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As Texas plunged into single digits with multiple days of a windchill below freezing, millions found themselves stranded with no power or water. Living along the Gulf Coast we have weathered hurricanes and endured power outages for much longer periods, but somehow this seemed different. Maybe for those of us close to the shoreline it was the unusual sight of snow we experienced as opposed to the natural disasters we usually face that arrive with rain, wind, and sweltering heat.

Our son and daughter (in law) were finally able to take a long-overdue honeymoon to St. Lucia in December. Cecelia interned one summer for a travel agent so naturally called the company to book their trip. What an incredible experience they had, and I was reminded WHY using a travel agent is worth the expense. Fees range depending on the service, but most charge between $300-350 to plan a vacation somewhere in the Caribbean Islands. 

Q: I will be a new mom soon, and I have been preparing for life “after” a newborn. There is a lot of information on raising babies, and how dads can support mom, but I cannot find much on how moms can support dads. A lot of my mental preparation has been around my marriage. Specific questions: How do I preserve my marriage? How do we embrace the changes? How do I maintain my husband as a priority when we have a tiny human demanding everything? How can I help my husband bond with our new child?

Want to set your children up for success? Then look no further than the habits of successful people you know, whether that be in the corporate world, media, or within your own circle of friends. Experts agree that there are certain common traits all successful people possess. This is great news because it means we can emulate those leaders that have come before us. 

How can you tell if someone will be successful? When I was in high school, they still had a category for a graduating senior titled: Voted Most Likely to Succeed. How, at 18-years-old, could classmates look at someone and say, “Yeah, I think they will be the most successful person in our graduating class.”

Many of us grew up learning multitasking was a hallmark of a productive person. While sounding good in theory, this practice has proven to be incorrect. Studies now reveal that multitasking is nothing more than switching back and forth between tasks and it lowers our productivity. Below are 5 points that deal with the facts behind project hopping and the lack of performance that occurs when we allow seemingly innocuous interruptions to occur in daily life.

The way my husband structures his day is different from how I organize mine, but there is one thing we both do. We start with a morning routine. I make coffee, read the news while eating my breakfast, and then dive into an hour of bible study. Once I finish, I pull out my journal and plan my day. About 2 years ago I discovered an organizational method that resonated with me.

Remember as children, during holidays, we would spend what seemed like hours creating homemade craft projects for our parents? It might be a paper Christmas snowflake sprinkled with glitter or a cutout heart for Valentine’s Day. We would address it: To: Mom or To: Dad. We would sign our name, and this become the gift we gave our parents. The act of giving is how we should view all letters, especially a thank you note. We may not be cutting out cute hearts, but when we take time to put pen to paper and share a little of ourselves with someone else, we are giving a part of our heart to another.  

People give to make you feel loved and remembered. Sometimes gifts are given out of obligation, but mostly they are presented to honor a special relationship or occasion. No matter the reason, we need to know how to show our appreciation. Here are my 7 tips to become a gracious gift receiver.  

Table manners seem to be the area in which I receive most of my questions, but it is introductions that have people the most baffled. After I explain the correct way to conduct an introduction, I often get that starry-eyed stare that tells me, “I really don’t understand what you just said.” To help all of us, I have broken down the process into a simple format. Before I proceed, let me say this. Do not let a lack of confidence in handling an introduction keep you from DOING an introduction.

I recently bumped into a friend at the store, and as we began talking, she expressed how she struggles with the holidays. When January rolls around, she feels like she somehow “missed out.” I understand this feeling because I, too, have often felt this way. Life was so busy with the preparation of celebration, that I missed the joy that awaited each of us this time of year.

Have you ever seen someone walk into a party that looked scared to death, unsure of themselves, and then watched them slink off to an obscure corner? Their body language screaming, “I wish I was anywhere but here!” Entering a room full of people that you do not know can be intimidating. I get that. Yet, your entrance is important in displaying overall confidence and portraying a strong image.

Giving a party, of any type, requires a great deal of work. If you have been fortunate enough to be included in a festive soiree, it is nice to arrive with a gift for the hostess. The typical present will cost between $15-$30, but there are less expensive things you can find at the local discount store.

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9 Tips for Elevator Etiquette

People are returning to work, which means many of us will be navigating changes that would otherwise seem mundane. Elevator etiquette? Did you know there was such a thing? Below are 9 basic reminders when riding the lift. I have thrown in a few exceptions while we live in a COVID world.

1. Sleeves are Great: When pushing the elevator button use the cuff on your shirt, or your elbow, to punch the button. This keeps you away from germy surfaces.

2. Stand to the Side: When you are waiting for the elevator to arrive, stand to the side. People may try to exit when the doors open, and you do not want to block their way.

3. Walk, Do Not Ride: The unstated rule is take the stairs if you are only going two flights. There are exceptions to this for our senior friends, parents with babies, and people with disabilities. With COVID around, avoiding a cramped compartment is also a healthier choice. Walk when you can.

4. Hold the Door/Do Not Hold the Door: Who has not stood in an elevator while someone in the lobby yelled, “Hold the elevator!” Protocol states, if you are the only passenger, be kind and hold the door for the late arrival. If the lift is full, though, only hold the door if the late arrival can reach the doors within a few seconds. Otherwise, they need to catch the next ride. Why? Everyone’s time is important. You either sacrifice the time of those in the elevator, or you sacrifice the time of the late arrival. Ultimately, the late arrival should not ask an elevator full of people to wait. Always show kindness but use your judgement.

5. Go to Your Corner: If another passenger is on the elevator when the door opens, place yourself in the corner opposite them, and face forward. If you know you will be riding the elevator to the furthest floor, position yourself towards the back. This way others in the elevator do not need to walk past you to exit. Keeping a distance of at least 3 feet is considered the minimum for respecting someone’s personal space. Currently, for safety reasons, keeping 6 feet of distance is required by most buildings, but when we return to normal standards, keeping at least 3 feet is acceptable.

6. Floor 5, Please: If another person is closest to the button panel, tell them your floor number so they can push the button. This avoids many hands touching the same pad and helps people maintain 6’ of distance.

7. No Talking: I recommend a friendly smile, saying hello, and a nod of your head. After this initial greeting, silence is recommended unless you know the other people. If you are wearing a mask, then a simple smile and nod of the head is sufficient. Even with a covered nose and mouth a kind heart will shine through your eyes.

8. Cell Phones: Passengers do not want to hear your cell phone conversation. No phone calls on the elevator.

9. Exit: While we are still practicing COVID guidelines, it is unlikely an elevator will have more than 5 people. Let those in the front two corners exit first. If anyone is standing in the middle, they go next. The two back corners exit last. COVID or no COVID, if you are in the back of an elevator it is nice to announce when your floor is arriving so others may move aside to let you exit.

We navigate life through the rules of etiquette, which is simply a playbook that shows us how to work together harmoniously. In all things, practice kindness. Good manners are nothing more than the outward expression of the condition of your heart. Smile through your mask, make eye-contact, and give others a nod. Your good intentions will shine through.

Together with you,

Lisa Lou

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