I had one of those moments the other day. One of those moments that clarifies the rift between reality and perception. And this time I had the privilege of getting to sit on both sides … at the same time.
Several weeks ago, I met a man while shopping in the hardware store that recently opened in our area. I had shopped there a few times before and this time I was returning to get more keys made. The man that helped me was about my own age and was also a DC native – a rarity these days.
We reminisced about the old days and bygone fixtures of our generation. And we were hitting it off just delightfully. As I paid for my keys, we exchange telephone numbers with the promise of coffee and further conversations.
As I walked out the door, he followed me out. Then it happened, the first anomaly. I turned toward him to say goodbye, and he said something rude and crude. I was in shock. What happened to that wonderful man in the store? Where had my generational and geographical kinsmen gone? In 15 seconds, he had wiped away all the good will and rapport we had built together in the store. What the hell?!!?
He turned and walked cheerfully back into the store as if nothing had happened. He left me a single message in my voice mail, and I have not called him back
When I spoke of the incident with my mentor, he thought maybe the man had interpreted my “tough upbringing” as synonymous with having no boundaries or standards. But that statement was my second anomaly. That was not how the men in my life had ever spoken to me, it was what men yelled out of cars and construction sites; it was the language of sexual harassers everywhere in my experience.
As I recalled, the men of my generation and older were respectful and careful with their language when talking directly to a woman in which they had a serious interest, and quite frankly would watch their language around older women always. So why would anyone think otherwise? Not just to engage in the behavior but to also equate it with *my* “tough upbringing?”
I came head to head with the reality of my upbringing and the perceptions others have of it along with my perceptions of my standing as a middle age woman who grew up hard but made a success out of her life and the reality of what it really meant by today’s standards.
Now clearly that man was just acting inappropriately and Dr. Conforti can only infer what my childhood might have been like by looking back on his own tough upbringing. But there was a message within this moment for me. I needed to reexamine my assumptions about how I presented myself to the world – a reexamination that was long over due.
As I turned this over in my mind, I remembered other time and places where how was treated seemed not only inappropriate but also demeaning in many ways. At the time, I had just filed them under the category of bad experiences.
Clearly I am out of step with some of the realities of today’s world. Because either my story about succeeding against all odds was not working for me, or worse it was even working against me – even though my story was both true, and noteworthy.
So is there something in my story that seems to provide a license for folks to behave badly or worse, to not take me seriously?
Am I contributing to the field of oppression by overemphasizing my source culture while deemphasizing my education, my experience or my skills? And where else might I contribute to a devaluing of my core worth?
And finally, how do my stories inhibit my ability to see the world or myself with anything approaching clarity?
I am going to sit with these questions a while and let it settle within the container of my practice.
But as I ask my students, what stories do you tell yourself? And how do they help or hinder your development and your evolution?
Submitted by katrina on Fri, 01/21/2011 - 5:55pm.
I have noticed that occasionally people will repeat what they are saying when they talk with me. I noticed that this often happens when I am quick to respond. It was as if they were not sure that I had actually heard them.
In my mind’s eye, I had heard the statement or question and was providing my response. They sometimes even interrupt my response in order to repeat their earlier statement. On Sunday, I finally stopped the person and said that if they would let me finish I would answer their query. But I could sense their frustration and it troubled me.
Later that same day as I read True Love, it hit me. Feeling heard is the response to deep listening – which is the focus of this week’s chapter. And that is what was missing; I was not deeply listening.
In my rush to respond, I had not truly heard them. I had heard the spoken words yes, but that is not enough. I had not heard their heart, their soul, I had not heard their entire being. And thus, they were repeating themselves in order to be truly heard.
Often my intellect will craft a response to what is actually a query aimed at my heart. And my fiery air self will zoom in quickly with just the right ordering of consonants and vowels, the specific collection of words and symbols … and I respond before my heart has had a chance to participate.
I think back to how I have been rewarded for this practice. My almost encyclopedic knowledge of telecommunications, technical protocols and system level design made me a success in my corporate career. And it was my rapid intellectual response that made me a rising star in academia. Even my intuitive, psychic responses are often so quick and specific, that I have to force myself to pause to see if in fact the person is ready to hear it.
I have never questioned this ability before now.
What would it be like to truly listen?
What would it be like to hear more than the spoken words and my inner response?
What would it be like … to listen … so that others felt heard?
Submitted by katrina on Mon, 03/09/2009 - 2:00pm.
“…over at the Frankenstein place!”
So yeah, I watched Rocky Horror on TV over the weekend. It was not as nearly as much fun as I remembered it. [Although Tim Curry is still hot, thank the goddess! But I digress …]
So yes, there *is* a light. But it is coming from the eponymous daystar we call the Sun.
Okay, I can hear the D’oh zooming around the world. “But wait, I can explain.” [Inset giggles here because this phrase is the calling card of Julie, what then follows is a hysterically funny story. But again I digress …]
What I discovered was that the solar cycle may be a large part of the reason I am having such a tough time at the moment. And the light I am referring to is the bright sunshine that has been in short supply as of late. Which provided the light of insight when I realized that I might have a mild case of Seasonal Affective Disorder. After a sunny day improved my fatigue, brain fog and sugar cravings drastically, I became curious. So I replaced my living room lamp light bulbs, taking out the CFCs and replacing them with full spectrum bulbs. And the mood improvement was again drastic. Leaving the living room area also produced a noticeable energy drop. Wow! This is huge!
So I dragged out my journals for the last few falls and noticed that I always attributed the fall fatigue and diminished activity levels to external sources of stress and/or my own perceived lack of internal will. But what if this was simply a part of my natural energy pattern associated with the seasonal change?
I had already noted my Solstice dip, my corresponding downward slide of energy starting at about Thanksgiving culminating at the Solstice and then rising steadily through Spring. So why had I not noticed the effect earlier, say starting at the Equinox? And the answer is again revelatory. I had not noticed because I was too busy beating myself up as it became harder and harder to focus or keep up my routines.
Um yeah, that makes sense … beat myself up just as I begin waning in energy … NOT. So guess who will be researching light boxes in the not so distant future? And… guess who will now consider seasonal changes in her annual planning matrix?
Submitted by katrina on Tue, 12/02/2008 - 4:51pm.
Where is my open sea with beckoning shores?
Where are my quiet, calm and silent nights?
And where is my quilted bliss and warming fire?
And oh goddess, where is my rest?
Less than a month from a respite and I have begun to feebly hope.
I am slogging through life this season with a tiredness that has been around so long, I can discern each subtle thread of exhaustion from another. Today, it is the worn out but literarily aware and conscious self instead of yesterday’s barely conscious and vegetative self.
Tomorrow will be the physical tiredness that lies yawning beneath the intellectual curiosity that fuels my technical work.
And although this coming long weekend is dedicated to rest, both physical and mental, I have several areas of my life that are begging for attention.
So I gaze toward the edges of the semester for true solace and comfort. Like a sailor longing for land, any glimpse of solidity to rest and recuperate, I scan the horizon. And just like in previous years, my expectations do not reflect reality. I actually only have about a week off if that long, but you’d think it was a yearlong sabbatical the way I dream and long for it.
What is happening is that my habit of “projecting into some predictably idyllic future” is running amok again. As I admitted to myself this past month, there is no period of openness, or rest or idleness in my life … because I purposefully do not allow it. I fill my time up with things to do because I crave the sense of urgency it engenders within me.
And my life is full because without it I wonder if I would feel lost and un-tethered to life itself. My life is over committed, full and urgent because … I do not trust my own air nature.
All this time bemoaning my earth challenges, only to discover that my problems come from not fully embracing my air gifts. I have been instead living and breathing in fire. My warrior gets more “air” time than my artist self. And she is burning me out.
And so I breathe, trying to discern the vagaries of my authentic self, my winged warrior of the air. I am not a being of fire, one who swallows embers, lifting into the air only for battle. I am a winged one, a denizen of air, one who soars, loves, dives, sings, dances, circles and spins in the windswept celestial temples of air, and only occasionally spirals down for the kill.
And it is she, my winged nature that I need to set free. So I will actually LOOK at my calendar and PLAN my time for this long weekend. And maybe I will find some CREATIVE ways to OPEN up my life and make SPACE for me.
So look up, because you never know, you might just catch sight of me soaring through the skies. Or you may find me resting at the very top of the tallest trees. Either way, I am on a journey of discovery, following an ancient trail into the labyrinth of my very own soul.
Submitted by katrina on Tue, 11/25/2008 - 6:05pm.