How To Make Your Next Appointment The Best Ever

family-adventure

Whether your meeting a client, friend, or family member, you need to change your meeting place from that Starbucks today.  Do you want the next “meet up” to be memorable, conversations go deep, and impactful on all lives involved?  Then, your next appointment or time together should be outdoors. Imagine a business partnership made while walking along a path with birds chirping and the sun rising over the trees.  Or, picture your family taking a brief walk in nature, on a trail, or at the park. Its a good break from the typical evening which may be staring at devices in separate rooms where conversations may or may not develop.

  1. Our personal experience in intimate friendships and family relationships.

We stumbled upon this secret after moving to Mondulkiri.  It seems every one who came our way from Khmer friends, visitors from America, or just like minded folks who were passing through, wanted to catch a glimpse of the beautiful nature found in this province.  So we planned brief hikes in beautiful areas anytime a visitor came through.  As we walk the trails and talk, our conversations become deeper and pauses of quiet are less awkward.  These friendships grow from mere acquaintances into life long friends. Our relationship takes a more significant meaning for all of us.

2. This works no matter where you live

We took this secret to America too. We’ve bonded with family and friends outdoors.  This is more challenging due to the weather changes but there is always an opportunity on a clear day.  Our greatest memories are traveling through national parks with nephews and nieces hiking trail after trail. We’ve also met up with friends at the park or toured a museum with colleagues bringing up wonderful conversations.

3.  Plan the next group meeting in an outdoor environment.

We’ve also recently moved our meetings outside.  This has been hard for us to get use to due to the barriers of sound, wind, cold, and electricity.  But, when discussing issues such as leadership, healing, resolving conflict, or guidance from God, outside is the best setting for a get together.

meeting-outside
Our most recent outdoor meeting at a pavilion.

4.  This is natural for most people in this world.

france-outside
Despite the cold weather in France, many people meet up at parks and walk together while they talk.  Together they find an outdoor seating restaurant to finish their conversations outside.

Indoor environments have only become available this past century for many people in the world. Throughout Europe and Asia, despite the changes of weather, they commonly meet outdoors for a walk or at the local park.

What could this look like for you?  Should you wait for summer to see it happen?  Is the cold weather holding you back?  Could you take a walk at a nearby nature park?  Maybe there is a greenhouse in the city you live in? Is there a restaurant with outdoor seating? Please share your ideas in your hometown!

a-little-too-close
Leave it to me to get a little too close to nature! While enjoying your walk with friends or family, keep distance between yourself and the wild animals!

I’d like to say that I was the first to think of this idea, but you can read more here: Why You Should Move Your Next Meeting Outside to find out the benefits this change can have for you!

 

 

How To Attract People To You Instantly

old-lady

One of the most fascinating parts of traveling or living overseas is the array of faces we see each day.  The world outside of our hometown Oklahoma, has so much more variety.  Over the years, we’ve come to love this diversification and recently read about what we can tell from a face.  Our faces can communicate so much whether its pain, love, attraction, compassion and we’ve found that even when a language barrier exists that we can impact those around us with our expression even more than with words.  Often we don’t even get a chance for words if our expression is sour but opportunities arise constantly when our face welcomes others.

bunong
This man is from a Bunong hill tribe whose language I do not speak.  But on this day, as I bought a coke from his stand and sat with his family, we communicated a lot and developed trust leading to good work accomplished in his village.  

 

Dr. Albert Mehrabian, author of Silent Messages, conducted several studies on nonverbal communication. He found that 7% of any message is conveyed through words, 38% through certain vocal elements, and 55% through nonverbal elements (facial expressions, gestures, posture, etc).  Over the years, we’ve realized our expression has a lot to do with the message we want to communicate with others and whether we will ever have a chance.  In the countries we travel, nonverbal communication is so important because we are unable to learn all of the languages in our region.  Therefore, we work hard at communicating through our faces and actions.

old-lady
Turning towards each other and standing close shows a desire to get to know one another and that we are engaged in that pursuit.

Michael Argyle, in his book “Bodily Communication,”  explains that non-verbal communication interacts with verbal communication.

We can reinforce, contradict, substitute, complement or emphasize our verbal communication with non-verbal cues such as gestures, expressions and vocal inflection.

How important this is in ANY relationship!  A good example is avoiding eye contact when we tell someone we love them as this communicates something far different than do spoken words, just as a bright smile when we say congratulations reinforces the sincerity of our words.

kids
These Khmer children want to get to know the one behind the camera.  Do you see it?  It is amazing how that is all communicated right here.

What is your face saying today?  To your family, at the store, to your neighbors, or those you work with?  Are you approachable?  If you desire to increase the light and happiness to those around you, your expression is the key that will open that door.  It begins in our heart with our thoughts, gratitude, thankfulness, choosing to see the best in those around us. Often, I work with visiting teams who do not know the language in Cambodia.  I often hear them vent frustrations about their inability to communicate with those they came to love.  I always remind them of the impact their smile and nonverbal actions have on a community.

It still amazes me that whats in the heart comes out in our face.

water-happy
This Khmer man received water for the first time in months during a severe drought in Cambodia.  His heart of gratitude, celebration, and joy is evident through his smile.

For you single folks! The Oral Health Foundation conducted research to finally prove that a smile is the most important physical attribute when it comes to attraction, second only to personality. Survey shows the winner is personality, with 90% of respondents rating this human attribute highly when it comes to attraction.  A smile came second (56%), closely followed by the face (53%) and eyes (51%).

Based on this, what would you like to change about your nonverbal and how?  Do you think that nonverbal communication is as important as they say?  Please comment here or send me a message.  I love hearing from you!

Top Tips For The Best Challenge You’ll Ever Undertake!

trekking-with-family

Are you up for it?  I have a challenge for you.  I’ve always taken the dare on truth or dare and I’ve always enjoyed going against the crowd.  But, this is a challenge of proportionally great significance for you.  This challenge will change who you are and may even be the most difficult task you have ever undertaken.  This challenge defies your culture, the day and age you live in, and you may even be persecuted beyond what you can handle.  But, the worst will be your inner voice.  It may cripple you with whispers calling you lazy, neglectful, unsafe, irrational, and maybe even irrelevant as society may not need you when you step away.  Are you ready for the challenge?

Take one day where no one can find you, no one can call you, and you cannot hear anyone else around you.  No phone.  No book.  Just water (or coffee).

“That’s easy!” you might say, but its exactly the circumstance that we are scared of today and avoid at all costs. The quiet, the boredom, the thoughts that may circle around our minds that we’ve spent days, months, even years putting behind.  So why do you need this?  Let me share with you what this challenge from a friend of mine did for me and why I repeat this challenge regularly.

I’ve gone about my day with my rituals and tasks almost mindlessly performed.  In between the obligations come “downtime.” This time is immediately filled with some form of entertainment.  Maybe a hobby such as running (at that time in my life), a game such as Sudoko, scanning through the news, or chatting with friends through social media.  No matter what that time is, my mind is focused elsewhere.

Until 2 things happened that changed my direction.  First, I started not sleeping well as I laid in bed rethinking about the day whether it was what I said or what someone else had done.  Second, I wasn’t hearing from God.  I could remember a time when I would pray and hear Him speak.  But, it had been me alone praying without feeling His presence or hearing Him speak in my heart.  I needed a change, a challenge.  A friend who travels the world and has helped many people shared his secret with me.  Take at least one day and night with nothing in your hands and get alone.

Where? I began these days at local hotels that don’t have tv (I told you no self control!).  Initially, prayer led into a nap, nap led to coffee, and then the real experience began as I was silently meditating on God and asking Him to fill the time. Searching, reflecting, a few answers, songs of worship, a few tears, and happiness followed. A few times, I spent the night there and joined the family after a quiet breakfast.

My best memory of these quiet days is in nature trekking alone.  Most of my treks are busy with many kids and family.  Enjoyable but not quiet!

But when Marc watched the kids and fed them ice cream for lunch, I would head on a walk with a mat and coffee to a lone spot to watch birds and enjoy the peace that I need.

ann-alone

It’s in these moments came my strength, love, patience, wisdom. . .

Don’t miss out! Take on the challenge today and let me know how it goes.  For all of you in Oklahoma today, its perfect weather to slow down and find the peace you need. Complete this challenge and let me know how it changes YOU!

 

How To Have An Optimistic Family

A quick road stop for church

“Life inflicts the same setbacks and tragedies on the optimists as on the pessimist, but the optimist weathers them better.” Martin E.P. Seligman

Are you an optimist, pessimist, or somewhere in the middle?  Do you feel that who you are must be who you will always be?  Do you desire to be more of an optimist?  Do you desire to raise children who are optimists?  I do. I’ve always been an optimist and Marc calls himself the “realist” some may say pessimist but we can use the term realist if you pessimists feel better about it:)!  As we raise children, I have seen from day 1 who they are.  Some tend to lean more towards optimism and others are more pessimistic on how they view life and circumstances.  We’ve always desired to pass on my optimistic ways of looking at life with a healthy balance of realism from their father to our children.

One of the times in our life when this was most evident is when we were homeless for 4 months and my mother bought us an RV to live in.  Two adults and four kids for months in an RV helps you get to know each other quite well.  We all had our moments but overall I felt this was a great family bonding experience.

In our bonding, I was also able to identify personality differences in my kids and that they were already developing thought patterns and at times negative self talk.

I decided to read more about it to help my kids.  The book that impacted me the most is “Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life” by Martin E.P. Seligman.

I took a quiz to see where I was on the pessimist to optimist scale.  Which you can take here: Learned Optimism Test Offered by Stanford.   You won’t like all the questions but keep going.  The results are interpreted in 3 categories.  You may be optimistic in one but not in another.  This was true for me and helped me realize why I went through a period of depression despite considering myself an optimist.  Here are the 3 categories:

Permanence is the belief that negative events and/or their causes are permanent, even when evidence indicates temporary (“Amy hates me and will never be my friend again” vs. “Amy is angry with me today”; “I’ll never be good at math”).

Pervasiveness is the tendency to generalize negative features (“I’m stupid” vs. “I failed a math test” or “nobody likes me” vs. “Janet didn’t invite me to her party”).

Personalization is whether one tends to attribute negative events to one’s own flaws or to outside circumstances or other people.

If you need help interpreting your results, you can read the book or just send your results to me and I will try and help.

Now for the most helpful lesson I learned from this book!  By far it was his teaching on how to learn optimism and how to help others learn optimism.  I was excited to know that I could change, others can change, and I can help my children be more optimistic.  I’d like to share with you how you too can live with a more positive outlook on life.  That your feelings have so much to do with how you think!  Its learning the ABC’s

  1.  Adversity: This is the event big or small.
  2. Belief: These are those immediate thoughts that cross your mind even though you may or may not be consciously aware they are there.
  3. Consequences: The resulting feelings you experience and actions that follow.

I began recording events in my life and watched how the ABC’s played out.  I will be honest about a real life example.  I had a friend get mad at me because she thought I treated another friend badly (Adversity).  My immediate thought was that I had not met my friends needs and should have been better, its my fault (Belief).  This resulted in a period of depression for me including low self esteem and low confidence in my ability to love others (Consequences).  When this negative thought pattern occurred, truth came in through several sources: my husband, God, and personal reflection on past friendships.  This truth freed me from my own lie (that I was not good at loving others). The truth was that I may or may not have been a good friend in that situation but I am a loving person.  I hope this example helps you.

After I did this in my own circumstances and became good at recognizing the belief, which was sometimes lies that needed truth, I wanted to help my kids.  I tried teaching this to my children which helped the oldest a lot but have chosen to integrate the teaching in everyday events.  For example, Brooke wrote a paragraph for school and was really down on herself for not being able to spell several words.  She said things like “I am bad at spelling” and “Callie spells better than me.”  I took her paper and counted all the words she spelled right (20) and I then counted those she spelled wrong (3).  After showing her the truth, her attitude completely changed.  I explained to her the lies that can come into our mind and the need for truth.

“Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Jesus

brooke-crying
Its all about perspective!

If you take the quiz, do you mind sharing the results? You can message it to me or post as a comment here.  Will you record your ABC’s today? Where and when do you need to apply truth and where will you go to find it? Are you aware of negative self talk when encountering adversity?  Please share as I would love to hear from you!

The truth is that many days I don’t feel happy about circumstances but I can choose to be positive and see the good around the circumstances.  The perfect example is this story shared by Amber Haring about a 92 year old facing a difficult circumstance herself:

Grandmother chooses her attitude

 

 

 

 

 

7 Best Morning Routines That Will Change 2017

sunset

Did you know that many of the goals you have in life that aren’t being accomplished may result from the way you start your day?  It’s true! I wish I could have a dollar for every time Marc has said to me “I’m a night person.” For years we’ve been under the belief that Ann is the morning person and Marc is the night owl.  But, after research and Marc finding his days in ever ending catching his breathe without a break, we have both come to realize the importance of how we start our day.  Did you know that the first 5 minutes can determine your attitude for the entire day.  With that in mind who wouldn’t want to make some changes?

When we first moved to Cambodia, I found it difficult to wake before the day began.  Khmer, like many Asians, rise with the sun which is 5 AM.  Many days, I would wake to sick people at my gate or the phone ringing with needs.  After that, came kids and the day was racing forward before I felt I had any control! Months and years flew by like this.  “Me time” or time for meditation became less and I reached the end of my flame.

ann-meeting-need

After this feeling of not ever catching up, Marc and I both made a change.  We knew that in order for our days to be productive, full of joy, and attitudes right, our mornings need to be “ours” determined by us not by the world around us.

I enjoyed reading this helpful article: Why Creating A Meaningful Morning Routine Will Make You More Successful  as it describes many of the routines needed to prepare for the day.  Today, I would like to share with you my morning secrets.  The reason that I feel that I can be successful at reaching my goals each day.

Based on my experience, this is the best morning routine to get the day started right.

  1.  First 5 minutes is time for stretching and smiling.  This may sound weird but smiling lifts the spirits and frowning is internalized.  Therefore, begin each day with a smile and a good stretch.
  2. Quick prayer of thanking God while walking to the coffee.  Beginning with gratitude or even a song of worship can set your mood.
  3. Drink a full glass of water and if available add a lime or lemon.  There is a lot of research showing that most people begin their day dehydrated which sets us up for fatigue.
  4. Coffee in a quiet spot.  I once read about Susannah Wesley (the mother of John and Charles Wesley) who needed her own alone time to meditate and pray.  She would sit in her kitchen corner, pull her apron over her head.  This was a  known cue that the children were to leave her alone because she was having her “me time.” It’s amazing to think of the power of those prayers for her children.  I relate to this but aprons won’t work for me.  A quiet hillside, closet, or even bathroom will often give me the peace I need.  I spend an hour here in meditation on God, the Bible, but I always keep it simple.  Full of praise and love for Him and His creation. I find peace.
  5. A good breakfast with protein and fruit. Try starting your day with eggs instead of sugary cereal.  I think you will find that by 11:00 your still ticking!
  6. Dress nice for the day even if homeschooling, resting, or working from the house.  I put on clothes I like and a little makeup.  I found that this makes me feel good, I’m ready for surprise visitors, and I’m ready to jump and run any last minute errands with ease.
  7. Lastly, plan for the day.  I write or think about the goals that I want to accomplish.  I pray over those goals knowing that its not my power but His to accomplish it.  Realize that thoughts about the day don’t even get rolling until over an hour of awake time!  

Many days have gone from good intentions to chaos,

therefore there is also a list of do nots!

  1.  Don’t touch the phone until at least an hour in positive meditation.  I choose other ways to provide music, Bible, reading because my will power is too weak and I’ve just gotta check out those notifications from the night before!
  2. If at all possible, don’t sleep later then the kids no matter how early that might be. I know that waking up to kids fighting or needing breakfast can start my days off in a rush and I then lack the peace I need.
  3. Don’t stay up late so that the next day will be just as fun.  Get in a routine of an earlier bedtime.  This can’t be emphasized enough!
  4. Reconsider exercise in the morning. As of late, I don’t exercise in the mornings.  Personally I have found that this puts my focus on my health and weight instead of more positive thinking.  This will depend on you.

Lastly, I don’t tend to pray for personal needs and intercede for others in the morning.  I have other times that I do this.  Personally, lists of needs increases my anxiety and but lifting my needs up to God as the day goes on works for me on most days.  I put aside a personal time to pray for others usually after a good lunch and a glass of tea.  This also keeps my mind from worry as I have already set the day with worship knowing that God is in control.

Most days this plan works but some mornings I wake to this:

The monkey escapes!

new-monkey

Malachi finds a Pit Viper in his sand pit!

malachi-and-pit-viper

Or Brooke discovers her poop, again.

brooke-poop

Its amazing the things that can happen before 6 AM.

Do you have a morning routine?  What do you find most helpful to begin you day?  What changes would you like to make for 2017? 

Please share for all to enjoy!

 

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