Saturday, December 3, 2011

Want to learn more about the introvert personality?

As a followup to my previous post on Introverts and holiday celebrations, here are some good resources:

The Introvert Advantage...How to Thrive in an Extrovert World by Marti Olsen Laney.
A great book packed with useful information if you want to understand the introvert personality better.

The Introvert's Guide to Success in Business and Leadership by Lisa Petrilli
A newly released e-book covering topics such as introvert marketing and networking, giving presentations and getting promoted.

An excellent article from Parents Magazine to encourage parents of introvert children. Lots of reassurance for worried parents and tips on how to affirm your child rather than striving to change them.

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
This bestseller is for people who really want to develop their people skills.  Although written in 1936 it has some timeless concepts.  Covers topics like "How to become a good conversationalist" and "How to handle complainers."

Photo: Vickers

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"Innies and outies" to navigate the season with introverts & extroverts

Decking the halls at your house yet?  Planning your December festivities?

It's good to consider that you most likely have two types of people in your life....extroverts and introverts.  If that is so, they probably have different ways they prefer celebrating special occasions.  

Extroverts love the glitz, socialization and excitement of activity.  Did you know introverts enjoy all that too, but on a smaller scale?  While an extrovert may love a full calendar of places to go and things to do, an introvert likes periods of "down time" in between so they can reflect and refresh their energy level for the next event. 

Before you give in to the things you always do this time of year, why not ask each member of the family what they would like to do to celebrate?  It's always good to tell them you are open to new suggestions and that just because "we always do that" doesn't mean we have to do it every year.  You might be surprised by the responses.

Ask each member of the family what 3 things they would like to do as part of celebrating Christmas this year.  This allows everyone to have input.

What things do family members enjoy doing together with just your family? What activities do they enjoy as part of a larger group or community?

"Giving" outlives "getting" when it comes to contentment.  Is giving to someone in need a part of your family celebration? 

What activities energize them?  What drains them?

Create an environment where every member of the family is heard.  Then put together activities that honor each family member's style of celebrating with some time in between for a "breather."  It's a good life exercise for all of us to consider each other.

I'm going to be on the radio this weekend!

Listen in on Saturday, December 3rd, 10AM PST to  Or if you are in Seattle, KGNW 820 AM. I'm the featured guest on "Coffee with the Coaches."  Hosts Suzanne, Laurie and I will be talking about meaningful celebration and how to make sure to include introverts in the action.  I'll be doing a give-away so you'll need to listen in and find out how to enter.  You can even call into the show to ask a question.

Hope you'll be listening in on Saturday morning!

Photo: Jones

Sunday, November 13, 2011

"Thank you" is more than a polite expression.

The blessings we recount usually revolve around the people in our lives and the basic necessities such as water, food and shelter.  I don't know about you, but I'm always surprised that in a world of so much "stuff" our true gratefulness seems to be focused on the daily blessings we often take for granted.  We see this concept in news interviews with families who survive natural disasters.  They talk about losing everything material, but being thankful their loved ones are still with them.

I've been wondering if gratefulness changes us.  When people survive a catastrophic event, I think it marks them in some way.  Some people are resilient and recover.  Others may be resentful.  I've never experienced a natural disaster or catastrophic event, but I still long for survivor-like gratefulness to change me from the inside out.

There was a woman in the Bible named Hannah who had gone through years of infertility.  In her culture infertility meant she was the object of ridicule and rejection.  After many years of asking God for a child, she finally gave birth to a boy she named Samuel, meaning, "God has heard."

Hannah's gratefulness was so overwhelming she decided to give him back to God for a life of service.  So after Samuel's young boyhood years, probably at about 12 years of age, she took him to the temple to be cared for and mentored by the priest, Eli, for a life of service to God.  Since the temple was a part of daily Jewish life, no doubt Hannah continued to spend significant time with her son.  And she gave birth to five more children so she had a busy life as a mother.  But Hannah was one grateful woman!  She didn't just say 'thank you." She expressed it through her actions.  Her thanksgiving was lived out very intentionally.

While I'm not advocating parting with your first-born child,  I do know that I want my appreciation, to be reflected in how I demonstratively love God, my family, friends, and the strangers in need around me.  As we pause to be grateful this month, may the reflections on our blessings be life-changing for all of us.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Going over and above....

With our immediate family spread from one end of the State to the other, we're looking for a central place to meet this year for Christmas.  We went online to the VRBO (vacation rental by owner) website to see what is available in a coastal area not far from San Jose.

Being former vacation rental homeowners ourselves, we've come to realize through our own experience renting vacation homes and listening to the appreciative comments of others, how much it means to people who book a house for a getaway to enter a home stocked with the necessities. People want to open cabinet doors and find things like salt & pepper, garlic powder, sugar, flour, cooking oil and  extra toilet paper.  Who wants to drive to town to buy a 5 lb. sack of flour when you only need one cup!

So I was a bit taken back when one reviewer of a property suggested future renters bring extra toilet paper with was a glowing review, by the way.  The reviewer said "remember this is a rental and not a full-time residence so they don't stock extras." Bring extra toilet paper when you are paying $300 a night?

What do you think?  Yeah, no big deal for us to pack an extra roll of toilet paper.  But it's the little things that make a difference and this is one of those situations where going over and above the norm makes a positive impression.

In the past couple years we've been the blessed recipients of people demonstrating going over and above. I'm thinking of real estate agents who didn't just put a sign in our yard, but worked their tail off to help us prep our house for listing in a slow market or the clerk in a lighting store who gave us a $40 item for free because we'd special ordered some other things from the business. And I can't fail to mention those who've gone out of their way to make us feel welcome and loved as new residents in our town.

Whether it's a business or a personal relationship, it's so easy for all of us to slip into the mediocre mode of comparisons and feel that something or someone doesn't warrant more. Or that worse yet, our generosity may not be somehow equally matched in the future.  What if we tweaked it the other way and actually gave more than is deserved?

To do much better than is necessary or expected....a great way to live!


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A "not what I signed up for" day

Yes, today is one of those days for me. We all have them.  Days like this put a major kink in the chain of expectations we've set for our lives.

13 1/2 months ago I became a grandmother....not in the usual way, however.  Instead of having a newborn placed in my arms, two little munchkins, 18 months and almost 4, came into my life by way of foster care.  Our son and his wife were drawn to foster/adopt and even though they have no children of their own yet, they chose this route first.  I admit Rich and I were a bit skeptical.  "You said you'd take two???"

Those kids grew on us pretty fast.  By the end of our first weekend with them, we'd fallen in love.  They were adoptable (what our kids specified when they applied to be foster parents) and just waiting for two sets of adoring grandparents and a flock of excited aunts, uncles and cousins. 

Our plans went awry about six months ago. The children are being returned to their birth parent this next week.  Today is our day to say goodbye.

This definitely was not on my calendar six months ago.  We're all going through the wide range of emotions associated with losing those we thought would be ours "for keeps."  We invested fully in them without reservation which is why these last few months have been painful at times.  Some days we wondered if we should hold back a little, but that was never really an option.  We were fully committed.

We've seen changes in their personalities, their countenance and how they relate to others.  A childlike lightheartedness has replaced the blank stares that questioned our character and motives. 

As I continued to unpack from our recent move, I read a journal entry from July 2004 where I wrote in detail 5 main goals for my life.  One of them included my thoughts about grandparenting.  I said, "I do not want to merely remember their birthdays and see them on special occasions.  I want to really know them and love them well."  I have done that.

While I will never understand the brevity of this journey, I am thrilled to have been a part of it, tears and all.  I've received more than I thought was ever possible.  I am more prayerful, quite scared, slightly hopeful, often mystified and frequently "ticked" at authorities with whom I may not agree. 

No, I did not sign up for this day...nor did my son and his wife, nor these children.  Yet, we are all better off having had these 13 1/2 months together.  Why can't they continue?  I don't know the answer to that one.  The writer of Ecclesiastes says it well...

"Take a good look at God's work. 
Who could simplify and reduce Creation's curves and angles to a plain straight line?  
On a good day, enjoy yourself.  On a bad day, examine your conscience. 
God arranges for both kinds of days so that we won't take anything for granted."
                                                                   (Ecclesiastes 7: 13-14 from The Message)

Photo:  Jim Jurica

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Finding your way in a new town

Moving to a new town or city is a major life change.  Relocating has it's challenges, rewards, joys and some sadness too.  I've come to realize that every place I've lived is unique and I can't go into a new environment and expect it to be just like the previous one.  This is my reality so I've put together my thoughts on how to navigate your way as you move to a new setting:

  • Try to look at a move as an adventure even though you may be experiencing some grieving.  While "leaving" means some sadness, going to a different place will mean  new people and fresh experiences, both work related and personal, that will enhance your life.  Look forward to the "good" even though you can't see it yet.  
  • Do some exploring.  Take time to see what your new area has to offer.  Most regions have publications that highlight entertainment, local businesses and organizations.  Research your new environment and see what it has to offer. 
  • Avoid making assumptions.  Instead ask questions.   You'll put your foot in your mouth fewer times by observing how people do things and asking questions if you are unsure of something.  Most people are more than happy to answer inquiries.  You are showing respect for traditions in your new surrounding by trying to understand their way of doing things.
  • Making friends takes time.  This is a tough one.  Often you have to be the one who is pro-active in the process.  Showing an interest in others and their lives will hasten the friendship process.  Take walks in your neighborhood, speak to people, introduce yourself and be positive in your comments.
  • Talk about your feelings with family members.  Children often need reassurance and a great deal of encouragement after a move.  My first move occurred in the middle of 8th grade and involved a 2,200 mile change from one home to another.  It's alot to process.  Keeping lines of communication open in your family will go a long way in facilitating a healthy adjustment for everyone. Some will adjust quicker than others. Sensitivity with one another helps greatly.
  • Keep in touch with old friends who will encourage you even though you don't live near them anymore.  We all have friends who boost our confidence levels and attitudes.  And we know others who may drag us down.  This is a time to stay in contact with those who have positive outlooks on life and have been through challenging changes and made healthy adjustments.  Their outlook will motivate you. 
  • Be patient with yourself in the process of adapting.  Depending on your personality and the magnitude of the change involved, it will likely take 1-2 years to be comfortable and feel settled in your new surrounding.  You may experience some disappointing realizations...joining an organization you think you'll like only to realize you don't share much in common with other participants, or trying different churches and struggling to figure out where you belong.  Don't give up.  Keep trying new things until you find something that is a good fit for you.

Most of us have one place we've lived that stands out with a special fondness. Enjoy those memories and realize that you can still be content and productive in other places.

Since the trauma of my first move in 8th grade, I've come to welcome the experience of relocating.  It increases my awareness of others and draws me closer to God as I rely on Him for wisdom and guidance.  I'm looking forward to making some new friends and seeking ways to participate in and serve my community.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Life in the Apple Tree

I climb an apple tree and slowly work my way up to the fruit-laden branches.  My mouth is watering as I imagine the crisp sweetness of the first bite of the shiny red fruit.  I have a dilemma.  I could easily pick a few apples that are not ripe yet.  They are convenient to reach and I wouldn't have to climb any higher or farther.  Going farther is risky.  What if I fall?  It looks like a precarious endeavor to get out to the ripest fruit at the end of the branch.  Should I climb higher or take what's easy to get hold of?  I decide I want nothing but the BEST.  So I take a deep breath and inch my way out toward the end of the branch.  As I slowly pass the other apples not yet fully ripe, I weigh my decision.  Am I crazy?  Alas, I am finally within inches of my goal....a beautiful red apple just waiting, waiting....

Taking risks has never been a natural thing for me.  As a child I'd been taught to play it safe.  But my years have been filled with all kinds of risky decisions.  Not careless risk, but heavy and calculated decisions involving how I will best use my resources, time and how much of myself I will give to others. I've found the longer I live the more risk opportunity lies before me.  Sometimes I hate it.  But I have to admit that each precarious step I take brings more confidence about going higher and farther.

I'm determined to go for the BEST in 2011.   How about you?

"No noble thing can be done without risks." Michel de Montaigne

"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." The Apostle Paul, written during his Roman imprisonment.