Social Media: The Art of Listening

Social media is overwhelming right now. I can literally feel my blood pressure rising when I look at Facebook and Twitter. Here is the problem: Everyone is talking and no one is listening. We have one mouth and two ears, but social media is nothing but spewing out. We’ve forgotten how to listen. We’re dismissive of other views or, even worse, hateful.

So, the next time you’re faced with a viewpoint that you do not agree with, do not dismiss. Do not hate. Listen. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with them, but it costs you nothing to listen. (just remember to breathe!) (oh, and remember, you don’t have to respond to everyone who disagrees with you – it’s okay to keep scrolling.)

If you need me, I’ll be over here breathing. 🙂

Live Today

Live Today

Live Today

Live Today.

Those of you who follow my blog know that 2013 was a very difficult year for me. I began the year on top of the world, excited for my daughter who was about to graduate high school and embark on the excitement of life as a college student. My excitement was cut short when she ran away, moved in with her boyfriend, and decided not to go to college.

What does that have to do with living today?

Everything.

See, my world crashed around me that Thursday night she didn’t come home. I felt as if my heart had been ripped out of my chest. Everything around me seemed surreal. My blood thudded in my ears so loudly I couldn’t hear anything. I couldn’t stop crying. How could I possibly go on?

THAT is what living today is all about. Learning to survive. Everyone goes through horrible experiences at one time or another. We had already been through bad times, my husband and I, when our baby was born extremely prematurely. We didn’t know if she would make it. We didn’t know how we would go on if she didn’t. But I put one foot in front of the other. I went through the motions – forcing myself out of bed when the alarm went off, driving to work in a daze, eating because I had to. And when she left home, I found myself going through the motions again. My therapist suggested mindfulness training, so I explored and found great comfort in the words of Buddha and various Zen blogs. The one that made the most sense to me was on ZenHabits, simply entitled Breathe. I can do that, I thought. Tiny Buddha also helped a lot.

And I could. I turned my focus inward, pictured the cleansing oxygen coursing through my body, the dark hurt being exhaled with every breath. My world began to open again. My husband and I found ourselves getting to know each other again, learning to live as a couple – and learning to enjoy life and all the blessings that we have.

Stop. Right now – stop. Close your eyes and focus on the act of breathing. Know that in this moment, this brief blip of time, you’re okay.

Live your life to the fullest each and every day. Find something that brings you joy. Let go of the hurt. Release the anger. No regrets. No looking forward. No dreading the future. No waiting for tomorrow. Simply live.

Live today.

Namaste, my friends.

NOTE: If you like reading this blog, please take a moment to check out my Etsy shop. You’ll get something for your money and will help keep this site going and growing. Thanks!

Mindfulness

Callaway County Sunrise

Callaway County Sunrise

As 2013 draws to a close, I think back to what was easily one of the most difficult years I’ve ever experienced. It went from a top-of-the-mountain high to a deepest-depths-of-the-ocean low. The year dawned with hope and excitement. My daughter was in her senior year of high school, and was showered with scholarships, awards and good wishes. I was so proud of her, so excited for her. Four days after the party we threw her to celebrate her high school graduation, she left. No explanation. Horrible accusations. The pain I felt was beyond what I ever imagined, and I seriously wondered if I would survive. It seemed a hurt that deep would leave wounds that could never heal.

But they are healing. I saw a therapist, I journaled, I researched, I sought answers. Most importantly, I ALLOWED myself to begin healing. The most helpful thing for me has been MINDFULNESS. If you are dealing with a difficult situation, try this:

  • Breathe. That’s right. Breathe. In. Out. Feel the cleansing air come in through your nostrils and let it fill your lungs. Breathe out, expelling darkness and hurt. Breathe in healing, and breathe out hurt.
  • Be. Just be. Allow yourself to sit quietly. Let your mind flow where it will. Listen to your surroundings. Feel your heartbeat.
  • No expectations. Recognize that whatever you are feeling is valid, but recognize that what you are feeling is just that . . . what YOU are feeling. If you release your expectations of others, and focus instead on what you are feeling, you will begin to heal. The only thing you can control is your reaction to others. (that was my mantra for the holidays “no expectations” – and I ended up having a wonderful holiday season)

Take a moment to look back over 2013, the good and the bad. As you enter 2014, live each moment fully and completely. Appreciate it.

“Today I am fortunate to have woken up, I am alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings, I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others, I am going to benefit others as much as I can.” Dalai Lama

Solitude

Woman on the beach at Gulf Shores

Woman on the beach at Gulf Shores

The week I spent in Gulf Shores was healing. I felt a sense of peace that I have never felt before. Given the difficulties of the past six months, that sense of peace was greatly appreciated. It allowed me to heal (well, to begin to heal, anyway). When I returned home to the hustle and bustle and routine of life, that sense of peace stuck with me for a while. I can still feel it if I stop what I’m doing, breathe slowly and imagine myself walking along the edge of the surf as the birds call out to each other in the early morning calm.

I tend to want to to figure things out, examine them and pick them apart. When I turned my inquisitive mind to that week, I thought it might have been the lack of pressure, the freedom to do what I wanted, the salty sea air. And it could have been any one of those things. Or all of those things. But most of all, I think it was the solitude.

Like the woman in the picture above, there is something calming and soothing about being alone with our thoughts.

Very zen. But so true.

I challenge you to allow yourself time alone, every day. Take a few moments to be quiet. Alone. Listen. Listen to the sounds of nature around you, the sound of your breath, and – this is important – listen to YOU.

Let me know how it goes for you.

BTW – if you like this, check out Zen Habits. I really like the blog post about breathing.