Feb 152017

girl giving feedbackAre you a good parent? How’s your writing coming along? Your physical fitness program?

Regardless of the area of inquiry, we all need feedback. We want to know that we’re doing well. We really want to say ‘yes.’  But has it ever occurred to you that the answer to that question depends, in large part, on who you ask.

The “smalls” often give an A+ grade to a parent who:

  • allows fast food for breakfast,
  • doesn’t enforce bedtime, and
  • provides unlimited screen time.

Elementary school kids might award highest honors to parents who:

  • believes them when they report they have “no homework.”
  • run interference with any teacher who corrects them,
  • and are certain the director of the school musicale plays “favorites.”

By middle school the stakes are higher; the “three i’s” come to mind:

  • i-phones
  • income and
  • independence (the later the curfew, the better, right?)

Silly?  Not really.  Far too many of us allow our definition of “good parenting” to come from our kids.  It’s not unlike grandparents who want to hand out gold stars — as long as they’re getting their own way about sharing holidays and visits with the in-laws!

I once took a course from Chicken Soup for the Soul co-founder Mark Victor Hansen. He often referred to “feedback” as “the breakfast of champions.” He and his team used a variety of methods for collecting input before launching books and other projects. They were looking for weaknesses that could be shored up before going public on a larger scale.

That makes a lot of sense  — as long as we can rely on the quality of the feedback we’re. Back when we were in school full time, most of us learned to examine sources. Whether working on a research topic or evaluating news reports, we were taught to take an analytical look at sources and ask questions.

  • What credentials (including relevant experience) does the writer have?
  • Does she have anything to gain from the report?
  • Who disagrees with what he is reporting and what motive might he/she have?
  • Are there other, independent authorities with similar information or points of view?

It probably wouldn’t hurt most of us to apply this line of questioning to other areas of our lives. (I cringe when people invite me to hang out with “like-minded people.” How will I grow?)

Am I a writer who accepts “it’s good” from family members and close friends instead of useful critique from other, more accomplished authors and editors? How extensive is my review process prior to submission?

Do I ask fitness advice from my fellow couch potatoes? Or am I willing to make myself uncomfortable by attending classes with people who actually look good in yoga pants?

Useful feedback doesn’t always feel good but it makes us better.

How does this work for you? Please share your tips in the comments.

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 February 15, 2017  Posted by  Happiness 4 Responses »
Jan 172017

It was a beautiful north Florida day. Gentle sunshine. Puffy clouds. No humidity. Who wouldn’t want to celebrate? Besides, our little town never misses an opportunity to rejoice. Festivals. Events. And parades. Lots of parades. Along the parade route, we found a lightly shaded low brick wall — a perfect seat for those of us who rarely remember to carry chairs.

And then these people showed up.

couple holding MLK love sign

As they started to walk by my husband and I smiled and said “hello.” They did too. They set up their chairs beside us and we chatted a little. We talked about their involvement in Compassionate Fernandina.

A combination of “locals” and tourists continued to show up for the parade, some stopping to take their picture, others just saying “hi.” A visiting couple started to walk by and came back. He spoke with a thick accent.

“We need this. We need to be together. We are all too far apart.” He asked to take a picture. Then he spotted our new friend’s hat.

“Korea?” He nodded.

“Me too,” as he moved in for a hug.

For the next several minutes we talked about the island and their visit. Then talk turned to the Steelers. That’s right. Four of the six new friends chatting had lived in Pittsburgh.

“The Steelers won!” he said, beaming.

The parade had made the turn and was headed our way. The six of us moved to the curb to watch. Mr. Sang asked me why the town was hosting a parade and I told him it was in honor of Dr. King’s birthday.

“This is so great!” he said before jumping into the street to capture unobstructed photos of every single marcher.

We went our separate ways reassured that love really is the only force that matters.

 January 17, 2017  Posted by  Happiness 9 Responses »
Oct 112016

life jacket zone

Hurricane Matthew was my first big weather adventure in my new home state. YIKES!  What an experience. My online friend Lore Raymond of Women as Visionaries has more than thirty years of experience with Florida weather and, during the storm, reached out to me several times. Although that was reassuring, I especially appreciate the question she posed when we were safely home: What gifts did Hurricane Matthew send your way?

For us there were many. Give me a blizzard any day — I’m a lifelong New Englander and have a pretty good idea of what it will do as well as what needs to happen to stay safe. But this? I felt ignorant and helpless. The first gift was the ability to recognize our inexperience and listen to the warnings. When we left, Matthew was a Category 4 storm headed directly for our little island. We had no idea what we would face upon our return… or even IF we’d be able to return. (I shudder to think what we’d have faced if it had not tired itself out, drifted a few miles east, and become a Cat 2!)





Favorite Husband and I packed up a few changes of clothing, our dogs, my laptop and a few books. Evacuation sure helps get priorities in order in a hurry. We headed west where we were able to connect with my son and my sister.

Western Floridians greeted us with incredible hospitality, generosity, and compassion. They’d gotten beat up by Hermine just 3 weeks ago; its memory was close to the surface. We were comfortable, safe and able to monitor island events through a combination of texts (both personal and from the Office of Emergency Management), social media and an occasional news broadcast.

You call those gifts?

Yes. But wait… there’s more! We spent time together as a family and connected with other evacuees from the island. We made some new friends and explored a new city.

And back home on the island? I feel a stronger bond  and a closer connection with my new home and everyone who lives here. Hurricane Matthew brought out the best in so many. I have mad respect for the utility company and our local first responders (who, by the way, waited at the bottom of the bridge and waved “welcome home” to those who were able to return late Saturday afternoon).

And, of course, there were our four-legged evacuees who, most likely, will get a post of their own.

Overall? I’m overwhelmed with gratitude and ready for a nap. Much love.




How to support relief efforts in Haiti.

Resources to support hurricane relief in North Carolina.

 October 11, 2016  Posted by  Happiness, Self care, Special Topics 10 Responses »