New Children’s Book: “Words” by Elle Grey (An Introduction to Emotional Intelligence, Of Sorts)

This week my son and I got to read a new children’s book about how it’s always our choice to use words that either help or hurt other people. It’s called “Words” by Elle Grey. The book explains that ultimately, when we use words to hurt others, we then attract negativity back to ourselves.

I truly believe this to be true. It’s part of the process of developing emotional intelligence. I have even mentioned before here on Family Friendly Daddy Blog how much better of a person I became (just a few years ago) when I stopped allowing other people to emotionally control me.

In other words, I took away anyone else’s right to “offend” or “insult” me. I did this by taking control of my own emotions instead of letting anyone else control them for me. But before ever getting to that point in life, a person must first learn to choose how to choose their own words and begin to understand how they positively or negatively effect others.

So yes, this book fundamentally teaches a concept I live by.

Congrats to Matt Wright, who was the first reader to comment, and therefore win a copy of Words!

About Author Elle Grey

Daughter of a US Air Force family stationed overseas, Julie was born in Ely, England about an hour outside of London. Her family moved to the United States when she was 6 years old. Following a successful career in financial services, where she co-authored the book “Live Rich, Stay Wealthy” which sold twenty-five thousand copies in the first 90-days, Elle decided to devote her time to her young daughter. The Elle Grey Stories were created to teach her daughter values, principles and morals, all the things that are important for our children to help guide, shape and protect them as they grow.

Julie is a wife and a mother of two adult sons and a 3-year old daughter. In addition to spending as much time as possible with her family, she enjoys going to the gym, writing, doing pilates, running, painting, ceramics, crocheting, knitting, cooking and reading.

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A Snapshot’s Worth a Thousand Words: At My Parents’ House in Alabama

Here are 17 snapshots.  Plus the 301 words in the body of this post, not including this heading.  You’re dealing with around 2001 words, my friends.

Today I’m taking a break from writing to share some random items in my parents’ house in Alabama, where my wife and I spent the weekend.  It’s true that every picture has a story.  And these little stories make up our lives- they make up who we are.  So by looking through these snapshots of the house I grew up in, you’re taking a look into my memory pool- the same one I use to write from.

This is Samantha Shell.  In September, she turned 20 years old.  Samantha is a Cockatiel.

This is one of two windows in my bedroom.  My parents bought that little guitar for me when they went to The Philippines in 1995.

This is my sister’s bedroom, which has recently been transformed into a guest nursery for Baby Jack.

Here is my dad’s 1988 Ford Ranger he bought nearly new.  It’s still his main vehicle.

You never know when you might have to blow your nose while driving to work; less than a 10 minute drive for him.

He put these plastic lizard in the dashboard several years ago.  He says it successfully scares away flies.

This cross used to be dark red and white.  It was crocheted circa 1993 and has been hanging on his mirror since then.

This cross is my Italian grandfather’s.

And it opens up, as my mom demonstrates.

Two monkeys and my sister the ballerina.

Yours truly, from 1986 to 1999.

My parents and I in 1982.

My friend David Smith and I broke this Nashville mug that my dad bought for my mom when he went on a business trip.  We stayed up until after 1 AM to superglue it back together.  I’m not sure that it actually still holds liquid.

Classic frog and shroom.

My sister and I in 1991.

Local newspaper clips on the fridge. Busted!

Double busted!

The Sussudio Effect: Why We Secretly Love the Mysteries of Life

Whether we will admit it or not, we like unexplained mysteries.

Do we really need an answer for everything?  Isn’t omniscience (the ability to know everything infinitely) a trait we reserve for God?  Could we handle the responsibility of having all the answers?  We like to think we want all the answers, but if we did, that would be a life without surprise, suspense, and ultimately, much excitement.

Much of the mystique we deal with revolves around our origin, purpose, and ending.  But even without all the big idea concepts like “why am I here?” and “what exactly happens the moment I die?,” both of which the element of ignorance is attached to, life is still full plenty of petty mysteries to think about.  Which at best, simply reflect the fact that mystery is a part of life.

Like the song “Sussidio” by Phil Collins.  It became a number one hit in July of 1985.  And though I wasn’t quite in pre-school yet at that point, the song has definitely kept a solid spot in the Soundtrack of My Life.  I can’t say that I like the saxophone-enhanced song just because of its feel-good vibes and groovy melody.  A big part of why I like the song is because of its quirkiness.  Because let’s face it, no one really knows what a “sussudio” is.

In recent years, thanks to Phil Collins’ interviews that have surfaced and have been referenced in Wikipedia, I have learned that Phil always did a lot of ad-lib and improvising in the studio.  He often would record the music to the song before he wrote the words, just making up random words and phrases to hold the place; then coming back later to replace the gibberish with actual lyrics.

“Sussudio” was a place-holding made-up word that he never came up with a replacement for.  And so it remained.  The word still doesn’t mean anything.  It’s not the name of a girl, as some have assumed.  It’s just a mysterious word.  You get to decide what it means.  Weird concept, but after all, the song did make it to the number one spot.

Why?  It’s a great catchy song.  And it’s mysterious.

I will deliberately bypass the way-too-obvious fact that LOST’s popularity is associated with its strategic and clever uses of mystique (LOST- Answering Questions that Were Left Unanswered) and instead close with the fact that we can spend a lifetime just unveiling the mysteries of the people closest to us in our lives.

It’s not like we sit down with our parents or spouses or best friends and interview them with a #2 pencil and steno pad about their childhood and see what we can learn about them that we didn’t know before.  Instead, we just wait for those random trigger words to show up in conversation, which prompt a story that we’ve never heard before about them before.

Sometimes when my wife and I are out at a restaurant, we (being “people watchers”) will notice an older couple sitting in silence, only really speaking to say predictable things like “How’s your steak?”  We want to be cooler than that when we’re older; we want to have cool stuff to talk about, even now.

There are so many hidden stories in each of us.  We can only try, in a lifetime, to extract them from each other.  Not that they all can be told even in one lifetime, we ourselves can’t remember them all.  Because unlike God, we mysteriously ended up without an omniscient memory.

Manspeak, Volume 3: Filtration

There is a widely accepted stigma that women talk more than men on a daily average basis: The urban legend says that women speak 20,000 words per day, while men only speak 7,000. It’s fun and easy to believe, yet almost all documented research shows that both genders speak around the same amount of words on a daily basis. What actually has been proven is that each gender tends to focus their speech on certain aspects- Men’s conversations are more information and task based, being more direct; women’s are more social based, encompassing more topics all at once.

Since men aren’t quite as in touch with their feelings and able to express themselves as easily and clearly (not to mention the fear of coming across as weak or too sensitive), men often are silent on issues that truly matter. The lack of a man’s words at times when they are most needed creates a canyon of unfinished business, causing some things to never begin and some to never end. While if he uses the wrong words, he may find himself at the bottom of that canyon.

Boy meets girl, man meets woman. Either way. Whether on the playground or randomly in line at a concert, a guy has to find a way to entice a girl with his words. From a cheesy pick-up line to a clever ice breaker. In almost every interview I’ve ever watched where a girl is asked what top 3 qualities she is looking for in a guy, more than looks, money, height, even religious beliefs, “he has to be able to make me laugh” seems to be the most reoccurring. And later down the road it’s the man that is expected to say those famous words, “Will you marry me?” A lot revolves around a man’s willingness to speak.

I find it interesting that God “spoke” the world into existence. Then one of the main jobs He gave Adam was to name to the animals. John the Baptist’s father lost the ability to speak until he named his son John. And it was Joseph that fulfilled predictions of the Old Testament when he named Jesus. When Jesus began healing people at age 30, he often simply spoke, and the sick were healed. He also caused the storm to stop by simply saying, “Peace, be still.” But what happens when a man doesn’t speak, or instead uses his words negatively?

A familiar concept is a grown man with no ambition, or a man who goes on to live a life of crime, because his father told him as a child, “You’ll never amount to anything. I wish you were never born.” Sounds like something from a melodramatic movie, but it happens everyday. And how many grown women look for love in all the wrong places, having a pattern of attracting men who don’t respect them, as they try to find a man to answer the question “do you love me?” because she never heard her father say the words “I love you”? A man’s words alone have the power to curse or bless his children. That’s powerful.

Last week I saw a Friends rerun where Joey starting acting more feminine because he got a female roommate. At one point in the episode Chandler senses Joey is upset and asks him what he did wrong. Joey responds with, “If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you.” I laughed along with the pre-recorded audience because I recognized from watching a lifetime’s worth of sitcoms that it’s the man that has to constantly apologize for the stupid thing he said. And of course, he usually doesn’t know which specific stupid thing it was.

Joey’s next phrase: “It’s not what you said, it’s the way you said it.” Again, a token situation that is not at all foreign. A man’s words can get him in a lot of trouble. When a man speaks it tends to be more direct, specific, and matter-of-fact; it’s understandable that a man is more likely to hurt a woman by what he says, rather than the other way around. A woman tends to have a gentler, more discrete way of saying things.

As the half-Jewish actor Harry Connick, Jr. puts it in the movie P.S. I Love You, guys don’t really have a filter on what comes out of their mouths. They do, but it’s not too good. And I think this accounts for the term “dirty old man”. As men get older, the filter often works even less.

When I plow through another person unintentionally with my words, when there were words someone needed to hear me say that I didn’t say, and when I say something that is flat out wrong or invalid, I will use my words to sincerely apologize for my mistake. Better my apology when I mess up, than my silence, denial, or apathy.

“No filter in my head, what’s a boy to do? I guess he better find one soon.”
-John Mayer (“My Stupid Mouth”)

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com

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