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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Maybe “Safe” Is A Better Word Than “Stuck”

English: The Mother Orange Tree, the oldest li...

English: The Mother Orange Tree, the oldest living orange tree in Northern California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I often refer to my husband and myself as Empty Nesters, stuck between two worlds. We still live in the home where we raised our children,  paying outrageous school taxes even though both kids are in college. My mother and sister both live nearby and my husband’s parents live close by as well. But, I know, deep inside, this is not where I want to end up for the rest of our lives.  I’m sure you have heard the term  “The Sandwich Generation” before, it defines us as it does most of the aging “Baby Boomers.” I shudder when I even think of the term “Aging Boomers.” Us? Really?

I have wanted to move to the West Cost for a long time since I was a kid and my dad mentioned he had a possible job interview in California. For someone who is not good with change, I was so excited about the prospect.  I imagined a little white house and garden with bright red flowers on the boarders, an orange tree in the back yard and a red dog named Rusty.

Here, in the Northeast the weather is too cold and I’ve always hated cold weather. For those of you who enjoy the cold and love its sparkling freshness, enjoy it. For all you skiers out there, have a great time racing down those sleek, icy hills, I would be in the chalet drinking hot chocolate with whipped cream anyway. The cold weather makes me hurt all over in general and  living with the chronic pain illness, Fibromyalgia, the cold, bone-chilling weather makes my bones and muscles hurt even more. There is nothing I can do about that except accept it.

I admit, I used to feel closed in not knowing when and where we would move in the future but now it feels alright, in fact it feels safe. Chaos will surely occur if there is any major change and for someone like me, change is always hard. For me, ” A Good Change” is an oxymoron. For little things, I need 24-48 hours to get used to change that is even mildly disturbing, imagine a huge change? The mere thought of moving away from my sister and mother brings tears to my eyes. My children will come visit when they can, it is their turn to live now. So maybe being “stuck” is not so bad, maybe being stuck is just being “safe.” If I look at it that way,  I’m doing alright. Actually, pretty good. I’m enjoying nature in the suburbs, the sweet red cardinals chirping in the trees, the changing of the leaves, the different seasons. Change will happen by itself, there are things we can’t control, health, employment, our children moving away, us moving away, sickness, death. Life brings us one change after another, so right now where we are “stuck” is really a time to rest and appreciate. Whatever comes next, will be very, very different; we will get used to it in time but it won’t be easy to call that place home with all the pieces in the puzzle fitting right into place for a long time. I’m just going to appreciate what I have now, not look backwards and not look forwards, be in the present. Sounds good, right? I’m trying the best that I can.

a drawing of a 4 piece jigsaw puzzle

a drawing of a 4 piece jigsaw puzzle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Sanctity Of The Sauna

Sauna in Pančevo, Serbia

Sauna in Pančevo, Serbia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We tiptoe in, mostly we avoid eye contact but if we make it we acknowledge it quickly with a nod of our heads; dressed in white towels, the room is absolutely silent. Nobody breaks these unwritten rules either, you just know them. No talking in the sauna. Not one word. Someone leaves, they don’t say “good-bye and have a nice weekend,” that would be against the rules. ” She exits silently, closes the door quickly behind her and disappears into the locker room.

We know the procedure, even if it is our first time, we know what to do and what not to do. Is it in our genes? How else would we know? Perhaps it’s passed down from our mothers?  I have seen the occasional aberration from the norm, but mostly one evil look, or two, will silence the uneducated. Oh, they will get the message.  Don’t do this again, if you want to chat, go to Starbucks.

I go after a swim, where I feel that I am getting some of the chemicals out of my body, making my body glow naturally with heat. I can only stay inside for about five minutes, there are no watches or clocks, you need to know your own body and your body tells you when it’s time to leave. Don’t fool around with that. Drink a bottle of water right away to hydrate your body. It’s your own, private club, or at least that’s what you pretend. Other women work painstakingly with their hair and hair dryers for a long time trying to straighten their hair, but once I’ve showered I’m relieved to go out into the sunshine where my hair will curl naturally by the sun. I should pay more attention to make-up and clothing and accessories, I know, but to me, a little lipstick is all I do. It’s all I care to do.

Maybe the sauna takes us back to a place where there are no phones, no meetings, nothing to do in today’s ever so quick, changing lives. I admit, I have a cell phone but only use it for my children, it is usually turned off. Perhaps the sauna brings me back to the quiet, to the way things used to be, before the latest technology. I like it there.

Haiku Heights: Chivalry

English: Afternoon tea.

English: Afternoon tea. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Slight touch, soft elbow

guide me to high tea, my dear

No, please, after you.

*************************************************************

Sweet dove, soft petal,

May I kiss your pink silk cheek

With a quiet pause.

Carry On Tuesday: Standing at the crossroads…

Times Square, NYC

Times Square, NYC (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Peter and Stephanie lived in Manhattan, where the neon lights and the booming noises, bounced through their apartment windows.  They were young, married and happy. They met up with friends for dinner at noodle restaurants or sushi or Thai food several times a week. Peter was a lawyer, Stephanie was in PR and they enjoyed their life. They stayed up late, needed little sleep and felt alive with NYC’s streets lit up with musicians, dancers, and a hundred different languages spoken at a time.

It was not, however, relaxing. Peter started getting restless and started complaining about the noise in the city, and how he could just not stand another ambulance screeching through the city streets. Peter started talking about moving to the suburbs, so they could buy a house, raise children, plant a garden. Stephanie didn’t object outright but she had no desire to leave the city anytime soon.

Three months later Stephanie learned that she was pregnant quite accidentally. She had gone to her Internist for a physical having been tired and feeling run down and when the blood work came back, she was pregnant. She was in complete shock and didn’t tell Peter that night, she needed a few days alone to digest the news. This had not been planned and Stephanie hated surprises but she knew they wanted kids in the future.

Later that week, Stephanie interrupted Peter and said “she needed to talk to him and that it was serious.” He couldn’t read her expression and crazy thoughts went flying through his mind, “Is it over?” Is she having an affair?” “Is she dying?” It was none of those things, she said.  She told him that she was pregnant, he was ecstatic and relieved. Tears flooded his eyes and he jumped up and when he tried to hug and kiss her she sat absolutely still. They talked long into the night and Peter could not contain his joy and Stephanie could not hide her ambivalence.

Peter said “ambivalence” was normal, there was never a “perfect time to have kids” and she reluctantly agreed. He called his parents and hers, he called their friends and told them the news; Stephanie liked the attention. Her friends and family were absolutely “cooing” they were so happy and Peter woke up every morning like he had just won the lottery, grinning, his face lit up like the sun.

Peter insisted that moving to the suburbs from the city was the right choice now. They knew they could never afford living in their tiny Manhattan apartment and have room for a bassinet much less a baby carriage. Peter started to look at starter houses immediately but Stephanie stayed home. “She was tired” she said and he knew her taste. Besides, she was just two months pregnant and they had plenty of time.

Within a month, Peter had it narrowed it down to four houses. Peter and Stephanie agreed to meet at Grand Central so they could take the train to Briarcliff Station where their realtor would be waiting for them. They were meeting at eleven thirty to take the train at noon. At 11:00 they confirmed their plans. Peter was there first and he waited for Stephanie to arrive. It was now 11:45 and there was no sight of Stephanie. He rang her cell phone frantically but she didn’t pick up. He waited another hour there and annoyed, went back to the apartment.

Back home he called everyone he knew but no one had seen or heard from Stephanie, not even her family or best friends. They feared she was abducted, it was not like her not to call. Peter had called every hospital in the city, he called the police and gave them a description and a photo, still no word.

Two days later, Molly, Stephanie’s best friend, rang the bell and Peter let her in immediately. She started crying hysterically and Peter couldn’t understand what she said, nothing made sense.  Finally, Molly reached into her red, leather bag and pulled out a note and gave it to Peter. It read: “Dear Peter, I can’t do this, this is not the life I want. I have already left and don’t try to find me. There is no baby. Steph.

At that, Peter screamed and clutched his stomach. “Where the hell was she?” Molly swore she didn’t know and Peter believed her. Molly slipped away from the chaos and quietly shut the front door. No one understood, everyone was screaming and crying and shouting. Everyone was worried and mad and scared and in disbelief. “How could this happen to them?” they cried.

Stephanie had been standing at the crossroads for many weeks, she had to decide on her life and what would make her happy. She chose to walk away, to leave Peter and her family and friends and start over someplace new.  She had a miscarriage after three weeks, but she told no one. It was her first step on her way to freedom.

Things People Are Surprised to Learn About Me

Who Me?

shy

I’m usually very outgoing, but it depends on the situation. I think most people would be surprised to learn that I can be very shy. When I was a child I was painfully shy and to this day I am still quiet around very boisterous people. It all depends on who I am with and whether I am comfortable. I’m so much better now than I was years ago but every so often it creeps up on me like a little gray mouse and I become the very quiet, very shy, young me.

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my day by sherry

Hopscotch

Image via Wikipedia

my dday waas verry diffrent from yesssterdat, funnyhow ur day cann be really bad andd scary and u  want to  just cry an cry. thaats what i felt like   today. mommy and pops were all tryin  to  preetend to b hapy but i culd know thaat its was just becaaause  i was stil their. i felt that in my bakk as i walked out the dorr so i culd catch the lellow school bus. my hair waz in 2 long braidss, my feet werr flyin in my new red lite up ssneakers witch ar so ammasing!!! andd i had a baloni and merican cheese sandwitch in my hello kitty! lunch boxx.i dont know whats goin on really but i know it feels kinda wrong and badand sad. i hav a brover who is just makin me feel jumpy and sad and mad andd that shouldnt happen. isnt family suppo two be nice tto family? no iguess thats not just so for some peepel, everyone is different i know.my teacherr told me that. i was sitting on the playground when  jessie came over to me and u know what, she didn’t do anythin but sit right down next to me and that was relly good. it was plenty, she asked me to play wit her like jump rop or hopsscotch or use   chawk but i didnt want to play or jump rope or hoppscotch.i just wanted someone to know who i wasss and what i was feeling like and jessie was all quiet and she put her arm around my neck and then we both smiled. smiled like we had won the lottery like on tvee or something cuz that is just how it felt. we both felt happy for no reason, well, no special reason at all. after that we held hands an went bakk incide. me and jess, we are best freinds now.

wen i gott home my brooter  said some  baad words and slamme the door an every ones voics were sso loud and screamin. my brother sam, i am, is 14 and hes in some kiind of badd truble, somes ttimes gronups dont listenn enuf but i no something was wronng and when i came baaak from skool, i was not  so hapy anymore andd at leaast i knew tht tmmrrow woud be sccool again  and i woud ssee Jessie aand she wood still be my bestest friendd. so i no thaats  really good an i donnt hav to say a word if i don’nt wan to.

Waiting In A Too Still Moment

Thunderstorm - NOAA

Image via Wikipedia

There are a lot of things going on but except for the doctor’s appointment I had today, with a breast surgeon ( I’m fine) I am waiting for things to happen.  My dog looks unwell, tired and scared, she is not eating. Is it the upcoming thunderstorms she feels approaching or…..is she too old?  She won’t come up the stairs, that is very unusual. I changed my own doctor’s appointment next week because I noticed my dog’s exam with her veterinarian is scheduled for the same day. I will go with her; I have always gone with her, every year for nine years. She needs me and I need her. She is nine and sometimes I look at her and want to quietly weep. My pup. I’ve had you since I rescued you at six weeks old.

I am waiting for test reports to come back, not for myself; the phone is quiet, not shrieking, loud and  jarring as it usually is.  It is never this quiet here.  I feel a pause in the universe and inside myself.  There are no sounds in the house except my fingers clicking on this old keyboard. I am concentrating on the stillness and it feels surreal.

Will it feel like this when both my kids go off to college? My son, is going to college in September; my daughter, my baby, next year. Prom is the day after tomorrow and I am still in disbelief  that time has passed so quickly. Even though I have seen the handsome tuxedo and the grin on my son’s face I can’t believe it is here. I am afraid I will cry when I see the sparkling young couples posing together for their prom pictures. I will bring sunglasses and not let it show although my son only has to take one passing glance at me and he will know. I will NOT let him see.

I could pick up the phone but I don’t want to ruin this eery quiet with unnecessary noise. The silence and solitude, I fear, is meant for a reason. I am breathing deeply. I sip from a small, green Pellegrino bottle, it seems to be the only color in the entire room. I never liked to drink water before but I enjoy this. Maybe it’s because we drank bubbly mineral water, every day, when we were in  Spain.  Our Spain vacation with my husband, for ten days, now seems like a dream I had; it is getting cloudy in detail, in texture, in color, in my memory.

I would like to keep everyone safe and healthy but I have no control. I am  gathering up courage in order for me to help others. I am trying to come from a centered place. I am controlling anxiety by breathing but it is beginning to be hard to swallow. My dog, my son, test results, weather, change is coming quickly, but it isn’t here yet.

It is getting cloudy now, maybe the thunderstorms will come and relieve the awful, suffocating heat. The thunderstorms are supposed to make the weather cooler; I know that but my dog doesn’t. I will keep her near me, my arm around her fur and wait for the storms to come crashing down like glass shattered by a young boy’s errant baseball. Everything can change in a moment, I want to be ready.