Deeper Listening – Recognising the Contradictions

I grow weary of the contradictions in my being. I really do. I am shooting for gentle, patient, kind, considerate, measured – serene may be a stretch. But often there is the ugly, niggly, uptight, stressed, antsy, self-righteous me which is hard to hide from those who love me most, or those who are in proximity to me for any length of time. Poor souls.

Our son and his partner rang the other day and he immediately picked up on my mood. “Mum, are you tired, or something?”, he asked. OK, can’t hide it. Yep, struggling today. Love it and hate it when those who know me best can so easily spot what I’m working so hard to hide from myself.

I appreciate that about my sons and husband, they know me well and they are gentle and honest in turn. The recognition of my mood helped me own it and toss it.  Yes, toss it! In the moments of clarity that followed kind exposure, I was given the ‘mirroring awareness’ I needed to help me choose a different response to what was getting under my skin that day.

Ok, being human is messy. But for any who are recovering perfectionists, you will know how difficult it is to deal with anything messy. Particularly responses to situations we cannot control, or situations we think we are good at, but stuff up in ways that leave us confused and confounded. Either way, I so weary of the tension that surprisingly springs up in ordinary moments on any given day.

I’m up for learning, growing and being transformed. What I am not up for, with any genuine enthusiasm, is the means and methods life uses to teach me how to grow and be transformed. It is humbling, painful and so not a perfectly smooth learning curve. I find it is more a crazy stumbling uncoordinated dance, where I’m flying solo in my foolish, “I must do it by myself’ style.

And this is where the deeper listening comes in. I want to accept the Father’s outstretched hand and dance in a duet with him. I want to forget my awkwardness and uncertainty and look up into His eyes, not down at my feet. I want to sense the rhythm of the beat through my connection to Him. I want to be willing to be led, to be guided, to surrender my need to control, to pretend, to perform. I want to be absorbed in the moment and movement of the dance with my heavenly Father.

Trusting that He knows me and is honourable, I know He will be gentle and honest in turn. Showing me step by step how to hear, to follow, to allow Him to lead me in the dance of deeper listening.

I’ll let you know what serenity feels like as this journey of learning progresses. I’ll be playing more music, walking along more beaches and mountain trails, reading more, watching less TV, listening to stories and sitting in silence savouring the moments.

It’s time to grow, again. Let the dance begin.

Garlic and other things that eke out of you!

At a recent job interview I was asked to share the three most important things in my life and why. The interviewer pre-empted the conversation by clarifying there were no wrong answers. It was a means of getting to know me and what matters to me.

My responses came quickly to mind. The first two made sense immediately but the third was an interesting self-revelation.

The why for each took more time to consider as life experiences, changing contexts and time have both shaped and deepened my understanding of what is important to me.

Curiosity aroused. I genuinely want to hear how others answer this question. What is most important? Why?

And take the next personal growth step: What would those who know me well, say is most important to me?

That’s a ‘mirror’ question, a vulnerable moment of checking whether what I say, and how I live, are congruent.  Do I really live out of what I say is important to me, or does my everyday life, decisions and activities show something very different?

It’s like when you are on a peak hour crowded train squished next to a person who has recently consumed a garlic infused meal. It’s eking out of them if you know what I mean.  What’s really important to us is obvious to everyone around us even though we may well be oblivious.

“The things that matter stay with you, seep into your skin”
― Christina Baker Kline, Orphan Train

Over the next few weeks of blogging, I’ll unpack what is important to me and why. I won’t mention them now, as I do not want to distract from the impact of the question on you.

Your response is the one that matters and as the interviewer at my job interview said, there are no wrong answers.

I look forward to hearing your responses, to hear if you have gone the next step and asked the ‘mirror’ question too.

“I made a promise never to let myself be deceived again. I would live for the important things in life.”
― Ivy Oakes, The Story of How We Met

Press the Pause Button

Reflective Retreats are for anyone who is weary of being thrown like a skipping stone across the surface of the water, wondering what would happen if you stopped and allowed yourself to slowly sink below the surface of life long enough to discover who you are, and what you are really designed for.
And despite your worst fears of being alone, abandoned or forgotten in the dark depths of the water, the reality is that when you know who you are and affirm your purpose, you are free to choose to live life at the pace and direction of your own choosing.
You are seriously only a ‘stone’s throw’ away from finding meaning and purpose.
Why be still? Why take time out to ‘retreat’?
Well I think you could definitely fill in the blanks, but here are a few very good reasons:
Rest, reflect, restore, contemplate, create, connect, clarify, disconnect, discover, design, oh and my favourite, just breathe.

On many of our guided retreats people have told us that they genuinely wondered how they would fill a day or weekend by themselves, just thinking, praying, etc. By the end of our retreats we regularly receive feedback of pleasant surprise and thankfulness for the gentle guidance and flexibility we offer to assist attendees to thoroughly enjoy the time.
Contact us at C-Change to help you and your partner/team/group plan a reflective retreat.
C-Change will design a retreat to suit your needs. You will be provided a framework for a personal/couple/group retreat to help you maximise this gift of time and space. We enjoy writing and tailoring the retreat to suit you.
Or you could have us facilitate a retreat where you are with your group or team. With COVID still impacting us we can only offer face to face retreats in our home state of Tasmania at this time.
Together, let’s discover the power of the rhythm of retreat as a means of changing your world.
Dianne Priest
C-Change Counsellor and Coach

2020 ‘Annus Horribilus’ or……?

2020 has been a ………. year! Fill in the blank but check out the questions below to help give perspective.

Moving forward into 2021 will involve an honest look at 2020. Before we hastily dub 2020 as ‘annus horribilus’ which for many, it truly was just that, we need to take time to reflect, ask questions and find a realistic perspective on the year that will certainly be remembered worldwide for all sorts of reasons. Between catastrophic summer fires, famines, floods, explosions planned and unplanned and a worldwide pandemic thrown in for good measure, there have also been many families affected by the more ‘normal’ slings and arrows of life too.

Yet, in speaking to a good friend today she reflected on the safe arrival of two new grandchildren, the welcome return of friends to their home, quality time with family via all means possible both online and face to face when allowed.

Another friend mentioned the joy of having time, (as an introvert), alone, with quieter routines and less hustle and bustle in the days. The change of pace was a welcome reprieve to life’s demands and pace.

So I ask the following questions to help find a more balanced perspective on 2020. Reflection at this time of year is even more significant and helpful given the relentless negative and hyper intrusive media flooding our daily lives with the conjecture and statistics to drown us in fear.

Take some time today or over this festive weekend to consider these questions:

What did I learn this year? About me? About life?

What did I accomplish this year?

What challenges did I overcome this year?

What significant events occured for me this year?

What has changed for me in this year?

What burdens/habits have I let go of this year?

What am I grateful for this year?

Would love to hear your responses to these questions.