Become a Feedback Guru

feedback photo 2.jpgFeedback is a powerful tool for growth, learning, and life change.

Feedback helps us grow and develop personally, and it helps us focus, change, and/or re-direct our efforts for greater productivity and fruitfulness.

As part of my job, I recently prepared a project called “30 Days of Feedback“. The goal was to help people improve in giving and receiving feedback. Co-workers and friends were encouraged to sign up to receive posts of encouragement, tips, and simple activities they could do to build a culture of feedback at work, on a team, and in their families.

The project was a great learning experience for me. I enjoyed reading books, articles, and blog posts about feedback. I searched for videos to communicate key points. I organized the content into a month schedule and asked for lots of feedback🙂 from others as the posts took shape. One of my favorite parts of the project was creating the graphic design memes for each day together with my very artistically talented daughter.

feedback memesThe posts covered both how to offer (give) positive feedback and how to invite (receive) constructive feedback from others.

After the 30 days, some of my co-workers asked if we could make the content available all together, so we created an eBook. The eBook will be helpful for those who want to continually review the ideas and practice the tips and activities with others.

I’d like to offer the eBook as a resource to you (click on the photo below)! I hope you will find it helpful. Feel free to pass it along to others also.

30 Days of Feedback COVER

I’d love to hear your feedback on the book! What is something new you learned about feedback?

What I’ll Say to my Children if I’m Diagnosed With Alzheimer’s

These last months have been very heavy for me – first my mom’s death and now helping with care-giving for my dad with Parkinson’s. This post speaks my heart so well. So grateful for this woman’s ability to express words my pen has not been able to write.

God's Grace and Mom's Alzheimer's

I was skimming some other dementia blogs lately and a reader had written in saying, that though she felt guilty about it, she wished her mother would die in her sleep and not have to continue living through the pain and indignity of dementia.  I’ve heard others say things like, “I’ve told my kids if I ever get Alzheimer’s just shoot me.”

I understand where these comments are coming from, but they make my heart heavy.  I feel like these attitudes devalue my Mom’s life right now. Even though they are not specifically referencing her, they are in effect saying that people like her are better off dead. It is hard to see Mom changing and confused and upset. But she still has sweet times of love and joy, too.  And God still has a purpose for her life.

He is growing our patience as we care for her.  He…

View original post 400 more words

learning to trust


It’s that time again – the end of one year and the beginning of another.

In some ways it feels surreal. Nothing very grandiose actually happens during the night of December 31, other than a big party in New York and a small family party with fireworks, games, and too much food. Nothing super special. The sun goes down, I sleep – albeit not many hours – in the same bed, and I wake up to the same house, with the same family, friends, work and life that I had when I when the day before ended.

On the other hand, a new year is a big deal. A calendar milestone. A chronological capstone. A time for reflection, evaluation, and a fresh start with new goals, focus, and intentionality. 

I do not stop to review my life very often, so I am grateful for the reminders at this time of year. And I am grateful for the opportunity to refresh my perspective and consider how I want to live my 2016.

In the years past, I have chosen one word for each year – an attempt to encourage myself to think, speak, and act with a particular heart attitude. I have chosen words like empower, fulfill, courage, and authentic, but this year I am choosing TRUST.

There are a lot of big challenges and struggles bombarding my family and friends. I can tend to worry, and get frustrated or tense or discouraged. Sometimes I feel helpless and without hope.

I want to choose to believe in God’s goodness and His love and His power to resolve, restore, and redeem these difficult consequences instead.

I want to TRUST Him.

I may be choosing my most faith-stretching word so far. It goes against my natural desires to fix the problem myself… and fix it fast. It goes against my anger and fear and impatience when the problems drag on or get worse before they get better.

Most of my natural tendencies do not help the situation or the person I care about. I can bring a lot more power to a situation with prayer and a peaceful attitude. So that is my One Word for 2016 – TRUST.

Feel free to ask me how I am doing with it as the days and weeks go by.🙂 I’ll need your encouragement.

What word are you choosing for 2016? 

the gifts of Christmas

Christmas gifts Kris Mouser_Brown CC BY_ND

There are good years when everyone is home, getting along well, happy with their gifts, and focused on the “reason” for the season. But there are also difficult years when what we hoped for or what we envisioned does not come anywhere close to happening. Both are very normal in life. The problem is not the difficulties. The problem is our expectations. Our expectations that Christmas will be perfectly wrapped, shiny-bowed, and glitter-dusted like a beautiful Christmas gift.

Our reality doesn’t match our hopes and expectations.

Maybe you have a “special” person in your family or group of friends. The one who no matter how many advent candles you burn or how many advent calendar dates you turn, you just don’t feel filled with Christmas spirit when you’re with that person. They push your buttons, triggering your feelings and emotions so that you are angry or frustrated or discouraged, or you feel judged and criticized no matter what you do.

Perhaps you have experienced a loss this year that’s going to affect your Christmas. There will be a gap, someone missing in the pictures, in the activities, at the table. Maybe you didn’t lose them this year. Maybe it was sometime in the past, but their loss still impacts you, especially in times like this. This is the first year my mom won’t be with us. I get blindsided by missing her when I least expect it.

It might be that you have done your shopping, your decorating and your baking, and you think you’re doing great… until you happen to spend time on Facebook or Pinterest or visit a friend’s home, and all of a sudden your work feels a little inadequate, a little sub-par, not quite how you would like it. Comparison gets to your head and heart, and makes you feel “less than” or incompetent compared to others around you.

If comparison does not make Christmas hard for you; it might be that your financial situation is more difficult than you had hoped. Maybe that promotion didn’t come through or maybe the new business hasn’t taken off or maybe you are out of work, and you don’t have the money to buy what is on the wish list. You’re worried about seeing disappointment in some young, sweet eyes looking up at you on Christmas morning.

You might be sick or care-giving for someone. Holidays with those realities makes celebrating more challenging. I will spend Christmas with my Dad. He has Parkinson’s, dementia, and alcoholism that are affecting his days and therefore they are going to affect our Christmas. He may or may not remember what day it is.

Maybe your difficulty is not the ones that you care for. Maybe it is more the lack of someone to care for… maybe you feel alone and lonely during these days.

These are real Christmas challenges for many of us.

It could be that none of these issues affect you this year. Last year was close to perfect for me. My biggest challenge was dealing with a form of survivor’s guilt – I call it “blessing guilt” – because I had all my children at home and we had a great time enjoying every minute of it, while at the same time close friends and family were dealing with all kinds of pain – the realities I just mentioned. I struggled to fully enjoy the gifts that God had given me without overlooking or underestimating the realities of others.

Whatever your reality this year, I hope you know that Jesus is not only “the reason for the season”, but Jesus is also the “answer” for the season and for all your needs. He is not distracted by preparations or decorations or gift buying or baking. He has plenty of time and energy and limitless power to take interest in what’s difficult for you, to come along beside you and help you.

Jesus had relatives who sometimes made life difficult for Him; Jesus experienced loss and wept; Jesus went through many difficulties and would have traded some of His experiences for another if He could. And His birth we are celebrating this season? A cross-country journey by a very pregnant teenage mom on the back of a donkey, an unsanitary birth with only a first-time father to help, and His first days surrounded by smelly livestock and shepherds?

Jesus understands a reality that is different from the ideal. 

I invite you to see this Christmas not simply as an opportunity to bake and decorate and buy and wrap, but also a time to reflect and lean into Jesus to find understanding and hope in a way that maybe you’ve never done before. Let go of your expectations of what Christmas will or should be like and embrace your reality – even your difficulties – this year. Struggles are often some of the sweetest times in our faith journey.

May God build your faith stronger
as He heightens your awareness of His presence always.

May He deepen your appreciation for people,
as you recognize that life is so very fragile.

May your contentment grow greater – with yourself – and your circumstances.

And may you become a more gracious person – grateful for what you have received and compassionate and empathetic with others in need.

Those are the best gifts.

enfrentando nuestro miedo

fear ¿Qué te da miedo?

Yo no sé de ustedes, pero el miedo se ha convertido en un tema mucho más frecuente en estos días de lo que me gustaría. El terrorismo, los asesinatos basados ​​en el prejuicio, los robos violentos de hogares, las economías inestables, las elecciones de los líderes futuros, las enfermedades terminales… todos invaden a nuestros canales de medios masivos y a veces a nuestra vida personal.

La universidad de mi hija ha tenido dos amenazas de bomba en las últimas semanas. ¿Cómo puedo ayudarle a lidiar con la preocupación ineludible y el miedo que acompaña a sus días y atormenta a sus noches?

¿Cómo puedo reconocer a mis temores, pero no dejar que me controlen?

Yo sé que hay opciones básicas de sentido común que puedo poner en práctica – permanecer lejos de los alrededores obviamente peligrosos, tomar unas precauciones de seguridad, ahorrar dinero e invertir sabiamente, tomar decisiones informadas y proteger a mi salud de manera proactiva.

Sin embargo, esas acciones nunca me protejan por completo de la maldad, el quebrantamiento y dolor de este mundo.

Esa realidad provoca el miedo. Pero el miedo, más bien que me controle, puede ofrecerme una oportunidad para la reflexión, una oportunidad de considerar el peor de los casos… ¿y si me fuera a morir mañana? ¿Estoy listo?

¿Estoy en paz con mi presente?

¿Estoy viviendo cada día al máximo? ¿Tendría yo remordimientos si todo fuera a terminar mañana? ¿Permito que las cuestiones mezquinas me hagan enojada, frustrada, desanimada? ¿Tengo un conflicto no resuelto con alguien a quien amo? ¿He seguido mis sueños, dado mi todo, vivido por mis prioridades? ¿He expresado mi agradecimiento? ¿He abrazado y me he reído y he llorado?

¿Estoy en paz con mi futuro?

¿Sé adónde me voy cuando me muera? ¿Estoy segura o dudosa de esto? ¿Estoy todavía intentando merecer mi entrada al cielo? ¿El pensamiento del final de la vida me da la esperanza o el temor? Evito pensar en ese tema por completo? ¿Estoy en paz con Dios?

la paz

Si yo no tengo paz con ambos mi presente y mi futuro, ¿qué tengo que cambiar? ¿qué tengo que hacer de manera diferente con mi vida?

Una vez que la tengo, ninguna persona, lugar, ni filosofía puede robarme esa paz.

¿Cómo vences a tus miedos? ¿Cómo encuentras la paz?

Un buen artículo para leer más acera de Enfrentando lo inevitable.

facing our fears

fear What do you fear?

I don’t know about you, but fear has become much more prevalent topic these days than I would like. Terrorism, prejudice-based killings, violent home break-ins, unstable economies, future leader elections, terminal diseases… all invade our media channels and sometimes our personal lives.

My daughter’s university has had two bomb scares in the last few weeks. How can I help her deal with the unavoidable worry and concern that accompanies her days and haunts her nights?

How can I admit my fears but not let them control me?

I know that there are basic common sense choices I can implement – stay away from obvious dangerous surroundings, set up safety precautions, save money and invest wisely, make informed decisions, and proactively protect my health.

However, those actions will never completely protect me from the evil, brokenness, and pain of this world.

That reality causes fear. But fear, rather than control me, can offer an opportunity for reflection, a chance to consider the worst case scenario… what if I am going to die tomorrow? Am I ready?

Am I at peace with my present? 

Am I living each day to the fullest? Or would I have regrets if it were to all end tomorrow? Do I let petty issues make me angry, frustrated, discouraged? Do I have unresolved conflict with someone I love? Have I followed my dreams, given my all, lived by my priorities? Have I spoken my appreciation? Have I hugged and laughed and cried?

Am I at peace with my future? 

Do I know where I will go when I die? Am I certain or doubtful?  Am I still trying to earn my way to heaven? Does the thought of life’s end give me hope or dread? Do I avoid thinking about that topic altogether? Am I at peace with God?


If I don’t have peace with both my present and my future, what do I need to change? What do I need to do differently with my life?

Once I have it, no person, place, or philosophy can rob me of that peace.

How do you get past your fears? How do you find peace?

Here’s a good article about Peace of Mind in an Unstable World.

communicating well


Clear, heart-level communication is often difficult to achieve. Just this week, I’ve experienced various critical conversations and coached others through strained and difficult discussions. Those experiences reminded me of more lessons I learned while care-giving for my Dad.

These communication tips helped me to connect more deeply with him, but they are very relevant for conversations with others too. Let me know what you think!

Enter his world

Because of his dementia, my dad sees people and animals that aren’t there, he accuses us of stealing his things, and he fixates incessantly about past responsibilities that are irrelevant today. Instinctively, I want to correct him, defensively deny his accusations, or demand that he stop worrying about things – none of which does any good!

It works better when I listen carefully for the context or the history behind his comments, rather than arguing their validity.

  • When I ask him to tell me more about the people or animals he sees, I get to hear stories of a younger brother who died, good friends he enjoyed, or favorite pets he misses a lot.
  • If I empathize with his frustration over “lost” items instead of denying blame, I gain insight into his priorities, his passions, and his past care for me and our family.
  • When I reply to his sense of responsibility with “That must be important to you. How can I help?”, he can relax in my care instead of struggling to convince me that his work is important and valuable.

I recognize that these same principles work – and more easily(!) – with people who don’t have dementia.

Know the triggers

Care-giving is challenging, exhausting work. In my case, it is especially difficult when my dad’s unkind or angry comments trigger a deeply rooted emotion from my childhood experience. Old insecurities, differing values and opinions, or negative interaction patterns quickly reappear from my youth.

It is important for me to seek self-awareness of those triggers and remember that what may be a valid memory does not have to determine my response today. He is different now… and so am I.

Self awareness of my emotional triggers is key for all my conversations. My reactions are often more about me than about what others have said. As I identify the root cause of my reactions, I can respond with objectivity, grace, and humility instead of vengeance or self-defense.

Watch the “how”

My dad cannot always understand my words, but he definitely comprehends my tone. How I say what I say is often most important. He responds so much better to anything I say if I am calm, gentle, and patient with my speech, and if I eliminate distractions as much as possible. Positive nonverbals communicate also; changing my position to make good eye contact, relaxed facial expression, and even the added touch of a hand on his arm or shoulder make a big difference.

There is nothing profound or new here, but it amazes me how hard it is to apply the right “how” in my everyday conversations with my dad – and with others. I have to intentionally focus on giving my full attention and my best presentation with the content. When I do manage to watch the “how”, our communication improves greatly.

Entering their world, knowing my triggers, and watching “how” I communicate deepens my connections with others.

So, are any of these true for you? How do you communicate well with the people in your life?

(You can read my first post about “life lessons learned from dementia” HERE.)

lecciones de vida aprendidas de la demencia


Experiencias duras a menudo enseñan las mejores lecciones. El cuidar a mi papá genera recuerdos de la adolescencia y reacciones, temor por el futuro y todo lo peor de mí a veces. El resultado positivo generado es tiempo para reflexionar y aplicar lo que aprendo a otras áreas de mi vida también.

Tengo mucho que aprender, así que aquí están las tres primeras lecciones de mi visita reciente:

Aun cuando no puedo vencer, todavía puedo servir.

Me gustaría nada mejor que curar de mi padre del Parkinson’s y la demencia, pero no puedo. Los medicamentos, terápias, visitas, oraciones – excepto un milagro – no van a restaurar a mi papá. Sin embargo, puedo servirle. El verdadero servicio está determinado por él que está recibiendo el servicio. Mi papá necesita una simplificación en la comunicación y las tareas, y ajustes continuos y creativas a medida que sus habilidades cambian. También necesita mi paciencia cuando él prefiere hacer algo (¡muy lentamente!) por si mismo y mi respeto, incluso cuando él está confundido u olvidadizo. Las dos últimas necesidades son mucho más difíciles para mí.

Además de la enfermedad de mi padre, hay muchas cosas que me gustaría cambiar en este mundo: la paz en lugar de la violencia, el fin de las iniquidades y las desigualdades, las injusticias reconciliadas, la sanación por los dolores, la desesperación encontrando la esperanza. No puedo hacer que estas cosas pasen… pero puedo servir. Yo puedo ir a donde me necesiten, dar mi mejor esfuerzo en todo lo que hago y pensar primero en los demás antes que a mí mismo – un día a la vez. Puedo considerar como ayudar mejor a otros en lugar de lo que quiero hacer o lo que es más fácil para mí que ofrecer.

Yo no necesito tener la razón.

Aprendí rápidamente que no puedo ganar una discusión con una persona que sufre de la demencia. Para la persona con demencia, su percepción es la única cosa que es cierto. Los delirios, la paranoia y la negación de mi papá son su realidad. No puedo razonar, argumentar, convencer, o ganarle a mi punto de vista. Sólo le puedo ayudar con lo que él cree.

Eso sucede a menudo con otras personas también. Incluso cuando vemos un escenario pasar en frente de nosotros, las personalidades individuales, las experiencias pasadas y los valores nos dan diferentes perspectivas de ese incidente. Puedo discutir, persuadir o presionar durante horas, pero nunca voy a ser la única que tiene la razón. Estoy aprendiendo – lentamente – que no siempre tengo que estar en lo cierto. A menudo mi verdad no es la única verdad de una situación. Sólo puedo ayudar a la gente si me importa y trabajo con lo que la gente cree.

La actitud es de gran poder.

Pensarías que esta lección ya yo hubiera entendido. No puedo cambiar la actitud de mi padre, pero puedo cambiar la mía. Puedo mirar a su enfermedad como un vaso medio vacío y me centro en todo lo que ha perdido y quién era él, o yo puedo ver el vaso medio lleno y concentrarme en lo que todavía podemos disfrutar juntos – caminadas por el vecindario, descansas tranquilas en un banquito del parque, la alegría de ver unos conejitos en el pasto, una puesta de sol de Nuevo México rayando el cielo. Mi papá puede sentir mi actitud y él reacciona en consecuencia.

Él no es el único afectado por mi selección de actitud. Mi familia, los amigos y los compañeros de trabajo también reaccionan a mi medio-vacía o medio-llena actitud. Mis acciones pueden ser buenas, pero mi actitud tiene la influencia más poderosa sobre su respuesta.

Estas son las tres lecciones en las que estoy trabajando esta semana. Voy a compartir otras en las próximas semanas, pero esto es suficiente para mí por ahora!

¿Y tú … ¿cuál de estas tres lecciones es más difícil para ti?

¿Qué has aprendido acerca de servir a los demás, preocuparte por lo que creen, o la elección de la actitud correcta?


life lessons learned from dementia

sunsetHard experiences often teach the best lessons. Helping care for my elderly dad triggers childhood memories and reactions, fears for the future, and all the worst of me at times. The positive result is time to reflect and apply what I learn to other areas of my life. I have a lot to learn(!), so here are my first three lessons from my recent visit:

Even when I can’t “fix” it, I can still serve.

I would like nothing better than to cure my dad’s Parkinson’s and dementia, but I can’t. Medications, therapy, visits, prayers – other than a miracle – will not “fix” my dad. However, I can serve him. True service is determined by the one being served. He needs simplification in language and task, and continual and creative adjustments as his abilities change. He also needs my patience when he would prefer to do something (slowly!) himself and my respect even when he is confused or forgetful. Those last two are much harder for me.

Besides my dad’s illness, there are many things I’d like to change in this world: peace in place of violence, an end to inequities and inequalities, reconciled injustices, healing for hurts, desperation to encounter hope. I can’t fix those things either… but I can serve. I can go where I am called, give my best in all I do, and think of others rather than myself first – one day at a time. I can consider what will best assist others rather than what I want to do or what is easiest for me to offer.

I don’t have to be right.

I learned quickly that I cannot win an argument with a dementia sufferer. To the person with dementia, his perception is the only thing that is true. My dad’s delusions, paranoia, and denial are his reality. I cannot reason, argue, convince, or win him over to my perspective. I can only help him with what he believes.

That is often true with other people also. Even if we see the same scenario play out in front of us, our individual personalities, backgrounds, and values give us different perspectives of that incident. I can discuss, persuade, or pressure for hours, but I will never be the one who is right. I am learning – slowly – that I don’t always need to be right. My truth is often not the one truth in a situation. I can only help people if I care about and work with what they believe.

Attitude is powerful.

You would think I would know this one by now. I cannot change my father’s attitude, but I can change mine. I can look at his disease as a glass half empty and focus on all he has lost and who he was, or I can view the glass as half full and concentrate on what we can still enjoy together – neighborhood walks, quiet rests on a park bench, joy at watching fat rabbits in the yard, a New Mexico sunset streaked across the sky. He can sense my attitude, and he reacts accordingly.

He is not the only one affected by my choice of attitude. My family, friends, and co-workers also react to my half-empty or half-full mood. My actions may be good, but my attitude has the most powerful influence on his response.

These are the three lessons I am working on this week. I will share others in the weeks ahead, but this is enough for me for now!

How about you… which of these three is hardest for you?

What have you learned about serving others, caring about what they believe, or choosing the right attitude? 

esperar no es nada fácil

3 oclock

La alarma sonó a las 3:00 AM, solamente algunas pocas horas después de que mi cabeza acostó en la almohada. A regañadientes, me obligué despiertar y alistarme para alcanzar el vuelo de las 6:00 AM. Al menos, el esfuerzo y el dolor de esta hora temprana significaba que íbamos a llegar a Albuquerque a las 10:30 AM y disfrutar de un día completo con mi hermana y mi papá.

La salida a Houston fue sin complicaciones. Incluso nos dieron clase primera para ese primer vuelo. Estábamos a punto de llegar a tiempo cuando la torre negó nuestro aterrizaje debido a la niebla en la zona. El piloto primero comunicó que tendríamos que círcularnos por encima del aeropuerto y esperar el permiso para aterrizar. Quince minutos más tarde, el piloto nos informó que no teníamos suficiente combustible para esperar más y tendríamos que aterrizar en otro aeropuerto cercano.

Ese desvío costó aproximadamente 60 minutos en el aire de ida y vuelta y otros 40 minutos en el terreno lllenando el avión de combustible. Nuestro vuelo de conexión se había ido para entonces. Bueno, pensamos, podríamos esperar que la línea aérea nos reserve un lugar para en el próximo vuelo.

Cuando la opción automática de re-booking apareció por mi teléfono, llegaríamos en Albuquerque … a las 11:00 PM (!) con un desvío a través de Denver. UGH! Básicamente todo el día perdido, esperando, sentados en los aeropuertos. No es mi idea de diversión.

Detuvimos en una mesa de servicio para buscar una mejor opción y les pedí a algunas amigas a orar para que pudíeramos encontrar un vuelo más temprano. Los textos intercambiados entre mis amigas me hicieron reír y alumbraron mi estado de ánimo. Además, ellas me ofrecieron sugerencias para aprovechar del tiempo de espera:

  • Descansar y relajarse
  • Tomar un café en el Starbucks🙂
  • Comer algo
  • Escribir un post para el blog acerca de esperar!

También caminamos, fuimos de compras, leímos y disfrutamos de “Face-Time” con nuestros hijos. Finalmente, encontramos una 8:00 PM llegada. Con todo, el día fue largo, pero estábamos seguros y no mucho cambío como resultado. No nos requiró mucho esfuerzo llenar el tiempo y nos ayudó que no estuvimos enojados ni irritados con las personas o las circunstancias.

Recordé – una vez más – las interrupciones y los retrasos son una parte inevitable de la vida. Esperamos por las relaciones, los empleos, las curas de las enfermedades, que vuelvan los hijos pródigos a casa y que nuestra lista de sueños se haga realidad. No puedo controlar todas estas cosas, pero sí puedo controlar mi actitud mientras espero.

¿Cómo manejas las interrupciones y los retrasos de tu vida?


Photo credit: amyvdh / Foter / CC BY-NC