Can you see me now?
I work from home and when I’ve been staring at the computer for a few hours not even blinking, Cooper will make his way to my desk and then pop his head up from under the desk and climb on my chair or he will give me the stare down if I’m on the couch with my laptop. In the past, I would push him back down with a firm “not now I’m busy.” Last week I was walking the trail and kept thinking of Cooper and his “do you see me now moments.” I had an insight. Cooper, was once again teaching me a valuable lesson on being present with our loved ones and giving them our full attention.
How often do you see couples at dinner staring at their phones or the TV behind their date’s head instead of paying attention to each other? I’m guilty. It has become acceptable behavior, the norm. Then dinner is served and the focus is on eating. The check is paid and dinner is over. How much of that dinner was spent with the full focus on each other or even tasting the food?
Following Cooper’s example, we need to single to each other to “see me now.” We turn off our phones or put them on vibrate during movies. It is the rule after all. Let’s continue that practice when we are spending time with each other. Put the phone in airplane mode, no beeps, rings or dings to pull your attention away. Can we not spare an hour from our device to give each other our undivided attention?
When I got back from my walk I decided the brown-eyed stare down was an opportunity to take a stretch break and to get a glass of water. Now, I grab my water, give Cooper a scratch, open the back door so he can do a quick run in the yard. Toss the ball for a few minutes and enjoy the view. Then I head back to my task. It’s done wonders for helping me keep my water goal each day, and a quick stretch break helps me take a deep breath and has a calming effect when I get back at it. And Cooper either entertains himself with a toy he found in the yard or gets fascinated by a squirrel and is happy and content. He didn’t need hours of my time, just a moment or two to feel like he mattered and to know that I remembered he was an important part of my life. Isn’t that worth a few moments?
Only in quiet waters, things mirror themselves undistorted. Only in a quiet mind is adequate perception of the world. -Hans Margolius
How to make stress your friend. I know the holidays can be stressful. I thought you might benefit from Kelly McGonical’s Ted Talk.
Communication is not just about talking or waiting for a silent break so you can jump in and give your two cents. Being a good listener doesn’t always require a response. A knowing nod, or simple comment is often all that is needed. Often times people tend to follow with a similar story of what happened to them. Sometimes people just need to be heard, and coming back with a story of your own may feel like you are relating to them, but it can also feel like you are saying, “you think that is bad, check this out” and in the process dismissing or diminishing what they just shared.
My pups Max and Cooper are always listening. I swear I can be downstairs with the kitchen door closed and they can be upstairs, and they can hear me open the refrigerator or crack open a chip bag. I knew dogs have an excellent sense of smell and hearing, but I didn’t think it was on the level of the Six Million Dollar Man or the Bionic Woman.
Unlike Max and Cooper, I don’t have the greatest hearing and more times than not, I find myself asking someone to repeat themselves. A sense of hearing is my problem child. I have always known that there is more to hearing than taking in the sounds that pass through your ears. The second prong is being a good listener. Over the years I’ve heard people say things such as “lean in” so they know you are interested, “nod” so they know you are on the same page with them, or they ask you to make eye contact. There seemed to be a lot of facets to listening. I put most of those nuggets into practice, and I thought I was a good listener.
I swallowed hard one day when I heard someone make a comment that people listen with the intent of replying and not learning. If ever I was guilty of something, it was listening with the intent of answering. It wasn’t that I felt my response would be earth-shattering or enlightening; it was more that I wanted to mentally prepare my position on what was said so I wouldn’t look like a deer in the headlights if asked. I had an added habit of interrupting because I was afraid of losing my thought if we got too far into the conversation.
Your life will be much more memorable if you stop and smell the flowers, or watch a bird build its Nest.
When I lived in Texas, we couldn’t wait for the Bluebonnets. There was a short window of time to take pictures and enjoy their beauty before the heat hit and they withered back. Every year we would take the pups to a local field and snap away, just like all the other families in Texas. We tried to find a spot that wasn’t trampled on and tried not to add to the trampling. It wasn’t always easy. Looking around at the families snapping away at their little angels, I noticed no one was enjoying the flowers. Tensions were high and the kids were getting restless waiting for that perfect shot. Mothers were yelling at dads to take the shot from a kneeling angle or move over to that tree nearby. I’m sure the resulting shots were gorgeous, but what about the opportunity to stop and smell the flowers? Was that lost or was it just a quick scratch and sniff and on to the next errand on the list?
Daily Prompt Particular.
I remember in basic training when we were learning how to march in formation, our instructor would yell out “I am about to show you a maneuver, pay close attention to this part of my body.” He would either motion like Vanna White to the lower or upper half of his body. I thought it was funny, but in hindsight, I realized how profound his process was. What a gift to have the lesson you are about to receive clearly spelled out so you know exactly what to focus on.
Years later a friend made a comment about repeating patterns in a relationship and that until you learn whatever lesson was being sent your way, that pattern would continue to repeat itself. For example, picking a person that is safe to avoid being hurt or picking a person that is emotionally unavailable because on some level we might not be ready for a full connection or believe we are not worthy.
One of my favorite Saturday Night Live skits involved a person visiting a psychiatrist. For the entire session no matter what the patient said, the response from the psychiatrist was “look to yourself.” It cracked me up and stayed with me. I realized it was intended for entertainment, but it made me think, what an excellent response. Looking at patterns and figuring out any lessons you can gain from them may move you forward and break the cycle. Patterns that crop up every few years are on a smaller scale and admittedly harder to recognize, but are equally important to analyze.
Being mindful and present of your patterns helps you watch for life’s lessons with eyes-wide-open. If you keep having the same type of experience and you want to make a shift, pay attention to your patterns and the next time when the universe yells out, “I’m about to execute a life lesson, pay particular attention to your relationship,” look closely at any patterns you may be repeating.
Ask and you shall receive.
Is it as simple as Asking? Yes and no. Yes, it is as simple as asking. You would be amazed at how quickly doors open and opportunities present themselves once you move forward with announcing your desires to yourself, and others. Continue reading
”If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it” -William Arthur Ward
A fun tool to help you go from the imaging stage to the achieve stage is drawing out your vision. A life map of sorts. I think it is better to have a specific theme per map versus drawing too many items on one. For example, Continue reading
Honk if you are happy. I remember 25 years ago “just married” was written on my car. We received honks all the way from Gainesville Florida to Orlando. We were going to Disney World for our Honeymoon. I remember how excited everyone was for us, waving and smiling and of course honking. Maybe we should write sayings on our car to see if we get the same response. Maybe Have a Beautiful day. or It’s just traffic, this to shall pass. Or Honk if you are happy!