Small Talk Gets Me Every Time

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via Emily McDowell

 

Alternate title: 10 things to say when you’re not sure what to say.

Are you ever unsure of what to say? I am. And now, I’ve become acutely aware of when others have no idea what to say.

So, when you’re not sure exactly what a person is going through (trauma, strife, personal problems), here’s my advice on what to say (or not say.) Because talking to people is hard. And sometimes, we’re not all that good at it.

So, I say, don’t start with questions that you could probably guess the answer to. (i.e. “how are you?”)

Don’t start with the obvious questions you want to ask. (i.e. “what happened?”)

Don’t start with the statements that are only going to make the conversation more strained.

Do start with one of these 10 things to say when you’re not sure what to say.

  1. Say something boring. Like “how about this weather?” Or “Monday already?” “Gas prices have dropped, huh?”
  2. Ask about the latest and greatest. “How was your (insert most recent holiday/event)?”
  3. Start with a something superfluous. “Great shirt/necklace/tie. Where’s it from?”
  4. How about a recommendation? “Know where I can find a plumber/a dog/a great croissant?”
  5. Just be there. “Let me know if you want to grab lunch/coffee/a drink?”
  6. Talk about you. Tell the person a story, what you ate for lunch, how much you hate water polo. Something. Anything.
  7. Simply acknowledge the person is there. “Good to see you.” and then just walk away. Sometimes, less is more.
  8. Ask for that person’s expertise. “Can you help me with x/y/z?” Make that person feel useful.
  9. Talk about the place you are/activity you are doing. It could be work, the gym, the playground.
  10. Nothing at all. Perhaps mom’s rule about “having nothing nice to say” also applies when you’re unsure what to say.

Now go, say something, or nothing, to the person who might need to hear from you right about now.

A Holiday Sale Gets Me Every Time

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Is your holiday countdown in full effect? I mean, the days between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve just seem to fly by. At least in my world they do. But, of course, there are a couple things to take care of before the ball drops, we kiss and then wipe that slate clean for 2015. And to help you out with that, here’s a little holiday sale. Save 15% with code HOLIDAY14 over in my Etsy shop.
il_570xN.568166193_hj2wIf I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times, these business card holders are a perfect gift for coworkers, bosses, employees, brothers, sisters, parents, new grads, etc, etc…
il_570xN.680828952_j97pAlso in the shop are a few wine stoppers which are perfect hostess gifts. Or stocking stuffers. Or treats for you. So, the shop: Etsy. The code: HOLIDAY14. The savings: 15% off. Happy Holidays to us.

 

Tributes Get Me Every Time

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As many of you might know, I teach dance at a consortium of local colleges, called Colleges of The Fenway. While I took this past semester off, I still was able to attend the show. It was quite the treat because it’s actually the first time I’ve watched the show from the audience—I’m typically backstage calling the shots and keeping everyone (mostly) in line.

The first video here is from one of my fellow teachers, and my friend, Kristen. Her group danced this lovely piece, titled “Angels” in memory of our little girl. (Yes, I cried through the whole thing.) It was a beautiful tribute.

But it didn’t stop there…

A group of dancers from previous semesters (and who I look forward to seeing again in January) put together this jazz/tap mix for me. They took a bunch of steps we’ve done over the past 4 years and put them into this one piece. It was amazing awesome and truly moving. (Yes, I cried AND laughed through the whole thing.)

Thank you to my amazing dancers (and bloggers and coworkers and friends and family) for supporting me during the good times and bad.

The Toyidermy Holiday Pop-Up Shop Gets Me Every Time

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Toyidermy Ram Business Card Holder | Gets Me Every Time

Did you know that there are 6, S-I-X, six Fridays until Christmas?! It’s true. It’s true. But don’t worry, the Toyidermy Holiday Pop-Up Shop is here, just in the nick of time.

It’s stuffed full with all sorts of animal and dinosaur goodness. From elephants to triceratops, each business card holder is customizable. And if you need something in a hurry, there’s a whole ready-to-ship section with a few pre-painted business card holders.

They’re the perfect gift for coworkers or for that yankee swap party you HAVE to go to. So, get to shopping, spread the word and all that jazz.

Velociraptor Business Card Holder - Gets Me Every Time

 

 

The Happiness Contagion Gets Me Every Time

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via: emojis irl lol

There’s this quote from John Cusack’s character, Lloyd, from the hit 80s film, Say Anything,

Get in a good mood. How hard is it to decide to be in a good mood and be in a good mood?

Happiness. It’s contagious you guys. This isn’t new, groundbreaking information. Think of how you feel when you’re smiling and someone smiles back at you. And how you end up feeling when you’re not smiling until you look at someone who is smiling. That. That feeling of happiness that comes out of nowhere and gets all up in your business.

So, “the happiness contagion” is actually something that I think about often while around others, say, in the office. You can either be the guy who’s usually a little grumpy, or you can be the person who when asked how your day is going, you simply respond, “best damn day of my life.” Because why not? You’re here. You’re alive. You’re employed.

Now, that grumpy person. Imagine they come bouncing into the office today in a good mood. You’d be surprised, right? But think of how that might affect your mood. It would probably make you happy. Or happier, if you were already drinking the sunshine-flavored Kool-Aid this morning.

In a world with so much bad—seriously, just turn on the news—it’s so much better to just choose happy. And if you think you can’t find anything to be happy about, hello, that’s what the internet is for. For instance, Real Life Emojis, seen above. Or baby animals. Or free overnight shipping on almost anything from any website ever… because that’s a thing these days, people.

No one can force you to be happy. Not me, not the baby animals and certainly not the robots that make shipping automation happen. But for today, and well, for any day, really, I’m going to ask you to get in a good mood. This is my way, today, of spreading the happiness through the written word. How else can we spread happiness today?

 

Being an Expert Gets Me Every Time

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Are you an expert? Of what? At what? On whom? How did you become an expert?

Merriam-Webster defines an expert as “a person who has special skill or knowledge relating to a particular subject.”

When you google, “How do you become an expert?” the search results are mostly sites about entrepreneurship, recruiting, business and psychology. All have great ways to become an expert. Most are about studying a person or subject or practicing a subject. That’s how they say you become an expert.

In those regards, I’d like to think I’m an expert on dancing. And writing. And cats. Definitely cats. (probably not cats, I’m no veterinarian.)

But I’ve recently discovered there’s one more way to become an expert—live through it. It’s like a story of survival. If you survive an avalanche, you, in my book anyway, are an expert on how to survive an avalanche. It might not be the expertise you want, but it’s an expertise you now have.

So now that you’re an expert, what do you do with your expertise? You can do nothing. Tell no one. Be a guy who survived an avalanche and go on with your life. Let go of your avalanche story and not let your avalanche story define you. You can keep it close, tell people you know who might encounter an avalanche someday how they could survive said avalanche.

Or maybe you don’t think you’re an avalanche-surviving-expert. You’ve only survived it once. And barely. And you don’t know if you could do it again. Or what caused the avalanche. Or how you really survived. You just know you did.

Or you can take your avalanche experience and share what you do know. What it taught you about avalanches and mountains and snow and breathing and surviving and living and what comes next. You can embrace your expertise.

This year I’ve gained some expertise that I expected. I’ve also gained some that I never dreamt of. Never hoped for. Never wished for. Would never want for anyone. But things happen. And I’m learning that it’s harder to not tell anyone about any of it than it is to start from the beginning.

What I’m learning is that when you experience something, no matter how good or bad or fulfilling or dreadful, the greatest gift you can give is to share your newfound expertise with others. All you can do is hope that, if it is something that’s frightening or dreadful, those you share this expert advice with never, ever have to experience any of it. Because, as humans, how can we hope for anything but the best for other humans?

While I hope no one reading this becomes an expert on the things I have learned this year, I do want share what I know and what I wished I had known.

I’ve started to share my story here, here and here. And, when the time is right, I hope to be able to share more of my new, unwanted expertise with the world.

Slow Sunday Links Get Me Every Time

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Let's Talk about Creative Habits

I recently attended a Boston Bloggers event that was all about authenticity and creativity and the holidays and so much more. It left me thinking about how I define and refine my own creativity. Sometimes it’s in the form of a scarf (above). Other times it’s in what I’m writing. No matter what it is, I think it’s important to define or break habits that help build or destroy creativity. Here’s some links to back up what I’m feeling this week.

Habits for creativity, but to summarize, it’s whatever works best for YOU

Have you read The Creative Habit yet? I recommend it

How being creative is a choice, I can totally buy into this

“Bad” habits that might be good for productivity and creativity. If it’s wrong, I don’t want to be right

How to make Creative Magicor how to cast a spell using your creativity (a great read for all those creative entrepreneurs out there.)

Now I want to know how you get more creative… give me your must-reads on creativity and creative habits.

Journals (+ Writing Prompts) Get Me Every Time

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Some Journals for starting 2015 | Gets Me Every Time

Yesterday I mentioned my top 5 reasons to journal. And well, that bonus #6 item got me scouring the internet for my next journal.* So, here are six of my top finds to fill with your greatest, or worst, memories, ideas and thoughts. (PS. These make great gifts too!)

one | two | three | four | five | six

Sometimes when I blog or journal,  I follow daily writing prompts, but I also love the idea of following one journal prompt to fill an entire journal. I brainstormed some that were really awful, some that might be good enough to turn into books and some just fun ones. So, above, some journals to fill. And below, some journal prompts to fill them with:

Journal Prompts for 2015 | Gets Me Every Time

  1. “This is what I dreamt last night”
  2. “The Dailys” (outfits, meals, movies watched, placed visited, exercise routine… etc.)
  3. “If I were a…” (Fill in with a dream occupation)
  4. Changing the world one page at a time (Ideas of how you’d change daily norms.)
  5. “My name is…” (Change your name, and write about your fictional life)
  6. “This one time during my childhood” (Write down as many childhood memories as you can.)
  7. “If I had a million dollars” (A different outcome every day)
  8. “Objects in my home” (Write the story of all the things you have collected in your home)
  9. “People I’ve met” (Start with your family, your friends, your coworkers, then go to the bus driver, your dry cleaning guy, etc… document their places in your life.)
  10. “An invitation to dinner” (A series of dinner invitations to anyone you want, what you’d serve and how it’d go.)

*NOTE, I have a drawer full of empty journals that I’ve been hoarding over the years, so I’m just going to admire these through the screen!

Reasons to Journal Get Me Every Time

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 monogrammed journals

In the drawers of my childhood desk there must be 8 to a dozen journals. All started. All unfilled. I never seemed to stick with it. It’s not because I don’t like writing, obviously. I just never seemed to keep it going. Sometimes, journaling felt odd to me. Odd because those private thoughts were being written down to be read by whom someday? Your kids? Your spouse? Your grandkids? Who knows.

But the more I think about it, the more I think there are reasons to journal, so I started journaling again. Yes, in a real notebook. With a real pen. Actual paper. Not just this blog thing. So, why journal? Here are my reasons:

  1. It’s a great way to remember things—meals, outfits, activities, details. Whatever you want to remember. Write it down.
  2. It’s the perfect way to “talk” things through with yourself. And if you listen hard enough, you might just answer yourself too.
  3. It can be therapeutic. When you’re going through something difficult, it’s sometimes easier to write the words than say the words that come to mind.
  4. It’s preserving your life. So what if your kids or grandkids read it someday. They might learn more about your family than you could ever tell them. Or that you could even remember.
  5. It can be funny. If you did keep a journal when you were a kid, go back and have a read and you’re sure to have a laugh. The things that you’re worried about now (and were worried about then) might seem silly in the future.
  6. Bonus! You get to get pretty new journals and notebooks and fill them up with words and thoughts and ideas. And when you finish one, you get another one. See where this is going?

OK. So, do you journal? What are your reasons for journaling? (or not journaling?) Give ‘em to me.

“Curiosity Killed The Cat” Gets Me Every Time

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“Curiosity killed the cat” is a phrase that almost got too close to home recently. See, Louise the Cat had a little visitor on the porch. (Check out the video for the details.) But thankfully the glass door was shut and it all ended in just some growling and hissing.

So, again, words being my thing, it got me thinking about that what the phrase “curiosity killed the cat” exactly means. Or more, where did it come from and when did it come into popularity. The internet hunt was on!

According to official internet source Wikipedia, it was first penned as “care will kill a cat” in a play from 1598, Every Man in his Humour, by Ben Jonson. From there, Shakespeare used a similar phrase in Much Ado, “What, courage man! what though care killed a cat, thou hast mettle enough in thee to kill care.”

And this early iteration of “curiosity killed the cat” was finally documented in the Brewer’s dictionary of Fable and Phrase in 1898:

Care killed the Cat.
It is said that “a cat has nine lives,” yet care would wear them all out.

But when did the modern phrase get brought into our lives? Well, no one can be quite sure, but according to written history, it seems as though it was first recorded in 1873 by James Allan Mair in A handbook of proverbs: English, Scottish, Irish, American, Shakesperean, and scriptural; and family mottoesOn page 34, the letter “I” after the phrase “Curiousity killed the cat. I.” implies that the phrase came from Ireland.

No matter where the phrase came from, to me it means to keep your curiosity under control, lest it get you in more trouble than you can handle. However, a little curiosity is a good thing, and as one retort to this popular phrase says, knowing might just make the cat, or you, OK…

Curiosity killed the cat, satisfaction brought him back.