Tackling Confrontation in a New Way

By Samantha McKenzie

Humans are hardwired for pleasure, so it’s no mystery that when we are faced with difficult situations, we tend to feel uncomfortable.

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Studies show that women also tend to avoid verbal confrontations more often than men. We take our hardwiring seriously, don’t we?! Actually, women avoid having tough conversations – at home and in the workplace – because we don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings. Equally important, we want to avoid being hurt ourselves.

In most cases, we participate in confrontational situations as a last option, when there’s no way around it.

While conflicts vary, how we go about resolving these issues are familiarly the same. First, we try to dismiss the offense. Did he just say that? We give people a pass. And then we neatly package a person’s poor behavior into two nice boxes: 1) she’s having a bad day or 2) he just doesn’t know any better. If that doesn’t work, we practice avoidance. This is eerily similar to the silent treatment if the disagreement is with someone at home. We are completely comfortable resigning ourselves from the problem, in hopes that it will go away.

This isn’t true for all women. Some handle conflicts in opposite fashion. When problems arise with other people, they take the bull by the horns. They exercise justice with pure precision and handle the toughest of conflicts head on. They become so good at this style of ‘conflict resolution’ that people, even family members, shy away from dealing with them altogether.

But there are healthier ways in dealing with difficult conversations.

Start by setting the scene for success. Conflicts are unavoidable. As long as we are alive and come in contact with other human beings, then we will experience our fair share of conflicts. Fortunately, most people don’t set out to hurt us. Start by mentally agreeing that this necessary conversation will be fruitful for all involved.

Next, get your heart in the right place. Check your motives. Do you want to win the fight? Is this conversation going to finally prove that you are always right? Search within your heart and determine what’s the most important thing for both of you. How can this conversation get us what we want?EmilysQuotes_Com-communication-amazing-great-wisdom-intelligence-Rumi

Decide on an end goal. How do you imagine feeling at the end of this conversation? This is different than a solution. The solution will manifest itself after you engage in conversation. For now, just think about the things you will accomplish when this is over. You may want to finish a project on time or you may want to spend more quality time with your loved one.

Create an inviting environment. This is a safe place for the other person to express themselves. If a person doesn’t feel comfortable talking to you, then it’s up to you to set the tone. What’s your posture like? Are your arms crossed over your chest? Are you rolling your eyes? People will know if you are genuinely concerned about what they have to say. Stay humble and be prepared to listen.

Finally, ask questions. Don’t assume that you both want the same thing. Find out what’s truly important to the other person? Share your observations and allow them to share theirs. I noticed you’ve been frustrated lately. Can you help me understand what’s been going on? Once you invite a person to speak freely about their concerns, then you can find a common purpose and work towards a healthy dialogue and a great  outcome.

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Shedding the Excess to Live More Abundantly

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By Dawn Onley

When did we accrue so much stuff? An even better question is why?

We have become a nation who overindulges in just about everything – from food and clothes to gadgets and dishes. As Anna Quindlen marvels in her memoir “Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake,” we have become a nation that builds storage garages because we’ve run out of space for all of our stuff. Rather than donate our stuff to people who could use it, we allow storage units to hold our excesses while our homes burst from the seams with more stuff, Quindlen writes.

I accumulate stuff like the best of them. I have three full sets of dishes, including a set of china. While I love opening up my cabinets and choosing which plate to use, it also baffles me as to why I need three sets of dishes.

Imagine this magnified with clothes, pictures, shoes, art, toys, accessories, hair care products, bedding, etc. So many items. Too. Much. Stuff. And yet somehow, it’s never enough.

“You can never get enough of what you don’t need, because what you don’t need won’t satisfy you,” says Dallin H. Oaks.

Deep.

As I’m considering ways to downsize and purge, I look at my daily surroundings and know that there are items I can eliminate to become lighter and less cluttered.

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This thought is drummed home as I watch the shows on tiny houses on HGTV. While my family won’t be going to that extreme, I must admit I admire the simplicity. I applaud the decision to get back to the things that matter the most in life. Family. Friends. Fun. Experiences.

As holiday circulars flood my mailbox and inbox with “Black Friday,” “Cyber Monday” and other “steals and deals” that I’m advised won’t last long  (e.g. “Hurry, You Can’t Miss This Sale!!!”), I want out. I generally love Christmas, but what I don’t love is the messaging that screams out to us every time we turn on the TV or go to the mailbox: BUY MORE STUFF!

Maybe I’m just becoming crotchety in middle age. Or maybe I’m becoming crystal clear about the things that matter, and the things that don’t.

Embrace the Butterflies

By Samantha McKenzie

Ever get that fluttering feeling in the pit of your belly? The one that comes from an overabundance of excitement, the jitters, or those rare moments when the person you like finally notices you.

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My girlfriend apparently has a honing device inside of her tummy. It’s really amazing. There are times when she thinks of a person and immediately gets butterflies in her mid-section. She describes it as little happy flutters that start in the stomach and travel softly through her body. It gives her energy and excites her thoughts. “This is when I know that someone is thinking about me,” she shared. Within minutes, maybe hours, she will get a phone call from that special person.

I, on the other hand, experience a different type of energy. It feels more like a knot, but distinctly different from the “fight or flight” pangs of anxiety that usually occupy the same region of my body. These knots are a welcomed guest inside of me. They get playfully tied up when the person I want to hear from “the most” pops up or says something endearingly sweet. I get this feeling too when I’m surrounded by something extremely beautiful – like a waterfall, a field of flowers or a quiet ocean view.

The butterflies, the knots, and all the other sensations that awaken our enigma are signs that something meaningful is taking place. Invite it in.

butterflies-in-your-stomach-83195It still tickles me the way twins finish each other sentences, or people who have been married for decades know what the other is thinking before they open their mouth. I am a firm believer that thoughts travel. We’ve all had a moment when we think about someone and then out of nowhere, they appear. I believe these are our messages from the universe that although we are many, we are still only one.

There are several other small occurrences that happen in our daily lives that are nothing short of miracles, like déjà vu or out-of-body experiences.  I welcome it.

I’ve come to embrace our connectedness to all that this life has to offer. And I’ve come to invite the closeness that we share with what’s around us. I respect it.

Our universal togetherness. This is how life should be.

It Can Be Done. We Can Do It.

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By Dawn Onley

There is no scarcity of opportunity to make a living at what you love; there’s only scarcity of resolve to make it happen.” – Wayne Dyer

There are so many opportunities to do what we love.

Endless opportunities.

We have access to unlimited information. We can learn all about the things that we love. We can take small steps to do what it is we dream of doing. We can turn our hobbies into a career. We can overcome our fears and dust off those dreams that lie dormant in the recesses of our minds.

Somewhere, someone is doing exactly what we want to do. We may even know them. We could be just like them. It doesn’t matter our circumstances. We may need better focus. Or better discipline. Or improved time management.

But it can be done. We can do it. If we resolve to do it.

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I taught a continuing education class on journalism at a community college years ago. One of my students wanted to know how to get published in a newspaper. She said she felt foolish for thinking she could get published but that she had always wanted to be a journalist. I told her no dreams were foolish and that she could do it if she was persistent enough.

I told her the first step was to find out what criteria her targeted publication had for outside submissions. Once she knew the rules, so to speak, she needed to determine a topic she could pitch to them and a contact person who accepted the pitches. I told her it would help to read the newspaper she wanted to pitch to get an idea of the types of articles they run.

She determined a focus and ultimately her pitch landed her a freelance article.

She was taking the continuing education class to determine if she wanted to pursue a career in journalism. The article gave her momentum to go after her dreams.

There are so many opportunities. Read the job boards in unconventional places, like the local library. Network. Go to that free lecture on something you’re interested in. Volunteer to get experience. Even consider creating your dream job yourself.

Do what you need to do to step into the opportunity that awaits you.

What are you waiting for?

 

Before I Take Part in This Thanksgiving…

By Samantha McKenzie

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Before I take part in this great American tradition called Thanksgiving, I pause to give thanks and honor to our Native American family.

As we gather today around the dining room table with family and friends, let us reflect on the true history of this nation, and the tremendous sacrifice made by our brothers and sisters. While I am thankful for so much this year, I am especially thankful for those who came before me, who endured the bloody battles and fought the good fight.

Their struggle is our struggle.

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As I embrace this tradition – native to you – I reaffirm my commitment to being a positive part of a process that creates a more unified America.

I am thankful to live in this America – the land of your home and the land you so freely shared with us all. I am honored to know you and thankful for your contributions to Mother Earth.

We are forever bonded. We are one.

I stand with tribal nations at Standing Rock.

May God be with us all.

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Testing the Winds and Adjusting Our Sails

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By Dawn Onley

Have you ever had something in life that just wasn’t working for you anymore?

It doesn’t matter what it is — a relationship, a job, a belief, an exercise regimen, whatever – the point is, if it’s no longer working, why are you still clinging onto it?

Heck, it may have never worked. Yet, month after month, here you are hanging on, as if it’s still better to hold out hope rather than chalk up your losses and go in another direction.

I’m all about hope. In fact, I co-write this blog dedicated to women like us, who hope. My optimistic brain usually leans to the possibility of a thing working out.

But I’m also a realist. Sometimes you need to know when to hope and other times you need to learn when to let go. Just like the Kenny Rogers song “you’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run…”

When you have the persistent feeling that things will not work out, that things will not get better, that your heart is not into this, or that you need to try another approach, don’t wait. Do it. Hope was never meant to pacify us or keep us holding on, uninspired, in a state of lethargy.

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Don’t be afraid to change course. I’m writing these words to myself as clearly as I’m writing them to you. We can test the winds and adjust our sails. We can learn from our mistakes and from our experiences – good and bad. We can strive for better.

Let’s start today, planning our way ahead. Let’s become who we were always meant to be.

Live An Extraordinary Life, Take More Risks

By Samantha McKenzie

“Why not go out on a limb? That’s where the fruit is.” Mark Twain

Why not push the envelope? How about you cross that line again. Try walking along the edge or free falling through life. If it gets you closer to your dreams, why not?

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Inspiring women to chase after their dreams and follow their passions, comes at a high price. The stakes are steep and the sacrifices are almost insurmountable. The acceptance rate is low and the negative comments usually come from the people we care about the most.

But do it anyway. When we’re full of passion and focused on our goals, we need to be reminded to take a risk…on ourselves. Stop talking yourself out of your dreams and settling, instead invite others to supplement their safe, cushy, comfortable lives, for the slim odds of gambling on their abilities.

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We have every right to break traditions that no longer serve us. This is how evolution takes place. It starts with relinquishing roles that make us unhappy and abandoning our fears for the sake of a powerful future.

The heart is tough. It was meant to take risks. The streets of our existence are graciously paved with both successes and failures, joys and sadness, and all sorts of juxtapositions. Don’t believe me? Ask anyone who’s done it.

They went against the grain, tolerated the “you’re crazy” comments and plowed away at what they believed in, regardless. They didn’t expect things to be easy. That would be the expectations of the ordinary. They knew from the moment they stuck their neck out there, that they were rolling the dice on uncertainty.

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They overcame their inhibitions and they toiled away.

So here’s to all my full steam ahead, nose-diving, slaying ’em sisters who dare to dream and travel on with their big ole risky hearts. You are extraordinary.