Monthly Archives: September 2012

I learned a few things yesterday – some good, one not-so good.

Yesterday was a really great day and I learned a few things in the process:

1. I went running (yea!) with a couple of women in the morning and I learned that I am not the only one working to improve communication skills with my kids and in my personal life.  One woman, married for 20+ years, talked about how easy it is to get stuck in her communications with her spouse because she is thinking, “What am I getting from this conversation/relationship,”  rather than thinking “What can I give to this conversation/relationship.”  Fantastic thought … I’m going to use it!

2. In talking to a friend about how people move through life — getting from A to B , he reminded me that it’s not about our path or how long it takes us, it’s about where we end up.  Sometimes the path is a bit crooked but it will still lead us to the place we are supposed to be.  Nice.

2. I learned that at high school varsity games, the parents are terrible in the way they yell at the referees.  I mean really bad.  My kids say this is how it is.  I think it is not how it should be.  I believe we were supposed to be respectful so as to be good role models for our athletes.  This was highly disappointing to me.

3. I noted that 13 year-old girls like to hang out in swarms and that 13 year-old boys like pretend they don’t notice the girls but really are watching their every move.  Some things never change.

4. I learned that there is nothing more fun than watching my daughter and her friends.  They are so honest, care about one another and have such a great time together.  Those are the sorts of friendships we should have forever!

5. I was reminded how critical it is to make eye-contact with people.  This occurred when an employee of a local coffee shop thanked me for asking how her day was going and actually making eye contact.  She said that sometimes the employees at this location place bets on how many people will actually make eye-contact during a shift and it is usually less than 10% of those who order.  Unbelievable.

6. I learned that spending time with my kids, when I am not rushed, not talking to a client, not needing to fix, cook or clean something, really is fun!

Have a great Sunday – bet you’ll learn something today!

Miscommunication, misunderstanding or not listening?

So, my son gets up in the morning the other day and starts frantically doing homework (this is standard fare!).  I ask him something like, “Why isn’t it done?  I told you all homework had to be done before you turned on your electronic game.”  He then says something like, “You didn’t say it had to all be done but that I needed to get it done sometime.”  That bugs me.  Seriously.  That is not what I said and I can’t tell you how many times I KNOW that I say something and all I hear from them is, “You never said that.”  What follows is total defensiveness (on both the sides – the 13 year-old and the 50 year-old) and nothing gets accomplished.  Is it that miscommunication, misunderstanding or is he just not listening?

I would like to say that it’s my son that’s not listening but that might not be a very intellectually honest statement.  It’s likely both of us  — and if both of us are listening poorly, not listening at all or just not being clear, miscommunication will occur.  Then, when we misunderstand each other we get defensive and take actions or come to conclusions based on wrong information.  Ever have that happen with your child or significant other?

This issue is really one of active listening.  One of those phrases that sounds good, right?!  Active listening means really listening with intent and concentrating on what it is the other person is saying BEFORE coming up with your response/argument/position  (really, I’ve developed this into an art form … coming up with my position before someone’s even finished talking — ever do that? – not one of my finer traits!)

I often tell my kids that attitude plays a very important role in listening and even if you don’t agree with what is said, keep your attitude in check and realize that you are not in an argument but rather a conversation .  While I may be better at doing this with my children … it is much harder in one’s personal life, right?

Frankly, I am so tired of hearing my kids say that what I said isn’t what I said that it might be worth it to try “active listening” and watch my and their responses.  I’m just going to do it today … Remember, Rome wasn’t build in a day!

Enjoy the beautiful weather!

To complain or not to complain.

I am not in love with complaining.  In fact, I’ve been know to get a bit frustrated when my kids get in the car after school and complain about a class, something at recess, an assignment, that they are hungry, tired,  etc. (what a rough life!).  It’s easy to complain because life is full of frustrations – I get that and want to support them.  But, when is it too much?

Yesterday I was on a walk with a friend and he asked if I was cold (I was) and I said, “No.  I’m fine.”  He said, “No, you’re not fine.  Your cold.   What’s wrong with saying you’re cold?”  Great question and I had no answer (frankly, I was too cold to talk!) but I did squeak out that I didn’t like complaining.  Would that have been a complaint?  Maybe I’ve got my definitions wrong – we want the people around us to share their feelings (especially when we know the feeling but they won’t admit it) yet, we don’t like complainers — what’s the difference?

Maybe complaining is not the same thing as having a negative emotional reaction.  That first-response negative reaction is ok and it is at that point (when I got cold) that I should have said something.  The next step would be me complaining about the weather, that I was dumb to forget a jacket, etc.  That act of true complaining is the act of reinforcing what you don’t want and intending even more of it.  It’s the act of dwelling on the negative that’s tougher to deal with … (don’t think I don’t do my fair share of complaining — check out this blog!!!).

Have you ever noticed how hard it is to be around a chronic complainer?  What’s so interesting to me is that these people tend to attract like people and situations into their lives and then they complain about that too.   It seems as if the world is darker to them and that’s sad.  Don’t get me wrong … there are times in our lives where we need to vent and that is an important part of our relationships.  I want to be there for my friends at that moment and they want to be there for me.  That’s different from the chronic complainer or the avoider (me) – both of which are frustrating.

I tell my kids that we are as happy as we allow yourself to be — that happiness is really a state of mind.  That the more we dwell on what we don’t like and then verbalize it, the more it will become a part of our being.

The other day, when one of the boys was complaining again about X, I said I was done listening.  I told him to complain in his head but not in my air space (man, I sound like my mom there!).  Yesterday he said to me, “I’m done complaining about X and I’ve decided to change my attitude and see if that helps!”  I almost passed out!   Maybe my good stuff is rubbing off on him … (now if only he didn’t acquire my bad stuff (read – swearing) too!)

Have a fantastic start to your weekend!!!

A sexy costume?

Yesterday I noticed a billboard for a radio station in town advertising their upcoming Sexiest Costume Contest.  Really?  So, as you might expect, I’ve given this some thought and here are the top 10 costumes that I think would be sexy and why:

1. Someone wearing a Geek Squad uniform.  I am constantly in need of computer/internet service and I find it sexy when someone can get me back on-line.

2. Someone wearing an outfit for cleaning … you know, like those yellow rubber gloves and carrying a pail of cleaning supplies.  Please, who doesn’t find it sexy to have someone clean their house?

3. Someone wearing a Pizza Hut delivery uniform. No explanation necessary.

4. Someone, anyone with a tool belt with real tools.  I definitely need some repair work here (no comments please!).

5. Anyone dressed as an airline employee holding a ticket to Hawaii with my name on it.

6. Someone dressed up as Hamburger Helper.  Any food item that takes 30 minutes or less is sexy in my book.

6. Someone in a wet suit.  Tight black swimwear and gonna swim a mile in a weedy lake?  Seriously hot!

7. Someone dressed up as a Lite Brite.  I still have romantic memories of my first Lite Brite and when you stand near an outlet someone can plug you in!

8. Anyone with an accent – regardless of what they are wearing.  A real accent. Not one from Canada.  I’ll take Javier Bardem.

9. Someone dressed as the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters.  I’ve always had a thing for big, white and fluffy.

10. Someone reading my blog.

I bet you all have some great ones too.  Have a fun day!

Loving someone but letting go.

Loving our children, spouses and friends (usually!) comes naturally.  However, when that child, spouse or friend is in a difficult place sometimes we have to learn to love them differently.  In situations where they don’t seem to be helping themselves, eventually we have to find a way to love them and at the same time let go of the desire to help  or save them from their situation.  This is a lesson I have not yet learned.

I have someone in my life who I have been trying to help for many years.  I approached the situation in what I thought was a logical way (the lawyer in me!) – if he’s hurting, I should try to help him avoid that pain.   The opposite didn’t feel right to me … allowing him to continue on his path in a direction I knew would cause him, and others around him, more pain.  I figured that I knew the best plan of attack to solving the situation (my ego).  I never really consistently encouraged him to be accountable for his actions.  However, here I am many years later and nothing has changed for him.  It’s time to let go.

The struggle I’m having is what does letting go mean?  And how to you let go of someone who you know needs help?   I don’t have the answers.  What I do know is that letting go doesn’t mean I don’t care.  It also doesn’t mean cutting him off.  It does mean that I can’t control, change, or try to manage his life and relationships any more.  It means that I can be supportive but not allow what is happening in his life to affect my life, my health or my relationships.  This sounds simple but I’m not sure how it will work in real “time,” as they say.

I must secretly admit, however, that since this decision to “let go,”  I feel a bit freer knowing that I don’t have to constantly “help” (as I write that sentence, I feel a  guilty … why shouldn’t I help when I’ve been so fortunate? Clearly one of those “tapes” I’m going to have to destroy).   Intellectually, I know I am not responsible for what happens to him … but not everything is intellectually motivated.  In the interim, I am going to continue to be encouraging, supportive and will turn that extra attention on to my family.

Look out kids – you’ve got my attention now (I hear a collective groan at my house)!!!

Have a wonderful day!

The replacement “officials”!!!!

I don’t plan to discuss politics or religion in this blog.   I can’t say the same about our family obsession  –  sports.  I am going to have to address this issue.

We fight for the sport section in the morning.  We get three sporting magazines.  My kids wear sports shirts for their school pictures!  I have a swim cap with a big green G (I want one with a big red W!)   I’ve been known to scream and get a bit over zealous (including some choice words – shocking,, I know) when watching a game.  Two years ago I watched the Super Bowl with a friend and he commented that if he know about me and football he would have suggested we watch the game in a bar, where it’s loud and no one cares if I scream!  Moreover, it doesn’t matter what sport:  baseball in the summer, football (one of my sons says that College Game Day is his favorite “show”), college basketball, the Tour … we are obsessed.

I used to be a fan because when the “team” won, my (ex) husband was much happier – as were my kids.  Then, when I got divorced, we put in the decree that I would remain a fan of the “team” forever!  (believe it?)   Somehow it stuck, I got hooked and here I am – a total sports freak.

My kids are usually depressed the next day after one of our teams loses (I am too but let’s not focus on my adult bad behavior).  Last night was one of those nights for me.   The “officials” stunk.  At one point, every drive seemed to have a penalty. When our team lost in the last second to a hail mary we all went bonkers, screaming, a few choice words again (me), and the kids saying, “Really?  Really?  The league is going to allow those refs to work a game?” In the end, the sane one of the bunch, who was all decked out in green, said (… actually they were all sane last night except for me ….) “Mom, we played terrible the first half.  Yea, we should have won but did we deserve to win?”

Wow!  She’s way better than me.  I’m sticking with my frustration and I’ll try not to complain too much today!

Have a great Tuesday!!!

Shopping with teens …

All my kids hate shopping for clothes.  They are fine with me buying them clothes, bringing them home, trying them on, returning them because they don’t fit and doing it all over again (multiple times –  like I am a personal shopper!).  This year I decided that I was going to reverse the tide and have them come with me so I would only have to make only one trip for school clothes.  This was my first mistake.  We started this weekend and I began with the boys.

We went to the mall and one got cranky almost immediately (this was a bad sign).  He let me know in no uncertain terms that we he was not going to buy pants at this particular store.  I put on my take-no-prisioners attitude and said that I really didn’t care (I might have been a bit more forceful than that) and I demanded that he try on 4 pairs of something  (second mistake).  By this point, my voice was raised and the store clerk was staying quite far away from us.  Yes, he did try on 4 pairs of pants but even those that I think he might have liked he refused to buy because I had thrown down the gauntlet … the walls of my plan were cracking and I was 15 minutes in.

Shortly thereafter, my phone rang – I took it (third mistake).  I proceeded to walk them toward a sporting goods store and whispered to them to look for pants and sweatshirts.  By the time I had gotten off the phone, they both had picked out expensive tennis shoes, which were not even on the list, and no pants and no sweatshirts.  I waived my red flag, took them home and picked up my daughter.

She also dislikes shopping.  What’s interesting to me is that when I think something looks fantastic, her eyes are rolling way back into her head!   How did I go from being a cool mom to one with no taste in clothes?  The icing on the cake yesterday was when we were in a store where I shop and she said,  “Those look like old people clothes. Sorry Mom.  Get used to it.”  We were able to get a few things and then left.  I was exhausted.

Clearly my little experiment didn’t work.  I am going to reclaim my title as the household personal shopper.  Life’s just a tad bit easier that way.

Have a great Monday!