jenett: the milky way emerging from silhouetted hills (Default)
jenett ([personal profile] jenett) wrote2013-09-04 09:06 am

Salon post:

Wander in, invite a friend to come along, and chat! (Not sure what's going on? Here, have a brief FAQ.) You can find previous ones in my salon tag. Please take a quick look at the reminders at the bottom of this post, too.

Today is the first day of classes at my place of work, and I'm still a little startled, somehow, about the transition from the laziness of August (when there's almost no one on campus except those of us who have 12 month contracts) to the bustle of the school year. (I have also hit my seasonal "my lungs hate September" moment, so I am not at my best, which is not exactly helping. It's been a very damp summer, and my mold allergies, they are complaining.)

Because of how I spent Saturday, I think this week, I'm going to snag an idea [personal profile] jjhunter brought up a month or so ago, of wanting to talk about relationships, and how to go about finding them or making the most of them.

Not just the romantic ones, but mentoring ones, friendships, teacher and student, parent and child, siblings, colleagues, and all the things that make communities and connections and the families we choose and the ones we don't and connections we make and the ones we don't.

(Why this week? Because I spent Saturday out with some awesome women, met via striking up a conversation in a restaurant in February. We all had a blast, but one of the things we've talked about a lot is how rare those kinds of friendships are in their lives. I have a *lot more* of that kind of interaction than the other four, but most of it is online and separated by distance.)

A few final notes
As noted, the basic thing here is 'leave the conversation better than you found it, or at least not worse'. The FAQ has more help with your choices for comment (DW account, OpenID account, or anonymously) if you need a hand. Or ask, and someone (likely me, but maybe not) will be along to help. We'll work everything else out as we go.
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)

Mentoring - as mentor

[personal profile] kaberett 2013-09-04 02:19 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm thinking about this a fair bit at the moment, because I'm trying very hard to make myself obviously approachable as a mentor for DW volunteering. Some of the things I am doing include:
- keeping an up-to-date list of bugs for beginners in a prominent place
- making sure that every time I say anything in an I'd-like-to-mentor-you capacity I give a list of ways to get in touch with me, and say "please feel encouraged" (rather than "please feel free")
- talking in public about mistakes I've made or things I've found overwhelming and about how I think volunteer environments of this kind ought to feel

I don't know what else it should look like; this is kind of new to me; but I am trying, and it does seem to be working, both in terms of getting people I know who've been scared to try involved, and I've had several complete strangers rock up and say "on the strength of that thing you wrote, I want to give this a go", or "this thing you are doing is useful, thanks, but I don't need anything from you at the moment!" -- which -- is all really, really lovely.

Re: Mentoring - as mentor

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Re: Mentoring - as mentor

[personal profile] ckd 2013-09-04 11:12 pm (UTC)(link)
say "please feel encouraged" (rather than "please feel free")

I think I'll switch my phrasing when making offers of assistance of various sorts to use that, too. Thank you!

Re: Mentoring - as mentor

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Re: Mentoring - as mentor

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Re: Mentoring - as mentor

[personal profile] silveradept 2013-09-06 11:44 pm (UTC)(link)
This is the kind of thing I fund immensely helpful, and hope that it expands past costing into the other aspects for volunteering as well - I asked some time ago what sort of things would be good for someone with only a little time to contribute, and while there were a few suggestions here and there, the question seemed mostly confusing at the time. Having baby-bait out for everyone would make it much easier for people to contribute, even in busy lives, and feel accomplished that they did something meaningful. And the list of Things Real Developers Do is both encouraging and hilarious.

Re: Mentoring - as mentor

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alexseanchai: quill, ink bottle, and calligraphy (Default)

[personal profile] alexseanchai 2013-09-04 04:24 pm (UTC)(link)
I seem to have had some success at establishing friendships just by being me in public. Writing about the female characters in my fandom du année (I've gone and fucked up the French haven't I), mostly. Helps that the fandom in question was Supernatural, which is big enough that the devoted-to-female-characters niche has actual size to it.

But, one, that doesn't work so well for me offline because my social anxiety is much more virulent offline than online and also people I meet offline are likely to be people who have geography in common with me instead of people who have interests in common with me, and two, I kinda don't have a fandom at the moment. Which sucks for multiple reasons.
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)

[personal profile] kaberett 2013-09-04 06:08 pm (UTC)(link)
In terms of fandom, I strongly recommend [personal profile] el_staplador as someone who routinely writes amazing fairytale-related fills for Yuletide and under other circumstances; Hel Gurney (who I think is at helgurney.wordpress.com) also has lots of interests in common with you. (I have been meaning to recommend these people to you for a while.)

Finding people who will get me among those in my proximate geography is one of the reasons that I'm thinking so hard about legibility and visibility and how to make myself both legible and visible -- as a fan, as queer, as trans, as into enthusiastic indie punk, as feminist. I have no idea how I'm going to manage it when I move away from being able to wear jackets covered in pins and patches when I want to, or rainbow bracelets, for "professional reasons".

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[personal profile] mrissa 2013-09-04 06:36 pm (UTC)(link)
For me one of the big things lately has been regular scheduling. Saying "I will see you once a month on x day at y o'clock" sounds so limited that I get tempted to say, "Or more often! I can just aim for whenever we can!" But it's really better for me not to add guilt into the mix, and that happens when I'm aiming for "whenever we can" and it's a relationship I consider a very close one. I have not managed to come up with a Regular Thing for all the people I am closest with, but it's an immense relief to me to know that, for example, my best-aunt and -uncle will be at lunch on the second Friday of the month at 11:30 at Ikea, rain or shine. (Not quite "hell or high water": my best-uncle has cancer, so if I have even a sniffle, we reschedule. But we reschedule rather than having to schedule from scratch. Much, much easier, different mindset.)

Knowing that I won't go more than a fortnight without seeing my godkids means that I get to feel like if something major comes up in their lives--a new teacher, swimming lessons, some event in their extended family-by-blood--I will hear about it. And with kids especially, that's a good thing. With adult friends, you can often coast a bit, knowing that you have a solid basis of friendship and don't have to see each other in person exactly twice a month (or even once a year!). But the difference between my godkids here and my godkids in Omaha is an entire relationship worth of difference. I am a major person in Rob and Lily's life. For Kenna and Jamie...I am the source of cool presents. Which is a good thing to be, but not really at all the same.

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[personal profile] ckd 2013-09-04 11:22 pm (UTC)(link)
I've found that regular scheduling is my best way to build and maintain long-distance relationships of various sorts. A while back I decided to plan a weekly video chat with my parents; it's not every week (travel, either theirs or mine, is the usual cause of disruption) but it's most weeks.

[personal profile] jenett's email ping reminder is another thing I should start doing, since I have a terrible tendency to fall off the pace on emails and then not pick it up for months (as I suspect you know all too well, being among the non-recipients of my non-emails).

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family/friends/distance/postcards

[personal profile] autumnesquirrel 2013-09-05 02:04 am (UTC)(link)
This last January I moved back home with my parents.

This has been excellent for my relationship with my Mom and Dad, as well as my youngest sister, who was home for the summer. I'm interacting with them more, getting to feed them, talking to them, showing them things that I'm into. And I'm getting to know them as adult people who are neat to hang out with as well as my parents.

This has made a bunch of friendships that were in person, and are now long distance, harder to maintain. Luckily, I already had this whole postcard project going. But, and I keep meaning to write up a post about this, sending people mail makes them feel more connected to me, and does less to make me feel connected to other people.

(I mail out, at last count, 39 postcards a month or so. I own, at last count, somewhere on the order of 400 postcards. There are around 100 postcards in a pound?)

I've also started making friends with a bunch of people my Mom's age or older, because of where I've been volunteering. Volunteering has been a huge good thing because it gets me out having physical human contact. I do a bunch of online socialization, and too much out and about with people is hard, but I do feel like I need to get out and interact with people who are not family sometimes too.

And, distance hasn't been quite as hard as I expected? I don't feel like I've lost friends anyway. But, I think that I've been making an effort not to.
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)

Re: family/friends/distance/postcards

[personal profile] rmc28 2013-09-05 08:58 am (UTC)(link)
I *love* the idea of a monthly postcard mailout to reach out to people. The thing my parents did, and I've tried to do, is annual Christmas cards, but my capacity to do a mass mailout in December varies and so there are people who've not heard from us in years.

Can you tell me more about the postcard project? How did you start? What sort of things do you write? Who do you send to?
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[personal profile] kyrielle 2013-09-05 02:40 am (UTC)(link)
*wistful* I do poorly at this. Although I try really hard to stay in touch, I'm bad about dropping things.

Which reminds me, I really need to send A Letter to Scott's Grandma. Sigh. I even want to, it's the finding-time thing that is hard.

Postcardly is a LOVELY service, btw, for quick sound-bite stay-in-touch with people who don't have (or don't like) email....
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[personal profile] jjhunter 2013-09-05 02:48 am (UTC)(link)
Figuring out that I don't have to be all things for someone else in a particular relationship - and that they don't have to be all things for me - has made cultivating meaningful relationships easier for me. There's less riding on any one particular relationship, more room for seeing it clearly & finding a balance that works for me.

It leaves the door open for cultivating new relationships. Investing a degree of care in someone by listening & engaging, and seeing if they reciprocate that care. Sometimes I have to have some kind of a relationship with someone I might not have been drawn to otherwise because of work or geography or mutual friends, etc., and I try to stay open to seeing what happens when I take the time to care - to notice, to appreciate, to remember - with that person too. It can be humbling, surprising, frustrating, eye-opening, rewarding, exhausting, grating, bemusing and clarifying (sometimes all with just one person!), and often (not always) worth it or more.

Cultivation of openness paired with sufficient self-awareness to cultivate & maintain good personal boundaries seem like close to magic ingredients for connecting with other people in sustained and mutually meaningful ways. What do you think?
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[personal profile] calissa 2013-09-06 06:14 am (UTC)(link)
Cultivation of openness paired with sufficient self-awareness to cultivate & maintain good personal boundaries seem like close to magic ingredients for connecting with other people in sustained and mutually meaningful ways. What do you think?

This taps into something I've been thinking about in relation to my DW account. Although I have been here for a little while now, I only know a few people--mostly carried over from LJ and few that are active. I've been wanting to meet some new people on DW (which is why I clicked on your link and came over to this salon in the first place). I think one of the reasons I'm struggling a bit with it is that I'm not managing the cultivation of openness so well. I think I need to share more of myself so that others have something to respond to.

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[personal profile] theora 2013-09-05 03:33 am (UTC)(link)
With the kids, what seems to help us connect is silly play together. Like play wrestling, tickling, singing goofy songs, using made up words - those work better than, say, playing a structured game or doing a planned activity together. And especially doing those things one-on-one with each child rather than both together. Wish I could do more of this.

Other non-family people: hmm. Right now, the people I'm most likely to encounter are other parents of children my daughter's age through her preschool and random playground-type encounters. So far I haven't connected with any of them in any meaningful way. Part of this is that I suck at small talk; the best way for me to get to know people is to work with them. I suspect it's because I use a lot of mental energy during small talk trying to figure out people's 'rules' (unspoken expectations of what's normal). Whereas if you're working on, say, a project, the project is the center of the interaction, so there's no need to jump straight into potentially treacherous waters, allowing time for little personal bits to filter in around the edges and build up an understanding of the other person and how they work.

Also, having children of similar ages gives you a limited set of things in common. That only goes so far.

Seeking out non-parent people with whom I share interests is a whole other ball of wax which is mostly not happening now due to lack of time and mental and physical energy. On the other hand, well, I'm here, aren't I? Honestly, participating in these salons is something I'm trying to make a point of doing, both as good brain exercise thinking about things I wouldn't otherwise, and as a social foray into circles unknown. So there's that.

(I think this may be a bit incoherent. Sorry. Bed now.)
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)

[personal profile] rmc28 2013-09-07 07:45 am (UTC)(link)
Hmm yes; one-on-one time with each of my children is hard. Well, actually it's hard to organise for my older one. The younger is still a baby so gets one-to-one time by necessity of being fed, nappied, settled to sleep, etc. The main thing I do 1-to-1 with older child is listen to his reading. School asks us to do ten minutes a day and we probably manage it at least 5 days a week more weeks than not.

I'm coming the end of 18 months of regularly picking up the older one from school (making use of maternity leave and a graduated return from it). I've made some effort to make friends with other parents but it's hard, and as you say the shared-interest is "your child seems to like my child?" which doesn't necessarily translate into anything else. There are a couple of people where that casual interaction several times a week over a year seems to have built into enough of a connection that I do want to stay in touch once I'm not doing school pickups any more. The trick is making that happen - I suspect I will start with contact to arrange playdates for the children.
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)

[personal profile] kaberett 2013-09-05 12:04 pm (UTC)(link)
One of the things I'm working on at the moment is keeping up contact with friends while disabled. I'm still adapting to the extent to which chronic pain and fatigue impact my life and my ability to leave the house, and trying to minimise the effects of that on friends is... interesting.

I'm increasingly recognising that a large part of the answer is to ask people to come to me, if possible: that way I'm less likely to realise the afternoon of that I really won't be able to do anything else outside the house; and I always enjoy feeding people and am pretty much always capable of it and failing that cooking-in-company is nice, so. Another is letting people know up-front that I may have to cancel. Yet another is planning to ask for lifts to group activities.

And I am working really very hard on being terrified of e-mail, so that I can stay in better e-mail contact with people I can't see; and yet -- planning to see people regularly with multiple fluctuating conditions is something I am still finding very, very hard. Tips extremely welcome.
ckd: two white candles on a dark background (candles)

[personal profile] ckd 2013-09-05 05:41 pm (UTC)(link)
No tips, but here's somethign that I hope will give you encouragement.

I have a friend who has various chronic issues, and who I therefore can't always get time with out and about.

Said friend has cats.

I have bad, bad allergies to cats.

It is non-trivial for me to go over and visit, because I need to dose up beforehand and may still wind up feeling the effects afterwards for some time. That said, when I go it is of my own free choice, knowing the cost and believing that time with my friend is worth it.

There will be people for whom seeing you is also a reward despite whatever the hassle factors may be. Trust them to decide for themselves what they can manage, just as they trust you to say "sorry, today is just worse than I thought and we'll have to reschedule".

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[personal profile] kyrielle 2013-09-06 04:18 pm (UTC)(link)
Thought, which you may have already considered, re email to stay in contact with people you can't see: would something like Skype (phone or video mode) or some flavor of IM be more of an option or less of an option than email?

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[personal profile] rmc28 2013-09-07 08:06 am (UTC)(link)
Speaking as one of your friends :-) I would always be happy to come to you. I think it changes the dynamic a bit, because socially I'm conditioned to only invite people to my place, or to public places, rather than inviting myself to their place.

Two parallels spring to mind for me:
1. visits to close family, where we have a long-standing agreement that they want us to visit and an expectation about the frequency where this will happen. Arrangements become "is X time a good time for us to visit? ... great, i'll book tickets".

2. the early weeks of each of my children where it appears to be widely socially understood that expecting a newly-delivered mother to traipse around to introduce the baby is a bit off. So people mostly came to me (again, with advance notice)

So, I think I need to know that the dynamic is invite-myself-to-see-you and then I can send message that says "hey, is X a good time to visit you?"

On the end bit - the tips for seeing people regularly with multiple fluctuating conditions. All I can think of is to set a higher-frequency "schedule" so that if you end up having to miss a get-together, you do still get to see each other an acceptable number of times. Like "every week unless either of us can't make it" becomes actually-about-every-three-weeks. But you have that regular slot where you say "am I well enough to see X today".

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silveradept: A kodama with a trombone. The trombone is playing music, even though it is held in a rest position (Default)

[personal profile] silveradept 2013-09-06 11:18 pm (UTC)(link)
I've felt a distinct lack of being able to get new relationships, since my daily schedule is arise, feed animals, work, feed animals (animals must be fed at specific times to manage diabetes of one animal), spend time with Significant Other and/or housework, bed. Most of my interactions with other people are limited to online asynchronicity or are mediated because Significant Other wants me to come along. Even then, there doesn't seem to be enough time in the day to go all the places I want to go. I've pretty well drifted away from the friends I had in previous times, because of the demands of current times.

It's been long enough that I'm not sure where I would start, if I had the luxury to start building my own social life again. although I do normally do a card sending and request for whichever Vague Early Winter Possibly Religious Festival the sender or recipient wants with People on The Internet.

But I think I'll be participating in the Circle Meme, because interesting people on blogs is something I can do.
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)

[personal profile] rmc28 2013-09-07 08:59 pm (UTC)(link)
I recognise the rammed schedule, and the drifting away from friends because of daily demands. I don't have a solution but I'm taking a couple of ideas away from this discussion to work on.

So er hi, I looked your journal and liked your link posts so I've subscribed.

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