How to Practice the Fine Art of Listening


“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

The ability to listen well is a skill often arrested by addiction.

I’ll speak for myself here, although I’m pretty sure my lack of social graces while in the throes of alcoholism wasn’t much different from anyone else’s. Back then, I didn’t care about the sound of anyone’s voice but my own.

When drinking, I waxed philosophical with deep conversations broken by an occasional slurry “ya know what I mean?” I only took a breath when I paused to slurp from my glass, dixie cup, can or bottle.

At that point it was your turn to take me hostage with your jib-jabbering. The exchanges between us were meaningless but did serve to bolster our egos.

What a miserable way to co-exist!

Sobriety doesn’t make you a rousing conversationalist instantly

Listening, like the rest of the skills most teenagers and young adults learn as they mature, is stunted by alcohol and drugs. For example, I had a 15-year span of hard drinking, from the time I was 15 until I was 30. So in addition to stumbling through the minefield of early recovery, I had to re-learn all the stuff that alcohol drowned.

Thankfully, I’m a quick learner.

Unfortunately, not every sober newcomer has a mentor who models social skills. Believe me, there are plenty of folks out there with decades of recovery who remain poor listeners. They still thrive on the syllables of their own boasting.

For that matter, there are plenty of non-recovery people doing the same.

Learning the art of deep listening creates vibrant new experiences

Here are some listening tips I’ve picked up through years of observing and practicing. I’m convinced that all relationships great and small would benefit from more listening, in fact, the world would be transformed!

  • * Look at your conversation mate’s mouth instead of her eyes. You’ll be able to concentrate more on what she’s saying plus you’ll have the added benefit of avoiding direct eye contact which intimidates many people.
  • * If you’re having a one-on-one in a crowded room, look down and tilt an ear slightly up, then lean in a bit. This adjustment avoids the temptation to look around the room or become distracted by other conversations.
  • * If seated at a table, put on elbow on the table and rest your chin on your fist or open palm. Again, lean in and let yourself fall into conversation captivation.
  • * You can also do the above when standing. Simply place your fingers on your chin while your elbow rests on your other folded arm. You’ll look so engaged–and you will be with a little practice!
  • * Ask questions. The best communicators don’t interject their own stories unless they have an experience with the topic. Even then they dodge any opportunity to play the one-up game. Questions indicate a deeper connection.
  • * Give physical cues like a slight tilt of your head, a nod, smile of recognition or even touching the other person’s hand or shoulder.

It’s okay if you’re uncomfortable at first–that’s natural. I’ll let you in on a secret. I really, really don’t like social functions where you stand around blah-blah’ing with a bunch of people who are rotten listeners. I know I’m in for 60+ minutes of inanity.

But, give me 60 minutes of intimate conversation with someone who asks questions and practices at least one or two of these tips and I’m in heaven!

Unless you want to be Jeremiah Johnson living out in the woods, you have to talk with people. Why not make it a mutually satisfying adventure? Let me know how it goes!

I’d love it if you’d leave a comment below and if you liked this post, please share it with your social media connections. Thanks so much!

Love and hugs to you!

Photo courtesy of jppi

We Are All in Recovery


“We are all damaged. We have all been hurt. We have all had to learn painful lessons. We are all recovering from some mistake, loss, betrayal, abuse, injustice or misfortune. All of life is a process of recovery that never ends. We each must find ways to accept and move through the pain and to pick ourselves back up. For each pang of grief, depression, doubt or despair there is an inverse toward renewal coming to you in time. Each tragedy is an announcement that some good will indeed come in time. Be patient with yourself.” Bryant McGill

Let me ask you something. Has there been a time when you shifted from one set of values to another?

Maybe you once considered yourself a Democrat and now align more with Republican values. Or maybe you were raised in one religious denomination and as an adult you attend a church in a different faith.

Heck, I’ll ask the question more directly: What does the word recovery mean to you? Without considering addictions, do you consider yourself in recovery?

We are all in recovery

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the impossibility of living several decades without experiencing any shifts or change. There has to come a time when we see things or do things differently. When we do, others are affected in ways great and small, sort of like collateral damage to our bombshell decisions.

Chances are you’ve been someone’s collateral damage. I know I have. The question is not about what happened but whether you chose to retaliate or recover. What did you do with the damaged parts of yourself?

To be human is to be hurt. The beauty of living is that pain gives you opportunity to recover and be different. @bheretoday (Click to Tweet)

Making changes in your life takes courage and requires faith. Throw in a smidgeon of patience and a bit of “oh-what-the-hell”-ness and you’re well on your way to recovery. But first, you have to:

Drop the remote control

I have a theory. If you’re cruising through life on remote control doing the same things all the time, your chances of ever questioning your beliefs, attitudes and opinions are fairly low. You tell people you’re happy with the predictability of your days; you even respond with “same-old, same-old” when asked what’s new.

On the other hand, if you’re fully present to each moment, the chances are good that at some point you’ll question a whole bunch of things in your life, like whether you’re with the right person, in the right job or living in the right place.

People change. They recover from mindsets they once held. They stretch and grow and reach and understand they want to be different. They want to be relationship with people in a different way and maybe even with different people.

They want to be better, to change, shift and live better. My God, if that’s not recovery, I don’t know what is.

When you look at your life and feel at peace because of changes you’ve made, that’s recovery. @bheretoday (Click to Tweet)

When you look at someone else’s life and realize you no longer want it because you like your life, that’s recovery squared, mathematically speaking.

Go ahead, make that shift, be that change. Somewhere in your future, there’s a new you thanking yourself.

Photo courtesy of GreenThumbsUp

15 Incredible Sources of Inspiration


As 2015 sprints by (can you believe we’re already entering the last week of the first month of the year?), I’m trying to decide if the bloom of the new year rose is still pungently hopeful. The answer is yes, especially after a weekend of greyhound-inspired good feelings.

There’s good news and bad news about good feelings. They feel squishy and huggy when they’re happening but after a bit when the dopamine levels in the brain dip, you need a little something more to throw your hat toward.

Here’s the ringer for your hat: Create a list of incredible sources of inspiration that’s personal for you. I’ve put mine together to help you get started.

The year will ebb and flow so refer to your list often so you’ll stay right-sized. Remember this:


My list in no order of importance with the exception of #1 and #15 (saving the best for last):

1.  My life in recovery from addiction–as I approach my 24th anniversary, I love knowing that inspiration waits around every corner. 

2.  Greyhound Adoption League of Texas (GALT)–With the tagline “No Grey Turned Away,” this organization, its hearty band of volunteers (including me!) and the beautiful grey babies fills me to overflowing!

3.  The ocean and beach walks–There’s something about stepping toes on the beach that instantly calms my mind and relaxes my body so that I can feel the awe of God’s inspiring landscape.

4.  U.S. Marine Sgt. Andrew Paul Tahmooressi and his enduring courage while in a Mexican jail last year–Enough said.

5.  Prayer and worship–I’m a lapsed church-goer but a staunch believer in the rhyme and reason of both prayer and worship (neither of which has rules!).

6.  My Bloggers Alliance–This stunning collection of men and women are my models, my muses and my mentors.  

7.  Young People in Recovery (YPR)–Inspiring seems like a tame word to use for these friends and colleagues in recovery, many of whom weren’t born when I entered recovery!

8.  My little brother–Jeff turns 50 later this week (Holy Cow!) and although we live far apart and we aren’t as close as we once were, I’m grateful for the care he provides for our father and for the principled life he lives.


9. The process of learning–I pray that I’ll always find inspiration in keeping my mind and my heart open to learn.

10. Spending time with like-minded friends–Taking time to mindfully listen creates so many opportunities for rich conversations and I cherish these times with friends.

11.  Art in all its forms–Paintings, glasswork, pottery, stand-up comedy, movies, Broadway shows, music, and so, so much more: count me inspired!

12.  Playfulness–Also considered an art form by many, there’s something about singing to my dogs, dancing while cleaning the house or just old-fashioned silliness that fills me with joyous inspiration.

13.  Restfulness/napping–Necessary for my inspiration list because I don’t do enough of either but I’ve recently discovered that there is serenity in surrender.

14.  My work as a recovery writer–When I lost my dream job at a national non-profit two years ago, a part of me died only to be resurrected by the inspiration of an older dream that found expression.

15.  The sweetness of my heart connection–Becky inspires me to be a persevering writer, a more patient mom to our four-leggeds, an unconditionally loving companion, and B-2 to her B-1.

It’s your turn! What would be at the top of your Incredible Sources of Inspiration list? Please share in the comments below and pass along this post to your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest pals via the icons below.

2015: Jump-Start Your New Year With Passion!


Do you look around and see other people living the lives they want to live, but you struggle to make your inspired life happen?

Do you struggle to find meaning and passion in your life?

Do you feel stuck, with every day feeling pretty much the same, but you just can’t get out of your rut?

Are you BORED at work?

If you’re ready to find passion and meaning in your life, set and finally reach your goals, I have an amazing e-course to share with you. It will help you get out of your rut and live the life you’ve always wanted to.

The 9 Day Passion Project e-course is full of tools, exercises, and wisdom from my friend Jessica Sweet, who is a coach and clinical social worker. This e-course draws on all her experience in her life and work so you can discover your passion and find meaning in your life.

Are you ready to get unstuck?

I know you want to embrace a life you’re excited about. One filled with things that mean something to you.

But that kind of life doesn’t just appear. You have to create it.

Click here to begin creating.

If you’ve struggled to know how to create it on your own, The 9 Day Passion Project will walk you through it. It will:

*Help you understand what’s truly important to you.

*Help you figure out how to make room for your important goals in your busy life.

*Overcome the barriers that stand in your way.

The 9 Day Passion Project is the path to living a life that feels like you’re meant to live.

Click here to live your full life NOW.

Take the first step in 2015 (and beyond!) and join The 9 Day Passion Project today!

You’ll be astounded at the transformation you can make in just 9 days!

P.S. I’m careful about the programs I recommend to my readers and followers. Jessica’s is a good one; I encourage you to click on the link above, and yes, I’ll get a small affiliate fee, more than anything I want for 2015 to be the year that YOU kick ass and take names. I intend to do just that. Will you join me?

Sneak Peak: The 9 Day Passion Project


It’s the time of year you’re supposed to be happy.  And maybe you are. But maybe there’s part of you (maybe a big part) that feels stuck in the same old routine.

With the New Year just a couple of days away, maybe you realize not much has changed.


You’re starting the new year with the same job, same sense of searching for something with passion, same stuck-ness.

Wow. Bet you can hardly wait.

Do you want 2015 to be different? Do you want to feel inspired in the new year, to feel passionate about the goals you’re working toward, and to feel like your life is not on auto-pilot?

Then HOLD ON because help is on the way!

My friend Jessica Sweet is opening a brand new course called The 9 Day Passion Project on January 1st, just in time for you to kick-start your new year. It is a course designed to help you find your passions, and set and reach your goals like never before. She’s here to tell you about it today; the doors will open on the first, but to grab a sneak peak, check it out here.

Hey Jess! For our readers who don’t know you, please introduce yourself.

I’m a career and life coach, and before that I was a therapist and clinical social worker. I have a Master’s degree in social work and I worked in mental health and substance abuse settings for 10 years before starting my coaching practice. I love to help people find and create the work that they love to do, because no one should be doing work or living a life they don’t love! My blog is Wishingwellcoach.com and I pour my heart into all I do there!

Tell us more about what The 9 Day Passion Project is and what inspired you to write it? 

I truly believe we can all create lives that can make us happier. When we are doing things that we love and find meaningful, we are happy, but too much of our lives are spent on things we have to do, like go to jobs we don’t like. The 9 Day Passion Project helps people find a way to do things that they love while still fulfilling all the responsibilities and commitments that they have in life, like earn enough money to support their family.

I was really inspired to write the project because I don’t want to see so many people struggle with doing things the hard way. You can figure out what you love and fit it into your busy life so that change doesn’t feel so hard.

The 9 Day Passion Project is available in three ways:

*You can buy the workbook alone with all the course material you need to complete the exercises on your own and work your way toward any and every goal you’ve ever wanted to achieve.

The workbook is 68-pages, has over 30 exercises and is fully downloadable so you can use the material again and again.

*You can also buy The 9 Day Passion Project as an interactive course. This option contains the 68-page, 30+ exercise, fully downloadable workbook plus: Daily emails delivered over 9 days to enrich your experience, deepen your learning and keep you inspired, expert coaching and guidance from me in a private Facebook group and high-value, personal development bonuses

*Or, for those of you who want the most personalized experience and who are serious about change in 2015, you can get The 9 Day Passion Project workbook, Facebook group & coaching, daily emails, and bonuses plus two private coaching sessions with me.

These three options offer everyone a way to take advantage of this offer and make real and lasting change in 2015!

I’ve read a staggering statistic that as many as 87% of people around the world don’t like their jobs, and I know so many people just feel like they are in a rut in their lives. Do you really think this can help? 


The 9 Day Passion Project is a tool that can help you figure out what is meaningful to you and what you are passionate about in many areas of your life, so if you’re struggling with a job you hate but don’t know what you’d like to do, The 9 Day Passion Project will guide you through thinking about what’s important to you. And because The 9 Day Passion Project is so practical, it also helps you figure out how to make your new idea work in your life, so you can actually start doing what you love, not just dream about it.

Can The 9 Day Passion Project help people in recovery? 

Of course! Part of my purpose in creating this project was to meet people where they are in life. Although The 9 Day Passion Project is not a guide specific to recovery, I think it’s a good guide for anyone who is searching for meaning and purpose. Plus, it provides structure so it’s great for people in recovery and really terrific as an accompaniment to someone’s main recovery path.

What does the 9 Day Passion Project help people do? 

It is a tool for helping you identify what is important to you, figure out how to make room for that in your life, and identify and overcome the barriers that are going to stand in the way of you achieving that goal you want to achieve.

These are fundamental steps for setting yourself up for success in any area of your life, with anything you want to do.

The 9 Day Passion Project lays the groundwork for achieving your goals, so that you can achieve them more easily than doing them on your own. Think of it as playing a sport, but having your own superstar coach.

Why 9 days? How come you make the course so fast? And can you really do all that in 9 days?

The course is fast because you CAN get results fast.

It will help you set your goals, make room for them in your busy life and identify and eliminate barriers, but its still going to be up to you to do the work of achieving the goals you set for yourself. That work will take more than 9 days. But you can start 2015 off with some really clear and achievable goals with this course. 

What do you hope that people will take away after completing the course?

I really hope that people will see that they can set and achieve their goals, and that they don’t have to live in that rut – in that uninspired place they may have been living in for so long.

On a deeper level, I think when people live in that rut for a long time, and when everyone you know lives in that rut, it just sort of becomes the human condition. It’s what it means to be a grown up. You have a job you don’t like. You are a little depressed. No one is inspired or doing great things. At least no one you know. So on a deeper level I want people to take away that there is a path for them to get out of the rut and do the things they’ve always wanted to do or be the person they’ve always wanted to be. Even if they don’t know who or what that is yet.

Thanks, Jessica. Be sure to check out The 9 Day Passion Project and watch for the doors to open on January 1st!