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Helen's Mulberry Lane Farm Journal

June 08, 2019

How to Have a Good Conversation

First we pick strawberries....then we sit and visit.

The first ingredient in conversation is honesty, the next is good sense, the third is good manners, the fourth is good humor, and the fifth is good wit.
(Photo by Helen, May 25, 2019)

Yes, I'm an old lady, and probably old fashioned. But the truth is, despite the abundance of verbiage on social media, people are more lonely and bereft of real meaningful relationships than ever before. Regardless of what year it is, what people really long for is meaningful relationships where they can share their heart and where people understand and care about each other.

Here are a few tips on how to have a good conversation and deepen relationships. If you find that you just don't connect with people, find meaning in your relationships, or people avoid you like the plague, maybe this will help.

Start by listening. (As someone said, ''You have two ears and one mouth for a reason.'')

Move the conversation to a deeper level. Get past the weather.

Ask good open-ended questions. A lady on Facebook asked me, in jest, ''Please, give a few examples of open-ended questions for adult children!'' So, in jest, I replied. ''So, where do you work? Do you enjoy it? Where were you born? How many siblings do you have? Where do you see yourself in five years? Do you believe in God? How do you feel about Trump! :) What is your favorite thing to do? What places in the world have you visited? What is your happiest/saddest childhood memory? If you could change one thing about your life, what would that be? What are you doing to take charge of your life, so that you can direct your own future?''

My granddaughter, Ellie enjoying our strawberries. (Photo by Helen, May 2019)

Don't dominate the conversation. Sharing should be approximately 50/50 meaning you should be talking about 50 percent of the time and the other person talking about 50 percent of the time.

Don't multi-task, like checking your smart phone every two minutes while someone is talking. Not only is this bad manners, but it shows the other person they you just aren't that important. If what is really important to you is checking your Instagram and reading about some stranger in Outer Mongolia who is having a virus, well then, good luck with having great relationships with real people. This communicates to your ''face-to-face'' friends and family that social media is where life is really happening for you. This is the fast track to closing down relationships.

Be honest and open. Focus on what the other person is saying not what you're going to say next.

Don't stray into topics that are obviously not of general interest. Watch for cues from others, like glazed eyes, people leaving the room, people checking their phones, etc.

Bat the ball back. If someone asks you an open-ended question, don't just answer yes or no. This communicates that you hope the conversation dies, and you will typically get your wish.

Hold back on sharing how awesome you are.

More on this "conversation" next time!

My purple clematis starting to flower. (This plant was given to me by my oldest daughter, Jennifer, in remembrance of her maternal grandparents, Aline and Bernard Filliol, which are, of course, my parents.
(Photo by Helen, May 26, 2019)

Another life to pour my love into! (My grandson, Gerald.) (Photo by Helen, May 2019)

Littles need grandmothers too! (Photo by Helen, May 2019)

Yes, this really is a strawberry! (Photo by Helen, May 2019)

My Empty Nest

Memories of Tim. (Photo by Helen, 2005)

Words are hard to write as I type through the tears. I have just completed my first few days of an empty nest. I have had a nest with little birdies for more than four decades. And now it is empty. I have dreaded this day since I had my first darling baby. I have enjoyed being a full-time mother to my ten blessings. Those words are an understatement. Nothing has given me more pleasure, meaning and fulfillment.

It was the hardest thing I ever did.

It was the best thing I ever did.

It was the most important thing I ever did.

I brought me the greatest joy a woman can have on earth.

It brought me the greatest pain a woman can have on earth.

I have no regrets for spending forty-three years completely devoted to my children. God has been very gracious to me.

Tim gave us a tour of where he works on his last Sunday at home.
(Photo by Gerald, June 2019)

I have cried many tears these past weeks, knowing this day was coming. I'm still in the grieving stage, and I expect it will take me some time to work through all the complex emotions that I am feeling. My soul-mate, Gerald, has listened to me process my emotions for many weeks on this topic. He is such a caring and darling man! He is very sad, as well, that this part of our life is now over.

This darling baby robin just out of the nest. (Photo by Helen May 2019)

I have been overwhelmed by the love and care expressed by so many family, friends, customers and acquaintances. Thank you for the hugs and tears, both in person and from a distance. Thanks for your sweet caring. Each day this past week I have received at least one kind word of encouragement and love. Thank you for listening to me as I continue to work through this new stage of my life.

I invested this past year with Timothy, as the last child at home. We enjoyed some great times of sharing when he would come home from school and work. I will always cherish those times. Poor Tim. I tried not to burden him down with extra concerns that this was my last child to leave home! It was bad enough for him.

Tim and I had a tearful goodbye Tuesday, June 4th around 5 p.m. At 7:30 p.m. three people in a car drove into my driveway. It was Tim with our son Caleb and our daughter-in-law Tamara, coming for a visit. (Tim wasn't even unpacked yet!) They brought DQ, set up the badminton court, and the four of us played one hour of badminton while Gerald refereed. Once it got too dark to play we all headed into the house and visited for another good hour or so! That kind gesture by Tim, who knew I was so sad to see him go, came back to visit. He was in a non-verbal way, reassuring me that he is still a part of my life, and that he will be back. I will never forget his thoughtfulness. And I know that Caleb and his wife were also coming over to give me an evening of joy and comfort! Bless you, my dear ones! And come and visit me anytime! I will always take the time to spend with you!

(Photo by Gerald, June, 2019)

Tim is now successfully launched and enjoying his first week in his new little studio apartment. Tim and I already enjoyed an impromptu meal together at his new place! It is neat to see his place all set up (with some of my kitchen donations!) and all his treasures displayed. I am very proud of him. He has flown from the nest and is soaring.

I am truly grateful to God that all ten of my children had Gerald's and my blessing, when they left home. Things ended on a happy note with them all, and I'm so glad for those wonderful memories. Gerald and I were/are not perfect parents. There are only imperfect ones out there. We made our share of mistakes. But God covered those mistakes with grace and allowed us the joy of happy endings. I pray that I will continue on to love and good deeds to my now adult children, that I will extend grace, charity of motive, and unconditional love to them for the rest of their lives.

My heart belongs to this little darlin'.
(Photo by Helen, June, 2019)

Now I am pouring all the love that I have in my heart into my grandchildren's lives....more little precious lives to love and hug and kiss. I want to be a big influence in their lives. Their wilted dandelion flowers are filling up empty spots in my heart. The most wonderful sound in the world is, "Thank you Grandma. I love coming to your house. It's my most favorite place in the whole world!"

My sweet daughter-in-love drew this.
Her hugs and tears this week were a real comfort to me!
(Photo by Esther, May 2019)

One of my priorities is to follow the Titus 2 mandate of mentoring younger women. Next time, I will share some counseling (via email correspondence) that I have done with a lady who wrote to me about how to deal with her adult son who is being distant towards her. She has given permission for me to share with you so others can benefit and maybe learn from it. Talk to you soon!


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