Use Your Voice

standard June 28, 2011 9 responses

When you open your mouth to speak, what voice comes out?

Your “Mommy” voice?

Your “honey come here now” voice?

The voice that society or someone else has told you is the voice you should be using?

You have a voice. It’s there for the using. Are you letting it speak?

The people I most admire are the people who only ever use their own voice. It takes guts to use your own words and share your own ideas. You have to believe in yourself and not care what others will think or expect.

Not the easiest thing to do, but quite the most powerful if you can hack it. The world could use some more original thoughts.

If you opened your mouth and let your true voice sing out, what would it say?

Why don’t you let it?

This post was heavily inspired by Patti Digh‘s keynote speech at Type A Parent Conference this year. She rocked our socks and gave me a ton of food for thought. I’ve been silencing my voice for a while now, giving way to the other voices I thought were more important. It’s time to let me shine through again.

Always Assume Positive Intent

standard May 20, 2011 1 response

When people do something, anything, directed at you, do you assume they mean you harm or assume they mean you good?

A snippy email, text, or tweet? Do you jump to the conclusion that they’re mad at you, or assume they’re having an off moment?

A curt waiter or salesclerk? Are they mean or having a bad day?

The driver who cut you off today? A jerk or someone rushing to someone’s hospital bedside?

I like playing the “what could be happening in their life to make them act this way today?” game. It radically changes my perception of people’s intent. I’ve always done it to an extent, but reading Noah Blumenthal’s Be The Hero pushed me to do it more consistently. I like feeling compassion rather than frustration or hurt when people are snippy and unpleasant towards me. At the very least it makes my life better.

Last week I ordered Patti Digh‘s book Four Word Self Help. I stashed it in a high traffic area and pick it up whenever I pass by. Amazingly I seem to always open it to the perfect page for that moment. M has taken to doing the same and I’m really loving discussing our different interpretations of the short four word advice. (For instance we had radically different takes on “Be A Surge Protector.” But that’s a whole other blog post.)

One page I keep coming back to is this one:

What changes for you if you assume the person interacting with you means well?

I get to meet Patti Digh at Type A Parent next month. I can’t wait. It’s going to be one of the highlights of my trip to North Carolina. 

Connecting with people

standard April 18, 2011 5 responses

When I walked into Starbucks this morning my coffee was sitting on the counter waiting for me. With a smile the barista pushed it towards me.

“This is for you,” he said.

**********
After working for an hour another regular walked over. 
“How are you doing today?” 
I gave him a pat answer and asked about his current project. He replied, and turned the question back on me.
“But, you, what’s really new with you?”
***********
At the donut store two weeks ago, I handed over the two coffee thermoses that I’d borrowed for a mother’s group event. The store manager handed me my $50 deposit and a small white bag. 
“What’s this?” I asked, meaning, “Why are you giving me something?”
“It’s a carrot muffin,” was her simple reply. 
 
***********
The only thing these people have in common is the fact that I see them on a semi-regular basis. We interact over simple common courtesies. 
Please. Thank you. Are you using this chair?
I could have chosen to keep my interaction to the bare minimum, but at some point I looked them in the eye and asked them about their day, their weekend, their kids. I connected beyond the simple societal niceties. 
They looked back at me, away from their busy tasks and connected. 
We all make a million superficial connections throughout the day – the grocery store, the sandwich shop, the gas station attendant. We can chose to float through our days without really interacting with people, or we can choose to deepen our connections with people and life. 
That cashier is a person.
That barista deals with life’s ups and downs just like you. 
That gas station attendant has hopes and dreams. 
I grew up in a world where social “castes” (for lack of a better word), are strong and hard to breach. It was rare for me to socialize outside my group of friends. And then, thanks to the Internet, I expanded my reach. 
Income, location, education – none of these things define a person’s heart. When you put people behind a computer and you talk to them before seeing their clothes, their hair, their home, you get to know them for who they really are at heart. 
It’s freeing. 
Even better, it allows you to see beyond the uniform, beyond the surface out in the real world.
Who did you interact with today? Did you stop to wonder about their morning routine? Their challenges for the week? 
Who do you see every day? What do you know about that person? 
Step outside of your life. Reach out to the people who share your space. It will enrich your life. 
It’s enriched mine and I’m a better person for it.

Choosing Happiness

standard April 15, 2011 14 responses

Right now I should be sitting in a hotel conference room with 30 other adults, our chairs in one big circle. My attention would be entirely focused on the instructors and my classmates. Today was the day my second Life Coaching seminar was supposed to start.

****

Right now I should be sitting at home, waiting to take M to see his surgeon for a pre-op appointment. I called the coaching program two weeks ago to inform them that I’d have to miss the first morning of the seminar so I could be present for this important appointment. They informed me that I’d have to forfeit my spot and come to the next session.

I hesitated a moment and then told them to give my spot to someone on the waiting list. I’m anxious to go through the training, but this surgery, surgery that could potentially change our lives by curing my husband of the condition that has dodged us at every twist and turn for the last four years, was more important.

****

Right now I should be sitting in the waiting room at the hospital waiting for the surgery to be over, for my husband to be returned to me, neck healed, ready to start the next chapter of our lives. The surgery was moved up because we thought the condition was worsening. Suddenly I was glad that I had given up my spot in the seminar. Glad I could be here where I was most needed, where I most needed to be.

****

Right now I’m sitting at Starbucks. My children are at school and daycare. My husband is at work. All the plans we’ve made for today – seminar, pre-op appointment, surgery – all canceled, leaving today to be as normal a day as it can possibly be. Except nothing is normal and yet I’m still smiling.

****

If parenting has taught me one thing it’s that I can’t hold on to plans and routines as rigidly as I used to. The only thing that I’ve been able to count on these last six years is that I can’t count on anything, that I have to let go and go with the flow.

The other thing that parenting has taught me is to look for the glimmer in every moment. Not just the silver lining, but the glimmers of happiness in the middle of the chaos, the tumult, the sadness, the tantrums, the everything that takes up every breathing moment. If you wait for things to settle down to be happy, to enjoy the moment, you’ll be waiting a long time.

I could be sitting here lamenting the fact that my classmates are moving on without me, that my training has been put off for 6 months. I could be sitting here lamenting the fact that M is not in surgery, that he won’t wake up in three hours, neck on its way to being fixed.

Instead I’m choosing happiness. I’m choosing to see the positive side, to focus on the things that bring a smile to my face. My coffee is hot and tastes good. Both my girls went off to school with a smile this morning. The cat was extra cuddly. And the kiss M gave me as he left for work was extra sweet. Tomorrow we’ll go to the beach and watch the rain fall as we huddle under a warm blanket and watch a movie all together. Sunday we’ll watch the sun rise and then we’ll enjoy a warm day on the sand.

Right now I could be focusing on all the ways things are wrong. Instead I’m choosing to focus on all the ways they’re right. I choose happiness, even in the middle of all the uncertainty.