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

PSA #42

I’m not a doormat.

I don’t appreciate being taken advantage of.

Your lack of planning doesn’t constitute an emergency on my part.

I have a schedule. 

I have feelings.

I have a to do list like most people.

If you ask I’m willing to help anyone.

If you demand I help, see where it gets you.

Are you a giver in life?

Have you felt like a doormat before?

Did you let others know how you felt?

I did.

They didn’t like it.

Will they change?

Who knows. It’s really up to them to look in the mirror and decide for themselves.

Did I change? Yes I did. I’m less trusting. I’m guarded. I’m bitchier. I’m proud of myself.

Today I gave to many. Unfortunately many close to me took advantage of me. My time. My mental energy. My talents. My pride. My joy. My rest. My smile. It was replaced with anger, frustration and grief. Did anyone even notice?

Overnight I have to glue myself back together. Dust off my crown and smile big tomorrow. For I have people relying on me in many facets of my professional life. I do all this over and over again. Sadly the people closest don’t see how their own selfishness impacts me in many ways. 

Part of me thinks they just don’t care. Other parts of me think they just expect me to do, do, do because I always have.

Did I put a sign on me that said I’m a doormat go ahead and wipe your feet? I don’t recall doing something so absurd. Not sure where this happened but it did.

I’m tired of entitlement.

As I ring in 2021. I am hitting the pause button on being nice. I’m shifting to me, me, me. I’m really the only one I can count on.  

I guess I’m thankful for 2020 and all its fuckery so I could clearly see what’s been in front of me for years. With the slowdown of life I just had more time to see it happening. In slow motion. Truly sad but true.

family, Teddie Aspen

Dog Lessons

It wasn’t long ago I was digging through boxes leftover from my childhood home. I ran across an American Kennel Club certificate. Maximillian was his name.

I had heard his name many times in my life, often with a sneer from one of my brothers. They loved their dog, and I was the reason we got rid of him. Maximillian, the prized pooch, couldn’t stop knocking me over as a newly walking toddler. So, he had to go.

All this to say, I didn’t grow up with dogs. I had a cat named Snoopy I treasured but was allergic to (a story for another post), but never a dog. I just didn’t get dogs. Never wanted one. And who knows, maybe I was even a little scared of them from all my hard knocks as a babe.

As an adult, when my family wanted to get a dog, I resisted. We even had a dog live with us for a while that didn’t really work out. We ended up taking him to a new home where he could have the room and attention he needed.

Then Penny came along. My sister-in-law became her unexpectedly permanent foster mom. She needed a place to live and a family to love her. Would we be interested? I didn’t really want this at all. We could take her for a 2-week trial to see if we could handle it.

And she never left. We live together but I wouldn’t say she loves me. Still, my heart softened seeing how much everyone else loved her. She changed our family.

And then came the dog that I really did love. Chester. The unlikely, homely, wiry guy from the pound. The underdog. I didn’t even know why we would ever need 2 dogs. I was just getting used to 1! Then Chester who got scared by sudden movements and noises, Chester who always backed out of the room…Chester came along. He was very shy at first but eventually came around and became sweet, playful Chester. He loves to run and bound through the woods, and his sad eyes will pull at your heart strings every time. Chester changed my heart about dogs.

Now there’s the newest member of the clan named Nash, who I’ve taken a liking to. I even embrace my extended family and friend’s dogs. Heck, I even get to walk dogs and dog sit once in a while. Truthfully, I still don’t know how to act around dogs, and they can tell. It doesn’t come naturally for me and maybe never will. Thankfully, I’ve learned that many dogs are pretty forgiving if you at least try. They teach me about protection, loyalty, priorities and unconditional love. They seem to bring out the best in people just by being there and present in the moment. That bowls me over in the best of ways.

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!

business, perspective

The Driver’s Seat

What does the driver’s seat look like from the helm/cockpit of a vehicle? What does it look like from the passenger side, also known as the co-pilot seat? What about the view from the back seat or third-row seat?

Do those viewpoints change if you are driving in your best friend’s ride or your spouse’s car, riding with Grandma or maybe you are on a motorcycle? I suppose all passenger seats should look different than the driver’s seat! Maybe the music is different. Maybe the conversation is different. Maybe the aroma in the vehicle is different. Maybe the volume level is different. Maybe the stress level is different. The driver may alter their norm to adjust to the passengers and/or environment. Similarly the view from the passenger vantage point could vary based on occupants or length of time in said seat.

The driver is the captain. The boss. The big cheese. The controlling party. The leader. The responsibility starts and ends with that one person. Making sure one gets from point A to point B responsibly. The critical decisions, the pinpoint turns, the accurate lane changes, and the head-on-a-swivel-at-all-times mentality. I mean if you slack in any of those areas an accident could happen on the roadway. In the blink of an eye.

Could life mirror the driver’s seat if you are the CEO of a company, the branch manager of a bank, the operations manager of a warehouse, and so on? Why yes, it could. Sitting in the passenger side is fun. It comes with no pressure: no gas money needed, no insurance required, and no car payment.  

In business the boss is less likely to call out sick in comparison to a team member or passenger. Anyone can fill the passenger role but in most cases the business driver has a specific skill set. One which is harder to replace in an instant. For instance, the business owner has to make critical decisions that may impact others while a passenger can just provide commentary in most instances. The driver’s decisions must be strategic and sensible.

I know first hand many young adults don’t have their own car because they don’t want the responsibility of a car note, insurance or gas money. It’s far easier in this day and age to ride share with say Uber or bum a ride from a friend who has reliable transportation. Why lead and take responsibility when you can coast as a passenger in life?

In the business world life can be tough for a decision maker. A leader. A driver of any business. The one who has to set the tone. Find the path. Chart the course or route. Engage the resources/passengers. Make decisions on staying open or closed in tough times. This can be hard and a delicate balance at times. Those who never walk in these shoes would find it hard to understand the challenge but be quick to pass a judgement.

A passenger in business could be a wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing.  An unassuming threat. A slacker of sorts. A clock watcher for both the beginning and ending of their shift. Waiting to prey on the driver/leader etc. to solve their issues. I know other intertwined scenarios where a passenger could struggle with the driver or vice versa. Or maybe a driver is erroneously in a passenger seat; would they attempt to distract or sabotage the driver? Is that a possible outcome?

Is life about compromise? Do we really want natural leaders to compromise or do we want them to do what they do best, lead? Can a passenger grow to lead? Who do you want to be your driver in the car or in life? Are there risks and rewards to each scenario? So many questions.

Just another food for thought post.