Happy New Year! This year, I'm especially thankful to have had the opportunity to make so many wonderful listening friends through this blog and to share the platform with many of my friends from The International Listening Association.
As many of you know, my new blog, The Pig's Wings: On Poetry and Other Fanciful Means of Flight, retains much of the heart and soul behind this one, so I've decided to start the new year by merging the two. While this will be my last post on this blog, I'll keep the Listeners Unite Website up indefinitely, so please browse and enjoy the pages, quotes, resources, blog archives, and the "Listening News" archives.
Thanks to all of those who have been following, those who have contributed, and each reader who has stopped by over the years since this journey began in 2006. I hope to see you at the new blog.
With gratitude and warmest wishes,
Thank you for listening.
P.S. Many here also follow Little Bear at The Beauty of Picture Books Website & Blog. He'll be taking a step back from his blog, too. Little Bear's friends and social media followers can read his message here.
- Hitting rock bottom is of no use at all. Those who claim that at an addict has to ‘lose it all’ before realizing they have a problem and obtaining help, are mistaken. Rather than hitting a desperate point, it is important to that recovering addicts find ways to connect with people who can provide much stronger connections than alcohol and drugs could ever do. Recovering addicts should be encouraged to mend and strengthen the relationships that mean something to them.
- Addictions tend to fill a need; they become the most important relationship to the afflicted person. If we can help recovering addicts realize that alcohol and drugs are fulfilling a specific role, we can give them hope that there are healthier relationships out there that can provide a much more useful source of connection. Farrell notes that although therapy and medication are useful during the rehabilitation process, ultimately, the true path to healing is forged by effort and an investment in other human beings.
Farell says that she has witnessed beautiful moments of fellowship and connection at many addiction and recovery events. In group therapy, men and women share their stories, their disappointments, hopes and dreams. Far from being a negative lot, they hope to lead a normal, fruitful life, surrounded by colleagues, friends and family.
She adds that she has met many patients who have found their way back to their friends and family—some have started businesses, others wish to share experiences or introduce medical staff to their families. Like all major challenges, addiction can best be overcome when we feel that we are part of something greater than ourselves, and when we know that there are people waiting for us to join them on the fascinating journey that is life.
Laura Chapman has been a previous guest contributor. Her previous contribution is "Self Help and Self Discovery: A Story of Hope."
StoryCorps is a beautiful idea that continues to grow. To learn more about StoryCorps' background and mission, watch the StoryCorp founder's moving TED Talk below.
This Thanksgiving, StoryCorps is promoting "The Great Thanksgiving Listen" by asking high school students to interview a grandparent (or someone who would be of their grandparents' generation) over the 2015 Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Click here for The Great Thanksgiving Listen Teacher Toolkit!
"StoryCorps hopes to make the Great Thanksgiving Listen a national tradition and to continue fostering meaningful connections within families, communities, and classrooms while also creating a singular and priceless archive of American history and wisdom."
This is a special opportunity to listen and to share and archive stories that might have gone unheard or forgotten. In addition to becoming part of a treasured family archive, these interviews are designed to become part of the StoryCorps archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
Follow #TheGreatListen and visit StoryCorps to learn more and continue beyond Thanksgiving, too! Listen to people of all ages and help them share their stories.
Warmest wishes to all for a Happy, Loving, Listening Thanksgiving.
By Guest Contributor, Little Bear
Reprinted from The Beauty of Picture Books Blog
What's a sweeter treat than candy?
Stories that kids can read and enjoy again and again!
More and more people have been giving books as Halloween treats! There's even a Books for Treats program. Click here to read all about it! Some people plan ahead on their own, too, collecting gently used books (from friends or library sales)! Click here to read about a special couple who have been giving out books ask Halloween gifts for years!
OTHER FUN TREATS
If you're looking for something quick and simple other than candy and you don't have time to gather enough books for all the ghosts and superheroes in your neighborhood, you can still find lots of fun things that kids will love! Fill your "candy" basket with plastic eyeballs, bat and spider rings, yo-yos, mini coloring books and crayons, bubbles, stickers, mini puzzles and games, fangs, glow-in-the-dark bracelets, finger puppets... just about anything little thing you can find at a dollar store or a party store in bulk!
The two above are from last year's Halloween. We had so much fun and got new picture books, bubbles, snakes and even a Winnie the Pooh doll (who is now my favorite teddy bear)! BEST Halloween treats EVER!
This reprint covers highlights. To read the full post on Little Bear's blog, click here!
Little Bear is the co-founder and creative director of The Beauty of Picture Books Website & Blog. He has also assisted Linda Eve Diamond with her writing and Jeff Novick with his nutritional videos and lectures. L.B.'s other accomplishments include earning a black belt in karate and riding a famous cat at the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum (photo here). (:3 To read Little Bear's full bio page, click here.
A Special Guest Blog on the Inspiration and Heart Behind "Someone To Tell It To"—
A Non-Profit Work of Heart Dedicated to Listening
By Michael Gingerich and Tom Kaden
When we honestly ask ourselves which persons in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares. — Henri Nouwen
We remember the night clearly. It’s easy to recall the details of such a significant, defining moment. Here we were, both of us without a job. Michael’s had just ended that day. Tom’s a few months before. Neither of us knew what we were going to do.
Well, at least we’ll be able to spend more time together, one of us said. Neither of us knew how prophetic those words would be.
During the next few hours, we ate fish and chips, drank two Irish stouts and – as we had so many times before – shared openly and honestly about how we felt about our circumstances. We had no idea where this conversation would ultimately lead.
It was a dark season for both of us.
We committed to take advantage of this involuntary free time. We made a covenant. The first part of that covenant was that we would not hide anything from one another. We also agreed to remind one another that this was only a season; it would not last forever. We would find ways to enjoy the time we had; we would try to have some fun. We would help each other to discern where we would go next; we’d remind each other that there would be a next. We would really be present for one another. We knew there would be days of stress and anxiety and moments of confusion and uncertainty. We also knew our friendship would go on.
Early the next morning we met at a long walking path in a favorite park. We traveled it a dozen times that day. It was partially ringed by a beautiful, flowing creek, a soothing sight to walk beside. As we strode round and round the path, we admitted to each other that we were scared. Scared that our lives wouldn’t be significant. Scared that financially we couldn’t make it. Scared that we couldn’t find jobs that would be enjoyable and fulfilling.
Week after week, we met at that park. We walked, talked, and prayed. In the meantime, we also looked for jobs. We crafted resumes. We sent letters. We scheduled interviews. Neither of us received a job offer. Weeks and months passed. Still, nothing was offered. And nothing felt right.
One day at the park, we were sitting at a picnic table eating lunch. Fearful and frustrated, one of us said, “I just don’t know what to do.”
It was a very vulnerable moment. And, it opened a door. “Neither do I.”
We both felt intense relief. It felt good to say it aloud, and share the terror and pain. It felt good knowing that we both understood. A weight was lifted.
At that moment something changed.
Our walk that afternoon took on a decidedly different tone. There was something more hopeful in the air. And it was then that one of us said, “What would it look like if we worked together?”
It was another vulnerable moment. What if the answer was: “No way”?
Over the course of the next several weeks we started to contemplate what “working together” might mean. We were friends and we had in incredible amount in common. All those weeks and months of walking and talking at the park moved our sharing from open and honest to more vulnerable. We learned more and more about ourselves – our passions, our gifts, our dreams, our calling – and one another. Ultimately, we learned we could implicitly and utterly depend on each other, that we could be truly open and vulnerable with each other, and, as a result, working together would be a joy.
An idea emerged. A plan. A mission.
We would establish a non-profit together. We would create the same kind of safe place for others that we had created for ourselves. We had both been doing this already, throughout our lives. We listen to others’ stories, enter into their minds and hearts and lives, and provide opportunities for them to share their brokenness, burdens, joys and hopes. We cherished those moments of emotional and spiritual intimacy in which we could help others. As Henri Nouwen describes, we yearn to be the kind of person and friend who “instead of offering advice or solutions, chooses instead to share in the darkness and pain.” We both desire to make the journey with them.
It was exactly what we did for each other. And, we decided we could do it with many others.
Our non-profit, Someone To Tell It To, is who we are and who we want to be. We know what the need to unburden ourselves and express our vulnerability with someone who will not judge feels like. We know the freedom it brings and want others to know it too.
Every day we hear stories from people living with cancer, stories about what it’s like to live with addictions, stories of loss and fear, stories of shame, stories about the struggle to find meaning, stories of those wrestling with their faith, stories of loneliness, rejection and fear, stories of emptiness and longing for purpose, and stories of those who want to belong, but don’t know how.
We understand that telling our stories to one another and providing a safe place is necessary in our world, which often feels disconnected and individualistic, a world in which we wear masks to hide and disguise our true selves. When we take off our masks, let others in, and share our stories, we help one another.
Together, they authored Someone To Tell It To: Sharing Life's Journey, "life stories that bring readers a greater understanding about grace, compassion and unconditional love.
Visit their Website at www.someonetotellitto.org.