The Blog

I don’t sing in the shower. I don’t sing in the car. I don’t even sing when everyone else is singing. I pretend to sometimes. It depends.

notesI made an exception to the whole “I don’t sing in the car” thing on my way home from my freelance writing classes at the University of Louisville. My professor became my editor became my friend, and from the moment we met I knew my life would never be the same. My happiness was almost too much to contain. I had to let it out somehow.

If there’s a better “tell” than that, you’ll have to let me know.

How do you know you’re in love?

When I attended a What Color Is Your Parachute? workshop many years ago I was struck by how much the job hunt resembles dating.

The parallels, they are endless. Desperation isn’t good. The more exposure you have to the great big world out there the better decisions you’ll make. Put your best foot forward, but don’t fake it -- lest you be stuck watching football, or fetching coffee, forever.

The most heartbreaking way job hunting resembles dating plays out with people who don’t think they deserve to be happy. They accept the first job they're offered, or marry the first person who asks. First doesn’t necessarily mean worst or even bad, of course. But if you haven’t played the field, how would you know?

How do you come off?
November 28, 2018

A tilt of the head. A twinkle in the eyes. A bit of tension in the air. Your body language speaks volumes, doesn’t it?

That’s what virtual communication, even with a visual component, lacks. That’s why I was eager to talk with Dr. Nick Morgan about his new book on the subject, Can You Hear Me?

Nick says there are ways to compensate for the lack of emotional subtext. If you want to make sure the message you intended is the one received, ask: “How did what I just say make you feel?”

Isn’t that a beauty? Wouldn’t it come in handy in person, too?

If you’ve been married more than a few months you can probably attest to how easily wires get crossed. Transmission problems aren’t limited to the virtual world, after all. Nick makes me wonder what a different world we’d all live in if we asked ourselves this question before speaking: “How is what I’m about to say going to make this person feel?”

You look both ways before you cross the street. Why not consider both sides of the conversation before you endanger each other’s (emotional) lives?

Someone who commented on a blog I read wondered how to thank people for the books they’ve written when it’s difficult to find mailing addresses for those authors.

Reviews, duh.

So I replied to that comment with, “Reviews!” I didn’t hit “send,” though. I knew I wanted to sound helpful, breezy, fun. What I’d written could’ve come across as bossy. So I added a smiley face. Much better. Maybe even perfect. I mean, who knows? There was no reply to my reply. But Dr. Nick Morgan was sure I’d done my best.

Nick’s the author of a new book on the perils of virtual communication, Can You Hear Me? He thinks an emoji’s a great way to add emotion to messages that can easily be taken the wrong way. Don’t let anyone tell you they’re silly. Coming off as bossy when you mean to be breezy? That would be silly.

Nick joined us on the show recently to talk about how to connect more deeply with people, virtually or otherwise -- and he shared what’s possibly the best relationship advice I’ve ever heard. You’ll hear it (read: read it) in my next post.

Are you soft?
November 17, 2018

new ChromeThis is what you see in Chrome, if you use that browser, when you delete your search history.

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

And, no. It isn’t, “Who deletes her browsing history unless she’s trying to hide something?” I’m not trying to hide anything, which I realize is exactly what I’d say if I was.

Search histories are, to me, another form of clutter. I’m not a fan. Even if I was, I wouldn’t want Google in charge of it.

Anyway!

Did you notice there’s no period at the end of the sentence in the photo? I’ve seen that often in my online travels. It might explain why, on a chat with a customer service rep recently, I left periods off the ends of sentences if I was typing one sentence at a time.
 
It was instinctive. It felt less harsh. Later I read that’s an important thing to consider when you’re texting. Too much punctuation is decidely not good.

Good to know!

What makes life fun?
November 16, 2018

Pick a child. Any child. Ask that child to explain the ideal way for the holidays to unfold. Would it mean a shopping trip with Mom or Dad on a random Saturday afternoon, where everything on a wish list is deposited into a shopping cart and taken home to play with? Or would it involve letters to and visits with Santa, weeks on end of wishing and dreaming and scheming?

Scenario two, duh.

Not knowing the outcome makes the season magical. Uncertainty makes it delicious.

The happiest grownups I know have a lot in common with little kids. They let their imaginations run wild, they’re wildly creative in pursuit of their dreams, and they stop at nothing. To crave certainty is silly, they know. They wouldn’t pay to see a movie where it’s clear from the beginning the hero gets everything he wants. They know they deserve a story at least as interesting.

It’s easy to forget what makes life fun when we’re in school because we’re usually rewarded for the right answers. After that, the spoils usually go to those who ask the right questions.

Here’s one. Why not surrender to the unknown? The unknown’s kind of in charge that way!

To listen to my sweethearts tease me, you’d swear I hadn’t been paying attention in driver’s ed. I’ve been known to “forget” to signal (in a parking lot!), treat stop signs as suggestions (in the distant past, for those of you in law enforcement), whatever.

I’ve been religious about following the rule to check my blind spot, though. I never move into the lane to my left without checking the rearview mirrors and turning my head around to look out the window for any vehicles that happen to be in that blind spot.

I’m alive today because of it. So are lots of other people. I’m sure of it.

Kind of makes me want to check a few other blind spots, metaphorically speaking!

One thing defined me as a mom. I didn’t pull rank. You can ask. I had to a few times, granted. But I hated it -- and Katie knew it. She knew I’d never say no to her unless I had a really, really good reason. She accepted that. Even when she really, really hated it.

I hadn’t realized just how much she’d hated whatever it was. Not until recently, when she brought up a smattering of those things -- to (get this) thank me for making the tough calls. She attributes much of her happiness, much of her emotional health, to those calls. She’s thankful I saved her from what she couldn’t see at the time, and she plans to do the same for her own children someday.

It was in that context she admitted just how unhappy she’d been for a while.

I had no idea. There hadn’t been any tantrums. Not one. “Nothing would’ve changed,” she told me. Which is true. Also true? There was nothing -- not even a sideways glance -- that would’ve told me how unhappy she was.

So much for knowing Katie. I apparently had not. I knew she was sweet, but this? She wasn’t about to let a little thing like not getting her way -- on big things! -- spoil a second of our time together. Not only that, but she didn’t call my attention to her unhappiness, and that’s what gets to me the most.

We have an expression, the two of us: “I love you so much it hurts.” The other night, after alluding to part of this story on the talk show, I had difficulty falling asleep. I couldn’t get over what a sweetheart Katie is. I wondered all over again how I got so lucky to be her mom. My chest hurt, literally hurt, at the thought.

I’m crying as I type.

It’s difficult to do the right thing. But once in a while someone might surprise you by telling you just how much she appreciated it. Eventually!