journal

musings and ponderings…

October 3, 2017

you just never know…

on my out, i stopped at my
mailbox to put some mail out.
i noticed the pickup truck parked
in front of the house down the street.

i smiled.
that house had finally went up for sale.
it’d be nice if someone liked it and bought it.

before i could cross the street,
the truck started headin’ my way.
i paused, waiting for it to pass.

instead, the young man driving it,
pulled up next to me and rolled down the window.

i said hello and he asked if i was josh’s mom.
we got to talkin’.
turns out, he had taken some guitar lessons from
josh when josh was teachin’ outta my house.
there were a few years there when my house was total chaos.
between josh’s lessons and bands practicing there,
all kindsa people, all ages, were comin’ in and out all the time.

i didn’t remember this guy.
but he smiled at me and said ‘i remember you.
i remember how nice you were to me. you told me i had a kind face.’

(and he did)

i couldn’t believe it.
this was somewhere around twelve years ago.
and he remember that!
and he still appreciated it!

we talked a little more, i found out he had been thru a divorce,
i asked him if he was still hurting, and we talked of that.
i smiled at the scene – here was this large african american man
sitting in his big truck, telling me of the sadness he sometimes
feels and i was leaning against the truck, telling him how it gets better.
we talked of possibly being neighbors and we said goodbye.

this entire encounter has stayed with me for days.

the world is filled with plenty of good.
our kindnesses – no matter how small – matter.
people are people. we all hurt and care and need kindness.
and just being real with each other is a gift that we can give every single day.

the news feeds fears.
and yeah, there’s a lotta stuff to be afraid of.
but then again…….there’s a lotta stuff not to be afraid of too.

twelve years later, this guy remembers i think he has a kind face.
twelve years later, i see he still does.

i love that.

October 2, 2017

some quiet today…

i didn’t realize the news of las vegas
until after i got on facebook this morning
and goofed a bit. then someone mentioned it.

it’s taken the wind outta my sails today.

there’s nothing that i can say that hasn’t
been said a million times. there’s nothing
i can offer here, except my holding a space
for the grief and the sorrow.

i wrote something after malala was shot years ago –
i remember just waiting to hear if she made it or not…
and when i heard she did, this just came out of my heart –

‘and the light stayed.’

that one sentence helps me focus on the light
and the power it holds.

so that’s what i want to offer today.

with a tear stained face,
i am sitting down next to you and just
holding your hand quietly today.

September 29, 2017

going a little deeper with the listening…

listening has been on my mind
for a long time now.
the lack of it unnerves me,
and so i’ve been trying to do
a better job of it myself.

it’s hard.

my emotions get in the way a lot.
so, if nothing else, it’s a good way
to practice being aware of your own stuff
that can churn so loudly it blocks out listening.

as, with most things, the deeper i go into it,
the more i see i don’t know.

i mean, you kinda figure you know what there is to know
about listening, right?
we may not do it as well as we like, but we know what it is.

but in the last couple of weeks, i have noticed how much i have
to stop and back up and take the whole person into account –
not just what they’re saying.

if i just took their paragraphs and wrote them down and read them,
i would miss so much of what is really there.
and more than once, those paragraphs by themselves felt bad to me.
like they wouldn’t come from someone i’m friends with. someone i respect.
but when i backed up, saw the whole picture, i understood that there
were times words were left out, thoughts were jumbled, things expressed
in ways that just didn’t ‘sound good.’ their emotions were fueling
a lot of what they were offering – i understood that there was so much
more that was meant or that was going on.
several times i gently asked to clarify.

that in itself is a skill to learn –
how to ask without judging –
how to open up the space wider when things are feelin’ weird.

having done it a fair amount in the span of a week,
i got to wondering about it.
what exactly IS deep listening?
this has got to be part of it, doesn’t it?
if i’m just now conscious of this part, what else am i missing?

so i googled around a bit. and found these two paragraphs that
seemed to be talking directly about what i was noticing.

this is written by the mindfulness staff at mindful.org –

Deep Listening involves listening, from a deep, receptive, and caring place in oneself, to deeper and often subtler levels of meaning and intention in the other person. It is listening that is generous, empathic, supportive, accurate, and trusting. Trust here does not imply agreement, but the trust that whatever others say, regardless of how well or poorly it is said, comes from something true in their experience. Deep Listening is an ongoing practice of suspending self-oriented, reactive thinking and opening one’s awareness to the unknown and unexpected. It calls on a special quality of attention that poet John Keats called negative capability. Keats defined this as “when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts without any irritable reaching after fact & reason.”

and then from changingminds.org, i found this about the different levels of listening. i clipped the last two levels. i think i have been doin’ a lot of full listening but am now moving more into the deeper stuff and noticing it – (and obviously, you know i don’t do this all the time! this is only when i hold the intention and give it my all…which isn’t nearly as often as i wish, but it is increasing a bit!)

Full listening
Full listening happens where the listener pays close and careful attention to what is being said, seeking carefully to understand the full content that the speaker is seeking to put across.
This may be very active form of listening, with pauses for summaries and testing that understanding is complete. By the end of the conversation, the listener and the speaker will probably agree that the listener has fully understood what was said.
Full listening takes much more effort than partial listening, as it requires close concentration, possibly for a protracted period. It also requires skills of understanding and summary.

Deep listening
Beyond the intensity of full listening, you can also reach into a form of listening that not only hears what is said but also seeks to understand the whole person behind the words.
In deep listening, you listen between the lines of what is said, hearing the emotion, watching the body language, detecting needs and goals, identifying preferences and biases, perceiving beliefs and values, and so on.
To listen deeply, you need a strong understanding of human psychology and to pay attention not just to the words by the whole person.
Deep listening is also known as ‘Whole person’ listening.

…..

i think when i’ve been doin’ good i’ve been ‘full listening.’
and now that deeper listening is creeping in,
i can begin to see what an incredible art listening really is.

i love leaving listening thoughts right before a weekend.
seems like a good thing to play with thru our days where we get
a little more time to just hang out with our friends.

September 28, 2017

the season’s changing…and so am i…

i took a walk this morning
looking for that cooler air.
it hadn’t come in yet.
(altho it’s here now!)

and as i walked and sweated,
i had memories come up.

not good ones.
ones from way back from divorce days.

i marveled at this.

i really believe there’s some wisdom goin’ on inside of me
that is sifting thru past ick to move me to future good.

it honest to pete feels like a process that needs to happen.

and so i don’t fight it.
i let the stuff pass thru me.
all the while holding an awe that this is happening all on its own.

talking to a friend today,
i heard how happy i sounded.
i was telling her some stuff that i had been feeling going on
inside of me.
good stuff.
changes i was noticing.
it delighted me to hear my happiness.

i just stepped outside to get some fall flowers for my table.
the weather has changed since i was out this morning.

it’s about the most glorious september day you could possibly have.

‘it’s changing’ i thought as i walked around my yard.
and then i smiled – ‘i am too.’

many many years ago, my partner and i were talking about why
getting married mattered. he told me there was magic in it.
i remember being suspicious he was pulling my leg.
he doesn’t generally talk of magic. that’s my language.
and yet, i believe he meant it.

as we get closer and closer to the date (about three weeks away)
i am believing in that magic more and more.
i never ever woulda guessed my dreams and memories would start
preparing me. and yet, they are. i am convinced of it.
i never ever woulda guessed that i would feel changes inside of
me as we prepared for the day.
and yet, i’m watching them.

i look back at a life so far away that it doesn’t even feel like
it could have ever been mine.
and i see how i have left the unhealthy and embraced the healthy.
i see how i have grown and how much more i believe in myself.

the past could never happen again. because that girl knows better
now. that girl understands better now.

i am so much stronger, so much smarter, so much more confident,
so much just plain ol’ more healthy.

i see that i have worked really really hard to make a space for magic.
without even knowing that’s what i was doing.

and i’m watching it show up.

i am watching it show up and surround me.

it’s gonna be one glorious fall!

September 27, 2017

inspired…

i got a note from a friend describing
her upbringing. she called it a ramble,
i called it fascinating.

it was extra good because i could tell she
had been thru a lot of counseling, as she
had walked thru a lot of the stuff and was
able to understand the links involved and
many of the ways everyone was affected.

that really struck me.
you could actually almost watch it all play
out from her description.

everyone has a story, don’t they?
everyone has really big hurdles to leap.
and yeah, there really are textbook paths that
different dysfunctions will bring us down.
some of it you could just predict.

i guess the part that you can’t predict –
which makes the stories breath taking, or heart breaking,
or inspirational or whatever they are –
is when (if ever) the individual will rise above
the wounds and claim themselves.

watching people do this for years now (bone sighs really
does give me a great view of these things) and then reading
my friend’s note today, i felt a deep trust in the journey.
that the opportunity to get beyond the dysfunctions really
is there. some have it much harder than others. i don’t
take that lightly. but i still believe it’s there. some don’t
do it. i understand that. but many, many do. and what an
incredible thing to watch.

feeling that trust today like that? i gotta tell ya,
it felt really really good. and it’s from watching you guys.
it really is.

thank you for that.

September 26, 2017

holding god

so i’ve been watching
and thinking…

we can all be so beautiful
when we’re not threatened.
we can say, act, think, do
all the right things.
we can think we’re holding god
in these moments.
and i guess – maybe we are.
maybe. i’m not sure.

but when we’re threatened,
all that goes out the window.

so i started watching where people
were threatened. (this is always easier
for me to see in other people and then
flip back on myself.)

and so i watched when people reacted.
and while i’ll never know for sure as
it’s about other people, i think i can
see some of the spots inside them that
get hit, how they’re threatened, and then
there’s an almost text book reaction.

(this would relate directly to noah’s post
about self esteem and tugboats.)
(see post below if you missed that one)

so, i got to wondering.
can i hold god when i’m threatened?

i can’t figure out how i could.
they oppose each other.

(just so you know – i was headin’ to a shower
when all this was whirling inside of me –
and i started jotting down notes! standing
there in the bathroom, jotting down notes…)

and i wrote ‘holding god is in my ability to
see the other person and love the other person.’

and i just can’t do that when i’m wrapped up
in reacting and defending my position.

so.
if i want to hold god, be love, or
whatever words you want to use –

i need to keep working on my awareness
of myself and when i get threatened.
i’m thinking i’ll see the reaction first.
then i can link back to the threat…
then i can smile at myself and remind myself
that i don’t have to prove anything,
and that i’m safe.
i can let the reaction go.

and then i can see the other person.

(i figure none of this will be instant.
but any recognition at any time is good.)

so how deeply do i believe i don’t have to
prove anything and that i’m safe?

i’m thinking that will be revealed as
i go along here.

i just wrote that down on my desk notes so i
can start a little mantra for myself.
and what an awesome belief to grow as i grow –
‘i don’t have to prove anything, i am safe,
therefore i can stop and see you.’

i don’t have to prove anything.
i am safe.
i can see you.
let me see you.

and couldn’t that just be one tremendous space maker
for everyone involved?!

September 25, 2017

just to be sure…

in honor of my son’s birthday this weekend, i asked him if he’d write a blog. he had told me in person about this idea before and it thrilled me. i was so tickled this is what he chose to share in his writing here. i posted it friday, but know that sometimes because of the weekend, we miss people. so i wanted to be sure to share it again today! i’m hoping to get him to write a part two on this very subject! for now – part one….

————-

“Settle down, Noah. You’re holding the mic. Let’s get some coherence here.”

Hello everyone! My coffee is piping hot and my mind is full of thoughts after watching an inflammatory debate—so pull up a chair and help me think through something I’ve been pondering for over a year now. Also, today is feeling nautical, so a boat theme is in store. Arr.

The thought is now familiar as an old friend: “Finding an easy way to boost self-esteem would change the world.” Think about it with me for a moment: most people have less-than-perfect self-esteem, myself included. If people were more comfortable in their own worth, what would fall away? Emotionally threatened arguments, lack of ambition in work, communication breakdowns in relationships, family struggles, driven actions of celebrities and world leaders that shape our culture . . . the list is extensive, right?

Sam Gosling made an interesting point in his book Snoop which formed the foundation for this theory: You cannot change self-esteem directly. It’s a ship that’s too far away from the harbor, and attempts to move it are just that: attempts. Quandary: How then do we improve self-esteem if we cannot directly interact with it? Answer: Identity.

Identity defined as the parts of our lives that we associate with; something we would consider correcting if described inaccurately about us. “Actually, I’m a graphic designer, not a blogger.” Photographer, geek, car enthusiast, entrepreneur, man, human. These are things we can easily and directly control. We can learn new things and build new identities and release them as needed. What if identities are little tugboats that putter out and get us moving in the right direction?

And so I’ve been watching to see if this fits. So far, I like the results and how clear the progression is. It seems to go like this:

Poor esteem: The tugs are small and specific and numerous. I think back to being a teenager and being a drummer was an identity with specificity to the level of certain brands. People who liked Pearl were morons.

Alright esteem: More open water, and the little specific tugs will now have trouble with the waves so they start to hand the ropes over to the bigger broader tugs. I am starting to bring on much broader identities, such as being good, patient, or grumpy. (What can I say? I’m a work in progress)

Excellent esteem: The tug releases and drifts away. Eventually I hope to release all identities and know that I simply am.

This observation makes me think that I want to keep striving for broader identities and, this part is quite important I think, to keep releasing the small ones. We MUST release to keep moving.

If we could see this bigger picture of our ship and little tugboats, it simply doesn’t matter if someone insults/attacks a tug. It’s merely a helper in your growth, but it isn’t you. How many tug wars do we fight, and are they in fact meaningless?

What do you think?

………..
Written by Noah Urban

September 22, 2017

A guest blogger today!

“Settle down, Noah. You’re holding the mic. Let’s get some coherence here.”

Hello everyone! My coffee is piping hot and my mind is full of thoughts after watching an inflammatory debate—so pull up a chair and help me think through something I’ve been pondering for over a year now. Also, today is feeling nautical, so a boat theme is in store. Arr.

The thought is now familiar as an old friend: “Finding an easy way to boost self-esteem would change the world.” Think about it with me for a moment: most people have less-than-perfect self-esteem, myself included. If people were more comfortable in their own worth, what would fall away? Emotionally threatened arguments, lack of ambition in work, communication breakdowns in relationships, family struggles, driven actions of celebrities and world leaders that shape our culture . . . the list is extensive, right?

Sam Gosling made an interesting point in his book Snoop which formed the foundation for this theory: You cannot change self-esteem directly. It’s a ship that’s too far away from the harbor, and attempts to move it are just that: attempts. Quandary: How then do we improve self-esteem if we cannot directly interact with it? Answer: Identity.

Identity defined as the parts of our lives that we associate with; something we would consider correcting if described inaccurately about us. “Actually, I’m a graphic designer, not a blogger.” Photographer, geek, car enthusiast, entrepreneur, man, human. These are things we can easily and directly control. We can learn new things and build new identities and release them as needed. What if identities are little tugboats that putter out and get us moving in the right direction?

And so I’ve been watching to see if this fits. So far, I like the results and how clear the progression is. It seems to go like this:

Poor esteem: The tugs are small and specific and numerous. I think back to being a teenager and being a drummer was an identity with specificity to the level of certain brands. People who liked Pearl were morons.

Alright esteem: More open water, and the little specific tugs will now have trouble with the waves so they start to hand the ropes over to the bigger broader tugs. I am starting to bring on much broader identities, such as being good, patient, or grumpy. (What can I say? I’m a work in progress)

Excellent esteem: The tug releases and drifts away. Eventually I hope to release all identities and know that I simply am.

This observation makes me think that I want to keep striving for broader identities and, this part is quite important I think, to keep releasing the small ones. We MUST release to keep moving.

If we could see this bigger picture of our ship and little tugboats, it simply doesn’t matter if someone insults/attacks a tug. It’s merely a helper in your growth, but it isn’t you. How many tug wars do we fight, and are they in fact meaningless?

What do you think?

………..
Written by Noah Urban

September 21, 2017

no food for you!

okay…
i’ve been watching…
fear.
we feed it a lot.

i certainly know i do.

the beauty of this watching
is i’ve been watching it in others.

always always easier to see it there.
then flip it on myself.

and my gosh,
has it ever been making an impression on me.
i can see clearly how much harder it makes things.

oh yes.

and i can see how we feed it.
we really really feed it.

so.
i’m not really clear on how not to have it.
don’t think i can do that part.

so i’m gonna kinda go with i’ll have it.

but the feeding of it…
that seems like a place where i have some control.

there seems to be some kinda part of the equation
that goes like this –

‘but if i’m not fearful, i’m not being realistic
about what is going on. i am just trying to see
what’s really there. and what’s really there is scary.
so i have fear.’

some form of that seems to be in the mixture.
that the fear legitimizes the seriousness of the
situation.

and that makes for confusion.
i gotta kinda untangle all that yet…

i heard myself go into practical mode with a friend
when we were trying to sort thru something in her life
that is scary.

‘okay, what is it we can do here?’
and so we talked about what we could do.
and then i suggested not feeding the fear.
that when that came over her, maybe she could concentrate
on wrapping the person she was afraid for in light.
‘that could only help.’
and we’ll focus on the things we can do.

i think one of the things fear does is it takes
my clear thinking away. and it certainly amps up any
bad part of the deal.

so i just wrote a note to myself in my little notes book –
‘your number one job – don’t feed the fear!’

and i think way down underneath all that is a challenge we need
to sit with – how much do we really trust ourselves? our bodies?
our abilities to cope?

good stuff to think on…

pass the trust please.

September 20, 2017

it’s all in how you look at it…

it was dark when i was walking
this morning. the stars were
gorgeous, the bugs singing,
and the car headlights seemed
brighter than ever.

and as i walked down the street,
straight at the bottom,
facing up,
was a car parked in its driveway
with its headlights on.

it really could not have been more
in my eyes or more obnoxious.

i had to kinda put my head down
and sideways so i could see.
i thought about how obnoxious it
was and wondered why people did this.

‘well,’ i thought, ‘maybe headlights
go on automatically.’
‘well, then turn them off til you
pull out!’ i responded in my head.
there wasn’t a lotta sympathy or
understanding as i squinted my eyes
and walked.

i heard the car door slam and they
began to pull out and drive right by me.

i waved.
they gave the most friendly honk.

i couldn’t help but smile.

ya see that, terri! they have no idea how
obnoxious they are. they’re really friendly.

and i laughed.
and wondered how obnoxious i am sometimes
without even knowing it.
it took a split second for me to nod.
cause i knew i was quite capable in the
obnoxious department.

just because you can be obnoxious,
doesn’t mean you’re not nice.

mostly we don’t know we’re obnoxious.
we just don’t know.

for some reason, that felt really good to
hold this morning. so i thought i would share.