Door

My front door needs to be repainted. Lest you think that I am writing in metaphors, allow me to assure you: I am contented with my appearance these days, after many years of nitpicking; no, I am referring to the wooden front door of our home. I know that the chipped white paint can be simply sanded off, allowing for a blank canvas for me to paint. As my son’s friend’s mom drops off her child at our home for a play date, we briefly discuss home repairs and I bring up the dreaded door project. She waves away the concern, letting me know that the project can be completed quickly, with minimal spending on the tools and paint. It might even be fun. It might be, for some.

I admire people who repair items in their homes on their own, who come up with inexpensive décor solutions. Unless absolutely necessary, I refuse to spend money on home renovations. However, the thought of choosing paint for my front door and setting aside a Saturday for such a renovation makes me shudder. I tried to love DIY home décor. In fact, because I enjoy knitting and admire art, some people assume that hands-on home décor is a natural interest of mine. In as much as it feels rewarding for me to restore something in my home, I have never enjoyed the process of sanding, painting, and using a screw driver to hang up art work. Can I do it? Yes. Do I want to do it? Hell no, and I’m starting to accept this about myself. I am starting to understand that although I have more interests than the average person, I simply cannot be interested in everything that I wish I could enjoy.

In an exercise of developing better self-acceptance, I made a list of what else I am not and might never be.

  • I am fascinated by dedicated runners. I attempted to become a runner twice and although I get excited about putting on a pair of sneakers, grabbing my iPod and enjoying the fresh air, each time I have started to get into the swing of a regular running routine, I have had to stop due to painful knee injuries.
  • To continue along the running topic, I hold in high regard entrepreneurs who appear to have a healthy sense of balance in their lives. I ran a business for two years, during which time I realized how much I dislike cold calling and attempting to sell anything – regardless of how much I may enjoy the product or service. I’m also terrified of accounting, but I’m working to conquer that fear.
  • In as much as I love snow, after 15 minutes of walking outside in the middle of January, my feet freeze inside my thick insulated winter boots and two pairs of woolen socks, and although I keep a (frozen) smile on my face the entire time and enjoy the fresh cold air, I also love returning home to the warmth of the fireplace and a giant mug of tea.
  • I would like to be able to commit to a vegan diet, but it has not been feasible for me. I eat vegan or vegetarian food most of the time, but my family does not, and for the sake of simplicity (read: avoiding spending time cooking two dinners every day), I tend to eat meat.

The acknowledgement of who I am not is helping me to fine-tune who I am, to focus on my true passions, my natural dispositions, and hone the skills that I value. It also helps me to appreciate myself and cultivate gratitude for what I do enjoy practising.

 I may not have an interest in repairing things at home, but I do love experimenting with recipes in the kitchen. 

I may not be able to run without pain, but I love dance, kickboxing and HIIT workouts at home, and I run with Wanderlust Juniors on the grass in the park.

I do not enjoy being at the helm of a venture, but I am a pretty good sidekick, if I do say so myself.

In the winter, I layer warm sweaters to insulate my bones and ignore the discomfort, because even a homebody needs fresh air. 

I do eat plant-based food at least 70-80 per cent of the time. 

We all are working toward finding balance between what comes to us naturally and that toward which we have to cultivate our will power for all it’s worth. So, I believe I may harness my will power and direct it toward the entrance to our home. The result will be rewarding and I will probably take even greater pleasure in returning home at the end of the day.

Is there something you have always wanted to be in spite of different natural interests? How do you cultivate self-acceptance?

aug4

Several days ago, my family and I recently returned from a beautiful beach holiday on the shores of one of our favourite lakes. We spent a fun week building sand castles, SUPing, enjoying sunset walks and an exciting day trip that included a cruise on a glass-bottom boat to see shipwrecks. When away from home, our habits tend to change somewhat, as can be expected.

Did I drink beer several times throughout the week? Did I enjoy many s’mores by the bonfire and just as many servings of ice cream / gelato? You bet I did. And I savoured every moment. Not for a minute did I reprimand myself for letting down my guard. It was a choice I made mindfully, allowing myself to soften into the experience while trusting my intuition and maintaining a lifestyle of wellness.

aug3

Here is how I navigated three of my regular healthy habits while on vacation:

Eating

My nutrition habits are relatively healthy, keeping to the typical 80/20 rule and enjoying dessert from time to time while making mindful choices about the nutrients that fuel my body. While on vacation, I continued to eat healthy foods but we did eat out in restaurants several times throughout the week. We balanced this out by visiting the local grocery store and farmers’ market and stocking up on fresh produce. August is a time of gorgeous fresh, local fruit and vegetables, which were in abundance everywhere we went. We packed those as snacks for ourselves to take to the beach and enjoyed salads for dinner.

aug1

Sleeping

At home, I typically am in bed by 10 p.m. and wake up at 5 a.m. to work out and practise yoga. While away, we naturally put the kids to bed later, after enjoying the sunset on the beach or sitting by the fire. The parents’ natural bedtime was closer to midnight and we all woke up quietly, slowly at around 9 a.m., feeling refreshed and recharged.

aug2

Exercise

When I sleep in, which doesn’t happen often, and wake up at the same time as my children, I tend to write off my workouts and yoga practice for the day. However, while away, I simply shifted my physical exercise to the siesta hour in the afternoon. An hour or two after lunch, the children would spend some time watching a favourite DVD while Pawel read a book, and I would head out into the backyard of our rental cottage to roll out my mat. Working out outside encouraged me to be resourceful, using whatever I had close by as props. The owners of the cottage left two skipping ropes for the children guests. However, I was the one who ended up putting the skipping ropes to good use for cardio. I utilized the wooden benches on the patio for tricep dips and the wooden stairs for lunges. Typically, my morning workout and yoga practice last approximately an hour. My siesta-time workouts on the grass were about 30 minutes in length. I didn’t try to time myself. I naturally moved in a way that felt good. Some days were slower, softer, and others left me sweaty, happily walking into the shower after a morning at the beach and an afternoon on my yoga mat. I also did a lot of running on the beach with the boys, walked everywhere, and SUPd.

It feels liberating to let go of a rigid schedule and preconceived notions about routine, giving ourselves permission to live in flux, allowing ourselves to put life on hold for a while but still maintain a healthy lifestyle. In fact, when I feel relaxed, with no major responsibilities that I normally have at home and at work, I find that I naturally feel better and healthier, which leads me to make healthy choices. The key is to carry the calm mental and emotional state with us back into our regular post-vacation routine.

What healthy habits do you uphold while on vacation? Please share your tips in the comments below. You can also connect with us on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter for additional pictures of our holiday.

July3

One of my favourite months of the year is at its conclusion, making way for my birthday month. I think it’s because I was born under the dynamic, dramatic Leo sign that I still get silly-excited about the approach of my birthday. I don’t usually plan any extravagant celebrations, preferring instead to spend the day with my family. I look upon birthdays as the start of a new personal year, with new possibilities and potential.

Juy5

July is another exciting month, with two personal reasons for celebration: our anniversary and our eldest son’s birthday. Over the past month, I have explored my idea of balance at work and at home and revisited my manifesto of personal high standards.

July4

I nudged myself out of my comfort zone and humbly (and literally) fell before my old foe: Fear. My first indoor skydiving experience reminded me to treat myself with compassion and befriend that shadow self, allowing myself to re-frame my experience and pave a more positive road into future stories.

With the help of my children, I reconnected with my own inner child through colouring books on a rainy day. Rainy days always inspire me, transporting me back into my childhood and bringing with them cozy memories of overcast days that warmed my heart.

July2

And of course, we took advantage of the beautiful summer sunshine and enjoyed the beach, leading into a serendipitous beach-hopping and treasure-finding journey.

July1

To celebrate the start of August, we are headed back to the beach.

What are your highlights from the month of July? I hope you’re enjoying a great season, whether you’re soaking in the summer sunshine or cozying up to the cooler winter weather in the southern hemisphere.

You can connect with us on our journey by signing up to our newsletter (on the right-hand side of this page). I would also love for you to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and tsu in-between blog editions.

Balance

I have been writing about adventure and spontaneity. Lest you think that the adjectives ‘adventurous’ and ‘spontaneous’ can easily be used to describe me on a regular basis, I thought I would offer some perspective on balance.

Do we make ourselves too busy? Do we choose busy lives for ourselves? Perhaps, in some cases, that is true. Many people are not able to sit still for longer than 10 minutes without being able to keep their minds or hands occupied. However, that is not the type of busy lifestyle to which I am referring. I am after a balance that allows me to focus fully on everything I undertake, at my ‘9 to 5’ job, at home with my family, and in the yoga studio. That kind of balance means that some days are extremely busy (there, I used that word), but we can choose to make the opportunity to rest in-between the meetings and tasks on our ‘to do’ list. There are days when I go through the motions or work fast to tackle the never-ending list. And then, I remind myself to slow down.

On most days, I have a packed schedule. Yet, I do not normally feel busy or overwhelmed. Every day, I practise compartmentalizing, giving my full attention to the task before me — still, meditation continues to be a challenge some days. Life inevitably moves at a fast pace. I used to resist that pace, worrying that I would become too caught up in the current. I now know the value of choice. I have a choice to spend a Sunday afternoon cleaning my home, as I did today. At other times, I set aside my responsibilities, clear up my schedule and live up to the adjectives that many use to describe me: calm, peaceful, and adventurous. Beneath this exterior, I flow with the sway, shake and wobble that dances within me. Life is turbulent, ebbing and carrying us with the rumbling current. Perhaps it might be time to learn to float on the dancing, swaying waters.

DSCN6752

After our indoor skydiving experience, Mr. Wanderlust and I had the rest of the day wide-open before us. We had previously arranged for the children to stay with Pawel’s parents for several days, to the boys’ delight. The afternoon was full of possibility.

Although we sometimes go out on dates in the evenings or for a few hours in the middle of the day, it’s highly unusual for us to have a full day to spend at leisure. When we first started dating, we used to spend an entire afternoon wandering around the city. A bit of an insider story for Torontonians: we once started our walking journey near Yonge and Sheppard, turned west at Yonge and Bloor, and continued walking all the way to Keele Station. That’s approximately 17 km, or a three-hour walk, but we didn’t notice the passing of the time. We share a passion for touring cities by foot, and being tourists in our own city can be surprisingly fun!

DSCN6863

So, what were we to do at 2 p.m. on this beautiful, sweltering afternoon?

“Let’s go to the Burlington waterfront,” I suggested, and we did.

Following a wholesome lunch at a vegan restaurant, the beach was calling to us. I felt the need to take off my shoes and ground myself after hovering in a wind tunnel.

DSCN6766

 

One of my favourite pictures, taken by Mr. Wanderlust last weekend.

Our beach afternoon turned into a Lakeshore Blvd.-cruising, beach-hopping adventure. After we left Burlington, Pawel felt the Oakville pier calling to him as we drove past the marina. He careened the car into a side street and after finding the perfect parking spot close to a children’s playground, we went off to enjoy yet another beach, upon which I found a remarkable treasure.

DSCN6890

My friend Sheniz, whom I have actually never met in person (see: we took an online writing course and have remained in touch), had been on that beach a week earlier, where she used driftwood to create a ‘nest’ for oval-shaped rocks, the likes of which lay abundantly beneath and around the spot where I stood gazing down at the inspiration that surrounded me. On many of the rocks around the nest were written, in dark marker, inspirational quotes, some of which hold special meaning for me. My eye kept following the rocks as I bent down, and finally, my gaze froze upon a rock on which was written Sheniz’s name and information about the nest she built. Given that I had never met Sheniz in person but continue to follow her beautiful adventures on social media, and considering that I had never before visited this particular beach, the magic of the experience was palpable. I thanked Pawel for following his intuition to explore the pier, allowing serendipity to find its way to us.

DSCN6907

What followed next was a drive across the city to Ashbridges Bay, in the east end of Toronto — one of our favourite spots. We enjoyed a takeout dinner on the boardwalk and climbed the rocks by the water for a spectacular view of the pink-and-orange playful sparkle of the setting sun on the almost-still water. A peaceful ending to a day that we seized firmly, enjoying the ride, recreating a new version of an old favourite experience of touring with spontaneity and complete abandon, allowing ourselves to simply be there, enjoying the moment, the views, the sand beneath our toes, the cooling water, and each other’s company.

Inspiring, serendipitous experiences happen when we give ourselves permission to fully enjoy the moment, letting go of our responsibilities, of the ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts,’ if even for a short time. We must allow ourselves the time to experience nature, to have adventures, to create new memories. And we must remember to do it as soon as it’s possible for us. We must make the time for it. Too often, I feel a spark of inspiration to do something unusual, something enjoyable, something that someone else has recently done to which I feel a strong pull. Then, I stop myself at, “Maybe someday…” When I arrive at Someday, I inevitably forget why I wished to do what I wished to do. I forget about the spark of inspiration, the excitement I felt in the moment. I am reminded of the pure delight that arises from spontaneous decisions vs. carefully planned ones. So, why not make Someday happen today?

11745573_870367103045654_4006488163599043875_n

I would love to read about your most memorable adventures. Please feel free to share your story in a comment.

If you are enjoying this blog, please share it with a friend and feel free to subscribe in order to receive frequent updates directly in your email inbox.

11743011_10207369863704291_5318844499601384579_n

Pawel and I visited iFly near Toronto over the weekend. My sister-in-law kindly gifted the experience of indoor skydiving to us for Pawel’s birthday. We have always wanted to try the activity and now, there was no turning back. Here we are, looking both excited and nervous.

It lurks quietly beneath the surface and springs up on me at the worst possible time. Of course, it serves to protect me from real danger, but handstand in the middle of the room, practised under safe instruction, is not really dangerous. Neither is flying through a wind tunnel with carefully controlled air speed, with a certified instructor right beside me. Still, Fear continues to speak to me loudly and I have been trying to silence it. Perhaps that’s not the best approach.

11745468_10207370121710741_3561281860774194746_n

Spinning up, up, up. 

Next time, I will whisper to it, shushing it gently to rest and relax.

Next time, when the instructor trusts me to use the technique I have learned to float up and spin through the tunnel, I will trust myself.

Next time, I will not panic. I will work to release the involuntary physical tension that kept weighing me down.

“What happened there that second time?” Pawel asked me later, after I had removed the helmet and ear plugs and was relieved to loosen the eye mask that left groove lines beneath my cheekbones for the remainder of the day. “You did so well that first time! You looked like you really knew what you were doing.”

“Fear,” I replied, gazing down at my feet. “I suddenly felt scared to have lost control and started floating up.”

In reply, he smiled at me in sympathy and planted a kiss on my lips.

“Next time.” We both agreed.

unnamed

Pawel embraced the thrills and ended up floating all the way up to the ceiling in tandem with the instructor. It was incredible to watch.

Next time, I will show Fear who’s boss — in a kind, gentle, friendly way. For now, I’ll continue to sit with the humbling lesson that continues to return to me, reminding me of the work I must continue to do, both on my yoga mat and in terrifying real-life situations, including those brought on by optional thrills.

11745573_870367103045654_4006488163599043875_n

Post-flight yoga on the rocks by the beach. It feels good to be on solid ground — ahem, I mean rocks.

For now, I’ll give myself a pat on the back for challenging myself to get out of my comfort zone, for looking Fear straight in the eye for a moment before allowing it to intimidate me. Fear was a strong opponent this time, but not strong enough to deter me from planning my next move. Next time, I’ll come out on top.

11011901_870368196378878_932352683638633010_n

We continued our post-flight adventure into the remainder of a day sprinkled with interesting serendipity. I will continue the story next time.

For now, thank you for reading and sharing this blog with a friend. If you are interested in receiving our blog updates directly in your email inbox, please subscribe to the feed. You will have the option to unsubscribe anytime, should you wish to do so, though we do hope you’ll stay with us for a while to continue following the story of our path toward living a lifestyle of mindfulness. Hey, we’re even mindful about thrilling experiences, and we love adventures!

11009106_866272976788400_1965814057331401039_n

I often say I hold myself to my highest standards. To some, it might sound like I am disciplined in my approach to everything in life. For me, high standards mean living with certain rules, but making intuitive decisions.

It means that I’m:

Working to move away from rigidity, learning to soften. I create my own guidelines, and feel free to bend certain rules from time to time. Other rules are golden absolutes. Some days call for strict discipline. Other days invite me to be more playful and perhaps even somewhat rebellious.

Listening to my body, heart, and intuition, and following their lead. This is true with nutrition, exercise, and various other lifestyle choices (more on this below).

Enjoying dressing up. I particularly benefit from dressing up when it’s the last thing I feel like doing. When I think I look good, I tend to feel great.

Giving myself permission to lounge on the couch in my pajamas, reading a book. I never have a full day’s leisure to lounge, but I can always set aside an hour or so to do that. Often, it happens in the evenings, after the kids are in bed.

Giving myself permission to wear yoga leggings while running errands. I’m probably one of the very few yoga instructors who believe that yoga clothes should be saved exclusively for the yoga studio, a gym, or a festival. Yet, I feel most sexy and comfortable when I wear yoga clothes, so if I have just finished teaching or taking a class and need to run an errand, I’ll do so comfortably in my funkiest leggings.

Spending most Saturdays doing laundry, cleaning, cooking good food, etc. Then, I spend as much time as possible on Sundays doing what I want to do (in-between tending to my family, of course).

Reminding myself to be stern with the kids about making their beds, brushing their teeth, and tidying up. Then, I overlook the mess they make while we bake cupcakes in the kitchen.

Choosing to be serious and responsible when I need to be. At other times, I crank up an embarrassing song and have a wacky dance party in the living room. And sometimes, I dance on my own in my bedroom, wearing something scandalously inappropriate. I laugh loudly at myself. Then, I laugh some more.

Giving myself permission to cry if I’m having a lousy day. I don’t try to talk myself out of it. We all have lousy days when the last thing we want to hear is someone telling us to ‘snap out of it.’ When I feel overwhelmed or sad, I don’t want to snap out of it. I want to face it and deal with it. I acquiesce to whatever it is I’m feeling and I sit with it, honouring that feeling for what it is, breathing through the sometimes excruciating discomfort. Then, slowly, I watch myself get out of a funk while learning more about myself in the process, learning about what liberates me.

Sticking to a healthy, plant-based diet 80% of the time. I choose to eat intuitively, asking myself what foods serve me best at this time. Some days, I want to eat an extra square (or two) of dark chocolate and have a glass of wine. Some days, I enjoy cheese and crackers, and maybe even a slice of toast with generously spread Nutella. On other days, all I want to eat are vegan salads and to drink green smoothies.

Choosing exercise that challenges me, gets my heart rate up, makes me sweat and my muscles shake. On other days, I choose to soften with restorative yoga.

Realizing that I have been ‘Type A’ under the surface and although I don’t enjoy this shadow side, I am learning to accept it, to recognize it, and to let go of the wish to be in control. I remind myself to let go and enjoy all the spheres that life offers me.

Recognizing myself as a whole person and learning to embrace all aspects of myself. There are certain aspects of myself that I am continuing to work on improving and changing altogether, with complete honesty and compassion.

What do high standards mean to you? What are you doing to uphold them? Where do you need to learn to soften?

DSCN6107

I have been thinking about connection, that invisible but powerful thread that binds us to the people we don’t see on a regular basis and miss immensely. I have also been thinking of the love that unites us forever with the people who may no longer be in our lives. My paternal grandmother and I share an incredible bond that stems from having spent the first 7+ years of my life with her. When I wasn’t with my parents, I was with my grandmother. It’s my grandmother who shared little secrets with me, who told me stories about her childhood that validated my own mischievous personality. With her, I felt understood and comfortable, free to be myself. Now, continents apart, we are always in each other’s hearts. My day is that much more joyful when I arrive at home to find an envelope with my address written on it in her beautiful hand.

KatiaGrodecki2

Wild Thing pose -- my favourite yogic expression of an open heart.

I have also been contemplating the connection we share with our loved ones who are physically in our lives today, whom we see every day. We often treat strangers with more kindness than we show to our own family members. And yet, when we don’t see our family for several months, we feel the tug at that gossamer thread. Love can feel both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. Yet, I want to cultivate that love, with its many faces, right here, today. I want to make more time for the connections that matter to me.

KatiaGrodecki1

This summer, I vow to cultivate true connection. No empty words! I want to weigh each syllable carefully, speaking mindfully, saving energy for what I truly want to say, instead of allowing my frivolous Ego to dominate. I’m doing so through new methods, reaching out and daring to invite my loved ones to new experiences, without any expectations. I’m replacing expectation with open space, clearing out clutter and making room in my heart to experience real connection, cultivating love. We owe it to ourselves and we owe it to the people we love. Human connection can be complicated, but only if we allow it to be. I choose courage — courage to simplify, to let go, and to let love in. Will you join me?

Thank you for sharing this blog with a friend. If you have been enjoying our posts, please consider subscribing in order to receive frequent updates directly in your email inbox. 

Whoosh! Almost six months have flown since the start of 2015. If you’re like me, you might enjoy taking inventory at the start, the end of the year, its midway point, and on your birthday. The past Sunday’s Summer Solstice marks the year’s midway point, so here is a brief update on what we have been into:

Running

june6

I never thought I would enjoy running. Several years ago, I decided to embark on a training schedule akin to a typical 0 to 5K program. However, I quickly became bored, experienced joint issues, and probably came up with myriad other excuses that I can no longer recall. This summer, however, I found that I was becoming bored with my indoor HIIT cardio. I wanted to start moving out of doors, in the fresh air. I felt called to explore various routes in our neighbourhood. I have been spending the majority of my days in an office and have not had a chance to take daily walks with my kids to and from school. I miss being outside.

I’m still at the point of training that requires me to alternate running with walking, gradually increasing my running time, but I must say that I have fallen in love with running. Some days feel more challenging than others, but I am excited at the prospect of maybe, possibly, one day soon becoming a dedicated runner. Summer is a perfect time to reconnect to our passions and to try something new, like running. It’s still out of my comfort zone but continues to become increasingly familiar.

Reading

june7

Image courtesy of Starz.

At the recommendation of a good friend who knows all about my admiration of all-things Celtic (as in Ireland and Scotland, fairies, the Highlands, folk music, etc.), for Mother’s Day in May, Mr. Wanderlust gave me a box of the first four books of the Outlander series. I know the books may be dubbed literary candy, but I am shamelessly obsessed with the story and its characters. I am in awe of Diana Gabaldon’s brilliant character development and have joined the millions of readers who can’t get enough of the story of Jamie and Claire. I wrote recently that I do not watch television, making an exception for the rare good movie or short TV series. Having heard incredible reviews of the Outlander TV series, I borrowed the BluRay first half of the first season from my friend. Mr. Wanderlust was coaxed into watching the first two episodes of the show with me, after which he also was hooked. And now we both want to learn Gaelic. Maybe that’s a future project.

Writing

june5

 

Toasting marshmallows by the fire in the backyard. A summer favourite.

The memoir writing continues. Thank you to everyone who reached out to me last week with words of advice, as well as the reminder that there are others who second-guess their writing motives and plans. For now, I have decided to stop overthinking. I’m following my heart and curiously watching the story unfold from the tips of my fingers.

Knitting

june2

I am working on this delicious pair of watermelon-patterned socks, using Zauberwolle. Some knitters take a break from working with wool in the summer, but I’m not one of them. Besides, look at these colours! Do they not whisper ‘SUMMER’, in a giggly sing-song voice? Thus far, the summer weather in the Toronto area has been warm and breezy, and I happily spend my evenings with this yummy project.

Celtic Harp

june 4

 

This picture is not recent, but we like it.

I’m currently learning to play Scotland the Brave. My favourite place to play in the summer is on our back patio. The wind carries the notes with it through the trees and I feel I can serenade along with the birds. Running and yoga at 5:30 a.m. provide me with the right jolt of energy, but reading, knitting and playing the Celtic harp allow me to slow down at 8 p.m.

Woodworking

june3

 

Double-dyed stabilized maple burl. We think it’s gorgeous.

Mr. Wanderlust has been at work on new goodies, to be revealed soon. He has also been experimenting with a laser etcher, which translates into wonderful possibilities.

Article Recommendation

I will leave you with this article: No Guilt Allowed! Why Parents Need Time for Themselves. As a working parent, I often find it challenging to be away from my children for long hours on weekdays. However, having also been a stay-at-home parent, I know how exhausting that role can be for an introvert. As an INFP, I cherish my quiet time, my alone time. With two very spirited young boys, that quiet time is often tough to come by. The noises at work tend of very different nature from the ones I hear at home. Both present their challenges and both leave me with the need to spend some time, every evening, alone, unwinding from the day that has passed. And that is why I make the time for reading, crafting, or playing a musical instrument. That’s why Pawel makes the time for woodworking. When we feel calmer, recharged and relaxed, we are better people, better parents.

june1

Your turn! What have you been reading, crafting, playing, learning, or exploring? Are you an introvert parent? How do you make time for yourself? 

11223689_844559585626406_8588203153383854683_n

 

It’s not that there is no small talk…It’s that it comes not at the beginning of conversations but at the end…Sensitive people…’enjoy small talk only after they’ve gone deep’ says Strickland. ‘When sensitive people are in environments that nurture their authenticity, they laugh and chitchat just as much as anyone else.” ― Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking


 

Small talk has never been my forte. When bumping into a person I don’t know well, my mind often goes blank after the polite greeting of, “Hello, how are you?” On a good day, I remind myself to ask about my conversation partner’s interests and use one of those as a jumping point into more interesting territory. The problem arises when I meet a person who, like me, keeps his cards close to his chest and doesn’t enjoy divulging any information about himself to someone he just met for the first time. Talk about an introvert’s nightmare!

The one banal question I dislike most, which most often gets asked at the start of a conversation, is, “So, what do you do?” I often feel tempted to answer with, “I breathe, I eat, I feel… How about you?” It troubles me that immediately after we answer this question, those who listen to us inadvertently will form some type of judgment about our character, based on the other social workers / nurses / teachers / engineers, etc. they have known in the past. It’s not surprising that the reply is often, “My cousin is also a lawyer! In which firm do you work?” I get it, people try to make a connection based on remote links. While it might work for some to start a chat in this manner, I try to avoid such questions by trying to be the first to ask a question that might lead us down a different path.

Sometimes, the conversation flows naturally and does not feel like any work for me. This happened recently at a get-together at a yoga studio where I lead a weekly class. Surrounded by like-minded instructors with most of whom I had never had a ‘real’ conversation before that event, we chatted easily about books and exchanged recommendations. I felt I was in my comfort zone. For about 30 minutes, we only spoke about books. YES!

When I sit down to have tea with a close friend, our discussions tend to run deeper than the annoying ‘he said / she said’ talk I sometimes overhear between two people in a café or the grocery store. When I speak with someone, I want to know about her passions, about what makes her happy to wake up in the morning, what enriches her life with purpose, as well as what she wishes to improve.

I was brought up in a family of quiet introverts. Now, in my early thirties, I remain quiet and relatively private about my life, this blog notwithstanding (I choose carefully the topics about which I write). However, I am also interested in expanding my connections. I found myself wondering, the other day, about how one can take a conversation beyond small talk. What are the questions one could ask in order to delve deeper into meaningful conversation?

Here is my list:

  1. What books are currently on your nightstand? What book have read recently that you would recommend?
  2. What made you smile today?
  3. What has been on your mind lately?
  4. What is an interesting project on which you are currently working?

Do you have a question to contribute? Please help me to expand the list by leaving a comment below.

Do you know a fellow introvert who dislikes small talk? Please share this blog with him/her!