"Are you listening to me?"
One or both of my kids has been known to ask this in a slightly petulant or demanding tone, especially if my laptop is open in front of me. Sometimes I am listening, sometimes I'm waiting for them to say what they want to say, and sometimes, often maybe, I'm distracted. Sometimes, the distraction is warranted—the file I'm trying to send to meet a deadline just crashed, a client needs a quick response to an email, I'm looking for the recipe I need to get dinner going—but more often I'm catching up on Facebook or reading an article that I may or may not really be interested in or writing a more involved message that I could write after they go to bed.
I do listen to my kids. I believe that I should get some time during the day when I can pay attention to something else, but sometimes I need to listen more and make sure they know I'm doing it.
I chose listen as my word of 2014.
Cutting back on distractions is a piece of it, being more present and aware, but I chose the word—or it chose me—in December when I found myself really listening to Kathleen's responses as I was trying to sort out her birthday party. Instead of half listening while I tried to sort out my own expectations, I finally heard what she expected and her party and December were simplified.
I need to listen to my body too. I know that when I listen to what my body needs and respond to it, I feel healthier than when I don't. Here's where 2014's listen meets 2013's enough. Sometimes my body is going to tell me, "I need a run," but it will be so cold I can't breathe or I'll have a deadline for work or I won't have enough time before Brian needs to leave for work. I want to hear the need for a run, and instead of choosing coffee and one (or five) cookies because I can't, I'll offer up to myself a walk or dance party with the kids. I'll choose the alternative that isn't quite what I want, but that gets me closer to what I need. My body also tells me sometimes that I've had too much caffeine or sugar. It tells me I need to go to bed even though I want to do so many other things. It tells me I need to stretch instead of sitting hunched over that laptop again. I need to start to listen again. I won't make a resolution to eat better or exercise more or lose weight. I won't even set goals to run so many miles or so many times a week. Instead I'm going to try to listen and respond to my body.
I'm not quite sure where else listen will take me, but it's where I'm starting this new year.
Do you have a word this year? Tell me about it. I'll listen.