Can we learn to really listen?

Listen or your tongue will keep you deaf.   Native American Proverb

listenintg-dogFor an extrovert this is a very important statement. I am always ready to talk and I have to curb myself to really listen. Most of us instead of listening are thinking of the next thing we want to say. I still have to hold my tongue and let others share.

I once visited a convent where there was a rule about discussion. Everyone sat at a table and one person spoke at a time. After that there was silence for several minutes. Then it was someone else’s time to speak. That silence left moments for the digestion of what had been said and time to reflect on what you might say that had importance for the discussion. Many conclusions were easily reached as there was little unimportant information shared.

In social situations I can really get carried away but I am working at it. I am getting better at listening. However, I know that I am not always bad at it as people have come to me for solace or advice my whole life. I do seem to know when listening is critical.

The big difference I see at my age is that I am unafraid to speak about matters that are important and frequently avoided. I will speak out for those who are in need of a voice. There are times when this is not appreciated but I never do it in anger or an emotional state. Important things need to be spoken of calmly and rationally. Listening to others in this kind of discussion is also critical and not easy. Emotions can be triggered and I have had to learn when to just back away.

speak carefully

My father (who was amazing) used to say: put your brain in gear before you put your mouth in motion. 

Another good proverb

Things can change

life-quotes-Some-lessons-cant-be-taughtToday I am continuing to rest in the epiphany I have had a few days ago. I am sticking with remaining in the background and supporting ..not leading. After so many years of leading this is going to take some work on my part. I know that little demon will keep saying “show them how it’s done!” I’m not going to. My journey’s path is to share my love, my experience (without taking charge) and (I hope) my wisdom. Time has taught me many lessons, some totally unwanted, but I have lived and learned through each one.

This part of the journey will be a stretch for me. I know how much I love taking over but I will try my hardest to bite my tongue when I start to get off the track. I know that I still have much to learn. I learn so much from the blogs that are shared with me. I also see places where I hope my experiences can help others.

It is easy to get off track and anxiety and sadness can kick in and cause me to question why I am at this point? IBSD can knock me down and send me scurrying for help and medicine but I am changing one day at a time.

symphony_of_love_small_changes_can_make_a_world_of_difference-e1432670360330The hard part for all of us is consistency. Habits can only be changed by making new ones. Those new ones must be done day after day after day. Then they become the habit and the old one is gone.

Do not be afraid if nothing changes as soon as you would like. Keep plugging away each day. The change will happen. We get impatient and give up. Don’t…..change will come!

That inexplicable moment

Today I shared, on my other blog, a song by Khris Khristopherson that has always meant a lot to me. Below is the video of the song with the story of how it was written. The song itself may not be your cup of tea but the lyrics are powerful and so is the story. Please read on after the video.

It is possible for each of us to have an experience so powerful that it can change us. It doesn’t matter how we connect with God/supreme being/universal One. What matters is that it is possible to do so.

We may be moved by music, nature, love, poetry, art or community…anything that can take us to that place where we are held by that breathtaking sense of oneness with everything. I have had that experience in my life. It can’t be grasped and held on to. It is just there and then gone. We remember it but can’t fully experience that moment again.

We can intentionally seek that place by letting go of ourselves through meditation, silence or whatever works for you. There is still no guarantee that it will find us but by striving for connection we open ourselves to the experience.

Holy moments are beyond explanation and something I have never forgotten. May you find and be embraced by them in your life. I believe in more.

 

Am I hiding?

Today for some reason my mind is blank….or struggling for clarity. I thought about this poem written a while ago and offer it here.

IN-SHADOWS-facebook

Hiding

Deep in the closets of my mind                                                                                                            dark secrets are hiding                                                                                                                          I have not seem them for many years

I stand and look at the doors                                                                                                                and fear to look inside                                                                                                                          to let the light shine in

The fear is not of pain                                                                                                                            but something far more frightening                                                                                                  the fear of myself

the real me hiding all these years                                                                                                      the me no one can love                                                                                                                        the me I cannot accept

God, help me to fling open the doors                                                                                                  and with broom in hand                                                                                                                      throw out the secrets

and dust off the person                                                                                                                         who has been hiding                                                                                                                             in the dark

Another day

another dayWell, another day has gone by. Family issues have been there for one day. The things that can’t be fixed are still there. There is nothing to do about them. Obsessing about them doesn’t help. Worrying doesn’t fix them. Life moves on and we have a choice. We can move on with it and solve the things we can solve and or just fall down into the dark hole of depressions and anxiety. That really doesn’t seem like a choice.

This is true of most things in life. We often have a choice and may not want to choose. We don’t want to move away from the things that are causing us pain. We’d rather wallow. Wallowing requires less energy. Staying in place doesn’t call for work.

As I grow older I have done this kind of thing enough that most of the time I realize it is really easier to move on. That’s where the wisdom with age comes in. I used to be the world’s worst procrastinator but over the years I have learned that it is easier to tackle things right up front and get them over with. That leaves you with the easy stuff. It is a win-win.

The prayer from AA sums it up really well: God, grant me the Serenity, to accept the things I can not change, Courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference.

knowledge

The really tricky part is the wisdom to know the difference. May God grant us discernment to do that.

 

Can we change our feelings?

Each moment that we live we deal with feelings. They are part of our everyday life. We are never without them. Our emotions set the tone for our function and how we experience each day. Our emotions influence our lives. There is never a moment when we are emotionless. There are people who have little emotion but they are deemed abnormal.

bad day

When I get up in the morning my feelings about the day will influence how the day goes. Even though I may start out feeling down about the day I can help the day get better by consciously deciding to change how I feel.

Usually when I feel down I just want to slop around in my PJ’s and do as little as possible. I have discovered that if I make the effort to take a shower, put on decent clothes and make an effort to look nice that I feel better. It may take work but it is worth it. At least for me how I look with influence how I feel.

When anxiety or depression crop up it is hard to make the effort to do anything. I just want to turn on a TV show and lose myself in it. If I really push myself and get dressed and go out to be with people I can lift myself up out of that mood—-at least for awhile. I can sometimes even forget what had me so down.

Good feelingsOur lives are not only impacted by what we feel but also by what we do. Sometimes it is agony to pull yourself up and get moving but it can help. How we look also influences how others react to us. If I am in sweat pants and have a hangdog expression then that is how I will be perceived. The times when I can make that change have a tremendous impact on my feelings. There are times when we can’t get the oomph needed but we need to keep on trying. Each time we win is a plus and increases the chance that we can do it the next time.

Do we get it?

painI have talked here about my friend whose husband is in excruciating pain. Pain medicines only give momentary relief. The pain is unremitting. Diagnosis has been difficult and we now know it is from a back fracture and a pinched nerve in the back. The question becomes what to do?

As we grow older the answers to medical issues becomes more complex. Can the person withstand the surgery? Will it solve the problem? If not what now? We tend to forget that not everything can be fixed to our satisfaction.

Life’s problems cannot always be solved the way we want. This is a hard thing to learn. My husband has always said “every problem has a solution but it may not be the one we know or want”. I am sure that we all know people who live with chronic health problems or who are disabled. Sometimes we don’t even see it. How often do we disregard the person who seems “less than” for whatever reason. We walk by and think “Oh too bad” and just keep going.

The same thing can be said about the treatment of those of us with emotional issues. Most people don’t understand and either don’t want to do the work to get it or just keep going.

Admittedly, it is easier to understand something that we have experienced ourselves. That’s why support groups with fellow travelers help. But all of us have been at fault. I can get the emotional issues but do not understand the breadth of some physical problems even with my medical training. I have a friend who has cared for her son with cerebral palsy since his birth some 50 odd years ago. She has ignored her own wants to support him and enrich his life. He has a brilliant mind but has to use a computer to communicate. Do any of us really understand the life of either her or her son? I don’t think so.

love peopleWe need to strive for the kind of compassion and love that is shown in the life of Christ. We need to take time to listen and do our best to be a companion on the way not just a voyeur.  If everyone could do this so many lives would be enriched.

Strive to live with compassion and love!