Archive for the ‘Family’ category

Problem-solving with tough conversations

March 7, 2023

I don’t like confrontation. I’m more likely to be a peace-keeper than start a tough conversation. The problem is that avoiding a conversation can lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings.

I had two experiences that really highlighted the importance of communication and having tough conversations.

During the first conversation, we talked about everything except an important topic: money. None of us wanted to bring it up and none of us knew what to expect. It was uncomfortable, and I could have avoided that discomfort if I had just started the conversation.

In fact, I had recently attended a webinar, “How to Set Fees: Ethics and Outcomes” with Miranda Palmer and Kelly Higdon, and one of the things they said stuck with me: “If we avoid conversations about money, what else are we avoiding?”

This question made me think about all of the topics we usually avoid to try to keep the peace – whether it’s money, politics, religion, or other hot-button subjects.

Ironically, it wasn’t enough to motivate me to have that conversation when I needed to. Maybe I needed that hard lesson.

Then I attended another webinar, “Taking the Dread Out of Tough Conversations” with Lorna Kibbey of Lorna Kibbey Leadership Solutions. She offered a different perspective that gave me courage. She said: “Tough conversations are a problem-solving method.”

A lightbulb turned on in my head. Tough conversations are problem-solving conversations. Instead of focusing on negative thoughts or emotions, I needed to focus on solutions.

So the next time I had a conversation and needed to talk about a tough subject (it happened to be money again), I took a deep breath, admitted that “I’m a little uncomfortable bringing this up,” and then plunged into the conversation.

What happened? No one was surprised or upset. The other person appreciated that I brought up the subject. We had an honest conversation about talked about our expectations.

And I think that the next tough conversation will be easier to start.

Kibbey also offered perspective that will help me with annual reviews, explaining that “Constructive feedback is a tool used to create positive change in the workplace.” It’s not a personal attack. Giving and receiving constructive feedback comes from a place of caring, to help people improve and succeed. And I think it can work in our personal lives too.

What challenging conversations have you faced recently? How have you worked out solutions together? How will you have different conversations in the future?


Public speaking, mixers, and me

February 21, 2023

For me, it’s sometimes stressful to attend social and networking events. So I try to give myself a small, easily attainable goal for the event. Usually, my goal is: Talk to one new person or Sit next to one new person.

Honestly, I would have to make an effort not to reach that goal – and once it happens, I feel more relaxed.

Last week, I went to the Charity Walk Kick-Off Event at the beautiful Prince Waikiki. I brought my 16-year old son with me. He volunteered to walk with me, and I thought it would be a good experience for him to see all the planning that goes into it.

I told him he could get something to eat and then do some homework, and Smile and say hello if someone talks to him. But when people joined us at the table, he courteously put his laptop away and talked to them.

Instead of keeping his head down or moving somewhere quiet, he asked questions and was interested in what they were saying. I wished I had his confidence when I was in high school.

On the drive home, we were talking about public speaking and he told me that he was really impressed with Beyoncé, who created the alter ego Sasha Fierce to take her performances to the next level. It’s a brilliant idea!

As an introvert, I told him that I imagine a power button or switch that I press when I need to be my more extroverted, outgoing, confident self. It gives me a sense of control and boundaries – I can choose how to present myself and set time limits.

He still remembers the public speaking advice I gave him when he was in the third grade. I admitted that I gave him a lot of advice and suggested, “Speak to one person in the room.”

“No,” he said. “Imagine that everyone is wearing underwear.”

I took a breath and confessed, “It was a joke.”

He was outraged. “I thought you were serious!”

How do you feel about public speaking? What tips help you become a more effective speaker?

Happy Valentine’s Day from Hawai’i

February 14, 2023

February is Hawaiian Language Month, and I was excited to learn that Kamehameha Schools created more Hawaiian language GIFs to celebrate Mahina ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i.

My favorite ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i GIFs are “Aloha Kakahiaka” (Good Morning), “I lā maika’i no ‘oukou” (Have a good day), and “Mahalo iā Pauahi (Thank you Pauahi).

Just for fun, I felt inspired to make some images of my own for Valentine’s Day. You are welcome share these JPG images!

Do you speak Hawaiian or are you learning Hawaiian? How do you express yourself on social media? Share your favorite GIFs and Valentine’s Day stories!

3 lessons from a school carnival

February 7, 2023

Walking through the main gate beneath the Punahou Carnival banner, passing people with popcorn and three unicorn inflatables in a row and paper bags of malasadas… There were food booths, kiddie rides and games, entertainment, and art, but people were just excited to enjoy the carnival again.

There are a lot of lessons that we can learn from running a school carnival. Three lessons from a school carnival:

1. Look for silver and gold linings. People say with a smile that it always rains during the carnival. But instead of feeling angry or disappointed, people have turned it into a shared experience. It’s almost a point of pride to say you made it through a downpour or stood under a tent heavy with rainwater – as long as the malasadas kept dry.

So many things are out of our control – but we can control how we react to things. Obstacles can become learning experiences. Challenges can help us grow.

2. When something needs doing, jump in and help. Carnivals need carnival-goers, donors, and a lot of volunteers! I watched students and parents pitch in wherever they were needed and work extra shifts. I saw volunteers spontaneously help out during a rush. My son barely took breaks and really hustled to serve people who waited patiently in line.

Everyone benefits from volunteering – people have a good time, students gain experience, parents feel connected to the school, and alumni classmates reconnect.

Helping when help is needed – at home, at work, at leisure activities – benefits everyone. And it feels good to help out.

3. Give kids the opportunity to contribute – and they will. All the high school students had to work booth shifts. The students I saw were friendly, professional, and helpful. When it was time to work, they worked hard!

As parents, we often want our children to enjoy their youth as long as they can. But children are capable of so much more than we expect – at younger ages than we think.

The day after carnival was beautiful, sunny with blue skies. My legs were sore and my shoulder muscles ached. It was a day of rest and recovery.

What are your favorite things about school carnivals? If you have volunteered in a booth, what was your experience like?

Puppy lessons

January 3, 2023

A little over a year ago, we adopted a yellow lab puppy named Nalu. He was four months old and shy, but when we sat on the floor, he came up to us hesitantly and snuggled in my lap.

We had only recently been thinking of adopting a dog, but he and his human parents chose the time. After talking about it as a family, we decided to adopt him.

Nalu is a very different dog from our first yellow lab, Sophie. He loves to be with us, while she was very independent. He stays close to the house, while she would run outside and explore neighborhood, coming back only when she was ready. He’s slow to accept people and dogs, while she was friendly to everyone.

Here are a few lessons I learned from living with a puppy.

Standing a few feet in front of me, Nalu barked wildly at someone. When the person took one step closer, Nalu jumped up and raced back to me, hiding behind me and peering around suspiciously.
What I learned: The unknown can be scary. I can be a safe space, someone who people can trust to protect and support them.

When Nalu went to the beach for the first time, an unexpected wave swamped him. He ran out of the water and rubbed his wet head in the sand. The second time at the beach, he didn’t want to back into the ocean until another dog ran with him into the waves.
What I learned: Sometimes things are overwhelming, even when we know they’re coming.

The first time Nalu met my mom at our house, he wouldn’t stop barking at her. I gave her a treat and asked her to put it on the floor in front of him. He stopped barking and sat politely. Once she gave him the “okay” and he gobbled up the treat, he didn’t bark at her again.
What I learned: Kindness and first impressions matter.

We have a loveseat in our family room. I usually sit on the left side and Nalu has started curling up on the right side. He sometimes jumps up on “my side,” but he will move over when I want to sit there. When someone sites on “his side” of the couch, he stands in front of them and stares, sometimes putting his front paws on their knees.
What I learned: Territory, also known as healthy boundaries, are important for dogs and people.

I was sitting on the couch reading, and Nalu jumped up beside me. Looking away from me, he slowly leaned against my shoulder until he was lying in my lap. I caught his head as he tilted back, and he turned into my shoulder. His eyes drifted shut and he took a short nap.
What I learned: Dogs and people need affection or a caring touch, but they can’t always tell you what they need. Also, dogs and people can be sneaky.

Our lives are richer for the dogs and animals in our lives.

Did you care for a pet when you were a child? What lessons have you learned from your pets?