|Happy September to all of you. Kids are back in school; summer vacations have come and gone. Life becomes more predictable and more routine. Sometimes routines are a good thing—I know that they help get me get grounded!
September is the birthday month of my three brothers: Tom, Steve, and Greg. All three “boys” are younger then I am. Tom is three years younger, Steve is five years younger, and Greg is seven years younger. All of them are in town with wives and kids. The Albracht clan gets together frequently. We go out to dinner and go to each other’s houses for cookouts. I love my brothers, their wives, and their kids.
Since my husband, Jim, passed away over five years ago, they have all been there for me. On many occasions, I have felt like I had three “big” brothers. I know that they are just looking out for my best interest. They want to take care of Jan.
Just like most families, we have our disagreements from time to time. In the last month, I have come to realize that growing up in a family of six kids trained me to not be a very good listener. I always prided myself on being a great listener. Then it was brought to my attention that perhaps I wasn’t.
I began thinking about listening. I realized that when I was in a conversation with someone, I was not giving that person my undivided attention. I was “listening,” but at the same time I was preparing in my brain for how I was going to respond to what that person was saying. I was not truly listening to the person with whom I was conversing. I realized that “listening” like I always had been had two problems: 1) I was disrespecting the person I was talking to. 2) I was not living in the moment.
So for the last month, I made a new decision about how I will listen from here on out. First, I stopped interrupting. Then, I stopped my brain from formulating my response to what the person was saying. I’m not perfect at it, but it has made a huge change in my life. I have begun living in the present moment. It has slowed me down, helped me breathe, and helped me be in the now. And that is a good thing! I know that this change is a work in progress, but the benefits I’ve already gotten will propel me forward to keep it up.
We’ll talk—and listen—next month.
Janet Van deWalle,