Tuesday, February 23, 2010

5 month old pictures

I just had to share them :)

Monday, February 22, 2010

5 months old

Olivia is officially 5 months old tomorrow.
She's SO strong.
Look at this video.

I started my dental externship today. It was fantastic :)
I like the people there. They're nice.
I am just excited to do something different than fast food :P

Sorry such a short post.
I need some sleep.
I just wanted to show off that cute little girl.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

V-day Vacay

I have abandoned the blog for the past few days were spent with my adorable boyfriend. Thank you very much. If you weren't aware. It's a long distance relationship. He lives in Boise. We meet in the middle in Burley, Idaho where his family lives. On Sunday, I told him I would go there early in the morning and go to Church with his family just so he didn't have to make a 5 hour drive to Utah and drive back down together in one car. Well, Saturday night, I made the spur of the moment decision to just drive after work since I got off at 10 and make the 2 1/2 hour drive to Burley. He gets off work at 1 and is planning on staying with his friends. So I called his friends to see if they were okay with me coming over and surprising him. So I brought my post-it notes and wrote these cute little notes all over them and stuck them to the walls. It's a 2 hour drive from Boise. So I stayed up with his friend AJ, She and I just kind of talked and chilled out while I made the notes and she was totally down with me surprising him. I'm a romantic. What can I say? (Alyssa gave me the idea, actually, I can't take all the credit) So I got anxious and honestly was looking out the peephole the whole time until I saw him coming upstairs to the apartment. I ran into the pantry and he saw the post-it notes and he asked AJ what they were for. She said they were for her husband for Valentine's day and the surprise was in the pantry. I had butterflies in my stomach. It has been a month (ohh boo hoo. A whole month. I know.) And his jaw was seriously on the floor when he saw me, and I just said, "Uhhh hi!" I didn't really anticipate his reaction and I didn't know what to say when I saw him. He was speechless and the first thought was, "Does he not recognize me?!"

He gave me this beautiful necklace for V-day. We went to Church with his family in the morning and I went to nursery with his mom. She's a nursery leader. Then we had a big lunch with his family then we went back to Utah to see my family. He drove and he let me sleep on the drive. How sweet of him :)

We had dinner with my family and watched the Olympics.

The next day, we decided to go look at temples for a future reference :) Our travels were first to Oquirrh Mountain Temple. We got to the front and someone had placed roses and roses petals by the fountain and this guy ran up and put a note on there. Definitely proposing to someone. It made me WAY jealous. Not my proposal :( Someday soon. I hope :)

The second one, The Draper Temple. Probably our favorite of the ones that we went to see.

He told me to look off into the distance like I was thinking. I liked the windows.

The third temple was the Mount Timpanogos Temple. This one is closer to my house. I definitely like this temple. My sister Erika got married in that one. It was gated off so we couldn't really walk the grounds. But we still thought it was beautiful and it was dusk at the time.

We had steak for dinner that night. He helped my dad out with that. So yummy :) The next day we were sort of lazy and just sat at home and watched Extreme Makeover Home Edition. I can't watch that show without crying. So Tayler made fun of me for it. We went to institute that night. It wasn't an awful experience but in both classes we talked a lot about repentance. The last class we were pretty much pooped. We did talk a lot about forgiving others towards the end. Others who have harmed us which was a pretty good portion of the lesson. I'll have to go more into that later.

We had lots of fun with the webcam. On Wednesday, we met up with one of his really good friends and her husband and went out to lunch. After that we went to Burley again. I had a girls night with his mom, his little sister, and his mom's friend. We saw Dear John. Very interesting. I LOVED the book. Not so much the movie.

Today was the last day we spent together. He got his haircut. And he looks so handsome. But he does either way to me :) And we honestly just cuddled the whole day and didn't want to leave. Blah. It's going to be so nice if he moves closer to me and I'll hopefully get to see him more. Then it won't be like forever before we see each other again. It honestly feels like the longest wait and then when we're with each other time goes by SO fast. Totally not fair.

When I got home I had two little packages for me from Virginia :) Val sent me these REALLY DARLING charms to put on a necklace or a bracelet. Two of them are the same but one of them is for my mom. The little pictures are just on these little wooden scrabble pieces. How creative! I totally want to learn how to make them. I put the last two charms on my necklace. I thought it was sweet when Tayler gave me the necklace he said, "It's an O for Olivia." He adores the little princess. One of the many things that I love about him. Val also sent me a picture of Olivia with Santa. And that's on my fridge.

Dustinn and Val are pretty much the BEST. They are so awesome to me. And they send me videos and pictures of her on my phone. I got to hear her laugh for the first time on video the night I saw Dear John. And it was definitely a bittersweet moment. I love how cute she is but I hate how that's the only way I'm going to watch her grow up. Through pictures/videos and occasional visits. But I cherish them with all my heart. It's better than nothing.
I'm so VERY grateful for them and all that they do for me. :)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Institute- Law of Chastity

Yeah. That picture was kind of how I was feeling in institute today. Probably not the same meaning. (Player=Gets settled down=Game Over) I was feeling like, Game over for me! I'm not getting married! There is no way that could happen after this class. My BFF, my future MOH, Alyssa told me that she had been going to institute. I thought that would be fun because one of the classes she is taking is called, "Preparing for an Eternal Marriage." Perfect. Just what I need to get off my mind of being baby hungry is to get wedding hungry. I'm sure my boyfriend just LOVES it.

Class was about: The Law of Chastity.

It shouldn't come to a big surprise to ya'll that I haven't kept the Law of Chastity. If you don't know how babies are made, I advise you to Google. No images please.
We started talking about how Joseph was a servant to Potipher and how Potipher's wife, day after day, would tell Joseph to lie with her. And in Genesis 39:36 it says to the the extent that he wouldn't even be around her. So with that, not to get yourself into compromising situations where something COULD happen. Common sense. Yes? The natural man does take over if we're not careful.

Well, we covered a talk called, "Personal Purity" by Elder Holland.
In the eyes of me, it probably the harshest talk that I had ever read. It felt as if I was being kicked in the face a million times.

The three topics that were covered were: The Doctrine of the Human Soul, The Ultimate Symbol of Total Union, A Symbol of the Relationship with God.
I'll just write some of the quotes that were taken out of this talk that we talked about.

The Doctrine of the Human Soul.
"In sexual transgression the soul is at stake- the body and the spirit."

Yeah, not so bad. It makes sense... it gets worse.

The Ultimate Symbol of Total Union.

"The Prophet Joseph Smith once said we perhaps could render such a sacred bond as being "welded" one to another." - If you don't know much about welding. When you weld two metals together and melt them into one, it's a stronger piece than when it was two separate pieces in the beginning. Much harder to break.

"But such a total union, such an unyielding commitment between a man and a woman, can only come with the proximity and permanence afforded in a marriage covenant, with solemn promises and the pledge of all they possess- their very hearts and minds, all their days and all their dreams." - Yes, it's a good thing to have the covenant between a man and a woman. The promises they make to each other and for each other.

We went later on saying that we kind of go through a moral schizophrenia, if we don't have that marriage covenant. Because in the world, marriage is ancient. It's cool to just live with each other and never have the commitment to get married. And what the teacher said made TOTAL sense to me because it was a fear of mine. That you come home and find that they aren't there anymore. It was a daily thing for me that the boys I was dating would just walk out the door any moment, change their minds over night. I HATED that feeling. It was heartbreaking.

This part kind of cut deep.

"You cannot give everything until you are legally and lawfully married. To give illicitly that which is not yours to give (remember, "you are not your own") and to give only part of that which cannot be followed with the gift of your whole self is emotional Russian roulette. If you persist in pursuing physical satisfaction with the sanction of heaven, you run the terrible risk of such spiritual, psychic damage that you may undermine both your longing for physical intimacy and your ability to give wholehearted devotion to a later, truer love."

Well, shit. To put it lightly.

This part got to me THE worst.

"On your wedding day the very best gift you can give your eternal companion is your very best self- clean and pure and worthy of such purity in return."

I turned to Alyssa and I said, "I have to apologize to Tayler." It hit me THAT hard. I said it out loud as soon as I read it.

I'll move on to the last one before I continue my story.

A Symbol of the Relationship with God.

"One aspect of that divinity given to virtually all men and women is the use of His power to create a human body, that wonder of all wonders, a genetically and spiritually unique being never before seen in the history of the world and never to be duplicated again in all the ages of eternity."

And going on with that, the teacher started saying how awesome it was about having a baby in the hospital. To look at it and think that it wasn't alive 9 months ago. And there it was in your arms, living, breathing.
Thanks for the reminder.

I was feeling pretty down on myself.

I was going through all of that thinking, there is NO way Tayler could want me. I couldn't give him the best thing he could have on his possible wedding day. After all of it I texted him and told him the quote and right after I said, "I'm sorry :("

And this is why I'm probably fallen madly in love with this guy.

"Babe. You are working towards that pure and clean part. You know that when we go to the temple all of our past sins will be gone right? The slate will be clean."

I said, "I should've been in the first place."

Okay, listen. I'm not the type of girl to be fishing for compliments from boyfriends. Tayler tells me everyday how wonderful I am(not to be bragging or anything.). But I honestly was feeling WAY down. I read back through it I'm like... did I really just say that?

He said, "Don't beat yourself up for your past. If you didn't do what you did then Olivia would of never been born and you probably would of never met me."

I said, "I just don't feel worthy of you."

He said, "Honey, you've gone through all of that to show what you do deserve. A temple marriage and a worthy husband. I want to be that husband for you. And yes you do deserve someone caring and pure and worthy. I want to be that person for you. Believe in yourself and don't be hard on yourself for what's happened. Embrace it and learn from it. I know you can."

I finally had to get it through my brain that I am able to return to purity and that I will be able to make it to the temple someday. Right now, there are so many new emotions and triggers that I never knew about until today. And I'm just learning how to overcome the obstacles, one day at a time. I need to learn even though the pain that I feel right now may feel awful and dreading but as I'm going through my repentance process, I will begin to feel less and less pain from my past and will be able to learn from it. I sometimes preach, but don't take the advice for myself. I was talking to Andee about this post a little bit before and she said that the first year is the hardest. I'm beginning to believe it. And what Kiley has said (she had a little boy almost 2 years ago and placed for adoption. I went to high school with her.), "The hole in my heart gradually gets smaller but it never goes away."

Yep, I took this picture of the Salt Lake Temple. I know when you look at this and think, Stefanie has this hidden talent of some photog skills and made this Temple look absolutely gorgeous. It already is gorgeous, how can you not look at it and think, "I'd love to get married there." I do every time I see it.

I need to see my goal. And remember the Atonement, there was a quote by C.S. Lewis. Oh what a spiritual man. He said, "He [Christ] has infinite attention to spare for each one of us. He does not have to deal with us in the mass. You are as much alone with Him as if you were the only being He had ever created. When Christ died, He died for you individually just as much as if you had been the only man in the world."
I almost feel when I compare what I've done in my life to Christ's atonement. What I've done isn't nearly as bad as what Christ had to go through and I'm grateful that He has. To remind me what I need to be grateful for. And that because of that sacrifice alone, I can return to him, I can repent and become clean, pure, and worthy again.

I hope this has helped someone who has struggled with some of the same things that I have had such as becoming worthy again, and that it IS possible. Trust me.

I have reminders everyday of how lucky I am to be here and it's these two faces right here:

I wouldn't trade them for anything in this world.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Open Heart in Church.

Well, this past Sunday I had a very humbling experience. I have actually bore my testimony twice this year in Church. Not at the pulpit or anything, but in Relief Society. First at Tayler's singles ward. Then at my single's ward.

So yesterday, I had the feeling in my heart that I should bear my testimony about Olivia. I get a lot of people who say,"You're so great with being open about your adoption." At least on my blog, and in high school presentations. I don't get nervous in front of people talking about it. But in Church, I was the most nervous I have ever been. I really didn't think I needed to go up and speak. If you recall, my resolution was to bear my testimony every fast Sunday (1st Sunday of the month).

And it was more apparent that I needed to in Relief Society when Katie gave this BEAUTIFUL lesson on the heart. I'll kind of go into her lesson because I LOVED it and I take notes.

What does the heart stand for?

  • Revelation
  • Pure Intentions
  • Purity and Sanctification
  • Marriage (Being of one heart)
  • Charity and Service
  • Testimony
  • Gospel
  • Humility (Broken Heart)

What we touched on in the lesson was a Change of Heart.

In Ezekiel 36:26 it says, "A new heart also I will give you, and a new spirit will I put with you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh."

How do you have a change of heart or soften your heart of stone?

  • Humble yourself.
  • Learn from your trials.

In sacrament meeting, this boy was saying that in family prayer his mom asked for the Lord to remove the thorn from his side (his challenge he was going through). And the revelation that she had was that the Lord would not take the thorn from his side but that he had to learn something.

  • Having a change of heart is a constant process.

  • You need to have the desire to change.

In my experience, I have been in and out of living the Gospel standard's the past 5 years. I didn't finally have a change of heart until Nic had broken up with me and set the example for me to go back to Church. Only to know that the Lord was looking out for me and for little Olivia. He was guiding to me to where I needed to go and seek help.

The next topic we talked about was - Written on your heart

2nd Corinthians 3:3 says, "Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in the tables of stone, but in the fleshy tables of the heart."

What does it mean to have it written upon your heart?

  • Keep dear to you.
  • Resolution- Embedded in your heart.
  • Permanent reminder.
  • Goes beyond knowledge. (Always in my mind, Forever in my heart)

I like what one girl said that your heart is a vital organ. You can't live without it. And so what is written on your heart is the thing that you can't live without.

"What you do is what you feel about what you know."

We did also touch on having a broken heart.

Having a broken heart can mean being humble. That's what it means in most of the scriptures. Coming unto the Lord with a broken heart and a contrite Spirit. My bishop was sitting in the meeting that he has a daughter, and how much he remembers having a broken heart at that age, that there is so much emotion and pain. And not that the Lord wants you to have this pain but to know that you are hurt and that the only way you can feel happiness is towards the Lord.

I remember sitting in the meeting and just thinking, throughout the past 5 years I have dealt with so much heart break, mostly just from trials and mistakes that I put upon myself. Knowing that I wouldn't have had to deal with it if I just stayed on the right path. But I knew I had to learn something and I asked in my heart, "Why did I have to break my heart over and over again?" And the answer struck me INSTANTLY and it said, "So you could learn to get it right."

I remember saying that as I was bearing my testimony. I don't know what it was, it was so hard for me to say that I had Olivia. In a Church setting anyway, I've always felt like people would say, "She had a baby out of wedlock. She is a sinner." But that's not the way I was feeling as I was standing up there and sitting back down after speaking. I felt an enormous amount of love. I felt like I had gone to Church carrying this burden, this dark secret, and that's not what Olivia is to me. I don't want her to be this secret in my life, she is a BIG part of it. I wasn't going to go around and announce it. I thought it was appropriate enough to share it with my relief society.

I expressed that I have a 4 1/2 month old daughter that I placed for adoption. And told them about the feeling about having my heart broken over and over again. That I know in my heart, what I did was right for her. And that I came back to Church with my proud to heart, to have a family and do it right this time around. That I'm also grateful for the opportunity someday to be married in the temple and sealed and have an eternal family. That I understand the atonement, and that what the Lord did for his Son was the hardest thing to do. But He gave Him the world and He gave us, Him. Probably the greatest gift that we'll ever be given and I gave her the greatest gift that I could. I broke my heart, to give her more.

I had a VERY sweet girl write me a note saying that she was adopted and that she appreciated my Testimony that even though I don't see the sacrifices that I'm making now, that Olivia will be so grateful for it later. That her adoptive parents gave her more then what her biological parents could give her and she was grateful for it. It really touched my heart.

Another girl came up and said to me that she loved my testimony as well. That is how she got her nephew is through adoption and that it has completed her family. I honestly LOVE adoption. How can you not when you hear things like that?

I also got the feeling that I needed that support in Church. That I knew that there were other people who have been blessed through adoption and that I should look at it like I was this dirty thing and didn't deserve to be there. I'm grateful to having to learn that lesson for myself. A lot of people pray that this trial will be taken away from them, but have you ever prayed and said you were grateful for the trial and hope to grow stronger from it? Or to help you from the trial and what you need to learn? Just something to think about. :)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Harry Potter Wedding?

Tell me:

Yay or Nay

Maroon, Yellow, Grey, White wedding colors?
Summer/Fall wedding.

Groomsmen would wear a grey suit with a maroon or yellow tie/vest. Thank you, Justin for being my model.

Bridesmaids/Ladies of Honor would wear a white shirt with a grey skirt or just a grey dress with a maroon or yellow cardigan. Examples below.

Honestly, Do these colors remind you of Harry Potter? Gryffindor?

Please cast your vote/opinions via comments.

I vote NAY. I really like those colors together and it does NOT remind me of Harry Potter.

Harry Potter Wedding= My future husband wearing his glasses and drawing a lightning bolt on his forehead and I dye my hair SUPER red. Then instead of doves in my wedding, I would have owls and have candles hanging from the ceiling. I would also require for everyone to wear a robe or a snuggie backwards as they walk into the "great hall" aka reception. And everyone would have to wear the sorting hat and I'd already have 4 tables set up with the signs of Gryffindor (for people who are apart of the wedding including myself at this table), Slytherin, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw for everyone else. Instead of a dance floor, we would have a Quidditch tournament and everyone would ride around on broom sticks. I would hand out wands with me and my husband's name and wedding date on it as wedding favors.

NOT happening.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Communication and Misunderstandings

It is the lovely month of February. :) It happened to be Groundhogs Day yesterday and I'm not excited for 6 more weeks of winter. I am waiting patiently for summer to come around.

Well, I've been again slacking on the blog. But that's also because I've had some personal things that have happened. Such as just a total meltdown one night about adoption. It wasn't anything bad and I don't point the finger at anyone. I did in that moment but that's because I wasn't communicating very well.
Amy (from Amstel Life) made a post just recently about open adoption. And it goes a lot along the lines about what I'm going to talk about.

I told D&V something very important about their adoption finalization that there is a possibility that I could be there, if they waited. They told me they would let me know.
They made a post about being finalized earlier than I had told them and I thought they were just trying to get around my feelings and that they didn't want to tell me. And I pointed fingers and told them that I didn't understand that if I trusted them with Olivia they could at least trust me with what they choose to do with their family. I know I'm the birth mom and I'm not Olivia's mom so I don't have a big play in what their family does. I just would like to know. And instead of asking them about them, I just assumed they were out to get me.
Val made the post a week before I had told her about her being there for the finalization and that there was a difference between the finalization and being sealed. And I was making a big deal about being there when they're sealed as a family.
Just a lot of feelings were hurt and a lot of misunderstandings.

I don't think it was anyone's fault. Mostly, I assume and jump to conclusions and blow things out of proportion. I know that Dustinn and Val would never try to intentionally hurt me. I told them to make the plans they want with THEIR family.
I like what Amy had to say,

7) After the birth, learning the boundaries of open adoption will be difficult at first. You can talk about what to expect until you turn blue, but everything after the birth is a whole 'nother story! You'll learn as you go, but as long as you continue to communicate and be honest with each other, things should start to come together eventually. I can't stress enough how important communication is in open adoption. Since our open adoption was very open, sometimes I had a hard time saying no to visiting. After a long day of class, sometimes I felt guilty for saying no to stopping by to see De and Deanna. There were times I just needed to take a break and be alone. I learned to take care of myself first and to visit only when I felt emotionally ready. And that made our visits so much better.

I try to be as open as possible with the adoption and how I'm feeling and this is what I said to Val at one point in our e-mailing back and forth,

"I just hope I haven't ruined anything with you guys with what I said. I didn't mean for it to all come out how it did. But I guess I just got really worked up about it and didn't know how else for it to come out. I'm REALLY sorry. I feel really bad. I'm like hoping you guys still want to talk to me or you're thinking, well... we don't have to see her this trip. Ha. That's like my worst fear is that you'll keep Olivia hostage or you guys just don't want to talk anymore.

If there is ANYTHING you feel like you need to talk to me about. Let me know. I know that you're worried that something will be ignored and that it'll just build up inside and ruin things between us. And I don't want that to happen either with you guys. So if anything at all is bothering you let me know.

And I know how cool it'd be to tell Olivia that her birthmom was there when she was being sealed to you guys. But at the same time, it'd be just as cool to tell her that you guys got to see me be sealed to my husband in the temple. I remember looking back at a story that I wrote. I had to write one before I went to the hospital about why I was doing an adoption plan and this is part of what I said,

"I remember a few months before I had Olivia I went to the temple open house. I was really nervous to go into the the sealing room but as I was sitting there. All I could think about was Olivia being sealed to Dustinn and Val for eternity. When I thought ache and lonliness would come, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace. I knew that is what is meant to happen to have families being sealed together forever. I know that right now it may seem hard when I look at her precious face and see the life that I created but I know she'll always be my little girl. I'm not losing anyone but gaining more family and blessings through all of this. And she is too. She deserves it all. She deserves a dad who will love her and will always be by her side and comfort her when times are rough through the priesthood and fathers blessings. She deserves a mom who will be there for her and help her through all the boy issues and teach her the importance of families and temples. I know Dustinn and Val will be the best parents and have seen it all during this time. I know I love her and they love her as much as I do. Even if times are rough for me, I know my family will always be there and that God will be there for me as well. He has been here this whole process and I know He wouldn't leave me now during this time."

I read back through all of that and know that God is looking out for me and also for your family. I read it and feel comforted that I made the right decision for Olivia because I am given comfort when I think about you being sealed. And I don't want to hold back the blessings that you guys will gain when being sealed together. If you have the opportunity to be sealed sooner. Then do that. Do what will make you happy. It will make me happy to know that you guys are an eternal family and will help me to look forward to having an eternal family for myself."

To help along the journey of finding a family perfect for you- to be able to be open with communication, I couldn't have said it better then what Amy said,
"1) If you are a prospective birthmother, choose an adoptive couple/family who you could see yourself having a strong relationship with many years down the road. Choose people with similar interests, values, and morals as your own. You're going to have to do a ton of research, but get to know as much as humanly possible about each other before the actual adoption. The more couples you interview, the better chance you have of finding a perfect match for you. If you're not comfortable with an agency, ask family, friends, and co-workers if they know anyone who is looking to adopt. Sometimes, the best match can come from someone who knows someone who knows someone. In fact, that's how we met each other!"

If you're wondering, "Stefanie, but how do I have start a conversation without hurting the other person's feelings or have them misunderstand what I say?"
If it something important and you're angry, I would suggest to wait and process you're thinking before you lash out, I waited a day to hear what other people had to say. But I also didn't even ASK why Dustinn and Val would tell me one thing and do another thing. Instead, I assumed.
It's ALL about representation.

In one of the post placement groups, my caseworker Loni brought in a chocolate cake. She asked a girl next to me if she wanted a piece and she said, "Sure."
Loni cut the cake then grabbed it with her hands and put it in the girl's face. The girl was freaking out and she was like, "I don't want it now!" It's all about presenting how you're feeling in a manner. You don't want a cake shoved in your face. Sometimes you do feel that way, I know I did at one point. And we have the tendency if we are getting the cake shoved in our face (feeling offended) we shove it back. That is NOT a healthy way of communicating. When we want to present, we will cut the cake and use a knife or a fork and put it on a plate. We do NOT grab it straight out of the cake and shove it in someone's face.
I always think of that cake analogy every time I try to communicate something vitally important to me to D&V. (It's hard not to think about it when it was ACTUALLY presented like that. Haha!)

Ten Golden Rules of Communication
Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

1. There are many slips between the other person's ears and your lips. The message you want to convey may be garbled, distorted, camouflaged or completely lost by more dominant messages. This happens because the recipient interprets your message by his or her brain, not by your brain. To avoid this, think about the possible ways in which your message can be misunderstood or distorted by a recipient who is not on the same wave length or of the same orientation that you are.

2. People are not mind readers. They can't read your mind. They don't know what is really bothering you or what you really want from them. Ask clearly and precisely what you want. High achievers are good in letting others know what they want. Some speakers deliver the whole speech without spelling out even once what they want from their audience. Then they feel unhappy when they don't get the results they expected from their speech.

3. Feel a genuinely liking for the people with whom you are communicating. Remember the saying, "Nobody cares how much you know, unless they know how much you care." When they feel you really like them, they make an extra effort to understand what you want.

4. The rule of listening. There are two ears and one tongue, spend twice more time in listening than in speaking. The more closely you listen to others, the more effective you would be in communicating your ideas to them according to their frame of reference. It is by listening close to them, that you will know how they think, what their favorite expressions are and how you can arouse their interest.

5. The spoken word is but a small component of communication. The spoken word constitutes of only 7 percent of the message, the other 93% is non-verbal. If you say the words, "You are fine," but, your face, body and your voice is conveying, "I can't stand you," which one do you think will get conveyed? Match your body language, voice tone, and other non-verbal behavior with your words.

6. Keep your communication pure and simple. Do not contaminate it with sarcasm, witticisms, or put downs. When you do that, people stop listening to what you say and get flooded with emotions and thoughts regarding how you are treating them.

7. The rule of repetition. Tell them first what you are going to tell them, then tell them, and then tell them what you just told them.

8. Check. Ensure the accuracy and comprehension of your message. For example, when you leave a message for someone, ask the person who has taken your message to repeat it so you can check it for its accuracy and comprehension. Do the same when you instruct your staff to perform a task for you.

9. Review. Leave a review document for the recipient to take home. Give them something to review later and correct themselves, for example, a written summary of steps

10. Walk your talk. Match your actions with your words. If you say something and then do another, your action will be received as the real message and not your spoken words.

With number 10, I have never heard of so many girls say that they had met the couple of their dreams and placed their baby with them. The couple reassured that they were willing to have an open adoption. Then once the baby is born and placed in their arms, the communication is cut off. If you're going to say that you want an open adoption with the birth mom, THEN DO IT. Don't do it because you're baby hungry and snatch the first opportunity you have by sweet talking into the situation. It's not charming but selfish. When a birth mom is being unselfish by giving you her baby, you need to reciprocate the unselfishness by putting yourself out of your comfort zone and realizing that baby isn't JUST yours.

How to avoid Misunderstandings
Shatton Claybrooks

A misunderstanding is the inability to effectively communicate in a clear manner. All too often, the sender says something one-way, and the receiver interprets it another way. However, the more effective the communication, the more likely misunderstandings can be resolved when they arise. With that said, there are ways to develop better communication, which can help avoid misunderstandings.

Be Specific When Communicating

Say what you mean and mean what you say. It is very important to be specific when communicating with others. Never say things in a general way. If a person knows exactly what you mean, the chances of a misunderstanding can be avoided.

For example, instead of saying, “I’ll see you on Friday,” be more specific and say, “I’ll see you on Friday at 3 o’clock.”

Be Aware of Your Verbal and Non-Verbal Language

Be certain to clearly convey the same verbal and non-verbal cues. Do not give mixed communication signals. Remember, body language, facial expressions, and tone of speech play an important part in how messages will be interpreted.

For example, if you say something one way, and your facial expression says something else, it's very likely that a miscommunication will occur.

Always Ask Questions

Avoid making assumptions based on preconceived notions. Ask questions to confirm, whether you are the one sending or receiving the message. Never assume that you know what has been conveyed.

If someone conveys a message that is unclear, ask for further clarification. For example, “ I did not understand what you said, can you please repeat it?”

Practice Active Listening Skills

Active listening is one of the best ways to effectively communicate with others. In fact, when we truly listen, misunderstandings are less likely to occur. With that in mind, there is a difference between hearing and active listening; hearing involves sound waves reaching the ears, and the brain processing what has been heard.

Active listening goes far beyond that of just hearing what someone has said. It involves focus and a sincere commitment to make certain that what someone has said, is appropriately understood. This is not easy, though. The following are ways to become an active listener:

  • Avoid distractions
  • Stop all non-relevant activities
  • Focus on the person speaking
  • Be an active participant; respond to questions or comments
  • Encourage the speaker with your body language (lean forward or nod your head with a yes or no to indicate you understand)

Effective communication is not an easy skill to master. It takes time to develop this type of competence. However, it is not unattainable. The best practice of any effective communicator is to be specific, watch all verbal and non-verbal cues, ask questions, and be an active listener. This is the key to all effective communication. Remember, you can never be too sure, too precise, or too inquisitive.