October 10th – “You find yourself at the start of the week feeling more identified with a group than you have in a while… A tricky friendship matter means that you have to be more objective than usual.”

For the past three weeks, I’ve been hiding out at home and practicing the art of “NO.” My social calendar was purposefully cleared so that I could have time to pursue my own activities. I had been feeling drained by having conversations with people, so I thought it was better save my energy for myself.

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Today, both my horoscope and zodiac reading indicated that I should invest time with other people, so I ended my self-imposed exile and joined a few friends to make pizza. I had to take extra care to practice active listening. I had gotten used to being alone in my own thoughts without anyone challenging my ideas, so I needed to retrain myself to be sensitive to other people’s perspectives. I’m not usually that mindful when I’m around my friends (coworkers – maybe). Normally, I try my best to not give advice when no one is soliciting it, but that’s all the filtering I do. If I censor myself too much, I’m not being true to myself, and that’s not fun at all!

Listening turned out to be easier than I thought. Two of my friends are lawyers and with the upcoming elections and ballot measures, they had plenty to talk about. I’ve always considered myself very opinionated and was nicely reminded that we’re ALL opinionated. The only difference is that some of us are more willing to vocalize our views than others.

None of us were short of expressing our opinions when it came to the pizza. My non-lawyer friend was in charge of grilling the pizzas after we assembled them. Most of our pizzas were burned and we really let the poor guy have it! We all gave him suggestions on how he could improve the cooking next time, even though we had no experience grilling pizza on a stone. It was amazing how we suddenly became experts on something we knew nothing about!

It’s a shame I didn’t practice the art of “no advice” at that moment.  I hope that he will read this and accept this as my apology. I’m sorry!

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Despite the burned pizza, we still had a good time. We tried to salvage them and ate the cheesy toppings. The best part about cooking with friends is that when my dinner doesn’t quite turn out the way I imagined, it’s not so bad. If I was cooking alone, I would have felt defeated and irritated. When I’m amongst friends, a burnt pizza dinner becomes another funny memory that we now share together.

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