10 Male Traits That Beat Verbal Agility

I’ve had some discussions recently about why men can’t express what they are feeling and thinking. It’s a guessing game sometimes; a seemingly trap at other times.

While it makes for an interesting discussion of feelings and thoughts expressed verbally vs. remaining silent, I think there are more important traits than verbal agilityHere are my top ten:

1) Sincerity: If a man ventures to speak, the last thing I want to hear are words said to placate me. If I ask, I really want to know. If you make a gesture make it count and speak for the words you can’t say.

2) Action: Who hasn’t heard “actions speak louder than words”?Take up a cause and work toward it; clean out the garage without being asked; hold the door for me (yes, I’m completely old-fashioned in that regard); and most importantly, defend those who can’t defend themselves – and don’t feel the need to brag about it.

3) Strength: Physical strength; strength of character; make decisions and live by them, take responsibility for decisions; cry when the situation calls for crying. Know who you are and be that person.

4) Family Man: This one’s a biggie. It doesn’t cover only spouse and offspring, but other family members – co-workers; community; fellow organization members.

5) Picks Up His Own Underwear!: It shows flexibility and trainability; conscious of the little things that matter.

6) Independent: No clinging unless our lives depend on it or we’re sledding.

7) Humor! A sense of humor makes up for a multitude of sins and balances my lack of a sense of humor.

8) Good Listening Skills: Sometimes you need to just listen.

9) Confidence: Specifically in knowing what you don’t know and that it’s okay to not know. No excuses or made-up answers.

10) Laid-Back: Not so laid-back you don’t respond! Most women really do need this balance. Our lives are so frenetic a man who isn’t adding stress to an already stressful life is a bonus. When I get annoyed with your “laid-backness”, I don’t really mean it – not long-term anyway.

We Are Each Someone’s 8 Year Old Boy

This is not written in anger as much as passion and concern. Well. Maybe anger. Sincerity. Yes, I think that’s it.

I started the morning with the news that an 8 yr old boy was killed yesterday, April 15, 2013, at the Boston Marathon, due to an explosion. I further read of the tragedy to the rest of his family. Of course, my thoughts were of sadness and sympathy for the mother and father. Continue reading

Beyond the Bean

Anyone who knows anything about me, knows I love coffee. I love coffee, but not indiscriminately. My new friend sharing in my passion for coffee calls this Soul of the Bean. I call it “beyond the bean”.

Do you have a favorite cup?

Yesterday was a snowday and so it was I found myself working from home. This is not a bad thing. Snowdays in New England often offer respite from the normal hectic schedule which resumes, most often, the very next day! 

This particular morning also offered the rare opportunity to muse over that first cup of the day. Ethiopia Amaro Gayo (organic). It is one of the smoothest coffees I’ve ever had. There’s a hint of fruit (blueberry?) that I think pulls up from the roots of its earthiness. 

And then the finish. Cocoa. I think perhaps it is the finish that grasps me. I have a first reaction of an artist splashing an earthy color of coffee on a clean canvas and as you gaze on it you get sucked in with this warm feeling like a down comforter. That’s what is going on with your taste buds as it blankets your mouth. So you get that fruitiness at the front and the comfort of cocoa at the finish. There is a sense of serenity, one which allows you to envision the coffee grower, satisfied with his crop after a long journey.

Beyond the bean. 

What’s in your cup?

“Never Forget”

Today is the 11th anniversary of 9/11. A Tuesday. Bright, sunny, cloudless. A clean slate on which to write our future. Will it be one of anger and justification. Or of love and peace.

9/11. We must “never forget”, people say. Indeed. But we must be cognizant in our “not forgetting” to know what it is we are remembering not to forget.

We MUST learn to be more tender to each other. More forgiving. More inclusive. Looking beyond the face of despair, fear and anger and choose instead to see peace, kindness, and strength.  Those traits that should be duplicated and worn as badges, allowing them to emit a glow of positive energy that begets positive energy.

You are loved. As everyone should be loved. And we should learn to accept that generosity, because it is indeed, a generous gift.

If we are here, we matter. It matters that we share that love and work for a brighter future.

Grapes and Lettuce

“It is never about grapes and lettuce. It is always about people.” ~ Cesar Chavez

Cesar Chavez was a Mexican-American fighting for the rights of farmworkers. In 1968, he organized a five-year “grape boycott”, working to ensure better pay  and working conditions. His work helped to change the lives of millions of farmworkers. “Si, se puede” (Yes, it can be done.)  Continue reading

Social Justice is Not Charity

“When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed.” ~Mother Teresa 

The simplest thing would be to take Mother Teresa’s words at face value. That she was speaking of food – meat, vegetables and fruit.

I believe she was speaking of justice. Not of giving people charity, which offers people what we want them to have and what we think they need, in a sense our leftovers; but to give everyone a place at the table. An opportunity to feed themselves. Continue reading

Where Many Paths and Errands Meet

The Road goes ever on and on
    Down from the door where it began. 
Now far ahead the Road has gone
    And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
    Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
    And whither then? I cannot say. ~ J.R.R. Tolkien                                    
 

Sitting here with the rays of sunlight equally supplying warmth and brightness to my day as I gaze out the window on a field carpeted with the growth of continuing life. The sun providing patches of shade in collaboration with the trees.

My son fashioned a swing that hangs in a nearby tree for Ella to enjoy. I push her as her little legs dangle, her toes often pointing toward the earth while her face alternately looks at me and the sky above. Intermittently letting out a giggle. “Agin. Agin,” she commands. And again and again I push her. Relishing in the shared moment of simplicity.  Continue reading

Swimmmm!

How satisfying it is to leave a mark on a blank surface. To make a map of my movement – no matter how temporary. ~ Craig Thompson

Swimming is my all time favorite activity, if it is at the time, what I am doing.

I grew up on a lake and completely loved boating, water skiing, kayaking, and fishing. Essentially anything that you can do on or in the water. But of these, swimming does, probably, top the list.

Now where I live, we have a pool. I know how fortunate I am and I try to take advantage of it. More, now than in earlier years when other activities consumed my time.

The other night, following a full day’s work, I spent three hours swimming. If I could sleep in the water, I would. Hmmm. Perhaps that is why I was born three weeks late. A thought for another day!

I swim back and forth, back and forth; one end to the other. Sometimes a rhythm forms, sometimes it doesn’t. I swim with overhand strokes, breast stroke, side stroke, or doggy paddle. Even at times pretending I’m a frog!  I keep moving.

Sometimes I pretend I’m a ballerina with the water as my dance partner. I’II leap and twirl, feeling giddy and free. I make splashes and swirls. At other times I get low in the water with just my head breaking the surface and I glide through it, sensing the water seducing me.

When I was growing up I would swim across the lake.

This is The Lake. This is the home where I grew.

It was about a half mile from my house to the other side. I swam from the beach to a friend’s camp. That was about a mile. Some days I would go slowly through the water, being one with the loons, beavers and moose. They didn’t seem to mind. Fish would often nibble at my feet should I stay stationary too long. I still have flashbacks to nibbling fish when I swim in the pool! Well-written memories fade hard.

There was one time the water and I were at odds, you might say. I loved swimming along the bottom of the lake. The water was cooler there and there was much to see. Rocks, fish, plant life. I could swim faster and longer. Until this particular day, it had not occurred to me the spring fed lake is deeper as you move to the center. An obvious, you say? Understand that at that the time of this lesson, I was twelve and only just discovering my freedom of being allowed to swim far from the shore.

I dove in. Immediately searching out the lake’s floor. I can still remember moving through the water. The feel of the plants. How dark it became the deeper you went. There was no feeling of separation of water and myself.

The moment came when I realized I needed to refill my lungs. I pushed up to the surface. I was about half way up when I could see the sun shining through the water. A “light at the end of the tunnel”.

But I was running out of air. My lungs starting to feel as though they would burst.  I kept swimming and swimming, determined to not be defeated. I thought if I could see the sun, I must be able to make it. At seemingly the last possible moment, just as I was starting to feel a bit euphoric and willing to succumb to my circumstances, my head burst through the water! Greedily I gulped at the air. Looking toward home, I realized I had gone half way across the lake, underwater. Lessons learned.

The quote I opened with is from Craig Thompson’s book Blanket.The quote reflects my thinking tonight when I was swimming. I was trying to think  what my fascination is with the water; aside from the fact that I find it a peaceful respite.

It is because when I jump, leap, kick, or glide, I leave a mark. Just for the moment, I break the surface’s tension. It is temporary. Quickly, the mark leaves notice I was present. Then it is gone, sometimes leaving ripples or shock waves, but they too soon dissipate. I will jump again or in some other way break the water’s surface, but the mark will not be the same.

I go through life this way. Perhaps you do, too. At times breaking life’s surface with such force it leaves shock waves. At times, barely leaving notice I was here at a particular moment. In either case, the moment is soon lost in the rest of life’s activities. The ripples I make I may never know to where they lead. It matters not. I will continue to swim.

Sometimes swimming through life’s muddiness.

Times when I break the surface in desperation, searching for air and that light at the end of the tunnel, as I searched that long ago day.

At other times, as though we are well-rehearsed dance partners.

Every morning, get up.

Often you may have heard someone say they want to go sliding into their graves all used up.  Me, however, frequently the one to swim upstream, intends to be squarely planted over my final resting place, with one finger pointing in the air (thank you, Pilates planks!), pleading, “Wait! I have one more thing to do”! Perhaps, one of my favorite bloggers feels the same. Continue reading

101 Razones para

“It is through simple moments we are refreshed”

I hadn’t been to this particular city for quite some time and was a bit apprehensive. I was in New York City to accept the WhyHunger 2012 Harry Chapin Self-Reliance award on behalf of my organization.   As I prepared to disembark from the airtrain connecting JFK to my link to the subway, I made a  request of my mother, who resides on another plane of our existence. Continue reading