Shelley Widhalm

Archive for June, 2011|Monthly archive page

The Town Cry-er

In Rejection, Shyness, Talking, Vacations on June 26, 2011 at 7:28 am

I took five days off for a friend’s visit but it didn’t turn out so well. It’s the classic case of uneven liking – I like him lots and he thinks I’m more boring than eating pasta shells sans sauce.

During these five (reduced to three because, yep, you got it) days, I realized that besides hating being shy, I hate that I’m sensitive.

Actually, a better way to put it is I have a penchant for crying. You would think I would be dehydrated and ultra skinny from all the energy I burn from letting the water roll. But I have to lift weights and diet and all that crap.

Plus cry.

Add to that the fact I got my hopes up and don’t know where to put them now. In my anticipation of this visit, I jumped out of my comfortable numbness, though I didn’t know that I was numb until, well, now. I’ve been going through the motions of living as I impatiently waited for the weekends when I could sit outside and read or work on my writing.

But hey, I now see that my problem is that I’ve let my shyness keep me in this introverted state where I hang out by myself. My problem is I really do like to talk. It’s just I don’t know how to open my mouth and get words out. Sure I can talk to people who approach my dog to pet her or if I have to interview them or want to make small talk.

But if there is a pause, or silence or discomfort on my part, I don’t know what to do.

Unfortunately, after not reading a book for three weeks because I went on a vacation, tried to finish my novel editing and had this five-day visit coming up, I realized that, unlike what I’ve been telling myself, real life is more fun then books. Now, I just need a how-to book to read to tell me how to live, hence returning me to my comfort of reading instead of living.

For my dog Zoey’s perspective, check out

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Defining Shyness

In Challenge delay, Shyness on June 19, 2011 at 7:31 am

It’s probably about time for a shyness challenge. Originally, I set out to do one a week but overcoming shyness and taking the steps to do so takes work, discipline and motivation.

Shyness for me is feeling apprehension, discomfort and awkwardness in certain social situations, including:

* Attending a party and not knowing anyone besides the hostess.

* Entering a room full of strangers where I need to talk to someone, particularly when I have to conduct an interview for work.

* Participating in a group activity with more than two others, such as eating out or going to a club.

As I read on the Internet, shy people avoid the situations that cause them apprehension. They perpetuate their shyness by not confronting it.

I am doing the same thing with my challenge by not thinking of new ways to confront my shyness. I don’t like the rapid heartbeat and fast pulse, along with the unease, I experience when I try something new.

In situations where I feel shy, I don’t know what to say or how to act and fear that I might be boring. However, I have learned how to make eye contact and no longer cross my arms over my chest and am quick to smile. Through my reporting experience, I have learned how to ask conversational questions and to draw people out to keep the conversation going.

I’ve come a long way in overcoming my shyness.

However, I’m not sure if I’ll ever be completely free of it, especially if I avoid doing what I set out to do. To get back on track, my challenge for next week is to do whatever I encounter in the next week that makes me shake inside.

Working, or Vacation?

In Artists, Novel editing, Vacations on June 12, 2011 at 7:00 am

This past week was supposed to be my vacation, but I spent more than 20 hours editing my novel.

Unfortunately, it’s Friday, and my vacation ends on Sunday. I’m ready to restart my vacation and not do any work, but unlike in politics, there are no re-dos.

My mom and I drove to Omaha to stay with relatives, meeting my brother and his girlfriend there for our weeklong stay. I gave up a few things to do my editing, like a trip to the casinos across the river in Iowa, grocery shopping, cooking dinner (my brother’s girlfriend loves to cook) and playing Rummikub at night (the family had a tournament thing going on).

I “snuck” off to Starbuck for two to three hours at a time to do the editing. I can concentrate there, do some people watching and listen to music as I slowly edit about 10-15 pages in an hour.

I also spent two or three evenings out on the patio doing more editing. I liked looking out at the verdant sloping lawn and at the rabbits hanging out there. One even plopped down on its belly, with its front paws splayed out, looking pretty cute.

But I missed things. Like conversations over preparing meals, playing board games and being together. I was away at Starbucks, chasing this dream that is just that, at least for now. Being a starving artist takes many forms, whether it’s not being who you want to be in order to pay the bills or being who you are but then not having enough money.

I fit my starving artist self into little slots of time that I would rather use for having fun. It’s the weekend, or after work or, like now, a vacation. I spend my vacations being who I want to be during non-vacation time, when I am not who I am.

It’s quite confusing.

All I know is that my family probably wonders where I am. Oh they know, it’s Starbucks, but I’m away from them when, really, I should have been a part of their whole. I guess I’ll have to wait until next year, having learned my lesson.

Working hard has its place, but not at the cost of what’s in front of you, that moment, that being together. Even so, I’m glad to have the editing done.

EmBARKing into Conversations

In Coffee shops, Communication secrets, Exercise, Seeking pets on June 5, 2011 at 8:31 am

Eating, exercising and not being shy, all in a healthy way, can be a bit much for one week.

First, I ate fruit salad and lettuce leaf salad and did not eat ice cream or chocolate.

Second, I went to the gym, did aerobics or went on a walk every day, well except for Tuesday.

And third, I talked with someone outside my comfort zone, w-a-y outside of it, though I’m not sure if the conversation actually counts toward breaking my shyness barriers. I’ve seen this man, let’s call him C., around my neighborhood, and my flirty dachshund barked at him as he stood a half-block away.

Zoey was sitting atop a coffee shop patio table while I read a book before I had to go into work for a late shift Wednesday. I said, “I’m sorry. She just wants you to pet her.”

My mini-D wants everyone to pet her.

C put out his cigarette and came over to pet her, but I felt wary, noticing his bedraggled clothing and missing teeth. Wanting to be polite, I asked him about his work (odd jobs), and he told me about getting kicked out of his apartment because of some downtown reconstruction.

“Animals seem to like me,” he said.

I started to feel safe in C’s presence, looking over at Zoey’s expression of ecstasy as he rubbed her ears.

“Dogs are a good judge of character,” he said.

A few months ago, Zoey met another person and would not stop her ferocious barking, seeming to have read something not right in him. And with C, she was seeking his attention.

C asked to have a seat, and I nodded. We talked for five more minutes about where we went to high school, what we do for work and the weather until I had to leave for the office.

I walked away from that experience realizing that I was being a bit judgmental about C’s appearance. But at the same time as a woman, I always have to be wary whenever I’m out in public, day or night. It’s just how it is. Even in a small city.

I guess that’s why it is good to have a dog more aware of the unspoken aspects of communication.