The Art of Talking To Strangers/When It’s Time to Throw Caution to the Wind

My daughters with cats
My daughters with cats

This weekend, I had an epiphany.

For the past twenty years, I’ve been talking to my now-grown daughters about things like stranger-danger and picking safe friends, later followed by picking a safe partner. And yes, it’s good to follow a sort of universal precaution about potential mates, given that 1 in 4 women in the United States are abused in an intimate relationship. Still, I may have gone overboard.

How can I tell, exactly?

So this weekend, when we went on a mother-daughter camping weekend, I watched their eyes widened when I began chatting up strangers. The Greek chef at local eatery who told them about life at home, and how. The berry-picker from Australia who’s living with her adult son in an old van for six months while they travel the United States.

I do it all the time when I travel. But at home, I avoid talking to strangers at all costs. I’m too busy, crankily making my way through the never-ending chore list at work and at home.

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My daughter with her cat.

We have to talk to strangers. To gain and maintain employment. To find love. To make new and interesting friendships that breathe life into our old ones. I find that when I’m vulnerable or relaxed, the better me is there, ready to chat with a stranger, ready to hear and remember their stories, ready to embrace the idea of a new adventure.

My daughters watched incredulously as I accepted the invitation to visit our new friends in their van, and I watched them relax into the conversation, where we learned about the Aussie mom’s solo travels to Iran, Syria, and Laos. Where we heard from the charming son how one travels with their mom in such a tight space without any obvious signs of hostility. We were inspired by our new friends. They’re now our Facebook friends. A travel link to Australia. Our inspiration when we’re elbowing one-another in our thimble-sized bathroom in the morning.

Today, blogger Nina at the Art of Simple Living Writes —

To start, make a point of talking to someone you’re acquainted with but don’t know very well. They’re familiar, but you still have to work to engage with them and build a relationship.

Get out of your environment

Home is cozy. It’s yours and you don’t have to talk unless you want to. But if you want to get out of your shell, you first have to get out of your environment and hang out with … other people. Scary, I know.

No really, I know.

But it’s the only way to meet people. Unless you want to start hosting dinners at your house, then go for it. But you can’t hide in the kitchen all night.

Get passionate

Would you rather talk with Emeril Lagasse about pork fat or Dave Ramsey about debt snowballs? That’s a trick question.

I would say both because of their passion about their respective topics, which draws people in (or repels them, which works out well for you in the end).

Sharing your passion with others, be it travel, cooking or simple living makes it easier for you to open up and more enjoyable for the person talking with you.

Tell a better story

One of my fears was that people would come say hi, then walk away because I was just so boring.

If you have a deep desire to come out of your shell, chances are your story might not be so hot. It’s ok. It’s never too late to change.

Life doesn’t have to be extraordinary all the time, but you should definitely start sprinkling in moments of awesomeness where you can.

Take dancing lessons, learn a new language, travel, volunteer, take up a new sport, move into a school bus. Sign up for something that sounds fun but scares your pants off.

Start living your life as the amazing story that it is. Once you feel truly alive, it’s hard to hide it. Relating to others is a natural by-product.”

 Perfectly said, Nina.

Safety is important. But we need one another to allow love and safety to meet.

Weekend Roundup

How have you been filling your summer days?

I took an impromptu trip to Talkeetna, Alaska this weekend and stayed at a charming  youth hostel there.  I love the connections and conversations when I’m in a hostel, and caught up on reading and writing.

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House of Seven Trees in Talkeetna, Alaska

Here’s what caught my eye this weekend in the topics that matter to me:

Domestic violence

How to Save Your Kids from Future Abusive Relationships– author Lois M.Collins draws a correlation between children who are bullied or bossed later becoming susceptible to becoming victims.

“Parents should help children build “extreme self-esteem.” Kids who see themselves as capable and loved more often avoid abuse.

Conversations with children about bullies and bossy friends can reinforce the idea that people don’t get to control others.”

International Child Abduction

New legislation to help victim-parents recover their kidnapped children has passed handily in the Senate.

The “Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act,” designed to bolster the government’s ability to help parents rescue abducted children taken overseas, now goes to the House for approval.

(For those of you who don’t remember, David Goldman is the dad whose son was taken illegally to Brazil to live with his mother, who then subsequently died. Five years passed before David Goldman was able to reunite with his son.)

“As a parent, I cannot imagine the emotional toll of having a child abducted and taken abroad and feeling helpless to get your son or daughter back,” said Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., who introduced the bill with Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. “I encourage my colleagues in the House to act swiftly to protect our children.”

Author’s comment:  As a parent of internationally abducted children, I can’t imagine that the government’s efforts towards anything other than kidnapping prevention will be useful. The government isn’t smart enough, rich enough, or powerful enough to manage such a complex issue. My past experience taught me the more government inserted itself, the more problematic finding solutions became. Let’s hope I’m wrong.

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Reuniting with Lost Family Members

Always my favorite subject, I love this story about a brother and sister reuniting after 50 years.

Their recognition of each other was immediate as they walked toward each other with open arms. After a long embrace, Roger leaned back and looked at Susan.

“She’s the best thing I ever saw,” he said, planting a brotherly kiss on the top of her head. “She was always my girl.”

And today,  I listened to July’s podcast from the National Association of Memoir Writers (NAMW) Roundtable event about PubSlush, the crowd-funding site specifically for writers. It’s an interesting concept that, according to their website, combines “a global crowdfunding and analytics platform for the literary world.”

If you’re a writer, or thinking about starting to write, do consider a membership at the NAMW. I learn something new every month.  On the column to the right, you’ll find a link I have on my site. It was a great, yet modest investment!

Thanks for connecting with me.

It’s Just Me, Picking Me/Taking the Advice of Blogger Jeff Goins

I like to think I’m a positive person.

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I wake up and give thanks every morning before I start my day.

I live intentionally, setting goals for each season that cover the different priorities in my life—family, volunteerism, fitness, financial, professional, and creative.

I redirect my negative self-talk when I notice it, a technique I learned when facilitating support groups for battered women in the early 90’s since often abused women repeat the insults to themselves long after their turbulent relationship has ended.

Once in a while, I even watch the Oprah Super-soul Sunday on OWN.

But let something that really means a lot to me happen, and I’m a hot mess.

For instance, I spend a lot of my post-work time writing. Writing this blog. Writing my novel. Re-writing my novel with my writing coach, Brooke Warner.Weeping over my unpublished memoir. And sending out the occasional query for my children’s picture book.

When I’m not writing, I feel guilty for doing too little on social media. I should be reviewing authors on Goodreads. Posting my blog on Linked In. Getting a Twitter account and tweeting.

Don’t get me wrong; I love writing, but in the last six months, it’s been a noose around my neck.

Then I checked my email yesterday and found this:

Hi Lizbeth!

I hope you’re well and enjoying the summer!

I just wanted to drop you a line to say that we LOVED your piece and would love to include it in our book!

We’re just finalising the running order then will get stuck into production, so are hoping to publish late summer.

All we need from you now is a bio. Each writer will have a bio at the start of their piece. I’ve popped an example down below. Feel free to promote anything you like, a website, blog, charity etc.

We’re so excited that our book is finally taking shape and getting ready to publish!

Thanks again, (for your submission and patience!) and have a lovely evening.

Best wishes.

Gemma

So finally, I’m having just a wee bit of success! And do you know what I thought?

What’s wrong with these people? Didn’t they read my story?

So much for positive. When it comes to writing, I’m reduced to being the new kid in junior high all over again. It’s not pretty, and it certainly isn’t inspiring or positive.

Then I read a post by blogger Jeff Goins called Stop Waiting to be Picked. In it, he writes:

You must pick yourself

The real trick is to not wait, but to pick yourself. To “turn pro” in your head (as Pressfield says). To believe you can do what you’re asking others to believe about you.

That’s how you become “legit” in the eyes of others. Not by waiting for acknowledgment, but by acting as if you already have it.

The crazy part: When you do this, you get the permission you’ve been waiting for. Not by asking for it, but by proving yourself. The paradox is you get what you’re desiring when you stop desiring it.

In other words, the less concerned you are with appealing to an audience’s sensitivities, the more appealing an audience will find you.

I love this guy! And the concept rings true.

I’ve decided to take it and run with it. I need to create my own success, and to push through my anxiety.

So if I request that you Like my Facebook Fan page, or add you to my Google Circles, please be patient, and know that it’s me. Picking me.

I’ll let you know more about the travel anthology when I get the information.

Have a great week!

How Do You Know When You’ve Found the One?

How do you know when you’ve found the one?

I’ve asked my successfully coupled friends and family at various times.

screen1136x1136It’s not like I would know. I haven’t had a relationship that’s lasted more than five years. Ever. And soon I’ll be fifty!

If you’re math challenged like I am, that means that only one quarter of my 32 adult years have been spent coupled.

(¼ of 32= 8.) And those eight years were made up by two relationships. Eek!

And yet?

Over the years, I have learned a lot about me and what I need, and even though I may go long periods without a date, my gut speaks to me immediately when a boundary is violated.

I don’t want to be rushed, crowded, or squashed.

I need to be listened to.

Feeling safe is a must. A potential partner must be in control of his own life. His financial, physical, and emotional fitness cannot be my responsibility, just as mine will never be his responsibility.

I want someone who looks to resolve conflicts, not to win them or be right.

I want someone who is positive and who is a planner. A person who emerges from a crisis with more insight. And who can tell me with ease what plans have been made for retirement. For aging. For the end of life.

photo 2(2)Do I ask too much?

Probably. But I can wait. I’ve waited 24 years since my divorce. After spending a lot of time with a new beau and his friends recently, I had the happy realization that no matter what happens, I do indeed have someone I’ve watched grow and evolve to embody the qualities I seek. Me!

As goofy as it sounds, I spent much of my youth thinking one day I would be rescued by the man of my dreams. I became an adult when I put more energy on becoming the woman of my dreams.

So how do you know you’ve found the one?

I can’t say for sure at the moment. But I do know I won’t torture myself in a search for anything less than what I offer. And I’ll do my best to enjoy the process.