Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Willingness to Hear

We all know the saying that if people were meant to talk more than to listen, we’d have two mouths and one ear (I’d like my uno-ear right in the middle of my forehead, thank you very much). I certainly agree with the saying, but I think it requires a little more because there is a mighty difference between idly listening and truly being willing to hear. And I’m not just talking about other people’s words, but rather our own inner dialogue, our guide and constant companion through the trials of life.

For a long time, I had that listening thing wired. I took time every day. I was upbeat and happy. I was rolling. And then I wasn’t. Plans had to be changed for practical reasons. Vacations ended. Dog health deteriorated. Nutrition plan sat ignored. And now, a few months later, I realize that first and foremost, I floundered because I quit truly listening and taking the time to take care of myself on the level I had previously.

And then I got a puppy, and everything about my life began to take on a frenetic pace. Getting her out to walk. Playtime. Training and correcting until the cows come home (she has a strange fixation with chewing on my 86-pound ridgeback’s lip that we are really working on). Puppy Kindergarten. Plus a full-time job. Writing. Being there for friends and family. Life.

Amidst all the seeming chaos, I found some things I’d lost: the joy of walking, the playful spirit that recently inspired me to acquire some new rollerblade-ish toys called Land Rollers, the enjoyment of just being in the backyard while the birds sing and dance around and a deer miraculously barreled through while I and the dogs stared on in disbelief (leading me to believe that Bambi is very scary). Simple joys all. Simple. Something I have to struggle to be.

I felt things stirring in a healthy direction, though I still felt the toiling inside. Then, because of my willingness to hear when given a direction, I found something that raised me to a new level, not just to where I’d been before I faltered. And that came from a dear friend. A suggestion to participate with an online event called Wish: Women’s International Summit for Health. Something about it appealed to me and I signed up. It’s completely free and just takes following links to daily conversations about women’s health and happiness.

A spark of cynicism still existed about self-helpy things, but I persevered and am so glad I did. Things I needed to hear bounced at me from the beginning. Sometimes just one thing, other times many. They said we should take notes, which I scoffed, “I’ll show up and listen, but I’m not taking notes.” Well, that lasted through one session and then I was furiously taking notes as you do when you stumble onto something that could change your way of thinking. And now, after just two sessions, I feel like I’m back on a path toward positive growth and connection with self. In truth, this outcome may be simply the ripples from taking time to put that healthy attention back on myself and my journey, more than any one thing that was said by the speakers.

This experience has also made me realize the effect of grief on my life and my energy. Grief, even when it’s about letting go of goals until the time is really right, saps the connection with self and in so doing creates a disconnect that can last a long time. And then real grief, involving loss, creates a deeper divide and it becomes too easy to lose sight of personal growth because everything becomes about just surviving. Passion and hope get lost in the landscape littered with unhealthy debris, and before you know it, you are stagnating. Usually, for me, a spark of something is required to shake me loose.

This round goes to the puppy and a dear friend. Where will your spark come from? And are you really willing to hear?

Quote for the Day from George Eliot

“It’s never too late to be who you might have been.”


Debra L. Schubert said...

Fabulous. Guess I better start checking out the WISH links... (Yes, I'm that bad.)

Indigo said...

It wasn't until Pickles arrival that I noticed all the small things I'd missed out in life. We have small herds of deer come through the yard often. Strange enough the woods beside us are in the midst of suburbia.

The first time I bounded down the steps unaware of the deer. Pickles pulled me back with her leash. She sat quiet and leaned in toward me. We sat like that for some time, allowing grace for the deer to finish feeding on the fallen crab apples.

Pickles definitely defines my life. I want to be the person my dog thinks I am. (Hugs)Indigo

Jemi Fraser said...

Such a good post Jules! We really do need to stop and listen - to ourselves, our family, our world. Before the word Loser became common and was used the way it is now, I had a sign in a classroom -- Losers wait their turn to talk. Winners listen.

I'm so glad the puppy is bringing you joy and energy!! They really are bundles of both :)