Your Family Village

How we can build our own modern extended family in a busy world.

036 - Why Being (Almost) Broke Can be the Best Thing Ever for Creating Happiness and Human Connection

Posted by valhemminger in DefaultTag

You’ve heard me say this before: human beings are social creatures. We’re happier when we have meaningful relationships. We’re happier when we hang out with people. We’re happier if we go to a concert and sit beside someone.

When I purchased my house eighteen years ago, I was pretty limited on cash. I rented out my spare room and even my dining room. That was the only way that I could make it work. It was a total struggle. Months after I bought the house, I met my husband and fell head over heel. A few more months later, he moved in while I still had other roommates living with me. A friend of my to-be-husband expressed to him that it was weird that I wasn’t getting rid of my roommates.

When we solidify a relationship or gain more success in life, we kind of move away from living cooperatively to living more privately. I thought about this many years before when I was travelling in Europe on a very tight budget: $20 per day. Because of this budget, I had to stay in accommodations with little private space. But because of this, I ended up having a vibrant experience. Sightseeing was cool, but what I really remember from Europe is the connections that I made. I know people who have travelled to Europe on much higher budgets, and because of this, they didn’t really connect with other travellers.

I’ve really tried to get my friends to move into my neighborhood, and to a certain extent, it’s worked. I had a business life coach once, and I was telling her about my neighborhood. She really wished that she had a similar living situation in her life. I am now friends with her on Facebook, and I noticed recently that she has built her family’s dream home. I see that it’s in a suburban neighborhood where there is little chance to run into each other because there is nowhere to walk to. They have a large garage whereas my family parks on the street, partly because it allows us to say hello to anyone who is around when we go to our car. What I see is that my old business coach has made it financially, and yet, her structure of what “making it” is, is about getting that suburban-type home. I wonder if that’s really what is going to make her and her family happy.

What if we spent more time focusing on what was great about being a student, or great about not having a lot of money? In my adult life, though money is less of an issue, I still really gravitate towards living with other people. My brother-in-law lives in our spare room now. We’ve recreated our extended family even though it’s not a financial piece; it’s about human connection.

If we lived more communally with people, I think there’d be less pressure on the spousal relationship and the other relationships. Just having my brother-in-law around makes our home brighter. Sometimes when we’re too tried to cook or to deal with our daughter, he picks up the slack. Everything is a little easier.

I know that my experience in Europe would not have been nearly as rich if I had waited until I had more money and could afford a private hotel. The fact that I was hanging out with other people made that experience so memorable. We can do this in our own lives, even if we’re older.

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035 - How To Help Put Divorce Lawyers Out of Work

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I was adopted. I came as a foster child to the Hemminger family, and my luck had it that they decided to keep me. It was because of the fluid definition that my parents had of “family” that opened their hearts enough to raise more than one child that, biologically, wasn’t theirs. That fluid definition is something that my siblings and I have carried forward in our own lives.

Today, I want to talk about what we as a culture can do to put divorce lawyers out of work. By the way, I’m a divorce lawyer, and have been working in this industry for more than twenty years.

When people separate, they’ve got to figure some stuff out: how to divide their assets, child support, and spousal support to name a few. I really think you need a divorce lawyer to walk you through that stuff, but this post isn’t about that. However, a huge part of what divorce lawyers fight about is kids. In my law firm, we always believe that going to court is the last place you want to go to when it comes to children. Parents hand over to a judge, who has never met them, the power to make huge decisions about their kids.

When people separate, of course, they’re critical of their ex; if they weren’t, they’d probably still be together. But most of the time, most parents are able to say, “the other parent isn’t perfect, but I know they love my kid.” In my office, we open one to three files per week, but we only do a supreme court trial once or twice a year.

What I’ve noticed is that we have a cultural problem about families separating. People get married, we join two families together, and everything is beautiful. If the parties end up separating, which happens a lot of the time, at least one of the sides usually sees the one family now being torn apart into two different pieces. It creates tension; “now we’re at war with the other side.” At the Hemminger family, where I’m from, people don’t do this. For the most part, we know that if someone was in our family as a spouse, long-term partner, or parent, and things didn’t work out, that doesn’t mean that we must completely turn on the other person.

I was at a mediation recently and what I couldn’t figure out was why one of these parents was so upset about his ex’s family. What really landed for me during this mediation was that this guy, when he became engaged to the mother of his child, was part of a family; part of something bigger. When the relationship broke down with who he thought was going to be his wife, her family completely shut the door on his face. I’m sure they have their narrative about why that happened, but here’s the thing: these parties have now gone on and spent a bunch of money on legal fees. Finally, we ended up at a mediation where they both spent a bunch more money, but they at least have an agreement.

What ended up happening was instead of him getting to say “okay, my child is part of this other family, and you know what? My son’s going to be in really good hands.” Yes, they will do a good job, and they’re still imperfect like the rest of us are. At the same time, instead of him seeing the big picture, all he could go back to was “we’re split now. They have their troops and I have mine, and we’re going to go to war with each other.”

As a culture, it would be better if we saw separation between parties as “this family is not moving forward the way we expected it to move forward, but it is still going to move forward and we’re going to do what we can to see the good parts in others.” What do you think would happen if everyone did that? If everybody was able to open their hearts regardless of how things turned out? I think a big part of what makes divorce law seem so tense would simply lessen, and that would result in people keeping more money. Just saying.

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034 - Another Simple Way You Can Build Happiness

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If you’ve listened to much of my material before, you’ll know that what I talk about a lot is our ancestors and how humans biochemically change when we spend time with other humans. Sometimes, I get so busy that I forget to connect with the people I live with. I find that I’m too tired or overwhelmed.

I love my iPhone just as much, if not more, than the next guy. The digital world and the progress that we have made as human beings is so good. But the thing is, our ancestors did a lot of things that provided so many benefits. If we could bring those strengths and benefits to our current world, a lot of us would be healthier, happier, and would enjoy life more.

For example, let’s talk about when people started farming. When it was time to bring in the wheat, people gathered together to bring in the harvest. When a barn needed to be built, people would gather together to do so. I was at a friend’s house the other day. She was getting a dock built and needed a gathering of people to lift it. As I saw all these people raising up this heavy structure and working together, in reminded me of what out ancestors did.

While I really crave hanging out with other people, I do find it really challenging to just sit there and sip tea; I want to be doing stuff with my hands. Recently, I’ve been going to a friend’s house and helping her go through old cupboards and drawers to organize her home. I’ve found that I’ve gotten a lot of pleasure from that.

If you already have lots going on, one of the things to remember is that even if we just do a chore with a friend, doing it together can be such a neat way of spending time together. You get the job done and, at the same time, you get that connection of hanging out with someone. I ended up going home one night after organizing the house and thinking about how I was so satisfied and happy. It was because I accomplished something, I was helping a friend out, and I got to bond with some more friends who were also helping.

It’s such a neat thing to be able to spend time with other people. In our busy world, our digital world, we’re kind of losing that ability of just hanging out and getting stuff done. But what we do know, and what science proves, is that being in the presence of other human beings makes us happier.

Who would have thought? We’re social creatures.

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033 - Moving Forward with Life Anyways

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Moving Forward with Life Anyways, Even when we forgot to get skinny, be financially successful, or become amazingly interesting.

For many of us who are getting to be middle-aged, or older than that, our kids don’t need us like they used to. When I look at my family environment, I realize that over the years when I’ve come home from work, it’s been so easy to just binge on Netflix or get on Facebook rather than connecting with my child or spouse.

 

Even though we’re more digitally connected than we’ve ever been, loneliness is on the rise. I’ve looked at my life and realized how consumed I was in my work. When I come home from work a lot of times, my brain feels so fried to the point that I don’t have a lot of energy left for my family. I’ve let that narrative impact my whole life, and now I’m realizing that the most important thing is connecting with the people we love.

 

As human beings, we are social creatures. Our ancestors really strived by living with other people. My mom was a stay at home mom, and she was in charge of making sure that Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, etc. happened; she was the gatherer of everyone. I feel the same responsibility in my family. It’s up to me to ensure that those connections and gatherings happen.

 

I’ve always procrastinated and told myself “yeah, yeah, I’ll get to that.” What’s happened is that I look at my life, and my age, and realize that there’s so much that I haven’t got around to doing:I didn’t become super buff, I didn’t become as interesting as I wanted to become, and I didn’t travel as much as I wanted, and here I am. 51-years-old and wondering if my life has passed me by.

 

It hasn’t. I did Landmark Forum (a weekend-long life transformation event) years ago, and they have this expression: “living on the court.” The one thing that really stuck with me from Landmark is that I haven’t lived my life on the court in certain ways. Sure, on the outside I look pretty successful: I have a small law practice, I have a beautiful home, and there’s no question about those things. However, I’ve also lived on the sidelines in so many ways.

 

I live on the water, and although it’s cold, my family goes swimming in it almost every day in the summer. Because I have body issues, I’ve hardly gone in the water at all in the eighteen years I’ve been living in this house. What kind of tragedy is that? I’ve stood on the sidelines while I’m too shy or insecure to get into the water along with everyone else.

 

I have some friends who live in my neighborhood and they have three kids. This family lives on the court! The husband and wife go out to art events all the time. The kids travel with their parents. They swim every day in the water. I think about how often I think that I’m too tired to focus on having conversations and that it’s so easy to dive into Netflix. Yet, look at this family. The other night, they invited us over for supper. Next thing you know, we’re sitting around the table and telling stories. There was a vibrant energy.

 

While people who know me might say that I’m always in action, I think I could do better. Now, at 51-years-old, I’m really jumping into that role of matriarch for my family. I’m not going to allow the story of being tired or overwhelmed to burden me or stop me from connecting with the people who are most important in my life.

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032 - Making Ourselves Happier By Being In Service To Others

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What most Buddhists believe, and a lot of people on a spiritual path believe, is that we are meant to be in service. Whether it’s to be in service to one another, or to create, we’re here to make the world a better place and make other people’s lives better. 

 

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Val Hemminger is a mother, lawyer, and person who loves to connect with other humans. For a daily dose of Your Family Village you can follow her on valhemminger.com and on the Your Family Village Facebook page. 

Connect with those you live with and love, create and develop more meaningful friendships. Get Val Hemminger's Free eBook: The Door Is Always Open  

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031 - Grow Your Extended Family With Unconditional Love: Adopt A Dog!

Posted by valhemminger in DefaultTag

While having a dog is a huge commitment and may not be for everyone, for those of us who have the time and structure in our lives, a dog is just the kind of “person” who can fill our hearts to full.

 

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Val Hemminger is a mother, lawyer, and person who loves to connect with other humans. For a daily dose of Your Family Village you can follow her on valhemminger.com and on the Your Family Village Facebook page. 

Connect with those you live with and love, create and develop more meaningful friendships. Get Val Hemminger's Free eBook: The Door Is Always Open  

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030 - How to Directly Touch Someone, Right in the Heart: Texting with Paper

Posted by valhemminger in DefaultTag

So many of us are too busy trying to keep up with all the demands of life. We sometimes forget how easy it can be to reach out. I was reminded recently of a profound way that we can reach out to people that we care about: the old-fashioned, hand-written note. The great thing about sending a note the old-fashioned way is that the sentiment is just as valuable as what’s written inside. 

Listen to today's podcast for inspiration, and a sweet story about how my step-daughter recently made my whole week. 

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Val Hemminger is a mother, lawyer, and person who loves to connect with other humans. For a daily dose of Your Family Village you can follow her on valhemminger.com and on the Your Family Village Facebook page. 

Connect with those you live with and love, create and develop more meaningful friendships. Get Val Hemminger's Free eBook: The Door Is Always Open 

 

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10 Easy Ways To Connect When You Feel Disconnected and Overwhelmed: #1 Puzzling

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Last week I shared my top-10 Easy Ways To Connect When You're Feeling Disconnected And Overwhelmed. Today, I talk about what I love so much about puzzles!

10 Easy Ways To Connect When You're Feeling Disconnected And Overwhelmed
1. Do a Puzzle
2. Play Cards
3. Grab a Cuppa
4. Make Food With Someone You Care About
5. Throw a Potluck
6. Host an Awesome Soup Saturday
7. Craft!
8. Bake
9. Go For a Picnic
10. Go For A Walk

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Val Hemminger is a mother, lawyer, and person who loves to connect with other humans. For a daily dose of Your Family Village you can follow her on valhemminger.com and on the Your Family Village Facebook page. 

Connect with those you live with and love, create and develop more meaningful friendships. Get Val Hemminger's Free eBook: The Door Is Always Open 

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029 - 10 Easy Ways To Spend Time With Others When You’re Feeling Disconnected and Overwhelmed

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Most of us want to spend more time with the people we care about. And a lot of us are wondering where we’ll find the time to do it.

In this podcast, I share my top-10 list of not-so-big-steps that we can take to stave off lonely, create relationships, and in general, grow our own happiness! These ideas are specifically for busy, tired people who want more human connections in their lives.

Links: 

Susan Pinker TED Talk: The Secret To Living Longer May Be In Your Social Life

https://www.ted.com/talks/susan_pinker_the_secret_to_living_longer_may_be_your_social_life

 

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Val Hemminger is a mother, lawyer, and person who loves to connect with other humans. For a daily dose of Your Family Village you can follow her on valhemminger.com and on the Your Family Village Facebook page. 

Connect with those you live with and love, create and develop more meaningful friendships. Get Val Hemminger's Free eBook: The Door Is Always Open 

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028 - How to Make a Dinner Party for Tired, Hungry, Busy People

Posted by valhemminger in DefaultTag

Nothing makes me happier than our home with people in it. It's all about the sound of laughter and conversation, with the chaos of kids and dogs playing somewhere in the background. It fills my heart.

Hosting a potluck is my favourite go-to when I need to reconnect and I'm too busy or overwhelmed with life to organize a formal dinner party. Listen to this week's podcast is all about where the word "potluck" came from, and shares ideas on how to throw one without adding to your busy schedule.

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Val Hemminger is a mother, lawyer, and person who loves to connect with other humans. For a daily dose of Your Family Village you can follow her on valhemminger.com and on the Your Family Village Facebook page. 

Connect with those you live with and love, create and develop more meaningful friendships. Get Val Hemminger's Free eBook: The Door Is Always Open 

 

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