This project's goal is to give each family member and myself just 10 minutes of unconditional positive regard every day. All attention is focused on the other person for those 10 minutes and only positive comments or thoughts are allowed. Just 10 minutes often becomes much more. Try it and see. You'll find the Just 10 guidelines on the right side of this blog.

Friday, February 26, 2010


Since I spend a lot of time in my own head, talking about myself and the landscape of my inner psyche comes easily. Listening, on the other hand, does not.

Just 10 gives me an opportunity to practice my listening skills. If we really spent more time listening to each other and really hearing people, the world would be a kinder, gentler place.

This week, the world wasn't kind or gentle. My human imperfections were a disappointment to some people but mostly to myself. Sometimes no matter how hard you try you're doomed to mess up. There is a lot of noise in my head filled with self-reproach. In my Just 10, I'm going to let the noise go and really listen to what the deepest and best part of me has to say. Under the smoke screen of my inner verbiage is a still, small voice waiting to be heard.

Monday, February 22, 2010

In Just 10 Seconds

This last weekend, my husband and I went to the American Diabetes Expo. Sometime while we strolled through the crowd, my husband's wallet disappeared. He was not happy and blamed himself. I could have blamed him as well but I had the presence of mind to hesitate before responding. I understood that he was really upset with himself for not being more careful and I didn't need to contribute to his frustration by heaping blame on top.

This was made even more challenging when he explained that he was going to ask me to carry his wallet in my purse (His wallet is stuffed and not small or lightweight.)
He didn't because "he knew I'd be mad." I'm not so sure this is true although I'm not very fond of being the domestic pack mule.

I could have jumped on him for his assuming how I'd respond and his back-handed way of trying to lay some of the blame on me, but I hesitated and gave myself 10 seconds before responding. In those 10 seconds, I knew that now was not the time to try and vindicate myself and that he was really just displacing some of his anger on an outside target, me. So I remained calm, and did not take the bait.

He checked with the convention centers' Lost and Found department and nothing had been turned in. As soon as we got back home, he canceled his bank cards and ordered a new license on line. Several hours later, the Lost and Found called him to say his wallet had been found.

We'd been advised by the bank to still cancel everything since sometimes thieves let people have a false sense of security and copy the card numbers before returning. Maybe an honest person found the wallet and simply turned it in. In any case, it was the happiest ending possible. I was so glad to have used 10 seconds to collect my thoughts. I could have done some damage in those 10 seconds and bad feelings could still linger long after this episode's resolution.

Waiting 10 seconds to respond, doesn't come naturally to me but it would seem to be every bit as important or even more so than devoting 10 minutes of unconditional positive regard. I need to remind myself to take 10 seconds before responding especially if I feel angry or flooded with emotion. Ten just might be my magic number.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Looking for the Bright Side

I get some of my best ideas in the shower. This morning when I started mulling over how to put this idea in to blog form, I knew it was worth some reflection. So while this technically started outside my Just 10 minutes, it soon became part of my "me time" for today.

During my Just 10, I decided that I want to refrain from making or even thinking critical comments about anything and anyone. I can hear those closest to me, laughing now. They know I almost breathe sarcasm. I can also see this idea being dismissed as a pious Catholic Lenten resolution rooted in a St. Boniface childhood. I beg to differ.

This isn't some misplaced denial of my fallen human nature, it's a practical way to deal with those things I can't change and still retain some shreds of contentment. It's a choice to focus on the positive and it makes good sense. (God knows how many years I've focused on the negative and of the psychic destruction that focus left in its' wake.)

My son, the pessimist, has taught me the magic of reframing. He, is his mother's son, his glass is less than half full and it's the end of life as he knows it. Initially, I tried to empathize and acknowledge his feelings. This only helped him get stuck there. So I started redirecting his focus and started looking for positive things.

At night, when he's tired and the world is a harsher place, I tell him that now is the time to tell his mind that only happy thoughts can stay there. Just as his mind can find things to be unhappy about, his mind is also very capable of finding contentment if he's willing to lead it there. This doesn't deny the negative it just doesn't let it take center stage and ruin the whole show.

From now on, my Just 10 minutes will be about redirecting my focus. I'm tired of the "world going to "Hell in a hand basket". Someone's got to be holding that hand basket. I want that person to be me. Hell is just not on the map I want to be using.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Organizing the Free Spirit

Since I've lived a good portion of my life bound to a schedule or "horarium" (the Latin word for schedule and the term used during my convent days) my spirit really resists binding itself to a daily schedule at home.

As fate would have it, I have a child who does best with predictability and is uncomfortable when he doesn't know what's happening next. As for myself, if I don't set a time to have just 10 with my family, it doesn't happen.

Starting tomorrow, I spend just 10 with my son before he goes to school in the morning and just 10 with my daughter as soon as she gets home. I'll also make myself sit down with my husband and work out the best time for his 10 minutes.

Since there would be no freedom without structure, it's time to anchor myself to reality.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Change Doesn't Come Easy

Despite the results and my awareness that this is a really good idea, taking time to give each person Just 10 minutes isn't easy. One of the hardest people to give 10 minutes to is myself. It's so easy to rationalize why "now is not the time." Wise, rational me says, "If not now, when?"

The other day, I decided to give myself 10 minutes while I was working in the kitchen. I justified the activity by believing that it was such a mundane chore that I didn't have to think about it and could let me mind wander freely in higher mental pastures. That was a good example of me in denial, an area in which I displace great skill.

So, right now, as soon as I finish typing, I'm setting a timer and giving myself 10 minutes in which I don't do anything else but focus on my breathing and listen to what my wise inner voice has to say to me.

Monday, February 15, 2010

I Choose

Each of us is given 24 hours every day, no more, no less. Ultimately, we each choose how to spend it. It doesn't always feel that way but we really do choose to get out of bed in the morning, even if it's to "go to work for the man."

Each of us is given 1440 minutes in that day. If broken down into ten-minute segments there are 144 10-minute segments in our day. If we spend 8 hours sleeping and 8 hours working we've spent 96 of those segments. Forty-eight ten-minute segments remain.

How can I not choose to spend ten minutes of unconditional positive regard with the people I claim to love the most? Time is not an infinite commodity. Each moment counts. I choose how to spend my time. Do you?

Friday, February 12, 2010


No marriage is perfect, mine maybe farther than many. Taking Just 10 Minutes for my husband becomes just that much more important for me. Just 10 minutes isn't about changing the other person. It's about meeting them where they are and accepting who they are, especially when who they are may not be all that you wish they were. (That last sentence almost confuses me.)

My husband values displays of physical affection. A gentle touch, hugs, a quick kiss. It helps him feel valued and loved. I am very much the descendant of German immigrants. Being affectionate is something I suppress. I may occasionally feel like spontaneously giving a hug or displaying affection but I rarely do. While I'm not going to be displaying public affection at the mall or anywhere else,for that matter, I can rise to the occasion and communicate in a language my husband understands and values, that of simple touch.

The other afternoon, my to-do lists was calling but I remembered my Just 10 minutes and I stopped what I was doing and took time to just cuddle with my significant other. We both fell into a peaceful sleep and woke up feeling good about the time we spent together, silently communicating our connection by physically resting together.

While I like to think that this impacted him in a positive way (and it probably did) what's most important, is that it impacted me. To connect through touch in a positive way, makes him more human to me, less of an opponent (and sometimes he feels this way to me.) When I let down my defenses and approach him in a caring and human way, I can at least feel good about my efforts to connect. I can lay down my wall of defenses and I can see past the mistakes for which I want to hold him accountable. Maybe, just maybe, in those brief moments when I approach him with an open heart, he can see past my mistakes as well.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Just 10 for Me

Even though I haven't been as consistent with my Just 10 Minutes as I'd like to be, I have no doubts about having been inspired by the idea of devoting 10 minutes of unconditional positive regard to each of my loved ones every day.

We've been struggling so with our children(ages 9 and 11)trying to expand their chores and responsibilities around the house. Lately, their lack of follow through, their complaining and inattentiveness to details are been so frustrating. While I know they don't think like adults and some of this is part of being a child (or teenager), I think we do them a great disservice when we fail to encourage them to strive toward greater responsibility and self-direction. Someday, not so long from now, they will be flying on their own. A big part of my job as a parent is to help them learn how to fly and to help them soar as high as they can.

Since I am exposed to so many teenagers who lack so much in the responsibility department, I start to panic when my children begin to display the signs of irresponsibility I know all too well. It's so hard not to nag and complain but once that gets started it's an ugly snowball that picks up dirt and rocks as it careens down hill. It's too destructive to their spirits and mine too.

So making sure that I get my Just 10 Minutes with each child and my husband is very important in setting the right tone. Even more important, is taking Just 10 Minutes for myself. Without taking time to ground myself in the positive and narrow my focus toward guidance and encouragement, it's just too easy to start the destructive nagging syndrome, that ugly, scary snowball.

This isn't easy, especially when complaining is an almost automatic response for me. But just as I expect my children to change their habits for the better, I need to be willing to set the precedent by changing my own habits and lead by example. Waiting for the responsibility fairy to touch them with her magic wand while they sleep, is just not going to happen. Being a parent is often an exhausting and challenging job, so taking time to simply be and to rest in all the best in my life is so necessary. It's my launching pad (or airstrip) of hope. Here's to Just 10 minutes and the promise of flying high!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Easy and Harder than You'd Think

When I devote 10 minutes to each person in my house, I feel so much more relaxed.

Today, during my son's ten minutes this morning, we snuggled under a blanket and he talked to me about school. I learned lots of new things about his day. One of the things I learned is that there is a boy named, Sergei, who calls him a geek.

Instead of offering advice, etc. I just listened. So far my Mr. A's coping strategy sounds like a good one. He simply avoids him and ignores him when any name calling starts. Making time to listen to him is going to be important if I'm going to stay apprised of any potential problems that may arise between my son and Sergei.

After our ten minutes, the bus came and a very calm boy left to begin his day. I started mine knowing that sometimes it's more important to do less and listen more.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Experiment

My family doesn't know it yet but they are going to be participants in an experiment. I'm sure this experiment will change my world and possibly rock their own. It seems deceptively easy and yet, there has been a great resistance on my part to take action and begin. It came to me one morning in the shower. Ideas that come to me when I'm still half asleep are often worth considering. Since thinking that early is a rare thing.

Here's my plan: I will devote ten minutes of each day to giving each person in my home, unconditional positive regard. That means that for those ten minutes, I do not criticize, lecture, cajole, frown or think negative thoughts about them. My attention is focused completely on the individual by not multi-tasking but giving them my full- body attention. For ten minutes, I look at them with the utmost respect. I can only share genuine positive comments or observations and when they talk to me, I listen completely, without judgment but with an open heart.

To increase accountability and to share with others what seems like a simple idea long over due, I will give an accounting of the implementation of this project and the outcomes as it happens. The experiment begins.