Listen: Soft, Quieter Voices Need To Be Heard Too

Guy Fawkes 2006

Guy Fawkes 2006 (Photo credit: Max xx)

My friend’s voice is soft, she is not a leader but a follower, I have no problem with this but some of my more straight-shooter, take control friends might. They have dominant voices, sit in attendance at board meetings, screaming, making a loud fuss about things that are important to them. Quiet people can’t or won’t do that but they still have their opinions. Louder people yell sometimes so that they don’t hear the soft voices in the background because nobody wants to speak over them.

Why should they? When they start to softly voice their concerns sometimes they feel berated. “Anyone who is scared to stand up for what they believe in is a scaredy-cat” loosely paraphrased someone said. Exhibit A. That, my friend, is a judgment, name calling.  Softer voices have opinions too but are not as equipped as some of the more confident, take charge people to talk at meetings, to make a fuss but their opinions, sometimes silently, count too. They also vote. Some people shy away from conflict, this is not a judgment call, I would call it a style.

Where am I in all this? Straight down the middle like a true Libra. Balancing each side, over and over again. Quietly. Making a huge fuss when it is important to me.  Family. Family. Family.

When my daughter was young she hid behind me and if she was shy or afraid, she would place her arms in the air in front of me and say “Up, Up” and I would lift her up and feel her body instantly relaxing against mine. Our son, the first-born,always bossed people around, he still does.  Our daughter had planned her birthday parties years in advance and stuck to each theme, always wanted to see her cake beforehand and read the last page of every book before she decided to read it. Our son loved the element of surprise, he had to be the good guy and I was always the bad guy and left rooms always trying to have the last word, saying “No more conversations, no new conversations.” Two adult children, two very different styles. I love them equally.

It took me a long time for me to find my voice, as a second child with an older sister who was very strong and bossy, (Some other people would call it overbearing.) When I was young I was shy, bashful so I can truly understand both sides. As soon as my sister went to college I found my voice and it was dramatic and beautiful and real.

Listen. Try silencing your voice and make people feel safe and don’t criticize them automatically for their fear or reluctance, I know you do it, you know it too. Not everyone is like you, though, the world is not made of people as strong as you. They need their own voices to be heard, in their own way. Sometimes with care, sometimes written, or spoken in whispers to friends who are willing to take the time to listen and not judge.

Whether you outright say it or not, people feel your judgment straight from your body to theirs, not all judgment is verbal, of course. You can feel it from someone’s eyes  or body language.  I will not judge you for hushed tones like a sleepy mouse, I will applaud you if anxiety  enabled you to speak softly about it in the first place.  We’re all just different in how we express things. Let’s try to play together, without judgment or criticism. The point is, everyone, in their own way, is entitled to be heard.

candle, candle in glass

candle, candle in glass (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dedicated to my good friend, D.E.G.

for getting the conversation started.

(credit to above named photographers)

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It’s Really Not About The Chicken Soup….

Chicken soup is a common classic comfort food ...

Chicken soup is a common classic comfort food that might be found across cultures. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just because my mom is not the type to drive over with a pot of home-made chicken soup when I am sick does not mean she is a bad mother. She certainly is a different, independent type of mother, but make no mistake, she is a mother who loves me and my sister very much. We grew up in the fifties and probably watched too many Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best episodes to think that baking cookies and meatloaf was the only thing a mother should do. She hated cooking and I inherited that except for my famous banana bread recipe, amazing guacamole and funny enough, my chicken soup and my pea soup. Once, when I was 4 or 5, she tried to make a pineapple upside down cake but it came out right side up. I remember her frustration and our laughter. It is one of my favorite young memories.

My mom had no role models to learn from, no one. How COULD she know? Both her parents died when she was very young, her mother died when she was 5 and her father when she was 14. She had only  a wicked stepmother and a horrendous stepbrother. She thought she was loved by her step-mother but she wasn’t. She just clung on to the hope, I could see through that wicked old woman at the age of eight. My mom needed to cling on to the only source of love she had known.

She is exceedingly charming, people fall in love continuously. Strangers flock to her, people adore her for her intelligence and wit. When she was younger she traveled the world as an interpreter (French, German, Hebrew, English) with important people and saw many incredible sights in different countries.  She once took me to what was known as the former Yugoslavia on a tour. We walked around and heard noises from a big open garden, we heard the words “kicki-ricki” over and over again. I wanted to run and hide, my mother? She followed the noises determined to find out what “kicki ricki” was. I was sure it was heroin or crack cocaine, something illegal. I never was a hero but my mother was and she linked arms with me and said “we are going to find out what this is.” I begged her to drop it but I knew I had no chance. We entered the garden and started hearing the noise again, “kicki ricki.”  My mother marched up to the man and directly asked him what kivki ricki was: he smiled, held out his hand and showed us the bag of peanuts he was selling. Of course we bought a pack, my mother triumphant and incredibly pleased with herself. If I could sum up my mom in one example that would be it.

She may have not been the stereotypical mother who made chocolate chip cookies while I was at school but she taught me so many more important things: to be independent, to keep a little money for myself aside from my husband, to be strong. Mother-Daughter relationships have never been easy, entire books have been written about them, songs have been sung, movies filmed, feelings hurt but the bond is undeniably strong, one of the closest bonds you will probably ever know. I’m sorry my mother never knew that bond, that bond of safety and love with her own mother. I have that bond with my children, I would do anything for them, at any time. They are my life.

I love you mama with all my heart, even though you don’t bring chicken soup.  I know you love us deeply and would do anything to help us or make us happy. Your love, mama bear, is protective and I know you love both of us with every fiber of your being and with all your heart. I love you the same and more. This song is for you, it’s our song, it always has been.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Pineapple Upside Down Cake (Photo credit: jeffrey.kohn)

Puzzle Boy- Kellie Elmore Prompt (Free Writing)

I was working hard on my puzzlw, me and my bestest riend Nikki when my stupid baby brother GREGORY, came down stairs on his rear end and decided to ruin my life. Well, he did that the second he was born but today he actually showed us how annoying he really was because he showed it in front of my very best friend and my mom too. “Now, now, my mom said, don’t get so upset Abby, my mom said in her sweet kind of fake voice, but she knew I was mad and she knew I just wanted to hit the baby in the head aftor ruining another one of my days.

“Gregory”say you are sorry to your sister Abby but he said no such thing and my Mom just made up the words and tried to pretend they were coming from his stupid little boy mouth. Did she think I was stupid? Whatever, it wasn’t tht much of a big deal so me and and Nicki put the pieces away and we didn’t let Greggy play with at all for the whole rest of the time that Nicki was over there. It kinda seemed that Nikki wanted to play “house” using Gregory as the baby boy but I refused to play that since I was stuck doing that every single day and night like forever. No, I was not gonna play with that stupid boy again unless one day if he was older and maybe cooler and he could play hoops or squash or something cool. Now, to me, he was just a blob that sati n a high chair and dribbled drool all over his face and Mom’s hand and my hand and this stupid spit up cloth and he would wipe his hand iin his own snot which was way more gross than I had seen in a very long time. Then Nikki had to leave to go home anda we didn’t say much more to each other except see ya at schoo and i locked the door behind me, hard.

Why couldln’t Mom see how disgusting that was? IF I had done that she would have yelled at me and screamed so loud and then punished me for sure. But with GREGORY, he was allowed to do it cuz he was the baby. What’s the difference, I wanted to say.  Why couldn’t i do it if he was allowed? whaat’s fair is fair. Besides, I was older so I should hae been allowed to do more things first. Yeah.

If my dad had been around he would have been on m y side before but that was no way going to happpen. I think mom and dad had a big fight and he left and she didn’t care but now she smoked lots of cigarettes and squished them out in a red and white orange juice glass, and he called to talk to me sometimes. I would get to see him sometime but I didn’t know when and he didn’t eithere. he asked about the stupid baby and I told him i hated him and dad laughed and thought it was funny and then I laughed too cuz it kind of was funny in a weird way.

After that it was pretty quiet in the apaartment, Mama was giving the baby a bath, and “GREGORY” had already eaten so mom and I would get to eat dinner together just like we used to. So I put on my mom’s apron, the one with the red and purple flowers on it, I put out the plates, and the silver ware and waited for mom to come down. I heaard her kiss him good-night so I was ready, Mom had cooked something beforeand it was time tht we ate it together. Us grown up girls together, just like it should be, all along.