Shelley Widhalm

Archive for January, 2011|Monthly archive page

The Art of Communicating

In Artists, Communication secrets, Fitting in, Party, Shyness on January 30, 2011 at 8:13 am

I went to an artist’s get-together Friday night and, to my surprise, talked with people almost the entire time. Usually, I find a spot where I look like I’m okay being alone, that way I can be shy and still try, at least somewhat.

I told the artist who hosted the wine and dinner party – I had interviewed her for a features article – that I do oil painting as a hobby. I told her that I’ve been taking classes for four or five years, but I have never sold any of my work. She invited me to her get-together, which was attended by 25 to 30 people, telling me that maybe I could make a connection or two.

One woman I talked to who is in her 50s said she was incredibly shy as a child, just as I was. I told her how I’ve had to teach myself social and communication skills by reading books and, of course, by observing and learning, something I didn’t know how to do as a kid. She said a friend told her that one way to make conversation is by asking questions. She said I was good at that, inquiring about her life and her work. Being a reporter forced me to be more outgoing and taught me how to ask questions to keep a conversation going.

I stayed until 9:30 p.m. and, originally, had planned to go to this new nightclub for this week’s get-out-of-my-comfort-zone challenge. I couldn’t believe myself, but I said, in my head, I’d rather finish this book that I’m reading, and I didn’t want to go to bed late. How silly is that? I said, hey, I can put off my challenge because I did not actually set a time frame around it.

And then I congratulated myself for spending a whole evening talking, and furthermore, I stopped at this Art Lab downtown on Thursday night, where I also talked the entire time. But does that really count if I was talking to people who I interview?

I felt nervous as I walked up the stairs to the artist’s loft for the party, not at the Art Lab, because it felt more like work, even though instead of a pen, I had my dog with me.

This week, I’ve also bee thinking that it’s easier and more comfortable remaining in my shyness shell. I like it here. But I set up this challenge, and I can’t quit. So I’ll have to suck it up and put myself out there. Here I come, slow as a turtle.

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Cheating Chatter

In Shyness, Single Girl, Talking on January 23, 2011 at 8:52 am

I found my challenge this week to be a bit boring through my own laziness. I attended a young professionals networking event at a local brewery with a friend and figured I would try harder to network and talk to new people.

I met a marketer, a business owner and a videographer who I let approach me, not the other way around. On the upside, I was talking the entire time, either to my friend or through the networking thing. What I wasn’t doing was trying to meet someone new, the whole point of this week’s challenge.

In essence, I think I cheated on my challenge. It was too easy and wasn’t outside my comfort zone, particularly because I’ve been to the young professional socials in the past.

All right, on to the next challenge … attend a nightclub by myself and approach a few people beside the bartender. Again that would be too easy. I have to talk to a handsome man. That’s it. End of deal. Then I get to leave. I’ll do the solo bar visit this weekend or next. I’ve got to work up the courage, plus I have to get all dressed up for going out.

The club is a new ultralounge – a big city venue in a small Front Range city — with the lasers and disco lights, so just being there will be a thrill. At least I hope so.

Sweet Talk

In Coffee shops, New Platform, Shyness, Single Girl, Talking on January 16, 2011 at 8:30 am

What used to be old hat for me ended up being a bit uncomfortable. My challenge for this past week was to talk to a handsome man, sans wedding ring. As I went about working and living, I looked at every man I passed, first at his face to see if I found him attractive, and if so, at his left hand.

I felt like a man chaser, but as a hormonal teenager and a 20s-something, I was on the lookout wherever I went. I wondered if this or that man was my future boyfriend.

As I looked, I was disappointed that nine had rings. One didn’t.

I found Mr. No Ring last Wednesday at a coffee shop. He was handsome, as he had to be for the challenge. Tall, I could tell, as I am. And he had a goatee and nice cheekbones.

As I waited for my caramel latte to be made, I said to myself, Here’s my chance. Go talk to him. I got a fluttery stomach that calmed when I actually said something. “Hi. What are you reading?” He showed me the cover of his book. “Star Wars.”

Uh-oh. I don’t like Star Wars.

But I wasn’t going to run, so we talked about reading. We both like it and read at least a book or two a week. Our conversation lasted three or four minutes. I said I enjoyed meeting him, got his name and said that I hoped to run into him again.

I continued my man search on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and did not find any additional ones that meet the criteria.

It didn’t matter. I had made it past mile marker 1. Now on to the second mile. My challenge for next week is to talk to as many people as I can during a social get-together hosted by a young professional membership group to which I belong.

As a note, I am going to be doing the challenge every other week, taking my mother’s advice that my blogging on the subject might get repetitive. On the off weeks, I will explore issues and discuss anything interesting I encounter during work and the rest of my life, or I will try something new.

Snow Excuses

In New Platform, New Year's Resolutions, Shyness, Single Girl, Uncategorized on January 9, 2011 at 8:30 am

New Year’s Resolutions are something I ponder every December and think, “Yes, this year, I will carry one out for the full year.” Usually, I resolve to eat better or to exercise more. The last two years, I resolved to run. Unfortunately, my hot pink and black, two-year-old Nike’s still look new.

This year, I couldn’t think of anything, so I again resolved to run three to four times a week. But it snowed just before New Year’s Eve where I live in Northern Colorado. I can’t run in the snow! My feet will get wet! I had the perfect excuse, but wait ­–

I not only have a resolution but a platform, which, in effect, is a resolution. I challenged myself to do something every month to get over being shy. But I figured that left three weeks with something I had to write about that would be non-platform, unless I analyzed why it is that I am shy, researched how to overcome it and reviewed existing literature on the topic. I figured I should leave that to the scientists.

I decided, instead, to do a weekly shyness challenge, such as taking classes where I meet new people, going somewhere alone I normally wouldn’t consider, such as a nightclub, or talking to someone new when I would rather hide.

My challenge for week 1, which really is week 2, is to talk to a handsome 30-something man who is sans wedding ring.

If you might have noticed, I circumvented my challenge for week 1, but hey, I’ll blame it on the snow. Yes, snow is beautiful when it coats the top half of branches, putting a white topcoat on the landscape. It makes for coziness next to fireplaces, perfect for reading a book. And I like how it sinks under my feet as I leave behind my footsteps.

But with snow comes this depressing cloudiness. I hunker down into my safe, familiar routines because I don’t want to try anything new. I’m stuck indoors waiting for the sun to shine, but this year, I won’t be waiting.

What Platform?

In Holidays, Loneliness, New Platform, New Year's Resolutions, Shyness, Single Girl on January 2, 2011 at 6:37 pm

After six months of blogging, I realize that I have to get a platform. If I were to reflect on previous blogs, I could say it’s A Girl and Her Dog, A Writer and Her Dog, or Lonely Girl With Dog.

Of course, I love my dog, but I think this year I should do a blog challenge. Each month, I’m going to try something new to get me out of my shy, lonely life. I don’t mind being lonely, as such, because I love to read and write and with a busy dog like Zoey, my time is filled.

But I think I need to stop making excuses to myself. I had mono for more than two years and this past summer began to feel almost normal. I now need eight to nine hours of sleep instead of nine to 12, plus naps. I let that be my excuse, that I’m tired.

My second excuse is that I’m shy.

I figure I could write about Single Girl, Barely 40, in Too Small of a City (with Dog). That is my new platform. Now for the catchy title, maybe City Girl Antics.