“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 healing, not curing…that is a friend who cares.”
Friendship is an art. We are born into families but we must cultivate our friends. A true friend is priceless- someone you can call when you are confused, have a problem, or when you are excited and want to celebrate. Sometimes we need a friend to listen and not fix our problems or advise us with the best solution. Yet, how many people have someone in their life who will listen and love unconditionally without an ulterior motive; without asking for anything in return; someone whose own spirit is lifted by allowing you to share your dreams, worries, fears, confusion, anger, and other emotions.
This is rare in today’s society because we are in a hurry and listening takes time. It is also difficult these days because much of our communication is lost in texting, e-mail, facebook, and lack of self-awareness and mindfulness. How can we understand what someone else is feeling if we never take the time to understand our own inner world? Make friends with yourself first and you will be able to open your heart to others.
Like doctors, we want to give our friend a solution. Often we don’t want a solution; we just want to talk it out. A true healer will listen until they don’t exist so the other person can come up with their own solution, but this takes time.
There was a time when I went to a doctor and I said to him, “You know, Doctor, I think there is an emotional component to this and I really want to heal at a deeper level.” He looked at me with a sense of helplessness, and said, “Well, get up on the table and let me listen to your heart.” After putting the cold stethoscope on my chest, he proclaimed, “You are just fine.” Isn’t that funny? Would he really take the time to listen to my heart and soul and mind? No, not because he doesn’t want to, but because he doesn’t have time. Listening to someone’s feelings and emotions is difficult. We quickly want to solve the problem, hurry the pain away, and heal the person. We can’t expect our doctors to be our friends, but if we had more friends we might not need as many doctors.
You may have a “ton of friends,” but how many of your friendships are open and unreserved allowing you both to expose your soul and unleash your feelings and emotions without fear. You are fortunate if among the multitudes of people you know, you have one or two trusting friends who will be there for you even when they don’t understand you.
Cultivating friendship takes time and thought and the ability to give and to forgive. It is the desire to want to be in a relationship with another human being for no other reason than the healing energy of knowing you can count on that person and they can count on you in life when it is challenging or when it is exciting. This kind of friendship is the best medicine.
I guess game meat is free of antibiotics and hormones
You never know who you are going to meet on an airplane. I’m one of those people who usually gets to know the person next to me. When I’m with Steve on one side in a three seated row there is always a stranger who shares our row with us.
I usually begin the conversation with “business or pleasure?” That clarifies the purpose of my seatmate’s trip to wherever we are going.
On our recent flight from CVG to Las Vegas Steve had the aisle seat (his consistent choice) and I had the middle (I actually prefer the window). We sat down wondering who was going to arrive to take the window seat and share the trip with us. About five minutes after we got settled a man came along and signaled that he had the window seat.
Not for me but open minded.
He was a very gentle man. I remember thinking how polite and timid he seemed. He smiled, took his seat and I proceeded to continue to read. But then I got the urge to get to know him.
I began, “Business or pleasure?” He said, “for me pleasure. I’m meeting my wife. She has been in meetings all week and we are going to have some time together. I’m really looking forward to it.” Curious, of course, I asked what her business was. He said she was an executive vice president for a company. Wow! She was a busy lady.
I asked what he did and he said they had two children and he stayed home with the children while they were growing up. They are now in college but he is the one who keeps the house in order. He stayed home. She went to work. I loved how he explained it-“It was in her DNA to climb a ladder and work in the corporate world. And he said it was in his DNA to be the nurturing parent who was home.
He was very quiet, balanced, and I could see that he could be very nurturing. I asked what prompted him to want to stay home. He told me that his own mother had left the family when he was 4 years old. He is the youngest of four and was the baby at the time. I asked if he had much contact with his mother growing up-“Nope-not interested. I was the bitter one. My siblings all stayed in contact with her until she died.” He said that growing up he was shifted from various homes of Aunts and Uncles and family friends. He was able to observe parenting styles and internalized what he thought was the best parenting.
I asked how old his children were-both in college now and doing well-a son and a daughter and they are very close. He and his wife are now in empty nest, but his wife still travels quite a bit. When the children were young they did gravitate to him more as their mother was working and traveling while they were growing up. She would get home at 8:00 many nights and often only home on weekends. They all appreciated their mother and made the best of their time together.
I wondered what he does now that the children are out of the house and his wife is often away. So of course I asked, “what are you doing for yourself now that you’re no longer raising children. He said “ I hunt.” Somehow this gentleman just didn’t fit the image of a hunter, and I thought of my own negative judgments about guns and hunting, but I hung with him.
“What do you hunt?” He said, “ rabbits, squirrel, deer, wild boar and bear.” I grew up with a father who hunted squirrel and rabbit and I can still remember the flavor, preferring the tasty dark meat of squirrel to the blander rabbit. I asked if he ate what he caught. He said, “ I eat everything I kill. It’s an honor thing.” I wondered about the bear. “ Yes, the bear, the boar and all of the game I catch.” He said he made steaks out of the bear meat. “It’s a little tough, but still tasty.” He also explained that he catches his larger game with a bow and arrow and only uses the gun for smaller game.
He told me how he got started hunting. He was 10 years old when his father got him his first gun and took him out to hunt. His father never touched a gun, other than to teach his son, realizing it was in his son’s DNA to hunt. He told me he has killed 73 deer since he started hunting.”
I asked what he did with the carcass. The story continued with interest. He said he freezes the carcass until he is ready to preserve and tan the hide. He is a taxidermist. I had never met a taxidermist. He explained the process. You pickle the hide, just like pickles; then you brush tanning solution on the inside of the hide which preserves it. He then wraps the hide around a form and creates a piece that looks like either the live animal as in squirrels and rabbits or he makes a cranium form, which is just the head. With the bear, he made a large rug with the head of the bear. He is well known for his work and sells his pieces. He has been commissioned to provide pieces for the Cincinnati Zoo, Aquarium and other museums.
He told me how he uses his garage to complete his work. Carcasses hang in the garage when they are first stripped and preparing to be frozen. I could only wonder what the neighbors thought. Of course I asked. He said he keeps the garage closed and there is a drape that encircles the carcasses. He keeps the forms and completed works in “his bedroom.”
Wondering what his wife and children thought about it all, of course I asked. He said his wife tolerates it and his children have never been interested in hunting. He is the only one who will eat the game meat.
I wondered how often he ate the meat. He said he ate meat every day and game meat three times a week. He was not particularly overweight, but I pictured the inside of his arteries and had to ask about his health and cholesterol. He put his thumb up about the cholesterol and explained that his doctor is also a hunter and they take the same statin drug.
What about exercise? “ Oh yes, I walk 3-5 miles a day with my father-in-law who has Alzheimer’s disease.” This opened up a whole other part of the story. Not only was this hunter, a nurturing father but he was now the main person looking after his father in law. He told me that although his wife has brothers, he was the only one who could take care of his “Dad.” He had the nurturing DNA and the psychological insight, the time and distance from childhood baggage that it takes to care for someone with dementia.
He told me how he gets his father in law to take a shower by telling him interesting places they will visit. When his father in law refuses to go to the doctor, he would say, “ Dad, I am so afraid to go to the doctor. Would you go with me? “ His father in law would then gladly oblige, arriving only to get his own examination. His father in law’s nutrition by marking the garbage cans with a napkin-noting that anything above the last napkin was eaten.
This gentle hunter, house husband, caregiver, nurturing parent had a quiet air about him. He seemed to have a spiritual essence and I shared this observation with him asking if he practiced any form of religion or spirituality. He said he was Catholic, but also very much enjoyed his sister’s mega church.
He still goes to Mass every Sunday because his father in law wants to go. He also takes his father in law to say the rosary three mornings a week. During Lent his father in law wanted to go to confession, so they went to church together. He told me that the priest who heard their confession had once been convicted and “sent away” for molesting a girl in a nearby park. My mind thought of the movie Spotlight. And yet they allowed him to hear their confession-“ I guess you have to forgive, “ he said. I then thought-Wow! I get it, but what about forgiving his mother. I did not say what I was thinking.
We talked a long time and I wanted to get back to my reading. I asked him what he liked to read. He said he read the Bible, and took his King James version out of his carry on bag. He also had a book on depression. He said he was reading it because of his father in law, noting that his “Dad” seemed more withdrawn and depressed lately. He was hoping to gain some insight on how to deal with his father in law’s mood swings.
My gentle hunter told me how he was looking so forward to this trip with his wife but was very concerned about his father in law. While away his wife’s brothers would be looking in on their Dad. He shared that when he got back to Ohio, it was probably getting close to having his father in law move in with him and his wife. “The wandering is a problem. He just walks off…”
I wondered how his wife felt about this-‘Oh, she is fine with it. I would be the one taking care of him.”
This man was a paradox-he obviously was a skilled huntsman, but also a gentle and nurturing soul. He ate bear, yet seemed as cuddly as a Teddy. I thought how fortunate his wife is to have him to take care of everything at home including her father. Yet he said he was very fortunate to have her as she is the financial provider and they have had a very good marriage. All he asks of her is to make and manage the money. He is the homemaker. They respect each other’s DNA and it works.
The gentle hunter told me his nickname-“Carcass.” It fits but Caress might even me better.
The last thing he said was that he was really looking forward to this trip and hoped his wife was okay with him staying the entire week. Somehow, that felt a little sad. I hoped she was looking as forward to seeing him as he was her.
All I can say is never judge a book until you’ve heard the whole story-the same with people. I am so glad I kept my vegetarian health values to myself and listened to a tender story.
Nice meeting you Carcass! Hope you had a great week in Vegas.
As a life and wellness coach, spiritual advisor, and simply as a friend, I have given lots of pep talks. And there are times when I need a good pepping up myself.
I always say, I teach what I want to learn. And I learn from everyone.
Everybody needs pep talk sometimes. We all get down on ourselves, have upsets with life, and generally as normal human functioning human beings, lose our sense of motivation and energy. That’s when like all people on a playing field, we need a good Pep talk.
So here goes:
>You are doing great even if you feel like you are faltering. You are doing your best. Reward yourself for functioning at all. Sometimes in these dark winter months, we feel like a blob. Half the day may go by and your still in your pajamas-that’s okay sometimes. We all need a day to do nothing but wake up and breathe. If you give yourself a pajama day without guilt, you may feel a burst of energy and productivity the next day or week.
>Be grateful! When you are stressed it is always good to take 10 deep breaths or even 3 if that’s all your mind can focus on, but if not then think of at least three things you are grateful for right now!!
>Life will present plenty of opportunities for you to be negative. How about looking for something to shift your mind to a more positive view point even if it feels or looks like sh_t. You know the story of the little boy who said he smelled something-it was horse manure and rather than say yuk! He said there must be a pony around here somewhere.
>Quit over thinking everything. It all may be good and there you go trying to figure out what could be wrong. The ego analyzes. The spirit accepts. Stay in the moment and enjoy it. If something feels off, listen all around you to see if there is anything you need to do about it or learn from it.
>Tame your inner critic and listen to your inner cheerleader. We all have an inner critic, but we also have an inner voice that guides you to living a life that flows. One of my favorite cheers was:
Jumpin in the grandstand, beatin on a tin can, Who can? We can? Nobody else can! Standing on our hands, standin on our feet, the Rockets the Rockets can’t be beat!
Well try that one in the morning when you wake up less than excited about your day.
I tell my grandkids-Can’t died in the cornfield. YOU CAN!
And here is a pep talk from a young man aspiring to be president:
As I reflect on my life right now, I want to share an article I wrote that I am reminding myself to follow.
This year has been a very stressful, yet exciting year. We made a major move from a house of 31 years to a new home- very different, a connected “landominium”, maintenance free living-quite a change. Between preparing the house for sale, decluttering, keeping it immaculate for the weekly showings for months, working with the builder on the plans for our new home, and the major task of moving in general, my body has taken a toll. You really do have to be mindful of a stress and the affect of pushing until your exhausted. We are now settled and loving it, but I reacted to something while unpacking and developed a major allergic dermatitis reaction. Now on steroids and drugs, it is important that I take time to heal the cells of my stressed out body, by reconnecting my mind and spirit.
Today I put out the yoga mat while listening to meditative music and did a 40 minute yoga routine for detoxing. It felt very necessary and quite nice. My husband and I have resumed our Tai Chi practice in the evening, and hopefully this bout of illness will pass, having been a blatant reminder that YOU HAVE TO STOP SOONER OR LATER!
Anyway, here is the article:
For years people who have talked about wellness referred to weight loss, fitness or smoking cessation programs. Later we identified the role stress plays in our overall health and wellness so we developed stress management programs.
Interesting that although the wellness industry has spent the last 20 years designing programs and providing health promotion information to the point that most consumers are very well educated, health is not improving
much – Not the kind of health that is defined by an overall sense of balance of body, mind and spirit or physical, emotional or spiritual togetherness. In fact many people are exercising and watching their weight. Unfortunately many people have given up and continue to spiral upwards. There is no loss of material on what constitutes a healthy diet or adequate fitness program. There are also more self help books published than ever before to help us deal with our stress management.
Keeping all of this in mind, it is interesting that when I work with people as a wellness coach, their vision often includes a regular exercise program and healthy diet, but it always seems to include the word
balance and gaining more energy and enjoying life more. Yet that is the one place it is hard to concentrate. To stop all of our activity, whether it is for our work or just to keep the house managed is very difficult. We just keep going until our body can’t go anymore and then we get sick. It is when we get sick that we question how we have been going about getting all these things done.
More and more people have said to me that they need to take time to meditate, yet less and less do. Why is that? I know for myself I often feel that once this or that item on my to do list is complete, I will be able to sit back and relax. Sitting seems such a waste of time when there is so much to do. That is why we recommend that you schedule a regular time for meditation regardless of what is going on in life or with work. It has to be as built in as brushing your teeth. It has to be an everyday occurrence.
But what if we are just not of the makeup to sit in a formal meditation? That is not necessary, but what is necessary is to have some sort of practice built into your life for reflection on more than your everyday tasks. The fact is that one’s body and mind can’t keep on going without a break. Eventually you will have to stop.
Regardless of what your life looks like right now, it is helpful build into your day a time( even if just 5 minutes) for silence, prayer, yoga,reflective reading, listening to peaceful music, journaling, or if you can, sitting in a position of meditation, following your breath long enough to feel a difference in your body- a feeling of peace and quiet rather than rushing and a sense of urgency. If you practice enough, it will become a memory in your body that you will be able to tap into when life is speeding by. Like all of my clients, it has to be a priority and goal for change. Let that be now and not later.