Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Listening Life * Book Open House #2

Hey Friends ~

Grab your dog-eared, underlined, highlighted copy of Adam McHugh's The Listening Life: Embracing Attentiveness in a World of Distraction and let's get this conversation going!

It looks like we're all in very good company.  Adam's hit a raw nerve that's begging to be healed.  Each Thursday for five weeks, I'll be putting two quotes on the table for discussion.  Even if you're not reading the book, the dialogue is absolutely open to you, too.

A big welcome to Adam's friends who've arrived here via FB and Twitter.  Whether you jump right on into the conversation or sit quietly on the sidelines and just hang out, I'm glad you found us.

Meanwhile, commenters have been brave enough to admit ...

As She-Who-Finishes-Her-Husband's-Sentences, 
I can always use a refresher.

Sounds like a perfect read for me!

I know I need help listening....

Definitely something I struggle with.

I'm looking forward to this new adventure of going deeper.

I hope I get it some day.

My internal chatter is definitely disruptive.

It was easier overseas to take the time to listen 
since we had few electronic distractions.

Definitely an area I need to work on!

At work, this is an area of ongoing frustration.

Telling myself to shut up rather than spouting off words of advice.

I'm ready to plunge in with new vigor.

Having the last word, or the first word, 
or all the words in between 
is not all that it's cracked up to be.

Listening is very definitely difficult and tiring.

I'm looking forward to growing in this area!

I can so identify with this.

Better listening skills is one way I want to grow this year.

Let's talk about ...

'But somewhere along the way we start to violate the natural order of things.  Speaking our minds and asserting ourselves take priority over listening.  We interrupt someone else because we are convinced we already know what he or she is going to say.  We begin to take up more space than we allow for others.  We consider ourselves experts on topics without anything more to learn.  We tell God what to give rather than asking what God wants to give.  We participate by speaking and sharing, and we assert our identities by taking verbal stands.  We shout our messages from the rooftops without knowing who is listening and what they need.  We view others as projects rather than people with unique stories to be heard.  We consider our great Christian task to be preaching, rather than assuming the listening posture of a servant.  We speak volumes, but we listen in snippets.'

Chapter 1 - The Listening Life
'Loneliness drives us to talk about ourselves to excess and to turn conversations toward ourselves.  It makes us grasp on to others, thinking their role is to meet our needs, and it shrinks the space we have in our souls for welcoming others in.  That loneliness would keep us from listening, and others from listening to us, is a tragedy, because being listened to is one of the great assurances in this universe that we are not alone.'

please share



Thursday, April 19, 2018

Adam McHugh Is In the House! * The Listening Life

Way back in 2009, I won a copy of Adam McHugh's brand new book Introverts in the Church on some website.  And nothing was ever the same.

Hungrily devouring page after page, it turned out to be a rather seismic, empowering experience.  I didn't have a clue that I was so incredibly thirsty for the affirming truths he put on the table.  Finally, someone gave me full permission to be exactly who God created me to be.  

Fast forward a few years ... and Adam was inviting his blog readers to consider the possibility of doing a guest post on his site.  Graciously, he had mercy on this fledgling blogger and posted my Grabbing the Oxygen Mask in 2012.

Six years later, I couldn't be more excited to swing wide the doors and welcome Adam here to kick off our second Book Open House, featuring his most recent work, The Listening Life: Embracing Attentiveness in a World of Distraction.  Once again, Adam has penned a book that has the potential to turn your life upside down and inside out.

I'm grateful he said 'yes' to my invitation ...

When my book, The Listening Life, was published, I asserted at the time that there was a crisis of listening in our society. That was December 2015. Let’s just say that the last two and a half years have not exactly done anything to change my mind about that thesis. What was a “listening crisis” then may have been sucked into a “listening vortex” now. I don’t think I need to defend myself too vigorously when I say that our public life is not one that prioritizes listening to each other, and most of us are not currently represented by people who are modeling good listening. No matter what side of the aisle you are on, everyone seems to be speaking and so few people seem to be listening.

The more I think about listening, and the more I try to practice it, the more I am convinced that becoming a good listener is not mostly about gaining a new set of skills. It is about becoming a particular kind of person. If you want to practice good and genuine listening, you must become a Listener. Is there anyone who is a naturally good listener? That depends: do you find emptying yourself, surrendering ego and control, setting aside conversational agenda, and restraining your immediate emotional responses natural? Yeah, me neither.

Because I also have written a book about introversion, called Introverts in the Church, people ask me regularly if listening is a more attainable skill for introverts than for extroverts. What I usually say in response is listening and not speaking are not necessarily the same thing, but that not speaking is a really good start. So perhaps introverts have a head start in the non-speaking component of listening, but if you are introvert like me, you may find your head constantly buzzing with thoughts while another person is trying to share with you. While I may be able to offer outward space quite comfortably, the real challenge for me is in offering others my inward space, sweeping away the internal distractions that prevent me from true presence. Again, I am not convinced that listening is a natural activity for anyone, no matter your temperament.

My hope for all of you, my friends, as you read the fruit of 6 years of listening and researching for me, is that you will be challenged to become Listeners and not only people who can enumerate the steps of listening. Because people who seek to become listeners start acting a lot like Jesus. And because our society, and the people in our lives, are desperate for listeners.

(I am sure I will peek in a time or two at the comments on this post, but the best way to contact me is to follow this link. And if you would be interested in having me speak (ironic, I know) for an event or weekend, send me an email.) 



We'll be discussing The Listening Life for the next five weeks.   As always, I'll be putting two quotes on the table for your consideration on Thursday mornings. 

This is an open house kind of book club so there's no need to feel like you've gotta show up on Thursday.  Come and go as you can ... the best part of the whole deal is joining in on the conversation that follows.

Next week, we'll be talking about the Introduction and Chapter 1.  

And if you're not reading along, please drop by anyway and jump on into the discussion.  You're welcome with or without the book!   Feel free to bring along your real life and online friends, too.  The more, the merrier.

Please join me in thanking Adam for taking the time to give us some substantial food for thought today.  Go ahead and use the link in his last paragraph to connect with him.  He's a nice guy.

And tell him Linda sent ya' ...




on Wednesdays

Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Sheer Relief of Releasing Clothes You've Avoided Like The Plague

One of my favorite spring tasks is to comb through closets and drawers, baskets and bins, ruthlessly weeding out anything and everything that has seen its day.  Most particularly, clothing.

I'm a big believer in the 80 / 20 rule - we only wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time.

This past week, I was struck by the truth that many shirts and pants I was reluctant to part with last autumn held no interest for me anymore.  And while I wasn't ready to say 'adios' to them back then, there was not an ounce of hesitation on my part right now to pull them off their appointed hangers, fold them neatly, and bag them up to pass on to someone who'd be pleased at their arrival.

Simply because I'm not who I was when I welcomed those garments into my life.

And too many unloved, unnecessary possessions drain the energy out of my space with their intrusive, annoying presence.

I was holding on to pants that were too long or too tight or too wide or too dressy.  I won't be wearing them again.  And then there were the shirts.  Too short or too snug, too faded or just plain uninviting.

There were brand new boots to pass on to a granddaughter, a pile of pants someone else wanted to paw through.  A pocketbook or two that had remained untoted for years didn't survive my critical eye.  A selection of sweaters and vests, scarves and shoes, none of which had seen the light of day in eons, were sent packing.


If we find ourselves sighing and muttering 'ugh' when we open a jammed, unorganized closet ... or feel oddly immobilized like a deer in the headlights as we gaze into the untended abyss of a dresser drawer, we do ourselves a big favor to take a deep breath and a few minutes break to understand and appreciate what our emotions are whispering to us.

Maybe we're overwhelmed by too many possessions which are worn threadbare or no longer serve their purpose or are connected with unpleasant situations.  Perhaps we've been ignoring how certain stiff, tight, baggy, or itchy clothes make us feel ... or unaware of the fact that they don't match the stage of life we're actually living.

There might be losses, changes, or transitions we need to grieve that passed unnoticed along the way.

It might be that we feel guilty at the thought of saying 'farewell' since we invested so much money in stuff we don't actually care about anymore ... and that some things we aren't all that fond of were {gasp!} gifts.  Or we're not sure of who to pass the decent things on to.  {Here's the fun little shop I donate to.}

I can't help but think we're wise in acknowledging what is true about what we're discovering ... and make some very personal decisions about how best to respond.

It might be to show ourselves grace in finally accepting the way our bodies are in this season and stop endlessly fighting the scale.  Or perhaps commit to the hard work of getting our bodies leaner and stronger.

As Emily Freeman said so well in her enlightening Wear Better Pants podcast, 'perhaps it's time to release something you no longer need so you can move one step closer to becoming who you already are.'

If you listen to one podcast this month, this would be it.  For sure.


I've gotta admit I pretty much love the things that survived the cut this past week.  I like my style in this season and the freedom of traveling lighter.  I'm grateful to realize once again how little I truly need.

But I'm not quite sure what to do with a couple pairs of jeans.  They're just a bit too tight and I'm still figuring out what to do about that dilemma.

You understand.

I'd love to hear your stories.

P.S.  The Listening Life Book Open House kicks off this Thursday, April 19th with a superb surprise.  I'm so excited I can't stand it!  Be sure you grab your copy of Adam McHugh's book here or get your Kindle edition there.  It might even be at your public library.  

Or just show up without reading.  Yep, that's absolutely fine!  

Be sure to invite your FB friends, book club pals, and Bible Study group.  It's not too late!  All the details are right here ... and you can subscribe so you won't miss any of the Thursday gatherings.

See you then!