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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.

  • Lisa Lou

Create Small Talk Like A Pro

Updated: Aug 25, 2020



“I don’t know what to say when I enter a room full of strangers!” I encounter this fear often when mentoring other women (and men!). Knowing how to engage in small talk is an essential tool we need to increase our social knowledge. Being able to engage others will instill confidence enabling us to thrive in all social situations. But before we learn these tricks, we need to change our psychology.

1. Realize others in the room feel the same way you do. Instead of making yourself the focal point of your internal feelings, turn those feelings around and say, “Today, I am going to rescue someone at this party.” Look at each guest and tell yourself you are the only person who can save them from feeling awkward and alone. Find someone standing by themselves and introduce yourself. Usually you will see a sigh of relief in their body language that screams, “I am so glad someone came over to talk to me!”

2. Some people advise to “keep things light” when speaking with someone for the first time. I do not always agree. When I converse with someone that is “small talking” me with shallow stories and information, my immediate reaction when they leave is, “That was a waste of time.” Studies show people prefer deeper conversations that are rewarding. I am not suggesting you dive into your solution for the world’s nuclear crisis. I am suggesting you put on your counseling hat and say, “Tonight, I am going to help someone by providing a much-needed referral for a job.” Or, “Tonight, I am going to help someone make a connection within my sphere of contacts that they might not have access to.”

3. People love to talk about themselves, so ask questions. By being the instigator in the conversation, this also takes the spotlight off you. Open ended questions work best, because the other person cannot give you one-word answers. Instead of asking, “Did you enjoy the movie you saw last night?” Say, “What did you enjoy most about the movie last night?” The first question will give you a one-word answer. The second question requires the response to become a discussion. My favorite conversation starter with someone I do not know is, “Tell me a little about yourself.” This has endless possibilities and allows the person you are speaking with to take the conversation in any direction they wish.



4. Find common ground to start your discussion. If you are both at the same social gathering, then you obviously each know the hostess. Your first question might be, “How do you know Suzy?” The answer to this simple question will provide you with enough follow up questions to successfully small talk your way to the next person. A normal progression for this type of conversation might look like this:

Person A: “How do you know Suzy?”

Person B: “We went to college together.”

Person A: “Oh, where did you attend school?”

Person B: “State University down the road.”

Person A: “I had several friends that attended school there. There was a favorite restaurant everyone went to called Spanky’s. My best friend, Kristi, worked there.

Person B: “I know Kristi! We became good friends because I always went to Spanky’s!”

5. People love to feel like an expert, so seek the expertise of the person you are engaging. Out of professional courtesy, I am not suggesting you ask the doctor you are speaking with to diagnose the pain in your leg. Rather, if you learn their children go to a nearby elementary school, you might say, “My husband and I have been considering that school for our children. Have you been pleased with your choice?” Or: “If we decide to send our children there, we will have to move into the area. What do you find are the pros and cons of the neighborhood?”

6. Use your body language to show you are interested. We have all been in conversations where the person is speaking TO us but not fully engaged IN us. They continue to glance around the room or take quick peaks at their phone. This inevitably makes the recipient feel undervalued as though they are a place holder until someone better comes along. When you speak with someone, make eye contact, and do not allow yourself to be distracted. Learning to listen effectively is a skill that needs to be mastered.



Here are some tried and true small talk questions that will give you confidence to enter any conversation:

1. What brought you to your current company?

2. If you know they have children, ask how old they are, where they are in school, etc.

3. Are you originally from (name the hometown where the party is being held)?

4. When you are not working, how do you like to spend your time?

5. What is the most enjoyable theatre performance you have attended?

6. Are there any books you have read recently you would recommend?

7. What is the best vacation you have taken? Why?

8. If you could only take one more vacation, where would you go?

9. Did you participate in any extracurricular activities in college?

10. And my favorite, “Tell me a little about yourself.”

Together with you,

Lisa Lou

Get rid of the noise in your life. Join Lisa Lou and receive commonsense, faith-based advice for the modern woman.

© 2021 Lisa Lou by Kaio

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