Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Listen Up.

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Girl Warrior. Listen up. Listen attentively and actively when someone is speaking to you. Listen empathically. Sympathetically. Conscientiously. Listen with your ears. Listen with your eyes. Listen with your heart. Engage all your senses. And your extra senses also.

Give all your attention to the one doing the talking. Whether they have come to pour their heart out and confide in you. Or pour you a cup of tea and all that is required is some comfortable conversation with a cookie.

Focus on the one across from you. Do not allow yourself to become distracted, diverted or drawn away. Don’t let anything trump or eclipse this moment between you. Turn off your cell phone. Close your tablet. Shut down your laptop. Turn off the TV. And tune in.

Then lean in. Look hard into their eyes. Let them know they matter. What they have to say matters. Their thoughts and feelings and fears and hopes and dreams count for something. This is important stuff Girl Warrior. Respect, regard and reverence are composed and crafted here in these everyday exchanges. These ordinary little tête-à-têtes that happen so often we take them for granted. These soulful heart-to-hearts that we assume will always be. But the truth is, they won’t. So don’t squander even one single solitary conversation by not being fully present.

Girl Warrior let the one across from you know that you have not only shown up, but you are fully engaged. And listening.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Master Po and Grasshopper.

Ma + Boo morning2I’m a wisdom seeker. Always have been. Even as a child I intuitively knew that there was a difference between the information and knowledge I was learning at school or through books. And the universal teachings that drilled deeper into the soul and lifted us higher into the spiritual world. That enlightened place where the spirit transcends and soars with the angels. The metaphysical marvel. The place of wonder. Awe. And beauty. That was where I wanted to go.

My first mentor, and the one who shared more wisdom than anyone I’ve ever known, was Ma.

Little back story.

Ma’s formal education ended somewhere in high school. Back then, this was typical for most poor or lower class families. Getting a “good education” was a pipe dream, but especially so, if you were a girl from a poor family.

Ma loved to read and had a secret desire to be an artist. She wanted more from life but didn’t know how to go after it. Yet, what she couldn’t do for herself, she did for her youngest daughter.

In her unassuming and humble way she taught me what I needed to know to chase my dreams.  Even the big ones.

Gertrude Stein held court in her Salon at 27 Rue de Fleurus for the elite of the literary and artistic world. Ma had a Salon of her own at 204.  Preposterous comparison possibly.  But not to the young girls of the Sixties who gathered there around the kitchen table to discuss the happenings of our time. In our own way, we were equally brilliant and talented.

Ma was always there in the background. Quietly serving up homemade cookies or chocolate brownies, and most importantly, keeping the kettle boiling.

She never intruded. That wasn’t her way.

Although she remained discreetly in the background, we all looked up to her and admired her calm benevolence.  When she did speak, which wasn’t often, we all thought she was so wise and intelligent.  Her kindness, the cradle for her words. She was Master Po. We were Grasshopper.

The secret to her wisdom? 

She listened. Carefully. Attentively. Earnestly. With an open mind and an even wider open heart. Without judgement nor condemnation.

She listened with kindness. Compassion and empathy. Caring and concern. She wanted to know. To understand.

She listened without distraction. She remained focused.  Concentrated. Immersed in every word.

She listened with intention. Studiously. With deliberateness.  Absorbed in the conversation.

She listened to the world around her. To nature. The voice of God.  The universal stories of the Ages.

She listened to the words not spoken. The spaces. Gaps. Pauses. The silences and subtleties. The language of hands.

She listened to me. And still she loved me. Unconditionally. Without question nor hesitation.

There you have it.  Listen and acquire wisdom. Sounds so simple.  Trust me it’s not. Or at least not for me.

My hearing is good. Remarkably good for an old broad. But my listening skills, sadly, are not. And they have grown worse with time, not better. I am ashamed to admit, but somewhere along the journey from the kitchen table at 204 to this iMac, I have fallen in love with the sound of my own voice. All the silly chatter and trite bullshit that flows so easily from my mouth.

But starting today, I intend to change that. 

I am here to listen. To you and you and you. Perhaps grow wiser.