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
I just got back from visiting my parents in New England. My father has severe dementia and barely recognizes me, and my mother is becoming more frail and declining cognitively. When I get a phone call from the assisted living facility where they live it usually means that something is wrong. Lately it’s been my mother. She had been in the hospital after a fall and was going to a rehabilitation center. I had to convince her to go, so I wanted to go and provide my support. I try to make the drive without stopping often; one stop usually does it for me. I fill up the gas tank, hit the bathroom, and grab a drink or a snack. On this trip I was nearly out of gas when I saw a sign for Newtown/Sandy Hook. I can’t explain exactly why that had such an impact on me, but it did. I pulled off the highway. After filling up with gas, I headed down the road to see the school. Continue reading
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
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!
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
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
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
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
As you know by now I have a vegetable garden. I also have a large backyard, something I have never had in the past. This time of year it’s a lot of physical work. Where to start? What are my priorities? How do I overcome obstacles? To make a long story short, last week I came down with some bad poison ivy. It started on my face with a swollen eye, and slowly broke out all over the rest of my body. Each day was a new surprise: my torso, the back of my legs, my back. The doctor had a miracle cure called Prednisone. I’d like to invoke another analogy in this post about our presidential race. Sometimes when I read the news it feels like a poison is spreading all over our country. We are told to hate, to fear, to fight back, and to mistrust. This too is popping up just when you least expect it. The cure is more complicated than a daily pill. Continue reading
Last month a larger and more enthusiastic book group met at my local library. The two person book group had grown with the addition of most of the knit group and a few others into a fourteen person group with standing room only. We read “All the Light We Cannot See.” For anyone who hasn’t yet read it, I highly recommend it. Yes, it’s about Nazi Germany, but it’s also about the strength of the human spirit and relationships and the will to survive. The book is redolent with metaphors, starting and ending with the title. The hero is a blind French girl. The story mostly takes place when the Germans are occupying France and imposing their brutal will on the population. Not much light, eh? Yet, the book is full of hope. The young French girl, Marie-Laure shows everyone around her that she sees everything, even without eyesight. Continue reading