Interruptions

The more you learn about listening, the more you realize what a skill it actually is. It’s something everyone can do, sure. But it’s not something everyone is necessarily good at.  And I’m not just talking about listening with your ears. There are lots of ways to listen. Yet we often do whatever is the bare minimum and whatever is easiest.

Have you ever been listened to? Like, really really listened to? The type of listened to where you can feel it in your bones? Where when you’re done speaking or communicating (however it may be) there’s a pause while the recipient takes it in and further validates that you were really listened to and not just heard?

So many times in conversations we just wait for our turn to talk. We may be thinking of something or want to steer the dialogue in one direction, so we obsess with getting our thoughts out so that we can talk about the thing we want to talk about. It’s not listening. It’s patiently waiting for your turn to scream into the void towards a specific person who is also only hearing you while they patiently wait for their turn to talk.

I hope you get listened to. It’s a wonderful feeling.

I make it a point to listen often and as much as I can. I don’t always nail it. But I do make a consistent effort. And because I’m often willing to be more patient and listen more intensely than your average bear, I find myself often interrupted by people who are so eager to get their thing out, they can’t wait another moment. My usual immediate reaction is to defensively and interrupt them back to steer the conversation where I wanted to go. My other typical reaction is to quietly get frustrated and judge the person who interrupted me. Who are they, after all, to think their ideas are more important than my own?

But I’ve recently changed tactics a bit. I’ve realized that by getting frustrated at people who constantly interrupt and judge them, I’m wasting energy wishing for them to be someone they are not. Or I’m wasting energy putting too much clout into their thought process behind the interruption. As if they meant to do so as an outward act of aggression. Or by actively waiting for them to stop talking so I can get back to my thing, I’m wasting energy sitting on pins and needles rather than just going with the flow of the conversation.

So I’ve been making an effort now to stop wasting energy. Instead, I’m going to view interruptions as an opportunity. They’re a chance to actively work on staying present. They’re a chance to practice my flexibility and willingness to just go with the flow.

And they’re a chance for me, most importantly, to listen.

Wrapping Up My Year of Jesus

My birthday is right around the corner. Very exciting, indeed.

(If you’re not into astrology, that makes me a Leo and we love attention so feel free to wish me lots of happy birthday wishes because I will very much appreciate them. If you are into astrology, you already knew that.)

Anyway, this time about a year ago I decided I missed blogging and that I was going to commit to writing more. Though it took me a bit to settle on the general time of day and my favorite day of the week to let ‘er loose, I more or less held true on that commitment. I mean, I’m still here typing right now, aren’t I?

Oh, god, seriously, aren’t I? If I’m not doing that what on earth and I doing because I think I’m doing that… AHHHH!

I called this past year my “Year of Jesus.” I remember when I finished up the pictures and the post I was at an airport. The Philadelphia airport, I believe. At some point they all look the same. But I do know I was waiting for the others in my crew to show up so we could get rental cars and head off on our touring adventure.

This year, I’m sitting sipping (surprisingly bitter) coffee on my porch with my beautiful and newly-groomed pups around me. I have another solid 24 hours before I have to be on multiple airplanes and traversing multiple timezones for a prolonged period of time. I’ve somewhat purposely gone into my little shell to recharge before the trip.

So much has changed. But, then again, so little.

I’ve made a ton of small often incremental changes in my life. For several months out of this year, I was absolutely on top of my sh*t. But that motivation came from getting low and frustrated and feeling completely out of control.

I’ve read a lot of books. I’ve created some cool things. I’ve sold some project and completed others. I’ve failed and triumphed. I’ve probably made major decisions that will impact me in the future without even knowing it. I’ve ended relationships or cut off personal energies that don’t serve me anymore and don’t fit into the person I want to become. I’ve transformed completely yet so much has stayed the same.

I don’t yet know what I’m going to call this next year of my life. I was exited about 33 because of the whole Jesus thing. No matter what you believe, there’s got to me some sort of cool spiritual energy around 33 if that’s the age the stories of Jesus decided upon.

As I’m thinking about it, I was really excited for 30 because it was the start of a new decade. 31 was gonna be a rear up for 32 which I was beyond stoked for. And 33 was my spiritually transformative year.

But for this upcoming year, I don’t have a plan. I don’t have expectations. I don’t know what to expect and I don’t know what theme I’m going to approach it with.

Then again, right now I’m deeply interested in studying the Tao Te Ching and have been drawn to numerous stories and books about how to be present and simply trust in the flow rather than working against it. I’ve been actively trying to let my intuition take over while listening to the subtle movements around me and the opportunities that arise and how I feel while doing certain things to best determine how to be my happiest, most fulfilled self. And all of that study pretty much says the same thing: Slow down, be present, and listen… then let yourself go with it.

So maybe that’s the answer. Maybe it’s a year of flow. Of enjoyment. Not of taking off work, of course. But more of doing work that feels the most fulfilling. Letting go of judgments about work and choices and what happens to and around me. Simply deciding how I feel about something, trusting that, and leaning into it.

I guess the answer is there isn’t an answer. Now that the year of Jesus is up… I’m on my own. And I’m excited to see what I sage advice I have for myself.

Also, happy birthday to me.

 

 

When It Rains (in LA), It Pours

This feels like a particularly timely post on many levels. Not only because Los Angeles has been under a deluge of water for months (so much water!), but also because I have been particularly overwhelmed at times in my own world.

I’m not going to go into details about all the happenings. Mostly because they’re not important. I have perspective on them. I understand that there are worse things that could be happening but also that there are better. But I’m also not going to go into details because the truth is, if you feel overwhelmed it’s ok to feel overwhelmed no matter what the circumstances may be.

Your feelings are valid. They come up as lessons and you can learn and grow from them.

Anyhoo, let’s talk about the pouring rain.

rain.gif

What really got me recently that was particularly frustrating is that there were many things that normally act fine that all began to act up. And these were on a few different fronts. They reminded me, too, that there are other elements of my external world that I’m not particularly proud of yet or things I feel like I’m missing from the execution of and manifestation of my own dreams. And these factors were glaring right in my face, reminding me that these small things are still things that can get me totally off kilter and force to me to look in a mirror and, likely, see something I know still needs improvement.

If they had all happened separately, they would have been an inconvenience. Because they happened at the same time, they were overwhelming.

It’s one thing to go out for a walk in a light rain. That feels manageable. But when the skies open and the rain feels like it’s coming up from the ground and there are unavoidable puddles on every corner, that’s when you need to actually take action to attempt to do something about it.

And, like the rain, there’s only so much you can do. You put on the right gear, you stay smart, and you hope for the best.

The nice part about a deluge is, unlike a sprinkle, you have to confront it. You have to accept that it’s happening and take measures in response to it. I am particularly guilty of doing just enough to keep myself on course without being too inconvenienced by small issues around me. But when there are a ton of small issues that, when put together, make it impossible to actually do some of the basics I want to do, that’s when I have to put everything on pause and deal with them. And as obnoxious as it can feel at times, at least it forces me to do something about it instead of just pretend it’s not happening.

In that way, I’m grateful for the downpour. It’s a reminder that if and when you need to make life changes – even if they’re small – they’re better to confront quickly when they come to the surface rather than ignore them because they’re not a major issue yet.

The other nice part about the rains that it’s temporary. Deluge or not, it doesn’t last. There are repercussions to the rain (both physically and metaphorically). But it doesn’t last. So when it’s coming at you, you can just brace for impact and wait it out. Figure out what you have to do to keep yourself as dry and warm as possible (and it’s not always possible), then learn from the experience, do what you have to do, and move on.

I feel like I flipped between metaphor and pragmatic pretty ineffectively this post. I could go back in and figure it out, but my head is a rain shower at the moment so I’d rather let this be art and let it mean whatever it might mean to you without overthinking it, and move on.

Just Asking

Sometimes I’m able to pull off cool stuff (with the help of friends, of course). Over the years, I’ve been consistently surprised at the number of people who are shocked by whatever shenanigans I’m able to put together. mother may i

But I live by a very simple policy that often allows me cool opportunities I wouldn’t otherwise be privy to. That policy is this: Just Ask.

Years ago, even though I had already implemented this policy in many different projects, I was working on something important to me. And I was nervous about inviting important people to see my important project. I felt like maybe they were out of my league and maybe I’d be overstepping boundaries by inviting them. I’m not big on “frontting” as the kiddos say, which sometimes means I don’t invite people to things they’d be more than happy to come to.

But a very close friend at the time put a very clear insight on why it’s important to “just ask.” He said, “The worst that could happen is that you ask and they say ‘No.’ But if you don’t ask, they’re already saying ‘No.’ And there’s a chance, when you do ask, that they might actually say ‘Yes.’ So you really can’t lose.”

Articulating this so specifically helped me solidify how important that policy really is in my life. Though I had an intuitive feeling for that idea, I can remind myself of that simple idea whenever I feel myself hesitating. By not asking, the answer is already “No.” So I might as well take a chance that I’ll hear a “Yes” and ask.

That’s probably why I hear more Yes-es than the average bear. I do a whole lot more asking.

Femoir: The Podcast – Comfort Zone: Show Notes

comfort zoneThe latest episode of Femoir: The Podcast is now available! Check it out directly or subscribe on iTunes.

This episode we’re talking all about that pesky COMFORT ZONE.

I reference my FEAR podcast, gym culture, learning to golf, have fun with twisty twist word world, the CREATIVITY podcast, and online dating.

Let me know what you think, friends! And thanks for listening!