Why is it hard to make a friend?

How friendships keep us going and why you should make friends!

Dear Readers

Why is it so hard to make friends as adults? Recently, I was at a restaurant and while wrangling my two year old, I couldn’t help but notice that almost everyone around us was on phones. No one is talking to each other, and all I can see is heads down laser focused on the phone or laptop. Maybe some of them were working or making plans to meet up with people in person, but mostly I think that they were avoiding connection with the person across the table from them, it’s just easier to look down and scroll.

When did it get to be so hard? I mean when we were kids, I don’t know about you but my criteria for finding a friend was seeing someone on the playground and we started playing tether ball or rode the merry go round. It was that simple.

Once you hit about that thirty year mark, it gets a lot tougher. With kids and jobs and different interests and so many demands on our time, we seem to relegate most of our friendships to text messages and social media. Though social media has its place. For instance, most of you reading this, found me on social media, so there is that happy thing that happens on social media. Also, I know many people who start out on social media and decide to bridge that technological gap and meet in real life.

I definitely think that it’s also a lot easier to look at your feed and just scroll and scroll rather than actually go out into the world, reach out your hand and say hi, (insert your name here) and connect with another human being.  Yes, it’s scary, and yes, it’s also worth it. For example, I will often tag some friends on social media and say, hey let’s do a happy hour, some respond and say yeah that works or no that doesn’t and no guilt or hard feelings, if they can make it great, if not, we will do another one in a month or so.

It’s a good leveraging of social media as we wait to have real face to face connection.

While we are on the subject of making friends, what’s your track record for keeping friends?

Do you work at it? Do you actively set aside time for existing friends?  Do you make plans and break them?

Maybe your kid was sick and you don’t want the other kid to get sick. Valid

Maybe you are on deadline and need to get stuff done and can’t afford the time away from work?  Also valid.

Maybe you can’t afford that happy hour cocktail but don’t want to tell them that’s the reason? Definitely Valid. May I suggest you meet at your respective homes or take a walk in the park (weather permitting)

Maybe you didn’t really WANT to go out, you love the person, you really do, but yoga pants and wine were WAY more appealing than the idea of the bar and some face-time. (also valid)

Here’s an idea, tell them that, and then make a plan to do something more chill- like say a “crappy dinner party” -next time.

Host a Crappy Dinner Party!

But back to you and making NEW friends.

If you work with someone, you have a head start since you both have a built in common interest, and some commonalities, but how to transcend the “work talk” to “friend talk” and how do you approach that situation without overstepping or making things awkward where you spend most of your waking hours? Now, suppose you hit it off and have lots of things in common, great! But maybe, they are busy and you invite them and they can’t make it, but really like you, the timing is just off.

Then if you add a spouse or kid to the mix, now that’s a new thing that needs to be tested and tried, it’s not a lock that just because you both like each other, your kids and partners will respond the same way.

If you add a person of the opposite sex to the mix, it becomes even more difficult because what if they think you are flirting, but all you want is a friend? Even if you are married, this is still a consideration because you have to be conscious of any signals you send that might be misconstrued. I have had it happen on both sides and it’s just plain awkward.

So if it’s that hard, why do it?

Well, first there is science *YAY SCIENCE* that tells us how important it is to have friends and how it greatly impacts our ability to live longer, happier lives. Here is a quote

“Close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives, the study revealed. Those ties protect people from life’s discontents, help to delay mental and physical decline, and are better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, IQ, or even genes.”

Here’s the full article-

Friendships Help Us Stay Alive!

Simply put, because there is no feeling like the feeling that another person “gets” you or you find a moment to say, “you too?” or having a beautiful shared moment where the other person says “Exactly!” when you tell a story about a hard time you are having at work or at home. There is so much we have in common, it far outweighs our differences.

So you might be thinking, Well, that sounds great, Jennifer, but how do I start?

I am glad you asked- I have a formula for you- Depending on where you are, you can use this formula to broach a topic. Get creative, these are just a jumping off point!

F O I L- in no particular order- you will know what is right when you start talking, trust me!

F– Friend like questions- So do you like horror movies or comedy? Do you like Star Trek or Star Wars? Do you prefer the Muppets or Fraggles? (sometimes these will knock someone out right away – just kidding, I have friends that don’t agree with me on this!)

O– Occupation questions- How did you get into what you do? Do you love it or are you searching for something new?

I– Interest questions- I like skydiving, how about you? What is your favourite book? What was the best part of your day today?

L– Location questions – likely the easiest because it’s driven by what’s happening RIGHT NOW… Are you in a meeting room? Is it cold? Is it hot? Is the decor funky or contemporary? You can comment on their shoes, funny hat, or great necklace (just make sure it’s sincere – nothing can stop a connection from being made the way a fake compliment can.

Also important? LISTEN to what they say if they answer you.

Listen, there are no guarantees, you could ask a question, and it could fall flat or get a monotone response which is a clear signal that the person you are trying to talk to doesn’t want to talk. Maybe it’s just today is a bad day to try this, but say on Thursday, it would be a completely different story.

Maybe you don’t have trouble making friends, if that’s you, GREAT!

But if it isn’t and you are like so many who struggle with this, think about your existing friendships and look around for new opportunities to connect….

I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Think About It.

 

 

 

No more Guilt…No, Really.

Guiltbegone

Dear Readers

This past weekend, I was telling a friend, I am so sorry I can’t come see your show, I am just not going to get to it. I went on to say, I feel so guilty.  Which I did, because I really did want to see the show, but I lacked the night. My husband and I take turns and give each other one night off a week and I had already committed myself to another show. The weather (who the heck would expect SNOW in Texas?) did contribute, but overall, I lacked time.

She was so sweet and kind and graceful and said something that stopped me in my tracks, “I release you of that, that is all yours if you have want to feel guilty that is all coming from you, not me” – We hugged and she walked away.  Wow. It was such an honest moment.

It was so true and lovely and she even mentioned having been there herself, “I love you best friend in the world but I can’t come see your show”.. I felt enormously better.

I have really been making great strides with this whole not feeling guilty thing, and then I had this large setback, but it’s okay because I have recommitted myself to giving up feeling guilty. There are just too many places to be, shows to see, parties to go to and events to sign up for and I recently realized, there are only so many hours in a day.

(I know? Stop the presses..  Mind blowing, right?)

I am the first person who has ever made this realization.

EVER.

But seriously, I don’t have “all the time in the world” and neither do you. It’s the only commodity you can’t get back, and that money can’t buy, so choose where you spend it wisely.

What I realized is that I have to budget my time ( and you should too ) just like we budget our money. I have to THINK before saying yes to something as much as I might REALLY want to do it, I have to be sure I have the time and more importantly be sure I haven’t already budgeted that time for someone else (like my daughter or my husband, say?)

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I really thought I had this one wired after last year and the whole having a baby thing which makes you realize how little time you have, but as is true with so many life lessons, I guess I need to bump into this one a few more times before it really sticks.

So here’s to NO MORE GUILT!

Think About It.

Happy Debt Free Day, Hastons!!

Dear Readers,

On this day, two years ago, my husband and I became debt-free!!! We got Cachet, the debt-free dog, and then had Vivienne, our debt free baby! Yep, we cash-flowed our child. For those who don’t know, that means we didn’t go into debt to have our baby, because I have great insurance and because we paid cash we got a hefty discount.

I am trying to make this a thing, like birthday, anniversary or other important milestone, because it is. So Happy Debt Free Day to us! Play along with me, will you?

Why is being debt-free so great? Well, for starters, we owe no money to anyone.

We do have to pay rent and utilities, AND that is it.  We no longer owe student loans, store credit cards or medical bills. We had this on our fridge to help motivate us.

Capture

Target-Gone

Lane Bryant- Gone

New York and Company- Gone

Royal Prestige- Gone (that was a very stupid mistake we made with money when we were first engaged and goopy eyed and thinking we needed amazing cookware, in order to cook, never mind that it took us 3 years to pay it off)

Chase VISA- Ugh, lots of stupid, including some Manolo Blahniks I just HAD to have.

Student Loans- GONE (my husband is especially proud of that one!)

Smoky- My 2007 Toyota Carolla – Paid off October 2014

Vlad- Jeremy’s 2009 Chevy Impala- Paid off November 2015- LAST DEBT!

Take a second and breathe that in, if you have payments, that you pay each month on student loans or your car loan or your credit cards, think about what you could do with that money if you had it as your own instead of promised to creditors every month on the 15th, or 18th or 30th or whatever your billing cycle is at the time. Think of how much you could save for retirement (it’s coming faster than you think) or to pay cash for a vacation that doesn’t follow you home. Or five other things I am not talking about here, but are in your heart because it’s YOUR dream, not mine.

Maybe you don’t have a lot of debt, a couple of thousand or so, but if you are like most people (that was us too) you live paycheck to paycheck and if a 1000.00 emergency came up you wouldn’t have it, you would have to put it on a credit card.  That emergency could be a hospital stay or a dental emergency or a flat tire or a dead battery (all of which happened to us while we were working to get out of debt) and we kept having to refill our emergency fund each time.

Well, Jeremy and I decided back in 2012 to take a class about how to handle money. Believe me when I tell you, it changed our lives.

How? We got organized, we started doing a budget and figuring out where all our money was going. Believe it or not, once we looked up and saw that we were spending almost 300.00 a month on fast food and “inconvenience’ store stops for coffee and Monster and breakfast. Mine was more about Starbucks, I had to have that Caramel Macchiato and then a bagel and it’s kind of amazing how fast that stuff added up. If you do the math that is 3600.00 a year that we were just “wasting” on things that we were not even aware of until we were.

So we both went to work, I should say, went out and got extra jobs since we were both instilled with an incredible work ethic way before we ever met each other. It has to be said, I have never met a man who works as hard as mine did and does.

In this case, I had a little more free time than he did so I had three jobs, he had two and we saw a lot less of each other as we both worked to eliminate the debt that was shackling us. We didn’t mind because we knew it would be temporary and it was. I mean in the grand scheme of things, it was.

We got serious in November 2012 and finished in November 2015. 11/16/2015 to be precise.

We did a lot of sacrificing to get there, and it was worth it and it is still worth it.

Is our life stress-free because we are debt-free ? Hardly, but it definitely makes it better.

We may fight about things, but money isn’t one of them. That is an incredible blessing and I am grateful every day for it.

Here are a few pictures from the radio show where we did our debt free scream.

Here is the youtube for those who are interested-

We went to Nashville, and went on the Dave Ramsey show and screamed to the world that we were debt free. Why? Well for starters, it was the goal I wanted when we started this journey, it got me up out of bed on days I did NOT WANT to go to my second and third job. So it was very important to me to do it, then it became more about being accountable to say we ARE NEVER GOING INTO DEBT AGAIN.

According to Google, The Dave Ramsey Show surpasses 13 million weekly listeners on more than 585 radio stations and a variety of digital platforms. That is a whole lot of people to be accountable to, I can only hope to one day have that kind of readership, but baby steps, baby steps!

So besides bragging about our family’s big accomplishment, what is the point of this post? Well, the bragging is part of it, but more than anything, I really want to say, you can do this too, if you want to. If you want to know more, ask us. If not, that works too.

Think about it….

Self Loathing or Self Loving?

flyflyfly

Dear Readers,

Yesterday I had occasion to talk to several people in my capacity as coach and it was not until much later in the day that I realized that what I had said had made a difference and helped motivate someone to do something that they were scared or nervous about doing.

In case you are wondering, I am being vague to protect their privacy.

I am bringing this up because over and over again, I hear people around me say things like.. ” I am not creative but.. ” or “I am not really organized but..” basically painting themselves with labels like “can’t” or “I am not”  and the truth is.. what you say about yourself tends to stick.. Take me for instance, for YEARS, I said.. ” I am not good at math” and I even made jokes that were clever and verbose to cover my embarrassment…. e.g. “I have a fractious relationship with numbers”

Then one day I realized that it didn’t serve me to say it because it’s not true and saying it like that over and over again further cements the notion. To be brutally honest, my husband is better at them, and I have skill with numbers despite telling myself for most of my life I was bad at them.

I am not saying you can just “tell yourself” you are good at something till you believe it and that is enough.. No. You need to take action as well.

In reality, I am really good with numbers. “I have worked hard to become so.” Every time I calculated how much was left for us to pay on debt (and I mean down to the penny) — since according to Jeremy, we paid off 37,000.00 but according to me, it was 36,945.91 to be precise that we paid off to get debt-free.

I used to say, “I am not creative”. Yesterday, a good friend of mine, Dr. Keya Howard in fact, said, It’s a good thing you are so creative (just off-hand) and I didn’t even blink an eye while agreeing with her because it’s true, I am creative.

I spent a lot of time telling myself otherwise, until my Mom, and several other friends and family of choice members pointed it out to me, here and there and I began to realize it’s true, I am creative.

But back to you dear reader, what do you regularly say about yourself that isn’t true?

Here are some examples, I heard recently

“I’m not creative, I leave that to other people”

“I am not organized, so I am scared that this will all fall apart”

“I am not a runner”

“I can’t write a book, who would read it?”

We have the potential to be our #1 fan or our absolute worst critic, most of us choose the latter, but why not the former?

I challenge you to choose your words carefully, especially when talking about yourself.

What would your life look like if you chose to hold up the pom poms for yourself and shouted YAY ME!

Think About It…..cropped-cropped-imagejfminc.png

Speak it, Write it, and then DO IT!

Dear Readers, this is not a new concept.. it’s actually been around long before I drew a breath, but its a worthy reminder- here are just a few quotes to illustrate

A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work. -Colin Powell

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them. – Walt Disney

In order to carry a positive action we must develop here a positive vision. -Dalai Lama

Last night I was privileged to take part in an activity called “Vision Boarding” and though I have never done it before I really enjoyed thinking about my life and what is coming and what I want. The range is as broad or as narrow as you DESIRE.

This is all about YOU. Being selfish is not only allowed its ENCOURAGED in this exercise.

Do you want a different career or move up in the job you have? Do you want to travel more or less? Do you want to be something you are not today? Put it in writing or put it in pictures and then put it in FRONT of you so you have a visual representation of what you are working towards and BELIEVE it!

It has already made a difference in the choices I am making and more importantly the words I am using to describe myself and my future.

THINK ABOUT IT! and then go do it!VisionBoard

What a difference twenty minutes can make!

Dear Readers,

I am prepping to walk/run a 10 mile race in 24 days.. AIYEEEEE .. that is a very scary thing in black and white but its the truth and one of my running buddies said, you know I know you are busy at work but you really need to get on it to make that 10 mile race count.. I agreed with her (grudgingly) and she said.. start walking twenty minutes on your lunch. I have been at this two weeks now and I have to say it makes a world of difference in my outlook!

It truly refreshes the soul to walk away and be outside (okay its 40 degrees so I didn’t stay out there but I did walk up and down the stairs 7 times in 20 minutes)

This post is not to brag on myself, its to tell you that baby steps are crucial. I have said it time and time again. Meet yourself where you are. If you are tired today, walk for five minutes. If you are having a good day, walk for twenty.. Strive to do better tomorrow but don’t beat yourself up for what you “didn’t do” today.

Go, Do, BE! Go be Awesome — whatever that looks like for you TODAY!