awareness

Listen Again

Sometimes KT writes a line that really sticks with me. To be clear, many of her posts make me think differently and many prompt me to make a change in how I approach life or how I act. This is a little different…here’s my take on her recent post about listening and what a gift it is.

Here’s the line (and I encourage you to read the whole post): Listening is the greatest gift you can give to another human.

Being a more intentional listener found its way into my goals this year. A series of conversations made me realize that I don’t sincerely listen to people as often as I should. I reflected on the fact that although people ask me all the time “how are you?” and I answer, I don’t often ask them how they are. I’m often so caught up in what I’m doing I don’t even look up. I may make a brief comment but not much else.

What am I telling people as I just let them walk by? I don’t look them in the eye. Sometimes I don’t look up from what I am doing. Sometimes I probably seem annoyed at the interruption.

I’ve been trying to reverse since since it caught my attention. When I think about it, I take the time to put down what I am doing and ask the person how they are. And then follow up with another question.

What I have noticed is that more people than I realized are hungry to share. Excited to connect. They want to tell me a bit about how they are.

I thought I was a decent listener. Now I see that I need work. The invitations to listen are everywhere. How many have I blown off because I didn’t make time or was just too into what I was doing to notice them? From my friends, my co-workers, members of my family?

Among the other unfolding lessons, the pandemic has taught me that people matter more than pretty much anything else. We can’t replace people or the opportunities we have to share with them. I have missed many, but I am committed to doing better moving forward.

I’m also on the lookout for the people who are dropping out of sight. Who haven’t I heard from in a while? Different schedules and limited opportunities to be out and about make those happenstance meetings less frequent. Who is telling me through their silence that they may need a friend? Who can I text to check in with? Who can I lift up with a funny post, a quote, a kind word? Who can I (re)start a conversation with? As KT often says, hope is free.

The motto of the StoryCorps podcast is: listening is an act of love. Who can I love today by listening to them? Who can you?

friendship, giving

Listen Up!

I often talk about active listening skills in professional settings. I often challenge many participants (especially males) in those environments to engage in activities that test their ability to actively listen.

It may not be every male who can’t listen but it is definitely a higher number than women by far. I often think about the why of this…

Listening is the greatest gift you can give to another human. Anyone can give quick advice when somebody has a problem but those who are actively listening can hear your emotion, feel your pain and generally connect with you. Listening takes time. Listening requires one to be patient.

When I think of my own life and frustrations, I think of how my spouse doesn’t listen a lot of time. Doesn’t engage or empathize with anyone who has an issue or struggle. This makes me think back to something my mom taught me at a young age. Never pass judgment on somebody until you have walked a day in their shoes.

In order to be supportive or helpful one has to be willing to set their own feelings to the side, get down on your level, listen and really relate to your issues or struggles. This doesn’t even have to occur face to face!

If you are struggling and you text your life partner, one would hope they could read your words and really listen to your hurt. Unfortunately, I have seen first hand that many close to me are grossly incapable of doing this. 

I think this honestly comes down to their inability to get down on your level. Feel the hurt. It’s a lack of genuineness. Ask yourself, who do your reach out to when you need to talk? Is it your mom? Your best friend? Your sibling? Your spouse? Who?

Then ask yourself who will listen to you when you feel troubled? Is it the same person? Maybe it’s more than one person. The point is you are never going to reach out to the person who lectures you, passes judgment on you, or just brushes you off.

In order to be a better listener you need to give of yourself. You need to put the phone down and listen to the person in front of you. Maybe you need to stop playing a video game to read the words of a loved one.

Today more than ever our words are powerful. In today’s digital world words are a big way of communicating. Sending a note of praise. Sending a text of good will. Even sending an emoji with a smile is positive communication. We are all capable but not everyone does it.
Positive communication opens the door for building trust. One day somebody may need you. They may need you to hear or read their words. They may need you when they are struggling.

If you are not capable of using your active listening skills you may never hear or read those words. It’s unfortunate that many I know struggle in this area. This why I am opting to write this post.

If one person can make a change based on this blog, I feel like I have made an impact. Listen up. Turn on your antennas. Today’s world is hectic and crazy. We are all busy. We are all trapped in a digital world. But we are all capable of listening to words spoken or words written or even emailed / texted if we just slow down, pause and think about what another is saying. 

Remember “tell me more” offers the one person with words hope that somebody is there to listen to them. Offering hope is free.

I know I am making it a point to listen more listen to all around me and I encourage you to do the same. It’s a new year. Why not make it a goal to be a better listener?

Listen up!

fitness and nutrition, friendship

Saturday Sweat Sesh

After a long week I was looking forward to Saturday. I needed a break from go, go, go.

I needed a day of no have to’s. I got it! I met my pals for an early morning workout which always starts the day off with a giggle and hard work of course.

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve made it to the gym on a Saturday so I was extra happy to see my pals this day. After a death workout we snapped this photo to showcase our sweat session. Grueling but over!

Off to breakfast with my close knit peeps. Lots of coffee and a more giggles. Just what I needed. Just some time with my friends. 

The rest of the day is mine but starting off on the right foot led me to be creative. Work on my hustle game and foster growth.

Sometimes a reset button is needed. A fresh outlook. A new environment. Some giggles. Some girlfriends. 

Cheers to the little things in life that mean so much. The sense of normalcy we can see on the horizon despite the pandemic woes or election crap on the news.

Just stripping down to the basics. 

challenges

A New Wall

I hit a new wall today. A mentally exhausting wall. One I didn’t initially bounce off and spring ahead like normal.

This wall was different. It started out as me being tired. Then it shifted to me being irritable. Then technology flipped a few switches that set me off kilter.

Moving on to mid-day a teenager rattled my cage. Then the rain hit. All the while work was super busy. It’s the end of the month. The end of the fiscal year. Emergencies by phone and mail.

I wanted to dish out numbers like they do at the meat counter but that’s not reality. It all needs to get done. You need to be four places at one time. It doesn’t matter if it’s pouring rain let alone if you are tired. 

When you are in the hot seat. The driver’s seat. The most relied upon seat, nothing matters. You are just expected to balance it all. But what happens when you hit the wall and don’t bounce back?

For some it may take one into a dark place in mind and body. Luckily for me I have some friends who can crack me up during the day with a funny text to lighten the load. I have some go-to gals who can be a listening ear when I want to punch everyone.

And then I can always change my scenery. For me, today I took a car ride. Got a coffee. Drank it away from people. Talked to a friend by phone. Took some deep breaths. Ordered dinner to-go. Planned an early bedtime to mentally let my brain rest.

I took to writing. This blog of course. Writing is a therapeutic outlet for me for many reasons but sharing stories of walls is important for people to read. It’s life. It’s real. It’s not filtered. There are no amazing pictures.

My wall is the beginning of what may be a long road of walls. It’s midlife womanly adjustments. The yucky m word. The one you want to be over so your cycle is history but the one you dread because of its uncertainty.

Let me just type the damn word. Menopause. Menopausal. Resident psycho to some. Bitch to others. I’m sure I’m missing a few descriptions but owning the word and its side effects is step one. One of God only knows how many steps.

Pray for me. Think of me. Lift me up in spirits if you see me against the wall. Plastered to the wall. Mentioning the wall. Or anything resembled the wall symptoms. Baggy eyes. Disheveled look. Short fuse.

The worst thing you can do is ignore my hot mess as that will make me want to isolate you. As a giver and doer I help many. Unfortunately many won’t see that need for help. That struggle at that damn wall. 

Is there a magic tea for menopause? And why the hell is the word “men” embedded in the word itself. That is just crazy because they are clueless when it comes to dealing with a menopausal woman. Just sayin’.

mEn-oh-PAuse: your lady friend is about to go batshit crazy. Clear the fuck out now. Don’t pause. Run. Hide. It’s safer that way.
If the DICtionary doesn’t say that it really should. Fun fact!

friendship

Surprise!

Everyone likes a surprise. Nobody likes secrets. Generally speaking I can’t keep a secret. You shouldn’t tell me anything that wasn’t meant for the world to know. Just a fun fact about me.

Ironically, I picked up the phone one day and was recruited to keep a secret from a special friend in my inner circle. Clearly the requester had no idea how bad I am at this or they wouldn’t have asked, right? Maybe I was the only option? Of course I signed up for the job but it wasn’t going to be easy. I just couldn’t say no.

The person being surprised is a sleuth. A gal with 1 million questions and a memory like no other. I’m going to get caught I just know it. She is going to be so mad at me for being deceitful. How will I overcome this?

Why did I volunteer for this? Who can I can recruit to help me be sneaky? At least if I’m not the only guilty party she can’t be mad for long, right? I got the pack on board. We each played our part. So far so good. Days are turning into hours. We are honing our deceitful skills as we speak. 

While we are being deceitful the suspecting party is catching on. Her latest line of questioning was Kim asked me this weird question and then Sarah asked me this on the same day…. Me: okay, so what are you trying to say? She: I hope they are not being sneaky for my birthday. Me: I doubt it. You are imagining things. Big sigh. She: Who are you talking to about flowers? Me: somebody asking a dumb question. She: Who? Me: my sister. Bad answer she is a master gardener. Oh well, dodged another bullet. I think.

We have been keeping a secret about a surprise birthday gathering of an unsuspecting or maybe inquiring soul for what seems like months. In reality it’s a week. It’s been torture to say the least! I’ve had to make sure I don’t slip up in a text, in person or on the phone. Talk about challenging.

Close call the day before. Somebody said I’m bringing your gift tomorrow. Oh no, did she catch on? Nail biter for sure. I deferred and deflected but not sure sure if she fell for it….

It’s been kind of fun in a way but I’ll be glad when it’s over. At the end of the day the surprise went off without a hitch. Tears of happiness were flowing in abundance and a very special person was recognized by many who appreciate her.

When the surprise can be kept, the outcome is amazing. It makes all the scandalous secret keeping worth it. I’ve had my fix for surprises for a while. I don’t even like to wait for Christmas to see what I got for presents. I like to know now. 

The best part was a virtual birthday card. Pretty proud of the idea. Excited for the unveiling but it will be a gift that she can look back on many times. So many people sent amazing messages. Not sure why I’ve never done a virtual card like this before but it was my favorite part of being sneaky. 

A big thank you to my Miagi who put all the videos together for an amazing end result. More tears. As expected. Time to shift back to honesty is the best policy motto. Have you had the opportunity to surprise one of your close friends? If not, be sure to give it a try. See if you can keep the secret surprise!