Can we afford NOT to pay attention?

Last week we discussed making assumptions and communication.  We never want to make assumptions regarding that about which we are not certain…ask questions if the person has not been clear – especially if it involves people other than yourself.  So, what is communication anyway?  It is the exchange of information between parties.  So, effective communication is like a two-way street: information is given and received.  Ongoing communication requires a cycle where information is given, received and returned – kind of like a tennis match.  This week, the question is, how do we know when information has been received?

First, we check to see if the other person or persons are paying attention.

What does that look like anyway?  There are many nonverbal ways to tell if someone is paying attention.  Here are just a few:  eye contact; leaning forward; nodding head; sitting still; not fidgeting; answering questions.  When Miss Laura and I are with you in individual meetings, we try to show you, by our example, how to pay attention.  That’s kind of hard to do if you aren’t paying attention to us.  Most of the time most of you do pay attention – and for that, thank you!  We really want you to succeed at your personal, educational and career goals – so we work hard to help those who want to be helped.

Maybe you are the type of person who likes to make it on your own…figure things out by yourself.  I completely understand because it is how I used to be before I realized there were people around me who had gone through similar circumstances and I could learn from them…if not what they did in a given situation, then what they did NOT do.  So I started paying attention when someone was trying to teach me something or explain something to me and tried to learn how not to make the same mistakes.

When I was a teenager, for a number of reasons, I had some mixed up ideas about people in authority (those making my decisions for me).   Even after I grew up a little and learned to pay attention to the teachers around me…even after my life began to improve, I still ran into problems of my own creating.  I had to learn more life lessons about authority before I came to respect it.  That was a choice I made before I realized something very, very important: You do not have to respect the person in authority – particularly if his or her behaviors are unethical; however, it is in your best interest to always respect the position of authority they hold and how they can help or hurt you.  So if we can learn to treat the position with the respect it deserves we will get far in life.  The first step in showing respect is to pay attention to the people in authority around us.  Besides, they may be trying to communicate some very important information.

In the week ahead, I challenge you to pay attention to two things with regard to the adults in your life:  1) who is trying to teach you something? And 2) what are they trying to teach you?  Then turn off your electronics when you are with those adults and listen.  Really listen.  Try some of the actions listed above and see what happens.

Next week we will explore more “authority issues”.

Until then…Stay safe…Be calm…Have faith.  Remember: We have been destined to succeed because you are just like me.



Brenda Stewart

On Assumptions & Communication


It is the Saturday before Labor Day and I wish I could find some Bugs Bunny cartoons.  When I was a kid, Saturdays and Bugs Bunny just went together.  He could always make me laugh so hard.  I also thought he was pretty smart and was able to think fast on his feet.  His big, furry feet.  :c)

Summer is almost over and what a summer it has been!  Sixteen AMAZING young people and eight AMAZED adults shared an AMAZING experience and became very bonded together.  I’ve realized something important this week:  the grown-ups aren’t the only ones who have remained connected.  Yeah, I learned the hard way!

So here’s what happened…late Wednesday afternoon I was given 7 tickets to a Jags game someone had been donated for kids in foster care.  I immediately thought of you.  But seven tickets?  Really?  How could I possible make it fair?

The answer seemed simple…Normally, I only work with seventeen year olds.  So that’s to whom I would offer the tickets.  Also, the game started at 6:30, which meant there wouldn’t be much time to pick up kids,  so I decided to offer them to seventeen year olds at PYS, one of whom I soon learned probably wouldn’t go because he had other plans.  I offered his ticket to another youth, who could not go because of homework.

Well…what I did not count on was someone assuming this was the trip to the Jags game promised as a reunion and texting that assumption to others in the group.  I get how the misunderstanding happened…and I know how I could have prevented it.

So this seemed like a perfect topic for this life lessons blog.  My advice for you today is: Make no assumptions…especially where others are concerned.  Ask questions…check things out.  If the person or persons texting the game info had just asked me, I would have explained the situation.

My advice to myself is: Communicate to all in a group…not just a few.  A couple of you called to ask about the game, which was a good chance for me to explain what happened and how this wasn’t the game promised to the group.

Going forward, since we are all in this wonderful thing called “Just Like Me”, I will communicate to all of you when something affects some of you.  I never want to make anyone feel like left out.  There will be times, however when we will only be able to offer an activity to seventeen year olds. So it makes sense to use this blog space to notify everyone of the event and stipulate which age groups are included.  Sound fair?

Now, it wouldn’t be a good blog without the opportunity for comments, so the comment space is open to members of the website with just a few rules:  1) all comments are reviewed daily for objectionable content; photographs are reviewed prior to posting and allowed to remain at the sole discretion of the webmaster 2) objectionable content is defined as: profanity; sexual nature; harassing, threatening or derogatory towards another person 3) poster of removed comments may be banned from future posts.  This is a positive, good natured, supportive, safe zone.  There are plenty of other sites where you can exercise negativity if that’s your thing.  As the Just Like Me experience itself was voluntary to attend and voluntary for us to allow you to attend, so it is with this website.  Rules are few…but enforced.

Back to the make no assumptions thing…When I am with you 1-2-1 as your life coach, I make you the center of my attention…as much as possible.  So it may be important for me to remind you that both Miss Laura and myself work with ALL seventeen year olds.   I know her really well, and I’m sure Miss Laura is very focused on each person she is with as well.

And that will be our topic next week.  Attention.  Paying attention and what that looks like.  :c)

Until then, stay safe…be calm…have faith.  Remember…

We have been destined to succeed because you are just like me.


Brenda Stewart