Wednesday, August 5, 2009
It's Summertime and the Living is Easy
I didn't really mean to take the summer off, but it just happened that way. I really thought after I stopped working on June 1st, I would have a lot more time for this blog. However, it turns out that I actually had a lot more time for relaxation and recreation. The weather here has been unusually cool for summer and it's great to be outdoors—swimming, walking, biking, and trying to keep up with the copious amount of zucchini coming out of our garden. I think up until this week, we had the air conditioning on only about four days so far this summer.
For those of you who remember my "Changes" post, you will be heartened to learn that my father-in-law is doing quite well. In spite of having an advanced aggressive cancer, he has responded well to chemotherapy (so much so that he has to take another 12 week round). He even resumed playing golf about two weeks ago.
After I stopped working, I made a conscious decision not to rush into doing anything. I often get a restless feeling, like I should be doing something, and sometimes I will start a project out of that feeling, and get caught up in it. But now I have a different problem, which is mental inertia. I've become so relaxed, that it's hard to get started on anything. Nonetheless, I want to resume regular postings, so my new goal is to put up at least one post every week so I can get back into the swing of things.
I would especially like to thank all of you who have been reading my blog for the past six months, and particularly those of you who have taken the time to leave comments. Your encouragement and support has been very much appreciated!
Finally, I would like to leave you with these insightful thoughts from the book, The Lost Art of Listening, by Michael P. Nichols:
"The yearning to be listened to and understood is a yearning to escape our separateness and bridge the space that divides us. We reach out and try to overcome that separateness y revealing what's on our minds and in our hearts, hoping for understanding. Getting that understanding should be simple, but it isn't.
The essence of good listening is empathy, which can be achieved only by suspending our preoccupation with ourselves and entering into the experience of the other person. Part intuition and part effort, it's the stuff of human connection.
A listener's empathy—understanding what we're trying to say and showing it—builds a bond of understanding, linking us to someone who understands and cares and thus confirming that our feelings are recognizable and legitimate. The power of empathic listening is the power to transform relationships. When deeply felt but unexpressed feelings take shape in words that are shared and come back clarified, the result is a reassuring sense of being understood and a grateful feeling of shared humanness with the one who understands.
If listening strengthens our relationships by cementing our connection with one another, it also fortifies our sense of self. In the presence of a receptive listener, we're able to clarify what we think and discover what we feel. Thus, in giving an account of our experience to someone who listens, we are better able to listen to ourselves. Our lives are coauthored in dialogue."