Friday, December 9, 2016

Reflections from the Home Team; December 9, 2016
“Listening is an attitude of the heart, a genuine desire to be with another that both attracts and heals.”
-- L. J. Isham 
Greetings from Cedar Falls,

I wanted to take a moment to update you since my last Reflection in October. I have had several medical evaluations in Iowa City this past week. Results are mostly favorable at this point, which I am very thankful for.  I have a follow up procedure scheduled in early January to deal with some polyps found this past fall, and hope to get that behind me soon. On a positive note, one of my doctors shared a new technology with regard to biopsies.  It’s called MRI-Fusion.  It eliminates the need for NEEDLES!! I’m certainly all for that!!  As always, I again want to offer a special thanks to my doctors and medical support team for the time and efforts they have given to assist me in dealing with the ups and downs one deals with as a cancer survivor.

Several thoughts ran through my mind as I sat and visited with an elderly gentleman in Iowa City this past week at one of my follow up appointments. He had so much to share about his life journey… What he wanted it appeared was someone to just listen, so listen I did. He shared how he had been diagnosed with colon cancer a number of years ago, won the battle with treatments and is now facing prostate cancer. He lost his wife along the way, his loving partner in life, which has made his journey more difficult and lonely, but he vowed to move on and remain positive about his situation. Somehow the conversation drifted to the Cubs and their World Series victory this past year and he truly “bubbled with joy” as he has been a lifelong Cubs fan!  He shared he much prefers “listening” to baseball on the radio as that is how he grew up, and it allows you to use your imagination in visualizing the game rather than be distracted by all the images on the T.V.  I can relate as I also enjoy listening to games on the radio as I travel.  It was a genuine “listening moment”, which was good for both of us!

My first thought after our “conversation” was that problems are a part of life... Pretty obvious, I know. What I reflected on is that "problem solving" has been a daily part of my life as a teacher, coach, school principal and cancer survivor.  I literally go into "problem solving mode" immediately when faced with a challenge. I guess that is not all bad if kept in proper perspective. It can often weigh me down as sometimes I have taken on responsibilities that are not my own. When engaged in "problem solving" I need to remind myself to keep looking to God for strength and guidance, as He will provide the "armor" needed to help me stand my ground and handle the difficulties that come my way. Ephesians 6:13

Another thought that entered my mind was that listening, rather than "fixing" could be a great way to initially deal with those problems we face. Listening is truly an attitude of the heart, a genuine desire to be with others that both attracts and heals.” Listening can be a lost art in this era of social media where we are so used to sharing our thoughts and opinions.

I thought this morning about how often I am not really listening to what a person is telling me, but rather just waiting for them to stop talking so I can share what I have to say. My work driving at Western Home Communities has really helped me to learn to listen to folks... they truly appreciate a listening ear, and I have really learned a lot by just listening.

I used to worry that there would be times when I wouldn’t have answers for people who sought my assistance. After spending time with the residents, I have come to realize that what people want more than anything is to be heard. Most times they don’t need you to tell them what to do; they want your help in discovering it for themselves and that comes from asking questions and then really listening to what they have to say.

When taking these folks to medical appointments, they don’t feel you need to heal them. They don’t expect you to remove their pain, or have some great words of wisdom, but rather to hold their hand, listen and be present. That is comforting to both them and to me.

I am learning to listen with my heart, trying to make wise choices while making it my goal to be positive, helpful and hopeful to those around me. Sometimes I just literally have to tell myself “put the glove down and listen!”  If I'm feeling discouraged, frustrated or other negative feelings, I need to let those "prickly emotions" prod me to remember that joy and positivity are choices, and I can choose to be positive and hopeful moment by moment. 
Having spent a lot of time in Iowa City, talking to many who are struggling with health issues, I've found there is something incredibly powerful about a person who cannot be defeated. Everyone loses at some point in their lives, but whether or not that loss defeats you is under your control. Everyone at some point will face a difficult situation and that won’t feel good, but whether it defeats you is under your control.

How do you want to react to a loss? It might be the loss of a job, it might be a loss in competition, it might be the loss of the health and physical well being you have always enjoyed or it might be the way someone has treated you. Will you put your head down and give up? Will you choose to play the victim and recount in great detail to your friends over and over again how you were wronged?

As we all face those challenges, we need to remember each day to continue to choose not to be defeated. Allow some time to acknowledge your loss, allow yourself to feel the disappointment and take a hard look at the situation for what you can learn from it to be better in the future. But don’t be defeated. Don’t play the victim. Reclaim your power to live life from the inside out. Keep moving forward with your head up and continue to develop your ability to lose yet never be defeated. Wishing all of you and your families a wonderful Christmas season as we
listen with our hearts, while being positive, helpful and hopeful to those around us!

              Sometimes I just have to tell myself “put the glove down and listen”!  

Link to: Reflections from the Home Team BLOG

Link to Vimeo: Reflections from the "Home Team"... Go the Distance

Link to: Tommy Emmanuel and "Angelina"