Listen to listen and not to respond….awhile back I read this quote on Facebook and it really stuck with me. Before this it never had occurred to me. I think it reigns so true and powerful because that’s the reality for many of us. Most of us hear what is spoken but simultaneously are actually preparing to answer. Sometimes we truly don’t listen just to hear but to respond.
All my life I’ve had the gift of gab, even as a young girl I talked and talked and I’m sure I drove people crazy! I can’t help talking about my life and experiences and when I’m listening to others, sometimes honestly I’m thinking of my life connections and responses. So if I am fully aware of this behavior, how can I switch my brain?
It might help to write in your journal what you notice when you really start observing your behavior. In this case jotting it down could be a learning experience and a good reminder to truly listen to others. By being totally aware and encompassed in spoken words, you may find that you grow to be an avid listener.
Why not really listen to someone? Friends and family don’t always need advice or suggestions but an interested listener.When participating in a conversation I am trying to listen now, really lending an open ear. It’s harder than one thinks, it means clearing your brain of come backs and thoughts.
Listening without thoughts of replies must be an art. I personally know many people who could learn to listen, including myself! If you wish to better yourself in mutual caring conversation, practice listening with a genuine interest to listen and not to respond.
Many times we simply want to be heard…are you all ears?
Here I am drinking my morning cup of coffee…watching snow fall out the window! It’s late April, on the cusp of May, robins have returned and lilac bushes have sported tender buds. Despite all this, the white stuff falls! Mother Nature has plans to wreck our carefree spirit, the wonderful feeling we have here when spring arrives.
Just yesterday I walked down the road with bounding joy, watching all the birds fly in circles and noticed tiny buds on bushes and plants. The sun warmed our house and yard and I opened windows to invite the fresh spring air in.
As I get ready to go to school, I have to say weather in New Hampshire is tough, but the people are tougher! We will wake up tomorrow with the snow all melted with rings of laughter and head shakes.
Most evenings Tom and I gaze at the celestial sky through the window while lying in bed. Just across our bed a small window serves as a makeshift skylight. This particular evening a cloud cover hid the bounty of twinkling stars but instead there was a natural melody playing.
A beautiful chorus of peepers traveled from the pond. We spent several minutes listening to these nature calls, a comforting song of nature. These sounds are actually male frogs calling their female mates. It lulled us to sleep, as sweet as can be. The cheeping sounds reminds me of past nights with open windows and cool air wafting in. They are a sure sign of warmer bright days and a gracious hello of spring.
Across our yard, bordering our property line is a small pond. Sometime in the past ( the 50’s or 60’s) a local ROTC built the ponds barrier.A steady brook from the woods empties this body of water. The run off rushes into a culvert under the road.
When we first acquired the home, the pond was in good shape and healthy. Years of non maintenance has left overgrown weeds and water plants, shrinking the pond itself. We’ve concentrated on our home renovation, not really having the time to maintain it. Our goal is to dig it out with a backhoe and cut back all the plants and weeds that have taken over. I dream of a little dirt path to it, as well as beautiful flowers on its edge.
I expect to hear the peepers tunes hum for a few weeks. Their beautiful croaking is surely a gift for us to enjoy …the sounds of spring.
What signs of spring are you seeing? If you are experiencing a different season, what do you see or hear now?
B chose his college this week. We all patiently waited for it as he struggled with his heart and brain. His brain told him one thing while his heart said another. My advice is always go with your heart when making a tough decision because you want to be happy. Choosing a college with your heart means you’re listening to your desires….choosing your happiness.
Life is all about taking chances with decisions at every turn. Like any major decision in this life, there’s a distinct risk. Instead of focusing on what could be a negative experience, why not peer at the positive side and think, what are all the magnificent events that will happen? Most of us could say that without taking risks, our lives would be quite different. I wouldn’t be employed by the school or hold my degree without them.
Looking back on my life, there were many times I made decisions with my brain and not my heart. Obviously I can’t go back and redo those times, but over the years I’ve learned that listening to your heart and your inner most desires is the key to happiness.
Another important point I want to mention is to make decisions for yourself and not to make others happy. Everyone in your life won’t always support your decision but it doesn’t matter at all. You’re not living to impress them…you’re living your life and no one elses! B had this huge weight on him and in the end, he decided for his life and personal goals.
For those who know me personally, you know I like to post on Facebook all my sons’ accomplishments and what is going on in their lives. Lately I’ve held back due to B’s request, ” Mom, don’t put my college decision on Facebook. ” He’s a humble guy and doesn’t need multiple likes or approval to build his self esteem. I’m proud of him for that, he’s not driven by media attention. He did say I could write about it here and so in the fall B will attend Mount Ida College in Massachusetts, about 2 1/2- 3 hours from here. It’s minutes from Boston and will be great for internships. Tom and I are so very proud of B’s accomplishments and look forward to hearing about his college adventures!
Do you have children making college decisions right now or recently?
A piece of my past that was tucked away in my conscience where remembrances hide, came back to life two years ago. I never would have guessed that my middle school dance memories would breathe life again or would even matter.
Let’s fast forward about 32 years and imagine my intense surprise when my son, D told me that his high school prom was going to be held at the Alumni Hall! It meant nothing to him, as I had never mentioned it to him before. He did know that I grew up in Haverhill but didn’t know that the Doyle ( my maiden name) residence stood on Court Street.
The historic Alumni Hall grandly sits on quaint Court Street in Haverhill, New Hampshire. In the 19th century this grandmother served as the local courthouse and later in the 20th century as a gymnasium for the Haverhill Academy middle school.
This place speaks history to me, as I lived a few houses down Court street from her. I was one of hundreds of students who played organized gym games on its old wooden floor with the historic stage in the background. Our school, Haverhill Academy, stood a few feet away facing one of the commons. From the back yard we could walk on a short path leading to the hall. Years later the town built a tennis court with basketball hoops adjacent to the path and it still stands today.
As a seventh and eighth grader, I attended dances at the Alumni Hall. For me, it was magnificent to live just five houses up on the right. I could walk to the dances! It was especially magical strolling back under a cloak of stars and the cool night air enveloping me. I remember having that dance high from the loud music and people and the adrenaline pushing me back home.
I vividly remember taking my cousin Janice to the dance and the fun we had, walking towards the venue. Loud music belted from its every corner on a fine spring evening. I try to forget that sad sorrowful feeling of waiting to be asked to dance by a certain boy. Although it never happened, someone did ask me to dance…but I refused. I had my heart set on one boy and was stupid enough to not even consider others. I danced fast tunes with my friends but didn’t dance any slow ones.
It was an early evening in May and as my mother in law, Theo and I went to the prom to snap photos of D and his date, my stomach was like jello. It was so many years later after that spring dance in this same building….I had transformed from a young teenager with my promising life ahead of me to now, a grown mama and wife. Now I was going to my son’s dance at the same place. It was unbelievable and will never happen again.
All the boys sported tuxes of black or white with slicked back hair and hopeful smiles. A colorful sea of gowns of teals, peaches, bright royal blues to frosty pinks decorated the front lawn. The girls tinkly little giggles and the subtle clicks of numerous cameras was drowned out by the boys chattering. As we took pictures of all the handsome couples on the lawn, a huge green tractor inched by and everyone laughed.
Inside the hall the tables and chairs were gift wrapped in satin like material and tulle. Little white lights twinkled, shining over the renovated wood floor. This didn’t look like the same place where my dance was, a different Alumni hall in a different time ages ago. I still could imagine what our dance looked like.
Soon after our family moved from Haverhill, the town closed the building. It was falling apart and unsafe and needed an expensive facelift. Years later the funds were gathered and renovations busily began. After the renovation, the historic hall remained with all its splendor but rejuvenated into a fine classy grandmother.
Now the Alumni Hall is a great cultural center for the arts. I have gone to a Betty Johnson Gray show there and it was an amazing night. Betty Gray is a prominent singer who hales from New York City but lives in a sprawling mansion next door to Haverhill Academy.
It’s an amazing circumstance when ones past goes full circle and meets you in the present. Those past moments that rise up and come back to life are staunch reminders that life has incredible connections. As a silly teenager girl, I once attended these exciting dances, now grown into a wonderful woman and being a spectator there for my son. That young girl would never have imagined that her oldest son would dance at the same place and how lovely her life would turn out to be!
One topic I haven’t mentioned yet in my blogging journey is reading. I really love and relish a good book! There’s something about the cover and the wispy turn of the pages, the smell of a book and its placement in my hands that appeals to my inner soul. As a young teenager I read all the Little House on the Prairie books. My brother David exposed me to classics such as Little Women and The Catcher in the Rye and they still sit on my shelf.
I have a bookshelf of favorite books and refer back to many but also visit our small town library. (Especially in the summer) Every summer I joyfully compile my wish list including current bestsellers and recommended novels. As I complete a book, I write about it briefly in my journal and then rate it. At the summers end I notice which book was the best of all and recommend it to others.
If the book doesn’t hold my interest for a few chapters and I’m really not invested in the characters, then it’s exit time. Not every book deserves your time or a spot on your bookshelf. All my books on my shelf have earned the spot and are special enough to be read again and again.
Three books that I own and what I love about them
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I first read this book in my early twenties. I love how it’s written!Harper Lee is a true storyteller in this classic. Take my advice… do not buy or read the latest published Go Set A watchman, it will surely disappoint you and change your perception of Atticus.
Atticus is my favorite character as he is so good and just. I’ve never watched the movie with Gregory Peck but I wish to. Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes
A few summers ago I picked up this book at a community book sale. The room was filled with potential good summer finds and I stashed books in my bag like a kid in a candy store. The moment I picked up this book I was captivated by the story. Frances Mayes, a gourmet cook, buys a villa in Italy. Her story tells of quaint life in this region and includes recipes and gardening anecdotes. This is a wonderful summer read!
A Year By the Sea ( Thoughts of an Unfinished a Woman) by Joan Anderson
This book appealed to me because it’s an enchanting story of a woman’s growth and transformation. Every married middle aged woman can relate to this story. Even if you are happily married and content with your life, ( like I am proudly) you will find yourself immersed in her story! The strangest coincidence happened while I was reading this a few summers ago…my dear sister was reading it at the very same time and neither of us knew until I told her about it and she showed me its placement on her nightstand.
As summer draws near in the US, I challenge you to start thinking about a summer book wish list. If you live somewhere else in the world and winter is approaching, write a winter book list. Listen to morning news shows in May and early June and jot down their recommendations. As I write mine, I’ll share in a later post.
Here Comes the Sun…and I welcome it back with open arms!
The marvelous sun in all its glory is finally showing its happy face, shining down with all its power. Warm rays filter in the house and as I drove to a nearby town , I am uplifted.Just a few days of luminating warm sun makes a difference in my mood.
You see, in our corner of the world, the sun hides and prefers to peek out in small episodes. It’s likely for us to get weeks without its appearance, explaining why many move to Florida.
On this sunny day I feel the beauty, the warm splendor and wish this for a slew of successive days, to fill my cup so it will last through the bleakest of gray days.
As the sun glow makes my day, I truly hope you have sun shining
down on you in your part of the world!☀️☀️☀️
Young children innocently pick up stones and either chuck them or hide them away in their pocket. Our sons chose their favorites over the years in our driveway or on hikes. Sometimes they would leave it as a special gift on the kitchen counter and I would proudly place them in the window as a show piece. Other times my little boys left them deep in their jeans pockets and I would find them on laundry day.
There is a meaningful quote (taken from wisdomquotesandstories.com) that says when a child gives you a rock, take it with gratitude for it may be the only thing they have to give and they’ve chosen you to give it to.
Over the years a few small dirtied hands have clasped mine and religiously slipped a rock in mine, walking in from recess. It really is an honor, a simple gift they could give. I placed them gently in the folds of my pocket with the hopes that I’ll never not love this vocation.
A few years back a first grade boy gave me a special rock. It meant the world to me because working with him was a challenge. I would take him a few times a week to work on reading skills, mostly phonological awareness. Sometimes it was tough and trying because he really had no interest in learning and no matter what fun activity I tried, he bucked the whole time like a wild mustang.
When he gave me his present we gained an unspoken understanding. I knew learning to read would never be easy for him but I had to try to help anyway I could. This meaningful gift touched my heart and even helps me today, as a reminder to not give up on children. I am grateful for this gift that will see me through my career.
This child moved away the next year and I was sorry to see him go. My co-worker and I each gave him a remember me sticker and we both had his precious rocks. We held back our tears when he said goodbye to us. Now his family has moved back in the area and he goes to middle school in a neighboring town. Like all the school children, I wish that child all my best in his high school career and life.
My little flat smooth rock sits on my kitchen shelf as a testament of love for the little moments with students. It serves as my remembrance of working with children and how I grateful I am for the honor.
The rock on my shelf is also a little reminder that you have to remain patient with a steadfast determination when working with children. Flexibility is a must because if a child isn’t having a great day or if events are happening at home that he or she need to talk about, then that may end up being the agenda for the day. (Especially if it’s a one on one group) Other times the child may generate his own cut up sentence so he has his say but is still working.
School is their home away from home and you have to get it right, for they are always watching what you do. Knowing this weighs on me, for what if I’m having a bad day? Then I can’t show it because I still have a job to do. Despite this pressure, it’s the best job in the world and in my opinion, the most fulfilling.