Tag Archives: support

Job Offer Relocate or Reject & Stay?

When partners can’t agree on one’s job offer that affects both, the job at hand is to choose the best compromise.  — BadWitch

Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…

Dear GWBW — My wife has a (lateral) job offer from her firm that necessitates our relocating across the country. We know no one in that state, its job prospects for me are on par with most any other state, we could buy a lot of house there by selling ours here, and we have one preschool child. Here’s the kicker, I want her to pull the trigger more than she seems to want to. She seems satisfied with her work but I think they’re trying to save her job with this offer. I fear she will stay and then get laid off and we need both salaries. We’ve talked and talked but just can’t come to agreement. Suggestions?  Worried Hubby

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Dear Worried Hubby,

Since you say you’ve both talked it through so much, let’s not debate the merits of your wife taking this job as you’d like. Let’s have you two honestly explore your individual fears around both her scenarios: accepting and rejecting the offer.

It sounds simple but I like a good pro/con-type list for such quandries, and especially if I’m in one with someone else. Writing it out will help you two see your own and each other’s underlying fears more clearly and completely, and that allows you both to connect the dots to your actual line items of financial impact, realistic stability of her company/current job,  your age(s) to starting over elsewhere, the tax benefits between your current versus a more inexpensive home, and so much more. I am suggesting this list be developed and written as objectively as possible, and using different color pens will help you see each other’s points all the clearer.

Your primary challenge is not to be right, but to untangle the emotions from this situation, to make the best decision for your family together you know how.

More teamwork, less worry,

BadWitch

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Dear Worried Hubby,

There is more to moving than the bottom line. I get what your concerns are, and they are valid. However, I think you may be overlooking your wife’s concerns.

Yes, you can have more house, but your salary in this new place is not guaranteed. And the amount of that salary will probably be commensurate with the state, as opposed to what you are making now where you are. Also, you will have no support.  That may not seem like much now, but no one to ask for last minute help. No one to invite over for pizza, beer and communing that you know you can let down all your pretenses with and just hang. Babysitters, schools, friends will all have to be vetted again in the hopes of carving out a niche in a community you can really feel at home in. You are ready to make this leap, but my guess is, your wife may not be as ready to be cut adrift in a strange new place.

Perhaps you two can work out how you are both feeling about your options in a couple of lists. One lists is your pro and con list on moving, another is hers. The next list is ideas for making it work if you stay and she gets laid off. Another may be lists of possible job opportunities and starting salaries in the new state. Get a better sense of all the factors. Do you know % of joblessness in the new state vs. where you are? Do you know whether there are more jobs in your wife’s field or yours? Who will have an easier time finding new work?

Both of you should start applying to jobs—she should look where you are now and you should look in this new place. See who starts to get positive feedback. Maybe she finds work where you are now, doesn’t have to give up her community and you two don’t need to incorporate the chaos of moving into your lives. Or maybe you get some great results from your new job search and spark her interest. Seems like you both need more real world research to know what the best choice is.

I know you are worried and looking for the best possible outcome for your family. Trust that your wife is as well. Now, investigate so you can make decisions based on real world opportunities rather than unrealized fears. It’s the best way to put that worry energy to good use and limit regret.

Mantra: We both want what is best for the family. We will not react from fear, but from knowns. If we act together, we can make it through whatever changes are ahead because we are a family.

Happy researching,

GoodWitch

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Juicy Relationship Coaching for Leaders and Individuals.

Mondays money, work, purpose dilemmas. Thursdays family, relationships, love dramedy. Send your brewing questions on how to thrive—not just survive— modern life to: coaching@stillsitting.net.

© 2009-2017 ManifestGroup. All rights reserved.

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Booster Shot: Team Building Fun

Not all team building activities need be forced, formal or make eyes roll. Having fun in the office together builds healthy bonding and productivity.  — BadWitch

Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…

Dear GWBW — What can I do to boost the morale of my team? I’m a supervisor who’s more hands-on with face time than our department manager who travels a lot and I know I can have her blessing if I present solid ideas. We actually have a pretty strong rapport but I want to keep them happy and engaged. Do you have any non-monetary ideas for a busy professional but not corporate environment.Booster Shot

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Dear Booster Shot,

I take your question seriously, but I think it’s cute. Make sure you do this more for your team’s morale than your own popularity and/or advancement, and whatever you do will be a sure-fire winner. The main suggestion I have for you is to put yourself in your team’s collective shoes and think like it does on most days. You know better than me what your professional environment is like and will/can tolerate, and more importantly…could use more of. So I say: make it fun, make it low-key and don’t over-think the thing — the more natural and spontaneous, the better. We used to improvise water bottle bowling with a random Nerf ball. We threw up a tape of something or other, spanning between a cubicle wall and the actual wall and limboed under it (be careful; those of us who participated were fit and not litigiously minded). Another of my offices consisted of several music lovers, so maybe something around a music trivia game would have been fun. Whatever we did, we did spontaneously, had a blast, and I never had to actually tell people (who only participated if they needed and wanted to) to get back to work, which they did willingly, refreshed, refocused and more productively than ever. After all that some people will need to hear this: yes, we booked multi-million dollars of business in this atmosphere. Occasional informal communal silliness can be a breath of fresh air especially in an office with windows that don’t open!

Group “hug,”

BadWitch

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Dear Booster Shot,

I love where your head is at! In this economy some managers completely forget the importance of boosting team morale for best product output. You have no idea how many people I’ve heard from who complain about bosses and managers threatening them, rather than inspiring best work.  Kudos to you!

OK, that said, answering your question, your attitude and wanting a warm, cooperative work environment has already gone a long way towards creating that environment. People can feel whether a manager is invested and willing to give back or not. Your willingness helps foster willingness in your employees.

Now, to keep that moving without capital investment, ask for feedback. Creative juice meetings designed for feedback on current projects or upcoming projects will help your staff to feel like valued members of the team. There is nothing worse than feeling like another meaningless cog in the wheel. When asked to participate with ideas and input on company projects, staff feel needed and important members of the team with something to offer. That is the best way to keep them invested.

Also, strangely enough food works wonders for making folks feel appreciated. I know, you want a no financial investment idea, but I gotta tell you, Friday morning bagels are a cost effective way to say, “You are appreciated.” It’s not something you need to do regularly, just a once in a while, “thanks for working so hard” gesture. And, further surprise, you’ll get much office gratitude for the food and the appreciation.

You know Booster Shot, I just have to say, you are doing a great job. Keep up the good work! (Felt good, right? Well, I meant it. Now pass that sentiment on to staff in the moment when they deserve it. They’ll feel it too.)

Mantra: My attitude affects work from the top down. If I am invested, appreciative and supportive of my staff, I inspire my staff to be invested, appreciative and supportive of  the team and our work environment.

Great job,

GoodWitch

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Juicy Relationship Coaching for Leaders and Individuals.

Mondays money, work, purpose dilemmas. Thursdays family, relationships, love dramedy. Send your brewing questions on how to thrive—not just survive— modern life to: coaching@stillsitting.net.

© 2009-2017 ManifestGroup. All rights reserved.

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Workplace Bullying the New Sexual Harassment

When most of us spend the majority of our lives in the workplace, the last thing we need is to be made to feel intimidated, humiliated or belittled. Taking back your power on the clock.  — BadWitch

Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…

Dear GWBW — Ladies, have you heard that office bullying is the new workplace sexual harassment? The numbers are staggering that it is often woman-on-woman bullying. I’m a junior attorney and I’m the one being bullied. Any suggestions other than legal advice that I’ve got covered? How to cope? Red & Bullied

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Dear Red & Bullied,

First off, I’m sorry you’re enduring such mind (psycho-emotional) and body (health, including organ malfunction and immune system deterioration) draining attacking, Red. Make no mistake there is no excuse for such behavior on the playground or the workplace, and to clarify, “bullying” is not a bad mood or a single incident. Bullying is the repeated unreasonable behavior imposed on a specific individual or group, which causes physical or psychological harm. But you can do more towards controlling your “enduring” reaction and how your mind and body respond to lessen the negative, corrosive effects.

Bullying in the workplace is where sexual harassment was a few decades ago: beginning to be taken as a serious and harmful offense. While not completely extinct, the decline in sexual harassment had to go through its arc to finally being considered unacceptable by our society, and resulting in more assistance for its victims. As sexual harassment victims can tell you, bullying is also a complex issue often involving power, anger management, stress and self-esteem (and far more). Talk about this (not in a slanderous or gossipy tone) plainly and educate others about your experience and feelings. I realize there is always a “when ready” factor, but please don’t bottle up or hide in the closet your feelings from these events. If possible, seek support in numbers of your like-minded/-experienced peers.

I know you know to document, document, document and get HR involved, as appropriate, for recordkeeping. For my personality, taking action is taking care of myself and actively working on healing my self. When I need help, I feel no shame in asking for it (as you have here). But how individuals internalize experiences — especially one as aggressively dished out and humiliating as bullying — is extremely personal. Seek help from a counselor, and/or to better understand how your personality handles its stressful challenges, try a personality-based stress management program like StillSitting. Whatever your personality, don’t keep the humiliation, anger or frustration of being attacked (often publicly in an uneven power situation) stuffed down or let it control your life by controlling your mind. You can release yourself from the invisible but powerful aspects of the assault of bullying.

Take your power back,

BadWitch

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Dear Red & Bullied,

As I’ve always said, there’s nothing worse than a wimp with power—workplace junior dignitaries controlled by insecurities while wielding the modicum of power they have in whiplash fashion. How do you deal? Take care of yourself.

Bullies thrive on pointing out your challenges. Instead of feeling “less than” because some insecure asshole is jumping up and down on your hot button of shame, embrace it. That shame you hide so deeply in the back of the closet is the very ammunition your bully needs. Unearth it. Face your challenges head on and give yourself some love around the issue.

We all have weaknesses. Rather than take the stance of victim or match the angry energy of your bully—pointing out their weaknesses—take a breath. Acknowledge the truth without accepting blame, shame or regret. An even reply like, “Yeah, I’m working on that,” said with confidence can take the wind out of any bullies sails. If you do not allow them power over you, they will move on to an easier target. Bullies want to get a reaction. Don’t give it to them.

In the meantime going home to drink your sorrows away by yourself is no way to cope. Trust me, I’ve tried. Talk to your friends, the people in your life who respect and love you as you are. And I don’t just mean a bitchfest, I mean deep discussions where you explore how you are helping this situation continue to drag you down. If you can’t leave the environment, you must learn how to adapt your own behavior and responses to affect change.

Some of this is the fine art of office politics with which I cannot help you, because I do not have enough info to tell you how to finesse higher ups to bring light to this situation. Also, lawyers are notorious for not liking tattle tales, ironically. “Toughen up,” is likely to be the most compassionate phrase you hear out of that group. This is a group that likes to argue and recognizes the need for bravado to get ahead.

Build up your own self-esteem by embracing all of who you are. Take inventory and appreciate what you have to offer and what you are still working on and realize that perfection is a myth. Then start meditating. That’s right, take some time each morning to check in with you and get balanced in your own energy BEFORE you are immersed in the energetic swamp of your bully. You will have an easier time not reacting and, therefore, not being such an appealing target.

BTW, your bully probably has some jealousies and/or insecurities about who you are and, therefore, feels like they need to take you down a peg or two. Realize the back-handed compliment, then give yourself the props you deserve and keep on rolling. As someone always said, “Don’t let the turkeys get you down.” I might add turkeys can’t fly. Don’t stay stuck at their lower energy. Use your wings.

Mantra: My world is bigger than this moment. My soul is bigger than these trifling attacks. I am more than this. And I step forward in strength and grace—as I am meant to.

Strength, Courage and Wisdom,

GoodWitch

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Juicy Relationship Coaching for Leaders and Individuals.

Mondays money, work, purpose dilemmas. Thursdays family, relationships, love dramedy. Send your brewing questions on how to thrive—not just survive— modern life to: coaching@stillsitting.net.

© 2009-2017 ManifestGroup. All rights reserved.

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Money, Irresponsibility & Angry Siblings

When adult siblings view responsibility and money differently, someone can end up eating an angry, bitter sandwich.   — BadWitch

Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…

Dear GWBW — I know I’m a shit but I can’t take it anymore. My sister is a total loser and left everything for me to do with our aging, frail mother. I love her and wouldn’t not take care of her! All her life our parents helped that family charity case out, and now she’s nowhere to be found, but mom always asks me if she’s ok and needs money!!! I have to do every f**g thing by myself and I already know she’s going to get at least half of all of it when mom dies. Should I seek legal recourse? Mom would never go for it I can already tell you.   Under the Bus

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Dear Under the Bus,

Muffin, I hear ya. Make your own daily life easier (if only by the law), by as early on as the situation makes appropriate, taking control and getting Power of Attorney. It’s tough enough you have to do all the work, it’s untenable to feel or be obligated to get approvals and sign-offs from absent (or even unqualified) siblings. I’m afraid the broad strokes of your scenario are so common as to be stereotypical: the care of aging parents often falls on one sibling while the other(s) very often do absolutely nothing to help and disappear (if they ever scuttled into the light) back into the woodwork. I know. I know. This is life at its unfairest of all, Snow White. Addressing possible extenuating circumstances why a sibling may choose not to help an aging parent(s) can range from super clear and absolutely legit to totally false and lazy — so I will not insult you by pointing out any of those reasons. If I had The Answer to this problem (that will only increase in our aging population), I would have a truly golden inheritance (but I thank the Universe that not all siblings are absent burdens!). Instead, I will just offer you the support that sometimes responsible and fair-playing adults left out in the cold need: despite appearances, you are not alone. If you have one, lean on your belief system that says the just will be vindicated — whether with a heavenly reservation or frequent karmic reward points. I say, don’t focus on people’s shortcomings and their inability/unwillingness, rather work on your own weaknesses, expand your own abilities, willingness in life, and reward own damn self by simply recognizing your love for a parent(s) who likely gave you all they had to give, and possibly sacrificed silently for your betterment over their own immediate gratification, and — this is the trick and the trickiest of all, I find — be your own best parent in the darkest times. [And you know what, BadWitch thinks that aging parents are very probably getting the best choices made for them by the one child who is actually doing all the hands on work, than by a committee confederacy of reluctant dunces, anyway…]

Get out of under & drive your bus,

BadWitch

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Dear Under the Bus,

I wish your situation was an anomaly, but I’ve heard it too many times before. My heart and my prayers go out to you and your aging mother.  Personally, I recognize how lucky I am to have siblings that care as much and work as hard (if not harder) in some cases than I do in caring for my elderly parents. But every time I call a doctor or caregiver about my parents, I hear the shock that a child is following up to help her parents. What?! Apparently responsibility is a virtue some just do not know how to step up to.

My suggestions? Write up a letter of expectations for your sibling. Outline not only the hours but expenses you have incurred in order to take care of your mother. (Yes, I would include gas and mileage, as well as phone costs.) Outline what you would like her help with. Be clear though, she’s not stepping up without some push back. Don’t give her critical jobs (paying caregivers, rent, etc.) But have her follow up with docs and caregivers and report back to you. Sadly, you will probably have to check up on her in some micromanaging way. Yes, even following up with the doctors after she does so you know she is giving you thorough, accurate reports.

This will frustrate you initially and piss you off to no end. But the truth is, you need to treat your sister like a tenured employee with no sense of responsibility. You want to fire her. You want to yell and kick her to the curb, but you can’t. She’s family, not an employee. But in the end if you can show her how to step up and help you, you may have the assistance you want in the end.

However, just in case she continues to be self-obsessed, irresponsible and unavailable, even after you have outlined what’s what, keep a thorough record of your expense and hours of work for your mother, as well as all the times you asked for assistance and her response. At some point very soon, you will have a document, which clearly shows her lack of care in black and white. Then consult an attorney to see if you have any recourse. If yes, time to talk turkey with your sister so she knows to step up or lose out.

The truth is you will never change how your mother babies your sister. A mother can go to the grave making excuses for the ones she loves rather than facing a hurtful truth. Is it really your job to make your mom fee any worse than she already does because her kid’s a flake?

You may have to suck it up. It sucks, but your mom needs care and you can only do so much to make someone else step up to assist you. In truth, my suggestions may still lead to more work, no help and no recourse, but as with all things in life, you gotta try the best you can to make things work out. Not trying will leave you empty, angry and bitter. And if in the end your sister does not step up and help, you just have to accept it because that is what is. The inheritance your mother intends to leave your sister is not because of the work she has or has not done. It is because your mom (for better or for worse) loves her child and wants to leave her part of what she’s accomplished in this life as a reminder of that love.

Your job is not to make your mom see your sister is a flake. Your job is not to try and ruin whatever imaginary, co-dependant relationship they have before your mom leaves this earth. Your job is to do your best to live the best life you can for you, which, yes, includes taking responsibility and caring for your mom. Bottom line: life is not always fair, but karma is. Know that in some way at some point in time the Universe will say “thank you,” for all you’ve done. But whatever you do, do it with an open heart of love and giving. Gifts steeped in resentment can leave a nasty after taste—for you and your mother. Know that you are doing what you do for the right reasons and everybody who needs to know that, really does. Including your mom, whether she’s able to express that to you or not. But you know. Find a way to make peace that you know what you do and you are proud of what you do. I am proud of you.

Mantra: I give because I want to and the giving feeds me as much as those I give of my time, energy and dedication. I cannot compare what I give to someone else, I can only express my best work every day and express my gratitude to myself for doing so. I am at peace leaving the ultimate judgment and tally to karma, knowing all is divinely perfect— even if I cannot see how or why right now.

Good luck,

GoodWitch

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Image: Jose Luis Merino

Juicy Relationship Coaching for Leaders and Individuals.

Mondays money, work, purpose dilemmas. Thursdays family, relationships, love dramedy. Send your brewing questions on how to thrive—not just survive— modern life to: coaching@stillsitting.net.

© 2009-2017 ManifestGroup. All rights reserved.

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Trapped! Horrible Job, No Hope

Life can be hard enough without feeling like you’re cornered with no options to a job you can’t stand. How to stop waiting for rescue and take charge.      — BadWitch

Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…

Dear GWBW — I’m underemployed. I hate my work but feel trapped. Bills and my laid off husband make me feel I have no alternatives again. When’s it my turn? Frustrated  End of Liner

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Dear Frustrated End of Liner,

No doubt about it, these are weird at best, trying times at worst. Personally right now, I don’t know anyone who has or is not undergoing some sort of “trial” at whatever level his/her life (might) need it. I’m saying, I think these are learning times. Other times are doing times. Right now, our broken status quo is in need of a severe and meaningful make-over. Whether we are mostly happy (by nature) or not, the situations, people, circumstances that face each of us today seem, to me, to be laying the foundation of opportunity for some change(s) that are fundamentally different, and hugely paradigm shifting.

Now as for your question, Frustrated, go talk to your husband and make sure he knows in no uncertain terms that you feel trapped with no alternative today because your family (like all of us) has bills. Stuffing is for turkeys, and misdirected anger is passive-aggressive. Make sure you don’t use blaming (of him, timing, circumstances) language, and own your own (frustrated, and the dashed hope ones, too) feelings in this conversation . When you’ve finished expressing your feelings (not to be confused with  actual facts) clearly and non-judgmentally, give him his turn with no interruption. If your marriage is a partnership, I’m sure he is looking for new work and unhappy about this personal or familial situ, too — something in common. You’re in this together. You chose partnership. Let him be your partner in your frustration. Be his champion in his job search. Make individaual and team goals with deadlines for related tasks together. Show your kids what you want them to know “family” means in tough times and in the best times when it’s easy breezy and a no-brainer.

Move the chains,

BadWitch

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Dear Frustrated End of the Liner,

Don’t give up hope! Today’s trials are preparing you for the next turn in the road. Face them with a determination to create a better life and the diligence to work hard for what you want. In the end, you may very well find yourself with opportunities for that better life.

I could write a whole lot more on the subject. After all, I spent three years under-employed, as a single mother, worrying how to make it all happen (rent, clothes, school supplies, and even gas in the car). But I kept trying. I kept looking for opportunities—taking any possible freelance gig that came my way and sending out resumes non-stop. Eventually, my world turned. All my hard work prepared me for a new full time job, a few freelance gigs on the side and, of course, my own business (StillSitting). Now, my task is to decide on priorities and turn away the gigs that do not move me further down my path.

Maybe I showed the Universe through my diligence and willingness that I was ready for the next stage of my life. After all, my diligence led me to the off-hand Facebook post which eventually led to the full time job I have now with the Owning Pink Center, doing what I love with like minded people.

Am I saying everything will work out, guaranteed? No. Am I saying stop worrying? No. I’m saying life will throw you curve balls on a regular basis and it is how you face those hard times that define you. Do your best and the opportunities will come because other people will see you trying. And people always want to help someone trying to help themselves.

Take a little break, plan your path and then jump back in. Your turn is coming.

MANTRA: As I work hard to create the future I want, I show the Universe that I am willing and ready. It is only a matter of time before I succeed.

Good luck and good work,

GoodWitch

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Juicy Relationship Coaching for Leaders and Individuals.

Mondays money, work, purpose dilemmas. Thursdays family, relationships, love dramedy. Send your brewing questions on how to thrive—not just survive— modern life to: coaching@stillsitting.net.

© 2009-2017 ManifestGroup. All rights reserved.

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Anti-social Kid, Worried Parent

Most parents always want what’s best for their kids. Most kids just want their parents to leave them alone…but not too far. Staying INvolved, while Keeping Out!     — BadWitch

Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…

Dear GWBW — …What’s (considered) anti-social? My daughter who is in junior high gets good grades, has friends, but is often home alone. She gets asked to activities but says she’s not a belonger. Should I insist she go to at least one social outing a month? …I get her every other week.Worrywart Parent

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Dear Worrywart Parent,

From your description, your daughter doesn’t sound anti-social but well-adjusted and independent. If you are strongly worried, get feedback from her teachers/counselor that this is also their perception. This is cute to me —she sounds like she’s a Solo Sammie in training. Again, you say her grades and psyche aren’t suffering and at her age, those are the biggest indicators of trouble or peace. Ongoing, keep an eye on her progress; teens’ moods and perceptions can be like the wind.

Just a suggestion, you may be more concerned about your scheduled time with her than her own social time spent. Check yourself for any possible competition (including with your ex-), insecurities and legitimate concerns as a parent, and just work not to project them onto your daughter. Check in regularly and work with her other parent so you two are on the same page about your child as much and often as possible. Let your daughter know that you are absolutely fine (but only if this is true) with who and how she is by taking an active interest and asking appropriate (to situation as well as for privacy) questions and making sure you continue to know (and probably vetting is a good idea at this age most especially) her friends. Don’t just assume they’re all like her; participate from the periphery of her social circle.

For pete’s sake, insisting a middle school teen do anything is a sure-fire recipe for non-compliance (rebel or not; jeesh, how long’s it been, Worrywart?). Make a few activity suggestions now and then based on observing her actual interests and inclinations, but if she opts out, leave her be.

Knock first,

BadWitch

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Dear Worrywart Parent,

It sounds like you need to learn more about how your daughter is feeling about her classmates and the people who are inviting her to activities. If she does not feel like she can be herself in order to belong to the group, she may be opting out as an act of self-expression/self-preservation. It could also be that she has some negative feelings associated with these folks and so chooses to remain alone rather than join in.

My friend’s daughter has similar “alone” tendencies. This weekend, even in the middle of a picnic full of kids, she walked up to me to say she didn’t wan to play with any of the kids there. After a couple of questions, “Do you not like the games they’re playing?” “Are you not getting along with someone?” “Did you think someone was being mean to someone else or to you?” “What do you want to do ideally if you could do anything in the world?”

It came out that she was a little tired, not in the mood to be nice and preferred hanging with adults. She is an only child, so she is no stranger to the company of adults. For her adults pay attention to you and expect to take on the responsibilities of erecting boundaries, keeping you safe and making sure everyone plays nice. In short, she just wanted some time off from being a “big girl.”

Find out what makes your daughter happy. Is she into painting, roller derby, bag pipes? I mean, find the activity that makes her want to join in and then find the group that is doing it. Tailor the group around her interests. If you find the group that is interested in the things she likes and doing the things she likes, she’ll probably become more of a “belonger.”

Have faith Mommy. And take some time to meditate (a.k.a. daydream) of your daughter happy with friends. See them playing and talking. Look at her with the magical eyes of all you see she is capable of being. The more you can see her that way, the more you shift the energy and the room for her to be more social.

Have faith,

GoodWitch

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Juicy Relationship Coaching for Leaders and Individuals.

Mondays money, work, purpose dilemmas. Thursdays family, relationships, love dramedy. Send your brewing questions on how to thrive—not just survive— modern life to: coaching@stillsitting.net.

© 2009-2017 ManifestGroup. No materials may be used without expressed written permission.

Girlfriends Midlife Network

Friends. Can’t live with them, don’t want to live without them. When your life charges ahead and you leave some behind, how do you find new ones that fit today? One size rarely fits all.     — BadWitch

Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…

Dear GWBW — How do you make friends in your 40’s? I am finding that sometimes old friends aren’t the best friends anymore (interests change, people move, get broken down by life, get absorbed in something else). I haven’t been great at continually adding to my network. How can I do this at my age and as a busy mom (I have mom friends, but I’d like my own too). — Midway Girlfriend

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Dear Midway Girlfriend,

I totally getcha, Midway Girlfriend! Friendships are important to our happiness and health. If we’re lucky enough to see another cycle/stage of life, finding and making new friends can be a new challenge for some of us. Determine what sort of girlfriend you are. The best thing about making an effort to expand your social circle at this point in your life is that you have already tried a lot of relationships that didn’t work for you. Check! So no need to waste reaching out and hanging out with people you, eh, just sort of care about. That sounds quite clinical but as I can’t see how I’m wrong on this point, follow me…

I believe there is nothing more complex and nuanced than being a woman, but here I’m going to distill us down to the 2 Basic Girlfriend Types.

Group Huggers: Markers – These sisterly women enjoy the sorority of bonding and activities and the stress in effort in order to be social, of planning. And at bottom, the most identifying character of this species is the desire to belong to groups (often by interest type). Temperament – Some Group Huggers say they are comfortable alone, but really, most of them enjoy the feeling of belonging to something, and prefer the company of others — even if on the cellie while performing other functions (e.g., grocery shopping, driving, waiting for their order at Starbuck’s). There are so many opportunities for this Girlfriend Type to gather with likeminded girlfriends, and our society sanctions such gal pal bonding through its movie messages and propagation of Girl’s Night Out, girls days, etc. Ideas – Find new girlfriends if you are a Group Hugger by simply finding the group(s) that appeal to your interests, hobbies, and lifestyle. Try the gym, learn to knit, start a reading group or money/investment club, yoga or other physical activity, and if you are a competitive GH, try joining a team sport/league.

Solo Sammies: Markers – These often single-minded go-getters, or shy and interior women enjoy sisterhood best when sharing and exchanging ideas and activities that support this (e.g., coffee, cocktails), and the less planning the better and goes a long way with this Type towards feeling more legitimate and sincere (although impromptu get togethers often fall through, too). The SS very often is in a rush and if only to get to a home base to read or other activity…alone. What many SS focus on can be considered goal-oriented, i.e., children or work projects of improvements. Temperament – This BG Type’s bottom line characteristic is their sliding scale and avoidance of too much intimacy, aka to them as “clinginess.” The flip side of this coin is that it makes making the effort to bond more challenging. Ideas – Find and develop new girlfriends in many of the same ways/places as I suggest for the GH, but focus on the one-on-one chats, relationship building for more social satisfaction. Try this trick from my 5th grade days: choose and commit to a joint project with a new (or deepening) friend, and make sure it has elements that are to be passed back and forth to completion. Whether cooking, writing, or a community improvement project, you can satisfy your efficiency need to kill two birds with one stone.

Above all, as in “learning” anything new, practice makes perfect.

Go, girl(friend),

BadWitch

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Dear Midway Girlfriend,

Making friends in your 40’s is about getting back out in the world—but in a way that really suits you NOW.

I just started making new friends after 3 years of self-imposed hibernation. After my last romantic failure, which was quickly followed by full friendship critical arrest (why do people take sides when they really have no clue what’s going on in someone else’s relationship?), I decided that PERHAPS, I needed to sort myself out before I jumped into more dysfunctional relationships. Good thing too!

Here’s what I learned:

1. I no longer want or expect to meet best friends in a bar or nightclub scene. In fact, the lack of discussion in these environments means the only time to go is with folks you REALLY want to hang with. There will be no long lasting relationships formed from meetings here, most likely.  Not the place to go looking for friends or relationships.

2. Follow my interests. I really dig archery. Always have. Now, I’m beginning to meet other people who are into archery and you know what—we have something in common. We enjoy talking o each other and telling stories about places to shoot, clubs and worst shots on target ever taken. I genuinely enjoy and get excited when I get to hang with these people…and you know what, I think the feeling is mutual.

3. Do not expect to make deep, bonded, I’ll tell you everything friendships without some serious track record of time. Why? We’re in our 40’s. We don’t trust these folks who just walk into our lives saying, “I wanna be your friend.” We need time to develop a friendship. In other words, be open and available but too much information too soon can break a good friendship before it’s built a solid foundation. Go slow. No need for desperation.

4. Join groups and clubs that are doing fun activities that will get you out of the house. Whether it’s through meetup.com or evenetsandadventures, whatever, get out of the house and out of your rut and see what life has to offer. Maybe there’s a cruise on the Bay or a hiking trip. Doesn’t matter. If the activity sounds fun to you, go check it out. It opens up the possibilities of the world (and friendships) for you. Not to mention, harkens back to #2.

I wish you luck. Personally, I’m in the same boat. But I am nurturing some lovely new relationships and helping the healthy older relationships to grow. You have a lot to offer a friendship and the world has a lot to offer you.

Decide to take a bite out of life.

Good luck,

GoodWitch

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