The Art of Listening to Others

art of listening I have been, for most of my life, a stubborn person. It has only been recently (and by that I mean in the last 5-6 years) that I have really, truly learned to LISTEN to other people. To hear not only what they're saying, but to also hear what they mean, what they want and what they're afraid of. This has been a skill I've developing for over a decade when I discovered how poor of a listener I really was.

I had a friend tell me a while back that I had to start being silent more often. At first, I was offended. I had valuable input! I had life experience that I could share and help people! Why couldn't I contribute to the ongoing conversation?

My friend put it to me very simply by saying, "Because, Angela, you spend the first half of the conversation thinking about what you are going to say and the second half thinking about what you should have said. You aren't really listening."

My friend was right. I couldn't argue the point. I sucked at listening. And I'll be honest. Sometimes, in casual situations, I still do.

I met someone at a networking event recently who taught me a very helpful acronym:

WAIT = Why Am I Talking?

It's brilliant. And it reinforces what I've been trying to train myself to do for a long time now. To stop before I speak and consider whether or not what I am about to say will actually add to the conversation. I have been called "quiet" before. I've also been called "chatty". I guess it just depends on the mood I'm in and the company I'm with.

I have found myself lately striking up more conversations with people everywhere I go. I've been craving the connection and enjoying the experience. I am, for all intents and purposes, an introvert. I like my alone time, my down time, my reading and knitting time. My boyfriend and I can sit together on the couch and not say anything and it's great. We bask in the silence.

But I've been morphing into this social person lately. I've been attending networking events (those who know me will undoubtedly need to pick their jaws up off the floor at this point). When I meet new people, I ask them strings of questions so that I can hear about their lives, their experiences, their opinions. I've been reaching out to old friends that I haven't heard from in a while and then listening, really listening to what's happening in their lives. I'm posting less on Facebook, but reading more of the posts that others are publishing.

And I'm listening. And learning. And, honestly, I'm growing. It's an art, this whole listening business. And it is an art that requires practice to master.

For an introvert, all this connection and hustle and bustle can be exhausting. But it is so worth it. When was the last time you really listened to someone else? When was the last time you truly felt Heard?

Life Beyond the Pain

It can be more than a little difficult when you are sitting in the pain and the hurt to see what is beyond the immediate life beyond painmoment. The pain is so big and so... just... THERE, that it is hard to even think about looking around it to see what else might be coming. These are the times that you shy away from the clichés, the quaint sayings, and the adorable signs that you see at craft shows. These are the times when even the thought smiling and trying something new seems so ludicrous that it's laughable. The times that scream "nothing is ever going to be the same" and "why bother?"

I know what that feels like. I lived in it for a long time. But I found a way out. And so can you.

I want you to take a second and imagine what life can be like when the pain has subsided. I didn't say when the pain is gone... let's be realistic, shall we? But it can die down a bit and recede into the background of life. It can become part of the landscape rather than the focal point. And it doesn't have to beat you.

Take a second a imagine what your life could be if that happened. What would change?

Would you sleep better? Maybe sleep less? Would your energy bounce back?

Would you see friends again? Make new friends? Be ok without old friends?

Would you try new things? Resurrect old hobbies? Take a risk? Settle into comfort?

Would you take better care of yourself? Of others?

Would you express yourself through art? Through physical exercise? Through your professional life?

Would you get up and move? Or would you finally sit still?

Pain and grief affect people differently so the absence of them will also create different effects. What does freedom look like to you? What does it feel like? Because that is what we're talking about... FREEDOM.

What does being free from the pain and the hurt that follows you around and that has you under its constant scrutiny sound like to you? Is it terrifying? Exciting? Does it sound like a fairy tale? Yes Virginia, freedom from pain does exist. And the best news? Everything you need is inside of you. You just need to bring it to the surface.

Imagine your perfect day, free from pain and worry. Hold on to that image. Keep it close to your heart. Now take a deep breath.

You are one step closer to getting there.

Welcome to the journey.


Draw It To The Surface

draw it My dear friend,

There is a chance that you and I have known each other for a long time. There is also the chance that we are yet to meet. Perhaps these words will be the only interaction that you and I have. In any case, I know that you are flying through the internet faster than many thought possible and that your attention is one of the most elusive resources on the planet. So I will get to the point.

You are enough.

The pain you are feeling right now might be screaming at you for attention. It might be all-encompassing. It might be threatening to smother you. It might be the single most overwhelming thing you have ever felt. But it does not need to define you. It does not need to bring you to your knees and then keep you there. It is something that you can overcome. I promise.

This is not the end of the world. You can get up. You should get up. I know it seems impossible. I know it feels unattainable. But you can do it. How do I know? Because I am here to help you up. And there are others, so many others, that want to help you up. Reach out and take their hand. Stand with us. And move forward.

Moving forward is not easy but it's not meant to be contrary to what many believe. Resistance is a good thing. It means you're on the right track. And the incredible feeling of progress... it is a thing of beauty.

This heartbreak that is tearing through you is not your end. It is not your destruction. It is a setback, yes. Painful? Of course. Nothing in life that truly matters refuses to bring some level of pain with it. It is the nature of living to be tested and tried and challenged.

This grief that you cannot seem to shake and leave behind you is not your curse. There are so many beautiful things happening all around you that are calling to you to step out from behind the clouds and embrace the warmth of the sun.

This cycle of self-defeating behaviors stopped bringing you relief a long time ago. You no longer need to be its prisoner. You can experience freedom like never before. It is available to you. All you have to do is take it.

You may feel overburdened and forgotten, but I have not forgotten you my friend. I am still here. Take a few moments and close your eyes. Listen to the stillness of your spirit and hear a small voice inside of you that is crying out for change, for relief, for peace. It is deep within you, even if the pain is a roaring monster in your core. It is still there in spite of all the agony that feels like it has burned your insides and left you a shell of a person. It is there. It is love.

And it is fiercely loyal.

I have stood where you are. I have laid on that bed of nails. I have questioned everything I know and everything I hold dear. But I am still here. I fought for forward progress and I never did it alone. I did it with the help of those who came before me. And those that come after me. I learned something amazing: I am enough. And I will say it again: so are you.

You have everything you need inside of you. You just need to draw it to the surface.

Stay loved because you are. If you cannot care for yourself, let others care for you until you can. Keep listening for that voice inside you that demands the change, the beauty, the love. Embrace it and let it be your guide. It will not let you fall.

Thank you for being here and reading this. Thank you for helping me on my journey. I look forward to seeing yours.

With all my love,

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One Sure-Fire Way to Celebrate National Anti-Boredom Month

It's summer here and that means that it is one of the greatest times of the year in my opinion: summer vacation! While I'm not on vacation, the kids are and that means lots of activities (and mom working outside next to the tennis court / swim lessons / lacrosse camp or wherever else we happen to be that day).  I was doing a little research on July events and I found out that this month is actually National Anti-Boredom Month.

How freaking cool is that? A whole month dedicated to not being bored!

I am not one of the those people that have to be entertained all the time. I'm pretty good at entertaining myself. Being an avid reader, it is (ridiculously) easy for me to get into a book and get lost in the story. But I also like to read a lot of non-fiction so learning something new is definitely on my "things to enjoy" list. 

So do you know what I'm going to do this month to not be bored? LEARN NEW STUFF. I have a list of several things I've never learned but would like to. Things like how to change a tire, how to play bridge (no, really), and how to do new knitting techniques.

So who's with me? Who wants to learn something new and not be bored this month? Share your plan in the comments below!


Simple Tip Tuesday: Get to the Root of the Matter

There are an awful lot of emotions that are secondary. I'm angry because I'm embarrassed/hurt/afraid...

I'm anxious because I'm confused/overwhelmed/exhausted...

I'm irritated because I'm hungry/angry/lonely...

Very rarely do emotions exist in a vacuum. When you're feeling "off" get to the root of the issue. Then you can figure out what to do next.