Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘Show Others You Care’

The Art of Being Fully Present

When you are talking to someone and they are giving you their undivided attention you naturally feel valued. We all do. Their eyes are focused on you and they are listening to what you are saying because they care. It is the greatest gift we can give one another. How often do you experience this on a personal level? How many people can you count in your life that care enough to stop the chatter in their minds to fully listen to you? The number is not as important as the actual mental activity of considering it.

When I see parents or children busily texting or reading their emails when they are eating out or with others I have to wonder who or what is more important than the people they are with at the moment? This thought is usually followed up in my mind with the question, ‘Is anyone in there?’ Training ourselves to focus on the person who is talking is not as difficult as it may seem but it doesn’t just develop naturally. It takes practice. Ultimately, it says more about the respect we demonstrate to others than it does about who we are or what we are doing in our lives.

There was a point when multitasking was thought to be the in thing to do. Supposedly it showed others how busy, how important or how intelligent we were. Research has shown that multitasking does not increase productivity or effective human relation skills. Yet, when we allow our minds or eyes to wander when listening to others we are, in fact, multitasking and, in effect, not being efficient or effective with our communications or thoughts.

Basically it all boils down to focus. We can train our brains to better focus by starting with simple tasks we do around the house. The task has to be done anyway so why not use the time to think solely about the task. I can almost hear you thinking … seriously? Am I really suppose to think totally about sweeping, doing dishes or whatever? Yes, as strange as it may sound that is exactly what I am talking about. Using a simple task to train your brain to focus will help to develop the habit of focusing on the most important element – other people – in your lives. By controlling the immense amount of random thoughts that easily pop into our heads especially when we are doing simple tasks we can develop the skill to truly HEAR others in our head and our heart. Using this simple task approach is much harder than it sounds. Just try it and see how hard you have to work at refocusing continually.

When we are not fully present it is exhausting and even frustrating to all concerned. Often our minds become involved in creating internal dramas or busy misinterpreting what we think was said rather than what was actually spoken which can result in misunderstanding or even conflict. Whether we want to admit it or not most of us can read each other’s body language like a book. My question then is our own emotional book demonstrating fact or fiction to others?

When you find someone who genuinely cares enough to be fully present with you it is a gift from the Universe. Likewise, when you are fully present with others you will feel more engaged, motivated and achieve a greater peace of mind. The ultimate test which you will pass with flying colors is when someone says to you, ‘Thank you for listening to me. You make me feel like my thoughts or concerns are really important to you.’

Have a great few days!

Remembering Others at Christmas

During the Christmas season it seems like there is not enough hours in the day to get everything done. In addition to the gift purchasing, wrapping, tree decorations and outside lights to put up there are the Christmas cards to send. You might think twice this year about actually sending them. We debate all the reasons, as we try to get everything else accomplished, why the card thing could just be put aside- just this year.

I had a personal reminder this week of the importance of reaching out to others by sending cards. For those who have read my book you know that I am a Hospice volunteer. I have had the good fortune of being with my special person for 1 and 1/2 years. It is rare to have a patient last this long once they are officially determined to be hospice eligible. However, for this length of time we have visited weekly, discussing the books she reads, and I take her lunches that she can only dream about since she has been home bound for 2 years. Can you imagine literally not leaving your house or room for this length of time? And yet she does so with acceptance and grace. At 91 years old her mind is still sharp. It is her body that has given up the go. She basically lives in a 14 x 14 area that has become her entire life. She can no longer write the letters herself but loves to receive cards in the mail. It is her only contact to the outside world that she once knew.

Our job as Hospice volunteers is to bring a little joy to our patients during whatever time they have left on this earth. A big part of that is to keep them connected with others so they, temporarily, can forget about their situation or the inevitability of what they will soon be facing.

Just like last year, I asked her who she would like to send a Christmas card and letter to this month. She was able to give me a list after working on it for a week and then a few ideas verbally on what to say in her Christmas letter. Coming home I transcribed her thoughts and printed it on cheerful Christmas stationary then began addressing the envelopes. To my utter surprise she had 18 different people on her list for cards! She will probable receive 15 or so in return. That means that she will have 15 opportunities to read, remember the special memories of these folks and smile as she momentarily touches the outside world from her hospital bed. That may sound like a small thing to some of us but to her it will make this season, no doubt her last, something to remember. She has said to me many times that she can’t figure out why she is still here. What lessons does she have yet to learn, she questions. I think it is not her lessons to learn but her lessons to teach others, including me.

The next time I become harried with the things to accomplish during the holiday seasons I will remember with gratitude the fact that I can still do them. Christmas cards and letters will no longer seem like a chore to accomplish but something to be done that may make someone smile who receives it. All because of this special lady.

Regardless of our age, when the student is ready the teacher comes along. I was grateful I was reminded of the importance to keep this practice going. Wouldn’t it be incredible if we lived to 91 and still had 18 people to send and receive cards from? It is humbling and significant to think about how this woman has change people’s lives and continues to do in her ninth decade! She is a reminder of what the season is about, reaching out and touching the lives of others and warming their hearts.

As you check off items on your ‘to do’ list this week remember that there are others who really are interested in what you have been up to this year. They do want to stay connected in your life. Whatever form of communication you choose it will bring a smile to them as they remember a special memory of something you did together. As you read their messages in return you will also smile, remember and be grateful to have them in your life. It is funny, life is just like that, what goes around comes around.

Have a great few days!