Monthly Archives: April 2011

Saturday tip: Listen!

The Chinese characters which make up the verb “to listen” include: You, Eyes, Undivided Attention, Heart and Ear.

When we listen this tells us to bring all of ourselves to the task, using our eyes, ears, heart and giving our undivided attention.

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The soft stuff

My work as a trainer and facilitator was once described by someone as “the soft stuff” that was “an extra to other skills”. My workshops and courses were in areas of self awareness, self development, communication and facilitation skills, relationships, stress and time management, assertiveness, listening, understanding interpersonal dynamics, team work, effective groups, leadership and parenting skills. Underpinning these was my philosophy that life-long learning is a vital part of being human and enjoying life.

The comment did cause me to reflect on my work but I felt certain it was critical work and not just “the extra” to more important skills. The soft stuff helps to overcome the hard stuff.

So it was extremely reassuring to hear an interview on the radio yesterday where self awareness, self care, empathy, supportive relationships, adaptability and willingness to grow and change were all critical as the babyboomers begin to consider the later years of their lives. The good news is that for many the “later years” could span 30 plus years.

One of the women being interviewed lives in Christchurch and she commented that these same skills are critical as people begin to adjust to their new ways of living in that city.

I am planning to set up another blog exploring self awareness and resilience building. Watch this space, as they say. I hope you might be interested in following that blog too:-)

Rivers and life

Rivers are often used as metaphors for life or perhaps how we need to live life. Simply put -to go with the flow, avoid stagnation, ride out the white water, enjoy the journey.

I’ve been reflecting on what has been on my mind these past few days and find that there are a good many people who are important to me who find themselves in rough and uncharted waters right now. I hope I can offer them support through my words and attention as life moves them on in the care of health professionals and the possibility of different ways of living in the future.

Others are feeling in side streams, away from the flow that they would like in their lives. I wonder if time and encouragement will assist them?

Another is feeling the effects of deep currents from the past and is struggling to clear those. Perhaps forgiveness can help in these situations?

Then one or two are in whirlpools where the water and force spinning and sucking at them have left them feeling drained, bewildered and grief stricken. Love and a listening, attentive ear are often the best we can offer.

I have also been flowing through steady, calm and pleasant water when we celebrated two birthdays and a belated third one last week. I need times of refreshment like this to remind me that there are easy parts of the journey.

And later today I hit the high adventure section of the river when I care for my boisterous, agile, funny, delightful two year old grandson. There will be no stagnant pools or much in the way of gentle flow but there will be excitement, laughter, energy and new channels to explore together:-)

Water, wildlife and a walk

I am fortunate to live in an area which has two man-made lakes near the local shopping area.  Yesterday was warm and calm and I took the opportunity to walk around the larger of the two lakes.

There are always lots of ducks of various breeds on or around the lake and several people were feeding the hungry ducks and sea-gulls.  Simple fun and enchantment for children.

As I strolled around the perimeter I spotted the two  resident black swans and their latest clutch of two small cygnets.  There were a few cormorants either diving for food or sitting in the sun drying  their wings.  The surprise for me was a young, fluffy, spindly- legged pukeko dipping for food in the bullrushes with its attentive parents.   There were several adult pukekos in the rushes too so it would appear that these birds are now making the lake and its environs home.

I was also able to enjoy looking at neighbouring gardens and plants along the edge of the path.

After collecting the things I needed from the shops I drove home and spied the goose family on the grassy edge of the smaller and less accessible upper lake.  The goose and gander appeared last spring with their young and the family still moves about together, despite the young now being the same sizes as their parents.

Time in nature feels so good.

Anticipation

This time last week I was anticipating what a roadtrip and weekend away could mean for me.  I have checked the  meaning of the word “anticipate” and found the following aspects that applied to me and my planned weekend.

“Anticipate”: To realise beforehand

And: To look forward to

So before we left I realised that if I prepared some food in advance we would not need to trek back and forth to unfamiliar supermarkets and no one would have to spend a lot of time preparing meals.  So we went reasonably laden, including some old favourites such as Date loaf and Spiced Apple Cake, a delicious beef casserole that had been cooked in the slow cooker and a simple meat loaf.  Our accommodation at The Shed  offered full kitchen and cooking facilities so there was no stress or distress arriving to find that we only had a microwave oven to use and a tiny fridge designed for one person!

I also knew that feijoas, a favourite seasonal fruit is plentiful and cheap in Hawkes Bay so I thought about finding at least one bag of those to come home with.  I also thought about Arataki Honey Centre and decided we would call in there and buy some comb honey.

I also spent some time considering what I was looking forward to about this weekend.  I was really keen to feel a sense of relaxation and comfort in the accommodation we booked and photos of The Shed reassured me about that.  I planned early nights and on one morning I took my cup of tea and the paper back to bed…..no cats climbing all over me, no chores needing to be done……bliss.

I anticipated walking the long driveway and looking at the orchards alongside.   (Many of the trees were still laden with a heavy crop of large, red apples.) I anticipated seeing new rural vistas as well as the familiar hills of Te Mata Peak and by contrast the totally flat land of the Heretaunga Plains.

I realised that I had not visited a relative’s burial plot in the cemetery so anticipated a visit to that spot.   Mostly I was looking forward to a change of environment, a change of pace and some refreshment.

Was my anticipation realised?    Yes!   Now with Easter almost here I might spend some time anticipating how this long weekend might be for me…..or I might just trust the process and go with whatever happens…..