Stand up and fake it if you have to!

Amy Cuddy‘s TED Talk is a couple of years old but it is still completely relevant. Her research indicates that your posture and body language do more than send signals to others—they influence how we feel about ourselves. So stand up tall, shoulders back, head held high, put a smile on your face and do your thing!

I also listened to Julian Treasure‘s TED Talk titled “How to speak so that people want listen“. The two talks play well together.



Who says chewing gum is a bad idea?

I always thought that sitting quietly composed would leave a better impression than if I were seen sitting chewing gum. Apparently, not so much…

I am currently wearing a dental device that prevents me from chewing gum, not that I chew gum that often. But now I’m more sorry that I can’t chew gum when I’m sitting in an airport, among strangers.

Change is good(?)

How often have you heard that change is good? I have heard it often, and I believe that change really is good. However, no matter how good change may be, it can also be hard because it requires that we do something new.

Doing something new is not as comfortable as doing what you always do and I’m as bad as everyone else in that I like to be comfortable. (It makes you wonder how the phrase “change is good” came to be so widely embraced, doesn’t it?)

It’s probably more accurate to say that “Change is.” Every day presents us with new choices; things do not remain the same and we do have to make choices. The TED talk below by Ruth Chang is about making hard choices. It’s about 15 minutes long and interesting.

I posted another TED talk about choices on June 10. These two talks complement each other: one is about how we handle (or are overwhelmed by) too many choices and the other is about how we decide between tough options.

In my own life, what I have found helpful is the recognition that too many choices are often overwhelming and that limiting options can work for me. I am also happy to be reminded that hard choices are hard specifically because they are not black and white. Deep down, we all know that this is true, but it is easy to get sucked into the notion that we ought to be able to always choose the best option. Sometimes it’s a coin-toss and you are either lucky in your choice, or not.

There is a Harry Nilsson song that I have always loved, The Lottery Song. (You can hear it here.)  The refrain is:

“If life is just gamble
Gamble if you want to win
Life can be so easy
Let the wheel of fortune spin”

As I thought about Ruth Chang’s talk, that was the soundtrack playing in my head…


Too many choices…

I spent much of Sunday piecing and listening to TED talks. This one, given by Barry Schwartz, was particularly interesting to me. I hope you enjoy it, too.

We believe that more choices are always better when, in fact, that is not always the case. To bring that idea home to quilters, here’s a thought: Have you ever felt over-whelmed when you are trying to choose fabric for a quilt? If your stash is over-flowing and you have visited every quilt shop in your area, it’s probably not that you just haven’t found the perfect fabric—it’s that you can’t decide which of the hundreds of great choices is best for you. In this case, it is helpful to limit your choices so that you can begin to make decisions.






Hello there, stranger…

It’s been days since I posted and if I was sitting next to you on the subway, or standing next to you in an elevator, I might tell you about it. Yes, I am one of those people who can’t seem to help themselves: I smile at strangers on the street, I talk to strangers on elevators. It drives my NYC-son crazy.

Now it is my turn to say “Hah!”. It turns out that talking to strangers is a mood lifter for all concerned and there is data to support that. You can read about it here in the NY Times. It’s a short read and worth the time it takes. Hers’ a teaser, quoted from the article:

“The behavioral scientists Nicholas Epley and Juliana Schroeder approached commuters in a Chicago area train station and asked them to break the rules. In return for a $5 Starbucks gift card, these commuters agreed to participate in a simple experiment during their train ride. One group was asked to talk to the stranger who sat down next to them on the train that morning. Other people were told to follow standard commuter norms, keeping to themselves. By the end of the train ride, commuters who talked to a stranger reported having a more positive experience than those who had sat in solitude.”

CrystalBridges-Cafe-01I have come to realize that each one of us is actually living a life that is one, long story. Who doesn’t love a story?! We heard stories read to us as children, we watch them on screens, and we read stories in books. When a stranger and I interact, we offer each other a glimpse of our own unique story. You may not think your story is interesting because you are used to it but to someone else, it’s new and different.

Most of us like to think that we are open-minded. I know I like to think that of myself but I’m like everyone else… I don’t break out of my personal bubble often. Interacting with complete strangers is one way to that I put myself in a position to hear, and learn, something different. I can tell you that it works for me.