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Kim Skinner | Community Connections | Friends

Friends In Strange Places

A year ago, I volunteered to help homeless women at Community Connections. I host the monthly event “Women’s Empowerment Night” and have had high hopes of really helping these women. Month after month, I have prepared their meals, slowly discovering how much they appreciate food. Others have joined me to bake terrific desserts and they are served with smiles and laughter. I have designed motivating talks in hopes of making recovery better for these fifty women who are so deserving of support.

Community Connections provides a residency-training program that rehabilitates, trains, and counsels women on the road to a productive life. Some are college educated. Some are grandmothers. Others have been abused and are fearful of the world they live in. Many of them have their children in-residence as well. I have truly enjoyed getting to know all of them.

Repeated contact and the passing of time together have helped us to become friends. Laughter and shared experiences have been, I believe, stripping cultural and racial barriers.

It feels good – helping in some small way. But I was so surprised this month to experience their help and encouragement for ME!

They may not think white girls are very sexy. Who knew? Yet, I have discovered that many of them truly care about THIS white girl.

As they were leaving, I received many hugs and kind words about our family’s upcoming wedding and the nearing birth of three granddaughters.

I felt surprised. They care?

I felt exhilarated. They care!

I feel humbled.

I’ve always taught that letting people into your life and steadfastly “being there” is the best way to befriend someone. I guess I never really expected for these women to befriend ME!

Sometimes life surprises us! How sweet it is!

Kim Skinner | laugh | motivation | humor |

Finding Humor In Aging

It’s tough to find humor in aging…especially when we can’t remember where we put our car keys.

I took a four-hour memory test at Mayo clinic last week. In preparation, I downed two tablespoons of coconut oil and wore my “smart looking” glasses. I trimmed my nose hairs and put on my false teeth. As I was buckling my sensible shoes, I recalled the words of George Burns,

“You know you’re getting old when you stoop to tie your shoes and wonder what else you can do while you’re down there.”

I wondered, and then forgot what I was pondering…

The psychiatrist was young, perky, and pregnant. I asked if this was her first child. She smiled knowingly and said, “It’s my third,” like she was SO well seasoned. I wanted to spout, “Look at THIS!” as I pointed to my Spanx-pressed bosom.  “THIS is well seasoned!”

Instead, I asked her where the little girl’s room was located.

Upon returning, she asked about my energy level. Is my exhaustion so visible? I explained, “I stay pretty busy. I’m at that age where I’m experienced at doing everything but I’m not decrepit enough to turn anybody down.”

Does this mean that I am outgrowing middle-age? I wondered.

I was ushered into a “testing” room and introduced to a tiny, young technician. She kindly asked if there was anything she could do to make me more comfortable – like a heating pad might make it all better.

Why am I here? I thought with my bottom lip trembling. Oh yes, I keep forgetting things.

To keep the tears at bay, I remembered that it takes more muscles to frown than to smile… Wait is that right?

Maybe it’s that exercising my Kegel muscles is a good way to burn calories… Whatever.

The testing commenced.

Who has ever needed to be able to repeat nine numerals from memory…backwards?

Is recognizing and identifying a picture of an accordion a good thing or a bad thing?

If you see a tree branch fall in the forest but later forget about it, did it happen?

What if you can’t remember where the forest was?

The four hours of testing was completed. I decided to forget most of it. After all, some memories are better off not being recollected.

Famished, I stopped by the cafeteria and actually looked twice at the tapioca. I settled on the stewed prunes. Just kidding!

I reminded myself (while I could still remember) that some degree of memory loss is a natural part of aging. Half to 2/3 of all 50- to 65-year-olds notice it, but it remains a minor irritation.

And here’s more good news. During the time when our hair is growing white and sprouting from our ears, researchers demonstrate that our brains are still growing new neurons.  This is beneficial because neurons making new connections with other neurons means we can improve our memories during our old age. Cool!

So…I’m writing this blog about memory loss and forgot to pick up the carpool for early-morning workouts. Where are those NEW NEURONS when I need them?

Maybe finding humor in aging is the best I can hope for. If I get around to finding what else I lost, what’s left of it may not be worth finding.

Kim Skinner, motivational speaker, Jacksonville, dental implants

Getting Long In the Tooth: It Beats the Alternative

I’ve been spending some quality time with my maxillofacial surgeon lately. As a neighbor and personal friend, I have been happy to cheer him on as he removed my older children’s wisdom teeth. I applauded his skill and then left him to shower my swollen 18-year-olds with smoothies and ice cream.

How surprised was I to later find myself in the patient’s chair! Three cracked teeth have totally changed my outlook.

How clueless was I to take for granted a full set of teeth? I now know what a “flipper” is and how uncomfortable it is to wear. CAT scans and X-rays allow my toothless skeletal smiles to glow across the big screen as I recline in the dental chair. The furrowed brow of my doctor causes me to gulp as I wait for his verdict.

“Another delay,” he says. “You need to develop more bone growth.”

In case you have the pleasure of being personally unfamiliar with implants, let me pause to explain a little about how they work. The surgeon basically jabs metal rods into your jawbone and you simply wait for the bone to grow around it. The teeth are then attached to the implanted parts, once they are solidly in place.   Apparently mine are not.

How is it that I, who have the constitution of a draft horse, find myself so weakened? Did I not womp up the energy and determination to push out five huge babies? Was I not a calcium-producing machine as I breast-fed those babies for countless years?

My doctor, who is a few years older than me, pats my hand and says, “You know, at our age, we need to be patient. These things take time.”

I want to grind my teeth with frustration, but then remember that clenching is what got me into this mess in the first place. I’m envisioning a future of reluctant patience and tapioca.

Children | Mistakes | Kim Skinner | Motivational Speaker

Letting Our Children Flub Up

Are you okay about not being okay? Most of us would agree that we can learn from our mistakes. But when it comes to our children….

I’ll never forget one of the earliest teacher conferences I had concerning my firstborn child. The seemingly negative assessment and numerated critiques of my precious one cut to my heart and made my blood boil. No way! This is someone else’s fault!

It’s only natural for us to become roaring lionesses when our cubs are attacked. But at some point this behavior becomes destructive.

In a wonderful parenting bestseller, “The Blessing of a Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Techniques to Raise Self-Reliant Children” by Dr. Wendy Mogel, overprotective mommies are called out.

Why do I refuse to hear criticism about my child?

How are my dreams and expectations coloring the way my child sees himself?

When is it okay to let a child fall down and suffer the consequences?

Mogel stresses the importance of faith in the household. Why? Because faith determines what is ultimately most important. If godly character, respect and kindness are most important, then discipline and hard lessons are not only acceptable, but essential.

On reflection, no matter what our professed faith may be, our actions truly reveal where our functional priorities reside.

  • If reputation and appearance are everything, then our children are encouraged to look and act perfectly.
  • If we stress over financial security, then educational success, admission to top universities, and well-paying careers become our children’s priority.
  • If we live for our children’s love, then we sacrifice everything to make them happy. (Trust me, this is a lose-lose.)

Honestly, my faith journey has been one of many skinned knees. Personal pain and flub-ups are essential to get my attention. I truly remind myself of a mule I once knew.

Bottom line: “Skinned knees” are great teaching moments. Let’s embrace them and learn. Let us, with humility, celebrate such moments with our children and point them to the wisdom of our faith!

Wives in the Locker Room

Wives In the Locker Room: Sneak Peek!

My first marriage book is finally launching and a book-signing party is coming up!  I just couldn’t wait to share the first chapter here.

Why all the excitement?

  • I believe every woman, regardless of marital status or sports affiliation/aversion, struggles with relationships and “difficult” people.  (Just because it’s not your husband doesn’t mean that the principles don’t apply.)
  • I put a lot of ME into this book. I truly think you can relate and will be amused. And of course, new perspectives are always helpful.
  • This book is meant to be shared. How many young women do you know that could benefit from a fun and potentially life-changing read?

Please join me at the party!

The book signing will be at The BookMark in Neptune Beach (22o First Street) on February 9 at 7 p.m.  So enjoy this snippet and then pick up your copy in person on February 9 just in time for Valentine’s Day with your man!  Can’t make it out to The BookMark?  You can get a copy right here.

Asking Our Husbands For Help

Asking Our Husbands For Help

I recently read this humorous definition of outdoor barbecuing:

When a man volunteers to do such cooking, the following chain of events is put into motion:

One. The woman goes to the store to buy all the ingredients for the meal.

Two. The woman fixes the salad, vegetables and dessert.

Three. The woman prepares the meat for cooking, places it on a tray along with the necessary cooking utensils, and takes it to the man, who is lounging beside the grill, drinking a cola.

Four. The man places the meat on the grill.

Five. The woman goes inside to set the table, put out the condiments, and check the vegetables.

Six. The woman comes out to tell the man the meat is burning.

Seven. The man gets off his lounge chair, puts his cola down, takes the meat off the grill, and hands it to the woman.

Eight. The woman prepares the plates and brings them to the table.

Nine. After eating, the woman clears the table and does the dishes.

Ten. The man asks the woman how she enjoyed “her night off.” And, upon seeing her annoyed reaction, concludes that there’s just no pleasing some women.

Funny, but true I think. Nevertheless, we women have the potential to help our husbands to help us or to further develop helplessness in these poor men.

Last week my husband and I spent a week alone with the purpose of resting and re-committing ourselves to a vibrant healthy marriage relationship. Here are some of the neglected principles I, again, recognized.

When we need help from our husbands, we should kindly and specifically request such help. Example: “Honey it would mean so much to me and make my day less stressful if you would please ______.” Remember to follow this with affection and positive encouragement.

Wait patiently, refusing to do the task yourself, and praise his efforts upon completion. Don’t correct or criticize.  Help him to understand why you appreciate what he has accomplished.

 Ask him for affirmation and encouragement.  When it comes to caring for the home and children, I am generally more comfortable and efficient. I have found that possibly the most helpful way my husband contributes to the family is with a supportive attitude and repeated words of affirmation and appreciation. Don’t hesitate to say, “Honey, today I really need for you to brag on me.”

Refuse to poke fun at your husband’s attempts at domestic helping. My patient husband helped me to understand that my humorous comments about his peculiarities or ineptness around the house hurt him deeply. I needed to be called out. Instead, I have committed to expressing gratitude for the many things he does for me and our family.

In conclusion, I have discovered that left unchecked I am naturally prone to be selfish and demanding. “I need” is the voice of my heart. When I am reminded to be considerate of the needs of my husband, I discover that he responds with a cheerful willingness to help. Amazing but true. The more we demand the less we receive. The more we give the better. Give it a try.

© Copyright 2010 CorbisCorporation

Fish Out of Water – “I Need to be Free!”

Are you in a rut? Do you wish that you could find freedom by breaking out? Is your job a drag? Are social norms and rigid “truth claims” making you feel suffocated? Perhaps you are like the goldfish who wants to get out of her fishbowl.

In actuality, many imposed or self-imposed constraints are not healthy. Too much can produce irritability, defensiveness, or even a sense of superiority.

As long as we are in the “fishbowl” we can blame the glass surrounding for our negative experiences. But when we leap from the water, rejecting all confinement, we find ourselves gasping on the dry grass. Ugh! But take heart! The pressure and suffocation of this experience CAN be a positive thing. But how?

If you are flattened right now, gasping for life, it’s a great time to admit “I can’t survive here.”

A fish grounded cannot get herself back into the water. She must ask one higher to pick her up and put her back. Faith is required for such a declaration.

As a wife and mother of five, I feel confined quite often. The pressures seem unending and I want to bolt. Loving family relationships require personal sacrifice and that is restrictive. Nevertheless,  rejecting those relationships produce isolation.

We cannot survive in such a place.

Think for a minute with me. What are we made for? A fish is made to enjoy the freedom of being who he is, swimming in the water, eating fish food, and playing fish games.

We humans are made to give and receive love. We are to create and make the world a better place. When selfishness, resentment and defensiveness prevent us from giving, we are losing the freedom to be who we are!

We will thrive in “living water” spiritually charged with encouraging words:

“You are loved and eternally important to the one who made you.”

“You have gifts that are to be used to help heal the broken world in which you live.”

“Selflessness, forgiveness, and hope are the attributes of your flourishing.”

Just being religious is not freeing. The fear of failure is always lurking. It can become dehumanizing to continually give up our freedom to a god that seems to only demand obedience.

Only one system of belief offers a love relationship with God in which he restricts his freedom for our sake.

The son of God jumped out of his glorious fishbowl and entered the dry deteriorating environment of our world for one purpose: to give us freedom. On the cross he gasped and gave his life away… So that we could have a loving relationship with him.

When anxiety, fear, and resentment build up we need to get back in the water. Restrictions always exist, but the proper restrictions produce amazing freedom and joy.

sand-heart-at-the-beach

Do You Love Me? The Importance of Friendship and Marriage

When was the last time you said that? How recently have such thoughts immerged?

It is not surprising that that everyone needs love. It is one of the most basic ingredients for human survival– essential and life-giving. How sad it is when a husband or wife feels compelled to ask this question of a spouse.

What kind of love do we need? The Greek language has four different words for love.

  • Agape, love on a spiritual level
  • Eros, emotional, chemical, physical attraction
  • Storge, love a parent has for a child
  • Philia, friendship

We might argue that all are important to marriage. Nevertheless spiritual stoicism or animal magnetism does not a good marriage make.

Deep abiding friendship in marriage is invaluable yet often neglected, C.S. Lewis says.

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.

The actions of true friends communicate concern and admiration. Honesty and self-disclosure in a friendship provide safety and boundaries for nurture. A true friend always lets you in and never lets you down.

Every married couple needs the vital healing power of committed friendship. So how do we get it?

Be a friend to your husband.

* Respect and encourage him.

If instead of a gem, or even a flower, we should cast the gift of a loving thought into the heart of a friend, that would be giving as the angels give.     –George MacDonald

“Cast a loving thought into his heart,” by showing him that you care about him. Small but repeated acts of consideration go a long way.

* Share your inner self with him. Let him in on your dreams for him and the attributes you most admire. Help him to become better!

Don’t expect your friend to be a perfect person. But, help your friend to become a perfect person. That’s true friendship.–Mother Theresa

* Don’t let him down.

Help him to know you’ve got his back. Don’t allow the needs of your children or home to make him feel marginalized. Perhaps, as a result of neglect, your relationship is more a marriage of enemies than lovers.

I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends. –Abraham Lincoln

Have the courage to risk extravagant giving of yourself for him. Be a friend to him and refuse to expect payback. Keep at it and you may be surprised to discover a mutual friendship developing in your marriage.

The only way to have a friend is to be one. –Ralph Waldo Emerson