on listening

That infamous Verizon commercial that is inevitably & unintentionally quoted once a day (at least) around the world is echoing in my head lately.

Can you hear me now?

But I guess really, my question is maybe a bit more cutting than that:

Are you listening?

Does anyone know how to reallytrulydeeplymeaningfullypresently listen anymore?

Is that even a thing?

Is the art the gift of listening dead?

Sometimes I feel like I’m living in the computer.

The world of posts & shares & likes & Podcasts & TEDtalks: in other words… a person’s uninterrupted & uninhibited output.

Like, duuuuuuuuuude, take. a. beat.

Breathe.

If you know me, then you know my love language is listening. If you don’t know that, then you don’t know me.

If you want to get in my heart’s pants, then shut up and listen.

OMG, and if you ask a deep question & then poise yourself to reallytrulydeeplymeaningfullypresently listen… ugh, let’s just say I’m a whore for ears.

Woo, is it getting hot in here or WHAT?!

I’m lonely.

–There, does that cut all that awkward listening-as-sex talk?–

I’m ashamed to admit I’m lonely.

I don’t know why. Brene Brown & I are working on that. (Not personally, but a roundabout-way-of-me-financing-her-books.)

What’s so wrong about being lonely?

Does it show a failure on my part?

Does it show a lack of lovability?

Does it show a selfishness?

Does it show a bitter & brutal introversion that will triumph, sadly, no. matter. what.?

And how does it connect to this decay in societal standards of listening?


I am a good listener. I am empathetic. I can 100% ensure a conversation is 100% about you through sexy follow-up questions (see what I did there?!).

And, I am wondering, if my loneliness might be a consequence of this. Do I hide behind being a good listener? Is my empathy a perfectly-crafted, looks-good-on-the-outside, vulnerability-avoidance technique? Do I make it 100% about you so that it is 0% about my shit?

I’m reading this amazing book that fell into my recommended list from the library-sky, at the perfect time. A tiny miracle really. I didn’t know I needed it.

But, gosh, it’s got me. It gets me. I feel seen.

And challenged.

Right now, I’m sitting with & listening 🙂 to this:

So, that’s it for today.

Thanks for listening…

expat insecurities: how moving overseas turns you into a middle schooler

This post has been marinating a while in my mind (often around 1 or 2 middle of the night: time to wake up and worry about things you can’t control. yippee!).

A variety of factors have appeared on the radar recently that I’ll attribute to a storm of culture shock brewing off the shore. An extended commute where I was stuck in a car in a land where I don’t speak the language (where is a restaurant where we can stop for a quick meal where we actually fully understand the menu without a million Google acts of translation?). My dear niece having a baby (whose cuteness level should be legit illegal). Video chatting with my best friend (oh right, your life goes on without me). The stupid fantasy that it would be easier to get healthier here (look at all those fresh, local fruits! where? well, you just have to walk past the bread and cheese aisles. what?). Texting with my godson (I shouldn’t be crying this much).

We arrived in Brazil in July (three months!), and so I expect this on some level.

But what has taken me by complete surprise is how completely insecure I am around other adults (eck! I am that adult).

It’s like my mind has been usurped by a middle schooler:

Do they like me?

I don’t fit in.

How come they didn’t invite me?

Where do I belong?

Do I look ok?

Where is the cool group and how do I get in?

Nobody likes me.

What am I doing wrong?

Gross.

Of course, as I reflect, it makes sense. I am a new country, alone except for Dave, everything is unfamiliar, nothing is easy, the majority of those around me are also in some form of transition, my family and soul friends are on another continent, etc.

Yes, a healthy social structure is essential to surviving in a foreign land.

But, a healthy social structure takes time to find.

Time to build.

So in the meantime, I will try to accept this part of the process, this part of myself.

You too, Middle-School-Mary, are welcome here.

 

 

present. thankful.

bc90113e29ef351de769933bf5fbbb79Early in the lonely darkness, I wake this morning with a heavy heart; how can the absence of Something, Someone weigh so much? As in yoga, I will not fight this pain’s strain; I will lean into it. I will stay present in the sorrow, to the grief. And even in this, I will give thanks. Yes because it’s a holiday, but also because it’s a holy way.

  1. Though I don’t understand it fully nor embrace it completely, grace is more powerful than condemnation, compassion truer than judgment. The Divine, at the deepest core and at the wildest edges, is Love. For this, I thank God.
  2.  I live in a cozy house in the mountains, on a wildlife corridor–a glory this suburban flat-lander only imagined in daydreams. This house, once another’s outdated debt, has been made our beautiful home by my husband’s raw talent. For this, I thank God.
  3. I live and laugh with my best friend, a man of generosity, grace, strength, humility, adventure, athleticism, authenticity, wildness, industrialism, honor, spirituality, intelligence…love. For this, I thank God.
  4. I had a special relationship with my Dad. From playgrounds to cardinals to Frank Sinatra and Yanni to walks to movies, our spirits were woven together. Yesterday in the car, just like him, I whistled along and sang off-tune to a Christmas song. In his absence, he was with me in that car, in that moment. For this, I thank God.
  5. I had a special connection with my Mom. Our stories were written from the same words. When those stories are told now, in her absence, it is not only me–it is my husband. As we threw out bacon grease this week, we looked at each other knowingly, remembering and resurrecting Mom’s conniption fit at such a waste. His relationship with my Mom was a rare and precious gift, now a majestic river bird hovering above and between our love. For this, I thank God.
  6. Though my parents are gone, the utterance of “Mom” and “Dad” still floats up from my heart to glide across my lips. Dave’s parents hold a special place in my life–far greater than the empty label of in-laws. For this, I thank God.
  7. I go to work every day alongside people who fight for social justice. I teach students who teach me. I gift the power of words through stories that matter. My job is a ministry of empowerment for which I am equipped. For this, I thank God.
  8. My sister gets me. We are cut from the same cloth. Reunited by grief, our friendship’s foundation has solidified. For this, I thank God.
  9. I have friends of the soul variety. Tammy, who has been beside me and inside my spirit since I was 14. Laina, who when I am with, listening to her stories, makes me feel like I’m with my Mom. Libbi, who gifts me with the call to presence. These are but one small glint of a massive web of glittering connections spun around me. For this, I thank God.
  10. My body is strong and capable. My legs can take me to the hidden heights of the Rocky Mountains; my spine can bend and bow into peaceful poses of meditation; my lungs can fuel me through 13.1 miserably momentous miles. For this, I thank God.

Like beads on a Mala, I count my blessings. There are far more than this list; there are far more than I recognize with my eyes or name with my voice. For this, for the unseen and the unnamed, I thank God.

Tribute to Tammy, RN: My Person

10371478_10152399383494749_1828936834057159582_nThis past weekend was a whirlwind of soul food and spirit joy. Dave and I hopped onto a jet plan to fly to Michigan to surprise my bestest friend in the whole wide world. This friend just finished one one more astounding adventure in her life–nursing school.

What makes this graduation so special is that my dear friend is not straight out of high school. She is not the traditional college student. She is not 20. She’s not single. She is a Mom, a wife, a blogger, a homemaker, a career-changer, who went back to school to live a dream instead of just dream a dream.

She is spectacular. She is courageous. She inspires me.

And just like every day since I was 14–yes that is two decades of friendship–she teaches me.

  • I have learned from her to dream, to put the soul’s whisperings into loud words which weave throughout my daily life. To ignore what we want deep inside is to ignore God’s voice. be37af467c8705851ceb06680ccd101c
  • I have learned from her to struggle to make dreams reality. Once those deep desires within become spoken, they should be pursued. Life is too short to not pursue what we really want. As Tammy loves to quote: “The glory of God is man fully alive.”
  •  I have learned from her to not sacrifice today’s joy for tomorrow’s illusion. Dreaming is crucial, but if it only wastes the important present of today or is used as a mere distraction or novelty, it needs to be tossed aside.
  • I have learned from her to treat life as an adventure. Way back in high school, Tammy gave me a card that stressed how life is about the journey, not the destination. Along the way whom we walk with, what we discuss, the sights we see, the tastes we enjoy, the memories we make–these are nourishment for the soul. Along the way we find ourselves–and God.21d3566cd1ebece03c1ee2c88e7e6d40
  • 94029883da05b78dcf3eb70fc719fa70I have learned from her that this delicate balance between dreaming and acting takes great risk–of which fear is the great enemy. Instead of letting fear paralyze us into a complacent, Americanized life, we must face the fear, work through it, and come out on the other side–with no regrets. Part of this risk is that sometimes dreams change, and it is OK to chase a different one on the way to a different one, on the way to another different one. 56191670fde7e53fe788e8829967c5b2
  • I have learned from her that all these beautiful traits are the very nature of God–God, the original dreamer, who struggled and risked, who acted, who invites all into an adventure of journeying with Him, towards Him.

And so, in my biggest, booming Bud Light voice:10389669_10152403261909749_8784432188441962758_n

Tammy, I salute you.

This one’s for you.

Congratulations, Tammy, RN. I am so proud of you.

You are my person, and my life is better for calling you friend.

 

 

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