Support System

The Back Story

In May 2017, I attended the STC Summit. I expected the keynote speaker to focus business relationships. Seth Mattison’s content surprised me. Yes, he covered business relationships. Yet I heard tips about personal relationships. Seth targeted the key to building relationships: Clear, honest communication. With a prerequisite: Activate a mindset, actually three mindsets.

Vintage Telephones

Vintage Telephone, Pixabay: Alles

The Mindsets

Be Intentional

  • I want this relationship.
  • I want to communicate clearly.
  • I want to support this person.

Be Interested

  • Ask open-ended questions so you can learn about the person.
    • Seth’s example: What do you like to do when you’re not working?
  • Listen to the answers.
  • Repeat ask/listen; dialog grows.

    Man Standing on Stones

    Pixabay: jingoba

Be Present

  • “Be where your feet are.” (Seth Mattison)
  • Get away from devices and other distractions.
  • Focus on this conversation.

How do we snap into these mindsets?

  • Deep breath in
  • Slowly exhale
  • Focus

Before each conversation, I try and ask myself:

  • How can I be intentional, show interest, and be present?
  • How can I help shine this person’s light?*

*“Everyone shines given the right lighting. You want to be the guide for the right lighting.” (Susan Cain, Quiet Revolution.)


I wanted to dedicate time in my schedule for personal writing—activities that build my writing skills—and simply to enjoy the process of writing.

OK, I had the goal. Now how do I build the time into the schedule? What does this activity look like?

Enter my writing coach, Shifrah Devorah Witt. Shifrah Devorah suggested finding a time, place, space, and a ritual.

Whoa…that sounded a bit overwhelming. I think I’ll quit now!

Not so fast. We broke the process down into manageable parts.


  • look at my high-energy time of day: morning
  • find a time that I won’t be distracted: late morning, by then I’ve completed early morning tasks, checked and responded to emails, and followed up on some network and business activities
  • define the amount of time that I can consistently devote: half hour, with the option of going over if I’m on a roll!
  • add the time slot to my schedule


  • a physical location for the writing practice
  • consistent spot that says, Write Here
  • the position: sitting on an office chair, comfy couch, bean bag, or rocking chair


  • Shifrah Devorah views space differently from place: space is in the mind
  • activities that I turn off so I can focus on writing
  • turn off the phone ringer, access to emails, don’t answer the door


  • engage my senses
  • something physical that says, It’s time to write!
  • options range from prayer/meditation to smelling a specific scent, or perhaps a steaming mug of my favorite coffee or hot chocolate concoction

Wow! I get to have hot chocolate once a day while I write? I’m in!

And so I began…

  • at 11AM
  • using my laptop on my drop-down dark wooden desk
  • with my phone on silent and email program closed
  • a short prayer to write clearly
  • and my hot chocolate

desk for writing practice

♦Interested in a writing coach? Contact Shifrah Devorah via her blog:

I’m not a prophetess; nothing clairvoyant in what I have to share. I am transitioning from foggy vision to seeing clear, crisp lines and colors. During the past month I underwent cataract surgery, truly an eye-opening experience (pun intended)!

I went into the surgery thinking that right after the out-patient operation, I’d see clearly immediately. I didn’t really understand that there was a process to attaining the vision clarity!

I didn’t really understand before the surgery what it would be like to not get the eye wet for four or five days. Taking a shower involved wearing tight-fitting goggles. goggles

At night, I covered my eye with an unattractive patch that the surgery center graciously provided. They also provided the opaque tape and instructions. patch

Going outside—sun or haze—includes wearing oversized sunglasses. eyeglassesAdmittedly, they’re kind of cool, although rather bulky. And when the sun shines brightly into my home, I close the window shades and wear these eye shades!

I couldn’t understand why my eyes were blurry for several days. Reading a book or online content, or even writing, was painful. Those activities stressed the eye muscles. Late yesterday afternoon, my eyes sent a loud message to me:

“Lady, close us on your own or we will shut down until further notice!”

I listened; I didn’t need a second warning. I shut all the lights except for one nightlight so that I could see my dinner. I turned off all digital devices. I felt my head relax because my eye muscles weren’t strained.

“Thanks, Lady. We’re starting to feel much better!”

As I type these words, one eye is still blurry…it’s only been a week since that surgery. This vision transition is a process. I get to learn patience, and I learned that this character trait is one of my weakest! Sigh. But I seem to be catching on quickly.

Signing off now so I can go rest the eyes before they start screaming to the neighbors about “Eye Abuse”!


A note to my in locus support system—THANK YOU—for…the grocery deliveries, the goggle purchase, driving me to and from appointments, getting up before dawn to take me to surgery, and supporting me through this process!

Today was one of those days that lots went not the way I would have liked it.

  • Woke up late.
  • Consequently, didn’t get to write in the quiet early morning; no early morning check-in with myself.
  • Dumped half the cereal from the bowl the floor (gratefully, that was before I added the milk).
  • Spilled the portion of peanut butter on the counter instead of into a bowl.
  • Took too long to drink my coffee, so it got cold.
  • Confused about work assignments.
  • Went to the local grocery store and forgot what I needed.
  • Somehow muddled through the rest of the day without major catastrophes, typos, or hurting anyone.

So here I am at almost the end of “one of those days”, all these hours later, I have a different perspective.

  • I woke up late which means I have a comfy bed to sleep in and a roof over my head.
  • I’m writing now; it’s a late night check-in instead of an early morning meeting with myself – so what?
  • Dumping my cereal and spilling the peanut butter mean I had food to eat! (I ate my lunch and dinner very neatly, thank you!)
  • Cold coffee for half the cup means it was hot for the first half of the cup!
  • Confused at work? That means I have a job, for which I’m grateful – I can save some of the income, pay my living expenses, and even use some of it for fun activities.
  • So I bought some things I didn’t need at the grocery store! Not a big deal – I still bought healthy items. (I walked right by the chips!)
  • No catastrophes – even minor ones – is a cause for celebration!

What a great day it was! I’m grateful for the little things and the wonderful friends and family in my life!


Yoel Meir ben Simcha – may these words help elevate your neshama (soul).


Thursday morning I woke up to the birds singing, sunshine, and blue skies. What a great day to be alive! Although I wondered about the source of the dirt residue in the bathtub, I didn’t let that disturb me. I followed my fairly predictable early morning routine and found time for a treadmill walk. Yeah! I checked my action list…edits, lunch errands; drive out to the West Valley in the evening…all looked do-able.

At some point mid-morning, I heard the bathroom water gurgle. Odd; I’ll inspect—it’s time for a break anyway. I found nothing unusual and returned to focus on the detailed, minute proofreading. Where’s the comma? Why did they use a semi-colon instead of a colon? And must we use passive voice—yet again??? I moved transformed semis into colons. Short spiffy bullet points replaced long-winded paragraphs. The “delete” key became my friend.

By noon, my stomach called out for nourishment and my eyes begged for a break. I gave in. As I sauntered past the bathroom, I gagged. Yikes! What’s that in the bathtub??!! (You don’t want to know!)

Moving quickly from saunter to 70 MPH, my brain went into overdrive… Ack! What’s going on? How? What? When? Where? Why?

Really, who cares about “how”? And honestly, I didn’t care about any of the “Ws”. I just needed help and solutions—NOW! Staccato phrases pounded my head:

  • Need facilities
  • Need alternative workspace
  • Text for help
  • Notify co-workers—temporarily unavailable
  • Need LUNCH!

That’s it! Lunch first—good excuse to go to one of the local restaurants and be served.

But will the repair folks come on time? Who will clean up? Will I need to sleep elsewhere?

Quiet! I yelled at the “Bad News Committee” meeting in my head. I’m going to LUNCH.

Once I could sit quietly, solutions broke through the haze. I found workspace, facilities, and emailed a notification. After a nutritious lunch—I successfully fought the urge for onion rings—I returned to misplaced commas, colons, and verbs in my temporary workspace.

Carefully saving the document, I closed down for the day. I realized the sun still shone and I smiled. There “Bad News Committee” had ended the meeting. The “Grateful Group” was holding a meeting in its place. Friends had helped out. The repair folks completed their job on time—and cleaned up. I could return home at a reasonable hour and realized I could sleep at home. A friend invited me to dinner!

And the birds sang. What a Terrific Thursday!

Photo by SL Henkin

Photo by SL Henkin

What can we learn for our growth and development from road paving work? What can possibly be uplifting about having the main thoroughfare torn up for a week?

You’re thinking, What could she possibly be thinking? She’s really lost it!

Last week Los Angeles tore up North La Brea Avenue near my home.

In order to repave the road, I learned, the old pavement is first chopped up. There is a special truck that moves slowly and methodically down the road hacking away at the layers of pavement. The material is swallowed up into a contraption on the truck. These large pieces are shot down a slide into another truck that grinds the material into tiny pieces. The two trucks must move at the same pace. And what happens when the “hacking truck” needs to turn to go down the other side of the street? My friend told me it beeped two times as a cue to the “grinder truck.” Then in perfect synchronistic motion, the trucks turned to hack and grind the other side of the street.

The street was bumpy uneven pavement. And the sidewalk was covered with dust from the ground up asphalt. It resembled soot from a chimney.

But not for long.

At the end of the week, the section of road was blocked off again. The paver trucks moved slowly up one side and down the other. I can’t say that the paver trucks were quiet! Our homes shook as if there was a constant earthquake!

The result:  clean, sleek, smooth pavement.

Here’s what I learned:

1.     In order to change negative character traits or negative attitudes, completely rip out the old beliefs and views.

2.     Grind up the old thought patterns and toss them out.

3.     But don’t do this alone! Get a buddy – someone who will catch the discarded patterns and make sure we throw them out.

4.     It’s sometimes earth-shaking to make changes.

5.     Replace the old patterns with clean, sleek, strong, new healthy attitudes.


Paving North La Brea Avenue was not about paving the road. It was about paving me.

Recently I had to call someone I hadn’t spoken to in at least 15 years. We needed some advice and I knew she was the right address. With trepidation, I called her number. Would she answer? Would she remember me?

I shouldn’t have been concerned. The excitement in her voice was contagious – we were thrilled to be reconnected. We caught up on each other’s front page news – and there were some shocking news stories!

I can’t believe we’re in the same life situation! I wonder if she’ll want to get together.

Before I could ask that question out, my friend suggested meeting for coffee.

A week later, I entered her home – it felt so comfortable and familiar. Had it really been 15 years? We greeted each other with warm hugs and huge smiles. How relaxing to be in the company of a long-time friend!

We delved deeper into those news stories. We laughed at our foibles – and those of others! We explored our feelings about widowhood. We traded stories of how we got here and how we’re managing. And discovered we’re not just managing, we’re thriving.

We discussed where we’re headed. And now we can do that together.

Reconnecting with a long-time friend…what a gift!

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