"Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say Without Being Mean When You Say It" ~ Meryl Runion Rose                                ShoppingCart Plum NB 50

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Effective Communication Skill Blog

Alchemist in Meryl.150Communication skills are great in theory, but how are they in practice? This Effective Communication Skill Blog shows you how to walk the SpeakStrong talk. I'm Meryl Runion Rose. Join our conversation about Communication Alchemy, and saying what you mean and meaning what you say... without being mean when you say it.

The Communication Alchemist is IN. Are you IN too?

A Great Man

DSC 4416We fixed his magnifying glasses. "Do they work okay?" I asked my father. "Yes," he said, "but my eyes have deteriorated enough that it's too difficult to read even with them."

"That's really sad," I told  him.

"It is," he said, "but they served me well for many years."

What an attitude! We worked hard to keep him able to read and work. Now, at 95, he seems to have made peace with his limitations. We should all be as blessed as he is.

"Your father is a great man." I have heard that repeatedly throughout my life. It is true. We should all be as blessed as I am. 

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Temple Grandin's Personal Look

The way I see itI'm reading a wonderful book by Temple Grandin about autism. The title is aptly, "The Way I See It." It gives an inside look at what it's like being autistic - and particularly what it's like being Temple Grandin. Grandin is a high functioning person with autism.

The book isn't just about the world according to Temple and what she sees, it's about HOW she sees. Temple shares her thinking process and how she learns and operates. More than that, she shares the process she and her family have gone through to discover how she learns and how she can operate effectively. She is clear that everyone needs to be their own detective - that her experiences are there to help us learn from our own. This process is useful for everyone, whether we have some kind of identifiable disability or not. 

One insight that stands out for me is her admission that she has trouble with abstractions. She doesn't recognize patterns easily. So, for example, when her nanny taught her to look both ways when she crosses the street, it was necessary for her nanny to take her to many different street corners to impress the idea on Temple that the teaching applies to ALL streets. 

I once had an assistant who told me she's more concrete than I am. I was fascinated by that observation. It made sense of a lot of things. If I pointed out an error as an example of a pattern of errors, she would correct the error, but not understand the bigger picture to make an effort to troubleshoot the errors. I was hesitant to give examples because she would turn the conversation into being about that single error. 

This young woman moved on to a job that is more concrete. It's working well for her and her employer. 

Temple Grandin is special and not so special. Like us all. If the people in our lives would each write a book about their own MOs, it would be a goldmine for us. 

The biggest lesson in "The Way I See It" is patience. I'll be with some family next week that will test that lesson for me. I hope I can be as graceful and wise as Temple's family was. 


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The Rhythms of Routine

out to lunch 300Bob eats a big late breakfast and doesn't eat again until dinner. After a whole lot of trial and error I found I need to eat something every two hours. I have three cooked meals each day and have healthy snacks between.

It took me a while to establish my routine. It took me months of observation to determine that I wanted to eat breakfast by 8:00 AM. It also took us months to decide on 5:30 for our dinner together. The rest of my food routine aligned around those two anchors. My body loves the balance. (I carry food with me if I expect to be out for more than two hours. Real food. Veggies and protein. Not just sugary nutritional bars.) 

Bob decided to experiment with eating lunch. He probably didn't pick the best week for it. He experimented with lunching the week we changed to daylight savings time. It was a struggle. Yet something he said lit my fire. He said, 

  • I'm trying to establish a rhythm here. 

Okay. I actively strive to set rhythms for myself by dance and hiking and breathing practices. Bob has no sense of dance rhythm. But those words gave me a BFO (blinding flash of the obvious) about him. His structure is about rhythm.  

Both of us experiment with rhythm. Neither one of us imposes rhythms. We've been doing it in different ways, but our ways are coming together.

Have you established rhythms? 


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Where's the Party?

party box confettiActress Julienne Moore says that before she met her husband she always thought the party was out "there" somewhere. I can relate to that. I used to have that sense. 

It's hard to imagine someone as successful as Moore thinking life wasn't happening where she was, but she did. 

For Moore, meeting her husband brought the party home. It didn't happen like that for me. For me, it was a  more gradual commitment to embrace my life - including messes and aspects of it that didn't fit my pictures. What is as is.

Like many women, I tried to remake my husband. I have pretty much stopped doing that. It's amazing how much he has "improved" since I let go of looking at him like a remodeling project! In remaking myself, I often decided my best wasn't good enough. Good enough for what? Being the first woman president? I've let go of much of that drive while I do enjoy many new consciously cultivated habits. 

I'm happy to report that for me, the party is right where I am. My husband just kissed me on the back of my neck and told me, "You are loved, respected and adored." Now, that's a good party! 

I like good parties...and I embrace the bad ones as well. It may not always be the party I thought I was planning, but if it's my party, I'm all in. 

Where's your party? Do you relate to what I'm saying at all?


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It's Not About Me

Yesterday's post asked a question - how is YOUR heart today?

Angie commented, thanking me for sharing my heart. Then she posted another comment that responded to my question. She said, "PS My heart's ok...just taking some time to listen to where it is and where it's going. :)"

THAT is the kind of conversation I'm trying to get going. Angie's second post was about her heart, not mine. Learning about Angie's relationship with her own heart helps me deepen my relationship with mine. 

There are technical problems. My comment links don't work right. The feeds don't play well with Outlook. If I want to get a real conversation going, I can't make people jump through hoops. I do want to get a real conversation going. I don't want to feel like I'm sending out missives that no one cares about. I'm in it for the community. 

If any of you have a web person recommendation - someone who uses Joomla, I'd love a referral.

But I'm also considering migrating to Facebook. I invite your feedback.

How IS your heart today? Mine was a little heavy yesterday, but it perked up when two of my dear friends and I shared our hearts with each other. Plus, I received some lovely emails that let me know I'm not just talking to myself. 

Although I do share personally, it's not about me. It's not about my mind, heart and choices. It's about you. That's what I want to hear about.

Please comment by clicking on the post title. 



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How is YOUR Heart Today?

How is your heart today?

Mine woke me up in the night. It was painful, but I stayed with it and it worked through to sweetness. 

I don't know what triggered it. It might be because I feel my father fading.

My sister is 18 years younger than I am and lives nearby. She can tend to Dad in ways I can't. Because I'm familiar with fading, I can tend to him in ways she can't. 

Fading - letting go - changing. It's a sad thing when you feel what you're fading from. It's a joyful thing when you feel what you're fading in to. Life is incredibly vast. 

I watched my late husband fade many years ago. He knew he was fading into something. 

Fading. I'm experimenting with fading. I'm pretending electric lights don't exist and seeing how that changes dusk and dawn. It is a very powerful experiment. I like the gradual shifts from one state, one way of being, into another. I like watching the day fade into night and the night fade into morning. 

I don't cry much. I cried last night. I welcomed the tears. They faded into the sweetness that I feel now.

How is YOUR heart today?

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Pictures that Fit. Where's the Money? Where's the Mansion? Where's the Man?

Easter 300When I was around seven years old, I saw something on Art Linkletter's "Kids Say the Darndest Things" that disturbed me deeply. Linkletter interviewed a girl about my age and asked what she wanted to be when she grew up. The girl said, "The first woman president." I panicked. That was MY aspiration. I was afraid she would beat me to it. 

My aspirations have changed a lot since that day, as I imagine hers have. Thankfully, most of us aren't held to our visions from childhood. Yet, some residual can remain. If one pictures oneself as President of the United States, a moderately successful career can seem quite a letdown. 

It's good to be conscious of the aspirational images that affect us. Many years ago I wrote a song that starts like this:

Where's the money? Where's the mansion? Where's the man?
Where's the great big fancy wedding? Where's the rock on my left hand?
Things are not going according to my plan.
Where's the money? Where's the mansion? Where's the man?

Even as I wrote this, it felt tongue in cheek to me. I was satirizing myself. But it served a purpose. It took inner expectations and made them vivid and conscious. That helped me embrace real people, real rings, comfortable houses and real life. 


Deliberate visioning exercises can serve to guide our choices. They also can create expectations that keep us from being able to enjoy a good life that doesn't fit our pictures.  They can keep us looking up at where we are going and where we think we should be, causing us to miss the opportunities and beauty and the requirements of what is right at our feet. 

When I entered my dark night, my journey to the underworld, I didn't know who or what I would be when I emerged "reborn." I did have some visions to guide me. "Space for Grace" was and remains a vital image for where I have been and what I am still striving toward. My health gets the attention and care it asks of me.

As I emerge from the depths of my retreat, I try on this and I try on that to get a sense of who I am in my new reality. First woman president? Not a fit. That picture has died completely, thankfully. Someone else can have that one, and other versions of that aspiration. I'm loving my Space for Grace too much. Plus there's no way I'd get to dress for Easter like I did yesterday. Life is good the way it is, minus the pictures that once told me it's not enough. 



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An Advantage of Asking

The candy wrappers by the shed were the first clue. Our suspicions were confirmed later when we heard squeals and giggles and the bark of a dog. I caught a glimpse of them once. We have some little girls living behind us now and they cut through our yard to get to their friends' houses.

I wish they would have asked us. It's not that I feel violated. It's not that I mind their trespassing. It's more that I would like to meet them. And, also, I would like to assure them that they are welcome to walk through our yard. 

Maybe they aren't concerned about trespassing. Kids are different from how we were so many years ago. But I can also imagine that their squeals and giggles would be even more joyful for them if they knew that we delight each time we hear them. That is an advantage of asking. 

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Memoirs: Who Knows? Who Cares?

Unless he can find a collaborator, it seems likely that Dad's days of writing math are done. "Why not write your memoirs?" I asked. "No one would be interested in that," he replied. But then he launched in to telling me a story from his youth. I took notes.

I'm reading a delightful book called The Memoir Project. It talks about how the interesting stories in memoirs are inspired by simple things. Things like ice cream. Personal quirks like reading obits. First memories are good. What did you wear can be interesting.

I shared some of this with my friend Sherry. She didn't need a book or an expert to tell her how to get that thread going. When her father was still alive, she sat at the table with him and turned on a recorder. She got him talking by asking simple questions like, "What did you have for breakfast when you were a child?" She made it into a book for family.

I don't know if my 95-year-old father's memoirs will find their way into a book. If they do, it is very unlikely to be a New York Times Best Seller. Who knows? I wouldn't rule it out. But who cares? The process of collecting the memories is priceless. 

(All this said, I just got a call from a mathematician who has an idea for collaborating with my father. Funny how life works!) 

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Anniversary Post: May I Have Dominance Right Now?

Saturday. I was late leaving for dance. Nothing unusual there. As I packed up my lunch to take with me, Bob came in the kitchen. I said, "I'm scrambling to get out. May I have dominance in the kitchen right now?"

"Sure," he replied. He made a point to stay out of my way as I completed my preparations.

It hasn't always worked that way. Our balance in the kitchen is hard-won.

"May I have dominance now?" Lilith, Adam's first wife, was banished from the garden for wanting dominance. She was replaced by Eve, a more submissive helpmate. Lilith has returned in balance with Eve in the garden of our kitchen. They dance well with Adam.

Once upon a time, when Bob (Adam) and I tried to do things in the kitchen at the same time, we would collide. He assumed dominance. I tried to stay out of his way, but often banished myself from the kitchen when he came in. Even if I was in the middle of a process, I found it easier to go do something else until he was done.

Tuesday. Bob fixed his breakfast while I replenished the spices. I said, "We dance in the kitchen these days instead of collide."

"That's because I gave up assuming my needs are more important than yours," he replied.

Yes, that does help. My own re-balancing helps, too. No one assumes dominance anymore. There is a give and a take.

Today is the anniversary of our marriage. I'm wearing the skirt I wore in our wedding. I'm wearing it inside-out. The colors are still beautiful, but much softer than outside-out.

There is much to celebrate. I'll dance to that!


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What "Still Alice" is Really About


Lydia gives a dramatic reading from the play Angels in America. "Do you like it?" she asks her mother. "Do you understand it? What's it about?" Alice, now so advanced in her early onset Alzheimer's that she can barely speak, nods and says, "Love."

"That's right," Lydia affirms. "It's about love." The movie goes to credits.
Bob and I don't move. We're not reading the credits. We are absorbing the experience of the film.

What is the movie Still Alice about? Alzheimer's disease? Not really. Or not to me. It's about love. 

Earlier in her decline at a talk to an Alzheimer's meeting, Alice asked, "Who will take us seriously?" She finds out who will. The people who recognize love. 


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Do Over: A Little Less Conceptual Please

The spring weather intoxicates me. The air feels crisp and vibrantly alive. The birds seem like they are singing just to me. Last year, I was too lethargic to do my yard work. Getting through the day took all the energy I had. This year I am beside myself with excitement. As when I was 5 years old, I don't wanna come inside.

Health makes the difference between living heaven and living hell. For me, a few bites of the wrong foods can take me from this kind of divine rapture to dark despair. It's an obvious bad bargain.

I posted a poem about it last week. I wrote the poem in part to anchor my intention to be impeccable about doing the things that cultivate life. Of course, moments after it went out, I wanted to revise it. 

Well, here's my do-over of:

Dancing with the Devil.

Oops. I just danced with the devil!
Uh oh! I ate from his plate!
Whoa! Did I make a bad bargain!
Yikes! I keep tempting fate!

Gosh! I gave in to temptation!
Ignoring hard lessons I learned!
Yeah, right, like this time would be different!
Ouch! I keep getting burned!

Oh no! I pretended a nibble
of poison would do me no harm.
Shoot! I let sweet temptation
disable my danger alarm!

Oops. I just danced with the devil
whose lessons are sharp and severe.
Lord, help me collect my diploma!
and say, "Thanks. I'll take it from here."

If you revisit the original, you'll see the confessions are in the form of questions. The poem asks why I do these things at every turn. This version is more human and less conceptual. Same idea but different tone. Very different tone.

And yay! I wrote a poem that is helping me make life-giving choices. 

Woo Hoo! I am dancing with life. So far so good...

I hope you enjoyed the original and like the revision. 

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Article Use

Please copy, quote, distribute, share and publish these articles with the following credits.

©2015 Meryl Runion Rose. Meryl is a Certified Speaking Professional and the Creator of the SpeakStrong Method of Dynamically Effective Communication. Find her at www.SpeakStrong.com

Let me know how you use them. Thanks!  

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