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!

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