Month: February 2013

Ways to Make People Like You

how-to-make-friends

My facebook friends know I am currently preparing to give a lesson on Sunday about friendship.  When I first received this impression I thought it would be easy.  It’s such a universal topic of interest and something I have always held as a priority that facilitating a discussion should be simple, right?  Wrong!

First of all, I think anyone who claims to be an expert in making and keeping friends probably doesn’t have very many of them.  However, I’ve felt lonely enough in my life to make the search for this skill a priority, and there are certain tendencies that have repeatedly helped me along the way.

Perhaps it is being bullied as a child but I have always needed and prized friendship above all.  Friendship and loyalty to those friends is probably the most important thing in my life. Not everyone seems to have this need and prefers a solitary life, and there is nothing wrong with that, but its not me. I am not a perfect person but I think you will rarely find a more loyal or interested friend.  I try very hard to make and keep my friends.

As I was preparing the lesson my first thought was

1. Is friendship a necessity or a luxury?  What I mean is friendship something we require for a happy existence or is it an added benefit when time allows like a vacation or a special dessert.    Everyone on facebook agreed, friendship is a necessity.

So, most of us need friends.  Most of us see them as an essential part of life.  My next question was

2. Why as adults do we struggle making and keeping friends if it is as essential part of life? 

I think there are a lot of answers to that question but the main one seems to be time.  Our resources, time being one of them, are limited and often other essentials (and non-essentials) take the place of the essential need for friendship.

Now I had learned that friendship is essential and time seems to be the main barrier in creating these essential experiences.  So the solution to having better, more meaningful friendship in our lives is either creating more time or using what time we have more effectively.   Both can be helpful.

So how do we do this? How do we both create more time and use time we have with friends more effectively?  To figure this out I’ve been reading lots of articles and getting the opinion of friends.  One book I’ve read again is the old classic How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.  It stands the test of time.  Really quite brilliant.  In his book he gives:

6 Ways to Make People Like You by Dale Carnegie

Principle 1- Become genuinely interested in other people. I find that focusing on what we have in common helps to be interested. On the other hand differences make life more interesting.  For instance, say a person is super into karate and you are not.  Well, now you have an opportunity to have a friend who is into karate. Your life has just become that much more interesting and well-rounded.

Principle 2- Smile Nobody wants to be friends with a grump. I would also add be real with people.  Privacy will only get privacy in return.  Friendship is a vulnerable experience.  Be happy but also be you. A smile goes along way to brighten anyone’s day.

Principle 3- Remember the person’s name I’d add remember details about their life.  It is such an attractive quality in a friend.  A friend of mine won my heart when on our second meeting he remembered about my swim meet I had been in the prior weekend and had briefly mentioned on our first meeting

Principle 4- Be a good listener.  Encourage others to talk about themselves.  The greatest human need is to be understood and be listened to.  I got good at this on my mission.  I had no interest in hoosier basketball or indy car racing but nothing makes a person happier than when they have a captive audience for their hobbies and interests.  I know that is true for me with open water or my other interests.  For most of us it makes us feel good to rattle on about our jobs, hobbies, friends etc.  We don’t need solutions just to be listened to.

Principle 5- Talk in terms of the Other Person’s Interest.  This goes back to principle 1 and it can be easier said than done.  Sometimes it can feel impossible to have anything in common with another person but usually if you dig hard enough you can find something.  For example, I have zero interest in video games but I love art so I can try to relate to those who have an interest in gaming in terms of art of the games.  Usually once you get beyond the cursory interests you find deeper things you have in common but it takes digging.

Principle 6- Make the Other Person Feel Important- and do it sincerely.  (Basically think more of the person than you do of yourself.  Be the kind of friend you would like to have and you may come close to getting such friends.  Regardless, you will be happy because you will make others happy).

A Few More From Me!

Principle 7- Friendship is not an Equitable Relationship.  It will always feel like you are making more of an effort than your proposed friend.  Whether this is true or not is beside the point.  Expecting things to be fair will not get you far.  For example, I should not invite said friend for dinner expecting to get a dinner from him or her in return.  It just doesn’t work that way.  I have to be the one to make the effort and be content with that.  It is not a competition or a popularity contest.

We can only make an effort and be happy with our choices.  Unless it is a toxic relationship, most of the time we get back plenty of what we put in; however, it just may not be in the exact way.  For instance, a dinner invitation may be returned by a phone call at a needed moment.  A relationship is about people not about fancy scrapbooks of perfectly planned out memories.

Principle 8- People will Almost Never be More Open with You than You are with Them.  If you want meaningful, open and honest relationships than you have to be a meaningful, open and honest person. If you want a casual relationship that is just for fun you will probably get a casual relationship that is just for fun.

Principle 9- Not all Friendships Could or Should be Saved.  There are absolutely toxic friendships.  When we are being manipulated, lied to, or abused in anyway this is not friendship. We can be twisted to thinking it is, or that by denying this help we are a terrible, heartless person but the reverse is usually true.  Don’t be an enabler.  Trust me.  These types of relationships are like strychnine for the soul.  Avoid at all cost.

Principle 10- People May Break Your Heart. Love Anyway.  I certainly have had my fair share of disappointment  going way back to the bullying as a child.  You never forget it.  But remember the advice of Mother Teresa:

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

I guess I would end that not everyone needs hordes of friends.  Some just need one and that can be your spouse.  There’s nothing wrong with that but no matter the number we can all be better friends to those we know and reach out to the lonely we don’t know.

Birthday Bags for Homeless

We had a great activity today for my ward.   It was a valentines date night which would normally make me sick inside but it was combined with an awesome service project so that made it more palatable to a single person like me.  We collected donations for little presents or bags that the local homeless shelters could give to residents on their birthday.  These included bags for men, women, teens and children.

bags

I was a little nervous that we wouldn’t get much stuff or that we’d get lots of the same kind of stuff.  I could just see 20 people bringing toothbrushes or only having enough for 2 bags.  Fortunately none of that happened in fact we filled up at least 50 bags for all sexes and ages and then had enough to fill up at least double that number.  It was so cool!

women getting bags ready bags2

The nice thing is I actually felt like we were helping people, not just going through the motions.  It seemed like everyone was pushing themselves and giving as much as they could.  I remember a few years ago at a ward sub-4-santa I left feeling depressed.  It seemed to me we were giving the family a bunch of junk and I felt a nagging sense of regret at an opportunity lost when more could have been done.  Not so this time.  I was blown away at everybody’s generosity and creativity.

Even the idea for the bags was creative.  It was the idea of a woman in the ward who was speaking with her neighbor Tammi  who is completely awesome leader in our community.  A few years ago she moved to Draper and decided she wanted to contribute.  She didn’t have much money but figured she could make peanut butter sandwiches, which she did. After bagging them up she took them to give out to the homeless.  Since then she’s become more involved with area needy.  Isn’t that cool!

Well, they were talking and the idea for a birthday bag was developed.  Nobody had done it at these shelters before so it was uncharted ground and we really had no idea how it would all turn out.  However, it certainly exceeded my expectations.  What a neat opportunity to serve.

I’m so worn out and tired from this week but I can’t sleep.  Sigh…I need a break!

Oh well, at least I had an opportunity to serve.  I’m glad of that.

How I Am Doing

People often start out a greeting with the innocuous question- “How are you doing?”.  To which the expected reply is ‘I’m fine’.   Since this is my blog and I can write what I wish I’m going to give the honest answer of How I am doing.

I am exhausted.  Feel like I got beat up in a fight.  I wish I could be one of those people that do long shifts, have crazy personal life and never get a break.  I can do it for about 2 months and then I crash.  I feel like I haven’t had a chance to rest since Christmas.  Granted I’ve had some great experiences like my party or the swim meet Saturday but I still feel super tired and worn out.

I am thrilled.  I love my house. I love my tenants.  I love decorating my house and learning what I like and don’t like.  Its been really fun and satisfying.

I am sore.  My pain in my rib cage has been bad lately.  It’s always there and to an extent I’ve grown accustomed to it but lately its been bad. I can’t wear a bra it hurts so bad.  Sigh…I also pulled a muscle in my hip on Monday so I’m walking like an old woman hunched over.

I am worried.  My Grandma W has been sent back to the ER with her heart problems. I know she’s an old woman but this has all come out of the blue for me.  Makes me feel bad for missing Christmas this year.  I hope she knows how much I love her.

I am overwhelmed.  New calling with lots of responsibilities has been overwhelming. Trying to learn everyone’s names and get things right is hard. Plus, just getting everything settled, unpacked and finished has been hard. Exciting but hard.

I am grateful.  I know how privileged I am on so many levels.  Grateful to have my house and its comforts but also grateful for my friends and the outpouring of love I’ve felt lately.  Really I couldn’t be more grateful.

I am loved.  I’ve often wondered what good deed I did in the pre-life to deserve such love. My party, the swim meet, my move- in all of it I was overwhelmed by how many people loved me. I hope I never take them for granted.  I love my friends!

I am inspired.  Inspired to lose the 15 lbs I gained during this moving process.  Inspired to get back in the water.  Inspired to get ready for SLC swim in June. Getting in better shape is the goal and weight loss will hopefully be a side benefit.

I am anxious.  Let’s be honest- I’m always a little bit anxious.  Its a lot of change in a short period of time and more to come in May with work but all changes for the best.

I am hopeful.  The flip side of anxious is hopeful.  I feel proud of all I have accomplished (even if it wasn’t in the most glamorous of fashion) and look forward to the future.  I’m hopeful for my job, house, tenants, friendships and maybe even dating every now and then. That’d be nice. 🙂

I am happy. I really am.  Tired but happy which perhaps is the best kind of happiness.

So today I have a few hours off to rejuvenate myself.  What to do with a few precious hours?  I’ll start by catching up on my book club book and taking some big deep breaths.  Then maybe I will actually cook myself a real meal.  How are you doing?

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QUAC 2013

This won’t be a long post because I can barely keep my eyes open.  This morning I wen to the QUAC meet at Fairmont pool in Salt Lake.  It is a fun, casual swim meet, and it was my first major gathering of the recently formed SLOW (Salt Lake Open Water) masters team.  It was fun to see my friends and get a swim in.

It has been a few weeks since I have made it to the pool.  With the move taking up so much of my energy it has been hard to find any time for swimming.  I’ve missed it a lot and couldn’t wait to dive in.  However, I hesitated in going because I’m so out of shape and its been weeks since I was in the water but I decided to go for it and I’m glad I did.

I ended up swimming 2 relays which were fun.  They were my first relays in a competition environment and one of them was all women which is awesome.  I was surprised so many wanted me to be on their team given my lack of training.  Grateful!  I also did my own 50 meter free and amazingly finished in 49.5 seconds.  My best time is 48 seconds!  I couldn’t believe I got that good of a time considering the circumstances.

Now I am just plain exhausted and am going to take a nap.

Before the meet
Before the meet
After the relay
After the relay
After my 50 free!
After my 50 free!
Laurie came and did awesome.  Her first meet!
Laurie came and did awesome. Her first meet!
SLOW swimmers
SLOW swimmers
Our SLOW swimmer teams
Our SLOW swimmer teams
SLOW swimmers
SLOW swimmers

Happy Valentines 2013

Happy Love Day!!!  Today is Valentines Day as everyone knows.  I hope you are all happy and feeling loved this day.  As a single woman it is easy to feel down on couply days like Valentines (made up holiday or not it can still be like salt in the wound).  Well, last year I decided to do something to make the holiday fun.  I created a valentine using my own creativity and the skills of my friend Joan who is a graphic designer.

https://smilingldsgirl.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/rachelpopcorn2.jpg

rachelpopcorn2

I had so much fun making my valentine last year that I decided to do one this year.  (I am woefully late in getting them mailed but at least I got them emailed and posted on facebook).  I enjoy being creative and coming up with expressions and a concept for a card.  Then I use Joan’s artistic skills to make my vision a reality.  Here’s what I came up with this year.

RachelValentine2013

And yes, that is me in the swimsuit.  Isn’t it cute?  I love it.  It just goes to show with a little creativity and ingenuity you can turn something negative into a positive.  Now it is become a little tradition for me and it took me almost no time and very little money.  Why not!

To get your own custom cards, stationary, plates, whatever check out Joan’s store at http://www.bitsycreations.com/

I hope you all have a great Valentines and I will try my best to have one too! ( I got a heart shaped pizza from Papa Murphys.  What’s not to like about that? Although is it slightly pathetic to eat a heart shaped pizza by yourself?  Sigh…)

Most importantly I hope you all feel loved.  Loved by your friends, by me, by most importantly God and Jesus.  They love us more than you will ever know.  God bless and Happy Valentines!

Myths About Being Single

So this might seem a little random but over the last few months I’ve wanted to write a post on the greatest myths many married people have about being single.

1. Myth #1- “You’re single so you get to hang out with your girlfriends whenever you want”.  Sometimes I think there is this illusion that the singles life is Sex and the City without the sex (well without the sex for the Mormon singles!).  Me and my 3 galpals hanging out and gallivanting around town at our hearts content.  The truth is about 80% of my friends are married with kids and most of the time I’m so exhausted from work and other responsibilities that watching TV or heating up a microwave meal is all I can do.  I would say I get 1-2 (maybe more in the summer) nights with friends in a month, which may be more than those with small kids but still its not like I’m partying it up all the time.

2. Myth #2- “You don’t have kids so you must have lots of extra money”.  I found this attitude pervasive with recent events.  The attitude seems to be ‘well, you’re single so you must have money to hire movers’.  In reality married people statistically are wealthier and healthier than their single counterparts.  Even if you don’t have a two income household, in most marriages you have two people managing the budget and making decisions.  Plus, everything is more expensive for just one person.  Food is more, taxes are more, rent is more etc.

3. Myth #3- “You must have tons of free time because you don’t have kids”.  Well, this may be marginally true but between work and other obligations my time gets full, and I usually can’t skip off at a moments notice just because I don’t have kids.  I try to help where I can and working from home makes me more available than some singles, but my time seems to fly away as fast as anyone else. I’ve actually had people sign me up for things without asking me first- assuming I can do them because I’m single and carefree and can easily find the time.  Not always true.

4.  Myth #4- “You must get tons of sleep because you don’t have kids”.  I deal with insomnia and on a few occasions when I have mentioned being tired to my friends with kids the claws come out.  I have no right to be tired because they have kids and are up all night.  I totally get that, but I sincerely do feel tired.  Really.  Can’t we all be sympathetic of eachother’s tiredness? This one is more in humor as I know I’d be a total grump if I had kids and was up all night.

5. Myth #5- “You’re single. You must travel all the time”.  Now I do travel more than most of my married friends but it isn’t as easy as one might think.  First of all, as a single you have nobody to travel with which means you must either go alone or corral someone to go with you.  The latter can be easier said than done.  A couple of years ago I had tickets to Hawaii and everyone bailed on me so instead of going alone (I had never been before so was nervous about going alone) I visited family.

Going alone is certainly an option but not for everyone and it wouldn’t be my first choice (I’ve traveled alone on several occasions and its fine but a little drab).  Also, you can pay more when traveling alone as single occupancy is almost always more expensive than double.  The other thing is that most of us are working and get limited vacation hours so traveling isn’t as accessible as it may appear.  Last year I had to use my vacation hours to visit my family.

6. Myth #6- “You are so lucky because you get to do everything just the way you want”. This can be a big benefit to being single.  For instance, I got to pick out my own wall color, furniture, light fixtures etc.  If I wanted to have a big party with a cake I could without discussing it with anyone else.  However, this has a bad side too.  You have all the pressure of every decision on you.  There is no partner to discuss situations with or lighten the load.  Something like which loan to get or how much to pay in a down payment had to be made by me and only me. I had to do all the research and get all the inspiration.  Any mistakes lie squarely on my shoulders. That’s tough.

7. Myth #7- “You must hate it when your friends set you up on dates”. Actually the opposite is true. I would love it if people set me up on dates.  Its hard for me to meet people, especially since online dating is not my thing.  I guess if it became an obsession and silly maybe that would be bad but I’ll go on one date with just about anyone. Nothing could make me happier than my friends helping me find good people to interact with and date.

Now, I had a roommate who’s mother would have a date waiting for her at any family gathering including Christmas and Thanksgiving.  That is definitely taking it to the extreme.  Being single does not define us.  It’s a challenge that we may not want to be continually reminded of especially on holidays.

8. Myth #8- “You’re single so I should avoid talking about my family and kids around you”.  No!  I love when people talk about their family.  In fact, I have some ideas that might be helpful.  I may not have kids of my own but I helped raise siblings and cared for babies my whole life.  I’m not totally clueless.  I have opinions on education, homeschool, parenting and child rearing just like anyone else.  Once my friend Adrienne showed me her cloth diapers and how they work and I was actually kind of grateful she didn’t shy away from including me in her life.  You are my friend, so if it is important to you, its important to me.

9. Myth #9- “You’re single because you have chosen to be single”.  Not true.  I’m not actively avoiding marriage or dating.  I’d love to meet someone and fall in love.  I need no encouragement or convincing on that level.  I may have issues about having kids but getting married absolutely.  I’d love it.   Maybe this myth is true for some singles but nobody I know.

10. Myth #10- “You’re single so you should be treated like a college student forever”.  Ok nobody has actually said those words to me but sometimes I feel like that impression is out there.  For singles that are over 30 we resent when it is assumed we are still the same as 20 year old singles.  While I have friends of many ages I have learned a lot in the proceeding years and hopefully have become wiser and better.   I loved my college years so in a way its kind of flattering to be looked at as younger than I am but it can also feel a bit patronizing. Just getting married does not make a person more mature or more of an adult than someone who is unmarried.

11. Myth #11- “You’re single so I’ll send important information to your parents”.  What I mean by this is some still consider me as under the umbrella of my parents family group.  I certainly am proud to be their daughter and perhaps am more dependent on them than my married siblings, but I feel like I am my own family group of me.  Its sort of frustrating when I have to hear news or updates on things through my parents while my married siblings get notified.

The truth is whether you are married or single we all are different, unique individuals that don’t fit nicely into boxes or labels.  Our lives may follow some vague patterns but even if they do we like to be understood for who we are not what category we fit into.  We can all work on that, myself most of all.

So there you go.  You’ve now been demystified.  Now have a great day!

What do you think of these myths?  Have I missed any?  What are the myths singles have about married life?

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UP Housewarming/Birthday Party

So today was the big day!  My ‘Rachel Turns 32 and Gets a House Party’.  My birthday was actually a few weeks ago but I wanted to combine my housewarming and birthday parties into one big bash.  I hired my Dad’s tenant and our friend Dax to come over and assemble furniture, hang artwork and that was such a great move.  It made the house feel really done. Outsourcing is almost always a fabulous idea!

My roommate was a wonderful help with cleaning and organizing for the party and my cousin Danielle came down and got balloons and helped me to clean (she’s the best!).  I was a little worried that the emerging storm might scare people off but luckily there was a steady flow of people from 5 all the way to closing time at 10.

I saw old roommates, ward friends, swim friends, cousins, just good friends.  It made me feel happy that I have such wonderful people in my life.  There were also many who could not come because of illness or other concerns and I could feel their thoughtfulness light up inside of me.  I really do have the best friends ever.

One fun thing is that my curtains got installed today and while I was at Costco getting party trays (yum!) the guy worked on the install so when I came home they were done which was a fun surprise.  They look so good.  I love them!  I just love my house!  It was so fun to share it and maybe show off just a little bit to my friends.  It was a happy moment and I feel full of joy.  I really do love my house!

The party was super fun and I’m so grateful for everyone who came.  The cake turned out amazing!

back of cake.  See swimmer at the bottom. That's me!
back of cake. See swimmer at the bottom. That’s me!
front of cake
front of cake- I couldn’t cut into it but we had a sheet cake for guests.  Will cut into Sunday when my family is town.  Too pretty to eat!

Everything else in the party turned out great.  There was a yummy spread with sandwiches, shrimp and super good strawberries all from Costco.  Seriously the strawberries were delectable.

The party spread!
The party spread!

The favors were really cute from etsy store http://www.etsy.com/shop/JegasCreations.

pin
If you’ve seen the movie Up you should recognize this pin. We also had grape soda to drink.

I made this guest book for the party which I think turned out super cute too.

If you've seen the movie Up you should get this adventure book. Isn't it cute?
If you’ve seen the movie Up you should get this adventure book. Isn’t it cute?

Here are some photos of some of the friends at the party.  There were of course many people I didn’t get photos of.  Thanks to everyone who came!  It’s always so nice to see that old friends are still good friends and that you don’t have to see someone everyday to still be tight.  I am a very loved person.

Emilee and Tiffany
Emilee and Tiffany
Sarah, Megan and Camille
Sarah, Megan and Camille
Anna and Becca
Anna and Becca
Danielle came to help early.  Thanks!
Danielle came to help early. Thanks!
My friend Rachel
My friend Rachel

It’s going to be a party that will be hard to top and while I am exhausted it is a happy kind of tired.  A feeling loved and a sense of satisfaction tired.  Its a job well done and feeling of accomplishment kind of tired.  It’s the end of a journey and the beginning of an adventure. Most importantly I feel so loved.