More Than Only

Have you ever noticed a certain theme floating around in your conversations, readings, or what you listen to? Perhaps you have sought out the subject or started the conversation but other times it is seemingly a huge coincidence to keep hearing a message over and over again in the period of a month or two. It may be a bit of cluster illusion; perhaps just what catches your attention when you are focused on learning something. I have taken the opportunity in the last couple months to do some coffee dates. I have had some other opportunities to visit people in social settings as well. As I have been doing some work around the place that occupies my hands, I have been indulging in podcasts and my mornings begin with some personal development reading. Although there are have been many observations, in my ‘going’s on’ in the last few weeks, there are definitely some things that have been standing out for me.

Some

For my coffee project, I have been asking a few questions, seeking answers for my life. I feel like I am narrowing it down a little. I spent the day with my mom a few weeks ago, and as it often the case with moms, she gave me a lot of insight into me in relation to that question. This past week I had the opportunity to meet with a number of people. One person in particular really helped dig out some perspective on myself I have been missing.

The other thing I have noticed in asking the same or similar questions is how similar the answers have been. Not only have I observed their answers to be similar to others, but in all cases, in getting to know a person better, I can see where the answer for present and future has come from someplace in the past, usually their childhood.

We are uniquely formed and continually grow. We may think of ourselves in a certain way only to find others perceive us differently. This week I have been described as approachable (I have been told that for as long as I can remember) and easy to connect with. I have been told I am open and and encourager. Though I don’t really think of myself in those terms, others do. I can’t say people know me more than I know myself but it would seem there are times they have some more insight than I; that my insight is muffled by the voices in my head. I like that I am getting to know people in a deeper way and they are getting to know me, and also giving me insight, even when they don’t know it.

Each of us is unique in our abilities, the things our hearts pursue, the natural talents we possess, our experiences and opportunities. Each of us has talents, some seemingly more than others, some seem like experts while others are ‘jack of all trades, master of none’. Some people have talents we never see because they are shared with a tiny microcosm of their life, and some people have talents they don’t share at all, perhaps because of the voices in their head. People often feel they are ‘only this’, can only do ‘that’, are too young, to old, to smart, not smart enough, too out of shape, too tall, too short, too shy, too outspoken…the list goes on. Only human? Yep, we all are and we can only do our best in this life and that’s good enough because we are all more than ‘only’ and sometimes we need to see it through someone else’s eyes.

While doing my coffee project, I am digging for those things, hopefully providing a lens for people to make observations, encouraging them to use those hidden talents, to grow. I am seeking a way to help each person in some peculiar way, because peculiar seems to be how it happens. Connecting the dots, connecting people with information, connecting people with people, connecting with people connecting with me. Hit me up for a coffee appointment; you will be glad you did, and not just because it’s me and I am fun and funny and will make you laugh either. We are all human, but we are more than only.

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The Spiral of Mental Health

I don’t claim to know all there is about mental health or the lack thereof. I don’t seem to even understand my own mental health, let alone try to comprehend that of another. I do understand the magnitude of differences in what contributes to one’s mental health or lack thereof. I also recognize the vast differences in degrees of mental health issues, in that the actual mental anguish and pain threshold in each person can be more or less, and can change daily. I think of the way our mental health changes to be like a spiral, much like a screw where one moves up and down on that spiral path, but may not recognize it happening because it is a spiral path; a path that the place one is today doesn’t really look different from yesterday. And I believe we all go through it at some point, to some degree.

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Life is a tangled mess sometimes.

A few months ago, we went on a great vacation. Things in our world were stressful and for me, there were many things pulling at my time. Going on a trip is always a good elixir for the things that ail a person’s mind. You get away from it all, relax, enjoy…and then you return to all that ail’s a person’s mind plus what added up while you were gone and not taking care of it. The post vacation blues is a recognized phenomenon. It feels great to get home to your own bed, but reality of life sets in once again.

There were other people (my husband and our partners) who were going through much the same things in particular areas of life, but each of us were all wearing different hats in the areas in which we worked together, and completely other hats in all the other areas of our lives that did not intertwine. That, and I have no idea what they were going through on the inside while working so hard to get life done, so I will speak only of my perspective and my mental health.

Let me preface a little with physical health. I am at that age when peri-menopause and menopause plays a role in physical and mental health. This started a couple of years ago. The hormonal changes occurring in a body, whether young or old, female or male, will play a role in what is happening in your mind. It may be that you are more hungry, more agitated, have more energy or less (like when you are growing and need more sleep), or maybe you just feel weaker (like muscle depletion as you age), or countless other things that you may not recognize. For me, menopause caused a weight gain I couldn’t control and remiss to work harder at due to lack of energy and stressors in other areas of life. Excuse…maybe, my reality…definitely. I bring this up because over a year ago, I had a wise friend tell me it is normal and I just need to do what I need to do to ride it out in my most healthy way, which was to continue being active and continue to eat healthy as much as possible, but not to sweat the stuff I couldn’t control. That kind of encouragement meant a lot and made me feel more ‘normal’ as in not the only one who experiences those things. And, I did some research too :-).

Back to our return from vacation. There was a lot going on. I won’t go into details but I felt I was being pulled in a hundred directions. I felt that one area had priority due to timelines and that took me away from home, it took me away from the other parts of the job that were on my table (and who likes paper work anyway) and every day when I came home, not only was that work on my table but I had a messy table which in itself can cause me angst. It didn’t stop at my table. There were the messy kitchen counters much of the time, there were the messy floors, the laundry and the outside chores. There were also my other businesses I was paying too little attention to. In my mind, my life was spiralling out of control.

It is all well and good to say, “This too shall pass”. Like a kidney stone, it eventually did. Like a kidney stone, the pain is just as real while you go through it and until it passes. Part of the problem with what is happening in a person’s mind is the invisibility of it to others. Unlike a kidney stone that one would go to a doctor for and be diagnosed and treated, sometimes the beginning of depression or the middle of depression are just swept under the rug as moodiness or a bad attitude even by the person experiencing it and especially if you are a person who is generally positive and studies mindset. To add to that, people who study those things, usually gather like-minded people around them and it becomes that much more frustrating when you start to think there is something terribly wrong with you.

I complained a lot! I got frustrated and complained about my situation. I created my situation in most ways and in other ways not (although, I know, I know, that to is something we create, again making us feel crappy). We are not an island; our lives intertwine with those around us and those around us contribute to the mesh of pathways, expectations, commitments, problems and their solutions, and a gamut of other influences in your life based on what is going on in their lives, even when it has absolutely nothing to do with you. I made choices as some would point out, to start 3 different types of businesses/education/steep learning curves within a period of 6 months. Squirrel! Maybe, but also opportunity that happened quickly. Life happens like that sometimes, in different areas too, opportunity to go on a vacation, then another one, or opportunity to get a deal on this, then another thing and then and then…we can be more discerning or we can think when it happens, “This won’t be easy but it will be worth it when the hard part passes”. Or as often happens with me, “I can do that on that date because my calendar is free for the whole week before and after, then as the date approaches, there is sickness, appointments, emergencies, pet problems, a need to get groceries, something breaks down, weather making things more important today, you know the drill. We are not an island in a bubble.

The spiral begins, and it progresses at different rates. Slowly at first, then more quickly, then, wait…up the spiral a bit. Wait…ouch that was a quick drop. That is just life getting out of control.

The spiral begins, and it progresses pretty slowly at first. It can continue pretty slowly too. At first I was a little frustrated, but I was having fun in all the things I was doing. At first I could say it will pass. At first I would be a bit overwhelmed but then I would get my bearings. I would also just do a little here and a little there so it wouldn’t get out of hand. I got a little tired, I got a lot tired but then I had more energy.

The spiral continued and I didn’t see it coming really. Others likely saw a change, but didn’t know my complaining was my way of saying something was wrong, something was wrong with me and maybe I needed help. Something was wrong with me but to tell me that wouldn’t help. I didn’t even recognize it while it was happening.

Then… I did. Then I did something. Then I did something different.

Before I go on, there are a couple of things I want to clarify. First, I am in no way comparing my experience to anyone else or to anyone who suffers from mental illnesses, just like I would never compare the common cold to someones battle with cancer. My experience is probably as common as the common cold and I believe people can relate to feeling that way at times. I also believe as common as it is, it is not as recognizable as the common cold and still people don’t talk about it. I now recognize it as burnout.

The other thing I want to clarify is that some of what pulled me away were things that were essential to my health. I continued bootcamp, wallyball and basketball. I was sad that I didn’t feel I had the time to go snowboarding even once in the winter and that my cycling didn’t happen until well into the summer. Eating was more difficult because I would be out well into the evening so we ate out more that normal but I still tried to eat vegetables and appropriate meals and amounts. I continued my morning practice of drinking water when I woke up and thinking of the things I am thankful for. I believe those things really helped me to not spiral more quickly nor to the extent I could have.

So back to “then…I did something different”. I found some relief in a supplement for my mood (please, seek medical help if you need it; I knew where I was on the spiral and knew I had time to try something before that step), and it helped immediately. I also started working on my sleep, getting just a little more. I had quit taking vitamins regularly a year ago thinking it was causing me to sleep restless, but started taking them again and started sleeping less restless again. It helped that the main part of the project was done (the proverbial ‘passing’ of the stone) and I could devote more time to my space and other things. Sunshine and warm weather are great; I got my garden in just in time but with great effort (early morning, later evenings). I delved into more podcasts while doing my physical work, I started reading again, just a chapter a day. I devoted more time to my other businesses, very slowly. I didn’t over commit. I didn’t even jump into the things I wanted to do.

I slowly started moving up the spiral. I started to feel like myself again. I started to see how far down I went; because when you are on the spiral, you may not even know you are there. For me, there are times when I feel flu-like symptoms and I brush them off as not enough sleep or just under the weather and I continue on with my day lacking energy and drive and feeling lazy (oh don’t get me started on that mind issue), only to find out in a day or two when I feel good that someone in the family is feeling the same way and to think back and realize, ‘wow, now that I feel normal, I was actually quite sick’. Yep, same with my mental health.

I can’t say I am 100%; I often feel I am, but I definitely have days or hours where I know I am probably closer to 80% on average. Those times when I just want to cry for no reason, those times when something small sets me off to being really sad, those times when something small makes my eyes watery. I know it has a lot to do with the hormones. I know this too shall pass. I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel and it is not a train. I know that the spiral will always be there, because it is so dependant on physical health, what is going on around and my own choices and thoughts. The first, I have some control over, the second I have little control over and the last, in theory, I have complete control over…except, the last is really influenced by the first two whether we like it or not and the belief that we have total control over it can ruin our chances of recognizing when we are on the spiral. It can also make us feel we are flawed because we can’t fix it. And that is the worst stigma yet.

I wrote this a few hours ago, not posting because I like to come back to proofread with fresh eyes. I went out to feed chickens and for some reason my old iPhone I listen to podcasts on started playing old ones from before I subscribed to a few of them. Interestingly enough, one of the ones that came up was on burnout. The other was on clutter. Weird! Here are the links to those if you are looking for something to give you inspiration:

Happiness of Pursuit #64

Happiness of Pursuit #63

Finally, it is good to know our limits. It is good to push our limits too. In our athletic endeavours after pushing our limits we need to rest appropriately so we don’t suffer overtraining syndrome. With our mental/physical/emotional health, when we can push our limits, (it’s how we grow), we also have to rest appropriately to reduce the chance of burnout. And if we do end up in that place of burnout, take time to heal as well.

 

 

Pirate’s Booty and Medical Supplies

Sometimes the connection between two things is strange and unexplainable. Such is the case of these two things and yet somehow they go hand in hand, or at least they were connected over a muddy cocktail.

This evening we went to visit our son and his wife and deliver the gifts we brought back from Colombia. We were driving the Volvo and got through the mud at the bottom of the long driveway, arriving at the top of the driveway to first see a strange man walking around on the grass by the barn on his cell phone. We pulled up by a truck, presumably the one he was driving that was up near the house. Because I was wearing my nice new boots (or probably not about me at all) Lorne pulled up on the grass rather than behind our son’s truck that was sitting on a muddy area.

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Looking out the screened window at the truck that got stuck.

Disembarking from the vehicle we were informed of the situation with the truck. The healthcare solutions truck was indeed stuck in the driveway and although our son had offered to pull him out, he refused having called a tow truck. Sometime during the visit we heard the tow truck arrive and could see through the trees that it was at the bottom of the driveway not continuing up. As fate would have it, it was sitting there waiting for another tow truck to both pull it out and pull out the healthcare solutions struck.

Awhile later there were two tow truck drivers, and the truck driver and my son and his truck working on dislodging the healthcare solutions vehicle from the muddy ruts. Success eventually followed, not without deeper ruts and a greater mess.

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Waiting at the bottom of the driveway for the tow. Fortunately the tow truck was on dry ground.

As the truck was leaving we got word that the tow truck drivers were going to wait at the end of the driveway until we got our vehicle out (just in case), so we made our exit. We had to wait partway down the driveway as again the truck got stuck at the bottom requiring a little tow. We were able to rush through and made it okay with some mud stuck to the undercarriage.

Oh don’t worry, I won’t leave you hanging on the Pirate Booty element. The driver was having a really bad day so no one broke it to him that he didn’t deliver life saving supplies to children in the household or to an expectant mother (any day now). He does not know that he delivered an unexpected sample of Pirate’s Booty.

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One ounce of gluten free goodness

Yep, one ounce is very light and doesn’t feel like 140 calories at all. Two hours of that poor man’s time, two tow trucks, the time our son put in and wasn’t able to bath the dog or visit with us, the mess in the driveway both top and bottom and all for the pirate’s booty. Arrgggghhh…those pirates.

Hola

Hola, we are nearing the end of our Colombian trip. It has been awe inspiring, and surreal and amazing. We have stretched and grown and tried many things and been out of our comfort zone many times. There has been some fear and apprehension, some feeling lost and a whole lot of the unknown. When you don’t speak the language and very few speak your language, it can be unsettling especially when there is a need to communicate. Having tourist Spanish helps a little but I am certainly grateful to those who walk beside us and interpret. I also love that they are showing us the intricacies of their culture, introducing us to the fruits of the land and the foods of the people.

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Language is a bridge to know someone on a deeper level but language is spoken in many ways. This is the hanging bridge at Parque del Cafe

If you have been following my blog, you know I have embarked on a bit of a coffee social experiment. Well, it’s not as much an experiment as it is a quest. I was thinking about it last weekend when we were involved with the wedding here. The wedding was at a hacienda and much of the family stayed there for the whole weekend and broke arepas together many times. We actually spent very little time with our friends who we are traveling with which meant spending time alone or spending time with people we did not know who did not speak English or spoke little.  The first day we met a fine couple and we were blessed by having the man sit with us for most of the time. His English was quite good so we were able to communicate in English with him. We learned about his family and job and we shared with him. His wife speaks English very well but was busy organizing the wedding. I am watching on FB for her to start up her business as a wedding planner.

The day of the wedding we spent time with people who knew some English and I practiced Spanish while they practiced English. We talked for hours. I told them about our kids and pets and why our pets are named as they are. We found out they have a mini pincher x chihuahua that is named Forest. Seems their cat Nina liked to run when they got Forest and Forest would run after her. Of course we showed photos also.

The day after the wedding I spent a lot of time with the ladies in the kitchen who are the bride’s family. They were cooking on an open fire pit and then preparing stuff in the kitchen. One of the young ladies knows some English so between her and I we were able to talk to each other and explain things and talk to the other ladies. We talked about all the same things, kids, pets, weather in Canada, sports (I even explained the game of wallyball), and the flavours of pop/soda/gaseoso and some other mundane things that people who share the same language say in passing but is a big deal when trying to communicate between languages.

I could have sat by the pool and had the rhythm of people speaking Spanish as white noise to my thoughts. I could have felt alone in a ‘world’ surrounded by people who didn’t understand me and talked to each other. Instead, I went up to people and said ‘Hola’. I went over to the fire to see what the ladies were doing, I went and sat down beside someone and started a conversation (such as it was). I pushed passed my fears and insecurities and I was received with open arms and hospitality.

In that setting I was with people who are friends of friends. There have been a couple situations where my lack of Spanish has not been received well, but that is part of the experience. I am not the reason for another person’s reaction.

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I often ask how something is spelled because I can’t always understand the sounds and especially the silent letters.

What I learned from the experience is I have the capacity to break out of my comfort zone and push through the questioning looks because I butcher a word with my English accent. I can say something wrong, be corrected, struggle with saying it and be uncomfortable with still not grasping the accent. I can be wrong, I can be frustrated and I can try to say it a different way. I have more understanding of those who come from somewhere else and are working on learning English. Somehow now, speaking English to a stranger doesn’t seem as difficult as it did once.

Although this isn’t the same as my coffee time quest, I have learned a lot, not only from the experience of the trip but from the desire to communicate and connect despite the language barriers.  Language is spoken in many ways and we are able to connect with others despite lacking in the spoken word.

I believe it is important to continually grow. Growth happens through stretching; it doesn’t happen in our comfort zone. The challenge is to move out of that zone and make things happen. Life happens more abundantly in growth.

In Sickness…

A couple days after returning from Houston, I fell ill. Often times, I don’t feel well, but continue to function and think I am being lazy until I am feeling better and then I realize I was sick. This time was different; I knew I was sick. I didn’t function well at all. The first day I did some personal development and had some quiet time on the couch drinking tea and hanging out with the cats.  I felt a little better the next day for a short time so went to wallyball.  It was okay but I was tired. I realized later in the day I still didn’t feel well so I skipped basketball. By Monday I was feeling very frustrated with feeling off. I struggled to wake up in the morning and started to cry; I hate that feeling of grogginess and trying to wake up. I didn’t have to help with cattle when we went out to the farm. I did continue to do things around the house and went out each day to feed the chickens. Everything just seemed so hard, everything took so much effort. I wanted (and did) cry when things seemed so heavy or overwhelming.  Wednesday was the beginning of the end.  Despite having a sore back which started on Tuesday, I went to bootcamp and felt more energetic after. I was able to play wallyball and basketball on Thursday and it was good. So what does it all mean besides that I am terrible sick person?

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Me sick, trying to read with Murphy (who was also sick as we found out later). I didn’t read much of the book, but spent more time reading on line.

I had a couple of coffee dates, one last Wednesday afternoon and one today. My visit last week was with someone who works in health care. The person today was someone who has had some severe health problems and still struggles with immunity and a bad back. Both told me stories of sickness but more than that, they told me stories so strength, of perseverance and hope. Both people, through their musings gave me perspective.

The person I saw today has suffered through vehicle accidents and cancer. She has had personal struggles as well. She gets up every day and makes things happen. She is unable to work but does some volunteering helping kids. She stays positive despite what she has gone through and what she is still dealing with. Listening to her, I just felt like everything seemed so hard. When she dropped something, she used one of those claws with a handle. It is normal for her; for me it seemed so difficult. One comment she made was that she she could reach everything in her home. The things some of us take for granted, others see as a blessing.

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I got the tea cup and tea from my fearless Monat leader when we were in Houston and had it in the afternoon that first and worst day.

The health care worker related her growth over the years that was amplified through her work, her ability to have empathy and to be a better person because of the people she has met. She talked of each person having a story. We all have a story but there are people who have spent their lives not having someone listen to their story. She said that much of the illness she sees is a result of heart and head pain (ache). She believes in connecting with people to bring a few moments of joy in that heart and head pain. She is passionate about people knowing they have worth. It was interesting to listen to her say many of the things that I too believe.

I am not a good patient…I am not patient at all with being sick. Yes, I push myself through it but I cry when it gets tough. Yes, I get back to working out as soon as physically possible, perhaps more quickly than other people but a hero I am not. It was so fitting to have my visits with these two people after going through my little flu bug. I am inspired by people who go through so much and remain strong, positive and full of grace, and those who care for people who suffer greatly through illness and heart and head pain, those who are strong, positive and full of grace as well as those who are miserable and nasty and want to give up. I fear I would be more like the latter if it were me. In my health though, I will practice strength, positivity and grace. And… I will practice empathy and listening to the story and hopefully helping someone to know they have worth.

Three Strangers and a Friend

It’s time to share some insights I gleaned from interrogating asking better questions and listening to the answers. My last day in Texas I had the pleasure of spending time with a friend I have not seen in 38 years (except the hour I saw her in October).  I got to spend over 24 hours with her and we got to catch up on such a small portion of our lives since we spent time together so many years ago. On my way home, I had 2 flights and a bit of a layover in the airport giving me the opportunity to meet and listen to 3 lovely women. The underlying thing that makes the experiences (long lost friend vs strangers) different is history.

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Having lunch in Houston with my team members, the Houston police went by on their horses.  This one stopped for a pose. Not really related to the post but part of my Houston experience.

Meeting up with my friend FM was great.  She is still that funny, sweet friend I remember. Looking at her, she looked so different (as we all do after 38 years) and yet there was a familiarity too.  I got to meet her family (I had met her husband as many years ago) and visit with them.  FM and I haven’t been in contact all these years but I have had occasional contact with some of her family members so I did keep up with major milestones in her life. Still, life stands still in my memories of her. We both grew and matured and became different people but at the core we are the same.  I am still processing fine details but one conversation in particular, started to clarify in my mind one of the things that I am seeking information for in my quest to ask questions.

I met a quiet (my perception but perhaps she was just trying to ignore me haha) lady on the flight to Calgary.  I will call her Ann. She and her husband, who I also met, are missionaries in another province and run a camp.  She also home schools her kids as I did and their children are not much younger than ours.

When we got to the Calgary airport there was a couple hours layover.  I got off at my station (gates) in that huge airport and looked for food but at 7:30 everything was closed so I went to station A and found a Chili’s.  I pulled myself up to the bar near a lovely lady I will call Alex. She and I hit it off immediately. Her children are a bit older than mine.  It was such a chance meeting; one where it just feels like God has lined it up for great things in knowing each other.

The flight home was short but the lady (I will call Wanda), I sat beside grew up in the community I did, went to the same high school, knew the people who owned the property my son and his wife owns and had some great information to share on common interests.

At the end of each conversation including with my friend, I told each person about my project and asked them if there was anything I could help them with.  Still not sure how that will work out as that takes people by surprise and they don’t have an answer.  Perhaps they will contact me and have something.  Until then, I just offer.

Going into the better questions/listening project I did not have specific questions to ask, nor was there any specific information I was trying to glean.  Really, to be natural and not feel like I am interrogating someone, I need to keep the conversation flowing.  However over the couple days, I started to pin point something I want to know for my own growth, something that eludes me. And today, a fleeting thought popped into my head and I think it is related to that thing. And that’s all I am going to say about it, because I want to have a conversation with individuals and seek their answers in hopes to figuring out my own.  When I find it, I will share.

I Want to Listen More

I am sitting in beautiful downtown Houston outside the Hilton waiting for my friend to pick me up.  I enjoyed a wonderful convention and am blessed to stay an extra day and spend it with a friend I hadn’t seen in about 35 years until a brief visit in October. I am so excited for our time together.  But that’s not actually what this post is about or that will work into it I am sure.

As some of you know, I have been doing a lot of personal development stuff particularly in the areas of business along with becoming an all around better me…actually that’s the biggest thing I get from the books, podcasts, TED talks and Youtube sessions I engage in.  Over time I will share some of those nuggets because what you immerse in influences who you become.  This post is about one of those things I want to work on based on something a big leader in the real estate industry has been doing and talked about in a podcast.

He is an introvert and his business coach gave him an assignment to meet for coffee, talk to and listen to 50 strangers in a year and at the end ask them if there was a way he could help them with something. It was (is as he continues through another year) to increase his comfort level talking with people, strangers in particular.

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The curb beneath the horse’s nose is where I sat for 10 minutes with a total stranger.  The buggy I believe was for a wedding.

I totally loved the idea. Despite getting over-peopled, (especially in crowds) and needing my down time, I am more of an extrovert than introvert. I have therefore been wanting to modify the idea to suit what I need to work on.  I have exposed myself to crowds, this weekend being an example with over 1500 people in a grand ballroom for sessions and events day and evening, but I wouldn’t say I have a huge discomfort with it, just need downtime too.  I do need to listen to people more.  Anyone who knows me, knows I can talk endlessly.  On days when I am not talkative (I think, I am just listening), my friends comment that I am quiet. So I have been formulating a plan. Coming to Houston was round one of practice.  I sat with a lady on a plane and yes I did talk some but I concentrated on asking her questions.  I have talked and told my stories this weekend but have also listened.  Speaking of stories, here is what happened last night:

We had an 80’s theme closing party.  After leaving there I changed into jeans and then decided with the warm temperatures I wanted to go outside and enjoy a short walk.  As I was approaching the corner, there was a young lady on the phone then she hung up just as I got there and sat on the curb in tears.  I sat down beside her, gave her a hug and she told me her situation and unleashed her anger. I listened, made a couple of jokes (as I do when I try to disperse stress) and continued to sit with my arm around her and reassure her. In the end, I told her I was not making any judgment about her situation but told her in the next little while to evaluate it and that she is worth more than this moment and moments like these (if they happen regularly).  It was a 10 minute interaction with a stranger. I talked less than 2 minutes of it.  I am not a hero, did not go above an beyond, I was just there at that moment.  That, and I took the opportunity to listen and to provide for her in that moment, the hug that she needed (and for which she expressed great gratitude). My few words and my action of listening may impact her life in a small way now or maybe a huge way unknown or unrecognized by either of us.  However, I was rewarded in knowing in that moment, I made her feel worth more than all she was going for and that is huge.

Which brings me to my assignment for me.  I am going to be setting up coffee/tea/visit dates with family and friends to start, because they will still be nice to me if my personal social experiment goes south. After awhile, I will be looking to others to visit with.  I will plan for 1 hour of time, so if any of you want to volunteer, I will put you in my calendar. Even if you don’t like me, feel free to have coffee with me.  I will talk, but only enough to make the conversation more comfortable.  I will mess up with some of you and request a do over because I am just learning.  I won’t share any private details of our visit but if there is something I learn about me, I will blog about what you taught me keeping your name out of it unless you want me to share that.  And at the end, I will ask if there is anything I can help you with.  I may not be able to in the moment or even at all, but sometimes someone can give a request and a year down the road I can say, ‘hey, that someone needed this or that, and now I know how to help’. If there is nothing I can help you with in the moment, that’s okay too.  I want it to be fun and relaxing and enjoyable for both of us. So, if you get a strange text from me in the near future, no need to wonder what I am up to, this is it.