Posted in Communication, Coping, Friendship, Inspiration, Personal Development, Relationships

A Friend, Frightened, Tired But Not Powerless

Photo by Aimee Vogelsang on Unsplash

“I am bent, but not broken. I am scarred, but not disfigured. I am sad, but not hopeless. I am tired, but not powerless. I am angry, but not bitter. I am depressed, but not giving up.”

Author unknown

I have a friend, a special friend…I think of her often. She wanders in and out of my thoughts.

Do you know how that feels? I miss her now that she is no longer here. We used to sit and drink coffee together and talk about random topics. Not important issues really, just the everyday events and experiences of life. We laughed! She had a knack for making you feel good.

I liked spending time with her, but we did not see each other often, not every week, and sometimes it would be a month or longer.

Then there was an inexplicable change. I could feel it, but I could not put my finger on it. There was a flash of feeling, a question. What was it?

We spent a bit more time together, she stopped by more often, and she asked to go with me a few extra times. Nothing dramatic or compelling, only slightly different. There was a whisper…..

Then, nothing. There were no emails, no phone calls, no visits…only silence.

It did not seem unusual at first; the difference was slight. It felt more like a shift back to the old normal. There used to be times when we did not talk or see each other. But it did not feel right.

Then there was an email. I was so excited. She was back. Open the darn thing, I could not open it fast enough. Where have you been?

Shock! It was not where have you been. It was where she was now.

She had turned her world upside down.

It all came rushing together. Now I understood. There had always been hints, little bits of insight about her home life, and there had been more chunks of it right before she disappeared. I knew she was unhappy, but I was stunned when I read her words.

There had been a small window of opportunity, and she jumped through it. She ran. There would not be any more casual conversations over coffee, not anytime soon.

She had been planning this for a very long time. There just needed to be that time, the right time. I had no clue.

I was stunned, and I was in awe of her. She was such a strong, scrappy woman. I sat there, re-read her email and cried. I was sad for her and what she had been hiding. She had told no one.

She was miles away, such a long way. In another state at the other end of the country, but I had no address yet, and no phone number to call. A request not to tell anyone and the information that someone would probably contact me looking for her. The plea, so urgent, please pretend you have not heard from me.

The call came, then again and again. So many questions. Where is she? Had I heard from her? He needed to know. He questioned why I did not know, why I could not answer him.

I lied, of course, I lied to him, over and over again. No, the answer I gave him, was always no. No, I have not heard from her. I am worried too; I hope she contacts you soon. When she does, please tell her I am thinking of her. They were all lies. He was not worthy of anything more than that. I would protect her.

He told me he was going to the police to file a missing person’s report. Shit! Now what? She does not want him to find her.

What should I do? She was going through so much, trying to settle in and make a new life. She was afraid. There was the constant worry that somehow he would find her.

I sent off an email, not sure it would reach her. She was in the process of changing everything. Please call me. I need to talk to you. Waiting for that call was agony.

I knew if he filed a missing person’s report, they would find her. He would know where she was. She called, and we talked for a long time. What should she do? She decided to contact one of his relatives. In the end, he did not file the report.

He never talked to her directly. Eventually, there was contact by email. He demanded she come back. He would change; things would be different. Yeah, when pigs fly!

She hired a lawyer. There were mutual investments and property. She had to deal with that, and eventually, it happened. Finally, it was no longer necessary for any contact. She still had the fear that he would find her.

Gradually life went on for my friend. She created a new life, but it was different. She was different. There was the never-ending relief that the relationship was over, but she was having a difficult time finding a new rhythm. There were so many changes.

It has been almost three years. I miss her. I miss the smiling face, the twinkle in her eyes, the warmth she radiated. She was, and, is my friend. I no longer take her for granted.

We still talk, of course, and email back and forth. It is not the same. The friendship and the way we care for each other has not changed. It is the same, but it is more intensified now. I want to be able to sit next to her and drink coffee. My dream is to surprise her. Buy a plane ticket and knock on her door.

You see now there is something new, a new threat, my friend has cancer.

What happens now? Will I ever see her again?

Posted in Children, Communication, Excitement, Inspiration, Joy, Learning, Positive Thinking, Self Improvement

Quote Of The Day

“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”

– e.e. cummings
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As always, thank you for stopping by. Fill your day with laughter.

Posted in Communication, Inspiration, Learning, Motivation, Personal Development, Positive Thinking, Potential, Self Improvement

Listen – Did You Hear That? Tips to Improve & Understand The Art of Listening

Photo by Florencia Potter on Unsplash

“The art of conversation lies in listening.”

–Malcom Forbes

There are two essential forms of listening. First, is being able to listen to yourself. Second, is your ability to listen to others.

What do I mean when I say, listen to yourself? To some, that statement is foreign. We do not listen to ourselves. We listen to other people, so why would we listen to ourselves? Why, indeed!

Unfortunately, most of us do not know that listening to ourselves is something we can and should be doing. In some ways listening to our selves is an art. Every day we are bombarded with information. We think about events from yesterday and how we were affected by them, and we think about tomorrow and what we need to do. At the same time, we are trying to focus on what we have to do today. There are some days we are on autopilot.

We are not good at listening to others, so why should we listen to ourselves? The art of listening includes both.

All of us have an inner voice or unconscious mind, and we usually ignore it or push it aside. You should pay attention because this is where we store our basic instincts and our learned wisdom. Based on previous experiences and how they affected our overall well being, our inner voice will attempt to influence our present thinking and behavior. The unconscious mind stores our learned skills, our intuition, good and bad experiences from the past, and also our dreams.

When you are interacting with someone, or by yourself and planning on doing something, you may experience a niggling thought, or feeling, that is pushing into your mind. You are busy and concentrating, so you push it away. That is your inner voice, and it is attempting to give you information. Slow down and take a moment, relax, and listen to your inner voice.

I have had that experience before. It does feel like intuition, and I have found that it is usually right. Most of the time, I listen to my inner voice, and I am happy I did. On the occasions when I chose not to, the results were not good. I should have listened.

In today’s culture, we are so busy. To listen to your inner voice, you need to slow down. When you are stressed and want to make a decision, take a moment to concentrate on your body. Stop and focus on your breathing for 2 – 3 minutes. Close your eyes and concentrate on the way your body feels as you breath in and out. This practice will help you to relax and eliminate stress. Open your eyes and start to think again and listen to your inner voice. Make this a daily practice.

Also recommended is taking a small amount of time each day to reflect. Be by yourself and be still. Write down your thoughts. They can be about anything, a person who you interact with, a particular situation or upcoming project. The practice of writing things down, reading your words, and then reflecting, will help you visualize and may change your perspective. You are giving yourself time to think and to listen to what your inner voice may be telling you.

What about your ability to listen to other people? Have you ever been talking and you can tell by the other person’s eyes that they are not listening to you? What about when you are still talking, and they interrupt you? They have been thinking about what they want to say. I hate that!

Humans are not skilled when it comes to the ability to listen. If you want to have a good conversation, talk to your dog. They are so focused, giving you all their attention. They make eye contact, and they will move closer to you and make physical contact when appropriate. They signal their approval and eagerly await your next words. Talking to your dog will always make you feel good and bring you comfort when needed. How many people can you say that about?

Follow the lead of your dog:

Make eye contact. Let them know you feel they are important and you want to hear what they say. Smile when appropriate. Do not look away; concentrate on the one speaking.

Do not interrupt them. Please do not do that. It will make the other person feel lousy and unimportant. Wait until they finish and if you are not sure, ask them. Keep any comments you think of as they are talking until they are finished.

Watch their body language as they are talking. It will give you a better understanding of how they feel. They may be holding things back because they are uncomfortable or afraid. They may be angrier than what their words are telling you. They may be saying what they think you want to hear or they do not trust you. The body language they display will help you make an assessment. What do they need and how should you proceed.

Use your body language to encourage them and to show that you are interested in what they are saying. Lean forward, make eye contact, nod your head, smile, and use small statement words such as okay or yes.

When appropriate, ask questions that will indicate to them you are listening and you are interested. I think I understand, did you mean—–? Are you saying—–?

Don’t be judgmental. It is a skill to be open-minded, and for most of us, it is difficult. We all have our opinions, and we all have certain behaviors or words, which are turn-offs. To be an effective active listener, we need to develop the ability to let those words and behaviors go, and listen to what else they are saying while also watching their body language. When I become judgmental, or someone I am with is that way, I think of the phrase, “There but for the grace of God, go I.”

Listen. Do not do anything else. Let the other person talk and do not think about your responses. We are all capable of thinking rapidly while someone else is talking, but it is not beneficial. When we let our mind race, our mind wanders, and before you know it, your mind is on a road trip. You have driven off somewhere, and you have missed some of what they have said. You may have lost the real message. You form your interpretation which may be incorrect. Time to ask some questions and, an apology may be warranted.

When possible, as you are listening to the other person, tie their statements together. Are there multiple messages, and do they all come together into one detailed message, or do they need to be looked at separately?

At times it may be necessary to interrupt and explain that you are having difficulty listening because there are too many distractions. It is too loud, there are too many other conversations taking place close by, you are standing, and it would be more comfortable sitting, etc. Make sure that you convey to them that their message is important and you want to hear all of what they have to say.

We all learn about our behaviors and abilities from experience. From the day we are born, through school, our parents, our friends, and our work, we are exposed to different actions. You can decide which are the best practices. You can use those to develop your own ability to be a good listener. Think of the people you respect the most and how they make you feel when you talk to them. Analyze their ability to listen and what you see as the best practices.

Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.”

–Karl A. Menniger

As always, thank you for reading my blog today. Sit, have a conversation and practice listening.

Posted in Learning, Personal Development, Positive Thinking, Potential, Self Improvement

Quote of The Day

If you’re going to hold someone down, you’re going to have to hold on by the other end of the chain. You are confined by your own repression.”

Toni Morrison
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

As always, thank you for stopping by. Fly free today!

Posted in Excitement, Inspiration, Joy, Learning, Personal Development, Positive Thinking, Potential, Self Improvement

Quote Of The Day

Plant seeds of happiness, hope, success, and love; it will all come back to you in abundance. This is the law of nature”

Steve Maraboli
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

As always, thanks for stopping by. Plant some seeds today!

Posted in Coping, Inspiration, Learning, Personal Development, Positive Thinking, Potential, Self Improvement

When Life Is Overwhelming Feed Your Soul

Photo by Arul from Pexels

“Today, whatever is good for your soul, do that.”

Author Unknown

Sometimes life gives us surprises and that is okay…most of the time. There are times when it feels overwhelming. It may not even be a big deal, but it feels that way. Sometimes it really does become a big deal because of one small nugget that pushes us over the edge.

Everyday “stuff” piles up and we keep pushing through it, telling ourselves it will be okay. Then there is one day, a small moment in time, when it is just too much. Our resolve to just keep pushing comes tumbling down.

You have a lot of responsibilities and you are so busy. You have a great attitude and you are happy. You love your life. You love your family, your job, and all of your day to day activities.

You are making it work. You are tired but that’s okay, it’s all worth it. That’s what you tell yourself and you are right, it is worth it.

The question is, can you keep doing it when one more thing is added to your pile of “stuff”. Can you? Hopefully. But what if you can’t?

You may not realize you are feeling stress. When you operate on overload day in and day out, it feels normal. You don’t want to acknowledge that something could go wrong. Even when there might be little niggling doubts circling around in your peripheral vision. If you do not recognize it, it is not really there.

Some people thrive on stress because it pushes them to be more productive. But how much stress can you handle?

That’s a good question, one that is difficult to answer and will be different for everyone.

How will you realize when enough is enough? When will you recognize it is becoming too much? There will be signs. You may have been experiencing them for some time, not realizing what they were. Those little niggling doubts, that you chose to ignore.

What are some of the possible signs? Here they are:

Fatigue – it is one thing to be tired, you are used to that, it is normal. Fatigue is something different. When you are tired, which happens to everyone, a good night’s sleep will usually take care of the problem. You wake up refreshed and with energy. Fatigue is overwhelming. A good’s night sleep will not eliminate fatigue. You may find that, although you are so very tired, it is difficult to sleep. You may develop anxiety, have difficulty concentrating,and experience a decrease in stamina.

Headaches – when you are stressed your body may react by increased muscle tension. Stress can also cause your body to release chemicals which dilate your blood vessels causing a headache.

Sickness – Your immune system can be affected by your stress level. You may be at an increased risk of multiple colds which may lead to respiratory infections. Sniffles become normal, and you blame them on allergies, but they may be a result of stress.

Digestive issues – I know this one well. I was experiencing a stressful situation and all those niggling doubts all cascaded at once. I developed IBS, Irritable Bowl Syndrome. It was excruciating, embarrassing and very inconvenient. Having IBS was stressful which, of course, made it worse.

Appetite – Stress has an impact on your eating habits. You may lose your interest in food and lose weight, or go in the opposite direction and eat when you are not hungry. Many people eat to attempt to make themselves feel better.

Anxiety – Anxiety is a person’s reaction to stress. It is not a physical reaction so much as an internal or mental response. Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event, or something with an uncertain outcome. Let’s face it, we may all experience anxiety on some level, like when you have to give a speech, or you are having an interview. That is normal and it is okay. It is when anxiety becomes excessive and recurring that it becomes a problem. It is a concern, and considered a disorder when it is severe and lasts for an extended length of time.

“I was a little excited but mostly blorft. “Blorft” is an adjective I just made up that means ‘Completely overwhelmed but proceeding as if everything is fine and reacting to the stress with the torpor of a possum.’ I have been blorft every day for the past seven years.” 

― Tina Fey, Bossypants

We all know about stress on some level, but none of us want it to become overwhelming. None of us wants to live a life filled with the negative, mind numbing issues listed above. What can you do to get back to your “feel good” place? How do we nourish our soul?

You may be wondering about “soul”. How do your define it? There are many theories about what the soul is, and what entity has a soul. Do humans, animal, earth, etc.? I won’t attempt to discuss that here. As far as humans are concerned I do believe we have a soul. It is your essence. It is not physical, you cannot see it. It is more ethereal consciousness, an awareness of ourselves, our energy and emotions.

Here are some ways to feed our soul:

Breathe – We rarely think of our breathing. It is an involuntary action, automatic. We rarely think of it, but on some level we should. Make it a practice a few times a day to stop, and just breathe. Think about the movement and relax into it. It will calm you and make you feel better.

Smile – Smile often and mean it. When you smile there are all sorts of good neurotransmitters activated that make you happy and relieve stress.

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”

—Thich Nhat Hanh

Be Still – Stop, be quiet, Rest and take time to listen to yourself. Listen to you soul. What is it telling you? Find a quiet, restful spot. Somewhere peaceful. Sit in the shade of a tree, look at the sky, watch your child sleep. Let yourself go and find peace. Learn meditation and practice it, if for only a few moments each day.

Go outside – I have mentioned many times before, being outside is my happy spot. It will calm me each and every time. Take a walk, go to the park. Take a ride in the country, some place where it is quiet and little traffic.

Spend special time with special people – Your family and the people your always feel good being with. Spend quality time, have a quiet conversation and be sure to smile and tell them how important they are to you. Give out more hugs!

Music – music soothes your soul. It is relaxing, refreshing and can transport you to a calm contentment. Everyone has a different type of favorite music. Sing along, maybe dance, and let the music work it’s magic.

Read – Transport yourself into another world by reading a bit of fiction. I love Science Fiction, Fantasy and a good Mystery. Relax and read, if it is just one chapter a day, it will make you feel better.

There are many things you can do to feed your soul and you need to do it each and every day. You also need to recognize when you need to make some changes to eliminate the cause of any stress.

It is important to take a step back and look at the cause and effect. It may be time to make some important changes in your life. Life is short and it is precious. Do not let stress ruin how you experience life. Accept how you feel, that you are stressed and that it is negatively affecting you. Start making changes.

 “Let your joy be in your journey—not in some distant goal.”

—Tim Cook

As always, thank you for reading my blog. Don’t be “Blorft”, relax and do something joyful today.

Posted in Positive Thinking

Quote Of The Day

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”

—Nhat Hanh
Photo by Peter Conlan on Unsplash