Posts Tagged ‘communication’

Yesterday my “Unfolding” group met, as we have done monthly (mostly) for the past ten years.  In that year, my friend Julia Mossbridge’s book “Unfolding:  The Perpetual  Science of Your Soul’s Work” was published and as part of the process she decided to start a group.  Though Julia was born at around the same time as the women’s movement of the late 60s/early 70s, and so hadn’t been there at the time, this group bore a resemblance to the women’s consciousness raising circles of that time.  The concept has been simple – a small group of us (the group is now five of us) gets together once a month.  We go around the circle, with each woman having as long as needed to provide an update and just speak on what is relevant to her life today.  The others listen, then when the speaker is ‘complete’ we offer encouragement and feedback (always positive).  Then on to the next  woman.  Once we have all ‘had our piece’, we then go around the circle, one by one, stating our intention for the month ahead.  The first part is usually 15-20 minutes of talking/woman, the intention part is just a sentence or two.  We have simple snacks while we’re meeting and a bit of chitchat before or after, but that’s the gist of it.

It’s so powerful!

What I think makes it the most powerful is simply being heard.  So much of what passes for conversation is two competing monologues.  People interrupt you to make their point, talk over you, or go off on tangents totally unrelated to what you just said, leaving you wondering “did they hear me at all?”

Our Unfolding group isn’t a conversation in that while a woman “has the floor” as it were, we don’t interrupt her.  And in our commentary afterwards, we ask clarifying questions, sometimes provide challenges and mostly provide meaningful, specific encouragement and positive feedback.

There’s a phenomenal personal growth book, Circle of Stones:  Woman’s Journey to Herself which asks “How might your life have been different if there had been a place for you ….a place of women, where you were received and affirmed? A place where other women, perhaps somewhat older, had been affirmed before you, each in her time, affirmed, as she struggled to become more truly herself?”

I’m so lucky!  My life IS different because I have this each month!  For me personally, though I consider Julia, Carol, Betty, Carol and Sue all friends, I don’t really socialize with any of them but Julia outside the circle time (and as I write this I think I will change that this year!) and yet they know more about me, know me more at a soul level than some people whom I see far more regularly.

I think we all long to be listened to, long to be heard, long to be understood.  Susan Atchley Ebaugh says “The greatest gift we can give one another is rapt attention to one another’s existence.”

And by the way, this isn’t just a woman thing.  Guys need our rapt attention just as much!  Kids, pets – even, as my tsk-tsk-ing friend Bill reminds me, houseplants need attention (ahem! personal growth opportunity for me).

How would  YOUR life be different if there were a place for you where you are received, affirmed and listened to?  Do you have that?  If you do, celebrate! If not, I invite you to change that.  Start your own group.  It’s easy.  Free. And I guarantee you – it will change your life.

Now, I invite you to the conversation – how is the power of being truly heard manifesting (or not) in your life?  What can you do to provide this gift for those  you love?  I really want to know!


Read Full Post »

I know. You knew that.  Me , too. But it is a lesson that seems to pop up frequently.  My dad tells me that’s why he gets out of bed every morning  “Because you never know what will happen, Diane…”

So I went on the three job interviews today and they didn’t turn out totally the way I thought they would.  Let’s call them companies A, B and C.  I thought C would be my favorite, kind of tied with A and that B was not going to like me or me them as much.  Turns out it NOW feels like A is the outlier and C is still my favorite, but B is looking kinda good too.  See – it ain’t over til it’s over.

But the other surprising turn of events is that in my flurry of “omigosh, I should actually PREPARE for these job interviews” it came to me to expand my LinkedIn network.  Me, who has ignored LinkedIn pretty much since I joined (with a few spurts here and there) suddenly became a LinkedIn Connections junkie.  Instead of looking up dead rock stars on Wikipedia or old lovers on Facebook I started frantically looking up old colleagues on LinkedIn.  More! More! More!  Pretty soon I had tapped all the likely suspects, and even asked a bunch of people for recommendations.

There were a few people, though, that I found myself shying away from.  Some had proven themselves snakes in the grass at my BigCo – very clear to stay away from snakes (if  they bit you once, it’s kinda likely they will again – not good sources for business networking).

But I realized that one of the people in the Ooh-be-careful bucket had been plopped into that bucket by my reptilian brain (you know, the I’m Here to Protect You, Little Lady part of our brain) not on her own accord, but solely by her association to the Snake in Chief in my corporate career. 

As I thought about it further, I realized how much I liked this woman.  How when I had been with her on business trips or apart from the sturm und drang that BigCo seemed to specialize in, I really enjoyed her company. 

So I did the LinkedIn “connect” thing and wrote a tiny ‘dipping-my-scaredycat-toes-in-the-water’ note.

And tonight I received a truly lovely reply!

So – life is surprising.

And when I remember what A Course in Miracles teaches – that Love is Greater than Fear, it’s just amazing what happens.

So, as the Cheshire Cat said to Alice:

“I sometimes believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

And that shall be my goal tomorrow – to keep remembering that love IS greater than fear – and all other impossible positive, cheery, and brave things I can.  {Do you think the Cubs winning the pennant is too far a stretch?}

Read Full Post »

Doesn’t it seem like there is more going, in more places, and faster?  That’s how it seems to me.  Sometimes my brain feels like the newsfeed on Facebook – there’s a big long stream of seemingly totally unrelated information from hundreds of sources that is going pretty much constantly.  My mind wants to sort information and to ascribe both meaning and a rating to it.  Simple brain has both a “like” and “dislike” button, immediately applied.  Katie is competing in Cross-Fit finals:  Like.  Michelle lost her job:  dislike.

The sea of information from all sources (online, NPR in the car, talking to friends in person, talking on the phone, interacting with the checkout guy at Trader Joes) then mushes with the reception tower (I think of mind as the receiver, body/brain as the tower) and its current state.  So when I’m hungry, angry, lonely or tired (HALT!) or in some hormonal soup (including adrenaline, one of America’s favorite drug addictions) that gets added to the mix.  Like how when you fall in love everything, just everything seems beautiful and perfect and silly. That.

Lately I feel like someone turned up the volume, the speed, and we went from network TV to some crazy cable thing with one million channels and that it all happened at once.  LOTS of information, faster!

On Facebook I can control the number of sources (currently 302).  Then I can filter them further (the people I don’t want to ‘unfriend’ but whose posts are cluttering things or annoying me; all games – I really really really don’t care about your Farmville or Mafia Wars).  When something or someone gets too tedious – poof! they’re gone.  I can gate the frequency – take a day or two off and don’t try to catch up (something info junkie me has never done, but it CAN be done). 

The Germans have a word I love “zeitgeist” – the temper of the times.  As an aside, this is a major reason why I love astrology, because that it one of its main purposes – to capture and name the zeitgeist with planetary symbols representing different modes of energy.

I could write another post on the difference between brain and mind – a difference I would not purport to understand but which fascinates me (and why are people who study consciousness so crazy brilliant – where’s the “Consciousness for Dummies” book – I need that!). 

But it seems like maybe our millennium old reception towers (our body and brain) might not have been built with this broadcasting (and narrow-casting, too) paradigm in mind.

So we (me, at least – you?) careen through our days, slaloming between LIKE! and DISLIKE! and YAWN!, trying both at conscious and unconscious levels to make sense of it all.

This was particularly apparent to me yesterday.

  • 3 job interviews falling into my lap – LIKE!
  • Argentina approves gay marriage – LIKE!
  • My friend Michelle being summarily, callously, and CRUELLY let go by her we-could-give-a-shit employer (for whom I’m currently working on contract) as her husband awaits a lung transplant and after months of harrowing issues with his health (nice move corporate America – kind and sensitive of you) – WAY MORE THAN DISLIKE!
  • My friend Ellen telling me her longtime partner Allen got laid off and she hasn’t been working and they both have health issues and he has debt – DISLIKE!
  • My colleague got the Google map API to work in SharePoint on the site we’re building and it looks cool – LIKE!
  • Playing with “my boys” – my 7 year old friend Thomas and his 5 year old brother Michael and getting to connect with their mama, my beloved friend Jennifer – LIKE!
  • Financial reform bill passes – LIKE!

I’ve noticed that I’ve been sleeping a bit more lately.  For a long time I let my body (not clocks) drive the sleep process – go to bed when tired, get up when done sleeping.  It has pretty consistently said 6.5 – 7 hours sleep is fine for me, thanks.  I don’t know if it’s the big (huge to me) changes I’m making in my food/nutrition/supplements and/or this increased input in life, but one of the ways I think the receiving tower is handling “stack overflow at Diane Scholten brain” is to just turn off the receptors longer (i.e., sleep a bit more).

What do you think – faster, more, more chaotic?  How does YOUR receiving tower sort/cope with/analyze the jammed airwaves?

Read Full Post »

Beautiful night tonight and I’ve been cooped up inside for two whole days.  The old friend who used to always blew me off and with whom I was to reconnect tonight (golly gosh) blew me off so I hopped in Molly Moonroof, grabbed a Diane special at The Pizza Place (run by @Pam Witte and @Thea Johnson) and took a drive down Country Club Road.

 I have this great iPod player now in Molly the Subaru and it’s like I just discovered the ‘mix’ option on my iPod.  Very interesting listening to ‘my music’. Besides really getting that I mostly listen to stuff that’s really really old, I was also noticing some similarities in those songs that I listened to so much in my youth that they wore grooves in my brain.

 Joni Mitchell:  “Will you take me as I am?  Will you?  Will you take me as I am….?”

 Roy Orbison:  “to you I’m just a friend, that’s all I’ve ever been, no you don’t know me…”

 Joni again:  “They open and close you.  Then they talk like they know you.  They don’t know you….”

 I’m sure there’s more but those three played on my iPod tonight and I was thinking how they resonated with me so strongly in my 20s.  I don’t think my hunger to be known is as all-consuming now as it was when young, but I was reflecting on how we ALL want to be seen, want to be known regardless of our age or our acclaim (Joni was singing ‘will you take me as I am’ when she was a pretty hot commodity after all).

 I was so thrilled when my friend Sue B. sent me an email today telling me in detail why she liked my Lazarus poem.  Was it my “insatiable ego” as my former acquaintance charged?  I think more it was “ah! You saw me!” — that sense of being accepted – of “will you take me as I am?” – Simply, being seen.

 Maybe because that’s always been a big deal to me I try to make a point of seeing others and signaling that I see them.  Telling the clerk in the checkout line at the grocery “wow, your hair looks really nice”  or acknowledging to a co-worker, “Hey man, you really cranked today.”

 I’m realizing I need to do more of what Sue B. did.  Not just tell my friend @Melissa Ross, the SUPERB photographer that I loved her recent photos –but which ones I like best and why I liked them.

 John Prine:  “You’ve got gold.  Gold inside of you.  I’ve got some gold, gold inside me, too.”

 I guess that’s why ‘the cold shoulder’ or being ignored –having one’s communications unanswered, feels so hurtful.  We all make what John Gottman calls “bids for connection” – some of us overtly and in our arm-flailing, exclamation point using ways, some much more subtly. Some, no doubt, so subtly that they go unseen.  We’re trying to share our gold. Did you see it?  Did you see me?  “Mommy! Watch me!”

 But when one has made an explicit ‘bid for connection’ which has gone unanswered – ouch.  Feels like a double ouch in a way – I don’t matter enough for you to respond to me.  And my communication didn’t matter to you either. 

 John Prine:  “How the hell can a person. Go to work in the morning. Come home in the evening

And have nothing to say.”

 To quote Walt Whitman from another favorite of my youth (entire poem pasted in below for your reading pleasure): “I know I am restless and make others so.”  Yeah, I know I ‘over-communicate.’

 We all communicate though. Constantly.  One of the things I took away from “Freakonomics” was the concept of ‘signaling’.  I signal that I’m gay by how I dress.   You signal that you’re really an actor, not a corporate wonk by the analogies you use rather than corporate speak.  He signals that he’s interested in you by how he fidgets when you’re around.  We’re all signaling constantly. And communicating.  And saying  “Mommy! Look at me!”

 I just hope I do a better job of saying “Good job!” and “Yes, I see you!” when you turn my way.  Because I’m so aware of what it feels like when that doesn’t happen.  Part of a poem I wrote recently said

 “If words upon words are unspoken
would that have extinguished the flame?”

 Reflecting since I wrote those words a month or so ago – I think the answer is ultimately yes. We knock and knock and eventually pull our coat round us tight, sigh, look downward and skulk away.

 So if you “make a bid for connection” and I don’t respond in ways that make you feel seen, tell me.

 And if I’m just way off the mark and being seen or acknowledged is truly the LAST thing you’d like, tell me how that is for you (and I suspect you introverts like to be seen in different ways than us extroverts – so tell us how).

 What happens in YOUR life that makes you feel that the answer to Joni’s question is “Yup!” — “will you take me as I am?  Will you?”

 I’m interested in what you have to say. This has been much on my mind these past many months.  Speak your piece!

 And now, I’ll let Walt speak his.  If you get nothing else from me today, just soak in this beautiful poem that still cracks open my heart:

 As I Lay with My Head in Your Lap Camerado

by Walt Whitman

As I lay with my head in your lap camerado,
The confession I made I resume, what I said to you and the open air
I resume,
I know I am restless and make others so,
I know my words are weapons full of danger, full of death,
For I confront peace, security, and all the settled laws, to
unsettle them,
I am more resolute because all have denied me than I could ever have
been had all accepted me,
I heed not and have never heeded either experience, cautions,
majorities, nor ridicule,
And the threat of what is call’d hell is little or nothing to me,
And the lure of what is call’d heaven is little or nothing to me;
Dear camerado! I confess I have urged you onward with me, and still
urge you, without the least idea what is our destination,
Or whether we shall be victorious, or utterly quell’d and defeated.

Read Full Post »