The Spice in Our Conversations

Ah, holidays! A time where we gather around a table filled with mouth-watering dishes, reminiscing about the past, and sharing our future dreams. But, ever noticed that the spice in the food sometimes finds its way into our conversations? Oh, come on, we’ve all been there—navigating through the tricky terrains of politics, religion, or even the perilous world of… sports. Yes, in my family, even sports can be a risky affair.

Turning Up the Compassion, Not the Heat

So how do we steer clear of these conversation landmines? It’s simple: listen, breathe, think, and speak. The mantra is to hear without getting defensive, and to speak without attacking. And hey, a sprinkle of humor never hurts! Especially when discussing those “dangerous” sports topics. Also, a little pro-tip from me? Sometimes, when a conversation seems too heated, I’ve found it useful to chime in with, “May I make a suggestion?” It’s my little trick to diffuse tension and steer the talk back to a compassionate lane.

The Homemade Recipe for Warmth

Now, what brings more warmth than a heartfelt gesture? Something as simple as a homemade treat can melt even the iciest of hearts. My husband, who I swear was an Italian gourmet chef in another life, knows this all too well. This year, he’s going all out, packing his special herbs and making mouthwatering sauces. Trust me, there’s no better gift than something whipped up with love. And if you’re looking for gift ideas that don’t burn a hole in your pocket, well, here’s your answer!

Stirring up Emotions with Food & Conversations

Behind every great meal is an emotion, and behind every conversation is a sentiment waiting to be understood. Just as my husband’s herbs add flavor, understanding and compassion can spice up our interactions in the right way. Whether it’s around the holiday table or a casual meetup, our choice of words can either stir love or brew storms. And while we’re on the subject of stirring, homemade gifts, be it bread, cookies, or sauces, are always a hit. They are a testament to the love and care we infuse into our relationships.

The Dinner Table – A Place of Love, Not Battles

As we gather around our dinner tables, let’s make an effort to sprinkle our conversations with understanding, seasoned with compassion. Because, at the end of the day, isn’t the goal to create memories filled with laughter, joy, and love? So, the next time someone brings up that “dangerous” topic, remember the mantra: listen, breathe, think, and speak. And if all else fails, serve them some homemade cookies! Who knows, that might just do the trick. What’s your recipe for compassionate communication? Share your stories and let’s create a feast of warm interactions!


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check @TheMinimalistsPodcast and watch Ep. #316 Christmas Gifts

Discover Your Voice

Are you ready to awaken and discover your unique voice? What If you could find your individual sound with a few simple tools? How would it feel just to be a little more comfortable using your voice? I believe we ALL have unique gifts and talents along with creative contributions to share with others.

That’s why I’m gifting the Video Series, “Discover Your Voice” available NOW! These are super short, easily digestible “How To” videos to find and connect with YOUR voice. Module 1 includes a quick Welcome, followed by (7) seven complimentary videos, total listening time less than 30 minutes for you busy people. Watch all at once or spread them out over a week. Whatever you’re learning style, this is an EXCELLENT place to start in overcoming any challenges you’ve had with your voice.

If you’re someone who’s always loved singing (in the shower, car, etc.) and feeling like you want a place to play… this is a great place to do that. Whether you’re an emerging artist, a hobby singer, a public speaker, coach, teacher, author, or doctor. I’ve been helping all of the above for over two decades as an Expert Voice and Confidence Coach. Whether you’re feeling stuck with your voice, and you desire to unlock it, or you’ve been trying to do it on your own and simply can’t reach the next level, you’re in the place. Start HERE.

Deep breath in and release.

One more nice deep breath through your nose or your mouth past your solar plexus muscle. Nice deep breath. Make that hand on your solar plexus move forward on the inhale and release.

And one more time inhale confidence

and release or exhale.

Welcome back. If you are a returning guest and welcome, if this is your first time joining me live, I am Sloan Reale, vocal coaching by Sloan. And today the holidays are here already. So today's topic, From Challenging Conversations to Compassionate Communication. I think I got that out. All right. Hey, if you are watching this, wherever you are, if you're able, grab a notepad and a pen, because I've got some incredible information to share with you.

A lot of people will be with family. Some of you may be traveling. Some people won't be with family. There's a lot of firsts this year, this last couple of years, but there's still been a lot of loss. There's still a lot of grief. There's a lot of first times with a new family organization or without certain family members or friends.

So today I really wanted to share with you all of the things we're already very aware that the holidays can be a stressful time. Right. Stressful travel, money, finances, over committing relationships. This is a really tough time of year. I can speak from my own personal experience of not fun. The holidays, uh, I did not look forward to the holidays for a good part of my life.

It was not fun. It was. Caused me great anxiety, loss of sleep, my health suffered, and, and a lot of times due to unmet expectations, right? The definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. Showing up every year at that holiday gathering, thinking this year is going to be different.

It wasn't. Until I started to look at myself and change the things in myself, my own perspective, my own attitudes towards the things that other people would do or not do, or how, how I interacted with certain family members. And I'm really happy to say that is not the case any longer. I've done so much work and continue to do work.

You all know I'm a lifelong learner. And, uh, I'm very pleased to say that this year ends on probably one of the most positive notes ever. There is hope if you are suffering, if you are getting stressed out, if you're starting to worry about these very things that I speak of. I want to offer you hope that there is a different way.

And it, it really begins with us. So that said, today's topic, I'm going to be sharing some tips. Some of you have shared before that. But I'm. A minimal or try to be a minimalist.

I try, I've been trying as I get older. I am trying to simplify my life by operating with less. Anyway, I'm going to be sharing some statistics with you. I'm going to be sharing from the minimalist. I follow these guys podcast. They've got all kinds of different things available, but they've got a free podcast.

You can hear them on any platform. And I'm going to be sharing from their episode number 316, which is all about holidays and gift giving and setting boundaries and how to nicely say, no, thank you without hurting somebody's feelings, right? The greatest gift, a reminder, and I've shared in previous sessions and talks and in these live sessions, the greatest gift.

That you can give yourself and everybody else is to take care of yourself first, right? We are no good to anyone else unless we take care of ourself first. You have permission as we enter next week and we round out the rest of this year with that Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or whatever your thing is that you celebrate, friends giving, I think, staff, staffs giving.

My daughter was sharing a friend. for a club that she's part of, but you know, just a reminder to do your best to keep your routines for yourself. So what does that mean? Whatever your self care is right, making sure that you get enough sleep, making sure that you stay hydrated, making sure that it's tough during the holidays.

There's all that extra fun, sugary stuff, right? It only comes around once a year. I was in Trader Joe's the other day. Oh my gosh. The Oh, baked goods section. I wanted one of everything, but I reminded myself of certain dresses that I want to wear for the holidays that do not fit right now. My goal is to not make the matters worse.

So, you know, it's all balanced, right? A little bit of this, a little bit of that. So trying to do your best to keep. your routine. If you're traveling, that can be challenging. So bring those little things from home that are comforting to you. Bring your supplements along, bring your special packets of your immunity, pack those along when you go out on your trip.

So you have those on hand. And then of course, honoring yourself. Right. Being true to ourselves. One of the things that I continue to hear, and this is a thing for men and women, all of us, one of the reasons we get ourself in a pickle is because we're worried about what other people think. Right. We're worried about meeting the criteria of other individuals in our family, especially when it comes to the holiday stuff.

And we're going to talk about gift giving or not gift giving. We are giving out of a certain expectation that either whether real or perceived, whether the other individual has put that on us, or we want to impress that person. Or, you know, we have different love languages. I don't remember the name of the book.

There's seven different love languages. And a love language is, in fact, giving and receiving gifts. Now, there's nothing wrong with giving and receiving gifts. But, um, if that is not your love language, it's important that you know that about yourself and that you can have a compassionate conversation around that with your, uh, friends or family that are doing the giving.

So we're gonna talk more about that in just a minute. But you know, it's really important that you're honoring yourself first so that you can be available and honor other people that you care about as we end, I mean, not just as we enter the holidays, but you know, But consistently throughout life, but it's really everything is very elevated and escalated as we enter these last five or six weeks of the year.

So here are some statistics for you with regards to holidays and gift giving top stressors during the holidays. And we all know this, but you know, when you hear when you actually hear it. It's like, okay. Oh, wow. I hadn't thought about it that way. The APA identified the top four main stressors of the holidays.

Difficult family conversations. I'm going to actually give you some phrases, some things that you can use or share if you are in a situation. At the dinner table or watching football. There's so many ways for us to take offense. There's so many ways people, we are living in such a heated time in history right now.

So it's important. I'm going to get back. I'm not going to tell you, I'm not gonna make any suggestions just yet. Difficult family conversations. The pressure of gift giving number two on the list finances, of course, over committing going into debt and managing expectations. All right. That is one source.

Now, here is another 15 common holiday stressors and how to manage them. Well, again, family and social pressures, unreasonable expectations, unmet expectations. One of the things we can do about expectations. I'm going to talk about that in just a second. Detaching. We'll talk more about that. Dietary concerns.

So I, I do know people, I have family, I have friends. There are certain foods they absolutely cannot have. So in this case, and I was recently traveling, it was the case with myself. I didn't have access to a full kitchen. I was able to hit up a Trader Joe's. I had a little. A little, a pack or an ice chest with me that I could go and purchase things to hold me over where I didn't have access to a kitchen or a refrigerator.

So you're thinking ahead about those things, letting your host or your family members know in advance, no one is going to be looking out for you. the way you are. So if you have dietary concerns, part of you loving yourself, part of you taking care of yourself is instead of being afraid or concerned or rubbing someone the wrong way, or I don't want to be, I don't want to be a burden.

I don't want to, I don't want to be a pain is being honest. And letting the people know or wherever you're going to be visiting or staying, look, I have an allergy to this. It's really important. Can you let me know if this is going to be in the food? I can't have that item. Try to flip that switch, try to flip that perspective and not be so concerned about offending somebody else.

And instead stay focused on taking care of you. Right. And I'll tell you, I mean, nine times out of 10 people aren't going to be offended. I mean, how many times have you been out to a restaurant where they actually are asking you, does anybody have the allergies? You know, people are so mindful of this now and it's very serious.

I mean, there are certain allergies that can literally kill a person. So, uh, you are not a burden. You are not being a pain in the butt when you express your needs, your physical needs, your dietary needs here. A couple of others, feelings of sadness, loneliness, a lot of loss. I mentioned that earlier.

There's a lot of people. This is the 1st year that they are celebrating without the grandparent or without 1st are You name it. Y'all know somebody who has experienced loss. You may be watching this and have experienced loss yourself this year. So this is very real. It's a first. There's going to be emotions around that.

And, oh, that was the top five. Another statistic in the area of finances and over committing, over spending, and the stress and anxiety that goes along with that. The NRF, the National Retail Fund. Now this was from last year, 2021. We increased as a nation. We spent 8. 5 billion retail this time last year.

That was up 10 percent from the previous year. We, it's no secret. We have the highest inflation right now that we have ever had so we are spending more We aren't necessarily making more and that does not help anybody, right? So you gave the great gift So they were excited for a minute and now you have the debt and the credit card to pay off It's simple stuff, but it's hard we get caught up in the season and all of that So what I want to share or make some suggestions are other ways to give this year.

And again, there's nothing wrong with giving. And if you have the means to give, oh, by all means go to town, right? Go bless the sops off of the people that you love in that way. But there are other ways that we can give. So, one of them is instead of gifting things or stuff, are to gift experiences and consumables.

So, some examples, well, experiences. Movie tickets, concert tickets, rock climbing is a really big thing. Oh, here's the new one. I haven't done this yet, but I've seen this and it's like, and people are talking about it. It's not my thing. It's a little, it scares me actually. Axe throwing. Like we have, I think here in town, we have an axe throwing gym, no joke, down on Lower State Street.

So if that is your thing, or you know someone who might enjoy that, get on down there and give them a gift certificate, if you think they might like that. Now I live in an area where outdoor sports is huge. Everything from biking, to hiking, to swimming, to paddle boarding, kayaking, uh, sailing, all of these things.

Our experiences, wonderful gifts and my own personal experience. I did great with some concert tickets last year. I actually purchased this time of year for a January birthday. The concert didn't happen until spring, but oh my gosh, when it rolled around, it was a huge hit. Something to look forward to the other.

Are consumables. I mean, I get from my sister in law every year. I love you, Peg, if you happen to be watching this. She, if you're, you ladies who need her hair, I love Olaplex shampoo conditioner. It is not cheap. It's something that I will stretch that product for four months if I have to. But my sister in law caught onto that.

And this is a gift that she's been giving me every year. And I love it. It's something that I use. I again, I love Trader Joe's. I don't get paid anything from them to share any of this, but this is the time of year where they have all the little gift packs. So they've got the hand soaps. They've got the lotions.

What did I pick up the other day? A little candle pack. And what I do. As I go buy these packs and it's fairly good product, natural, organic stuff. It doesn't break the bank, but what I do is then I bring those home and I split those all up. So I'll put a candle and a bar of soap and a chocolate in a little pack as a whatever, stocking stuffer, thank you to the coach, whatever.

So these are, again, these are things that. They're not hugely expensive. They are more consumable rather than something that's going to sit there and gather dust. And then of course, coming back to setting the boundaries around the gift giving. So this is really, this is a hard conversation to have. I know when my kids were younger, my mother, God bless you, mom.

I don't know that she'll be ever watching this, but her. This is a perfect example. Her love language was to give and not just a couple things. I'm talking three foot size containers of gifts for my kids when they were little. And it was just, it was ridiculous. And it was very hard. To let her know because she loves doing it so much, but then what would happen, of course, with those gifts that give kids would be over.

They'd outgrow them. They break whatever many years later. I think that she's finally heard me say 1. My concern is. Going into debt, spending that much money on stuff that they're going to use maybe twice, but she's has scaled that way, way back. And now it's maybe one or two, something meaningful, something useful.

Part of the gift giving and receiving is knowing who you're giving and receiving from, right? But that conversation. Some ways to approach that conversation are, I have found in any conversation, not just in conversations around holidays and gifts and spending money, but in any situation is if you approach anything from the place of, instead of just telling, I mean, there's a nice way to approach any conversation, we all know that if we jump in from that place of, Telling someone, please don't send all of those gifts, which is how I used to approach this with my mom, with my kids.

It's too much. They don't need all of that stuff. Just the tone alone. And even I was saying that nicely on the other end is an immediate. defense, right? I'm the grandparent. I should be able to send what I want. I don't need you to tell me what I can or can't send your kids. And this is just one example.

You mean we've got giving between siblings, in laws, friends, in the workplace. I know that the white elephants and those, the games are a popular thing for celebrating, but if you just try coming from a place or an approach of, may I make a suggestion? Now they always have the option to say, No, you can't nine times out of ten.

They're going to be okay. Sure. At that point, you have an entry point to say, whatever the situation is, whatever the thing is, you can share from and always keeping it about you. My experience is that my kid is going to use that. two times and then it's going to sit on a shelf or in a closet and you're not going to be able to find it a month from now because there's so many other things that are going to be piling up on top of it so coming from that place of may I make a suggestion another way to approach would be in your own personal case is letting people know how it makes you feel When you're on the receiving end of that.

So a, for example, what was a recent thing recently, it was a family member gave me, it was my mom, gave me something that I am absolutely not ever going to use. So I could come from a place of being grateful, letting her know. you know, this is really beautiful. It's something that I might not use a lot of, but being the graciousness, being grateful.

And then again, coming in, if I may make a suggestion in the future, right? Cause the holidays are upon us now. People, some people are ahead of the game. I've already bought their gifts and all of that, but you know, in the future, If you wouldn't mind if I absolutely for me personally, I don't need another thing as long as I'm alive.

I mean, I have absolutely everything I could ever want or need ever, but people still want to give. I'm happy to receive, but in the future, if you want a gift, that's when we can also make suggestions, things that we might find more useful for ourself. I would love to spend time with you. Right? We used to do these little coupons, daddy dates and mommy dates with the kids, spending time together, right, mom, instead of that fluffy, fancy pillow that doesn't match anything in my house, I would love to jump on a FaceTime call with you and hang out and maybe we could even bring our dinner to the table and hang out on FaceTime while we eat together, right?

The gift of time, because ultimately, at the end of the day. What is the greatest gift? Right? What is the greatest gift that you could ever get or receive for me personally? It's being with my family, being with friends, being with people that I love, that I care about. I get energized. Just by being in the presence of other people.

And we don't have to do much. I just spent a week. I think I shared. I was up North in Mount Shasta. I started to go off on a tangent. Last time I was sharing the root chakra for the planet. We're going to talk about that in the future. A huge place of healing and. I was able to spend a lot of time with my mother, who we've had a very strained relationship for many years.

It's the first time we've been together in five years. And we, some of the time we spent was walking, hiking. We did a lot of eating. We ate a lot of, we broke a lot of bread and ate a lot of meals together. But. There were moments in that visit where there wasn't a lot going on. We didn't even really talk to each other, but just being together was so healing and so beautiful and such a shift in how I see the holidays this year really is very different.

So I think that I've shared some things. It's the language around those difficult conversations is first taking that pause. Right? Just because someone throws something out there, that fishing line, let's see if she's going to bite. Mmm, let's draw her in. Next thing we know, now we're in this heated conversation.

Now we're having a debate. Now we're in a full fledged fight, and the whole holiday is ruined. Right? How many have you been there? Too many times to count. I'm not doing that anymore. It's not, I'm just, it's not an option in my holidays anymore. Three things you can do. Compassionate conversations, loving conversations, right?

Whatever the conversation is. Is one the power of the pause people, right? Just because someone puts it out there doesn't mean you have to respond, hear it, take that breath, think before we speak, right? And come from that place of approaching. How it's making you feel. May I make a suggestion, something that I've tried that I have found helpful.

These are all prompts for diffusing a potentially heated conversation. And Lord knows there's plenty of things to be heated around the dining room table right now. Things that are never really safe conversations, even within own families. What is it? Politics, religion. Sports in my family can be, can be dangerous.

What are some other ways that you have celebrated holidays? What are some ways that you have been able to give without breaking the bank? Consumables, experiences, being together, baking bread. I have so many friends. My husband loved to bake bread.

In fact, one last one I'm gonna give to you. My husband loves to cook. My husband in another life. He was a gourmet cook in Italy somewhere. He loves to cook. I love to eat his cooking. This year, hopefully our friends aren't watching this, we are giving like, to friends and our trainer at the gym. He has been growing his own herbs and spices.

And he has packaged certain herbal recipes and he got a little seal meal and he's been packaging those up. He's also making homemade sauces for meats and chicken and fish. So there's so many, the homemade stuff is still a winner. People love that homemade baked good, cookies, treats. And what a better gift than something that you've made from your heart.


About the Show

Helping Women Access the Power of Their Voice So We Experience Living Our Best Life–Here and Now–In Everything We do!!

This podcast is dedicated to teaching you how to find your authentic voice, grow your confidence and unlock your potential creating life changing results. I share weekly tips, tricks, guest interviews, and over 2 decades of helping people just like you learn how to express themselves from a holistic and empowered space.