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Posts Tagged ‘listen’

Another year older, and maybe even a little wiser, though I have ended the year with more questions than answers. I turned 24 on Christmas Day this year, and I am still shocked at everwhere I have been and everything I have done in those 24 years. It will never cease to amaze me what can all be squeezed into just one year—memories and new understandings fitting in day-to-day life like packing peanuts. Last December I graduated from college with a Bachelor’s degree in English. I moved back home in the beginning of March, went to the San Juan Islands in April, became single in May, went to Dallas, Texas in August for a Mary Kay Convention for the second time, took a road trip to Alabama where I saw friends I made in Italy that I hadn’t seen in two years, and flew to Wyoming for the first time in October to visit my best friend. I even wrote a new song on my guitar about a friend comforting another friend in pain. Recently, my favorite thing has been receiving a VHS player for my birthday. I have three boxes of VHS tapes in my bedroom closet that I was finally able to take down from its dusty shelf. So I spent a lot of the weekend watching old Christmas movies like Annie and Anabelle’s Wish, as well as rediscovering how many Disney movies I have on VHS. If they were unbreakable, I would have been tossing them all in the air to let them fall around me like some would do with money.

I ran my first 5k this year and made a lot of new friends that have become a big part of my life. I have felt the pain of missing loved friends more deeply this year than I have in a long time and discovered that a broken heart truly feels like your insides are cracking in every nook and cranny. I cried a lot more this year than I have in previous years. But that didn’t make it a bad year. I drank too much coffee, spent endless hours listening to music, and slept in too late too often. But I made it through another year with my loan payments up to date and no broken bones or sickness. I’d say I’m doing just fine.

This year has taught me that every single one of us could be better communicators. Especially when it comes to listening. In the midst of wanting to jump in and give our opinion in a conversation, we forget that listening is a significant part of communication. Why should anyone listen to us if we don’t take the time to listen to them? Are we really so prideful that we think what we have to say is more important than what they have to say? You don’t have to agree with the person, but that doesn’t mean you won’t learn or rediscover something. My goal for next year is to also have more conversations that are important. That sounds a little arrogant, but it’s not meant to be. I simply mean that we have too many conversations that are surface-level because that’s what’s comfortable. But there is so much to discuss and discover when we take the extra step to talk about deeper things than the weather. Getting to those topics can be tricky sometimes, so it takes some practice.

I could also use a little more practice when it comes to bravery. For the past two years, I’ve wanted to take my guitar to the nursing home sometime in the week before Christmas and sing Christmas songs to the elderly who may not get many guests if any at all, and maybe even stick around to listen to stories of those willing to talk with me. But I have been afraid to go alone because I have stage freight. I am insecure about my guitar playing abilities since I make mistakes while playing in front of people even though I don’t make mistakes when I’m by myself. But I also have a soft voice, and I don’t know how many would even be able to hear me. I also don’t talk to many people I don’t know. It’s always been hard for me to strike up a conversation with a stranger, even when I want to.

I’m filled to the brim of my glass with love today that I don’t know how to give it out any faster. I’ve been telling a lot of my friends and family the past couple days how much I treasure them, and I find myself in tears most of the time while writing to them. I think that’s partially because of the fact that my monthly gift arrived this morning. But the other half is truly because I feel blessed beyond words. I don’t know what this year would have looked like without them. There are so many hugs yet to give, so many experiences yet to occur, so many people to meet and stories to hear that part of me feels like I’m wasting time sitting here writing this. However, I’m only human, and there are days my glass is tipped over, kind of like how I’d like to flip over the tables of customers that test my patience. But thankfully those days are limited. Emotions for me tend to be overwhelming because they hit me like a train, and sometimes there’s not much I can do to hold them back. I found myself crying quite a bit at work this year, no matter what I told myself to calm down. But I will take those days if it means I can love people more deeply as well.

Only God knows what will become of me by next December. But I’m excited to see where I’m led.

 

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This year I have heard the words “stop hiding” said to me a lot of situations that had to do with my views on things. I never saw it as hiding, but I do know I have fears regarding it. So I have made it a mission to be a little less fearful. This will be difficult on one side because my personality is an ISFJ, and I’m quite terrible at confrontation. So when I’ve talked about hard things, it’s usually through internet or texting. You don’t need to tell me how “pathetic” that may sound to some. But it’s the only way I could get myself to speak my mind about anything because I’m still learning to open my mouth when needed at the age of 23. I don’t intend to ever be someone who never stops talking once I find my voice. I’m a listener at heart. But when asked or when necessary, I’d like to find some small piece of confidence in the cramped spaces of my mind to speak what I know.

I’ve been told to stop hiding behind Christianity, to stop hiding behind my phone. But in a world that looks down upon you for having a different viewpoint than the person standing before you, or even the majority in general, it can be hard to want to speak up. Criticism and deep frowns either tend to cause more deep frowns or, in most of my cases, a caving in on oneself by feeling slightly ashamed while simultaneously not really swaying on what I believed to be true. The tone of one’s voice and the posture of one’s stance means a great deal. I am alert to emotion, and when some form relating to anger or irritation pull ahead, it becomes hard for me to find my words because I’d rather focus on calming the situation than answer the question.

There would be more discussion if the important topics were more approachable than they are now. There are the occasional few who may be set in their ways, but are willing to listen to what you have to say. But there are also those who are more interested in telling you what they have to say. Then there are others who would rather not talk about it at all and revert to changing the subject to surface level subjects. I “hid” behind the texts of my thoughts instead of using my voice because when I answer a text or after I’m done reading a text, I have time to catch my breath, to get a grip on my thoughts. My way of coping and of figuring out what I even have to say in the first place is through writing. So it looks like I’m hiding. And I think part of me was hiding. But the other part truly needs to write things out. This introverted mind of mine takes longer than the normal extrovert to answer questions or ideas through speech because my voice is not where my answers are. They are in my hands.

That does not mean I will never voice my opinions, thoughts, or views. It simply means I’m still learning how to answer in a way other than through forms of text. I don’t easily converse with people in general unless I know them, so conversing about deeper subjects takes even more effort.

This is a harsh world sometimes, and I don’t expect to be craddled. I just know that it is taking me time to step onto the battlefield. So have some patience with those who may be similar to me. Frown a little less, and maybe we will be more willing to answer you. Use a few less harsh words, and maybe you will help us find the confidence we need.

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Sometimes it feels like there are more voices in my head telling me to do or not do something than there are stars in the sky. It is quite exhausting to figure out which one feels more right, but even harder when the majority of me wants to do the opposite of what would be right.

But there’s something I’ve been realizing lately: Of all those voices, only half of them are right; which means the other half is going to tell me whatever I want to hear or whatever may convince me to take its side. At the end of the day, our choices are our own. Sometimes we will choose the right path, and sometimes the stubborn sinners that we are will be blinded by what we want to see rather than what is. Sometimes those choices help us grow to make better choices in the future, and sometimes our choices wreck things for us just because we didn’t want to listen to anyone but ourselves.

So before you go thinking up other names that partake in where you are in your life, you got yourself there, whether that’s a good or bad thing. Your attitude, your laziness, your alcoholism, your stress, your busy schedule, your weight, whatever it may be. . .you’re where you’re at because of you. It almost feels natural to start thinking about how other people did you wrong, about other’s choices that landed you in the dumps, but the way we take in information, the way we deal with it is our choice.

This almost feels like I’m going off track, but I promise I’m not. Of all those voices in my head, there’s only one that truly matters to me, and that’s God’s. That is, when I figure out which voice is His. But after that, the decision I make is up to me, even if it strays from what God would have preferred. I haven’t always made the right choice, and there will be days where I make a wrong one again. But when the time comes to make an important decision, remember that the choice you make affects you. The ones who disagree with you aren’t the ones living your life. That doesn’t mean to not take what they have to say into consideration, but remember that there will probably be people fighting on both sides, so not everyone is going to be happy.

So take the time to weigh all sides, and choose from the heart. Sometimes we have to say no to things we want. It sucks. But when we are able to say no to those things, we save ourselves unnecessary heartache, as well as the time to find what we were meant to find all along.

As abstract as this may seem, I hope you can find some truth of it in your own walk of life. Don’t blame anyone else for where you’re at. If you don’t like where you’re at, change it. 

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When playing volleyball against the wall, the wall always wins. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that we can’t win every battle. Sometimes we need to lose to be able to win again, to find ourselves again. But that battle is usually the one that stops us all from ever fighting again. Keep fighting, because until we die, we will always have a battle. As we grow older we learn which ones to keep fighting for. Your friends can’t tell you which ones to give up on, and your family can’t quite save you if you fall, for our journey is ours alone. Friends are just there to remind us that we have a shoulder to cry on, a waiting hug, a listening ear.

Notice the tree. The wind will push and pull every leaf. At first they all stay attached, but only the strongest ones will remain. Hold on to your branch, everyone. The wind is simply testing your strength.

Almost everything has a “but.” Be aware of the part before it, but be warned of the part after it. Even those who don’t like surprises will be handed surprises. When you can’t escape it, prepare yourself for it. Just because it’s coming doesn’t mean you can’t attempt to ease the blow.

 

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Writers are the ultimate stalkers. I am allowed to sit and watch people with the excuse that I’m writing about them. There is not much that I don’t notice. I see the piece of blue gum squished flat into the sidewalk from a thousand shoes, and the callouses on your fingertips. I notice empty straw wrapper thrown on the ground and the freckle by the hairline on your forhead.

There is nothing in this world that doesn’t deserve my undivided attention. I can sit in a coffee shop for four hours, bringing nothing to do, and just watch people live their daily lives without feeling the need to talk or do something. I would rather listen than talk; I’d rather watch than do.

I went to Target a couple weeks ago, brought my notebook, walked to the food aisles, and sat down at the end of an aisle where the busiest street was in the store. I may have noticed the little old lady searching through betty crocker cake mixes by herself, and the mother singing songs to hush the little girl in a yellow sundress standing in the cart while she gently bounced the baby strapped to her chest, but what I noticed most, was that it was only the kids who watched me.

We’d have staring contests and they would always win, for I couldn’t help but turn away with a smile. Kids don’t see any harm in staring, whereas the rest of us become embarrased and look away if we meet eyes with the person we’ve been looking at. A couple of kids asked really loudly “Momma, what is she doing?” and would point to me. The mothers would say “I don’t know,” and hurry thier kids away, giving me apologetic looks, though I saw curiosity in their eyes as well. It made me laugh, but at the same time, it makes me wonder what they all see. God tells us to be more like children. Kids see everything and aren’t afraid to ask questions. What if we all paused in our pursuit of buying things we don’t need, and take a look around…what would we notice?

They say babies laugh 400 times a day and that if you spend the whole day with the kid, and laugh whenever they laugh, that you’ll be a happier person.  What if we were as worry-free as they are? Pay more attention to kids. We can learn a lot from them.

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