Shelley Widhalm

Archive for the ‘Coffee shops’ Category

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.

Coffee Break, Or Not?

In Challenge delay, Coffee shops, Reuniting with Zoey, Shyness on March 20, 2011 at 3:35 am

I’m girl with dog again following two weeks separation. Zoey stayed with my dad while I worked on editing my novel. I got through the first edit, spending about 35 hours on it. I wouldn’t have gotten that much done if I had Zoey with me, because after work, I need to take her on a walk, play with her and give her some dog-and-me time.

After I posted my last blog, I realized I didn’t follow through on my shyness challenge to ask someone out to coffee. I had my eye out for possibilities during the last two weeks and found myself coming up with excuses.

If I interviewed someone interesting while reporting, I thought, well, they might think I’m coming on too strong or crossing some professional boundary. I considered coworkers until a couple of women asked me to lunch and another group asked me to dinner – the result was I didn’t make the first move.

I haven’t met anyone new otherwise, yet another excuse. I guess it’s because I’m hiding in my shell. I talked with my brother about it, and he said he wanted to approach somebody on Friday about something social and instead got a lot done.

What do we do?

It’s easy to come up with excuses, to think that sitting at home or reading a book is preferable to taking a chance, but is it?

Zoey, the most outgoing dog I’ve met, loves to go up to new people for potential pets. I need to do the same, except what I would be doing is saying a simple, “Hello. How about coffee?”

It can’t be that hard. Right? So next week, I cannot hang onto my ready-made excuse list.

Girl with Dog

In Best Friends, Coffee shops, Going on walks, Going out, Shyness on March 6, 2011 at 8:55 am

I have become known as the girl with dog, at least in the small city where I live. I have a few acquaintances, some from my job as a journalist, and run into them at coffee shops, restaurants and downtown. If I’m dressed casual after normal work hours and don’t have my miniature dachshund, Zoey, with me, they ask, “Where’s your dog?” It’s like we’re a unit, my 9-pound best friend and I.

Our hanging out together during after-work hours started with a conflict of interest. Being a single girl for a couple of decades (with boyfriends thrown in here and there), I got used to doing what I want in my free time. And then I adopted a dog with needs, particularly for going on walks, getting pets and being social.

As a coffee shop lover, I started taking my squirmy dog with me to a downtown coffee shop, so that I could read and satisfy her needs for getting attention. At first, she didn’t want to be a lapdog, but after a few weeks, she learned that it was a compromise – she sits on my lap and people come up to us and want to pet her.

I take her to open houses and events that allow dogs and into shops that do the same. The result – when I am sans dog, it’s like I’m missing my purse. I run into people who ask that question, where is she?

Zoey, too, loves our regular coffee shop. When we’re actually trying to take a walk and pass the shop, she pulls me to the door and scratches on the glass, as if saying, “Let me in!” “The shop is closed,” I tell her. “We can come back tomorrow.” Scratch. Scratch.

I feel bad for her, my friendly girl who wants to go inside for attention, a free bone and some love.

My challenge next week is to ask someone out for coffee who I normally would not, because I would tell myself, I’m too shy. I just might bring my dog, too.

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.

A Child’s Eternity

In Coffee shops, Furry child, Lap Dog, Loneliness on December 19, 2010 at 8:30 am

I took my dog Zoey with me to a local coffee shop that allows dogs, and I got coffee and she a bone. We lasted a half hour until Zoey started squirming and didn’t want to remain a lapdog.

On our walk home, I was in my own little world until I saw my neighbor, who co-owns a downtown business that sells kitchen supplies.

“Guess what, I’m a grandfather,” he said, his eyes bright as he stood outside, taking a break.

“Is it a boy or girl?” I asked.

My neighbor gave me the details and said, “I looked into her eyes, and she looked right back at me. It was like looking into eternity.”

I wondered if he meant that this baby had some knowledge she took from the womb that we adults lose as we learn how to talk and behave. Or did he mean, as he went on to say, that having children is one thing, but having grandchildren means carrying on your genes through time?

I told him I wanted to have children but was waiting for the right man. I thought, but didn’t say, that I treat my dog like my furry child, dressing her in clothes, calling her “my girl” and worrying about her development, both mental and physical. I want her to be stimulated through play, training, long walks and challenging toys.

As I returned to my apartment, I wondered if this was it, if Zoey was my child, my love, my replacement for a man, and then I thought, forget it. I can’t wait forever for a big what if? I need the here and now. I may not get to see “eternity” in a child’s eyes, but at least I get to taste what caring for another means.

Trying Out Lap Dogs

In Coffee shops, Lap Dog, Seeking pets, What's important on December 12, 2010 at 8:15 pm

I had a bad day at work earlier this week. The hours were long, and I was tired. I came home very grumpy until I opened the door.

Zoey, who was taking a nap in her doggie bed, whipped her tail back and forth and looked at me with shiny, eager eyes. I kneeled down and petted her, kissing her head and talking nonsense to her, asking about her day and if she had been a good dog.

I felt my body relax and my bad mood no longer seemed important. This furry creature could care less about what went on in the work world. She was living in the moment, and being with her, I began to do the same.

I grabbed her harness and leash, and we went for a walk. I took her with me to get coffee at a local coffee shop that allows pets, and she sat on my lap as I read. I could feel her relax into me, even though she wanted to run around, sniff out the smells and seek out pets from the customers. I think she figured she needed to stay with me, obeying my silent command to be a lap dog.

I tried again on Thursday to take her with me to another coffee shop that allows pets. She wasn’t having any lap dog stuff and kept jumping off our chair. She wanted to greet the customers, and a few walked over to say how cute she was and to pet her. She probably knew I didn’t need her comfort, having just had a good day.