From our archives -- Taking Time to Listen

Dear Friends

Little did I know that my life (and heart) would be so transformed by an 83-year-old man on his porch. I met Donald years ago since I'd pass his little ramshackle cottage every day while taking my dog for his walk. Since I learned early on that Donald was a "talker," I’d pass his house as if my dog were a greyhound on the racetrack.“Hiiiii!” I’d quickly chirp as I sprinted by (only to resume walking after turning the corner). Truth was I liked Donald. I enjoyed his stories and felt compassion for him – at least enough compassion to leave him little care packages when I'd know he wasn’t up yet, but obviously not enough compassion to give him the one gift he really needed: the gift of someone to listen to his stories and show interest in who he is as a person. I told myself that my dance card was full and I didn't have time to be shooting the breeze with this virtual stranger.

Then one day Donald wasn’t there. After a month of his absence, I accepted the worst and felt like the schmuck of the Universe.Would I have taken the time to chat with him had I known he only had weeks left on the earth? Instead of giving him muffins and cookies, could I have instead given him my listening ear? These were the types of questions I'd ask myself as I'd now walk past his darkened house.

About four months ago, I spotted a pale and emaciated Donald sitting where he had always sat. This time I sprinted towards him. It's only natural that he appeared taken aback by my sheer jubilation. After all, I had never seemed to care that much prior to this day. Even I was surprised by my enthusiasm and relief. Not only was I relieved for him that he was home, but I was relieved for myself – that I was being given a second chance to "get it right."

Although it’s only been a matter of months, I have come to love this man. I'll even go so far as to say I treasure our friendship. His daily stories of life experiences have enriched me immeasurably. While learning about him, I've learned so much about myself, and I have witnessed so many kind acts from neighbors that it's restored my faith in humanity! His presence in my life has been like Pilates for my soul, stretching me, expanding my heart and mind, and strengthening my core.

This holiday season, I challenge us all to stop sprinting away from the Donalds in our lives, even if it's just for a day. No Mother Teresa act of heroism is necessary. Simply listen to their stories. Be there for them. Be still in their presence instead of always flitting to what's next on the To Do list. You just may end up with the friendship of a lifetime and growing in a way you never imagined.

Other Issues:
From our archives -- Offering Wisdom to New Moms

From our archives -- The Best Good Deed

From our archives -- Embracing the Wonder of Children

From our archives -- Encouraging children to live their bliss

From our archives

Holiday 2013 -- Embracing the World of Wonder

Winter 2013 -- Recipe for a Happy Thanksgiving

Fall 2013 -- Finding Beauty in the Everyday Tasks

Late Summer 2013 - Taking Our Own Advice

Midsummer 2013 -- Appreciating Nature's Bounty

Early Summer 2013 -- Being Prepared

Late Spring 2013 -- Having Realistic Expectations

Spring 2013 -- Offering Mothering Wisdom

Early Spring 2013 -- Being True to Our Nature

Holiday 2012 -- Appreciate the Goodness

Winter 2012 -- Enjoying the Anticipation

Early Fall 2012 -- Looking Back to Appreciate Now

Summer 2012 -- Chinaberry's History & Future

Early Summer 2012 -- My Dad

Late Spring 2012 -- My Satisfying Yet Untraditional Upbringing

Spring 2012 - The Consequences of Our Actions

Early Spring 2012 - Learning From Experience

Winter 2011 - The Small Moments

Holiday 2011 - The Good Deed

Fall 2011 - Gratitude

Late Summer 2011 - Overwhelmed? You're Not Alone.

Midsummer 2011 - Louise's Gallery

Early Summer 2011 - Flying 101: Giving Them Wings

Late Spring 2011 - Letting Them Fail

Spring 2011

Early Spring 2011 - Encouraging Your Kids to Live Their Bliss

Fall 2010 - The Chinaberry Commitment

Late Summer 2010 - In the Blink of an Eye

Midsummer 2010 - It's Her Story

Early Summer 2010 - Weathering the Storm

Gifts From My Mother

Spring 2010 - Enjoy the Ride

Early Spring 2010 - Enter the Land of Dirt and Bugs

Winter 2009 - Less Cleaning, More Meaning

Holiday 2009 - Finding Gratitude Every Day

Fall 2009 - Teaching Children Through Our Actions

Late Summer 2009 - A Spoonful of Sugar

Midsummer 2009 - Give Your Kids the Gift of Boredom this Summer

Early Summer 2009 - Who's the Kid and Who's the Parent?

Late Spring 2009 - Making Connections

Spring 2009 - Fully Engaging With Our Children

Early Spring 2009 - Building Character While Playing Characters

Winter 2008 - Never Underestimate the Value of a Good Hello

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Holiday 2007

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Holiday 2006

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