Friday, November 21, 2014

When was the last time you listened, I mean REALLY listened....

By that I mean eye contact, mind focused on what is being said. For some of us, it probably has been awhile. To listen to anyone.

I've been reading information on "listening" the past week or so and today there was a story that really hit home. Not for the "situation" but more for the listening.

If you show people how much you care and ask questions in a nonthreatening way, you'll be amazed by how much they'll tell you.

..........In our careers, we have done a lot of speaking. Between the two of us (John Maxwell and Jim Dornan), we speak to several hundred thousand people every year. Jim’s wife, Nancy, does a lot of speaking – and believe us, she is a great talker! But she is also a wonderful listener, and sometimes when she speaks, she talks about communication and the importance of listening. Not long ago she gave a talk about listening that emphasized giving other people the benefit of doubt and trying to see things from their point of view.

In the audience that day was a man named Rodney. Though he was happily married and had a young son, he had been previously married and had two daughters with his first wife. And he was having problems with her. She was constantly calling him and asking for more money for herself and the two girls. They argued continually, and she was driving him so nuts that he had already hired an attorney and was preparing to sue her.

But when Rodney heard Nancy speak about listening that day, he realized how insensitive he had been to his ex-wife, Charlotte. A couple of days later he called her and asked if they could meet. She was suspicious of Rodney and even asked her attorney to call him to find out what he was up to. But eventually, Rodney convinced them that he just wanted to talk, and finally, Charlotte agreed to see him.

They met at a coffee shop, and Rodney said, “Charlotte, I want to listen to you. Tell me what your life is like. I do care about you and the kids.”

“I didn’t think you cared about the girls at all,” she said as she began to cry.

“I do,” he said. “I’m sorry. I’ve only been thinking of myself, and I haven’t been thinking of you. Please forgive me.”

“Why are you doing this?” she asked.

“Because I want to make things right,” he answered. “I’ve been angry for so long that I couldn’t see straight. Now, tell me how things are going for you and the girls.”

For a while, Charlotte could only sob. But then she started telling him about her struggles as a single parent and how she was doing her best to bring up the girls, but that it didn’t seem like enough. They talked for hours, and as they did, the beginning of a new foundation of mutual respect formed. In time, they believe they will be able to become friends again.

Rodney is probably not alone. Can you think of people you haven’t been listening to lately? And what are you going to do about it? It’s never too late to become a good listener. It can change your life – and the lives of the people in your life.

How many times have we been in a car with someone and they were talking - and our thoughts were elsewhere? How many times have we gone to a restaurant with a family member and instead pulled out our "smartphone" rather than talk with them?

Make it a point this weekend - whether at home or out somewhere - whomever you are with - talk to them - and take time to listen to what is going on in their lives.

You will be glad you did.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hump Day thoughts.

I enjoy "hump day". No real reason why other than it is the middle of the work week and once this day is over - it's all "down hill" to the weekend. But I don't want to wish my life away either. I like the Geico commercials with the camel - especially the one of it going through the office yelling "Mike, Mike, Mike.... what day is it?" I smile every time I see it. Of course there are numerous pictures on the internet as well. As I sent out my reports this morning I had to add the one of the two 'donkeys' talking to each other. One is saying "Hey, Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike.... guess what day it is....guess what day it is...." and the other responds "Bruce, you are NOT a camel. You're an ass. We discussed this." Cracks me up every time.

But today IS "hump day" however you choose to think of it. Other than the past couple years when all the jokes became prominent, I guess I didn't really think too much about it other than it being the middle of the week and once past it I only had two days left of work. I kind of enjoy the rhedoric about it.

What about you? How do you view Wednesday? Do you just not think about it and view it as another day? Sadly, that is what most people do. It is just another day in their life.

One thing I've determined, each and every day needs to be celebrated in some way. I don't care if you just take two minutes out for yourself in that day, celebrate being alive. Celebrate family, those things that mean something to you. Celebrate YOU.

You may think you aren't much to celebrate - but you are. You were created in the image of God. Yeah, I know, you have heard 'that story' before. But you were. And so am I. I may not always behave in the way I should, or say things I shouldn't, but that doesn't mean I wasn't created in His image. I was created to bring God glory - and so were you. We both were created to worship God. How do we worship Him? By the way we live. Are we honest? Are we caring? Do we treat others as we want to be treated? Do we care about others as much as we care about ourselves? These are things we do to worship God.

God has blessed us with another day - each one of you reading this - God has brought air into your lungs and opened your eyes this morning. Every morning when hubby and I pray together, we always thank God for the night's rest (even if it is a rough night) and for awakening us that morning. As much as I dislike getting up early, I'm grateful that I can get up. I'm thankful for my job. I'm thankful for my health. And I tell God so every day, 'thank You'.

Another big meeting today so it will be a busy day - but it's 'hump day' and will go quickly. Tomorrow we are having our 'Thanksgiving lunch' here at work. I'm bringing deviled eggs. It's still a lot of work, but much easier to transport than some things. I'm trying not to offer to bring so much as I have in the past. I don't need to furnish everything just because I love to cook. I can let others supply the rest. So deviled eggs it is for me to bring.

Hope that you have a great 'Hump Day' and get a lot accomplished. Two days to go until the weekend! Keep Smiling. ;-)


Monday, November 17, 2014

It's All Over....

The big wedding was a week ago, the reception was last Saturday. I think that all went well and now these things we can put behind us. The wedding came on a beautiful day in Sedona (today it is really cold there so glad it was a week ago!!) and most everything worked out well. Few minor problems but nothing to ruin the day. The reception was fun - dancing, food and just being with family. It was good.

It was so fun when the first slow song after the bride and groom danced that two of the grandchildren came immediately over to grandpa and I and asked us to dance. First time ever dancing with them so it was a lot of fun. A lot of dances I didn't know - and the music was way too loud, but it was still fun. I asked for the music to be turned down - but I could almost swear they turned it up. I should have been insistent. Why is it that DJs always feel the music must be at top volume? I hate the music when it is like that, and nearly always ask for it to be turned down. I feel that if you can't talk while the music is playing - then it is too loud. Just my opinion.

Now the holidays are quickly approaching and I realize that today is November 17th and Christmas is what - 5 weeks away? Since I do all the shopping and preparations for everyone, right now I feel overwhelmed. Partly due to lack of finances to purchase much, and partly because I have other things going on as well. Work, for one thing.

Which - I am only working 1/2 day today - hubby has cataract surgery at 11AM-ish so am only working until 10AM. This afternoon I plan to go out and get some groceries, and maybe look to see if I can't get one or two gifts. I have picked up a couple things, but not much. Working on two gifts now as well. Need to focus on getting those finished. I remember one year several years ago that I worked until 1AM Christmas morning to finish one gift for a grandchild. But I got it done! Last year I gave a "homemade" quilt to a son and his wife, and had to ask for it back for I didn't get it finish. But, I eventually did and was able to return it.

So that is my weekend and my day. I need to start getting my thoughts together and not share so much personal stuff I guess.

I'm looking outside my window and see pink streaks in the blue sky as the sun is starting to arise. It is a cold morning for sure (I put sweats on!) but looks like it will be a beautiful one. Time to dig my sweaters out of drawers and closets.

Take some time to see the beauty of the day outside - and feel the warmth of the love of God inside.


Friday, November 14, 2014

Lost train of thought....

For those that know me, know that it can happen fairly frequently for me. I really did have a good thought on Monday..... but with interruptions that morning, I got side-tracked and did not complete my thought. I'm not going to go through all that again, I will just say that I finally understand the reasons and what fors of doing the "formal" wedding last week and the reception this weekend. And it's ok.

The wedding reception is tomorrow and although it won't be your typical reception, it will be nice. They have a DJ and plan to have the mother-son (groom) dance, and also the daughter (bride)-father dance. My son guarantees me that I will cry - but won't tell me what the song is - last I heard it was 'You will always be my Baby by Tim McGraw' - but I'm not sure. Since I don't have to do anything except bring ice tea for the reception, I am able to dress up for this occasion. I have borrowed a long black dress from my daughter - yes, it is a larger size than I wear, but I will make it work. I probably ought to try it on tonight again to see if I need to run out and find something else. I love this outfit and I hope I don't end up wishing I had followed my son-in-law's advice and get it altered to fit me. I figured it was my daughter's dress, I shouldn't make changes to it as I plan to give it back to her - after our Christmas party next month. I'll see if I can pin it here and there to get by.

I was at a conference all day yesterday so got absolutely nothing done for the office. I am so far behind now that I am exhausted thinking about how far behind I am! Luckily my boss is at a board meeting this morning so will be in late - and I hopefully, can get focus on some things I need to get done - as long as others leave me alone. My boss doesn't bother me, but I do things when she is here to make sure she has everything she needs for meetings. I forgot she was going to the meeting - went and got her coffee this morning - guess that I will have another cup here rather than waste it.

God has been blessing us with beautiful weather lately - cool in the mornings and all. I wish I had an area out back (and the time) that I could just go outside and sit and enjoy the cooler weather. Sure, I could probably go out on weekends, but ....

Need to gather what thoughts I have and focus on my work this morning - take some time and thank God for all that He has given you. We take so much for granted - waking up each morning, breathing, our health.... not counting our families. A dear friend woke one morning this week to find that her adult son had died in his sleep. Memorial service is Sunday. I'm sure she would have loved to have had one more day with him.

Don't take each day for granted..... you never know when someone you know, someone you are close to, someone you love and care for, will breathe their last. Let them know what they mean to you. You will be glad you did.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Realization of things sometimes come too late.....

Saturday was the "wedding" of my youngest son and his bride. Actually the " " means that the wedding actually took place in May, but it happened again last Saturday at a grandeur level. Not that it was over the top or anything. It was nice, although there were some awkward moments, and mishaps, and uncertainty as to what to do. The DJ was unable to play the wedding march, so it was comical when the two flower girls starting humming the wedding march as the bride walked across the grass.

Yes, the bride walked across grass. The wedding was held in Sedona at the Cresent Moon Red Rock Crossing Park. Or something like that. It was truly a beautiful day - slight breeze, sunshine, leaves turning colors. Beautiful. The ceremony was across the parking lot in the middle of a grassy patch before heading into hiking trails. Yeah, there were a lot of hikers (being a public park we could not keep them out) that will appear in some photos, although we tried to wait in-between people walking through.

We are set up and in place for the wedding. The groom, best man, and I are at the front. In comes the matron of honor, the two flower girls. Finally, the bride is with her father getting ready to walk down the ... well, what should be an aisle but was just grass. Everyone is standing (only the "old" parents got chairs) and waiting for the ceremony to begin. No music.... until the flower girls start humming. Finally, the bride and her father are almost in front of us. Only they stop two feet to my right.

The wedding site person (they had to hire her to get the park for the wedding) - gasp!! - right as we started the ceremony, she walks up and tries to move the bride and her father over to where she wanted them to be. The groom shakes his head at her, meaning her to leave it be. I finish the opening, then asked them to move over a few feet in front. We continued through the ceremony, the groom seemingly making fun by doing his vowels in a 'drawl', causing the bride to laugh. But soon, the ceremony was over and we began the process of the photographer taking photos.

I felt fat that day and probably looked it. But then, it's isn't about me. The bride and groom looked both beautiful and handsome. Lots of photos were taken, then the couple headed to a location they wanted more photos taken, and the rest of us headed to the ramada to wait for them.

The cake, champagne, and cider was there waiting. We waited only a short time before the new couple arrived. I loved the photo I got of the two flower girls, and the three boys standing at the end of the sidewalk as the couple walk down towards the ramada.

The cake was cut, the toasts were given. I was blown away by the toast given by my granddaughter, the groom's daughter. I must admit I can't remember how old she is - all the grandchildren are growing up so fast - but I think around 10 - and she has a birthday this week. Anyway - she gave a toast that choked me up. It was a "paragraph", not a sentence or two. I can't even remember it all, and I wish I could. It was a beautiful, heartfelt toast from a daughter to her parents. wow. Afterwards I was so surprised that everyone said AMEN.

The DJ got the music playing and the bride danced with her son to 'You Are My Sunshine'. Then the groom danced with his daughter. I cried. Yep, I did. And I snapped many photos of this moment. The song was 'Daddy's little girl' by Tim McGraw, I think. I believe the groom sung the song to his daughter as they danced.

Overall, the wedding was beautiful.

Yesterday as I was thinking over how everything went, a realization came to me. The bride had been saying this was her 'dream' wedding.... yet none of us could understand since the 'original' wedding was in May. We kept thinking about the cost of all that was being spent - and how they really didn't have that kind of money to spend. We couldn't grasp what it was all about. Then it hit me.

The ceremony in May was for convenience of the insurance. It was nothing more to her than going to a JP to get married. This WAS her dream wedding - the fancy dress, the walk down the 'aisle', her father giving her away, the reception next week. She deserved it. She was entitled to it. And I feel bad that I didn't understand it. Perhaps if I had spent more time with her and really listened to her, I could have grasped what that meant. I wish I had been more involved in the wedding. I could have helped take stress off her. Yes, I did offer to help, but since I didn't know what her plans were, I had to leave it up to the bride and groom to tell me what I could do. I didn't hear anything so thought the bride's family was helping her. Little did I realize how little they did help. There was much I could have done to help relieve some of the stress.

But, it is all over now, and we are waiting for the reception on Saturday. My son tells me I will cry during the song he has chosen for us to dance to. Heck, I cry at everything so this won't be much different. Maybe. First time ever dancing with my son though.

It was a tiring but good, weekend. The wedding is over - and now back to work.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Listening - do we really do it?

I've been reading a lot lately about listening. Really listening. Interesting topic that I read on today. It was about listening when you have emotional baggage. It's more about how we let our own issues interfere with our listening.

I've been sitting here and wondering if - and how - I have let my own emotional pain affect how I listen to others. Do I? I hope not, but yet, I'm sure that I have. Just as I am sure you have. Sometimes our 'listening' is affected by our indifference to the situation. Or to the person.

Can you think of a time when someone was talking to you and all you could think at the time was "would you hurry up and spit it out so that I can leave this conversation?" I know I have, unfortunately. Sometimes we have even family members we would like to turn a deaf ear to, especially when it's all about them.

But when it is a topic we are interested in, or a person we enjoy listening to, we could sit for hours and talk and share and listen. The thought just occurred to me that many bartenders - and hairdressers are the people who we tend to share the most with. Since I don't go to bars, my poor hairdresser gets to listen to me whine, rejoice, complain, or just be funny. I usually tease him that he knows more about me than I know myself. But then, how much is he really listening to me? How many times is he so preoccupied with his own thoughts that he doesn't really hear me? Yes, that happens too. Since I've been going to him for about 15 years, we both know a lot about each other.

This is from a book I'm reading about carrying emotional weight when sharing with others.....
Nearly everyone has emotional filters that prevent him or her from hearing certain things that other people say. Your past experiences, both positive and negative, color the way you look at life and shape your expectations. And particularly strong experiences, such as traumas or incidents from childhood, can make you tend to react strongly whenever you perceive you are in a similar situation. As Mark Twain once said, “A cat who sits on a hot stove will never sit on a hot stove again. He’ll never sit on a cold stove either. From then on, that cat just won’t like stoves.”

If you’ve never worked through strong past emotional experiences, you may be filtering what others say through those experiences. If you’re preoccupied with certain topics, if a particular subject makes you defensive, or if you frequently project your point of view onto others, you may need to work through your issues before you can become an effective listener.

Sigmund Freud stated, “A man with a toothache cannot be in love,” meaning that the toothache doesn’t allow him to notice anything other than his pain. Similarly, anytime a person has an ax to grind, the words of others are drowned out by the sound of the grindstone.

So - I read that and I thought about how true it is. Especially about the 'man with a toothache cannot be in love' statement. When our pain is great, we aren't going to be truly listening.

And sometimes, we need to listen with the heart, versus with just our ears.

Hmmmmm..... I'm listening now with my ears and hear my boss just walk in so off I go! Hope you have a great day!


Friday, October 31, 2014

Want to get even?

I usually don't listen to the radio on my way in to work, but this morning I decided to turn it on. As the people were talking, they said something that made sense.

If someone has hurt you, or made you angry, or did something to you or someone you love, get even with them. How? By forgiving them.

Yeah, that doesn't make sense, does it? You hurt me, I should get to hurt you back. Isn't that what people do? You say something that offended me, so I'm going to say something offensive back to you. You did something that made me feel guilty, so I need to lash out at you and say something cruel so that my guilt doesn't feel so bad.

Oh trust me, that has been my year, I think. But, I learned a long time ago that even though I can't trust some people, I can forgive them. They can not control my life by the things they say or the things they do. I forgive them.

And by forgiving them, I not only get even, I get set free. The more I withhold forgiveness, the more in bondage I am to them. When I forgive them, they have nothing to hold on me. I am free.

Want to get even? Forgive them. Let it go. Love them.

I read in a book recently that when we don't like someone (because of behavior or things said, or whatever reason), we should ask God to bless them. And be sincere about it. Jesus said that we are to 'Bless.... see Matthew 5 below.... NLT version.

The Beatitudes
3 “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
4 God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 God blesses those who are humble,
for they will inherit the whole earth.
6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,[b]
for they will be satisfied.
7 God blesses those who are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
for they will see God.
9 God blesses those who work for peace,
for they will be called the children of God.
10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.

I am choosing to forgive, and I am choosing to bless. What about you?

Have a great day!