Listening skills

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Harry Potter World, where even frogs have words.

We all want to be better listeners.   It’s a great skill to have and people like good listeners.  But the sad fact is that while we want to be good listeners, we really want others to listen to us.  We like to talk, and we want people to listen to us, because at the end of the day, it’s really all about us, right?   Seriously, though, I am going to talk about listening.  First of all, there’s hearing and there’s listening.  I hear you but I don’t know what you said because I don’t really care.  To truly listen and absorb meaning, you have to close down your brain to unruly activity and focus completely on the other person.  This is the hard part, for this means it is about the other person, not you.   When you truly listen, a wonderful things happens.  You connect to another person in a very intimate and personal way.  This is how relationships are built. Continue reading

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Ringing in the New Year: looking ahead in 2017

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We rang in the new year quietly with a mildly alcoholic drink and a movie.  No late night parties for us or big celebrations in a bar or hotel ballroom.  Maybe it’s because we’re not in our twenties anymore or just that we enjoy being at home with our canine friends.  Whatever the reason, we were satisfied with our quiet evening at home.  We are at the point where we didn’t even have to explain to each other why we spent our evening at home.  Our priorities had changed.   Continue reading

Pink pussy power: a hat to warm them all

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I hope my readers will forgive me using a certain word in the title.  It’s actually taken from a website and a hat initiative called “pussyhat project” which can be found here:  pussyhatproject.com.  I am a knitter and lately a bit of an activist, so this project appealed to these two interests.  I came across the project on Ravelry, a social network for knitters.  Last week I ordered 18 skeins of pink yarn when my favorite yarn store offered free shipping.  On day four I’ve completed three hats.  I keep coming across more and more people who want to attend the Women’s March on Washington — website here —   and who need a warm pink hat.  Because baby it’s going to be cold outside!

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My first blogging award: The Liebster

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A blogging award, oh my!

Most people who blog do so because they want share what they write with others.  Hopefully, bloggers also get something out of it.   That something is usually related to an emotional need to put idea to (virtual) paper, or to have a record of our innermost thoughts that we hope someone else in the Internet universe will enjoy.  We have many choices and probably thousands and thousands of blogs to read.  I watched my readership rise slowly, from onesies and twosies, to dozens.   So, I was surprised and pleased to be nominated for The Liebster by Laura Bruno Lilly at http://laurabrunolilly.com/blog/.   I love to read Laura’s blog.  She feels like a kindred spirit.  Her artistic pursuits and deep faith resonate with me.  She has a curiosity about people and places that I love. Continue reading

Thanksgiving hopes to share a slice of the American pie

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Another Thanksgiving has come and gone.   The leftovers have been doled out to company and casseroles washed and put away.    The dogs got their annual treats and we gorged on an extra helping of stuffing and a second slice of pie.   Our lives are marked by these cultural traditions.  In America Thanksgiving is our premier holiday for families.  It’s a time when children and in-laws get plane tickets and take time off from work to gather at the family home.   We shop carefully for special items and construct a dinner meant for double the number of guests.   Because you never know if an additional guest or two may need a seat at the table. Continue reading

A first place ribbon at the Quilt Show!

 

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Look at that winning smile!

The past week or so has been jam packed.  Larry and I went on a vacation — more on that later.  My friend BJ came for a few days and we attended the Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza at Oaks, PA.  BJ is a master quilter and had entered one of her quilts in the Show.  I felt very fortunate that I live close to Oaks so I got a nice visit with her.  I went last year —  without BJ — and did a post about it with a picture of her quilt with a ribbon.  This year we went together, and, yes, another ribbon.  I was not surprised because BJ is one good quilter.   BJ retired a few years before I did and decided to pursue her love of fiber and become a professional quilter.

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When life slows down . . .

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Those of you who have been following my blog know that I was in a car accident a few weeks ago.  It’s actually more like four, but hey, who’s counting?  The doctor says I had a concussion, even though I didn’t actually hit anything.   Apparently my brains sloshed around inside my skull.  I am much better now, but I still say and do things that are a bit off, and get really tired by about 5 PM.   While I took the doctor’s guidance seriously, it’s been hard for me to do less, move less, and think less.  I am not reading, except short news stories, and not exercising much.   There are things I have to do:  I have to water my plants, and answer emails, and keep up with projects and clients related to work.  As for the rest of my normally productive, busy life, I’ve had to put it on hold.   What happens when life slows down? Continue reading

My one year blog-anniversary

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One year ago I wrote my first blog post.  At that time I was embarking on a new life in a new town.  We had packed up the car with our two dogs, and left DC for Pennsylvania.  How have I spent my first year outside the office?  Well, let me tell you, it hasn’t been boring or mundane.   The journey has begun.

Let me count the ways.

I gained a new appreciation for sitting quietly by my peaceful pond and do nothing.

I put in a backyard garden and understood how hard it was to successfully grow food to feed yourself and your family.

I realized that not only did I not miss getting up every day to dress for the office and embark on the morning commute, but I didn’t miss spending the day in the office and keeping the boss happy.

I cultivated an eye for wildlife all around me:  Mallard ducks and woodpeckers, rabbits and deer and chipmunks and butterflies.  I learned to be patient and wait for them to come out and show themselves.

I got back into the practice of cooking not because I had to but because I wanted to.

I lingered in local shops to get to know strangers who became friends.  I let down my guard and learned that trust is easier than it seems.

I left the house without locking my door and didn’t think twice about it.

My blood pressure went down, way down and stayed low.

I stopped worrying about things that didn’t matter.

What about year two?

Now that I’ve taken a look back, what’s in store for me in the coming year?  One of the things I started with at the beginning of the year was genealogy research.  I started a project of finding out more about my family history just over a year ago.   Then life got in the way, most importantly, both of my parents, who are elderly, began to decline and became more frail.  We had to clear out their house to get it ready to sell.  I found a few of my relatives and connected with my second cousin who live in New Jersey.  My year two plan is to start the work of adding more leaves on the family tree and get it in a form that I can share with my relatives and for those who come behind me.

I want to write more, beyond the format of this blog.

My backyard garden project continues, with failures and successes.  Before the season ends I need to map my garden on paper and catalogue what worked and what didn’t.  Over the winter I will begin the task of planning the garden in a more scientific way, putting planting dates on the calendar, starting seeds indoors, and investigating ways to prevent pests from destroying my zucchini and eggplants.

We have travel plans in the next twelve months and beyond.  I will be blogging about that.

I want to try at least three new things.  Stay tuned!  No, I will not be jumping out of an airplane or bungee jumping.  I will be planting fruit trees, spending more time outdoors, and getting creative.

Want to join me?  What new things do you want to try?

A trip to the hospital, times two

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Last Saturday I left the house to go to a hospital in suburban Philadelphia.   Our cousin Richard was very ill and I had planned to spend the afternoon visiting with him.  I completed my morning routine:  fed the dogs, walked Barkley, took them outside again and left them with a peanut butter smeared Kong and some calming music before heading out.  The day did not turn out the way I expected.   A few miles from the hospital as I was traveling along a side road an SUV coming towards me drifted into my lane.  I honked and tried to get out of the way, but there was no shoulder and no where to go.  I did visit Richard, but before I got to his room I made amy own trip to the emergency room. Continue reading

A man, a dog, and an altercation

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I was out walking Barkley yesterday with  my friend Nancy when something happened.   We were on a street around the corner from where I live when a big German Shepherd came running out from the yard into the street and approached me.  I have to say, it scared the S*@T out of me.  The situation ended with no injuries except emotional ones.  The owner of the dog called his dog back and then verbally got stuck into me.  We had an altercation.  First I was shocked, then angry, then I got to thinking.    What did it mean? Continue reading