Make A Friend Day

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February 11 is Make A Friend Day. How cool is that? I’m serious. Where are you reading this post right now? The bus/ metro/taxi, a coffee shop/juice bar/gym, in the car/waiting room/porch while your child/friend/parent finishes a piano lesson/taking a shower/chatting with the neighbor? Is there someone you can approach in your vicinity? Someone you’ve been meaning to approach, but have been too busy or don’t know how ? How busy can you be that you can’t take the time to say, “Hi, I’m Catherine. We always end up in the same elevator in the morning. I thought it might be nice to introduce ourselves.” Once the possible awkwardness passes, you’ll probably get a laugh and “It is nice! I’m Jess and I’ve been meaning to tell you that I love your new haircut!”

Yup, it’s happened to me and it can happen to you. Just slap on a smile, walk through the coals of fear of rejection, and be your friendly self.

Human beings are social animals. We are meant to live together: couple, family, clan. A newborn child cannot survive on its own. From the day we are born, we seek to be understood and so we learn to  interact with others and form relationships. As babies, we communicated with cries and giggles, as small children with hand signals and single words, as teenagers with appearance and actions, as adults with hopefully well-thought out words. We are constantly learning to be with others and to be ourselves. From the beginning, we seek connection and belonging.

So how is it that the one-person household is rising around the world? In developed countries, solo living ranges from the mid-20% to just over 40%. In developing countries, the statistics show about 5%-15%. According to demographers, the numbers will continue to grow. They suggest financial independence, fewer children, changing cultural/religious views on marriage are some of the contributing factors. A good thing then that some created Make A Friend Day.

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4 Benefits of friendship

  • People with friends and family handle stress better, therefore feel more at peace which allows them to be healthier.
  • People with friends take better care of themselves which points to having higher self-esteem. Meaning: they feel more in control of their lives.
  • Sharing with friends implies trust and alleviates loneliness. This increases a sense of belonging.
  • Two other benefits of sharing are a more grounded perspective toward problems and the ability to ask for a trusted opinion.
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4 Ways to make new friends

  • Pursue your interests. Volunteer. Join a sports team, a book club, a cooking class. These place you amongst like-minded people. The interaction that comes from participating will help you discover who would make a good fit for you. Or, you could do what I do: smile and say hello to everyone. In time (and it will come fairly early on), the group will separate into two: those who step closer and converse and those who politely reply while making minimal eye contact then quickly move away.
  • Online groups are another way to make friends, if you are active in a group. Whether it’s photography, writing, or politics, the more exchanges, the more we get to know how people think and feel, where they are from, and their day-to-day lives.
  • Surrounded by people, but don’t know them? Try approaching someone with the elevator conversation above.
  • Whether you are in university or working full-time, networking events abound. I’ve always had a hard time with them. I want to pick the right person to talk to. I want to say the right thing. I want to see understanding in their eyes. I want to impress. The pressure of that single opportunity either keeps me at home or in a corner, where no one except the guy who thinks he’s funny, gravitates to. An entrepreneur told me about her brilliant strategy. (Thank you Chantal.) She forces herself to go and allows herself to leave after speaking/delivering two business cards. That’s it! How easy is that? I can totally speak. As long as I’m on topic, I don’t have to be terrific. The business card serves as an ice breaker and avoids all that messing around with the phone’s contact list.

Remember true friendship takes time and commitment. Don’t freak out because I didn’t say marriage with kids and in-laws. So, coffee or a meal once in a while, a text or call on a birthday, a card at the holidays, a visit when your friend is sick, an invitation to an event of shared interest. And share and listen, listen and share, share and listen, listen and share, etc. Those are the little things that allow care, respect, trust, loyalty to grow.

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4 Quotes on friendship

  • “There are no strangers in the world, just friends you have never met.” –W.B. Yeats
  • “Friends are those rare people who ask how we are and then wait to hear the answer.” —Ed Cunningham
  • “One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.” —Seneca
  • “Remember: No one’s more important than people! In other words, friendship is the most important thing–not career or housework, or one’s fatigue–and it needs to be tended and nurtured.” —Julia Child

Happy Make A Friend Day!

Who will you approach on February 11? How do you make new friends? Have you ever tried to make a friend and it backfired? Do you have a friendship that surprises you? Tell me about! I love hearing from you. Leave a comment

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Happy New Year

Wishing you all the best of everything.

My Daughter Does My Makeup

My 10 year old daughter loves playing with makeup. This week she asked me to be a model for one of her videos. She did a great job. Check it out.

When did you start playing with your mom’s makeup? I love hearing from you. Leave a comment!

Don’t forget that if you can become a True Hearts Insider by subscribing to my monthly newsletter, you’ll receive monthly updates, go behind the scenes, and automatically be entered to win prizes exclusive to True Hearts Insiders. Subscribe to my True Hearts Insider Newsletter. Fill out the form at the top of sidebar on this page!

Crash Without The Burn

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Ever feel like your life is out of control? Of course, you have. We all go through periods, whether it’s an hour, a week, a year, during which, despite our best efforts and intentions, very little goes as planned. The last two weeks have been crazy for me!

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It all started last Monday when I went to the dentist and had a panic attack. The following day I had an intake appointment at the hospital. I was told they couldn’t do anything for me and that I needed to seek assistance in the private sector. People, as a Canadian, who pays for health care through her taxes, I find this unacceptable. I’m not sure there should be any private sector unless it’s for something like a face lift. Vanity is not health care. I had to go back to the dentist on Thursday for my daughter and on Friday for me again. No panic attack on Friday. Cool as a cucumber and, according to the dentist, as pale as a ghost. I didn’t feel pale, but damn was I cold in her chair.

With all that running around, I still managed to revise twelve chapters of my NaNoWriMo WIP and added about 1500 words. By then I was tired, but satisfied. Nursing a sick child all weekend, I turned my sights on Monday which started with another appointment.

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Bright and early Monday morning, I had to write a language test for job opportunity. (I’m happy to report that I did well enough to have been scheduled for a phone interview.) By the time I got home, I was beat. It turned out that I was getting a little sick too. And then it got worse.

I was in bed working on my laptop when Word suddenly started adding all kinds of spaces every time I type a letter. I tried to fix it but couldn’t. I couldn’t even save my document or close Word, so I shut down the laptop. It was only after I tried to restart it in Safe Mode that I realized there was a pile of school books on the remote keyboard that was connected to the laptop. My beloved child hadn’t thought twice about plunking her homework on it. That’s what was creating the extra characters when I typed. I hoped the problem would end once I disconnected the USB, but no such luck. The CHKDSK brought on a Blue Screen Of Death (BSOD) which meant the hard drive was sicker than I was.

Number 3

Before I took the laptop to the private health care system, I tried to fix it myself and spent the majority of Tuesday starting and restarting my computer in various modes hoping for a different result but always ending up with BSOD.  B-sod. It doesn’t sound friendly and it doesn’t sound like rocket science, more like regular physics. But it might as well have been rocket science. So I know that NASA would never launch a rocket with my laptop but I know that I have stored my life on this pink technological clam shell. And if it’s not working, do I really exist? Yes, I do but I don’t pay my bills on time or work on my WIP! Fortunately, Mom knows a geek. He came by and couldn’t do anything but, the following day, he took me to a master geek who could.

My hard drive was, as I had already figured out, very ill. Fortunately, the data could still be extracted, but the future of the hard drive was in God’s hands.

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So, no computer for three days. That’s okay, right? NOT. However, I finished my Christmas shopping, went to an appointment for myself in the private healthcare sector, wrote Christmas cards and thank you notes and sent them out along with gifts. I also did a lot of reading. While I did not waste my time, I’m feeling lost. My routine broken. I rolled with it, but man am I behind. Yesterday, I got my computer back. Data intact. Hard drive, after some time in ICU, pulled through. So I’m catching up first by writing this. But I’m going to have to stop before I post it because, you know it, I have another appointment.

Later my lovelies.

What throws you off your routine? Tell me about the time your computer needed a serious intervention. I love hearing from you. Leave a comment!

P.S.: Don’t forget that if you can become a True Hearts Insider by subscribing to my monthly newsletter, you’ll receive monthly updates, go behind the scenes, and automatically be entered to win prizes exclusive to True Hearts Insiders. Subscribe to my True Hearts Insider Newsletter. Fill out the form at the top of sidebar on this page!

Incentives For Writers

The Challenge

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Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

This was my first year attempting NaNoWriMo. I didn’t officially register since I hadn’t decided to participate until November had started. Surrounded and inspired by participants in my online writing group, W.A.N.A. Tribe, I thought I’d give it a try and bumped Word Count up to the top of my priority list.

The Unexpected Challenge

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Everything was going well until the last ten days. I was having a terrible writing day. Zero ideas, zero inspiration. When I had decided to join in the fun, I had an outline and half the story had been plotted. It was easy to write since I always knew what came next. I had done the thinking and the planning ahead of time. But I had stopped to focus on that 50,000 words word count.

The Muse

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As the days went by, it seemed to me like the words flowed less and less until the day nothing flowed. I realized that I only had ten days left when at the end of one day I had written something absurd like 163 words. That’s barely a paragraph! I was so discouraged. I announced to my online writing group that I was giving up on NaNo. There were only a couple of people in the chat room at that time but one of them was Kristen Lamb, W.A.N.A. founder.  She challenged me to write 500 words in 40 minutes. If I met the challenge, she would give me a free class. I won that challenge by writing 518 words. That made me feel so much better about my abilities. I would go to bed that night knowing that I had made a splash in the bucket instead of a drop.

How did I end up writing so much in so little time without a jumping point? Two things:

  1. I’d been offered an incentive – the class with Kristen Lamb
  2. Kristen told me to get out of my own way and just write: follow the muse

I want to elaborate on the latter. Her words really struck me because I was trying so hard to stay within the frame that I’d made it too narrow in my mind. When in fact, any kind of art is always in mutation. Until the paint is dried, until the song is recorded, until the poem is read to an audience, until the clay has hardened, the artist always has the ability to add, remove, or change with their own imagination being the only restriction.

I’ve always scene my outlines as guides through the story. I never felt that I had to write a scene exactly like I had planned it. I always felt like I could add scenes, change the plot direction, do whatever I wanted as long as the story made sense. For whatever reason, I thought I was stuck and I needed someone to point out that I wasn’t actually stuck.

I, more or less, pantsered my way through the second half of the story. I did get lost once as I wrote some scenes out of sequence and had to update my outline but I didn’t let it get me down because I needed to hit that 50,000 words word count. And why? Because there was another incentive.

The Incentive

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While I felt better about myself after completing Kristen’s initial challenge, I doubt I would have hit the NaNoWriMo word count on November 30 without more motivation. I suspect Kristen knew it too. After I wrote the 518 words in 40 minutes, she offered me a second incentive: a free consultation with her on my story if I hit the magic number. I wrote like a maniac for ten days and by 6 pm last Friday, I was done. 50,086 words! I sent her my story and relaxed for the entire weekend. I didn’t want to do, read, hear about writing for 48 hours.

The Result

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It is a first draft and I would say an unfinished first draft. While the beginning, middle and end are all there, I want to add another 10,000 words. I have some ideas for a few more scenes that I didn’t have time to write. This week, I’ve happily been reviewing my work, pleased with its current state and updating my outline. So it’s not finished, but it will be done soon. The incentive this time: being able to hand off a completed novel to an editor so I can get it to my readers early next year.

P.S.

 

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In passing, if you become a True Hearts Insider by subscribing to my monthly newsletter, you’ll receive monthly updates, go behind the scenes, and automatically be entered to win prizes exclusive to True Hearts Insiders (This month: One pair of super cozy faux fur trimmed reading socks). Subscribe to my True Hearts Insider Newsletter. Fill out the form at the top of sidebar on this page!

What incentives have motivated you? Or how do you motivate others? I love hearing from you. Leave a comment.

RHCP Carpool Karaoke

As I mentioned earlier this month, NaNoWriMo has got me busy so I’m keeping my posts short and funny. Hope you have a good time with this one.

My ten year old daughter introduced me to James Corden last week. I’m really behind some of the cultural media evolution. Please forgive me if this is redundant. For those of you who might not have discovered Carpool Karaoke yet, I want to share this episode of Corden and, one of my favorite bands, the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

What did you think? I love hearing from you. Leave a comment.