The Real “Happy” of Happy Hour

Since February is the month of love, I’d like to share with you a little activity my husband and I have been doing once a week to keep our relationship close and connected for the nearly two decades of our marriage. Oh I know what you may be thinking but it’s something else—it’s meeting for happy hour.

Photo by Cher Knebel
Photo by Cher Knebel

It seems like such a simple thing but until we didn’t get to do it for an entire year, I didn’t realize the power in our little weekly ritual. That was a few years ago when we were living in Arizona and he got a new job in CA and I stayed back with our kids to sell the house and let them finish the school year.

For a lot of people, when they think “happy hour”, they think cocktails and bars but for us, meeting for happy hour (typically on a Thursday) means a break from the outside world when all that matters is the two of us sharing our week and letting someone wait on us for a change. When it’s a good week, we are toasting each other and giving thanks for our extra blessings and when it’s a bad week, we are there to console one another and just listen. We always tried to carve out the time once a week or on a weekend no matter what was going on with work, what mood we were in or how old our kids were. When they were still young, we’d bring them along with us but to more family-friendly establishments.

During the lean years when money was tight due to various reasons, we’d forgo our typical shared appetizer and have soft drinks instead of real drinks. Even now with both of us working full-time, we still just have one drink each and it’s not always a spirit. Or for those who are on special eating plans, you can always order a small house salad like I do while my husband orders a happy hour appetizer that he enjoys.

Studies have consistently shown that relationships need face-to-face connecting to keep them strong and healthy. For those whose spouses travel or are in the military, getting together for some real shared time is even more sacred when they are back home. For  more ideas on how two-career couples stay happy, check out this blog post in the Harvard Business Review here.  Or for a little glimpse at a time when my husband and I weren’t so comfy cozy at our local pub but instead were dealing with conflict, read my earlier post here.

If you’re like me and  meet up with your partner or a friend at happy hour or like to connect another way each week, please share in the comments below and let me know how that activity is keeping your relationship strong.

Embrace Vulnerability to Enhance Connection with Others

Photo from tech.co
Photo from tech.co

One of my favorite days of the week is Super Soul Sunday and if you are an Oprah Winfrey fan you know what I am talking about. On Oprah’s network OWN, Sunday is Super Soul Sunday, where she conducts exclusive interviews with some of the top inspirational thinkers, spiritual leaders and authors such as Joel Osteen, Dr. Wayne Dyer, Marianne Williamson and Deepok Chopra to name a few.

One of my all-time favorite teachers of the moment is Dr. Brene Brown, researcher and author of the fantastic book Daring Greatly. She has spent the past dozen years studying the concepts of shame and vulnerability as they pertain to connection. She participated in a TED talk back in 2010 on the concept of vulnerability and it has had more than 11 million hits to date. Her talks and research has affected me not only professionally with my connection research but personally as well –so much so I devoted an entire chapter to the topic of shame and vulnerability in my first book, mentioning Brown’s research throughout the entire chapter.

In Oprah’s Lifeclass with Brown last night, she pointed out that to have better connections with others we must allow ourselves to be seen–that is what being vulnerable is about.  It is about being “real” and letting down our guard or veil and showing people who we really are instead of pretending that we are perfect and have everything under control all of the time. Of course, you have to be careful with how much you reveal to someone before you really get to know them but there are ways to find that out fairly quickly. Here are three simple things I do to practice being more vulnerable when meeting new people, which I find has led me to having more authentic connections than ever before.  Give it a try and let me know how it works for you.

  1. Smile at someone and say hello even if they seem grumpy and unapproachable. Don’t feel bad if they don’t smile back –feel good that you smiled first
  2. Share something funny that you noticed about your surroundings or a joke you just heard on the radio or on TV last night to someone you barely know even if they don’t laugh at it. Feel good that you have humor in your life.
  3. Share a bit of something personal that is either funny or a lesson learned. Make it  general and see how the person responds. If they have something to add to the topic or follow up with their own story to share, then you know that you can go beyond surface level talk with them. However, if they look at you with a blank stare or respond back in a judgmental way—best not to go deeper than surface level talk with them. But feel good that you showed a more personal side of yourself and seek out those who respond back in a similar way.

Happy Connecting!

 

Minimizing Your Risk When Starting a New Friendship

Photo from tx.english-ch.com
Photo from tx.english-ch.com

Back in January 2013 after feeling particularly inspired by a friend who was having great success at making new friends and business contacts, I made it a goal of mine to put myself out there more and start making my own new connections. I had moved back to Southern California in 2011 (after being gone for seven years) and was ready to start seeking out new friendships both personally and professionally.

However, when we open up ourselves to people we also become more vulnerable to those who can hurt us emotionally if we are not careful. Now that I know the warning signs, I am having the time of my life establishing new friendships and business relationships not worrying if I will get hurt and growing the ones that show potential like in an earlier post I wrote –Help New Connections Grow.

Tips to Help Reduce Risk of Getting Hurt When Making New Friends

If you are new to your area or have gone through a life transition and wish to get back out there or just desire to make some new positive connections, here are five tips I follow to minimize the risk for getting hurt when I start a new friendship.

  1. Stick to general topics. As they say, in the beginning stay away from religion, politics and anything that you feel overly opinionated about. Treat a new friendship like being on a date—show your strengths while minimizing your weaknesses because the wrong people can use that against you later on.
  2. Look for patterns. Like Dr. Phil says, when people show you who they are, take notice. If someone is joking about what a hot head they are and how people in general always frustrate them that might not be the person you want to hang around with on a regular basis.
  3. Heed warnings from other people. A few years back, I started hanging around a gal who a few people came up to me on the side and told me she had a track record for having big fights with women she got close to. Unfortunately, I continued my friendship with her and sure enough, I got burned from her exactly as the others had told me she would do!
  4. Beware of the instant best friend. Close friendships take time so be wary of the person who is revealing a lot of personal information and wants you to do the same. They have not earned your trust yet and you don’t know them well enough to know their true intentions.
  5. Be wary of the convenient friend. Just because you see someone on a regular basis through perhaps carpooling, sports or a regular event you both attend doesn’t mean you have to be best buddies. Logistics brought you together but it is similar values and complimentary personality traits that will determine if your “friendship” should go any deeper.

Have you been burned in a relationship by going too fast too soon? What warning signs do you look for? Let me know your thoughts!

September is a Good Time to Evaluate Friendships

I personally love when the calendar page turns to September and it is back to school season.

Photo from 123rf.com
Photo from 123rf.com

I think of it as another January – a fresh start for a new year ahead. It is a great opportunity for all of us to take a look at areas in our lives that might need a change up as we enter into a new “school” calendar year.

One area I suggest is your current friendships. Not only your close female friendships but your children’s best friends as well. It is funny how we start friendships with people for different reasons but what might have seemed like a good idea a year ago, may not work for the person you are today. We might like a few aspects of their personality at first and are drawn in but over time when we become closer to them, we may notice that they have mean girl tendencies or like to put us down saying they are “only kidding”. Or perhaps they love to gossip a lot more than just friendly talk of what is going on in someone else’s life—it comes across judgmental and condescending.

I can best describe it as that icky feeling you get in your gut when a friend who you think of one way is showing another side to them that doesn’t fit your vision of how a good friend should be. Yes, no one is perfect and as friends we do disappoint each other from time to time but what I am talking about are all those little things your friend is doing that makes you pause and feel bad—whether they are doing it to you or to someone else. Just as research shows we become better people when we witness others doing good for others, it has the same effect in the opposite way when someone we call a “friend” does things that feel mean, spiteful, rude and uncaring and they do it on a consistent basis.

Photo from sayingimages.com
Photo from sayingimages.com

Keep the Friendships that Make you Feel Good and Minimize the Not-so-Good ones

My advice is to take this new season to look closer at the friendships that leave you with a positive feeling and if you have those that leave you feeling less than that, perhaps this is the time to minimize your interactions with that person. If the relationship is feeling especially toxic to you, it might be best to leave the friendship altogether and I will discuss that in future blog posts. When you do, you leave space for other more positive friendships and that is a good thing. Are there friends you might want to leave behind or others you would like to pursue more? Now might be a good time to consider a change.

 

Not Being Heard in a Conflict builds Walls

photo from thejournalist.ie.com
photo from thejournalist.ie.com

I hate it when I argue with my husband and as strong as our relationship is, there are times when we just don’t see eye to eye. This past weekend was one of those times.  I had been busy running around days before getting my kids ready for back to school and was happy that most of my to-dos were getting crossed off my action item list.

But all it took was one judgy text from my husband Saturday morning pointing out one of the things I didn’t do (I had told him I was putting it off for a few days) and “happy” was far from the emotion I was feeling after that. I pushed back and texted him letting let know I didn’t like when he did that to me  and in a typical male response (sorry guys I am stereotyping here), he tuned me out and just sent generic texts not addressing any of my feelings. As the day went on, the more upset I got.

It is amazing how one off putting remark said at the wrong time can temporarily change the feelings between a normally happy couple. My husband who is usually my soft pillow to fall on after a tough day had now become my adversary because I was feeling dismissed by him all day. By the time he really got how mad I was at him it was like 8 pm and by that time I want to poke him with a fork!

photo from 5minutesformom.com
photo from 5minutesformom.com

Instead of putting up a wall, build a bridge     

The next day we talked about it face to face and he finally understood why it upset me so much. I have done it to him too and since it really affects our relationship, I was determined to solve the problem before it happens again. The late Richard Carlson, psychologist and author of the book, The Don’t Swet Guide for Couples, said that when you choose to hear out your partner in the midst of an argument, you choose to start a bridge with them. He said that if both partners are not allowed to be heard, you will keep coming back to making your point which was what I was doing. I went from giving him the silent treatment to letting him know how angry I was but all through texts and the phone. What we needed was to really sit down face to face and discuss why his comment hurt me the way it did.

What I learned that if it is an important issue to either partner, you simply must deal with it before moving on even if it is to agree to disagree. By seeking to understand each other especially during an argument is an effective way to make a good relationship even better!

No Expiration Date for Meeting your Neighbors

Reaching out to neighbors no matter when you moved in can increase your happiness–don’t let time get in the way of making new connections.
Meet-Neighbors.jpg
For most people, when you move into a new neighborhood there is that freshness and anticipation of getting to know your neighbors. When we were planning to move from AZ to Orange County in 2011, I had visions of sharing margaritas with my new neighbors on the porch, getting invited to Bunko parties and chatting about the latest with my neighbors when we met up at the mail box.

This is the kind of neighborhood I came from when we lived in Arizona. A neighborhood where there was a neighborhood directory, monthly Bunko parties, twice annual block parties and events planned when someone moved out or celebrated a big birthday. I look back at that now with such fond memories and so much gratitude because I know you don’t find that in every neighborhood in America.

But our family was also in a different place back then and this time when we moved into our new Orange County neighborhood, we had just gone through one of the most challenging periods for our family. It colored how we looked at life and the thought of reaching out to people we didn’t know seemed overwhelming at the time. All we could do was to retreat to our home and heal from it all.

Flash forward 18 months later and we are happy and settled into our new surroundings and things seem more routine but in a good way. And while I did have an opportunity to get to know a few neighbors through my girls’ friends or the ones who lived right next to us, there were some neighbors like the ones across the street who we never got a chance to meet.

Sure we waved to them and said hello but we didn’t get to know them like my daughter did since she knew their son and attended social events at their home. My husband and I instead were cocooning in our home on the weekends.

Never too late to meet Your neighbors
But this past month we were invited to their wedding shower that was at another neighbor’s home (who we knew well) and while I felt awkward to attend after not getting to know them up until that point, this couple could not have been more welcoming and delightful. They came by the following weekend with a thank you note for our gift and treats and we got to know them even better. We liked them a lot and I felt bad that it took so long but I realized that it is never too late to get to know your neighbors.

It sparked a desire in me to facilitate a neighborhood potluck over the summer and some of the other neighbors we met at the party seemed right on board with the idea!

Plan ways to connect that work for your neighborhood
Just because we don’t have a built-in structure to get to know our neighbors like the neighborhood I came from doesn’t mean we can’t set up our own version of one in the neighborhood we are in now. In fact, I also found a great resource called Meet the Neighbors. I found a cute post on ways to connect with your neighbors by pachamama.org. Other than extreme cases, I think knowing your neighbors on some level increases our happiness and makes us feel more connected in the world and that is definitely a good thing!

Photo from pachamama.org

Even when busy, finding time to connect is a must

Finding time to enjoy others in person is just as important as other weekly tasks so keep it fairly high on your priority list.

If you a busy mom like me, it is amazing the things we accomplish in a typical week. Carpools, sports, school performances, meal planning, cleaning—you know the drill. While we are so focused on finding time to do the things that scream at us each week, it’s easy to not plan for soul-enriching activities that we should do too but aren’t in your face saying Me, Me, Me.

Photo from Empowering Network
Photo from Empowering Network

I’m talking about spending time in person with people. Let’s take last week for example. It was crazy busy week for me but there were several events (more than usual) planned to connect with others.

On Tuesday, there were two networking meetings scheduled in one day. It was hectic that morning because I was on a training call and running late to the lunch meeting. As I ran (ok, trotted quickly) from my car to inside of the restaurant and down to the room in the back, my rushed and out of control feeling completely dissolved as I sat down among other female business owners having lunch and started connecting with them.

After the meeting, a few ladies came up to me and said encouraging words about my upcoming workshop and I was able learn more about the attendees’ different businesses on a personal level. That meeting and another event in the evening was just what I needed to give me the energy and creativity to work on my business tasks the rest of the week.

Schedule time for your kids to connect

030The rest of the week  included a happy hour drink with my hubby, a movie date with girlfriends and walking around beautiful Laguna Beach on Saturday with my girls. My sister and niece drove up from San Diego and I loved spending time with her and my girls with their cousin.

Friday night, my younger daughter had friends over after school and later went on a group outing and my older daughter had a few friends for a sleepover.

Whew—that is a whole lotta connecting going on in one week! Was it hectic and things a little less managed (at times way less managed) because of these events–sure it was. So it would have been so easy for me to say no to having my daughter’s friends over or to participate in what I did that week but I am so glad I did. After each meeting, I walked away feeling filled up and joyful. With the right people, we get energy we never knew we had and if we stay in the present moment, it gives us a break from the everyday mundane stuff we have to do each week!

Help New Connections Grow

DSC00483With Spring in the air, I, thought I’d use a gardening analogy for my post today. Let’s say you find a cute little flower plant from Lowes that catches your eye. Although small, it’s healthy with nice leaves and a small bud and has the potential to grow up to be a beautiful part of your garden. For that to happen, you have to find the right area for it, feed it some nutrients and water it regularly.

A new friendship is like that small plant. The first day you meet someone who you really like, you’re excited about the potential. You find out you have a lot in common and you feel like you could talk to this person for hours. Unfortunately, as busy women (and men), it’s easy to let that person fall by the wayside because you do too much already, right?  So like a small plant with no water and tending to, if you don’t follow up with that person, the potential friendship withers away.

But honestly, how many times do we REALLY meet someone who we connect with on multiple levels? I’m talking personally, professionally, spiritually –one or all. Don’t let those special people slip away because you never know where their friendship may lead.

good friend photoThinking back, some people who I had instant connections with ended up being in my wedding, becoming lifelong friends, spiritual advisors, business mentors or friends who I can meet up for lunch a few times a year and laugh and cry with! Any one of those relationships could have withered away and not added the depth of love and friendship to my life as they do today!

Just recently, I’ve met some new women at various local networking events or one as a new client and I liked them instantly. We followed up with a coffee date or me attending one or more of their events they hosted.  Or with my new health and wellness client who I met yesterday, she and I are planning to do a women’s health and happiness workshop together this summer because we just knew we had to partner together on something!

So keep this in mind when you meet a new person you hit it off instantly. Is there something you can do to see them again and get to know them better? You just never know what wonderful things may “grow” from it! Happy Connecting!

 

Reach Out to Others After a Tragedy

I don’t know about you but lately I hear more and more about another person taking their life as a result of a terrible life-changing event such as cyber-bullying, a scandal or a tragic accident that takes the lives of family members particularly children.

One such case was a mother, Jackie Hance, whose three daughters were tragically killed in 2009 when her sister-in-law (who was intoxicated at the time) drove the wrong way on a highway and plowed her SUV into another car on the way home from a camping trip. Also killed were the driver and her daughter and three others in the other car. Below is a photo of her family before the tragic accident.

Photo from Abc.go.com
Photo from Abc.go.com

Jackie shared in interviews her thoughts of suicide as she contemplated joining her daughters in heaven. She explained that what later saved her, among other things, was getting connected again with her girlfriends such as joining them for regular morning group runs. Through their support, she decided to try and have another baby and she and her husband are now parents of a beautiful 17-month old. She wrote about her experience and you can check out Jackie’s new book here at Amazon.com.

Another example I read about was how Bernie Madoff’s two sons handled the aftermath of their dad’s $65 billionPonzi scheme. Madoff was convicted and is serving a 150-year jail term for his horrendous crime and both his sons severed their relationships with him and their mother. Whether the sons did or did not know what their father was doing is not relevant here but rather how they handled this traumatic event afterward.

From-NY Post.com
From-NY Post.com

The younger brother Andrew, left,  chose to not read about the scandal in the media and instead leaned on his family and friends for support. He got back into regular routines and chose to stay connected with those he loved. He even more recently reconciled with his mother Ruth, which has been especially helpful as he battles another diagnosis of cancer, which he overcame years earlier after being diagnosed in 2003.

In contrast, Andrew shared in recent interviews, his older brother Mark chose to read everything about the scandal in the media and distanced himself from family and friends.  Andrew said Mark suffered from not leaning on others to support him emotionally and it unfortunately led to his suicide in 2010.

These two extreme examples are a good reminder healingtherapy

that no matter what is going on in our lives, we must not disconnect from others because it is their love and belief  in us that can help us get through the toughest of times. So stay connected with your loved ones in good times and in bad—it may just save your life someday!

Meetup Helps People Find their “Peeps”

Last night I had a great time attending a networking meeting about 10 minutes from  where I live with women who share a similar interest of promoting their businesses and supporting other female business owners. The group is called The Grassroots Network of Orange County and in the last month, I have attended two different local meetings and plan to attend more.

meetupphotoPictured left is me is with a wonderful local baker I met –Tina, who owns Frosting on Top–her mini cupcakes were divine!!

Also, about a month ago, I found a group of local people who like to play tennis (and at my similar skill level) and meet at tennis courts only a short drive from my house. I now play with them every Wednesday and Saturday and I enjoy it tremendously.

What both of these groups have in common is that I found them through this fantastic resource called Meetup. I came upon the Meetup organization when I was searching online for people I could play tennis with in my local area. The link for Meetup.com came up and I have been using this resource regularly and I am thoroughly hooked! According to their website, they are the world’s largest network of local groups, making it easy for anyone to organize a local group or find one of thousands of other groups already meeting face-to-face. So as a blogger and promoter of connecting and meeting up with people in person—Meetup had my name written all over it!

meetup2

 

And it appears I’m one of a many, many fans. With more than 13 million members, they are now in 196 countries and have more than 126,000 meetup groups formed. Thanks to them—there is a lot more purposeful connecting going on! Their company mission is to revitalize local communities and help people around the world self-organize. From my own experience, it is easy to join, gives you weekly e-mail reminders of upcoming meetups you signed up for, sends alerts of suggested meetup groups you might be interested in and after each meetup, makes it easy for you to respond online to say thank you to the people you met up with. How great is that!

So wherever you are, if you have an interest you would like to share with others in your local area, check them out at www.meetup.com. I did and I am forever grateful!

Three Cheers for Sports Team Parent Bonding!

teambonding1For those of us who are parents, particularly those whose kids are involved in sports, we spend a lot of time with other parents watching our children play in their matches. Looking back over the past 10 years that is collectively quite a few parents I have sat and cheered beside!

My experience has run the gamut from being on a team that felt like an extended family, one example I will mention later, and other teams, I hate to admit, where I barely knew the coach’s wife’s name. While the coach or coaches usually set the overall tone for how connected the team families will be, I do believe as a parent, we can play a part in helping the team feel more cohesive and connected…well, like a real team.

Why make the effort you ask? Because isn’t it more pleasant to meet up with people on a regular basis who know your name and you know theirs and you feel a little connection with them? And isn’t it nice for your children when they see their parents talking and laughing together during snack time or before or after the practices or games instead of everyone on their cell phones ignoring one another? I love chatting with the moms and dads briefly to see what they are up to lately and them the same with me. I think it is a good thing after a rough day when you get to practice or a game and can forget about that stuff and just enjoy the company of a few nice parents for a while.

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This was definitely the case for me last year when I was going thru a real challenging time and I was feeling very isolated. The highlight of my week was seeing the friendly faces of the moms and coaches of a new volleyball team my younger daughter had joined. It was like a breath of fresh air and after connecting and cheering our kids on together, I always felt better afterward. This past year, we have been lucky to be on this team with dedicated coaches (Coach Mike and Coach Tim) and their lovely wives (Maria and Annette) and other equally great moms (see the group shot above) and it has been such pure joy for me and my family!

In fact, we have extended our connection off the court and have recently scheduled moms’ nights out and plan to do so even after the season has ended. On just a side note, while being with these coaches, we won three First Place titles and one Second Place title—I feel the strength of our team bonding has only helped our team –it sure can’t hurt!

Of course not all parents on a team are open to or want this kind of connection and for those who don’t want to participate, it is really their loss and they shouldn’t be looked down upon—they are just missing on the positive effects of connecting! Here are some tips to help encourage more team parent bonding in sports:

  • Put together a family team roster with both parents’ names along with their child’s name and phone numbers and distribute it early in the season.
  • For those who have the time, how about taking a photo of each family and insert a small photo alongside their information—that would really help put names to faces!
  • Reach out and ask parents to point out who their kids are and get to know them a little better
  • If your child really connects well with one or more players, how about inviting them over for some social time at your house; use the opportunity to get to know the parents at drop off and pick up time
  • Take time to plan a fun end-of-season party—the kids love it and it’s a nice bonding opportunity
  • If you find a group of parents you really like and connect with, don’t hesitate to set up something after hours. For example, we planned a moms’ happy hour while our kids did Friday night practice.

Are you part of a team that is really connected? What activities do you do to strengthen that bonding—please share!

Two OC cities rank among happiest towns in USA

For those who live in Orange County, CA as I do, I was happy to see that according to a survey conducted by the  Vermont Complex Systems Center at thecropped-familyeatingphoto1.jpg

University of Vermont, two nearby cities ranked in the top five happiest American destintions in the nation. But before I reveal what those cities are (don’t peek), let me tell you how they determined which cities made the list.

University researchers looked at the geo-tagged Twitter messages of people who lived in 373 urban cities—about 10 million messages to be exact. They analyzed these messages and gave scores to 80 million words in the tweets and were looking for those that pertained to levels of happiness. They focused on how often people used positive and negative words in their tweets. Words like wine, food, cheers, gift and beach were considered positive while words like boo, ugh and hate were more prominent in the unhappier locales.

Okay, did I give it away when I said wine? Yes, wine country Napa, CA ranked number one as the happiest town in America based on this research study. But coming in fourth place on the list was a tie between Mission Viejo and San Clemente—two in my own backyard! Idaho Falls ranked second and Longmont, Colorado third and fifth was Simi Valley, CA.

The researchers decided to look only at the actual words themselves and not the words in context to come up with their results. They also did not separate tourists from residents, again focusing only on the actual words used in the tweets. Since only a portion of Americans use Twitter—this is only a slice of the research pie. However, it gives a look into what cities people are in when they have the happiest tweets. What American city do you either live in or visit that makes you feel the happiest?

 

Got Friends? It’s good for Your Health!

Did you know that people who have strong social connections with a few or more people will actually live longer than those who don’t?

Yes, it’s true. According to a study published in 2010 by Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah

researchers discovered that just as exercising regularly, not smoking and getting enough sleep contribute to pelivinghappilyconnected.com livinglongerople living longer and healthier lives,  so does having positive social bonds with a group of friends —regardless of how many. Those with positive family bonds counted just as those with friends–it is the interactions that count not necessarily where they come from.

They found that those with a few or more social ­­connections are 50 percent more likely to live longer than those who had similar backgrounds but lived alone and rarely socialized with others. I found it interesting that they compared having little to no social bonds to be as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, drinking too much or being obese.

According to author Julianne Holt-Lunstad, associate professor of psychology at BYU,

she believes that this research shows that people should take having good social relationships as seriously as being healthy in other areas of their lives. Their conclusions came from reviewing more than 148 published studies that measured how often humans interacted with one another and the impact it made on their lives.

This study unfortunately came out before the social media craze hit like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so it didn’t speak to the actual qualitative nature of relationships on people’s health. I will be doing more blog posts on that research as I find it. However for me, I like the idea of having both social media connections and the old fashioned ones of meeting up face-to-face, whenever possible, or at least connecting by phone. See my related post on bringing back the art of real conversation.

Part of the reason having social connections affects people’s health, says BYU researchers, is partly because having others in your life who know how you are doing in general helps us when we might veer down an unhealthy path. The right friends will help you get back to where you were and want you to be happy and healthy. So that makes sense to choose your friends wisely don’t you think?

Do you think your close relationships help you to be happier and healthier in any way? If so—how do they? Let me know your thoughts!

Ink in Fun Annual Events–in Memory of Sue

Losing a cherished girlfriend to cancer is never easy but thanks to a close group of her friends who invited me to gather with them each year on the anniversary of our friend Sue Dailey’s passing, it lessens the pain a bit and turns that difficult anniversary date into an evening of celebration and wonderful memory sharing!

DSC05980Thanks to our event coordinator Seema, we meet at our friend’s favorite local restaurant and we laugh, cry and share all of the many reasons we felt so lucky to have had her in our lives. Seema with help from friend Sara, created beautiful friendship bracelets to give out at our dinner this year. She featured her bracelets on one of her recent posts from her fun blog Confessions of a Creative Junkie. Our group, pictured above, consists of friends who met Sue at different points in her life –from early to mid career to when she started having children later in life– we are all connected by our love for Sue.

In fact, our friend Sue was all about carving time out of our busy schedules to spend time with those we love and to always, always bring a camera to capture those special moments.

Our friend Sue had a vacation condo in Palm Desert and those who were close to her got to spend relaxing times there on occasion getting away from everyday stresses and family responsibilities to just hang around together and talk about everything! It was always relaxed and casual and the emphasis was on just being together…really together with no interruptions!

In the photo pictured below is our beloved friend Sue, pretty in pink,  Deb and myself enjoying our last trip to her condo together. After a fun stop at the outlet stores, Sue shared with us one of her favorite restaurants in the area –it is a weekend Deb and I will never forget! Sue was the gold standard when it came to friendship and unconditional love!                                     Sue Dailey

Annual events we plan with friends and family is a great way to make sure we have time automatically scheduled on the calendar so it doesn’t get gobbled up by other events that get in the way. We always tried to plan a Palm Desert getaway the first weekend in June the years we could swing it. Others like my extended family  in the Bay Area,  plan an annual camping trip to Lake Tahoe around the beginning of August and everyone adjusts their schedules around it.

Do you have an annual gathering or getaway you plan to stay connected to friends, family and other loved ones? If so, what is it and what is the best part of the event that you look forward to each year?

Let’s Power Up the Art of Real Conversation

In February, I attended for the first time an author event held at the Newport Beach Public Library as part of their Foundation Lecture Series. This month’s speaker was Sherry Turkle, who recently wrote a book entitled, Alone Together (why we expect more from techology than each other).

Turkle  is a professor, author and founder/director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self and has been researching the psychology of people’s relationships with technology for the past 30 years. While some may disagree with her message on some levels, I truly related to it and loved the emphasis on having real connections with others –not just being connected thru technology to others.       Continue reading Let’s Power Up the Art of Real Conversation