From our archives -- Taking Time to Listen

Dear Friends

Little did I know that my life (and heart) would be so transformed by an 83-year-old man on his porch. I met Donald years ago since I'd pass his little ramshackle cottage every day while taking my dog for his walk. Since I learned early on that Donald was a "talker," I’d pass his house as if my dog were a greyhound on the racetrack.“Hiiiii!” I’d quickly chirp as I sprinted by (only to resume walking after turning the corner). Truth was I liked Donald. I enjoyed his stories and felt compassion for him – at least enough compassion to leave him little care packages when I'd know he wasn’t up yet, but obviously not enough compassion to give him the one gift he really needed: the gift of someone to listen to his stories and show interest in who he is as a person. I told myself that my dance card was full and I didn't have time to be shooting the breeze with this virtual stranger.

Then one day Donald wasn’t there. After a month of his absence, I accepted the worst and felt like the schmuck of the Universe.Would I have taken the time to chat with him had I known he only had weeks left on the earth? Instead of giving him muffins and cookies, could I have instead given him my listening ear? These were the types of questions I'd ask myself as I'd now walk past his darkened house.

About four months ago, I spotted a pale and emaciated Donald sitting where he had always sat. This time I sprinted towards him. It's only natural that he appeared taken aback by my sheer jubilation. After all, I had never seemed to care that much prior to this day. Even I was surprised by my enthusiasm and relief. Not only was I relieved for him that he was home, but I was relieved for myself – that I was being given a second chance to "get it right."

Although it’s only been a matter of months, I have come to love this man. I'll even go so far as to say I treasure our friendship. His daily stories of life experiences have enriched me immeasurably. While learning about him, I've learned so much about myself, and I have witnessed so many kind acts from neighbors that it's restored my faith in humanity! His presence in my life has been like Pilates for my soul, stretching me, expanding my heart and mind, and strengthening my core.

This holiday season, I challenge us all to stop sprinting away from the Donalds in our lives, even if it's just for a day. No Mother Teresa act of heroism is necessary. Simply listen to their stories. Be there for them. Be still in their presence instead of always flitting to what's next on the To Do list. You just may end up with the friendship of a lifetime and growing in a way you never imagined.

Other Issues:
From our archives -- Break Away from the Herd

From our archives -- The Art of Imperfection

From our archives -- Saddle Up

From our archives -- Taking Ourselves Off Automatic

Early Summer 2014 -- Embracing our Dormant Times

Late Spring 2014 -- Seeing More Clearly

Spring 2014 -- Savor What Makes Your Heart Sing

Early Spring 2014 -- The Power of Quotes

From our archives -- Break Away from the Herd

From our archives -- Break Away from the Herd

Holiday 2013 -- Taking the Time to Listen

Holiday 2013 -- Open our Hearts to the Good Around Us

Fall 2013 -- How to Cope in Tough Times

Late Summer 2013 - The Priceless Gift of Friendship

Midsummer 2013 -- My Luck is Pretty Good Luck

Early Summer 2013 -- Slow Down Enough to Smile

Late Spring 2013 -- Recognizing Gifts

Spring 2013 -- Doing the Best We Can

Early Spring 2013 -- Know Where You're Going

Holiday 2012 -- Our Power to Adapt

Fall 2012 -- Gratitude for What We Have

Early Fall 2012 -- See the Beauty in Front of Us

Late Summer 2012 -- Modify So It Works for You

Summer 2012 -- Finding Balance

Early Summer 2012 -- Go Ahead and Take that Risk!

Late Spring 2012 - Trusting Your Gut

Spring 2012 - Living Life to the Fullest

Early Spring 2012 - New Year, No Excuses

Winter 2011 - A Thoughtful Tip

Holiday 2011 - How Did I Get Here?

Fall 2011 - Giving Thanks for What We Already Have

Late Summer 2011 - Taking Ourselves Off Automatic

Midsummer 2011 - Friends Through Thick and Thin

Early Summer 2011 - The Power of Nice

Late Spring 2011 - The Gifts of Spring

Spring 2011 - Worst Case Scenario

Early Spring 2011 - Break Away From the Herd

Winter 2010 - Lessons From Feral Kitty

Holiday 2010 - The Art of Imperfection

Fall 2010 - When the Student is Ready...

Late Summer 2010 - Saddle Up

Midsummer 2010 - Hurry Up and Wait

Early Summer 2010 - Don't Just Stand There. Do Something!

Late Spring 2010 - Gifts From My Mother

Spring 2010 - Taking That First Step

Early Spring 2010 - I Think it's Time

Winter 2009 - Choose Love, Not Fear

Holiday 2009 - Paying it Forward

Fall 2009 - You're Not Alone

Late Summer 2009 - "Searching" for Peace

Midsummer 2009

Early Summer 2009

Late Spring 2009

Spring 2009

Early Spring 2009

Winter 2008

Holiday 2008

Fall 2008

Late Summer 2008

Midsummer 2008

Early Summer 2008

Late Spring 2008

Spring 2008

Early Spring 2008

Winter 2007

Holiday 2007

Fall 2007

Late Summer 2007

Midsummer 2007

Early Summer 2007

Late Spring 2007

Spring 2007

Early Spring 2007

Winter 2006

Holiday 2006

Fall 2006

Late Summer 2006

Midsummer 2006

Early Summer 2006

Late Spring 2006

Spring 2006

Early Spring 2006

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