SUICIDE AFTERSHOCKS: VOL III Southern Women’s Wisdom–Discomfort and the Power of a Pause

During the last few months I’ve found myself referencing my husband’s suicide in conversation as the B.E.  (Bill Event)

and making time distinctions based on before and after Bill did what he did.  It feels healthy for me and lighter than using the word suicide.  He simply did what he did-what he chose to do.business_110009277-012914-int

As time passes and I’m happier and more present, how he died is becoming almost irrelevant.  Interestingly when people ask, I pause to decide how direct I care to be in that given moment as my experience has been that most people can’t really handle the truth of suicide.  They seem ill-equipped to respond without judgment.  Most become highly uncomfortable or pretend they didn’t actually ask how he died, rather than pausing and considering a response.

Suicide.  Just the word causes discomfort. Suicide carries so many judgments—social, religions and familial.  When I do use that word, it’s not that I’m choosing to make others uncomfortable.  I am simply choosing to honor myself and respect the level of comfort I’ve been able to achieve in the aftermath of a horrific situation.

 

58d7e6020950c8147cc62a476d63af49The first statement one of my brothers made to me the day of the B.E. was, “I didn’t know your marriage was that bad”.  He maintained this position and even went so far as to publicly state that he and everyone else knew that Bill’s suicide was my fault.  This was my BROTHER! 

A person I considered a friend commented, “How could you not know—you’re so intuitive. This is what you do!  You must have known this was going to happen!”  This was a FRIEND!

My dad’s reaction to my first and only crying phone call to him in the days immediately following the B.E. was, “Quit living in the past.” He said this just prior to hanging up on me.  This was my FATHER.

So I did the only thing I knew how to do and called a girl friend—

a bit older than me and raised in south central Virginia.  Her wise counsel came in the form of a question.  After hearing my pain over the judgmental and insensitive comments being made, she asked,

“Kim, does your Father have a vagina?  Do any of these people you’re speaking with have vagina’s?

I responded no, that they did not, in fact, have vagina’s.  Her response, classic, quintessential southern pragmatism, “Don’t you know you can’t have a conversation when you’re upset with a person lacking a vagina?

Enough said.  I was laughing while crying and oh, so much better!

A girlfriend I grew up with reminded me gently, “Honey, if common sense was lard, your family wouldn’t be able to grease a pan—I don’t mean you of course!”

Another grand moment came while at different girlfriend’s house in central Virginia.  I walked into a group and reacted – inappropriately– to a random participants comment about the B.E.   I kind of lost it and got angry –I really wanted to kick this person till she bled!  (an inappropriate response, I know–but I did pause!)  To avoid any verbal escalation, I went to my friend and said I need help getting under control!  She responded with,

“Well honey, that’s what the back yard is for—you go on out there and stay as long as it takes and I’ll make you some tea!”

8 or 9 weeks after the B.E. I was heading into a meeting with 2 executives and 7 trainers of a global organ harvesting and transplant organization.  The meeting was taking place because—well, that’s another story!  This meeting was a big deal for me and I was still quite emotional but in the “let’s get’er done” frame of mind and knew I needed bucking up before entering the meeting.  Like every southern girl would—I phoned a friend—with a vagina!  She told me,

“Tighten up that corset, put on your lip gloss, lift up your chest and speak slow and syrupy sweet—you got this.”

Scarlett Tightening up!

Scarlett Tightening-up!

Southern comfort no –alcohol required!

Here’s to the strong, proud and direct women in my circle—southern or otherwise!  Thank you for the perfect and timely wisdom and powerful support!

With warmest aloha,

Kim

Challenge:

Pause.  Practice pausing and taking a breath while you mindfully consider an intentional response.  Perhaps nod your head while you pause so the person you’re with will know you’ve heard them—if on the phone, during your pause make a sound like, “hmmm” so the other knows they’ve been heard.!  This technique can create connection, deepen relationships and communication and allows you to learn to listen from a place of desiring to hear rather than from the place of desiring to be heard.  Pausing often times allows the other to hear themselves, as well!

 

 

Unsolicited Advice in the Social Media Age and Just Because ya Can, Doesn’t Mean ya Should!

I’m Good Enough, I’m Smart Enough….!

AL FRANKEN, Oh, the Things I Know!

My parents are of an age and from a region where the axioms of, “don’t speak unless you’re spoken to”, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything”, and “never talk about money or who you vote for” were unquestioned codes of conduct”.   These are the kinds of beliefs that have formed a large part of my personality regardless of my percentage of adherence to them!

These implanted concepts as well as many of my life experiences have brought me time and again to the belief that unless profoundly and intuitively inspired to do otherwise, you NEVER offer unsolicited advice.  To do so is really just butting in, asserting one’s own opinion and singular take on a subject or situation that most times doesn’t involve the advisor.  Giving unsolicited advice is more often than not, an opportunity for said giver to feel important or superior or to interject their personal agenda.  While not pretty—I admit to all of the above!

I am someone who makes a living giving people advice. I am solicited and paid for my knowledge, abilities and skill sets.  While most of my work centers on leading others into their own power, passions and purpose so they no longer need look outside themselves for advice, approval or validation, initially, I give a lot of input.   I obviously like being in this position of advisor!

 

Influence or Interference?

INFULENCE OR INTERFERENCE?  

When you speak to others for their good, it’s influence. When others speak to you for your good it’s interference!   CROFT M. PENTZ

Social media has made it hard for people like me (those who like asserting their opinion!) to draw the line between unsolicited and solicited advice. This evokes the age old query of, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”!

I participate in social media via Face Book and LinkedIn.  I am a minimalist with my postings and certainly refrain from subjecting others to the mundane details of what I ate for breakfast, how bored I am or the depth and level of profanity I’m capable of!  When I see these types of postings on my newsfeed  I REALLY want to “ADVISE”…… 

3 WISE MONKEYS

 With tool bars under every post offering the options to LIKE+ COMMENT+ SHARE, it seems I am being solicited, almost begged to comment.  In so many instances, especially with the young people in my network, that is exactly what I would LOVE to do!  But I don’t.  I don’t’ because,  “If you have nothing nice to say, you shouldn’t say anything at all”!  AND—I know that if I do offer my comment and offend, it may be the last with that person!  The potential consequences when weighed against my moment of “comment self-gratification” simply aren’t worth it.  (There are many spiritual reasons for not commenting as well,but that’s another post!)

While I truly enjoy the connection and visibility social media offers, I am eternally grateful that the misdeeds, thoughts and embarrassing growth of my youth are not immortalized forever on the Internet!  This thought alone keeps me from “commenting”!

What do you think?  In reference to Social Media, is to comment considered Solicited or Unsolicited advice?  Has social media become a tool for unrestricted self-expression or one for heartfelt interaction?

Joyfully and with warmest aloha,

Kim

Purple Cauliflower and Assumptions!

Beautiful Cualiflower

We simply assume that the way we see things is the way they really are or the way they should be. And our attitudes and behaviors grow out of these assumptions.     Stephen Covey .

 

The other day I was shopping at Papaya’s Natural Food store on Kauai   (papayasnaturalfoods.com ) where I purchased a couple of heads of purple cauliflower.  To most vegetable enthusiasts, this would seem a non-event, but to me, it was a bit of a reach. Up until this, my 47th year, I had only partaken of white cauliflower.  I found out that day that I was, in fact, a colored-cauliflower bigot! Not intentionally, however, but merely as a product of my unexamined assumptions.

Upon first exposure to colored cauliflower a decade or so ago, I made the false assumption

Do trees grow out of Money?

 that such a vibrant and beautiful color in cauliflower couldn’t possibly be natural, so it must contain some unnecessary dye purely designed as a marketing ploy to get their kids to eat “fun” veggies!  I honestly don’t think I gave it that much conscious thought at the time; I simply never explored the purple globes further.

I was compelled to make the purchase of said colored crucifers because living on Kauai, good organic veggies don’t come cheap.  The white cauliflower were going for $9.99 a head and at half the size and double the cost of the colored.  I made the choice to go purple because I LOVE cauliflower and couldn’t pass up such a great buy (for Kauai!) colored or not.

Later that afternoon, I was out chatting with a neighbor and I mentioned the purple cauliflower.  To my immense amusement and lesser embarrassment, she asked me, “Well, haven’t you eaten purple sweet potatoes?” 

It was like my world opened up as I started mentally digging my way out of the pigeon-hole I had put myself in.  I was flooded by images of the hundreds of purple and blue potatoes I’ve eaten, the carrots of purple hue and the purple beans, beets and brussel sprouts.  How could I have gone so long and not extrapolated that information and applied it to the color of cauliflower?

My cruciferous assumptions kept me from enjoying my most beloved veggie for far too long.  After having a good laugh at myself, I started looking at other assumptions I’ve made and where and how they’ve limited my experiences.  

It opened my heart to remembering that people only know what they know, what they’ve been exposed to and chosen to explore further.  When we can laugh at ourselves and our own silly, seemingly foolish or unexamined beliefs and assumptions, we can look upon others with the eyes of grace when they might not know something we think they ought to. 

Mostly, it reminded me to ask-ask ask!  Ask questions externally and internally until a topic is exhausted.  So here’s to what we think we know but really don’t and the opportunity embarrassment provides to expand our knowledge!

10 traits for Deep Listening! Truly Listening vs.Hearing

Huh?

Huh?

Listening Despite Differences
Listening Despite Differences

Most of us can hear.  Hearing is an involuntary act.   But how many of us truly engage in listening to another?  Listening means we have to actually take in the auditory information that the other is parleying and then interpret that information.  Best case scenario, the listener receives the information in the way that the speaker intends for it to be heard.

Unfortunately, this is where most communication breaks down as there is no Universal Meaning to anything.  It is here where most of us, as listeners, will interpret the incoming information through the filter of our experiences and assign meaning to it.  Then we make the assumption that the meaning we’ve given is agreed upon rather than seeking clarity about the speakers intended meaning.

We’ve all done it, so we all know the type of person who assumes they know what’s coming next.  They’re the sentence finishers—the interrupters—the conversation dominators.  The assumers are the ones who are formulating what they want to say while you’re still conveying your information. 

When this happens, it simply means that the listener has stopped truly listening.  The trouble with this is that there is a basic human need to feel heard, seen and understood. 

So, how can we listen as an ACT OF SERVICE to meet another’s basic need? 

Active, deep heart-centered listening is an art form that must be cultivated.  We hear roughly 4x faster than we speak so listening must be patient, focused, present and attentive—on purpose.  The best listeners reflect back what they’ve heard for clarification.   This guarantees that they will not make assumptions.  It is common courtesy to listen attentively; it builds your empathy muscles and cultivates compassion for others.  It shows that you are committed to more than yourself—your story—and you being heard. 

10 Traits for Deep Listening!

1.      Keep the conversation on what the speaker is saying not on your response.

2.      Let others speak.  Don’t dominate conversations.

3.      Don’t finish sentences for others.

4.      Cultivate a deep desire to understand and experience what the speaker is conveying rather than assuming it is the same as your similar experience.

5.      Provide feedback so the speaker knows you’re engaged, but do not interrupt with your stories, opinion or preferences.  Smile and make eye contact.

6.      Do not offer unsolicited advice or try to solution find unless you are specifically asked!

7.      Intentionally enter conversations with no agenda of seeking their agreement or to change them, their mind or their perceptions.

8.      Give up assuming you know what anything means!

9.      Reflect what you’ve heard.  Ask questions clarifying not only what the speaker has said, but how it felt for them, what they think/feel now, and how it’s changed them if they’re relating a story.

10.  Be very present.  Square your shoulders/heart to the speaker and listen with not only your ears, but your heart—your entire body.  Listen as an act of service!

Remember, feeling heard is a basic human need.  Truly, deeply listening to another is an act of kindness that uplifts the speaker, forges a deep connection between speaker and listener, one of unity that allows us to focus on our commonalities rather than our differences.  Active, heart-centered listening creates space for differences to exist without judgment.

Joyfully and with warmest aloha from Kauai,

Kim

Communication [or a lack there of] & Unrealistic Expectations

Communicate Clearly or Leave it up to Chance?

No Jay Walking on Kauai!

The 2010 holiday season is almost over which leaves us with only a couple of more opportunities this year to interact cleanly with family and friends.  For me, CLEANLY  means responsibly, with no hidden agenda, no undelivered or unspoken communications, no assumptions or assigned meaning, no story making, no pretending, embellishing, misleading, or withholding information, and no subjugating my true nature, peacefulness and desires for the good of anyone else.  This means allowing them—the family and friends I’m interacting with, the same courtesies, without judgment while maintaining healthy boundaries.

Hhmmmmm—my first response is, “Fat Chance with my crowd”!   Translated, I clearly have not mastered the above list.  When mastered, this will be a life of the highest integrity, the most loving allowance of self and others and a profoundly uplifting model of authenticity.  So how do you eat this elephant of uncovering your authentic self and letting go of expectations?  Like any big project, one bite at a time!

Recognizing  Hidden Expectations

   A good first step is to recognize where you harbor expectations that you’ve conveniently forgotten to mention to the person(s) you have expectations of!  Next time you feel let down in a situation, ask yourself if you clearly communicated to the other person just what you wanted.  I know for myself, if I’m disappointed or let down by a situation or person, it’s because I didn’t fill them in on what I wanted.  It sets up our friends and loved ones for failure when we expect them to magically or intuitively know what we want in any situation.  I’ve heard so many girl friends complain, “If he/she really loved me, they’d just know what to do”.   As romantic as that sounds, and as much as I’m sure I would enjoy it, it’s unrealistic, selfish and irresponsible to expect.

Unrealistic—Self-explanatory unless you date on psychic network for singles.

Selfish to expect anyone else to care more about what you want when you’re too lazy to be bothered with asking.

Irresponsible because it’s your job and no one else’s to meet your own needs or make the requests necessary to have them met.

So these last 2 days of the year, intention to be conscious and aware of what you’re seeking, what would be nice to experience, what your preferences might be.  Then, as you interact with your loved ones, coworkers, clients, etc. rather than risk being disappointed, BE BOLD and simply, clearly and concisely ASK for what you want!  (coming soon—What to do when you Ask and DON”T receive!!!)

Happy New Year, Hau’oli Makahiki Hou!

Kim