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!

challenges, working women

Digital Dooms Day

Today was the day. First day back at school, digitally. How did it go? It sucked! It sucked life out of me.

Did my kid get up and do what needed to be done? Yes. Did she have tools to be somewhat successful? Yes. Granted this rant is just my perspective and I know there are many others with a different view but for those who haven’t started back to school here’s a view from my lens.

1st period login was from the car. Yes I’m a bad mom but hey I leveraged technology using a hotspot so I could get my workout in and took my sidekick since I knew she would be strapped to the computer all day. All damn day! This was a requirement due to what was on the plate for the day and my mental health matters, too. First order of business: shirts are required on Zoom. Do not take your laptop to the bathroom. Nobody wants to see that! Wow, just wow. Those were the welcome words from the teacher. That surely took me for loop.

Period 2 was no biggie but I did get texts from others having login issues. First cluster of interruptions. Period three was Spanish so nothing like listening to teens learn a language over Zoom while you are concentrating on your paying job!

Next time frame had screenshot of strange faces on Zoom. Then somebody thought it was funny to post porn on Zoom. Yep just another day a school in 2020. What kind of schooling is this?

Email-text-call from county about trouble with sites. Maybe that’s because 90,000 people are online plus telecommuters. Shake my head in disgust. The school system created this mess.

Lunch. Thankful it’s lunch break but my kid gets 1 hr 20 minutes for lunch. No school lunches. Let me stop and make something. Oh now you want to talk at the counter about all the craziness. Did I mention I work? Did I mention I only have one kid to deal with? How about folks with 3? How about those who work in an office who are not as flexible as me?

How does any adult get anything done? Has any school board member thought about this? In come the work emails. Employees are stressed. Can’t focus with all the interruptions. More stress on the home / work front.

End of the day yet? Well it’s really just the beginning for me. You see I still need to do my work after playing teacher, tech person, email coordinator, etc. How is this good for anyone’s mental health?

Oh just when I thought the day was over in comes the email-text-phone call from the school. Clearly one method of contact isn’t enough. Spamming is required. This message says well, our system sucked today so we are asking you to login in earlier tomorrow. Okay my kid starts at 7am you want her learning at 5am? Sounds logical to me. It also sounds logical to keep kids glued to a computer for 8 hours a day…NOT!

How many parents need Valium after day one? Remember I had it easy in comparison to those who juggle work at a brick and mortar business, or the single mom, or the mom of 5 kids under age 12. And note I mention the word mom a lot. The main reason for that is I would guess 80% or more of those I know have the mom as the token teacher regardless of their full-time or part-time obligations. It’s an invisible expectation. Even those moms who are teachers are expected to take their kids to school while they teach. Hmmm it’s not safe to go to school but the teacher’s kids can go to school. Let the juggling act begin.

I let out a big sigh. It’s time to move on. A new day tomorrow. But I do ask myself: how long will this insanity go on? I have built up tolerance. I have exercised my patience muscles. I have been flexible. I have adjusted. But how long until the seams bust?

Valium anyone? Or maybe Xanax is more applicable. Hope you enjoyed the comedy rant. All you can do is laugh at what we call life today. And of course many make shift momma/teachers are working on fractions hourly to combat stresses. The pic below is a great visual.

perspective

Giving is Not the Same as Expecting

There are so many givers in this world. Those who give their time to others. Those who give care to those in need. Those who offer love and hope to others. The list could go on and on. If you fall into the giver category, thank you. The world needs more of you.

Giving isn’t always a gift that is tangible. One can give love. One can give inspiration. One can give a shoulder to lean on. One can give hope. Whatever one gives, it is a choice. A desire to serve others in some way.

Life isn’t fair. I can’t catch a break. Poor me. If you fall into this category, suck it up. Find resources to help you get over the hump you are in. Start to pay your way little by little. Set a budget and work hard for what you need / want. Do not expect others to do for you and don’t be a mooch. Not much in life is free these days and if you take advantage of kindness in any form you will soon find yourself abandoned and alone. Eventually the givers lose interest in takers.

Expecting is different. Expecting mom and dad to pay for a cell phone until the you turn 30. Expecting the latest and greatest iPhone vs the one that works fine but is a model year behind the latest release. Expecting a brand new car as a teen. Expecting to have access to unlimited funds when one is capable of working. Expecting a car or car service to promote your independence without any contributions to gas. These are just some common teenage / young adult expectations I see over and over.

Expecting is annoying to say the least. One should never expect anything. One should expect to put forth work or effort to earn things that matter. There is definitely a benefit to learning this early on in life. If your teen expects things on the home front, they turn into employees that expect things. They turn into spouses who contribute less. They turn into lazy adults.

As I wrote this, I could feel the negative vibe in the post. For those of you who may follow my writing you may know that I am not the Negative Nelly type of writer. However, when the giver and taker scenarios arrive in my real world, I can be frustrated.

The same level of frustration appears when I see entitlement. Scenarios could include my own children acting entitled or it could be just the world around me. It could be an employee feeling entitled to a raise despite minimal efforts on their part. It could be a vendor feeling entitled to contract or a loved one feeling entitled to something. Even the customer who feels entitled to a discount for reasons that would put you below your operational costs.

In life we should think fair and consistent. Is this scenario fair for all parties? Are my actions consistent with my behaviors? Am I doing the right thing?

Earn your keep. Earn your value. In today’s competitive world you need to see what sets you apart from others and springboard off of those strengths. Nobody ever gets anywhere riding the coattails of others.

Make giving part of your motto in 2020 and see how life favors you. Remember giving is free on most accounts. You just may need to get creative.

January can be give smiles month.
February may be give compliments month.
March may be give time month.
April may be give your listening ear month.

With the above samples in hand, you can get creative and find what works for your lifestyle. I do promise you that if you adapt giving into your life you will receive far more in return. I’m not promising money, fame or fortune. I am promising a refreshed look at the world if you give a little.