Saturday, October 5, 2013

Finding solid ground

Troy and I have talked about adopting from the very beginning of our relationship.  In the beginning it was more on the to-do list of dreams for the future.  “I would love to adopt someday.”  In our minds “someday” was way down the road.  Over the years “someday” got closer and closer.  I had no doubt that adoption was the right choice for us, but I just wasn’t ready yet.  Troy was becoming less patient with each passing year, but I still couldn’t say yes.  For years I prayed for God to instill in me the desire to become a mom.  I wasn’t getting there on my own and I needed his help.  I still felt like we needed more time.  I didn’t know what we needed more time for, because it wasn’t like we were doing anything, or had plans to do anything in the future that would require us to put off becoming parents.  I just knew that I could not say yes, I could not become a parent yet. 

Pressure – so much pressure.  Troy was so patient and understanding, but I could see how much it hurt him every time I told him “not yet”.  Family, friends, complete strangers – all asking when we were going to start our family.  Me, crying myself to sleep over and over again because I wasn’t living up the expectations everyone had for me.  Please God, fill my heart with the need to be a parent. 

I had a huge dream of going on a mission trip someday and I knew if it was going to happen it would need to be before we became parents.  Then my dream came true and I went to Jamaica and loved every minute of it!  I kept praying that this was what I had been waiting for and now I would finally be able to say yes.  I think Troy was secretly praying the same thing.  After I returned we sent off for an adoption packet from the state, but I couldn’t bring myself to fill it out and send it back.  I still couldn’t say yes.  Lord, please, it’s been years….are you going to help me out here?  What are the plans you have for me?  

Last year on my birthday (August) I prayed.  "Lord, where do you need me?  What do you want me to do?  I truly believe that if I was meant to have kids right now you would have given them to me, but you haven't, and that's ok.  But where do you need me?  What are you plans for me?  What do you need me to do?  I'm putting this next year in your hands.  Guide me to where you need me most.  I am lost and need you to show me the way."

I had spent years on shaky ground -  not knowing what to do, or where I belonged.  

This past April some kids who are like family to us were temporarily placed into foster care.  They were safe, living with family, but a light bulb went off and we (ok, me) knew that our time was finally here.  We didn’t know what our future held or if those kids would ever end up in our home, but I knew God was finally telling me it was time.  We called the state to find out what we needed to do so we could adopt kids - any kids.  We had not really discussed being foster parents before, but we prayed about it and decided that we would do whatever God needed us to do for kids in need.  I was nervous, but I was moving forward with faith that I was traveling the path God had laid out for me. 

"When you walk to the edge of all the light you have and take that first step into the darkness of the unknown, you must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for you to stand on, or you will be taught to fly."

In June we had our first meeting with a social worker and were told that due to some changes happening within the organization we would not be able to start our 9 weeks of mandatory classes until October.  That meant that by the time all the paperwork was done the earliest we would be seeing any kids in our home was January 2014. 

A few weeks later I sat on the couch next to Troy and cried.  I couldn’t do this.  We had just wrapped up a camp where we had spent a significant amount of time working with kids and it went terribly, horribly wrong.  I felt like it was a test and I had failed…miserably.  I was still nervous about the thought of becoming foster parents – how would we ever be able to meet the many needs of those kids?  I sat on the couch, crying and praying, telling God I needed to know what to do next.  I was lost and I wanted to quit.  I asked him to please give me a sign – reassure me that it was ok to quit, or tell me to keep pushing forward.  Right then my phone dinged – I had a new voicemail.  (Why didn’t my phone ever ring?  It didn’t show a missed call.)  I wiped away my tears and punched in the number to check my new messages.   It was from our caseworker.

“Hi, Misty.  I just found an opening for you to take your classes in another county starting in 3 weeks.  Instead of 9 weeks of Tuesday evening classes you will be taking 2 classes a week, back to back on Saturdays, getting done in half the time”

We were mentally prepared to start classes in October.  Now our last class would be August third.  God not only gave me an (immediate) answer – he told me to go and do it now  - right now!  God had a specific plan for us, and he didn’t have time for me to sit around questioning him.

Over the next month I felt like I had a direct line to God.  Every single time I asked for his help he responded immediately. 

“God, are sure this is what you want me to do?”  He responded with a free bed. 

“God, are you sure I’m the right person for this?  Do you have me mixed up with someone else?”  He sent me some more beds -  bunk beds.

“God, I’m feeling overwhelmed.  Are we still doing this?”  Misty, I’m sending you kids and they will need a dresser.  Someone will deliver it later today. 

“God, today is the first day of class and I’m scared.  What if we walk in and realize we’re not like everyone else?  What if it’s obvious we don’t belong?”  We walked into class and saw familiar faces – friends who were also wanting to become foster parents.  We belonged….

 Class day was my favorite day of the week and I was sad when the classes ended.  

I could go on and on with examples of ways God reassured me and kept nudging me forward.  I started to get real comfortable on the path I was on.  I was excited and I felt like I had found my calling in life.   This is what I was meant to do – I was going to be a foster mom!
Those kids I mentioned earlier? Once again they needed a place to stay, this time for longer, and not as foster kids. My heart was torn because I felt like I needed (and wanted) to be there for those kids, but at the same time God had very much led (drugged, pushed, pulled) me down the path to become a foster parent. These kids were not foster kids. What was I supposed to do? Are these the kids he had in mind for me? He did a lot of work to make sure I became a foster parent – why would he put these kids in front of me? They were not foster kids. This was not the plan I had made with God.

We needed to make a decision pretty quick and I did a lot of praying in that short amount of time. I knew what the right decision was, but I needed God’s reassurance. I needed to know I was not abandoning the plan he had for me.  
 Our home just grew by three!

I know now the reason we ended up taking those classes in a different county, at the double the speed, 3 months ahead of schedule.  The knowledge we gained, the resources we obtained, and the people we met in those classes were all part of our preparation for these kids.  This is where God was leading me.  The kids moved into our house the day after our last class.  We completed our classes Tuesday night and moved the kids in Wednesday morning.  Talk about God's timing!  They have been in our home now for 8 weeks and I don’t know what the future holds, but if they were to leave tomorrow I would still say it was worth it. 

It was worth all the years of telling my husband “not yet”, because I know that God needed us to wait because he needed us in this place at this time. When my birthday came around this year the kids had been living with us for 3 weeks and as I reflected on the past year of my life I knew that it was no accident I was celebrating my birthday with these three. 

And I thanked God - for the many answered prayers, for the guidance, and for the wonderful path he laid out for me.  What an amazing life I am so lucky to be living!  Every day, no matter how hard it has been (or how tired I am), I am thankful that God made us wait so that we could be right here in this moment.  Each day is a gift.  

I don't know what the future holds.  I don't know how long we will be blessed with these kids, or if we will ever have more kids in our home, but I know we're not alone.  God has a plan and he will lead us to where he needs us most.  

Although this is the story of how we became parents for the first time, it is about so much more.  This is about me doing the work God has called me to do and having faith he will see me through.  I am standing on solid ground.  

Jesus, you're my firm foundation
I know I can stand secure.
Jesus you're my firm foundation. 
I put my hope in your holy word, 
I put my hope in your holy word.

I have a living hope.
I have a future.
God has a plan for me.
Of this I"m sure, of this I'm sure.

Jesus, you're my firm foundation.
I know I can I can stand secure.
Jesus, you're my firm foundation.
I put my hope in your holy word, 
I put my hope in your holy word.  

You're word is faithful.
Mighty in power.
God will deliver me.
Of this I'm sure, of this I'm sure.  

Jesus, you're my firm foundation.
I know I can stand secure.
Jesus, you're my firm foundation.
I put my hope in your holy word.
I put my hope in your holy word.  

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Looking for that pot of gold

Pot of gold coins. isolated on white. Stock Photo - 9834235

Six months ago we went on the Dave Ramsey diet.  At least that's how I look at it. When we started I was hopeful, yet somewhat pessimistic about the whole process.  I wanted it to work, but it didn't seem like something that was realistic for us.  If we were 10 years younger with about 75% less debt then we would have been perfect candidates for the Dave Ramsey plan...or at least that's how it felt.  

One of the first tasks we were given was to get $1000 into savings, and Dave seemed to think we could do this in a month's time.  I believe he even said something to the effect that we probably already had $1000 laying around, we just needed to move some money around or have a yard sale.  What world does he live in that a yard sale brings in that kind of cash? Not in my world, that's for sure.  

I remember standing in the parking lot after that particular class and laughing at Dave because he thought I could come up with $1000.  We currently had $27 in our savings account, and we were honestly proud of ourselves for having something (anything!) in there.  We knew it wasn't much, but if we had $1000 in there we wouldn't be taking the class.  If we had $1000 we would be financially responsible people who didn't need to take a class about how to manage our money.  (feel free to laugh at us for that statement.  Sorry, laugh WITH us.)

I may have been making jokes about the the millionaire in the video who thought I could come up with that kind of money (so much money), but inside I was terrified.  I was worried that this first step was going to be the end of us.  I was scared to death that this program wouldn't work for us and we would be back into our old routine before we knew it.

It took us around 5 months to get that $1000.  Every time we got close enough to see the finish line something happened and we were forced to spend some of that money.  We were torn between being amazed that we had enough money to pay for whatever needed fixed and feeling that we were never going to  finish what was supposed to be accomplished so easily according to Dave.  The amazed feeling won out and we kept pushing ahead. 

Lesson learned: it feels good, really good to have money to pay for something in case of emergency.  $1000 now feels like it's not enough.  It's hard to believe that just 6 months ago having $1000 in savings felt about as likely has finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

You've got mail

I spotted these cute little mailboxes for just 30¢ each on clearance at Target recently.  They were too cute (and too cheap) to pass up!  Currently they reside in our living room, but I imagine they will move around the house as time passes.  

I added a bowl of markers, note cards, and little slips of paper next to the mailboxes.  The goal is to leave notes for each other inside the mailboxes (we each have our own) and raise the flag to let the other person know.  

Troy's love language is "words of affirmation" and because of that he is a natural at saying sweet things to me.  I need help speaking his love language, so the cute mailboxes, markers, and fun striped cards are for me.  I hope he will use them as well, but this bright bowl and those adorable mailboxes sitting in our living room are a constant reminder for me to speak my husbands love language.  

Don't forget to do random acts of kindness for the people you live with!  

Monday, February 18, 2013

RAK Week

Watching a video of kids doing RAK's.  

Today is the first day of Random Acts of Kindness week.  You know I couldn't let that one go by without shouting it from the rooftops.  Random acts of kindness are kind of my thing.  

We kicked the week off a day early with our Sunday school class yesterday.  We talked about RAK's, watched a video of other kids their age performing RAK's, and thought of ways Jesus started the whole RAK movement himself.  And then it was time for them to do their first RAK of the week - pass out candy to the whole congregation!  As I watched those kids pounce on the adult class as soon as that door was opened, search the bathrooms to make sure everyone in there got a piece of candy, and welcome every single person to church that morning with the message "God loves you" I knew this was the beginning of a good week.

Bringing a smile to someone's face is contagious.  Those kids were smiling the whole time they passed out candy.  This week I'm going to create some smiles for myself - for my own face - by giving others a reason to smile.

I have a few things planned for this week - a few not-so-random acts of kindness.  I'm also going to be on the lookout for some truly RANDOM acts I can do.   Will you join me in spreading a little kindness around?

Side note: Troy pointed out every (unintentional) random act of kindness the kids did in class yesterday.  What a great way to start the movement - thank others for being kind to you.  They may not even realize what they've done, but your thank you will stick with them and encourage them to do it again.  

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Thankful Thursday 02-14-13


  • Valentine's week - when it's ok to doodle hearts on everything.  
  • Our amazing Sunday school kids telling me to put on my "sassy pants" before talking to the whole congregation.  
    • How well the kids themselves did during our portion of the service.  
  • New jewelry every day this week thanks to my Paparazzi Accessories party.
  • Reaching a goal that we've been working towards for months.
  • Sleeping until the alarm goes off.  
  • I love when my boss allows me to make the decision on what needs to be ordered (and from where).  It feels good to know that she trusts me and my opinions.  
  • I'm not big on celebrating Valentine's day, but I sure do love all the hearts, pink, red, and lovey-dovey stuff all over the place.  It's all so girly and happy!
  • Early mornings.  I love being out and about while everyone else is still asleep.  I love driving by houses with just one light on and imagining a parent quietly getting ready for work without waking the kids.  I love walking into work with all the lights still off - work is different place first thing in the morning.  I love the quiet, the stillness, and even the smell of early mornings.  

Happy Valentine's Day!  

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Homemade valentines

I had a group of awesome ladies over to my house on Sunday and they were kind enough to make these Valentine's cards for a good cause.  The cards will be delivered to the kiddo's at Children's Mercy Hospital.  I love that my life is full of people that are willing to take the time to do such a kind act.  

Here are some sweet ideas to brighten the day of a kiddo in your life:

  • Heart shaped breakfast .... toast (french or regular), pancakes, eggs in a heart shaped basket
  • Help your daughter paint her fingernails pink/red.  Bonus points if there's glitter in the nail polish!
  • Write them a love letter: the top 10 things I love about you
  • Strawberry milk with a crazy straw
  • Help them make homemade valentines to give to someone who they think may be lonely.  
  • Give them a coloring book and crayons with a card that says "you COLOR my world"
  • A new toy car with a note that says "have a WHEELIE good Valentine's day"
  • A single flower in a vase to put on their nightstand.  
  • Heart shaped pizza for dinner
  • Put a "love jar" somewhere in your house and have everyone write down things they love about the other people in the family during the day, and add them to the jar.  Take turns reading them out loud at dinner.
  • Play a game, perhaps Candy Land?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Mini fruit pizza bar

This makes me happy.

Make your own mini fruit pizza.  

Sugar cookies, assorted fruit, cream cheese frosting, raspberry m&m's.  We had assorted berries, mandarin oranges, and pineapple for our fruit offerings.  I just used a store bought mix for the sugar cookies.  I did not add the water it called for on the recipe because I wanted the dough to be a little stiff so it would hold the shape better.  I coated my hands with powdered sugar and then rolled the dough into balls, and flattened them out on the cookie sheet.  This worked great since I needed large flat cookies to make the pizza's.  

Put everything into pretty bowls and sit back and watch the creative ways people assemble their personal sized fruit pizza.  

I had these for a party at my house yesterday and they were a big hit.   

Friday, February 8, 2013

Extra cupcake????

When we did the RACK challenge a few years ago one of the random acts of kindness I did was to give all of my filled stamp/punch cards people I don't know.  You know those cards you get stamped each time you visit the coffee house (restaurant, etc), then once it's full you get something for free?  I have continued giving these away every since.  It's a simple way to make someone else's day, and it doesn't cost me anything.  

On this particular day I was purchasing cupcakes and I really wanted to complete the card.   With this particular company I have always handed my completed card back to the employee and asked them to pay it forward to a random customer later in the day.  Surprise someone with a free cupcake!  I even purchased an extra cupcake so that I would spend enough to fill out that stamp card.  Nothing wrong with an extra cupcake right?  

Due to a misunderstanding on my part I did not get enough stamps to fill out my card and pay it forward that day.  I was bummed.  Super bummed.  

One the way home that evening I was telling Troy about how I tried to do a good deed and failed.  I went on and on about how depressing it was to not be able to pass over that filled stamp card for a free cupcake.  And on top of that I had spent extra money on a cupcake - money I didn't need to spend.  I'm pretty sure all he heard was "extra cupcake".  Where was that extra cupcake I bought because he was hungry and a jumbo sugar rush sounded perfect to him.

Extra cupcake?  I had given it away.  Someone at work was having a bad day and I invited them to a "cupcake break".  Let's eat a lot of sugar and forget about work for a few minutes.  

And then my brilliant husband says, "so you spent the whole day upset that you didn't get to give away a FREE cupcake, but you had no trouble giving away the one you paid for?  Do you really not see what happened there?"

I was so busy throwing myself a pity party that I didn't even realize what had happened.  Because I had misunderstood the stamp policy I had purchased an extra that I didn't need.  Because I had a cupcake I didn't need (not that I ever NEED a cupcake) I was able to turn someones day around.  

Perhaps God knew my random act of kindness needed to not be quite so random that day.  

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Thankful Thursday 02-07-13

  • The sweet new apron I got at the chili cook-off.  Troy is fighting me for it.  I told him if he ever cooks he can wear it :)
  • Taxes done!
  • Experimenting with smoothies for breakfast.  Troy is much more adventurous than me with his green smoothies.  The bravest I've gotten is adding a banana to my vanilla protein shake.  I will admit that his smoothies are pretty tasty though.  
  • An email from a new friend, comforting me, and sharing her own personal struggles.  
  • A new pink elephant candy dish to brighten my living room
  • Wedding cake cookies 
  • All the amazing, sweet comments I've received this week from blogging.
  • A friend to laugh with when everything around us seems out of control.  
  • Seeing my name printed in a book.  I wrote a short (2-3 sentences) review about 31 Days of Forgiveness and it was chosen to be printed at the beginning of the book.  
  • Thrift store shopping with my honey.  He got 3 pairs of pants and 2 shirts for less than the price of 1 shirt at a store.  We love saving money!
  • Over 100 hits in less than 24 hours on yesterday's blog post.  

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Forgiveness...and a giveaway!

This giveaway has closed..  Scroll down to the bottom to see if you won.  

31 Days of Forgiveness (through the eyes of grace) by Tracie Stier-Johnson

Forgiveness is not something I have ever struggled with...or so I thought.

Recently I realized that the reason I am struggling with one person in my life is because of forgiveness. I have said many times (to myself and others) that we need to forgive for ourselves because we get more from releasing that anger than the other person does. Often times they do not even realize they are waiting for our is simply moving forward for them, while we are stuck in the past.

I did not understand why this person would not forgive me. I was spending way too much each and every day near tears (and in tears) waiting for forgiveness.

Recently a blog friend, Tracie Stier-Johnson,  asked if I would read her new book and consider writing a review about it. The title of the book....31 Days of Forgiveness. I had been praying every single day for God to help me find peace and then this book drops into my lap. As I look back on it now it should not be a surprise that the very first thing I highlighted in the book was "You know how God prepares us for something? We may not know it at the time, but as the days, weeks, months, and years pass we can look back and say, 'Ahhhh, so that's what God had up his sleeve!" I was in the right place (even though it felt like the wrong place) to get the most out of this book.

So what did I get out of this book? I needed to be the one to forgive. It doesn't matter if she gets angry with me again every day - I can't control her emotions. I can control mine. It's not easy, and sometimes I have to remind myself to forgive multiple times a day, but it's helping. It's helping me to stop focusing on how she makes me feel and to remind myself that I am in charge of my own destiny. I make the decision to have a good day or a bad day each morning and part of choosing a good day is to forgive her for all those small insignificant things during the day and let it go.

In the book, on day 20, Tracie talks about how often we need to forgive. She refers to the bible (as she often does throughout the book) where Jesus tells Peter to forgive "seven times seventy"....or as Buzz Lightyear would say "to infinity and beyond!" There is no limit to how often we should forgive someone. Realizing that helped me come to terms with forgiving on a daily basis if needed.

Things are still not perfect, but there is progress. I am selfishly taking the credit for that progress. It is because I am willing to forgive that I am able to move forward. I literally stop and say "I forgive you" when times get tough. Forgiving and moving on has made such a difference in my outlook on the rest of the day.

Forgiveness is a favor we do for someone whether they ask for it or not. Whether we think they deserve it or not. Forgive anyway! There are many times I do not think that she deserves my forgiveness (and trust me, she is not asking for it), but I do it anyway and then I am able to release my anger and the world is a happier place.

Prize Time!  Want to win all of these fabulous gifts?  One lucky person is going to get all three of these lovely  prizes!

1. A copy of 31 Days of Forgiveness.  Even though I own a Kindle I have a weak spot for real books, and would love to have this one sitting on my side table.  

2. Some sweet post it notes from Day Spring.  I always keep my eye out for cute new post it notes for my desk at work.  These would be perfect!   

3. That adorable owl pillow from Button Bird Designs.  The bright colors are just what I need to remind me that spring is just around the corner.

To enter leave a comment on this post.  Easy right?  Make sure to include your name.  A link to your blog/website/email will make it easier for me to find you.  

Want to increase your chances of winning?  You can earn up to 4 additional entries by sharing this blog post on facebook, twitter, instagram, or your own blog.  Leave an additional comment letting me know about each time you shared this page.  (ex: I just shared your blog on facebook!)  Be sure to leave a separate comment for each time you "share".  

Contest entry deadline is 11:59 pm Friday (2-8-13).  Winner will be announced on this page Saturday morning and the winner will have 48 hours to respond to me before a new winner will be chosen.  Bookmark this page and check back Saturday morning.  

Bonus:  31 Days of Forgiveness is available for Kindle on Amazon for FREE for a limited time.  Other reading options can be found on the book's website.

Double Bonus: All the proceeds from this book will go to The Seed Company - a company that translates the bible into the multiple languages around the world.  The paperback version would be a great addition to a church library.

A winner has been chosen via

Congratulations!!!  Please contact me with your address in the next 48 hours to claim your prize.  

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Sunday School

I will praise God's name in song and glorify him in thanksgiving. -Psalms 69:30

We used that scripture in our Sunday school class the week of Thanksgiving, but I love it so much I want to have it displayed at all times.  It feels like us - our whole class, teachers and students.  We do a lot of singing, and our prayers are full of thanksgiving.

Troy and I turned down the first invitation to be Sunday school teachers.  We didn't think we were up to the challenge and felt as though there were others that were better suited to take on that role.  We talked about it many times over the year that followed that first invitation, and so when we were asked again a year later we both knew the answer would be yes right away.  We still talked it over, but I don't think there was every in doubt with either one of us that the final answer would be yes. 

We have weeks where we high-five each other on our way out of class, congratulations for a job well done.  There are just as many weeks where we are hoping no one will ask the kids how class went today because it was chaotic.  No matter which end of the spectrum we're on that week, good or bad, we are still talking about it on the drive into work Monday morning...and Monday night...and Tuesday morning...  We are constantly brainstorming ideas.  How do we keep this kid entertained wihout overwhelming that one?  How do we gently encourage this one to share his thoughts and keep that one from blurting out the answers to every question right away?  What can we do to make this part of the lesson memorable?  How do we know if they took anything away from our class today?  Is there a song to go with that?  Can I create a song to go with that? How do we get them excited to come to class?  Are they learning enough? 

As it turns out, teaching Sunday school with my husband anchors our relationship a little more each week.  Troy is much more knowledgable about the bible than I am, and I am a good storyteller.  He constantly reminds me that the kids needs to see us read out of the bible, and they need to practice reading out of it themselves, even those big hard words.  I agree, he is right, and I am thankful he is there to remind me of that each week.  I then remind him that the bible is sometimes hard for adults to follow, and children especially need help understanding those big hard words.  I will retell the story in a way that (we hope) will make more sense to them. 

Troy keeps me on track.  I keep the class moving.  Troy finds a scripture that works with our weekly lesson and writes it on the board each week.  I figure out a way to turn that scripture into a game when we have 5 minutes of extra time at the end of class and nothing prepared. Troy takes attendance while I help the kids with a craft project.  We are a team, we work well together, and I don't want to do it without him.

After class on Sunday morning I am full of energy and am so thankful that we said yes to being Sunday School teachers.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Super Bowl Party

Our church has a Super Bowl party every year.  Three people watch the game while everyone else eats food and visits.  I don't know how many people watch the game, but it feels like most people are more interested in the food than who is winning the game.  Whether they care about the score or not, they still show up for the party and we all have a good time.  

This year we entered the chili cook-off.  I made my pumpkin chili which is super healthy.  Ground chicken, lots of veggies, and of course pumpkin.  There were nine pots of chili and all so different, yet I liked all of them.  Who knew there were so many different ways to prepare a pot of chili?  

We love getting together with our church family.  Sundays are quickly becoming my favorite day of the week.  

Sunday, February 3, 2013


I can't even begin to tell you how many times I have sat down at the computer to write a blog post and stared at a blank screen for hours.  I have been struggling to keep up contribute anything at all to this blog, which makes me sad because I truly enjoy writing here.  There are excuses, poor excuses and I know it, but I'm going to share them with you anyway.

Time.  I spent a lot more time in 2012 saying "yes" and all those activities I said yes to took up more of my time.  We were busy in 2012 and it felt like we had something going on every weekend.  I actually had to use my calendar to keep track of things.  In the past I just had a calendar because it gave the appearance that I'm an organized person.  Last year I had to actually be an organized person.  I was busy...but I still found time to sit on the couch and watch 8 hours of Downton Abbey in one day.  My priorities are not in order.

Trouble finding the "sweetness".  I have been sad, frustrated, lonely.... I have had a hard time finding the sweet spot in every day.  I'm going to share more about this on Wednesday, so come back then to read about how I'm changing my view.

I just went through and deleted a bunch of blog posts that were never published because I didn't think they were good enough.  It's time to stop being so critical of myself.  This is my blog and if I want to write about the Super Bowl party I'm heading out to in a few minutes then I should be able to write about it.

There are blogs I read every day, even if it means I have to get up early to get them all read before going to work.  My favorite blogs don't write about the same things every's just about their life.  They may have a theme they try to keep up with, but there are plenty of days when they go off topic and just write about whatever is on their mind.  I want one of those blogs.  I want to write about whatever comes to mind without the (self induced) pressure to make sure it's "sweet" and meets a certain word count.

There may be days where I simply post a picture and 1-2 sentences.

There will be days when I tell you about the cute thing one of my nieces/nephews did.

There will be days I will write long posts about nothing, or about everything.

Thankful Thursday will come back.

 I will fail and I will come back.  I love looking back on my previous posts and I want to have more to look back on.  I will keep writing, even if I'm the only one reading.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Charm School

I recently read The Power of Charm as an e-book through my employer.  I often feel the pull of “self-help” books drawing me towards them, and away from the romance novels rest of the bookstore.  On a quest to learn more about people it is no surprise that I, in turn, discover things about myself and strive to make some of the more positive attributes part of my own.  A book about charming people?  Charming sounds magical, after all Mr. Prince Charming himself was in a magical fairy tale.  I want a piece of that magic! 
What makes people charming?  Who am I charmed by?  What does it mean to be a charming person?  Can anyone be charming, or is it a quality some people just naturally have and others admire?  So many questions!
So, what did I learn from this book?  Charming people are good listeners - they make people feel valued.  The book covered many tips to “win anyone over in any situation” and it always came back to being a good listener.  Pay attention (!), make eye contact, repeat what the person said.  Make the person talking feel as though they are the only thing that matters to you in that moment.
Yeah I know I should be a good listener, and I know what I need to do in order to be an active listener.  Each and every day I fail - often many times.  I want to be a better listener, and as a result a more charming person.  I know what I need to do, but it is good to remind myself what those qualities are that I am striving to obtain.  Reading books like this are a good reminder.   
In the book there is an example of a man and woman talking at a party.  Later the woman mentions to her husband what a great conversationalist and how charming the other man was.  The husband, having paid close attention no doubt, noticed that the other man barely spoke during the whole conversation.  He was an exceptional listener.  By using the power of charm he made that woman feel as though she was the most interesting person in the room.  I want people to experience that with me.  I want them to walk away feeling special.  I want them to be charmed by me. 

I have slipped into an area where I pride myself on multi-tasking. Yes, I can listen to you AND check Facebook at the same time. That is not a charming quality to have, so I’m working on it. For me that means being in the moment. I've started practicing on innocent bystanders at work, at the grocery store, as I place my order at a restaurant.  They have no idea that I'm workin' the charm, or attempting to anyway.  I make a better effort to ask questions about them to keep them talking in hopes that they will realize that they are important.  The trick is that you have to really feel as though they are worth your time, because anything less is a waste of time for both of you. 

People are important, even the ones we barely know.  When it's all said and done what people are going to remember about you is not what you did, but how you made them feel. Make them feel special.

I read an article recently (sorry, I can't find the source) where the author was discussing how to be more likable.  My take-away: let people be better than you.  You don't have to win - try to lose.  I am not super competitive, but at the same time I don't TRY to lose.  This doesn't mean that you put yourself down or do anything to shed a negative light on yourself, you just focus on letting the other person shine.  Stop trying to top their story, don't follow up with an example of your own, just let them have all the glory in that moment.  Be impressed by them and give them a compliment. 

Make it a habit to include a compliment in every conversation you have.  In this case a thank you counts as a compliment, buy only when it's specific.  Thank you for taking the time out of your day to talk to me.  Thanks for quickly refilling my drink.  Compliment the bank teller, your coworkers, and your spouse.  Force yourself to say one nice thing about everyone you talk to.  Say it out loud and say it directly to them.  Some people are going to get multiple compliments each day.  Those people are a big part of your life (whether you like it or not) and they need to hear good things from you. 

What's ironic is that when you start charming other people - making them feel special - you will start to feel special as well.  As people smile at you, laugh at your jokes, make eye contact, and share those big (and small) moments of their lives I promise that you will feel special.  You will start noticing the good in others, and you will be made aware of their struggles.  You will see and hear things you missed before, and you will be better because of it. 

Create more happiness in your own life by changing the way you interact with others.  Be charming.