Often, when my kids were younger, one of them could be found chattering my ear off. Little tidbits of mental woolgathering would make its way out of their heads and into my ears. On days when I was tempted to zone them out completely I was often reminded in my spirit to "listen, listen." I knew the window of opportunity was short and if I didn't pay attention to what was on their hearts they would find someone else to talk to. Permanently. I wanted it to be me. Other days I wanted it to be anyone but me. It was so much more work to listen than to ignore. Often, for instance, as I was setting the table they would start talking to me and I would find my mind drifting off about some detail about life when the words, "listen, listen" would make me jump inside as if they had been spoken through a megaphone from God's spirit to my own. Sometimes I would tell my kids I couldn't give them my full attention at the moment so they either could choose to have me mindlessly say, "uh, huh" to whatever they just had to tell me or they could wait until I could given them my undivided attention. Often I would put aside what I was thinking about to listen to them. And yes, there were times when I simply did the "uh, huh" routine while they were (almost)none the wiser.
My kids range from newly adult to fully submerged in adulthood these days and now I am faced with a new person who has thoughts begging to be heard. That would be me. This month off from blogging has brought me face to face with myself. Again. I have written more pages in my journal in the past 4 weeks than in the previous 9 months. It's been good. It's been bad. It's been hard. It's been hopeful. It's been. I did a lot of reading, a fair amount of simply sitting in silence and I took time to be child-like with daily views through my new kaleidescope (thanks to only daughter). I turned another year older this past month. I took out my bubble wand and blew bubbles into the sky. I tended to my flowerpots and painted pictures. I felt sad a lot. I also felt hope filled. I found myself confused that sadness and hope could be such bosom buddies but I also cut myself enough slack to simply feel the feelings instead of having to make sense of them before I acknowledged their presence. I refrained from doing anything that smacked of being busy in a religious sense - things I have done in the past that looked like they would bring me closer to God but really were tactics to keep my head full of noise and God's voice out of my range of hearing. I did a lot of listening instead.
In the past month I went back to AA for the first time in 8 or 9 years. At that meeting there was an audible gasp around the table when I said I'd been sober for 18 years but hadn't been to a meeting in over 8. I hate walking into a room full of strangers alone but my fear of falling off the wagon grew bigger than my fear of meeting strangers, so I went. That night the meeting topic was fear. As I listened to the stories around the table I knew I had been closer to a relapse than not.
One Saturday found me unapologetic for once, when I reached out for help instead of isolating and pretending that living on my solitary island would be enough to get me through the day.
A new magnet is holding my latest painting up on the fridge. It says, "She wanted most of all to live from her heart." I'm convinced that the more I listen, listen the more I will live from my heart.