Saturday, February 25, 2012

Let Me Clarify

Before we go any further, apparently some clarification is necessary after my last post. Feel free to go read it so you don't feel like you're missing something. Yes, I'll wait. Go on...

Okay, now that you know what I'm talking about... or what I am NOT talking about! So let's clarify it a bit and fill in the holes.

First up, NO, there was not any sort of cheating or lying or badness in my marriage. That is not what that post was referring to. (Somehow, some friends thought I was alluding to that.) And, yes, I am still a Christ follower. And I am still employed at my new job. And, yes, unfortunately, I am still an idiot. Now let me explain.

If you know anything about me in real life (or even by just reading my blog), you know I am, well... let's be honest here: I am a computer addict. My personal laptop was a Christmas gift in 2009. I was so happy to own it that I even gave it a name. I started relying on my computer - literally - as half of my brain. I do everything on the computer. I have my grocery list on the computer. (It is organized in sections that correlate to my local grocery store, so I can get shop! efficiently!) I have all my genealogy research on the computer. I have emails dating back years, including the last ones my dead brother, mother and father sent me. I have Christmas gift lists (given and received) dated from the year I got married to the present. Over 3,000 songs in my music library, recipes, a list of every book I've read, financial records, an Excel spreadsheet full of amazing quotes I've come across, and the start of a book I'm writing. Microsoft Outlook does the thinking for me when it comes to birthdays and anniversaries and planning my calendar out for the entire next year. Outlook also stores every single address for long-lost relatives and fellow White Castle Hall of Famers, as well as notes and the emails I mentioned above.

I wrote that entire preceding paragraph as if it were still present-tense. However, that is not the case. Five days before I wrote my last post, I lost E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G on my computer. For someone who treats her computer as an extension of her very own body, here's where the idiot mistake comes in: I did NOT back it up.

Let me stop here and expound for a moment: I am sure some of you reading this blog are now thinking, "Dude, whatever! You are a pansy, Elizabeth!" You think losing computer data is really no big deal. It's just information and ones and zeroes, right? Technically, yes. But for me, it's much more than that. And here's why I wrote this in my last post: "The mistake colored my faith, my marriage, my confidence, my everything this week."

Losing my computer colored my faith because it hit me right between the eyes how very much worth I put in a stupid piece of electronics. Since I am being brutally honest, I must admit that my computer has become an idol for me. Not an Idol with a big "I" (because I truly don't feel like I put it before Christ), but it's definitely an idol with a little "i." That's a hard thing to admit, and I'm ashamed to say my computer has been a higher priority sometimes than my husband, my children, my health, and my personal joy. Some days I spend more time with it than I do with those I love. Typing that sentence humiliates me and fills me with regret. When did I stop using the computer as a tool and start letting it become my brain?

Losing my computer also colored my marriage. I was so horrified by everything I lost on my computer that I was out of my mind and lashed out at Dan. He was having his own struggles and lashed back. It made for a dark fight, the kind we haven't had in years. It's hard to find your footing after that, but we extended grace and forgiveness to each other and are moving forward.

Losing my computer shook my confidence. In the midst of a hard month when I am trying to find my balance with my old job (being a mom) and my new job (administrative assistant) and learning to solidify boundaries and redefine my routines and my life, I lost one of the major tools that keeps me grounded. Remember how I talked about my Outlook calendar being responsible for dates and reminders? I rely on it to tell me when bills are due, and then I log in to a company website to pay said bills. But when I have no idea what bills are due when, much less WHAT password to use to log in (because the passwords were lost too!), it makes the world a little wobbly. You how some days you have a feeling that you're forgetting something, and how you feel "off" all day? Imagine me feeling that way since February 8, the day I handed my computer over to be fixed. And throw in a new job and Jackson's new school and new routines, and now you have a small idea of why losing my computer was a big deal.

So, enough with the justification and explanation. Here are the silver linings of the situation:

1) I didn't lose my photos. Since I take so darn many, I started storing them on an external drive a year or two ago. Thank God I didn't lose those!

2) Last October, I made another bonehead mistake that has actually turned out to be a blessing. I was trying to backup files on an external drive but accidentally deleted them instead. I bought software and was able to recover the files onto that external drive, then copy them onto my laptop again. All I have left now is whatever was on that external drive that was last updated six months ago. It doesn't include Outlook contacts, notes, emails or my calendar, but at least it's something. The bad news is that I lost six months of work, but the good news is that I still have a place to start. Silver lining: when you make a mistake, sometimes it turns out to be a GREAT thing.

3) No one stole my computer, which is a blessing. I kept financial information on there which, if stolen, could have ruined my credit and identity. I'm glad it was "just" a crash and not a theft.

4) I have gained perspective on life. In the grand scheme of things, losing a computer pales in comparison to the other life losses I've endured. To be honest, that's one of the reasons I cried the most when I realized I lost all of my data: it hit me that I lost my parents' and brother's emails and information too. When someone you love dies, you hang on to every last fiber and scrap that used to be them because you know there will never be anything new made by them again. It hurts to lose something that was a part of them, even if it was just an email. But I do know this: even if I have their emails, it doesn't make them any less dead. Clutching at their scraps won't bring them back, but no data loss will erase them from my brain either.

5) I am thanking God for this blog. It's a record of my life (and my kids' and husband's life) that exists outside of my laptop, and it is still alive even when the computer is not. I am especially glad that I still have this post that I wrote a year ago. It contains my father's last writings to me.

Looking forward, I will protect my laptop. I will invest in cloud storage and backup my data regularly. (I highly recommend you do the same.) Another thing I'm pondering is the use of some sort of cloud organizer instead of Microsoft Outlook. I've considered it in the past, but didn't want to go through the work of uploading all my contacts and calendar to another destination. Now that I am starting all over from scratch, I think maybe it's a good time to try it!

And to sum it all up, I go back to that image I used in my last post: "View your life with kindsight. Stop beating yourself up about things from your past. Instead of slapping your forehead and asking: 'What was I thinking?' Breathe and ask the kinder question: 'What was I learning?'"


Gina said...

Oh man. That is a huge bummer. I cried when I have lost any piece of electronics. It occurred to me this week that I'm too into my computer too. Logan and I are both changing our after-school routines...we started on Monday. Interesting that we had similar epiphanies on the same week!

scrappysue said...

life is full of lessons eh elizabeth? congrats on the new job and i'm sorry about your computer! hope you are all well and that jackson settles into kindergarten - time sure flies huh?


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