Tuesday, October 30, 2007

can and can't

I've seen this on a few blogs over the last few days...thank you for the inspiration for today's post.

Things I can do well.

1. Print. My handwriting can be very neat - if I try to make it so. I have to try, of course. Most of the time around here it's basic scrawl. Sometimes I find that it's been so long since I've written anything that when I do need to write, I find it kind of hard to do it for an extended period of time. You too?

2. Organize. Straighten. Arrange. Again, I have to be in the mood. But when the mood strikes, I like to get into this task. My mom used to have me organize her kitchen every time she and my dad moved because I always liked figuring out where pots and pans and dishes should go in a new space.

3. Speak in public. And get this, I actually like doing it! You meet so many people who dread it, but not me. Once upon a time I dreamed of a career as a broadcast journalist, but a stint as a production assistant with a local news channel convinced me otherwise. There were (and are) just too many things about that business that I don't like. So I took the moral high ground and instead pursued a career in advertising. Go figure.

4. Communicate. I like to keep in close touch with my family and friends, and I look at it almost as a job that I need to work on all the time - especially since we are all scattered about. I also have found that most misunderstandings between people can be traced back to a simple case of miscommunication...so it's important to keep those lines open and get the message out, loud and clear.

5. Listen. This is always challenging, and many times that I struggle to get it right. People often tell me I have a good memory, but I think it's due in part to the times when I've been an active listener. Not an easy task. Next time you want to try this, listen to someone speak and absorb what they say without letting your mind jump ahead to what you'll say when there's a pause in the conversation. You'll be surprised by how difficult this can be.

Things I can't do well.

1. Math. I am not good at it, but I've exaggerated my deficit in this area so much in my mind that I'm convinced I'm awful at it. Also, I get extremely nervous doing math - basic calculations - in front of people. Like, adding a tip on a receipt. I can do this without a problem if I'm by myself, but if I think people are looking at me, I freeze up. I have to shade my work with one hand so no one can see what I'm doing.

2. Financial planning. A sibling of #1. I can balance a checkbook (math phobia and all) but I cannot see in my mind a clear, sky-view map of creating a comprehensive financial plan. I don't know how to explain it other than to say that when it comes to creating plans in other areas of my life, I know exactly what to do and can intuitively find my way through the process - even if it is in an area I don't know well. But when it comes to long-range financial planning, I get very intimidated. This is what you pay people for, I guess.

3. Crafts. Don't laugh. I like to decorate my house, but I'm terrible at crafts. So many of you lovely readers have studios in your houses. We don't have that here...and if we did, what would I do with it? I can barely sew on a button. I tried knitting lessons a few years ago and after awhile it just wasn't working out. I'd like to try it again, I figure anyone can do it...but actually, is that true? The thing that would motivate me this time is finding a way to make myself Christmas stockings that look just like hers.

4. Throw and catch. I am beyond bad. I always feel a little embarrassed admitting this to my husband (as if it's not obvious) because he's very talented in this area. At a family picnic shortly before I got married, my brothers and I were throwing a football around when one of them suggested I try to throw with my left hand (because I'm a lefty). Then they all said it was better than my right, which I'd been using to throw since, oh, let's see - when I was about 3? Come to think of it, why was I throwing that football in the first place? at my picnic??

5. Letting go. I can be a bit of a control freak, especially when it comes to my house. Sometimes I wish I was one of those moms who could just relax and let the kids mess up everything, but I'm not. But actually, this doesn't bother me anymore. You take the good with the bad, and by and large, I'm happy being me.

My Tip.

This from the interpersonal communication major: don't be afraid to ask someone about their bad news, because they want to talk about it.

Many people believe that if someone has a problem - wife left, child sick, parent died, dog ran away, husband involved in scandal - that person does not want to talk about it, and it's better to wait for them to bring it up with you versus taking the chance in upsetting them by bringing it up first. This is a mistake. People are generally very happy to have an opportunity to respond to sincere inquiries about how they're doing. They want to talk to you, they want you to listen. They want a friend who isn't afraid to ask them about their terrible news. All it takes is a gentle "how are you doing with [obvious problem]?" and you can gauge by their answer how much or how little they want to share with you. Believe me, they do want to share. They'll let you know if they don't, but either way they'll love you for caring.


Nunnie's Attic said...

Great lists! I used to have great handwriting. Until I started typing on a computer. Now my hands cramp when I try to write. I grip the pencil so hard anymore.

I can't do math either! It hurts my head just thinking about it. And I would love to more crafty but I am no Martha Stewart.


Deb said...

Hi Meg
The Can & Can't List is great! I can't do math either :-}
Just catching up on your posts - hope your neck is feeling better.

Tres Poshe Preppy said...

Love you list!

I too can't throw and catch. That is why I was a cheerleader. I don't know, something about flying balls?!? I've been hit in the head (dangers of cheerleading) and that was bad enough. When at at baseball game and sitting in foul ball territory, I'm like a mess and often in the fetal position.... fun times. :)

tulipmom said...

OK this is almost eery. We have every single can and can't in common. Every. Single. One. I went to Northwestern with plans for a career in broadcast journalism but then fell in love with a part-time teaching job and became very disillusioned after a summer newspaper job.

I love organizing craft activities for SB but I am in no way shape or form crafty.

Seriously, every item on your list describes me to a T.

And by the way, I LOVE the Halloween craft in your window! I'm guessing one of your little guys is the artist?

Rosemary said...

Hi Meg,
You are a talented girl. Thanks for the tips. I suck at math. I am artistic, right brained.
We can't be good at everything.

Arlene said...

I read about you having problems with your blog. I am doing web design now and would love to do your blog, I would do it for free, as I really need to build up my portfolio? If you are interested, email me. Please delete this comment after you read it, thanks!

Meg said...

So sorry, Arlene! I clicked the wrong box. But, I don't seem to have your email and can't find a way to contact you through blogger.

I really do appreciate your comment, and I apologize for not deleting it.

velvet brick said...

Wow, Meg... thank you for sharing the tip of how even bad news is sometimes wanting to be shared. I was at a funeral last night for my daughter's teacher. His 26 yr. old widow was there; with their 1 yr. old daughter. I so wanted to go up after the service and tell her what a wonderful teacher and man her husband was... but I didn't. For fear of talking about what was so tragic and devasting. Maybe I should have......

Thank you for your words of wisdom.

Meg said...

VB - I'm so sorry about your daughter's teacher; what a terrible tragedy.

It's very nerve wracking to know what to say in a situation like that. I'm sure the family was so touched to see you there, along with the others. You did your best, and that's all you could do.

Hope you have a nice Halloween holiday, VB.

paige said...

thanks for the advice...ran into an acquaintance ( sp?) yesterday whose husband had an affair (with her best friend) this summer. we aren't close or anything but i didn't want her to think i was just too shallow to show concern. i did approach her & just simply say that i was very sorry for what she was going through. she really opened up for a few moments out on the play ground.
having lost my husband i remember times when i would be so flustered to see someone who i hadn't seen me since he died & that person would just act like everything was fine...bugged me but i realize its just an uncomfortable thing to do.
whew...nothing like a sermon in your contacts!!

Meg said...

Hi Paige,

I think the importance of speaking up is something you don't understand until you're in the position of wanting others to speak...does that make sense? Just like everything else in life, you understand so much more when you have an opportunity to 'walk in those shoes'.

Hope you have a great Halloween!


Susie Q said...

This was an amazing post dear Meg.
I too suffer from a fear of anything related to numbers. : ) And wish to be more crafty and oh do I envy your ability to speak in public well. I can do once s=I start but oh is it hard for me.

The last paragraph is so true. People shy away from asking about things because they do not know what to say or how to say it. It helps to be able to talk doesn't it?

I hope you are feeling better...