Looking for Fellow Conspirators…

With social media so rampant and news media able to communicate so quickly, information gets delivered at a much faster pace.  In the past, information came from the 6 o’clock news or the morning newspaper.  Now you can learn about any published report, from any corner of the world, in seconds.

This technological advancement comes at a cost.  First, there are many inaccurate reports, so you have to vet out the rumors and theories from the facts.  Secondly, you can support virtually any argument or belief.  This is great if you are trying to support the idea that there are more good people in the world, than bad.  This is depressing if you’re trying to support the idea that there are more bad people in the world, than good.

I believe that which we focus on, is our truth.  As I’ve stated in previous posts, I don’t want graphic pictures of abuse or neglect to assault my world.  It’s not that I doubt their existence; it’s simply that I don’t need to SEE it.  It only serves to add negativity to my world.  I CHOOSE to live in a place of light.  Dark may enter it, but I try to determine how much of that I allow in.

December 14th, 2012, and the days immediately following, were some of the darkest days I’ve ever experienced.  I and many of my former hometown classmates were devastated by the loss of 26 lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  In my grief, I immersed myself in anything related to this.  Online, TV, radio, I couldn’t miss one single detail.  In retrospect, this was an entirely unproductive exercise.  It helped catapult me from sorrow to depression.

Viewing these reports (some rumors, some theories, some true) caused me to see my world from a perspective that only served to ‘prove’ that bad things happen to good people.  What you focus on becomes your ‘truth’.  If you focus on the bad in this world, your perspective is going to view everything from this angle, which will make you feel anger and want to share that anger with others. Likewise, if you focus on the good in this world, your perspective will view things this way, which will make you feel good and want to share that goodness with others.

This mindset is not intended to encourage ignorance or oblivion.  You have to be smart and balanced, but if you continually view media that is negative, you will ‘live’ in a negative place.  There are more than enough reports to support conspiracy theories, but there is equal publicity on ‘do-gooders’ as well.

If your intent is to make a difference, focus on those areas where you can effect change.  Posting that Africa has starving children or the US has ‘crooked’ politicians does NOTHING, unless you back it up with peaceful, intelligent action and non-confrontational education.  Tell me how I can use good to improve those situations.  Making donations, writing to my representatives or any other positive actions I can take.

I’m all for awareness and protests and expression, but if your only form of action is posting it on social media or sharing your unsolicited views at the water cooler, than you haven’t really made any positive difference at all.  Do something positive and productive or shut the “F” up about it.  This sounds harsh and may erroneously imply that I’m unwelcoming to opposing views.  I would just rather pay attention to those good aspects of this planet, and if I feel passionately about a negative, I will do my part to improve it by taking peaceful action.

Won’t you ‘conspire’ with me to do, and spread, goodness and positivity?  Tell me what YOU are doing to make a difference.  Perhaps instead of focusing on how the wealthiest country in the world has such a high homeless population, you can tell us about volunteering at the food bank.  You get the idea.  Comment and share the action you’re taking to make this world a better place.

Mom and Her Cape

My mom drives me crazy sometimes. Just like I drive her crazy sometimes. I’m considered by almost anyone who knows me to be very non-judgmental. We all have our demons, yet I find that I throw the stone a little harder at my mom and the demons she occasionally dances with. Like she’s Superwoman or something. Like she doesn’t have the right to have weaknesses and shortcomings like the rest of us. But see, she was Superwoman to me. So on this Mother’s Day I’d like to honor her by thanking her for her superpowers:

So Mom, Thanks for:

  • Standing up to the neighborhood boys that bullied me even though you hate confrontation
  • Always telling me I was pretty (and meaning it), even when my teeth were bigger than my face
  • Having all sorts of interesting Reader’s Digest Condensed books to feed my need of reading
  • Having a delicious dinner on the table 5 nights a week
  • Letting me bring home any and all friends that made any sort of claim of abuse or neglect
  • Leaving with me through the ‘early exit’ door of the haunted house several years running, even though you really wanted to go through the whole house
  • Letting us build forts in the living room using dining room chairs, every sheet and blanket in the linen closet and laughing with, or providing instructions to, us
  • Teaching us all sorts of ridiculous superstitions, like wishing on a hay filled truck or an eyelash or saying “Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit” before uttering any other words on the first day of the month
  • Letting me take the car, even when I was being a snotty, bratty teenager and didn’t deserve it
  • Letting me and the neighborhood kids share our secret hideouts with you that were dispersed over a one mile radius from the house so I could prove my mom was the coolest
  • Not telling Dad so many things, even though you threatened to, just to scare the bejeezus out of me
  • Letting me wear hot pink four inch heels in 7th grade because they were cool, even though I looked like a prostitute
  • Bringing me to the Edmond Town Hall every Friday night to see the movie, even though (I suspect) you knew I wasn’t going to see any movie
  • Telling me I had a great shape (and meaning it), even though I had no boobs or hips
  • Yelling at me and telling me how disappointed you were the entire 5 mile ride home when I smoked way too much pot and was throwing up all over the passenger door of the Buick
  • Teaching me how to drive, and not slapping me, even though you wanted to, when I tried to show off and scare Christina Perry on her bike by gunning it and swerving at her
  • Always telling me how proud you were of me
  • Coming to every single chorus concert and acting like you just saw a Broadway show and only heard my “angelic voice” singing
  • Making sure Dad went easy on me, when me and cousin Michelle broke a neighbor’s TV while pretending to be drunk (seriously Oscar-worthy performance)
  • Being the prettiest mom so I could brag
  • Loving me even when I didn’t deserve it or made poor choices
  • Showing me your “scary mom eyes” in the grocery store with the stage whisper telling me to “just wait till we get home” then doing nothing once we got there
  • Making every holiday such an exciting tradition year after year
  • Teaching me to accept all people and not pass judgment
  • Moving to my town after Dad died, even though you really didn’t want to leave our childhood home
  • Loving me unconditionally, even though I put conditions on showing my love to you at times
  • Teaching me that while you have your own version of Kryptonite, you’re still a Superwoman

Mom, while you may dance with demons occasionally in your human form, I will be heartbroken when you dance with the angels. So let this post in your honor be my flawed human attempt at telling you just how much I love and cherish you and hope to someday, truly be worthy of your unconditional love. Happy Mother’s Day Mom!

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the Mom’s reading this post. For those who are fortunate enough to have their mom’s still here, as well as, those who are missing their mom today, please share your own “Thank You For…” in the comments section.

Five Languages in Five Weeks – Lay It On Me

We are now in our 5th and Final Week of Learning Five Languages in Five Weeks. Let’s review:
These are the Five Languages:

• Words of Affirmation
• Quality Time
• Acts of Service
• Gifts
• Touch

Week one talked about the Words of Affirmation lovers. These language speakers want you to tell them they rock and why. Week two covered Quality Time which is based on focused attention on, or with, the other person. Week three we discussed Acts of Service which is all about action and doing something the recipient would greatly appreciate. Last week we went over Gifts, which are those tangible “things” that let a person know they are loved and appreciated. This week we will close out the series with Touch. If you would like a brief overview of each language, revisit Week One’s post – “Five Languages in Five Weeks – Starting with Words”. Again, your primary and secondary languages may differ between your personal and business life, so view all the languages from those two perspectives. If you’re the huggin’, kissin’, high-fivin’ and fist bumpin’ kind, then this is all about you!

These language speakers are all about touch. Nothing communicates like person to person connection. Touch rewards, soothes and, of course, loves.

Personally, this language speaker likes the obvious like hugging and holding hands. But more subtle signs include when they are listening to a heartfelt story, they may touch the hand of the speaker to soothe or to soften a difficult, yet honest discussion. These lovers are often eye-gazers as well. Touching with their eyes, so to speak. They also tend to be very comfortable being up close and personal with others they know and like, as in ‘intruding-on-their-personal-space’ comfortable. So identifying these language speakers is relatively easy. Some find this a difficult and uncomfortable method of communicating. To the recipient however, this is as necessary as oxygen. Find your most bearable level of comfort and lay it on ‘em. Like the other languages though, remember not just any touch will do. You have to determine their preferences. As they are often so sensitive to touch, doing it “wrong” can have a negative effect. When in doubt, ask.

Professionally, there is not a lot of room for these language speakers, as most touch acceptable in the personal arena, is unacceptable in the workplace. Likewise, even those who prefer the language of touch in their personal lives to feel loved, likely do not prefer it in the workplace to feel appreciated. Although you’ll see snippets of them as they tend to be the high-fiving, fist-bumping, pat on the back, handshaking folk. Those are pretty much the only acceptable forms of touch in the workplace and even the pat on the back can be annoying to some, so use with caution, always considering how the other person may perceive it, regardless of how you intend it.

These touchy-feely types love affection and being affectionate. If you identify with this language, remember it can also be off-putting to others at times, so pay attention to the signs others are giving to you. If you’re approaching someone and they take a step back, you likely just barged into their personal space, so be respectful of other’s needs. If you’ve got something to share about Touch, please do so in the comments section below.

Hopefully, you’ve identified your own primary “language” and those that play a significant part in your life, both personally and professionally. Understanding your own languages in those environments can help you communicate your needs better and be aware of how this differs from others. Understanding the language of others will help you show love and appreciation to them in a way that’s meaningful for them. As always, I hope this, and all preceding posts, gave you a new perspective to consider. Perhaps that person who frequently doles out compliments at work would like to receive some Words of Affirmation themselves. Maybe Mom’s complaints about how you never visit, is a sign that she needs Quality Time with you. Seeing your spouse’s face light up because you surprised them with a five-course homemade meal will indicate their need for Acts of Service. The employee who tears up after you present them with a small engraved plaque thanking them for being the Official Morale Booster of 2013 appreciates Gifts like nothing else. And of course, the ever-ready-with-a-hug, lover of Touch, who gets as much as she gives, in every embrace.

All of us need love and appreciation. We may need varying levels of it, but we all need it. Understanding how you need to receive it and how others need you to give it, and acting on that knowledge, will guarantee improved relationships. If you’re still unsure of your language or would like to invite someone else to learn theirs, here are the sites and info to take the online assessments: For the free personal assessment, go to www.5lovelanguages.com/profile . For the professional version, there is a $15 charge, but can be found at www.mbainventory.com .

You are now empowered to make a difference and communicate more effectively with someone. So go Love on that person you love and get Appreciating those people you work with. Watch how it will ripple through every aspect of your life. Please know, with as much sincerity as I can convey in a blog, how much I truly Love and Appreciate my readers. Your support has spoken to me in every ‘language’ and hopefully I’ve spoken my thanks in yours! Comment on any experiences you have had based on use of any of the languages, ‘cause sharing is caring! Until next week…

(The Five Languages are based on “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman and “The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace” (co-written by Paul White))

Five Languages in Five Weeks – Ooohh, For Me?

We are now at Week 4 of Learning Five Languages in Five Weeks. Let’s review:

These are the Five Languages:

• Words of Affirmation
• Quality Time
• Acts of Service
• Gifts
• Touch

Week one talked about the Words of Affirmation lovers. These language speakers want you to tell them they rock and why. Week two covered Quality Time which is focused attention on, or with, the other person. Last week we discussed Acts of Service which is all about action and doing something the recipient would greatly appreciate. If you would like a brief overview of each language, revisit Week One’s post – “Five Languages in Five Weeks – Starting with Words”. Again, your primary and secondary languages may differ between your personal and business life, so view all the languages from those two perspectives. If the idea of a little something special topped with a bow just for you sounds perfect-o, read on.

Gift lovers are all about the tangible. Price isn’t (always) important. Often, it’s just getting a thoughtful “thing”.
Personally, this could be the newest BMW or a six month cruise around the world. But often, this is simply a bunch of handpicked wildflowers, a box of chocolates or the latest suspense novel. Those child drawings and driveway stones that have a little sparkle? Yeah, those too! These language speakers love to look at and touch these expressions of love. Like all the other languages, pay attention to clues that would help you determine just the right gift.

Professionally, while the BMW or cruise would be great, these aren’t likely. Gift lovers get excited over the certificates, awards, pins and prizes. A bottle of their favorite wine for a special assignment that had the added bonus of making you look good too, is sure to score! A mall gift certificate, Cabela’s gift card or even a $1 instant scratch ticket…any of these are likely to elicit pure joy. Remember though, thoughtful counts here too. Don’t assume Dave would automatically like tickets to the Patriot’s game any more than Carol would like tickets to the ballet. You should know enough about these people that if you’re going to give a personalized gift, you have a good idea what interests them.

Being thoughtful and sincere in your gift giving is sure to be a success to the gift-loving recipient. It’s especially enjoyable if they know why you’re giving it, even if it’s “just because”. Gifts make them feel special, so tell them why they are. Now is the time to get creative and get giving for these language speakers. They’re sure to repay you in your language…if they read this string of posts anyway. If not, give them the gift of this site! Otherwise, give all the wonderful readers here some ideas by commenting on creative ways to ‘gift’ those we love and work with, so they feel loved and appreciated. Watch for the dramatic conclusion to this series in next week’s coverage on Touch!

(The Five Languages are based on “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman and “The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace” (co-written by Paul White))

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Five Languages in Five Weeks – Service Please

We are now at Week 3 of Learning Five Languages in Five Weeks.  Let’s review:

These are the Five Languages:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Acts of Service
  • Gifts
  • Touch

Week One talked about the Words of Affirmation lovers.  These language speakers want you to tell them they rock and why.  Last week we covered Quality Time which is based on focused attention on, or with, the other person.  If you would like a brief overview of each language, revisit Week One’s post – “Five Languages in Five Weeks – Starting with Words”.  Just a reminder, your primary and secondary languages may differ between your personal and business life, so view all the languages from those two sets of perspectives.  If you’re looking for a little less conversation and a little more action, let’s roll…

The core of Acts of Service lies less in word and more in deed.  It requires action – doing something for this language speaker.

Personally, this could include a backrub or a home cooked meal, a car wash or a BJ (just keepin it real).  It might be supporting a charity event important to a friend or planting flowers for an elderly parent. Like the other languages, the preferred act is determined by the recipient.  Any old act of service just won’t do, it has to be this language speaker’s preference.  The key to speaking this language, especially if it’s not your primary one, is to provide these acts of service out of love.  If you provide it out of obligation you have completely wasted your time and likely caused more damage.  So just like Words of Affirmation, your enthusiasm and gift of giving must be authentic and given out of love.

The professional examples look VERY different from the personal one (at least I hope they do!)  In the workplace, you could offer to help out a co-worker struggling to meet a deadline or complete an overwhelming task.  Also, volunteering to stay late and assist someone in another department that you know is currently very short-handed.  What a great opportunity to extend the olive branch to the ornery supervisor too stubborn to ask for help, but would appreciate the offer.  This could be mentoring that newbie employee and offering some tips you learned on your climb up the ranks.  Remember, even in this environment, it’s the recipient that determines the appreciated service, so while you may offer, that may not be what they need.  Perhaps they can’t share the responsibilities of a particular task, but you could offer to take phone messages for them instead or some other menial task that could free up time for them to work on their priority.  Sometimes the offer to assist will be all they need to push through their assignment.

The toughest part of Acts of Service is knowing which act would be most appreciated.  If you don’t know, ask.  “What could I do to help you right now?” or “What could I do that would make your day today?”  If they sense your sincerity, you’ll likely get an honest answer.  So while you may wonder why they didn’t just ask in the first place, remember, sometimes that just takes all the fun out of it.  So get going and speak the language of service to those who need it and watch how good you’ll feel having made someone’s day with your selfless act.  If you or someone you know possesses this as a primary or secondary language, won’t you do us all a service and share some stories in the comments section?  Watch for next week’s coverage on Gifts!

(The Five Languages are based on “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman and “The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace” (co-written by Paul White))

The Occasional Vegan

To commemorate Earth Day, I thought I would post an alternate way to honor and respect this round thing we call “home”.  Once upon a time, I was a full-time Vegan.  I lost weight, I felt good and I learned a lot!  Veganism is neither a cult nor a religion, it is simply a lifestyle.  While many Vegan’s are very passionate about their lifestyle, they are not praying to the god of tomatoes.  Furthermore, some can be a bit outspoken about debunking the myths of Veganism, but that’s likely because they have heard the question, “but where do you get your protein?” a gazillion times already! Lemme give a quick rundown for those unfamiliar with the basic premise: Vegans do not eat any animal products.  This includes meat, chicken, pork, seafood, eggs and dairy products.  Instead, their plates are filled with veggies, fruits, legumes and grains.

Here are three main reasons people typically choose to become Vegan:

1-     They love animals and respect their right to live & die naturally

2-     They want to eat in a more healthful way

3-     They want to respect Mother Earth

Let’s talk about good ol’ Number 3 today.  So what, you ask, does being a Vegan have to do with Mama Earth?  I thought you’d never ask.  Some factoids you probably didn’t know include:

  • Factory farming (where traditional meat products, dairy and eggs come from) is incredibly detrimental to the environment
  • The methane from all the gas passed by 10 billion animals a year is directly responsible for global warming (ewwww!)
  • The urine and feces from these animals pollute and contaminate our soil and water (double ewwww!)
  • See more info below from www.CulinarySchools.org

There are numerous facts and research papers to support the benefits of going Vegan, however, proposing an all-or-nothing type of lifestyle works for very few of us and quite frankly is likely what gave Veganism the cult or religion stereotype in the first place.

So I propose being an Occasional Vegan.  That’s what I am now.  While some of my meals include dairy, eggs and seafood, I regularly create meals that are Vegan.  One meal a week can make a difference; one full day of meals a week, an even bigger difference.  But do what’s comfortable for you and your family, every little bit helps. As an adult, you can feel good knowing you’re providing a healthy, nutritious meal for yourself and family.  There are also many great opportunities for family discussion on the topic.  While I hope, over time, you’ll increase the fruits and veggies portion on your plate and decrease the animal products, this doesn’t HAVE to be an all-or-nothing lifestyle.  To help get you started, I’ve included a few of my favorite recipes that I encourage you to try.  Don’t be fooled by the claims that state that a particular Vegan dish tastes just like its non-Vegan counterpart.  It likely doesn’t.  But introducing an entirely new flav to your weekly dishes is super cool!  Just like Thai and Mexican are fun themes for food, now you can add Vegan dishes too!  Not only are they healthier, but it’s a great way to appreciate that big ol’ Mama of all Mama’s!  Happy Earth Day!!  And if you have some favorite earth-friendly recipes, c’mon now…share-nice in the comments section!

Breakfast:

Scrambled Tofu

  • 1T olive oil
  • 3 scallions finely chopped
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 bell pepper diced
  • 1 pkg (16oz) firm or extra firm tofu (usually found in the produce section of your favorite supermarket)  ((drain water and remove from package.  Place tofu block on paper towels and wrap in dishtowels to absorb water.  Place heavy cookbook on top to help drain water for 20-30 minutes))
  • 1C spinach leaves, rinsed and patted dry
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 2T nutritional yeast (most health/natural food stores carry)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper

Heat oil in sauté pan then add scallion and garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes.  Add bell pepper and sauté till tender.

During the sauté, crumble tofu in a large mixing bowl using a fork, pastry cutter or your hands to create coarse crumbs that resemble scrambled eggs.  Add to sauté pan, stir and combine with scallions & pepper.

Add spinach, and all remaining seasonings and sauté an additional 7-9 minutes, stirring occasionally until tofu is bright yellow and heated through.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve with toast and Earth Balance spread.  Serves 2-3.

Lunch/Appetizer:

Cuc-YUM-ber and Cream Cheese Sandwiches

  • 1 eight-oz container Tofutti nondairy cream cheese (most health/natural food stores carry)
  • 3T finely chopped chives
  • 2T finely chopped fresh dill (fresh is key here)
  • 2T finely chopped fresh mint (fresh is key here)
  • 1 cucumber peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 pkg cocktail rye, wheat or pumpernickel bread (usually in the deli area)
  • ½ lb arugula
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mix cream cheese with chives, dill and mint.  Dry cucumber slices between paper towels.

Spread a thin layer of cream cheese mix on each slice of bread.  Top every other slice with cucumbers and arugula and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Cut each sandwich into a triangle and enjoy!  32 servings

Dinner:

Veggie & Bean Cassoulet (that’s French for yum)

  • 2T grapeseed or olive oil
  • 6T Earth Balance butter, divided
  • 2 leeks, thinly sliced
  • 1 celery stalk diced
  • 1 carrot peeled and diced
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1.5T tarragon
  • 1T fresh minced thyme
  • 1T fresh sliced chives
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cans white cannellini beans drained and rinsed
  • 1C veggie broth
  • ½ C panko breadcrumbs, divided
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350.  Heat oil and butter in large pot over med-hi heat.  Add leeks, celery, carrots and garlic and cook 5 mins, stirring occasionally.  Add thyme, chives and bay leaf and cook 5mins more.  Add tarragon, beans, veggie broth and ¼ cup of breadcrumbs.  Reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Season with S&P to taste.

Meanwhile, nuke remaining Earth Balance butter then mix with panko crumbs and set aside.

Pour veggie mix into a 13X9 baking dish, throw out bay leaf.  Cover loosely with foil and bake about 25 mins.  Remove foil and sprinkle with breadcrumb mix and cook til browned on top.  6 Servings.

 Side/Soup:

Corn Chow-it-down-Der

  • 2T olive or grapeseed oil
  • 1 small yellow onion chopped
  • ½ C chopped celery
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 6 small gourmet red potatoes chopped into large chunks
  • 2 C corn (fresh or frozen)
  • 4 C veggie broth
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 C almond milk (can substitute with soy)
  • 1T unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3T water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper

Heat oil in large saucepan and sauté onion and garlic about 4mins.  Add garlic and continue cooking for 30 seconds. Add potatoes, corn, broth, thyme and milk.  Simmer 20-25 minutes until potatoes are tender.

In small bowl, whisk flour and water til smooth.  Add to soup.  Simmer 5 more minutes.  Add S&P.  8 Servings.

 Dessert:

Perfect Parfait

  • 2 pts strawberries (preferably organic) quartered
  • 1 pt blueberries
  • 1 pt raspberries or blackberries
  • 1T lemon juice
  • 1 six-ounce container nondairy plain or vanilla yogurt (health/natural food stores)
  • 2T agave nectar (sweeter than honey, but honey is not a Vegan food)

Evenly divide fruit between 6 bowls or wine/champagne glasses, leaving 6 fruit pieces separate. Add lemon juice to each bowl or glass. Spoon yogurt on top and drizzle with agave nectar. Top with fruit piece. Serves 6.

Five Languages in Five Weeks – How ‘Bout a Little QT

Ok, so we are into Week 2 of Learning Five Languages in Five Weeks.  Let’s review:

These are the Five Languages:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Acts of Service
  • Gifts
  • Touch

We all have a primary “language” we speak and need to have communicated to us in order to feel loved in our personal relationships and appreciated in our workplace.  The key is finding out your own language, as well as those you have relationships with in your personal and professional life.  These discoveries will help you communicate and dramatically improve the relationships in your life.  Last week’s post talked about the Words of Affirmation lovers.  These language speakers want you to tell them they rock and why.  This week we will discuss Quality Time.  If you would like a brief overview of each language, revisit last week’s post.  Remember, your primary and secondary languages may differ between your personal life and business life so view all the languages from two sets of perspectives.  If you’re pumped and ready to move on, let’s spend some QT together dissecting this language.

The quality aspect of Quality Time is founded on focused attention.  That means without distractions or other tasks being completed simultaneously.  (Are you listening smart phone owners?)

Let’s start from a personal perspective.  The whole point to these language speakers is quality.  Just spending time together may not be enough.  A spouse may wonder, “we just spent six hours at the picnic with our friends and family and you say we haven’t spent quality time together”.  Ah Marone!  The definition of quality time lies in the hands of the one desiring it.  Your first clue is to listen to their complaints:  “you never watch TV with me”, “we never go out to dinner alone anymore”, “why don’t we take day trips together anymore”, “why are you always on that damn phone?”  You get the picture.  Take these not-so-subtle hints as a sign that this person needs a little QT with you.

From a professional perspective, it can be more difficult to determine when a co-worker speaks this language.  Supervisors should regularly set aside scheduled QT time with each direct report.  If you can trickle it down to other levels, great.  Some may be able to pull this off monthly, others only quarterly.  If possible, allow about 30 minutes with each individual.  You’ll start to see which ones need the full amount, and which ones don’t.  Adjust accordingly.  You should be actively listening while the other person is talking.  Remember, this is about Focused Attention.  Paying attention like this will also help you determine each person’s “language”. Even if you’re not a supervisor, a complaining co-worker saying “nobody cares around here”, or “if I could catch Beth’s ear for 2 seconds I could fix this whole problem”, or “nobody communicates anymore”, is likely to speak this language and can be helped following the same steps in casual conversation.  Ask how they’re doing, if they have any ideas or concerns on their mind.  If nothing comes up, just shoot the breeze with them.  Ask about their life outside of work, upcoming vacations, whatever, just make sure they feel they were listened to and valued for their contributions.

Quality Time can be a tough language to speak as we are all so pressed for time, but for those who really need it, providing it can prevent bigger issues down the line that you also wouldn’t have time for.  So get it in your calendar and stop putting it off.  There’s an awesome likelihood that you too will benefit from that quality time! Is QT a language you’re fluent in?  Share some stories about how to successfully communicate in this language.  Stay tuned for next week’s post on Acts of Service.

(The Five Languages are based on “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman and “The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace” (co-written by Paul White))

Five Languages in Five Weeks – Starting with Words

Think you can’t learn five languages in five weeks?  C’mon, give yourself (and me) more credit! Of course you can.  After reading “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman and “The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace” (co-written by Paul White)… I felt that this was an awesome topic to share with my readers. These were both easy reads, but more importantly for me, they were need-to-read’s.  They were practical, with quick, applicable stories.  I suggest reading the books, however, if your time is limited or you’d prefer a more condensed version, I aim to please:

These are the Five Languages:

Words of Affirmation

Quality Time

Acts of Service

Gifts

Touch

Each of us has a primary and secondary preference and these may differ between your personal and business lives. (For the free personal assessment, go to www.5lovelanguages.com/profile . For the professional version, there is a $15 charge, but can be found at www.mbainventory.com . Here is a brief description of each language:

Words of Affirmation:  Those that count this as their primary language require words to feel loved and appreciated.  These can be spoken or written.  We’ll learn more about this in a bit.

Quality Time:  For these types, one-on-one time together is important.  Acitve listening is key here! We’ll dive into details of this one next week.

Acts of Service:  These acts typically involve anything that could be counted as “thoughtful”.  While the specific act will vary, the gesture is what counts the most to these peeps.

Gifts:  As if this isn’t obvious.  This person prefers physical, tangible evidence of being loved and appreciated.  While expensive and materialistic items may qualify, these gift lovers often enjoy handmade gifts, flowers or other thoughtful expressions of love and appreciation.

Touch:  You know that “touchy-feely” person that always seems to hug, touch and show PDA virtually anywhere?  Yeah, this is probably their preferred form of loving communication.  While less likely (and some would caution, less appropriate) at work, these people can be identified as the high-fiving, fist bumping ones.

Figuring out another’s language can be tough, but once you do, there are an endless number of options to satisfy their need.  Each week for the next five I will highlight a particular “language” and some suggestions on ways to meet that need for yourself and others.  This information is very beneficial in every relationship you have and it would behoove you to understand your own language and those you spend a lot of time with.  This week, let’s focus on Words of Affirmation.

For those who need Words of Affirmation, it’s obvious they need words, but it is equally important that they get sincerity!  They don’t want empty or generic compliments.  “Nice job today” will feed the need for about 5 seconds.  They want to know specifically what they did to please you.  If she cooked a rockin’ dinner, tell her what was so awesome about it and why it was appreciated by you.  If he spent the entire day tiling the bathroom floor, take the time to point out how awesome it looks.  If Suzie dealt with the “customer from hell” so the rest of you wouldn’t have to, tell her what this meant to you.  Also, those who feel loved and appreciated by this language want to be recognized for the personal characteristic that got it done or made it so worthy of mention.  Tell her how much her dedication to providing quality food to the family is admired.  Tell him how his sense of responsibility, like keeping the home in good condition, is one of his sexiest traits.  Let Suzie know that her patience in dealing with higher-maintenance people makes the rest of you envious and you’d like to know how on earth she does it without going ape-shiz crazy afterwards.

Keys to remember:  Be specific, be detailed, and be sincere.  This is not a “fake it til you make it” opportunity.  If you can’t be sincere, then be silent.

Now what:  If you can identify with this language, and believe it to be your primary or secondary language in either setting (personal or business), there are a few things you can do with that knowledge.  Let others know this is how you prefer to be loved and recognized.  Also, understand that those times when you feel neglected or slighted by someone may not be because they don’t love or appreciate you, but because they are speaking a different language.  If you suspect a loved one or co-worker prefers this language, get creative in ways to recognize them.  This can be spoken face to face or publicly acknowledged, or written in a thoughtful letter, card or email.  This is one of the quickest and easiest needs to meet once you’re aware.  So pay attention and share with words why you think someone is a ROCKSTAR!!  Stay tuned…next week’s post will focus on a little Quality Time.

10 Things You MUST Do In Front of Your Kids

It’s a whole lotta work raising kids, and there’s a lot of pressure to do it right (whatever that means).  I’ve discovered some MUST-DO’s.  Some I learned the hard way, others by luck and none by the “Parent’s Guide to Raising Your Children to Not be Freaks, Morons or Full-On Embarrassments” which continues to be on back-order!  So without further ado, here are my Top 10…

#10 – Show affection – Keep it PG Rated, but let them see hugging, kissing, tickling, snuggling, holding hands, complimenting, laughing or any other displays you are comfortable with.

#9 – Cry – Whether this is because you lost a loved one, got fired or you’re just really frustrated.  Let them see that even grown-ups need to release their feelings through tears.  I know this is a tough one.  I hate crying in front of anyone, let alone my kids, especially since I’m one ugly damn crier.  So while you may prefer the actual crying stage to be solitary, once you’ve got yourself pulled back together, talk to them about how healthy it is to release feelings in a safe and human way.

#8 – Be Health Conscious – Monkey-see, Monkey-do. It’s awesome you tell the kids to eat fruit as a snack and not Oreo’s, unless of course, you’re the one eating the Oreo’s.  No judgment folks, I’ve been there! And while it’s great to suggest they go outside and play, it’s even better to do it yourself.  Kids give us an easy excuse to try something new.  Rollerblading, ladder ball, sidewalk chalk, it’s all better than sitting at the computer or on the couch!

#7 – Give to those in need – It’s all too common to hear people criticize those less fortunate. The scammers and schemers may be out there, but let’s leave them to Jerry Springer.  Show your kids how to give back and to do so without judgment, just love.  Food pantries, street performers, animal shelters, veterans, whatever.  Just show them how to share time or money with those who are struggling.

#6 – Admit you’re imperfect – We work so hard trying to teach our kids to be right. Showing how to gracefully admit making a mistake and own up to it, is one of the best lessons you can give. Also, make it ok to not always know everything.  Teach them how to be resourceful and find the answers to their questions. Resources can include The Bible, the Google or the friend that knows that kind of stuff.

#5 – Talk about work – Including the nasty supervisor, the insubordinate employee and even the backstabbing co-worker.  Teach them how you problem solve and deal with those messy people problems they will undoubtedly experience throughout life.  I’m a firm believer that Business School starts at home!

#4 – Share financial goals and struggles – Kids will learn to save (and spend) based on your example.  Let them feel part of the family team and contribute ideas on ways to save.  Brainstorm crazy-fun things you could do that cost little, to no money.  Camping in the woods, “unplug” for 24 hours, make a meal out of only what’s in the cabinets. Get creative.

#3 – FIGHT – No, not the down and dirty, heavy adult stuff, just your day-to-day spats.  They too, will argue as an adult one day.  You want to show them the right way to do it.  Even if things get a little heated, kids need to see that respect (no name calling) and love (babe, I’m trying to understand your perspective here, but…) should be the base to every disagreement.

#2 – Give love to yourself – just like they play and color and swim, we need stuff to make us feel good too.  As this typically involves time without them, explain why this is important no matter what your age.  This may include personal work-out time, a nail appointment or a hot date!

And the #1 Thing you Must Do In Front of Your Kids is…

#1 – Commit to an established designated family time – For some, this would be a meal time, like breakfast or dinner.  Other options include the 30 minutes before bedtime, Friday nights or Sunday afternoons.  While 5 days per week is a great goal, even just once a week, consistently, will have great affect.  The goal for these sessions is to allow all family members equal time to share verbally.  So if they are excited to share something, have a question or maybe just something cool they learned, this is the place to share it.  Remember, active listening is key during this time.

These work for all ages with minor adaptations through the years. Please test out any that resonated with you and “comment” how they worked for you and your family.  Also share any tips you’ve discovered along the way in the “comments” section.