Monday, December 30, 2013
misunderstanding. Isn't it true how it's often little things that can have the biggest impacts on our lives: A quick decision, a tidbit of information, a new short cut? There are three little things I learned this past year that kind of blew my mind and changed my every day life and health in big ways. They don't have anything to do with empathy, compassion, or communication, bu I thought it was worth the departure to pass them along.
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
|Snow by Jennifer C., cc license|
My favorite holiday movie, hands down, is White Christmas. I love the songs, the dancing, and I sob at the end of the movie every time when (spoiler alert) it begins snowing. True story. I love it all in spite of the fact that the source of romantic conflict comes entirely from, one of my pet peeves, a misunderstanding that could easily be cleared up in less than five minutes. In this case, an innkeeper eaves drops on part of a phone call made by Bob (Bing Crosby) and repeats the misinformation to Betty (Rosemary Clooney). Betty becomes upset with Bob and, thereafter, perceives everything he says in the worst possible light. Instead of having a straightforward conversation about it, she decides to leave town. It seems utterly ridiculous.
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
|Question mark sign by Colin Kinner, cc license|
Depending on how they're used, questions can be your greatest tools or your greatest liabilities when it comes to meeting the goals of active listening. When questions come from a place of genuine curiosity and they are worded as open-ended queries, you demonstrate that you care and the questions may lead to greater clarity and understanding for both of you. There are three bad habits, however, that result in less productive questioning and impede the goals of active listening. When questions are closed or leading and they account for most of your responses, the conversation becomes boxed in by your expectations. To boot, it shifts the pattern of the interaction such that you end up talking way too much and working way too hard. Breaking these three habits will liberate you while also resulting in more productive conversations.
Thursday, December 12, 2013
|Balls by Johnathan Nightingale, cc license|
Monday, December 2, 2013
|Untitled by KaMa Photography, cc license|
"Jason, burp cloth!"
Those silly things constantly fall off my shoulder, unnoticed, so that I rarely have one handy at that moment I desperately need it. Although my words don't change, Jason can easily determine the extent of the mess and urgency from the sound of my voice.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
|73/365 by Becca Peterson, cc license|
Seriously, though, judging gets a bad reputation in the active listening world, when our ability to make judgments is often important. In my previous life of preparing volunteers for the crisis hotline, I often reminded them that my goal was not to create "Stepford volunteers" or complete blank slates devoid of personality. Those human elements are essential to connecting. Also, being able to judge, or perceive, how one path forward may be more beneficial than another in an active listening conversation is an important skill to cultivate.
Monday, November 4, 2013
|Snuggling with Laurel Mei (Photo by Jason Pratt)|
Aside from the profound lack of sleep that comes from having a newborn and a three-year-old (no more "sleep when the baby sleeps," sigh), the past few weeks have been pretty amazing. Laurel nurses like a champ, soothes easily, and sleeps often. Cadence has made the adjustment to big sisterhood rather gracefully. It's been cool, and sometimes trying, to see how she works through the changes Laurel has made to the rhythm of our day. I feel incredibly blessed to have been entrusted with these amazing girls and to be supported by loving family and friends.
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
|365.229 by Dyanna Hyde, cc license|
R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me!
When I searched on Flickr for an image to go with this post, I was struck by the top three search results. The first photo was a wall ironically graffitied with the words, “young people have no respect for authority.” The second was a public mural with the words, “diversity and respect in our community.” The third was an illustrated quote from Baltasar Gracian’s Criticon: “Respect yourself if you would have others respect you.” I thought these well represent the wide range of ideas we can have in mind when we think about the term, respect: tolerance, love, obedience, self-worth, and acceptance, to name a few. Clearly, our definitions of respect can vary greatly, so let’s begin by clarifying what we mean by “respect.”
Thursday, August 8, 2013
|Almost by Lauri Rantala, cc license|
I wasn't expecting just how good it would feel to pass on an item to someone who was excited to give it a new home. One such item was my first sewing machine, which my mom got for me when I went off to college. We (the machine and I) had more than ten good years together, but a month before I got married, the machine jammed while I was hemming a dress and I couldn't get it to work. I had a list of wedding projects that needed immediate attention, so I decided to buy a new machine rather than taking the time to fix the jammed machine. It was moved to the basement where it sat, unused and mostly forgotten, for four years.
Friday, August 2, 2013
|a vivid beauty.... by Vinoth Chandar, cc license|
I used to tell my crisis hotline trainees that active listening begins before you pick up the phone. Meaning that in order to do active listening well, it’s important to approach it with the right mindset. Profound conversations occur when you are able to fully attend, respect autonomy, and leave judgment out of it. My original intent had been to cover these three areas in one primer post, but it soon became clear that each deserved its own space. Working towards the right mindset for active listening takes just as much work (perhaps more) as acquiring the other listening skills. We begin with focus.
Monday, June 17, 2013
|351/365 Books are like mirrors by Iryna Yeroshko, cc license|
Friday, June 7, 2013
The Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern PA (TMP), an organization that "maximizes the opportunity for mentoring to transform the lives of young people so they may reach their full potential." TMP does this by helping other organizations develop mentoring programs and then offering ongoing support, e.g. by training mentors (that's where I get to come in!). One of the programs I've been supporting is the Promise Coaches Campaign, which "aims to create a college going culture in the City of Pittsburgh by empowering adults to help youth earn a high school diploma and succeed in college and careers.
Thursday, May 23, 2013
|Lightning @ Fay Lake PSJ by GunnerVV, cc license|
Often when I share, here, my struggles with anger, strong emotions, and intense reactions, I'm met with some disbelief from friends and family. They have a hard time reconciling the "good Mary" they typically see with the other sides of my personality that make me who I am.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
|I need to fix daddy's photos by Irargerich, cc license|
My unexpected leave of absence has been due to something pretty wonderful, actually. I'm pregnant and looking forward to welcoming our new family member in October.
The first trimester was pretty rough. When I was pregnant with Cadence, I experienced the dreaded morning sickness - or more accurately morning, noon, and night sickness - along with general fatigue. Through that period, I was able to function well at work and then just crash the minute I got home. This time around, the symptoms were either worse, or the different circumstances of taking care of a toddler all day made them seem worse. Either way, February through April is a bit of a blur and I am just now finding the time and energy to think and to write a bit.
Friday, February 1, 2013
|Killer Queen by aussiegall, cc license|
Thursday, January 24, 2013
|Cell Phone Tower by danielfoster437, cc license|
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
|Go ahead. Push it. by flattop341, cc license|
We just put away the last of our Christmas decorations and swept up the last of the pine needles left by our dear tree. As much as I love the glow and warmth they bring to our home during the holidays, I've come to appreciate even more the space and openness they leave when put away. Our house immediately looks less cluttered and it feels like each room gets a bit of a reset as items are returned, or not returned, to their pre-holiday places. It has me thinking about "resets" in general.
Who doesn't love a fresh start? A clean slate? A chance to begin again? Realizing that it's possible to start again and being able to push that reset button is a powerful tool.
Thursday, January 10, 2013
|mister rogers display - pittsburgh by HeyRocker, cc license|
I think what I love most is the way grown-ups are involved and portrayed. In some ways, it can be seen as a show about parenting. I can't tell you how many tools I've added to my parenting tool belt since the show first aired in September. However, what makes it especially compelling for me is that the adults on the show aren't perfect robots who exist for the sake of an episode plot. They have hobbies and interests, different personalities, and they display a range of emotions - from joy and playfulness to anger and frustration.
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
|Awaiting Sunrise by MikeBehnken, cc license|
How do I live alongside suffering?