I met a good listener today

You know when someone is not listening to you.  You know it when they seem to jump in ready to use what you’ve just said, against you. You know it when they ask you to repeat. You know it when at your first pause, they redirect the conversation to be about them.  You know it when they cut you off.

Most people seem to prefer listening to themselves rather than someone else. They are their own most interesting subject.  I became very good at listening. Listening to sad stories like the temp worker who was being physically abused by her boyfriend. She had moved with him away from her family and believed she needed him to function. I listened to the empowering story of the mother of twin toddlers and a child a year older, who was struck with breast cancer. She had the surgery and chemo while caring for her boys and maintaining her job and a smile.

So perhaps because I’ve become a good listener or because I don’t speak much until I really have something to say, I am acutely aware when someone is not listening to me. Generally I’ll just stop talking.

But last Friday I met a good listener. It was the Physician’s Assistant at my doctor’s office. She had never met me. She said she would get things started, since the doctor was running behind. She wanted to know how I was responding to the recent increase in the dosage of one of my meds. Of course, I knew they’d be asking that about that, so I had prepared my response. As I talked, she typed, fast. She was looking at me the whole time. She asked a few questions to help me clarify what I meant. When we were interrupted, she remembered the last thing I had said and brought me back to it.  I felt she wanted to hear me and she wanted to help me understand things I wouldn’t know to ask.

At the end of appointment I was informed and felt validated. I thanked her.

Really hearing someone is a gift to them. It’s free, but priceless.

English: The Active Listening Chart shows the ...

English: The Active Listening Chart shows the progression in the quality of listening that an active listener can engage in. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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“Wouldn’t give nothing for the journey.”

Happy birthday to me!! Today I turn 45 years old. I’m very happy about that. Actually I’ve never been one to lie about or hide my age, but today I’m practically shouting it from the rooftop.

I’m very happy with my life right now, perhaps the happiest I’ve ever been. (The meds work!) This is particularly significant since 7 months ago I did not believe I’d ever feel happy again. The fear, anger and feeling of being trapped were too strong. I was wrong.

Today I’m thinking of some of the most powerful moments in my life:

when I stood, alphabetized by last name, in cap and gown at the Baccalaureate service the night before my graduation from college

when giving birth to my 1st child, who was breach, heading into surgery for a C-section and realizing it was a life and death situation and I was more concerned about his than mine

when I came up out of the baptismal water knowing I was a new creature

when I was 3 months pregnant with my daughter and decided that I had to go back to my verbally/emotionally abusive husband because I couldn’t even buy toothpaste. But I resolved that I’d get a job, keep it and save my money.

really understanding poverty when Kenyan children in Nairobi begged me for coins and called me a rich American

when I found out my mom lost our second home and most of my stuff had been left behind in their haste

when it occurred to me that perhaps my second husband could not be faithful

when I decided that no matter what happens (and some more jacked up stuff WILL happen) God has got me. I’ll be fine.

Paul wrote in Philippians 4:11 – 13 “Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” -NLT

I never really understood this scripture. But now I think I do. And it’s a great place to be. It requires focus and faith. (BTW it wouldn’t hurt to read that whole chapter. It is perhaps my favorite.)

My mother used to say from time to time, “Wouldn’t give nothing for the journey.” Today I can say the same. I’ve learned so much about myself, God’s love and humanity. And hey, I’ve got another 45 to go!