Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Thought-provoking stuff

Here are a couple things I've found to be especially interesting and thought-provoking lately:


The Gift of Failure - important and fascinating information on why we need to let our kids struggle and fail and how we can mess our kids up by helping them too much and/or expecting too much of our children. I think I'll invite the author/interviewee to be on Power of Moms Radio. I've got more questions for her!

Ted Talk

Important ideas about how to make great conversation - stuff that's especially important for moms like me who are trying to engage their kids in meaningful conversation and who are too-often distracted!

Celeste Headlee:

10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation

Here are my notes from her talk. I totally used this yesterday afternoon in my interactions with my kids and felt like a pretty darn good mom.

1. Don't multitask - don't be half in conversations. Listen fully.

2. Don't pontificate (that's what blogs are for). Everyone you ever meet knows something that you don't know. Find out what that is. Listening isn't just waiting until you get a chance to talk.

3. Ask open-ended questions, not yes or no questions. Start your questions with who, what, when, where and why.

4. Go with the flow. Thoughts/questions will come into your mind and then go out of your mind if you're really following what people are saying. Don't be so attached to the questions and thoughts you want to share that you don't end up asking questions or making comments that really connect to what the person is currently saying.

5. If you don't know, admit it. Say that you don't know.

6. Don't equate your experience to theirs. All experiences are individual. You can never understand fully what someone else is going through. Conversations are not a promotional opportunity.

7. Try not to repeat yourself. It's so easy to keep saying the same thing over and over again in different ways.

8. Stay out of the weeds. The details don't really matter - the exact date, the exact place - just leave them out.

9. Listen. This is the most important skill you can develop. If your mouth is open, you are not learning. The average person talks at 200 words per minute but our brains can absorb 500 words per minute as we absorb and fill in as we're really paying attention.

10. Be brief.

Keep your mind open and your mouth shut and be prepared to be amazed by the wonderful things people will share with you.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Figuring myself out

It's been so nice not to feel pressure to write here - I used to feel like I really had to post 3x/week. I guess I'd heard that serious bloggers post 3x/week and I've always had this overbearing need to be taken seriously in everything I chose to do. Plus I have this fear of ever seeming like a slacker.

I'm so glad I captured all that I captured since I started blogging (back in 2006 - you can see my first-ever post here). But I'm also so glad that I've finally figured out how to stop expecting so much of myself. I'm generally so understanding of any time anyone else says no to something. I'm trying to afford myself the same courtesy.  I guess I've always ascribed to the "slippery slope" mentality - I feel like if I slack off just a little, I'll just keep slacking off and become a flaky sort of person who never gets stuff done. I know it's dumb. So I've been trying out a little slacking - skipping exercise on a day I'd planned to exercise when it just can't fit in w/o serious stress, skipping a meeting if the kids need help with homework and I'm not an integral part of the meeting, watching a TV show or reading at night rather than finishing a couple more things on my list like I would normally do. And you know what? These "slacker" actions have not sent me on the fast track to flakey slackerhood. I'm still getting a lot done. And even though I'm deliberately neglecting this blog, I'm still keeping track of events our family will want to remember though Instagram and doing some personal journalling through Evernote as well as my occasional posts here.

As I look back, I realize that while time is certainly an issue when it comes to posting on this blog, one of the main reasons that blogging started to really stress me out was that I'd always feel anxious about reactions. I've had enough not-so-nice or judgemental comments over the years - and I've seen SO many disparaging comments on the blogs of others - that I guess I developed some anxiety about what people out there were thinking of what I was doing and what I was writing about what I was doing. The morning after posting something where I'd stated an opinion or shared something that may not be totally well-received by the full spectrum of readers, I'd get this pit in my stomach as I'd get on my computer - what comments would be there waiting for me to see?  I try to be careful do to and say things in a thoughtful and deliberate way and I'm generally very confident in what I think and what I do. But this blog anxiety thing has made me realize that I care more about what other people think than I thought I did.

Anyone who really knows me knows that I am opinionated and I am pretty attached to what I want. Like my dad. But I'm also really concerned about other people's feelings and about making sure other people get what they want. Like my mom. This is a tricky combination.  I've got these two different sides of me fighting with each other a lot. For example, when my parents go to a movie theater, my dad will see the perfect pair of seats in a spot where they would have to crawl over a whole bunch of people to get there. He won't think a thing of crawling over people. But my mom worries so much about bothering or inconveniencing people. But she also worries about my dad being able to enjoy the movie. So while she'd be totally fine off to the side in the seats that are readily accessible, she'll crawl over everyone with my dad to the good seats to make him happy while feeling just terrible about bothering everyone else. Using this example, I feel like the part of me that wants the good seats is just as strong as the part of me that doesn't want to put anyone out. And this makes even simple decisions really stressful. Plus I've got an over-active sense of guilt which makes everything even more complicated and anxiety-inducing!

So when it comes to blogging, I want to share my personal experiences and feelings but I don't want to offend or be misunderstood. I want to make this blog reflective of who I really am and the strong ideas and opinions I have that may be helpful to others. But I want everyone to respect and like me and my skin isn't all that thick.

When it comes to family life, I have visions of how things can and should be and I get pretty attached to certain visions. But I also really want to make sure everyone else is truly happy and is getting to do what they want to do. So it's really tricky when others don't share my vision and when I can't see their vision or don't feel excited about their vision but really want them to be happy!

Simply recognizing that I can slack off a bit and be just fine and realizing that there are two strong sides of me pulling against each other has helped me a lot. But I still have a lot to figure out!

Back on my 45th birthday, I started a list of 45 things I've learned about myself. I've been working on this list for several months now and I'm sure I'll keep adding - but it's been really good for me to try to step back and look at myself so I can figure out who I really am, what I really need, and how I can become who I really want to be. Maybe I'll share my list one day - but for now, I think I've shared enough!


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