Making Friends…A Lost Art?

After attending BlissDom I am reevaluating who I am.

“Huh?” You might be thinking.

It’s interesting.  I’ve always thought of myself as an extrovert.  In job interviews I would confess I’m a people person.  It’s true.  I love people.

When I look back on my life, I recall a turning point.  Speech class in 8th grade opened up a new side of me.  I don’t remember if I chose to take the class or if it was required.  All I know is I was much more reserved before taking speech.  I learned I enjoyed speaking in front of a group of people.  I think this new found knowledge contributed to me gaining more confidence in who I am.  In a way, I think I was more of an introvert before taking Speech.  I didn’t have lots of friends but would have a handful of really close friends.  I was fine with this.  I can’t say after 8th grade I became the most popular girl in school.  That is definitely not what I’m saying.  I was just more open to talking to people and making friends.

Let me fast forward to present day.  On the first leg of my flight home from Nashville {where BlissDom is held} on Sunday I sat next to Melanie Nelson.  She was the speaker for the session I attended titled “3 Things You Can Do Right Now to Grow Your Facebook Fan Page.”  I was so excited to find out she lives in the same state as me {about 2 hours away.}  Melanie is very genuine and kind.  She has a book about Facebook coming soon.  We talked about so many different subjects.  One subject in particular has prompted this post.  Funny thing is it has nothing to do with Facebook, my blog, or anything relating to social media {even though we did discuss these topics.}  I was sharing with her how mentally drained I was from the conference.  She asked, “Are you an extrovert or an introvert?”  I was kind of surprised she asked me this question and paused before answering.  “I’ve always looked at myself as an extrovert,” I replied.  She explained to me the difference between extroverts and introverts.  I will summarize what she said: extroverts are people who become energized after being around lots of people.  When introverts are around a lot of people they are not energized.  Instead, introverts feel as though energy is taken away from them.

This made me think.  Am I an extrovert?  I do have instances when I feel energized after being around a lot of people.  Usually this happens when I’m around people I trust or I feel comfortable being with.

There were about 700 bloggers at BlissDom.  The friends I made last year at BlissDom did not attend this year.  So in a way, it was like I was new again.  There were a few girls I friended on Instagram I knew were attending and hoped to meet them.  There were a few other friends I made on Twitter I was hoping to meet as well, but again, I had not met them in real life.  Otherwise, I was going into a conference without truly knowing anyone. “That’s okay, I’m a people person.  I’ll make new friends, ” I thought.

I now need to add another aspect to this scenario of thoughts.  I have written about this before, but it is a very sensitive matter.  I don’t have a handful of close friends anymore.  I’ve lived in the same place now for 5 years and don’t have any real close friends.  There are 3 girls I really connected {consider good friends} with who have moved away.  However, living here has made me less confident in my friendship making skills.  Don’t get me wrong, I have friends/acquaintances who are kind and talk to me when I’m out and about.  It’s just not the same.  The upside of this has given me an opportunity to be closer to my kids and immediate family.

Back to the conference…I left feeling drained.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it tremendously.  There were many instances in which I felt uncomfortable, though.  It was usually in the evening and I would end up sitting by myself.  Fortunately, I would eventually find someone I had met and try to mingle.  I just don’t like social situations like this.  I never have.  So maybe I’m not an extrovert?  Or is it possible to be an extrovert and turn introvert?  Or in my case, introvert turned extrovert turned introvert…???  I don’t know, maybe I don’t have to label myself.  It’s just a little weird.  You know me, analytical Shan.  Hey, I come by it honestly being my parents are both Social Workers. {Love you Mom & Dad!}

I also began to think about how social media has impacted having real life friends versus virtual ones.  How often are you getting together with real friends and talking to them face to face?  Has Facebook and other sites like it cut down on our real life interactions with people?  Honestly, for me, because of my predicament and where I live, I don’t think I would be a very happy person without social media.  This blog, it’s Facebook page, my personal Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter help me to feel connected with people.  I could get really lonely living in this little town without hearing from you.  It is what it is.  My 3 kids are at school during the day.  At some point during that time period I would like to have interaction with another person who is not the checker at Wal-Mart.  But stop and think a minute…if you do have at least one good friend to confide in about whatever.  Please be grateful.  Friendship is so precious.  Get together with your friends, go to lunch, hang out, play a game.

Julie & Me

Speaking of friends, I did run into an elementary school friend who was there working at a vendor/sponsor booth.  It was fun to catch up with and see her again.  We had lost touch completely.  Good to see you again, Julie! 🙂

Me & Jenna

Bernice & Me

I am grateful for each and every one of the friends I made at BlissDom.  I finally met my Twitter friends Bernice of Living the Balanced Life & The Stressed Mom, Alicia of Confessions of a Snowflake {Wish we got a photo together, Alicia} and Jenna from Made More Beautiful.  All are beautiful women inside and out.

Me & Melissa

Melissa from Overwhelmed by His Blessings is my lovely fellow photographer/Instagram friend.  I wish she & I were able to spend more time together.  She was on the photo booth staff and had to work the whole conference.  I am very happy we met at the Photo Walk which was held first thing on Thursday.  {I’m really not taller than her.  I was on the step above her ;)}

Rachelle, Jean & Me

Friday Night I met two adorably creative girls at The Lorax Party: Jean from The Artful Parent and Rachelle from Tinkerlab.  They were kind enough to let me crash their photo after just meeting me since I was alone.  I am super excited to get to know them more on their blogs.  I am sure I can learn a lot of fun crafty stuff from them.  Love that!!

Saturday I met and had a wonderful conversation with Amy from Amy Volk.  She is darling and has a good listening ear.  We ended up talking about all kinds of stuff and have much in common.  She said she writes about simplifying our lives and organization…sounds pretty good to me!

I also met a girl who is living the life I once dreamed of in New York City.  Heather not only is an editor for Parents magazine, but has her own blog at High Chair Times where she writes about her adventures of feeding her Son.  I learned a lot talking to her and highly enjoyed her company at Girls Night In on Saturday night.  Heather & I also met Sara, talented technology guru of Technology for Moms.  Sara is a fun-loving character of a girl.  She and I laughed the night away {completely sober, btw ;)} while watching Paula Deen jump up and down on her trampoline on Oprah’s new show Oprah’s Next Chapter.

Last but not least, I met the awesome Megan Tietz from Sorta Crunchy.  I began ‘following’ her on Instagram not long before BlissDom.  We didn’t meet until after the conference was over on Sunday at the airport.  I was a little embarrassed because I was without makeup.  {had about 4 hours of sleep}  My flight left at 6:55 AM, so I was NOT putting on makeup.  Anyway, not the best first impression.  Fortunately, she seemed to like me alright despite the pale face. {Thank you, Megan ;)}  Megan & I sat next to each other on the 2nd leg of my flight.  Talking to both Melanie and Megan helped the flights buzz by.  Even better, they are from the state I live in!  I love that!  I look forward to possibly seeing both of them in the near future.

Even though I may not see all of these women in real life every day; I have the opportunity to visit them online.  Our BlissDom experience will be a special memory for me.

Hopefully the above mentioned women would say I haven’t lost my friend making skills. 😉  ???

Friends Bring JOY,

Protecting Family Time

“In our fast paced competitive information driven world, protecting family time has become a huge challenge.” {1}

As parents, we have to be intentional & deliberate about

creating opportunities to spend time together.

It is in your power to make spending time with your family a priority.

The Napkin Story

My favorite talk or speech given at BlissDom {blog conference} last weekend was given by blogger, writer and professional speaker Jon Acuff.  I was very moved by a personal story he shared with us:

“It is my job to help my Daughter with her spelling words each week,” Jon said. {What a good Dad!}  As he was calling out the spelling words, he decided he would get on the computer.  Jon would call out the spelling word and she would write it down.  He got caught up in what he was doing on the computer and stopped calling out the spelling words.  Next thing he knew, while he was sitting at the computer, a napkin appeared on his computer mouse:

"Daddy pay attention?"

Jon realized he needed to direct his attention to his Daughter instead of the computer.

Excellent words of wisdom from Jon:

“Make time for the things that matter.”

“Be deliberate about focusing on your family.”

“Kids don’t believe in later, they believe in now.”

Jon suggested, “we need to be selfish at 5 or 6 in the morning {or at night after our kids are in bed} before our kids wake up…use that time to get on the computer.”

This is excellent advice about truly being present with our family.

Exercise the Power to Choose

You know, to parent these days is different because of technology.  I have to be very mindful to put away my phone and be present while with my family.  We need to remember to set the example {me included.}  If our kids see us on our phone or electronic devices every chance we get, it sends a message to them.  It says, we don’t care about them.  It says we care more about technology than we do people.  This topic has been on my mind heavily lately.  I don’t want my kids to think I don’t care about them.  Our kids learn from us.  Technology will continue to be with us.  Do we want to teach our children to care more about our devices than people?  We have to exercise our power to choose the way we spend our time.

We Have to Set Limits & Boundaries

For example, we don’t allow anyone in our family {at home} to use their phones during dinner time {it’s a little different when we are at a restaurant & we’re waiting on the food to be cooked, we allow it in moderation.}  If someone calls during dinner, we let the voice mail take a message.  Every once in a while, I will find my 16 year old hiding her phone on her lap and catch her texting.  We give her a simple reminder of our rule and she puts it away.  We don’t do this because we are control freaks and want to ruin her social life.  We do this because dinner time is FAMILY time.  Family time is special and sacred.  Family dinner time is a ritual or tradition within our family.  This is the time we talk about the day and focus on each other.

Your family time has to be untouchable.

If you don’t protect your rituals or traditions, your family will disconnect.

Spending time together is a characteristic of successful families.

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Side Note

There is so much I want to share with you about my experience at BlissDom blog conference, but I can’t do it all in one post.  I feel strongly about sharing some of Jon Acuff’s keynote speech with you today.  I look forward to sharing many other amazing and helpful memories about BlissDom in future posts.  If you can’t wait to see some photos, I will post some of my favorites on Family Brings Joy’s Facebook Page throughout the week. {Please come join us!}  I am sensitive about this blog not being a ‘brag session’ or ‘travel log’ of my trip to this blog conference.  Please know I will be incorporating the BlissDom posts periodically throughout my regular posts.  {I’m pretty sure some of you might be tired of me talking about BlissDom.} ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

HOW do you protect your family time?

I want to know of your successes or failures.  I’m pretty sure other readers will too.  This is a safe place.  We will not judge you.  You & fellow readers are passionate about family.  We want to inspire one another so we can help create a successful family.  Family Brings Joy is a community where we can cheer each other on in contributing to strengthening our families.

And remember, it’s not too late to begin protecting your family time now, I promise!  Maybe you have read this and are thinking, “I need to be better.”  That’s the first step at doing it.  I didn’t write this to make you feel like a horrible person.  I wrote this in an effort to make us more conscientious about what we are doing with our time when we are around the people we love.

Please share your answer here in the comments section or on Family Brings Joy’s Facebook Page.

Source for Beginning Quote: Real Families Real Answers

Disclaimer: Jon Acuff did not pay me to write this post.

Don’t let a napkin be your wake up call,