Character Study

The better you know yourself, the better your relationship with the rest of the world. – Toni Collette

My son is in his first term of college and is taking a career class that is helping him narrow down career options based on his interests and personality. It’s a pretty brilliant idea, actually. I wish I’d done something similar in my first year of college; perhaps I’d have realized that my chosen career wasn’t a good fit for me and changed tracks.* Instead, I had to figure it out the hard way in my 20’s, when I finally started to realize what I was good at, and what I enjoyed.

I don’t suppose I’m the only one who missed the mark on understanding certain things about myself as I established my adult identity, but I got so many things wrong. There really should be some sort of “adulting” certification, and personality testing should be a mandatory component.

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Lady in Waiting

“For fast acting relief, try slowing down”. –  Lily Tomlin

We’ve all heard the idea that life sometimes throws obstacles in your path to force you to slow down- and that the slowing down will serve a purpose. All right, sure. I’ll take one for the team here, so we can find out how much truth there is in that idea. For the last month, I’ve been living this particular lesson as I’ve been recovering from foot surgery.

Before I went in, someone told me they’d be interested to see what I learned from this time. I felt sure that it would offer me yet another lesson in patience. It did … but, as usual, my conclusion in that regard is that I still have a long way to go. I do not wait well.

Whatever.

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An Ounce of Stress Prevention

There’s some really interesting research out there on stress and the physical, emotional and mental toll it takes on us. You’re not the only one feeling it’s effects: up to 90% of doctor’s visits are now for stress-related issues.

As I poured through information on life’s most stressful circumstances, it seemed a large number of them fall into three specific categories, and that’s what I’ve written about this month in Forbes: how to reduce common types of stress and feel better.

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Be Reasonable!

I came to parenting the way most of us do – knowing nothing and trying to learn everything.- Mayim Balik

The teen years. You just start to feel like you’re settling into this parenting thing, and then all the rules change. Overnight, it becomes a balancing act of keeping your kids safe while still allowing them enough independence to learn, grow and become fully-functioning adults.

Sometimes it feels like things are moving a mile a minute, and you wish life would just slow down. But that’s not how it works… for them, or for you. This is when your children get a crash course in the dynamics of relationships, and what it takes to maintain (or destroy) them.

I think that’s why a lot of parents agonize over “dating policies” for their children. For good or ill, we know that the romantic entanglements of youth provide lessons they’ll carry over into adulthood, and we want so desperately to provide the right guidance.

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In Confidence

I have an article over on Forbes today that discusses the tendency women have to minimize their skills and accomplishments. Please have a read and consider sharing, I think it’s important info.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/womensmedia/2019/08/26/in-confidence-5-secrets-for-stepping-into-the-spotlight-at-work/#2149e5e84a9d

Fail Safe

“Forgiveness is a virtue of the brave.” –Indira Gandhi

I’ve been thinking lately about the nature of failure and forgiveness.

The thing is, I can be selfish.  It’s not intentional, but I have introvert tendencies, and when I get overwhelmed or exhausted, I withdraw my energies… and my powers of observation seem to tank right along with them. (To be honest, they’re pretty weak to begin with.  I’m not very sensitive and tend to miss both verbal and nonverbal cues that other people seem to pick up easily.)

A couple of years ago, I got very sick with a mystery illness that absolutely flattened me for the better part of 6 months. The doctors had all sorts of gloomy predictions for what might be happening, and the stress of dealing with those ideas, along with the endless testing and overall feeling of crappiness led me to pull back on the time I devoted to making sure I stayed connected in my friendships.

I took it one step further, however, and here’s where the selfishness really kicked in: I was so focused on my own issues that I failed to see that someone I loved dearly was really struggling- and what she was going through brought a much deeper pain than any physical issue I was having. Wrapped up in my own problems, I was totally oblivious…until one day, my fog suddenly lifted, and I thought… “Wait. We haven’t really talked about anything of consequence in months. And that’s not normal.”

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Just A Note

“It went on, this lifetime in a box, one letter after another.” ― Nicholas Sparks

Imagine your house was burning, and you had only a few minutes to save the things you felt were irreplaceable. Assume people and pets were already safe, and you could only save what you could carry in one trip. What would you choose?

When I ask people this question, their responses tend to fall into one of three categories:

  1. Important documents
  2. Letters and/or photos
  3. Heirlooms

That “important document thing” is the most practical answer; when I ask someone to define “important documents”, they’ll list things like social security cards, birth certificates, title documents, and the like. It does make perfect sense to try to save certain paperwork for record-keeping or legal purposes, so kudos to you people who think with your heads.

Also, you’re in the minority.

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In De-Stress

There is more to life than increasing its speed. – Mahatma Gandhi

This week, I have an article published over on Forbes.com about ways to relieve stress in the workplace. I’d love it if you’d hop over there and have a read.

Just click here!

Diamond in the Rough

“I, myself, am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions”. – Augusten Burroughs

Raise your hand if you agree with the idea that “We’re all our own worst critics”.

Everyone’s hand up? Yes? I thought so.

It seems to be part of human nature that we all give more weight to our flaws, slip-ups and inadequacies than our good choices and successes. It’s not an entirely bad thing; we do need our brains to tell us right from wrong so that we learn the correct lessons in life. The issue, however, is that the mechanism rarely stops there and too often flows into destructive self-criticism.

“Hey”, your brain whispers as you lie awake in bed at night, “Remember that totally awkward remark you made the other day? Other people don’t say that kind of stuff. Your social skills are the literal worst. In fact, YOU are the literal worst”.

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Don’t (Con)Tempt Me

“Evil begins when you begin to treat people as things.” — Terry Pratchett, I Shall Wear Midnight

I recently had an, ahem, “conversation” with a well-loved young person in my life about appreciation and gratefulness. Or the lack thereof. (If you have teenagers, you’ve probably had some version of this same conversation.)

I had built a marvelous head of steam. “It’s not only that you don’t recognize my ongoing efforts to love and support you, it’s also that you actually seem to hold these things, and me, in contempt”. (Melodrama, party of one? That’s fine. I own it.)

I expected an eyeroll in response, but instead I got a puzzled look. “I literally have no idea what you’re saying. I don’t even know what that means”.

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