally similar to mine.

    I like posting photos (and that’s pretty much it), again so family who are far away can keep up with what’s happening with us.

    My husband, daughter, and I saw Hamilton almost one year ago today. A friend was a member of the Public (where it started) and members had early access to Broadway tickets. I think we bought them in April 2015 and didn’t see the show until December. It was SO fabulous. At the time I didn’t really appreciate how insanely lucky we were to get the tickets though. I hope you get a chance to see it.

  9. Dear Gabby,

    I love these Random Thoughts posts! Something about them that makes us readers really feel like it’s just a group of friends, chatting away.

    Anyway, I wanted to write you about something that has been bothering me. The new site looks very pretty, but have you noticed that with the top bar not moving when scrolling down, the pictures are too large to fit in the screen? It really frustrates me not being able to view a photo in whole. I’m using a 13″ laptop – not sure if it’s different with other devices.

    Happy Holidays!

    1. Hi Nina! You’re definitely not the only one. That’s been the main complaint since the redesign. But good news: I think it’s fixed now! Give it a try — the header should disappear when you scroll now.

      If it’s not working for you yet, try holding shift while you refresh the page.


  10. We bought Hamilton tickets for NYC next September for my 14 year old daughter for christmas/hannukah. She is going to FREAK OUT! It’s all she ever talks about/listens to. I’ve been having a hard time keeping the secret!!!


  11. I completely identify with your comment about facebook… “some relationships in my life that are strengthened by Facebook and others that are weakened by Facebook”

    I deleted my FB account a couple of years ago for a variety of reasons – a mix of family drama/alternate realities and too many hateful posts/shares by extended family. Instead I opened an account under a pseudonym and use it strictly for following local businesses/groups, authors, etc. It is completely drama free and I love it.

  12. Gabby,

    This may have already been addressed, but do you plan on doing a partial “What to Wear” post this year? I know not all of your children will be home to participate, but it’s such a cute tradition I would hate to miss it!!

  13. Facebook. sigh.

    I am one of those people that had facebook to connect with the people I wanted to really connect with; rather than the gal who had 783 “friends”. There were a few genuine relationships that I either secretly or otherwise “blocked” or let go permanently because of their online personality began to be completely different than the person I interacted with in “real life”. But I’d get on a few times a day to see what people were up to and see photos of their lives.

    Then my daughter died. That was a little over 2 years ago and it shook me hard, on a lot of different levels. One of those levels affected my activity on facebook. Losing such an important part of our family, of me, brought a focus to me that I never had before, I retreated, reviewed, and now- I cannot tolerate mean spirited conversations, crude jokes, cruelty, or contention. Life became *indeed* too short to be caught up in the negative mentality of “friends” or family bickering and picking at each other. The steady stream of narrow viewpoints on every subject began to bother me. The inability to see another point of view made my “friends” seem small and or bitter. The opportunity to boldly spew spiteful remarks and barbs at each other or unknowing targets seemed to take me back to jr. high bullying. I had to walk away or never interact with the people I wanted to stay friends in real life with.

    It’s interesting, my online friends became participants in a social experiment that somehow got infected by the bad chemicals of a mad scientist. While on facebook they could post personal arguments, untruths, half truths, political opinions, racial, religious, or gender denigrations with vigor and malice, conviction and pride, then when sitting across from them at lunch they would return to a rational human and converse with censors and sensitivity towards all at the table.

    Currently I keep up with some of these same friends on Instagram, which I find to be 99% positive and acceptable. Kindness rules, and “Is it helpful?” reign in my world now.

    1. I am sorry your daughter died. Thank you for giving us this reality check. I will be asking myself “is it helpful, is it kind”

      1. @Penni Brown, I’m so sorry about your daughter.

        Your comment about kindness and asking yourself ‘is it helpful’ reminded me of the THINK acronym – Is what I’m about to say true, helpful, inspiring, necessary, and kind. Bears keeping in mind all the time.

        1. Thank you, I appreciate your thoughts on my behalf. In regard to the “Is it helpful?” I have even used this as the “one rule” for classroom situations, adults and children. Opinion, comments, and the random thoughts that make us want to interrupt a group or class discussion are usually spot on and great additions, but sometimes – not so much! Asking everyone involved to think if their comment will be helpful to the tone of the class seems to be an easy way to keep things progressing and positive.

    2. I am sorry to hear about your daughter. I can’t imagine what Facebook would feel like after dealing with that. I agree with you on Instagram, it does have a completely different vibe and I check it a few times each day.

  14. I was in Chicago visiting my daughter a couple of weekends ago, and we entered the lottery every day to try to get tickets to Hamilton. The seats were supposed to be great and the price was even better- $10.00. We didn’t win, but she is going to keep trying. Maybe I’ll get to see it in a year or two. Good Luck!

  15. Meaghan Anderson

    For selling stuff I use OfferUp; i found the app really easy to use. I tried facebook marketplace but never had any luck. Sometimes I’ll cross post on Craigslist as well. Good luck!

  16. I deleted my entire FB account on Nov. 9th! Couldn’t take it anymore. This election def weakened my relations and made me disgusted at so many people. I don’t miss it at all and highly recommend deleting it! It’s so liberating!!

  17. Katy DeBardelaben

    I have taken a break from Facebook too. After the election, I just noticed a real impact on my mental health from the constant stimula of news, petitions, calls for action, all of which I was trying to do to make a difference. Then one morning I woke up and the oh so familiar cloud of depression hung over me and weighed me down, making me want to stay in bed and think horrible, dark thoughts. I can’t go back yet. I can’t even follow news, so this new development you mentioned, the CIA admitting they know Russia hacked our election is completely new to me. Wow.

    On a lighter note, Facebook marketplace has been a brilliant way of selling for me here in Atlanta. I recommend it but since you’re in the Bay Area, Craigslist is probably the way to go I would think.

  18. I love to find ways to limit screen time, it would be so great to see you bring the warmth and thoughtfulness you have in your blog to a podcast.

  19. Gabrielle – We LOVE Hamilton! Have you seen this Hamilton ticket lottery in which the proceeds go to Planned Parenthood?https://www.prizeo.com/prizes/lin-manuel-miranda/the-ultimate-hamilton-experience-as-a-guest-of
    Pretty nice Christmas or Hanukkah gift. Got to love that Lin Manuel Miranda! So generous and creative. Maybe it’s aging or the results of this election (or both), but creativity and art seem so important to me right now. Hamilton is inspiring me and goodness knows I can use that. I’m also following the Russian hacking of our election – obsessively. Happy holidays to you and your family.

  20. Our family has been using City Car Share since 2009 and it was a great service for us being car free in Berkeley/Oakland. I wanted to get a car for some rainy days coming up and discovered that they have merged with Get Around and now demand users have a Facebook account to reserve a car. I was shocked by this. I do not want a Facebook account. I of course had one long ago but deleted it because they are a corporation that track users info to sell to others. Plus a whole other list of reasons. I couldn’t have handled the past election if I was using Facebook as a social network. I already needed to cap the amount of discussion and drama I was being exposed to. It is lovely not having a car, but I am bummed about the loss of City Car Share as a service.

    Recently read that Uber now tracks passengers five minutes after their trip is completed and even when the app is running in the background. They say they have good reasons but I think that the baby steps these companies take to invading privacy is so uncool.

    Glad to hear that your daughter will be coming home for the holidays. I do hope you all have a wonderful time together. I remember my partner showing me a video of Lin Manuel Miranda rapping about Hamilton before it went to Broadway and my mouth was wide open. So much talent! Would love to get tickets some day. ^_^

  21. I deleted my Facebook account because I found myself feeling like I couldn’t share for fear of someone hacking the account or using our pictures or information in an inappropriate way. I was saddened when friends who used to be close had major milestones I was only learning from their posts. When my sister was very ill, it just seemed like there was no utility in using Facebook. The people who mattered were ones who called me. It may also because I’m an introvert. I’m very content without it.

  22. I’ve had really good luck selling through Nextdoor. I usually post there and Craigslist, but find the transactions are a little smoother with Nextdoor. Good luck selling your stuff.

  23. I love your random thoughts posts!

    I like the facebook live videos, mostly because for so many years I’ve read your voice and I like that now I get to hear your voice AND see you, with your facial expressions. However, I only get to watch them after the fact because I’m usually asleep by the time you do them (not a complaint, by the way- that’s totally okay! I’m in Europe, so the time difference is a big pain for a lot of things).

    I’m really hope you’re able to get Hamilton tickets! I would LOVE to go, so fingers are crossed that it will stay on Broadway for a while.

    I also have mixed feelings on Facebook. I doubt I will delete it or stop using it anytime soon, though. I’m living halfway around the world from practically every person I know, and for many of them, it’s the only way I can keep track of their lives for the two years I’m here. While I skype with a few of them, for most of them, it’s too difficult with the time difference, and it’s not like I can just pick up the phone to call/text them either. I don’t all that often, but I shared pictures quite a bit. I’ve unfollowed a lot of people if I’m not really that interested in, say, what they eat every meal, or if I just would rather not deal with what they post on Facebook. I also just started using lists so I can control a bit better what different groups of people see. So far that’s worked pretty well!

  24. Let’s see…..

    I love Orangina candies and wish I could easily find them here in the U.S.

    I have never had a Facebook account. I occasionally feel like I miss out on some things, but not often enough to make me even have a twinge of wanting one.

    I know about Hamilton and have heard some of the music, but haven’t gotten into it. Lots of my friends and family have, though.

    Love the random thoughts posts! :-)

  25. I would love to hear from your kids about their love for Hamilton. I have read about the phenomenon and agree that Lin Manuel Miranda is an artistic genius. I love that the play has actors of color, teaches history, and is using currently popular musical trends. But what is the IT factor for the kids? Is it the music, is it that they feel heard, is it that the message is relatable? Good luck getting tickets!

  26. Oh podcast, podcast, podcast!! I can’t sit down and watch a FB live, but I’m constantly listening to podcasts as I get ready in the morning, while doing housework, prepping dinner, etc, etc. I would LOVE to add Design Mom to my lineup of podcasts! 😁

  27. We live overseas from our families (and they are huge), so Facebook has been an incredible way to keep up with a lot of people I love in a way that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. And I just roll my eyes and scroll past things I don’t agree with, but I do get a bit on my soapbox when anyone posts things that simply aren’t true masquerading as news. Anyway, that’s me and Facebook.
    As for Russia and the elections, while it is unnerving to think that another country would/could mess with stuff, it certainly isn’t the first time. By which I specifically mean the times that the US has gone out and interfered with the governance of other countries (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/10/13/the-long-history-of-the-u-s-interfering-with-elections-elsewhere/?utm_term=.711b81099e42). I don’t like it from either side, but part of me thinks it’s almost like getting our comeuppance.

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