The Mezz Mind

Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That

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My main goal for 2014 is to focus on myself mentally, physically, spiritually, and financially. 2013 was a year of change, good, bad, and neutral. I kind of fell off the path I was headed on in 2012, the path I needed and wanted to continue along. I fell back into certain bad habits such as negative thinking, self-doubt, and self-dislike. I lost some of my self-esteem that I had gained in 2012 and the years past. At the same time, I made a major move, nearly 11hours from home into my own little apartment with my best girl, a new city, a [sorta] new job, new people, new responsibilities. That move brought me a brand new start. Not knowing anybody helped me free my mind somewhat from expectations and social pressures. Not knowing my way around gave me increased confidence in my ability to learn directions and new things in general. Having Jayde all to myself and vice versa gave me focus toward her needs and our relationship. Having the apartment to myself all day and every night helped me realize a little more what my ideal balance of social and alone time is (i.e. I function pretty darn well when I’m alone 98% of the time). I became calmer, not as apt to extreme mood swings, and settled into the role of ‘adult’ that required me to pay bills, take care of household responsibilities, and take complete control of myself (i.e. nobody telling me to get up, brush the dogs, clean my room, etc. etc.)

Goals for 2014 include saving $600 [if not more]; try meditation; practice Radical Honesty; clean up my diet by reducing sugar intake, drinking more water, and eating more fruits and veggies; and practicing daily gratitude. Some of these might be monthly projects, but I am not limiting them to 30 days. I want to bring more awareness into my life in these areas. This blog will be geared toward my process of bettering myself.

Peace & Pawprints

 

 

The Coffee Exchange

I was inspired by Liz’s project, Forty Days of Fika, to make my own list of coffee places to visit in my new city. Further pushed by Ash’s development of her blog, coffee with ashley, I broke down and plucked one place off my list to visit today.

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I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was excited for a new coffee place, exploring a new part of the city, and of course, coffee. What compounded my excitement was their online menu. Zombie drinks. What are zombie drinks? I wondered the same thing. Walking in gave me my answer: White espresso, which supposedly has twice the amount of caffeine as normal espresso. But I’m getting ahead of myself. 🙂

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After the cozy outside seating, bright flowers, bright blues, and “Gluten-free items available” sign on the front window, the first thing that struck me was the door handle. A bronze elephant head. Very interesting, very unique, very funky.  When I opened the door, I looked straight to the back. The brick & wood walls, the artistic canvases, the variety of seating. A rather large business meeting was being held around a large round table in front of the ordering area. Seemingly in the middle of everything and yet out of the way. Interesting. And the office chairs around the table that the folks were sitting in: high backed, comfortable, rolling office chairs. Interesting.

I chose a table right next to the window and almost instantly regretted the decision because the sun was already beating down strongly at 9:30am. But I decided to order before perusing the other tables. Before ordering however, I put my stuff down and took a look around. There was a book nook, a large bulletin board covered with fliers, announcements, advertisements, etc., a display case of seran-wrapped homemade lemon bars, pumpkin bread, cookies, and all sorts of other goodies. A table set up in front of the case had cream, sugar, honey, clean spoons, a spot for dirty spoons, napkins.

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Walking further into the shop, I stared in amazement at the menu. Huge, covering almost the entire wall, so many things to choose from. In addition to a large variety of coffee & espresso drinks, they also serve salads, sandwiches, and had a small liquor section at the end of the bar. Interesting! While the gentleman in front of me was ordering, I took the time to try and take in everything on the counter and on the wall in front of me. Fliers, treats, bumper stickers, decorations.

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I noticed a couple batches of what looked like peanut butter cookies on the counter. Homemade goodies. 🙂 After looking over the menu, I asked the barista what she liked best. She pointed out a few options, then pointed out a new zombie drink they had recently added to the menu: the Dirty Zombie. I.e. white espresso, dark chocolate, and peanut butter syrup. That one was definitely calling my name. After I paid I walked back to my table, taking in the business meeting and the people that were trickling in here and there. The gentleman who had been in front of me in line had taken the table I was going to switch to, so I sat back down at my original table and just observed. They called out my drink, I took it to my table, and marveled at it.

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And the table. The table had coffee beans IN it.

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How cool is that?!

I gradually worked my way past the delicious whipped cream and took a sip. Decadence. Heaven in a cup for sure.

For a while I just sat there and soaked everything in. People trickled in and out. Two ladies at the next table over seemed to be having a cooking discussion, sharing articles and tricks. The gentleman was reading something in the paper and writing occasional notes on a notepad. Three young women in business attire came in and got coffee drinks to go. It seemed to be a popular place for business people, but was still had a casual and laidback environment and feel to it. I figured I should open my computer and try to get some work done but I was too entranced with the place and the people. I sat there, sipping my coffee and observing, until the gentleman got up and left. As he walked out he met my eye and told me to have a good day. That is what I love about coffee shops; the genuine companionship you feel, even if you never say a word to each other. I smiled and said the same to him, then moved to his now vacated-table. It was much cooler, and I opened my laptop to work.

I did get some studying done, but I couldn’t help but notice the people who were coming and going. It was fascinating to watch: women in running outfits, men in suits and ties, a lady with a bluetooth, two friends grabbing coffee before going about their day.

Eventually I wrapped up the section I was working on and packed up my stuff. I hadn’t kept time on how long I’d been there but I figured my parking time was almost up. I was reluctant to leave, but that gives me all the more reason to come back!

Instead of heading straight back home, I decided to tour the street a bit more and see where it headed. Let’s just say, I found the downtown part of the Springs, one way streets and all. Yes, I hate one way streets. But instead of being fearful and just pledging to stay away from it, I’m going to take it as a challenge. I will learn the layout of the downtown and be able to drive there confidently. Plus, it is much more beautiful than my hometown’s downtown. And I found a few signs leaded to a park that I have not yet checked out! On to another adventure with Jayde. 🙂

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As soon as I got home, I took Jayde for a walk (i.e. squirrel hunting). She had a blast. We walked around the complex for about an hour. She treed many squirrels. At one point three different squirrels went three different directions and she had no idea which way to go. My girl is comical. I get such a kick out of her. 🙂

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I’m definitely going to be exploring more coffee shops in town, so expect more posts of that!

Peace&Pawprints

Is this real life? Not at all…

It’s been three weeks since I moved to a new city, a new state, a “new” job, and a new way of life. A more independent way of life. A “big girl” life where bills visit my mailbox, the apartment doesn’t stay clean on it’s own (thank you, Mom!), and the outside world is suddenly on my doorstep, ready or not.

Three weeks since I started this new chapter of my life, starring myself & Jayders. Three weeks since I paid for my first month’s rent + down payments + pet fees. And in two days, rent will be due again. Hello life.

I’ve learned some things about myself since moving away from my family, my friends, my hometown, and everything familiar & comfortable to me. I guess that happens when you step out of your comfort zone, but then I can’t say for sure that what I was living in WAS my so-called “comfort zone.” It seems so natural to say that your hometown is where your heart is, where you know the street names, streetlights, and places where the cops sit to catch speeders, where your old high school friends acquaintances return to settle down with families & careers. I remember an incident in my freshman year, during a history class. Some students were having a discussion about moving away and how they couldn’t wait to get away from that small, crappy, boring town. A guy suddenly spoke up louder than the rest: “Why wouldn’t you want to stay? You know where everything is….” etc. etc. I remember my internal reaction to this statement being, “He doesn’t get it.” Even though at that point in my life I had no confidence in myself and was pretty convinced I wouldn’t want to move anywhere else because of my fear of the unknown. But that’s what my gut told me.

While I only have a short three weeks between my “old” life and the life I’m living right now, I think I can say with a high degree of confidence that I’ve changed, grown into a different person.  I can’t imagine going back to living the way I was in Iowa. By that I think I mean living under the expectations [real or perceived only by myself & yes that is a trick statement], the pressure [again, same], the questioning [not necessarily bad, but irritating after a while], the drama [mostly family stuff]. It might sound cliche to say that I needed to get away from my hometown because it held (holds?) too much ‘bad’ history for me, personally. Or maybe saying that I felt stifled there, among everybody and everything, is a better way to put it. I don’t know. All I know and am slowly starting to understand is that being away from home, away from anything and everything I know, has taken a huge weight off my shoulders. I feel more free to be myself and listen to my own wants, needs, & gut instincts without worrying about what others think, what my parents would expect, what I *should* be doing.

So. Here are some things I’ve learned, realized, been struck stupid by, since moving away from home:

  • You really can get another sandwich [or stuffed kong] out of a supposedly empty peanut butter jar (sorry for all the times I discarded the “empty” PB jar, Dad!)
  • I really don’t need/care to have a t.v. This might seem obvious to those who knew me well but I figured that I’d be some what put off by not having a t.v. around, just because there has always been one around… yes, faulty logic, but still.
  • I’m more independent than I thought. By that I mean independent is something I am. I think it was covered and hidden by all my insecurities and fears throughout the years. I never really believed in myself or had confidence in my abilities, always relying on someone else to back me up or take the lead. But now that I’ve grown and realized that “It’s all in what you believe” I have had a mass adjustment to my thinking (perhaps this might show that a bit). That could be an entire blog post in itself – including the subheading of “No one is coming/No one cares.”
  • One person generates more dishes than I thought. I have been trying to keep up with making homemade dinners (versus just frozen entrees, mac n cheese, etc.) so that adds to it.
  • Jayde has shown – so far – the marks of an exemplary apartment dog. She’s adjusted better than I had ever hoped!
  • My learning of street names & locations of certain destinations has proceeded much faster than I thought it would I can make it to work and back without using my GPS. I know what (most) streets turn into what (most) other streets. I know the rough layout of both main streets on both ‘sides’ of town. Next thing on my list is learning the relations between various streets, where they intersect, etc. so I can find the best/fastest routes to get where I’m going.
  • I have trust issues. I knew at home that I didn’t trust many people and mostly kept to myself and my family and friends. But perhaps it’s because I’m in a new city surrounded by exactly zero people I know that it has shown its true colors. I’m not just distrustful of people; I’m almost downright defensive. I’m very cautious and I always watch my back when I’m out with Jayde  (both in daylight and at night). For some reason, I’m very suspicious of people. For instance: “Why is that guy looking at me? He said hi?! What’s he saying hi for? He’s got to have an ulterior motive….” Perhaps I sound a bit paranoid, but I don’t feel paranoid, or feel as if anybody is “out to get me.” I’m just very suspicious and pretty much keep to myself.

That’s all I have for that list for now. Perhaps I’ll add more later. Anyway I have a paper that has to be done and some readings to get started on. Hopefully next time I’ll have pictures for y’all. 🙂

Peace&Pawprints

Now taking donations of winning lottery tickets

At this very moment I am sitting on my couch in my living room (it feels so nice to say that!) with a bottle of h2o beside me and a good book. My stomach is full of the (failed) fried chicken, green beans, and sweet potato fries I made for dinner tonight. My sweatpants are cozy and comfortable. Behind me an incoming storm blows ominous breaths through my window, creating a melody of Mother Nature’s mood & manmade window blinds. A flash flood warning just beeped on my phone. Good thing I have nowhere to be the rest of tonight or tomorrow except my cozy apartment (I guess I *should* go to the bank tomorrow but…. we’ll see :P)

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I finally went [back] to work yesterday. The restaurant that is my home yet is so unfamiliar to me right now. The job duties were fine; I could reel off the menu items, procedures, sidework and whathaveyou without blinking an eye. My new co-workers, on the other hand, will take a while to get used to. Right now I do not associate them with the restaurant that is so familiar. I kept looking for all my old employees, as if I was back home. This restaurant is much busier than my old one though and I can tell that I have some learning to do about endurance. Same goes for Jayde while I am working later hours.

I absolutely love coming home to Jayde. She usually greets me with a yawn & stretch followed by a body wiggle and circle tail wags. She rubs against me like a cat, back and forth, and happily leaps into my arms if I invite her up. Her bright eyes stare up at me, waiting for me to feed her, take her out, pick up a toy, grab the leash. She holds no resentment for being in her kennel for such a long period of time. How many humans can you say that about? 🙂

Today I woke up to Jayde’s very faint whine. According to her, I had slept in much too long. It was 8am, which is around the normal time we’ve been getting out of bed since we moved (2 whole weeks already! wow!). After feeding her breakfast and getting dressed, we went outside for the morning potty break (Jayde’s, not mine ;P). I brought her chuck-it and my book, in case she wanted to play. The morning was absolutely gorgeous and we both enjoyed soaking up the cool morning air.

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After we came back in, I started two loads of laundry then set to work cleaning. Someone once told me that when I got my own place I would take pride in keeping it clean and smelling good. This said person also told me that cleaning would help me relax. Now, while I do take pride in keeping my apartment clean, I can’t find the enjoyment in cleaning. I wish it would do itself. But it is satisfying knowing that once I sweep up all the hair, dirt, sand, and unknown particles in my kitchen it is no longer there. Same goes for vacuuming. One dog sure does drag in a ton of sand and dirt. Seeing the vacuum full of all the dirty stuff amazes me that it came out of my carpet in a week. Too bad the scrubbing part doesn’t have a satisfying after effect. xD

I finished one book today, and started another. Then Jayde and I went for a walk. With the squirrels we encountered, it was an adventure in itself! One squirrel got up the tree all right, then promptly lost it’s footing and nearly fell on my head. Another squirrel (a black one, something I’d never seen before) boldly came down the tree while we were eight feet away and took off for another tree. Jayde was rarin’ to go. She stalks the trees before we get within a hundred feet of them, just in case there is a squirrel hiding in the upraised roots.

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Later in the afternoon we walked to the office to get our mail. It’s always exciting to get letters and packages. I was excited when my modem came. And my blank checks came today. Anything from the UPS man is exciting I think. xD That being said, you can guess my excitement at seeing a bubble-wrapped package from Amberness in my mail box! What was inside was a plethora of goodies. The fruit snacks, the much needed chocolate bars (eeeeee!), the gum, and the Target bag made me smile. But it was the letter and the gift card that brought tears to my eyes. I’m not sure what I did to deserve such a good friend but today I feel blessed beyond measure. ❤ With her gift I was able to stock up on the necessities of milk, bread, and peanut butter, something I was holding off on doing until I was sure of my incoming money flow. So thank you, Amber, for brightening my day and helping me breath a little easier. 🙂

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I am soaking up the free time I have with Jayde and with my books right now. I’m not sure how much free time I’ll have once class starts and I start working more hours. Jayde and I also visited an agility class which we hope to become involved in once I get the extra money. The people I’ve met so far have been so nice and their methods are exactly what I use, so I am extremely excited about that. I have the urge to get knowledge, share opinions, have long talks about dogs and training and puppies with likeminded folk. I want to meet more people, more dogs.

All in good time, right? All in good time. 🙂

Peace&Pawprints

The Next Big Adventure!

This will probably be the only post you’ll see from me for at least a week. I am getting Internet in my apartment on the 19th.

The past few days have been long, stressful, and tiring!

On Wednesday morning my uncle and my dad brought the u-haul trailer and we loaded ‘er up with a couch, mattresses, a box spring, and lots & lots of boxes, with a few lamps and odd baskets thrown on top. And a broom. That afternoon I went with Ashley to our good ‘ol Starbucks, the place that had been our second home the entire school year and summer. We gave homemade cookies to the baristas that had become like friends and had our last specialty drinks.

At the buttcrack of dawn on Thursday, we loaded up the last few things, I got Jayde settled into her kennel seat, said my extended ‘see ya later’s, and hit the road. The worst part was saying bye to Ashley, and then to Parker. Gosh I’m going to miss that little man so much. 😦 At least I can Facetime and text Ashley though. (She’s off to Nebraska to study forensic science, something she’s very passionate about. So as much as I’m going to miss her, I’m so happy she gets to go to the school of her choice and study what she loves.)

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The ride was riddled with gas and bathroom breaks. We drove straight through Nebraska (I didn’t realize mountain time began in Nebraska!) and then hit Colorado. Okay. When I think of Colorado, I think of mountains (as I’m sure lots of people do, right?). Lots of big, rocky, jagged peaks poking holes through the clouds with earthly tones of red, browns, & greens breaking the blue monotonous sky. Well, my uncle led the way and he took his old trucking route that he knew best. Let’s just say the edges of Colorado make Nebraska & Iowa seem anything BUT flat. We didn’t see mountains until we were actually in the Springs!

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Jayde was absolutely phenomenal the entire way. She slept peacefully in her kennel, got out for all the bathroom breaks and did her thing, then went back to sleeping during the ride. When we finally got there, we found out we couldn’t move in until the next day, Friday. So we spent about an hour and a half searching the town for a restaurant and a motel that would accept dogs. To say it was frustrating after a 9 hour drive is an understatement. We were all tired and worn out from the drive and just wanted to fill our bellies and go to sleep. It’s a huge, busy town with confusing streets (at least to me). When we finally did those things, I did not sleep well at all. Not sure if it was the bed or the whole ordeal (probably both) but I woke up feeling like I had fallen off a mountain in my sleep.

After breakfast – we got up early and our appointment was at 10am but we were ready to go by 9am – Mom and I went to find coffee while Dad and my Uncle Bob went back to the apartment to see if they could start unloading. Mom and I trailed in not long after and went straight to the office to check in and sign the lease. Holy moly I felt like I was signing my life away – which I guess I kind of was. 😛

A nice neighbor helped us take the couch and mattresses up the stairs (well, one went up over the balcony instead of up the stairs :P) and we started getting everything set in place. Boxes upon boxes piled up in my new bedroom. The coffeemaker got settled in its spot on my counter beside the sink in the kitchen. Jayde’s kennel is my end table in the living room. 🙂

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After everything was unloaded and pretty much settled, the u-haul trailer was returned to the company and Uncle Bob & Dad brought lunch back. Uncle Bob left soon after. He’s one of the best men I know and was such a big help on this trip. He towed the trailer and helped pack and unpack. I am so blessed to call him my uncle. ❤

Mom and Dad helped me get everything organized, then we found a bank and got my checking account set up. After that we went shopping for necessities and groceries. (Mom basically led me to have green accents in my apartment, of which I happily complied. xD) They were such a big help and bought everything for me to get me started off right. When I saw that they wouldn’t let me pay for anything, I was so touched. They are so good to me and I’m so thankful to have such wonderful people as my parents.

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I don’t think I’ve ever been as exhausted as I was Friday night. I had stress cramps and didn’t feel good. Honestly, I was dreading Mom and Dad leaving the next day, because then I would be truly alone. I gave them my bed and I slept on the couch.

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Saturday morning we woke up bright and early. The three of us explored town a little bit and found a dog event, which turned out to be an annual event held by the All Breed Rescue & Training group of Colorado Springs. We looked around there for a bit, I signed up for a couple contests with Jayde that were later in the day (with the mindset that that would distract me from being alone), and then we had lunch. After getting back to the apartment, Mom & Dad left. I tried my best not to bawl my eyes out and chase the van down the street. In other words, I tried not to let my fears get the best of me – and I succeeded.

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All my friends and family have been such good support yesterday and today (Sunday). I appreciate every single call and text. ❤ Amberness lifted my spirits by proclaiming that I was now independent and could do whatever I want so why not order pizza and sit in my apartment naked?! While I didn’t take that offer, I do appreciate her wonderful reminder that this is a new beginning of independence that I need to embrace.

And of course, Jayde has been an absolute angel. She’s enjoying the dog park, and is learning the layout of her new apartment and grounds. She’s so well-behaved and has been so calm, taking everything in stride. Even more so than I realized, she is my rock.

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We found a couple awesome public parks to visit and explore. One is the Bear Creek Dog Park and it is the biggest, most beautiful dog park I’ve ever seen. There are so many trails for humans and dogs. Underbrush trails for the dogs to explore, a creek for the dogs to splash around in, some uphill trails to give legs a work out. And it is HUGE.

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I am slowly learning the layout of the town. The streets are much more confusing than my small hometown and the traffic is much busier. With the help of my GPS and my iPhone, I’ve only managed to get lost twice, and that was mostly on purpose because I was exploring some streets. They seem to just randomly change into different streets without notice.

I’m sure I’ll have lots of stories and photos to share later. I need to edit the two sessions I did before I left Sioux City, also. I have lots of good books to read. Before we left, Ashley gave me the Manson book she won from Goodreads. I’m going to read it asap and get it back to her so she can read it. 🙂 Because I have my own apartment now, I have:

  • my own bathroom (no more crowded dresser!)
  • no TV (stupid thing, anyway. I only want to get one to watch movies on.)
  • peace and quiet whenever I feel like it! (reading time!)
  • loud music whenever I feel like it! (with respect to my neighbors of course :P)

I’m trying to stay positive and to look at what I do have. But it is so hard to look at pictures of Parker, Mandy, Buddy, & Secret, and my niece, and my sister, and my parents, and Ashley & Amber, and know that I can’t see them any time I want. 😦 However I know that if I brood on that, I’ll never figure out this whole thing called “independence.” And that is the ultimate goal. ❤

Peace&Pawprints

It’s that ‘C’ word again

Change.

I’ve never been good with change. I like routine, certainty, knowing the next steps, the next stages. Change scares me because there is never any certainty. You don’t know what’s going to happen, even if you think you do. You just have to keep walking, see what happens, and deal with it as it comes. Sounds like life to me.

I’m not good at thinking on my feet. I’m much better at thinking things through before acting on anything. (I think that comes from my fear of being wrong/doing the wrong thing.) And even when I do think things through, if I do not know *exactly* what’s going to happen, I always expect the worse scenario.

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Today I put the deposit down for an apartment. In a big city. Far far far away from home. An apartment that will be mine and Jayde’s home for the next 10 months at least. A city where I do not know anyone, have no support system. A city that I am not familiar with at all. Just me and my dog. While I am excited for a new adventure, I am nervous and scared in equal amount. I’ve never been good with meeting new people or trying new things. I’ve always been one to sit back and watch before doing or saying anything. And at this point in time, all I can think about is everything that could go wrong.

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Talking to my co-workers, I’ve gotten a lot of encouragement that’s made me feel a tad bit better. The city I’m moving to is very dog friendly and has lots of dog parks. I’m hoping this means I will have a better chance of meeting some like-minded (read: dog crazii) people, as that is going to be my go-to. Jayde is going to be my rock, because in the new city, I’m going to have no one else (at least at first). Being in a new area also means new scenery and lots more photos! I am really excited to get Jayde in front of some scenic backgrounds. 🙂 At this point, I have to keep in mind the positive aspects of this new adventure and try not to worry about things so much.

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There is one thing that’s been weighing on my mind for a couple weeks now. The Ashhole, as some of you might know, is my closest & best friend. I’ve never moved before. I’ve lived in the same house my entire life. I never had to change schools. I’ve never had to leave loved ones behind. And while it is “natural” to leave your parents at some point in your life – to move out, become more independent and responsible for yourself and your actions, try your hand out in the real world – it never crossed my mind that I’d be moving away from my best friend someday. Friends are supposed to always be there. Sure, we can talk over text and Skype. We can visit on holidays and birthdays. We can keep in contact over social media. But it doesn’t seem like it’d be the same thing. Or maybe that’s my fear. No, I know that’s my fear. I’ve pushed it to the back of my mind, where it nigs and nags at my thoughts.

So I’ve been spending as much time as possible with Ashley. Amazing she hasn’t gotten tired of me yet. 🙂

Peace.

Can you hear me now?

hearing |ˈhi(ə)riNG| (noun): the faculty of perceiving sounds

hear |hi(ə)r| (verb): perceive with the ear the sound made by someone or something

We hear lots of things every day. Phones ringing, cars honking, sirens wailing, songs and static on the radio, dogs barking, doors slamming, rain pattering against the windows, the clinking and clanking of plates, glasses, and silverware. We hear people laughing and chattering, the different tones and inflections of a person’s voice who is happy versus one who is angry, impatient and annoyed sighs, kids yelling in play, adults yelling in anger. That’s obvious, right? As you were reading this, were you imagining each of those sounds in your mind? They’re so easy to think about. But let’s take a closer look.

perceive |pərˈsēv| (verb): become aware or conscious of something by use of one or more of the senses; come to realize or understand

The idea of perception seems pretty self-explanatory. You see, hear, smell, taste, or feel something. Your brain interprets the signals from the nerve cells into experiences, thoughts, emotions, & memories based off of past interpretations it has made. And you perceive whatever it is that you are seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, or feeling.

Great, that’s all fine and dandy. But have your heard of the term habituation? It’s a lovely psychological term that indicates the diminishing physiological or emotional response(s) to a repeated stimulus. In layman’s terms, it’s when you get used to something (such as a constant noise) and no longer perceive it. The noise (i.e. the stimulus) does not disappear but your brain realizes the lack of importance in the stimulus and decides to redirect its focus elsewhere, to more important stimuli. So when you are in a restaurant that has music playing in the background, eventually you stop hearing the music. You have become habituated to the sound of the music. This brings me to my next point.

listen |ˈlisən| (verb): give one’s attention to a sound; take notice of and act on what someone says; make an effort to hear something; be alert and ready to hear something

The difference between listening and hearing? Hearing is the perception of sound; listening is the act of paying attention to that perception. A small but significant difference. And while the concept of listening is most commonly attributed to the act of hearing, it extends to all the senses (for instance, listening to/being aware of someone’s body language).

How many people actually listen? In grade school I was taught that listening is a crucial skill to attain in order to be a good conversationalist. To show someone that you are listening to them you have to nod your head occasionally, meet the other person’s eye, and maybe say “Mhm” or “yeah” every once in a while to acknowledge what they are saying. Not too difficult, right? Wrong. It seems that in this day in age people have taken the accepted ‘signals of listening’ and turned them into the definition of listening. –> Listening without actually listening.

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“I would like a 6oz steak, medium rare. With a house salad and mashed potatoes.”

“Okay, what dressing would you like on your salad?”

“Ranch.”

“And on the mashed potatoes, brown or cream gravy?”

“Yeah.”

Sorry sir/ma’am we do not carry ‘yeah’ gravy. Which freakin gravy do you want?!

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Jayde listening to me repeating the word ‘kong’

Sadly enough, I go through this routine with *almost* every single table that sits in my section. If it’s not the type of gravy they  would like, it’s whether or not they would like their steak smothered  or bacon bits on their salad. Usually the person or people they are with will repeat it back to them and they’ll change their answer (“You seriously want mushrooms on your steak??” – “Oh, no! No mushrooms.”)

The harsh truth: People do not truly listen.

As a server, I’ve accepted this and learned how to deal with it. It’s tested my patience more times than I can count. While I don’t think what these guests are doing is habituating to my voice, I do think something similar occurs: tuning out. Habituation = unconscious; tuning out = conscious. People consciously choose not to listen. And that, in my opinion, is rude and disrespectful to me as a human being. It is one thing to be distracted by something else and not hear what someone is saying to you, it is another thing entirely to ignore someone completely. And I think pretending you are listening just makes it worse.

Think about your own relationships. When you’re talking to a friend, parent, sibling, or a child (your own or someone else’s), what percentage of the time do you actually listen? We’d like to think 100% of the time, or 95% at the least. Is that really true, though? From my own experience (reflecting on mine and observing other’s listening habits), it seems that people get distracted by quite a few things:

  • Surroundings (distracting environment)
  • Other people (or animals)
  • Cell phones
  • Computers/tablets
  • Objects (purses, make-up, coffee cups, etc.)

….and I probably failed to mention lots of other things that people choose to turn their attention towards instead of the person who is talking to them. But the number one distractor is your own mind. Whether we like to admit it or not, we are so wrapped up in ourselves we don’t even notice it (that seems kind of backwards but whatever). It’s all in where we [consciously or unconsciously] place our focus, and inside our own heads is much louder than anything outside of it. For instance, have you ever been having coffee with a friend when they say something that sparks another thought, such as something you meant to do or something that happened recently, and suddenly your companion’s voice has become a background noise? You turn your focus onto the thoughts inside your head. It’s easy to make connections between what someone is saying and your own life, your own thoughts & opinions, and stop really listening.

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I’m human. I get distracted by other people, things around me, my cell phone, etc. when I should be listening to whoever it is I’m talking to. It’s a bad habit to get into. At least I can say I acknowledge those moments and do my best to correct them.

areyoulistening

Peace.