Recently, I have been writing about the skill of reflective listening as an adjunct to bettering our communication with, and understanding of, others especially when the others may have different points of view.
Good listening is not easy. Bad news can be a heavy burden. Listening means overcoming roadblocks to effective communication and as such can often be an intense, demanding activity. However it fosters more rewarding relationships. Plus, you get better at it with practice and it becomes a natural way of engaging with others.
When you listen in a reflective way, the other person may feel safe enough to let their guard down a little more, allowing themselves to be vulnerable.
So it is vitally important not to be judgemental in those moments as you may hurt the other more than if you were judgmental from the start.
So, is there a time when it is not appropriate to listen in a reflective way?
Robert Bolton in his book suggests it is not the time to listen reflectively:
When you are not able to be accepting
When you do not trust the other to find their own solution
When you are not separate from the other and feel emotionally involved.
When you use listening as a way of hiding yourself – some never disclose anything of themselves, perhaps using reflective listening as a shield
When you feel very hassled or depleted
“I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite.” – G.K. Chesterton
An important thing to remember is that the person with the problem, is the best person to solve the problem. Often, we are so keen to jump in with what seems to us – a completely logical solution or suggestion. It is rarely taken on board. Robert Bolton explains why this is:
The other person has most of the data. No matter how effectively he discloses and I listen, the other will have more data on his situation than I can ever have.
The other person takes all the risks If the solution isn’t as good as it looked on the surface, the other must suffer the consequences.
The other must implement the solution.
The other’s confidence and sense of self-responsibility are strengthened when he makes and implements his own solution. He takes a significant step towards shaping his own destiny.. and.. he becomes less dependent on others for help
By the time the humble spud or apple reaches your supermarket shelf from its trek from the farm, it could be up to three weeks old, due to storage times, days waiting for freighting in trucks, sitting in the open air at wholesale markets, transportation to distribution centers and then to individual supermarkets. Then there is the shelf time waiting until the customer selects it, for purchase.
It doesn’t help the consumer or the farmer.
We have come to expect produce to be available year round, but this comes at a cost in terms of nutritional content and quality. Some fruits that grow naturally in warmer/colder climates have been genetically modified to lengthen the growing season. In the 1970-‘s a range of foods were genetically modified to ensure a longer shelf life, or make fresh crops more resistant to pesticide attack in the non-optimal growing months. Food quality has changed.
As we all know fresh is best, how can the fresh food supply chain be compressed, so that produce reaches us sooner and in better condition?
Alternatives to the Supermarket
A farmer led online co-operative company called Food Connect, was one way I sourced fresh produce sooner than the tired offerings at my supermarket. This company guaranteed to get fruit and vege to your point of collection from the farm within three days.
The range is limited to seasonal produce, (which is the way it should be), so the boxes has a set selection of product. Customized boxes cost the customer a lot more and were supply dependent.
But now there is another alternative.
What is REKO?
Reko is an online farmers market where the supply chain involves the farmer or producers selling directly to the customer with zero wastage and minimal delays in transportation of goods.
This concept originated in Scandinavia, by a Finnish gentleman and has now grown to more than 500 local groups in Scandinavia, Canada and North America.
The reach and success of online farmers markets such as the Reko model have been made possible by technology. A positive is that Covid has helped this model flourish. And it supports your local growers!
The Reko model means more time available to farmers tend and develop farm animals/produce – a job that is always 7 days a week.
How Reko Online Farmers Markets work
Customers read the Reko Facebook group posts for their area, each week on social media to see what each farmer or supplier is offering.
If there is something that appeals, the customer orders by posting a comment, indicating the quantities they’d like, sends through the payment via direct bank deposit, (ie no credit card fees), and collects the produce at the nominated time and pick up point. Voila!
Straight from the farm to your fridge all within 24 hours.
Reko offers more than just fruit and vegetables.
A home gardener who has excess produce may sell via the REKO group and if you are selling cakes or prepared meals, you must have a commercial style kitchen. When we grew zucchinis in our home garden, we planted so many plants, we could have fed an army, so this option would have been a way to share our produce and make a little money for more seeds! If only it had been possible then.
Advantages of Online Vegetable and Produce Ordering
A way to stay Covid safe in a variant outbreak!
Pick up from your car appeals too!
Local growers supporting local community
Hand made or home grown sold by person growing it
A supply chain model that makes food or products available as fresh as is humanly possible
Farmers get cash directly and there is no excess wastage of product
Less wastage = lower prices + a better environmental outcome.
Costs are reduced as farmers don’t need to spend time away from their farm, spending hours in the hot sun/cold rain setting up and sitting at an outdoor markets, or selling to wholesale distributors, fiddling with cash and change. There’s less wastage as they don’t take more product to sell than is required, as the grower in the you tube video explains.
Why is it different from a farmers market?
No sitting out in the rain
Farmers only harvest as much as has been ordered
Less transport time and fossil fuel emissions
No signage, change, Point of sale machine, tent or tables needed as pick up is direct from the farmers car boot or truck
Farmer received the money directly – keeping costs down and cash flow is instant
I could have been anyone with access to my name and date of birth which the clinic happened to have entered incorrectly. No ID or Medicare card check was requested; I just walked in, gave my name, waited in the queue, then had the jab.
“22nd August 2005,” some family member screamed out to a young man waiting in the queue. Who doesn’t know their own birth date, I wonder?
Despite the increasing crowd of 50 or more, I noted that only myself and one other person checked into the medical centre, via the Covid contact tracing app!
The nurse’s technique was textbook, yet her initial screening questions were vague. “Any serious conditions?” she asked in a lovely African accent. I could have done a tad better job at the questions, even with my outdated medical knowledge. Perhaps the Covid jab training is somewhat abridged?
Sheep-like, I followed the arrows on the path to an external waiting area, read: car park. A car park for people, one without patient engagement or monitoring, save by two attendants up front that were not in my direct line of sight chatting to each other.
I decided to set my own timer for 15 minutes lest I be sitting there all day.
I noted that there were no list of side effects handed out, either. (Perhaps it was an environmental initiative and they were trying to save the trees?) I have to give them the benefit of the doubt.
I’ve heard of better organization at the Government health hubs, so bearing in mind this was a private seven-day medical clinic, I’d have to say the efficiency of numbers through the door was the paramount driver here.
Given Australia is in a race against time in terms of Covid, atm, the Government presumably thinks it is imperative to get as many folks jabbed as possible. Not that I disagree with that. For them, it is about image not health.
With the Corona Delta variant raging down south, unchecked by casual restrictions of an economics-only minded government that sings the mantra of, “we now have to learn to live with Covid,” – I prefer to be jabbed asap.
Once again I observe that I am still not in the line of sight of the attendants. If I fainted or fell asleep on my chair, would anyone notice?
In the time it has taken me to write up this post, I calculated I am now free to leave – by my own measurement. Not a clock in sight. 15 minutes are up according to the timer on my watch.
I am off to enjoy the rest of my Sunday. It is Father’s Day here.
Random draft post found on my blog that probably should be published. A good song with plenty fo sageful advice. Questions from a challenge About me?
How would you describe what your blog is about?
I blog about things that are important to me or information that is useful to others, with a heavy emphasis on my traditional art and craft, photography and essential life matters but this is not fixed in stone.
Do you see your blog changing (as in expanding or developing in any way) at some stage in the future?
I certainly hope so, but if it stays as it is, my own almanac/ journal for future descendants and anyone interested enough to read it, I will be content.
Do you write your blog posts straight onto the WordPress page or onto a word document first?
Straight into the HTML WordPress page, as I have had trouble getting consistent formatting with Word. Why? The computer gremlins inside my devices may wish to explain that for me…
When you write, do you need to be on your own or are you happy to write with others around you?
Easy to write when it is quiet, unless it is a photographic post and then I have no problem if my family are close by chatting. But I prefer to participate in social situations, to resort to technology on those occasions, is isolating.
Which is your favourite species of tree, and why do you like it?
Conifers! They are evergreen, even in the snow, and have intriguing branchlets instead of leaves. Normally I would like something functional as a favourite object, ie. something that doubles as a food source as well as being aesthetic, but conifers are exceptional! They come in so many varieties and always have a welcoming permanence, and a nice shape.
If you were to have a day out somewhere easily reachable from your home, where would it be?
To somewhere near the water with lots of greenery and fresh air to breathe. Not a problem if the greenery is covered in snow, but that is extremely unlikely to happen, so either way, it’s all good.
Which ‘celebration’ (annual or otherwise) in the country where you live do you enjoy the most?
A fireworks spectacular or a food festival. It is fun to try different dishes or cuisine, and who can resist a fireworks display. Huge waste of money, and so transient, but darn mesmerizing when it happens.
Which way would you choose to travel, given the choice: car or train?
Both appeal, so this is difficult to choose either one. Perhaps the car as it affords one more freedom in terms of the route chosen.
Which subject did you enjoy the most at school?
Japanese and when I could no longer do that – History and Geography – isn’t that a given?
What do you think is the best thing about being a woman today?
The freedoms we have that are denied to some people, be they male or female: freedom to travel and move about, to vote, to love who we want, to work where we wish (mostly), the freedom to wear fashionable clothes, or not, if we wish. There is more work to be done but we have self-determination, and the freedom for a man to romance us if we choose. Freedom to vote is very important to me, given that woman once were willing to go to extremes to achieve this simple right!
Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ’97 Wear sunscreen
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it A long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists Whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable Than my own meandering experience, I will dispense this advice now
Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth, oh, never mind You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth Until they’ve faded, but trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back At photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now How much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked You are not as fat as you imagine
Don’t worry about the future Or worry, but know that worrying Is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing Bubble gum The real troubles in your life Are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind The kind that blindsides you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday Do one thing every day that scares you
Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours
Don’t waste your time on jealousy Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind The race is long and in the end, it’s only with yourself Remember compliments you receive, forget the insults If you succeed in doing this, tell me how Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements
Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life The most interesting people I know Didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t Get plenty of calcium Be kind to your knees You’ll miss them when they’re gone
Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the ‘Funky Chicken’ On your 75th wedding anniversary Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much Or berate yourself either Your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s
Enjoy your body, use it every way you can Don’t be afraid of it or what other people think of it It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your own living room Read the directions even if you don’t follow them Do not read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly
Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for good Be nice to your siblings, they’re your best link to your past And the people most likely to stick with you in the future
Understand that friends come and go But a precious few, who should hold on
Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle For as the older you get The more you need the people you knew when you were young Live in New York City once but leave before it makes you hard Live in northern California once but leave before it makes you soft
Accept certain inalienable truths Prices will rise, politicians will philander, you too, will get old And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young Prices were reasonable, politicians were noble And children respected their elders
Respect your elders
Don’t expect anyone else to support you Maybe you have a trust fund, maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse But you never know when either one might run out
Don’t mess too much with your hair Or by the time you’re 40 it will look 85
Be careful whose advice you buy but be patient with those who supply it Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past From the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts And recycling it for more than it’s worth
In the retired, predictable world that is Forestwood by the Sea, serious changes are afoot.
I’ve been lucky enough to score a part-time job writing for a lifestyle magazine. Yay for me. However, after the initial excitement settled, the ramifications of taking on this role had me worried. Journalists cop a bit of flack in today’s litigious world, and are often sued personally for what they write. What would be the implications of my name being in print, for both me and my family?
Might my privacy be violated by who knows what kind of nutters out there in a, ‘Covid-angry,’ world?
I decided I might just need to preserve my anonymity by writing under a pseudonym or pen name. But what name should I choose? Something fanciful, creative or something slightly ‘crae crae?
Choosing a Pseudonym
‘How would I even go about choosing a Pen Name? Is there criteria to be followed? A checklist or protocol in selecting such a name?
Just like choosing a baby’s name or the name of a new pet, I wanted to get it right! This meant I had to consider things like the genre and demographic I was writing for, whether the name had been used before in journalistic circles or whether it had any bad context or connections.
I sure as eggs didn’t want to find out the pen name I had carefully chosen happened to be the same as a serial killer or some onerous individual from days gone by.
I narrowed down a short list of names dredged from the depths of my imaginations, none of which my own family liked. Some initiated a variety of belly wrenching, hilarious comments. Hmm. [They DO love me, but have a quirky sense of humour.] But perhaps I wasn’t the best person to choose the name?
I then enlisted the help of an online pen name generator. Did you realise there was such a thing? This online marvel of suggestions, offered up some unusual name combinations, some of which I’ve starred* below, but I still remained sceptical of those choices.
Given the blogging community is so highly informed, intelligent and the reason my confidence had grown to the point that I even contemplated this job, I thought it prudent to seek their, [read: your] opinion on a potential pseudonym, as readers of Something to Ponder About.
Can You Help?
Following is a poll of some shortlisted preferences. Which one do you think sounds best?
Perhaps you have a suggestion of your own? Let me know in the comments.
Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” –Nathaniel Hawthorne
Appreciate life even when it’s not ideal.
Happiness is not the fulfillment of what we wish for, but an appreciation for what we have.
When life gives you every reason to be negative, thinking of one good reason to be postive is helpful. There is so much to be grateful for.
Kindness and gratitude are the way forward. Looking to others is not the road to fulfillment.
Lao Tzu’s words may shift focus from inside our thoughts and heads to external thinking:
If you look to others for fulfillment, you will never be fulfilled. If your happiness depends on money, you will never be happy with yourself. Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the world belongs to you.
“One can lie in the sun a whole day with just warm thoughts“
Thoughts and Meditation
One of the benefits of incorporating a regular meditation practice into your life is in helping to settle the mind.
With the constant expectations and intense stimuli around us in the modern world, thoughts may easily race out of control and threaten to consume us. Or, when all is quiet and we’re alone for too long, our mind and thoughts can worry us and give us no rest.
Relief may be found in relaxing the mind. Recurring or troubling thoughts may elevate our mental state and encourage the release of adrenaline and stress hormones in our bodies. Clearing the mind, or stilling those thoughts, especially the recurrent ones, may give the emotional self attached to those thoughts, a much needed break.
Sometimes it is impossible to ‘clear’ the mind; to just think more positively.
That’s when it may help to step back from one’s thoughts and see them as separate to your own self. Because they are!
You are not your ‘thoughts,’ alone! There is a person and a body in there too.
Looking at your thoughts as if you are an observer, as a silent witness can help quieten a tumultuous mind.
When I felt like the emotions deriving from troubling thoughts, especially negative ones, were consuming my thinking, I found the following analogy helpful, in promoting mental stillness and calm.
Meditation Exercise – Be an observer
Find a quiet place and:
Imagine that you are sitting on a riverbank and that you see a leaf or branch, stick or even a flower, (if that suits you), floating along with the stream’ s current.
That leaf/twig/flower is floating down the stream towards you. You see it approach, floating on that gentle current, and you continue watching it, in your mind. It continues to float by and eventually you see it pass in front of you, the current then taking it further downstream and then finallyout of your sight.
Each branch/leaf/petal, is a single one of your thoughts.
Sometimes that floating stick or branch might get stuck on a rock, or the riverbank itself for a while, before the current again catches it and it floats away out of sight.
Each thought is a different leaf or stick that will pass by on its way. You remain calm, staying out of the way, a silent observer on the riverbank but watching this from a distance.
In this way, you see yourself as separate to your thoughts, a silent observer.
Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.
The emptying or observing of emotions is like pressing a reset button on all the stress hormones and neurotic needs caused by daily life situations and experiences.
It’s Friday 13th, one October, in the early seventies and it’s raining hard, in torrents, as it does in summer in a tropical country, like Australia. Construction had started on the Sydney Opera House, (it took 14, instead of the predicted 4 years to complete) and Apollo 16 had launched into space.
Australia in the Seventies
I am young, walking home from school down a very steep road, partly finished with asphalt, wearing an outdated, unfashionable, yellow raincoat. It is a garment made from the kind of thick rubbery plastic that makes one sweat profusely, but fails to thoroughly keep the skin dry – (its sole purpose!). I’m carrying a grey pocked-mark ‘port’, (a school student’s case), with a red handle. I remember feeling pretty lonely, as one is apt to feel when you are of primary school age, alone and have a long walk home from school in the pouring rain.
What was I thinking on this walk home, fifty-odd years ago whilst NASA scanned the universe?
My guess is that I was probably wishing I had more friends to walk home with, so that time would pass more enjoyably. I thought about what life might be like in the future and dreamed of being happy and successful. Something most of us dream of when young.
I remember Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to conquer Everest, had come to visit my school that day and addressed a somewhat bewildered audience of young kids, unsure of the exact significance of this tall stranger. Although I have no memory of his words, I do remember his imposing presence at the microphone as we stood at attention on the parade ground. For him to visit our far-flung school, must have meant that he spent many hours, visiting school children, not only in New Zealand but throughout Australia as well.
Growing up in Australia
What did I do when I arrived home? If the rain had stopped, I’d play with the dog in the backyard, swing on a rusty, ‘Hills Hoist,’ [read: rotary clothesline]. I might visit one or two friends who lived in the same street and ride our bikes, or if my friends and I were feeling creative, we might build cubby houses in the gum trees or make wooden billy carts out of fruit boxes. The splinters in fingers and toes were real!
If the rain continued, we’d build rafts out of anything we could find. As you can see, my brother made a raft out of an old metal panel, presumably laced with tetanus. Later, he confessed sheepishly that it came from the side of a Council depot’s toilet shed! That was the butt of family jokes for a while. (I couldn’t resist the pun!)
Primary kids were never assigned any homework until they reached high school, or if it was allocated, it wasn’t compulsory, so I never thought twice about doing it. And I was one of the more diligent students as you can see by my school report.
Of an evening, I’d read books, sometimes the same ones, over and over again. Titles on loan from the library or A.A. Milne, The *Sue Barton-Student Nurse series, or Two Minute Mysteries. I collected stamps, such a boring hobby when I think about it now, or collect signatures and corny limericks in my autograph book.
Australian Parenting in the Seventies
When I arrived home from school, Mum was usually there relaxing on the lounge and I’d find something to drink: most likely red cordial, [thinking about this now makes my stomach turn], and I’d eat a biscuit or two. I would never dare to eat any more than two biscuits – there was some unwritten house rule about that. I might also follow the biscuit with a banana or apple, perhaps to clean my teeth?
Sugar featured strongly in the seventies Aussie diet, as ‘Iced Vo-Vo‘s’ and other biscuits were standard afternoon tea for many Aussie kids. The now infamous ‘Golliwog‘ biscuits, (re-named Scallywags or something more 21st century), were my favourite, in terms of taste. The naming feels so wrong, looking back from the hindsight of our era of political correctness.
Australian Dinners, at my house, consisted of meat, peas and that awful yellow stuff; a mix of mashed potato and pumpkin was my mother’s way of getting us kids to eat two vegetables at once. Little did she know I’d have been more cooperative about finishing my meal if the potato and pumpkin had been served separately, on the plate.
Apparently, this was another of those days where I showed my determined [read: stubborn], streak at rebelling in the face of injustice. I was required to continue sitting at the table for some time after everyone else had left, as I had refused to eat the dreadful yellow potato-pumpkin ‘poison.’ My parents mistakenly thought I would eventually eat it all up, if I sat there long enough; their parenting strategies a strange blend of Depression-era child-rearing tactics and Dr Spock’s now-debunked theories of child psychology.
On evenings like these, my parents recited mantras of sagely advice such as:
“You can sit there, (at the Dining table), until you finish everything on your plate. There are starving children in Africa who’d give anything to have a meal like that.” [referring to the yellow mashed potato].
Parent of the Seventies Child
This humanitarian-cause-mixed-with-guilt-trip styled parenting tactic was completely lost on my logical, young brain, as I would wile away the time sitting at the table contemplating how I would disprove their parental hypothesis by posting yellow, mashed vegies to Africa, in a test shipment.
As I sat there, alone at the dining table, the cold, yellow mound now well-congealed on my plate, I remember older brother gleefully looking up from the adjoining room, smirking during the TV-ad breaks of shows like, ‘Skippy the Bush Kangaroo,’ or ‘Coyote Road Runner,’ with his ‘Neopolitan,’ ice-cream embellished grin: his reward for eating his full allocation of the nightly yellow curse!
As I grew older, this parenting strategy was abandoned. Presumably, at the time of adolescence, but I can’t be sure. My stubbornness may have tipped the balance in my favour, after all.
Road Trips and Bus Tours were popular vacations in the seventies; the most memorable trip for me was seeing snow in Australia’s imaginatively named, ‘Snowy Mountains.’ I loved the sight of ice as tall as the bus and this might just be where I started my love affair with mountains and snow. I couldn’t wait for the opportunity to experience it again.
Expectations of Adult Life
That afternoon in the seventies, whilst walking home in the rain, I wondered what life had in store for me as a ‘grown-up.’ I thought I’d have children, which came to pass, but thought I wouldn’t marry. I was wrong about marriage.
I thought as an adult, I would move location often, as that sounded more exciting than living in one suburban doldrum- I was both right and wrong about that. I thought I’d live interstate or on the other side of the world, unfortunately, the M.o.t.h, my future husband, happened to be Australian and liked to stay put.
I thought my children would be strong and confident. No doubt, everyone hopes for this. They have grown to be wonderful human beings, but I see with sadness the challenges of a modern world have taken a toll on their well-being. They are my world.
Surprisingly, there was a downside to my childhood reading ritual. I think if there is blame to be laid I would blame Helen Dore Boylston, the author of, ‘Sue Barton – Student Nurse,’ for my misguided foray into the world of Student Nursing. The books promised a dream vocation of caring and positivity and as a child, I was bewitched. In part, a mistake.
The reality was far different and although I continued to work in the medical field for most of my working life, the long hours of shift-work required of a student nurse frequently made me ill and I was forced to change my career path.
Friendly Friday Blog Challenge Prompt
For this week’s Friendly Friday Challenge, we continue the Flashback theme Sandy posted earlier in the year by taking a Look Back to the Future, from our childhood years.
Here are some questions to get those creative juices flowing:
What is your memory of childhood?
Was there a significant milestone for you growing up and did it change your direction?
If you lived through the sixties and seventies, what stands out for you?
What do you recall of your childhood that directed you as an adult? Was there something that was instrumental in your path in life? Did it turn out well for you?
Is there an historic event that changed your perspective on life?
I invite you to join in and post a photo or story about your own childhood era.
Don’t forget to tag your post, Friendly Friday and leave a comment below so readers can visit you.