Ever receive one of those hollow-eyed, flat apologies? You know … the mechanical kind that lack any substance. Yes, we all know what it’s like, and we all know what we want instead. Tracy and a few others do, and here are their stories. Read them here.
Monthly Archives: May 2013
“We don’t grieve to distance ourselves from a loved one. We grieve so that they become a part of our heart.”
Wise words from my dear friend, Pat, as she fought (and ultimately lost) her battle with breast cancer.
I miss you, Pat.
Because things are always in the process of change, grief is inevitable. Proceeding through life creates a sense of loss, because something must be left behind. Consequently, grief arises whenever we move, change careers, or retire and leave the workforce altogether. We mourn endings such as when we grow up and leave home, when friendships cease, and when we experience life endings. Click here to keep reading . . .
Carlie is an over-achieving teenager. She’s driven to excel academically, athletically and socially. She has trouble with that word “relax.” But in a moment of clarity, she wowed me with this:
“I would like to know my future to see if I’m wasting my time, because if I am wasting my time, I want to waste it better.”
It’s sad that a stressed-out state can feel normal to us, so much so that it feels wrong to be free of it. Let’s face it, our culture values and encourages busyness over taking time to smell the roses. Busyness is easily equated with productivity, purposefulness and meaningfulness. To do otherwise is deemed wasting one’s time.
This is all wrong! Squirrels are incessantly busy—aimlessly darting here and there—but I wouldn’t necessarily call that busyness productive, purposeful or much less meaningful. The same applies to us humans.
In contrast, soaking up a sunset can be one of the most productive, purposeful and meaningful things we can do.
Let’s get busy wasting some time!
Names are changed to honor client confidentiality
My partner, Don, and I had just sat down to enjoy lunch when a stranger approached our table. I thought he must be a manager and was about to ask how we felt about the food. Instead, with a concerned tone he asked me, “Are you feeling better?”
That was so out of the blue! Did I miss something? Who was this man? He acted like he knew me, but I didn’t know him. Perhaps he was a cook and he thought I had gotten sick. So I asked him, “Are you the cook?”
“Cook? No way!” He threw his head back with a loud guffaw. “I don’t cook!”
My state of confusion was quickly escalating. Meanwhile, Don, who was only getting part of the conversation, was forming his own opinion about what was going on, which I learned about later.
As the man continued to talk, I began to realize this was a case of mistaken identity. He thought I was an opponent he had just defeated in a tennis match! Ah, the light dawns. This man was consoling me! That’s why he asked if I felt better! I must have been a poor loser in a game I never played!
Not wanting to embarrass him, I didn’t correct his misperception, and why would I? This warm-hearted attention felt good.
I thought the conversation was about over at this point, but again, I was mistaken. He continued to console me by reassuring me that I had played very well. He complimented me on my skills (I have none) and my competitive spirit. But evidently I had a lousy partner because he blamed the entire loss on her, describing her as “clueless.”
Eventually, while thanking me for a good match, he walked away.
As Don and I shared our thoughts on what had just happened, I realized he had heard just enough of the conversation to be as “clueless” as my “tennis partner.”
He was of the opinion that the man was complaining about a woman who was a member of his cooking staff. “Why was he telling us all that?” Don said. “That guy was nuts!”
“No,” I said, “he was talking about my supposed tennis partner. Didn’t you catch that?”
“No. I just wanted the man to go away and let me eat.”
I spent the next few minutes enlightening Don, and it wasn’t long before we were both struck with the sheer hilarity of it all. It was a clear case of perceptions running amuck for three people. We laughed until our sides ached.
Eventually, we came back down to earth and talked about it as one of life’s many lessons— a course on making assumptions. I recently discovered some research showing that 90% of the assumptions we make are untrue. This tells me we walk around with all sorts of unexamined assumptions. Hmm—that’s humbling.
I like what Pema Chodron had to say about assumptions in her book, “The Places That Scare You.”
“We have two alternatives: either we question our beliefs—or we don’t. Either we accept our fixed versions of reality—or we begin to challenge them. In Buddha’s opinion, to train in staying open and curious—to train in dissolving our assumption and beliefs—is the best use of our human lives.”
“Making the decision to have a child—it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” —Elizabeth Stone
I don’t know about you, but that speaks to me. I have two sons, and although they’re full-fledged adults now, they’re never far from my heart-thoughts.
From the earliest days of changing diapers and changing diapers and changing diapers, I’ve experienced degrees of joy and warmth I never thought possible. But I’ve also experienced degrees of frustration and anguish I never thought possible, too.
Nope, motherhood is not for the faint of heart. It exhausts and tests you to the point of wondering why you ever signed up for it in the first place. I could say it challenges you to grow—that’s true, but it’s more accurate to say it forces you to grow.
There were times—humble times—when I knew that staying stuck in the old me was merely going to make matters worse. I had to change. I simply had to upgrade my way of seeing and doing things.
Yes, my sons have been my teachers in many respects, and I thank them for that. They’ve made me a better person, but most of all, they’ve made my heart grow bigger.
No question, guys would prefer—no, jump at the chance—to run a 20 mile marathon, uphill, rather than answer to a “we-need-to-talk” invitation from their female partner. Why is that? Could be they anticipate being dragged endlessly through the mud. It happens. Pure torture.
So avoidance is understandable. Who gleefully walks into a battlefield? Actually, according to scientific research, women don’t mind it as much. For us, peace can and is often sacrificed for the sake of confronting a bothersome issue.
Not so for men. Their brains actually suffer more—undergo greater stress—in such encounters. Could be why they work so hard to avoid them, or why they use humor to lighten things up.
Another thing that can be agonizing for a man is discussing a problem that doesn’t have a solution or apparent end. Pure torture, again.
So women take note—there’s hope! Your man may be more willing to participate in touchy discussions when he receives a “hey-I-need-your-input” invitation. It sounds friendlier and carries a message that an end is in sight—a solution can be reached!
The reason I’m writing about this is so I can share with you what a man said to his wife not long ago in the midst of one of those elongated and stressful discussions. I’m still laughing about it:
“What do I have to say to make you feel you won because I’m tired of rehashing the same old thing.”
The intellect understands through logic, whereas the heart understands through empathy.
Paralyzed with fear, Kathleen stopped suddenly in her tracks. The trail she was hiking with her husband, Zach, had come to an unexpected fork.
They were assured, back at the visitors center, that all trails would be clearly marked. For the most part, that proved to be true, but definitely not now.
Zach motioned to the right. “Let’s go this way,” he pressed.
Kathleen didn’t budge. “I just want to go back,” she said meekly.
“No, let’s keep going,” Zach insisted. “It’ll be alright.”
Kathleen—reduced to the emotional age of a six-year-old—started crying.
“I felt he wasn’t listening to me,” she said in our counseling session.