Building Bridges Instead of Walls

IMG_2088.jpgThe greatest communication skill is paying value to others. ~ Denis Waitley

If I wanted to help someone go from point A to point B, but there was a great divide separating A & B what would I do? Build a wall or build a bridge? The obvious answer is to build a bridge. The person may decide to stand his or her ground on point A, but, this person also has the option to cross over to B. 

Now, say I wanted to help someone go from point A to point B and I build a wall, what happens? I’ve created a barrier. 

I’ve seen a lot of wall builders lately. And if these people honestly wanted to help others to see the other side, they would build a bridge of reason, not a wall of anger and hyped-up fear. I also see wall-building in relationships. Friends who have everything going for them except for one thing—politics. And yet they sacrifice that friendship on the wall. People are actually devaluing their friends for a temporary situation. 

Listen folks, Trump isn’t the only wall builder in this country!


What Did You Say?


The message sent is not always the message received.
Virginia Satir

Years ago I visited a friend in Honduras for a couple of weeks. Their Internet service was sparse at best, so I could only contact my husband, Neal, every other day or so, via email. The night before I was to fly home I received a message from him that said something like, I’ve looked over our budget. We need to make some changes. Vacuumed the entire house. Changes need to be made there too. See you soon.

Well, I don’t mind telling you I was pretty darned miffed. All night I fumed. So, he thinks I spend too much money does he? Well, one look in my closet where only six dresses hang and three pair of shoes sit on the floor, will prove I don’t. So, I don’t clean house good enough for him? Well, if he wants to take over the cleaning, more power to him.

At the airport in Tulsa, I had plenty of time to marinate in my anger. When I saw him, I could have frozen him with my stare. Clearly confused, he followed me as I sped to the luggage pick-up, all the while asking me what was wrong. Believe you me, I let him have it.

Neal was so shocked by my inference of his email, he had to sit down. “Linda, I meant that our budget had to be changed to provide you with more money. I saw your closet when I vacuumed it and realized you clearly needed more clothes. And after using that vacuum, I realized we need a new one. I would have bought one already, but I wanted you to get what you wanted.

By the time he finished I was looking for something to crawl under. Since that day, when one of us says something that nettles the other, we answer, “This is what I hear you saying,” which gives the other the opportunity to clarify.

Emails, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets are fertile seedbeds for misrepresentation, anger, negativity, and misunderstanding. Let us be careful. Yes, we are entitled to our opinion on our own page. Personally, I try to avoid controversial opinions even there. On another’s page, however, unless invited to do so, it is best to keep our opinions to ourselves.

That said, I violated this advice myself just a couple of days ago. A dear friend posted something that I had strong feelings about and I wrote a comment. Then I deleted it and wrote it again, edited and then posted. This violated my core value of peace and the nagging followed me like a whiney child. So I deleted it—again. What bothered me the most was the possible message she might have received from my comment. I would never want her to think that I thought of her as anything less than wonderful.

In my opinion it is best to send undeniable messages of peace, understanding, and love. AND yes, I was a teenager in the 70’s.


Why I Write

I do not have dreams of grandeur as a writer. But I do have purpose. My core value is communication, so writing is a given. Maybe, one day, if my books fall into the hands of the right person, I may make it to the lists. Well, one can hope can’t she? But even so, I write with purpose. Whether it is fiction or non I write to send important messages about life that will endure the test of time. I write for future generations.

This is something we all can do, even if you do not consider yourself a writer. Our stories matter. I have a diary of daily happenings that belonged to my great-grandfather. It was for the year 1870. Through the decades that little diary went through a lot of abuse. It lost its cover, some grandchildren scribbled in it, no one paid much attention to it, except to keep it. Thank goodness. By the time it came into my possession, that little rag-tag diary was a treasure. I keep it in a safe place and treat it as something priceless. Because it is. When I read it I’m visiting with my great-grandfather. I’m learning about him and what was important to him.

One day the stories I made up or writings of family experiences will be my great grandchildren’s treasure. You hear about leaving a footprint on the earth? By writing, we all leave a footprint on our future’s heart.

Fading Into Vapors

I teach a  workshop on Living in History. It is my passion that we write our experience of historical events in our lifetimes for future generations to read. We should tell what we remember, what we felt, but most important of all, what we learned. How did our lives change?

My grandchildren will read about the attacks of September 11, 2001 in textbooks. They will learn where it happened, how many people died, the economical effects it had around the world, how it changed our security and even see pictures. But what they won’t read is how it changed me.

I remember thinking about the morning before the victims of 911 left for work. What happened? Did they leave angry, hurtful, words hanging between them and their family or friends thinking they would get it right later? Did they ignore them? I listened to desperate phone calls made when it was obvious to some that they were going to die. I’ve heard that you speak the most important thing when you know your time on earth is coming to a close. The three frantic words spoken on those calls were “I love you.”

I love you .

I want my grandchildren to know the power of those three words. I want them to never leave their homes without affirming their loved ones. We don’t know what the day will bring. Who, when boarding those jets expected it to become a weapon of mass destruction? Who, when sitting at their desk expected a jet to fly into their office?

Thirteen years after the attack, I see the remembrance fading into vapor. It is no longer a headline on the news sites. It has been reduced to a single line below the banners. Maybe a tiny picture. Soon it won’t be noticeable at all, that is until another attack occurs. And another attack will.

Don’t let it fade or anything else that happens in your lifetime. Telling as story and writing a story is what vapor is to stone. Even if it is only a paragraph, give wisdom and guidance to future generations.

I’m closing this post with these words:

I appreciate you, my readers.

Meow Remix

Cats have always been a part of my life, that is, until my precious grandson developed a serious allergy to them. After that the only way I could have a relationship with my favorite animal is if they stayed outside. But that just didn’t seem possible. I needed a cat more comfortable outside than inside. One that knew how to survive in the wild and in all kinds of weather. You don’t find that in your typical house cat.

A couple of months ago, while my husband and I spent a quiet evening on our front porch, a stray cat came to visit. We shared our snack with the friendly feline. And, as you have already guessed, her visits became quite regular. We called her the kitty who comes for dinner.

One day we got quite a surprise when she hauled her four kittens to our deck. Two were black, one a tabby like its mother, and the last one was gray.  She almost had them weaned. The problem was they were feral and would have nothing to do with us.

Then just as suddenly as the momma cat drifted into our lives, she disappeared. So did all of the kittens except for the gray one. She stayed behind but hid from me every time I came outside.

Then it hit me. This kitty fit all the requirements for my perfect outside pet. The problem? She was as wild as they came and even the door opening sent her sailing off the deck. But I decided to try and tame her anyway. 

I named her Willa, after Willa Cather. Cather, get it?

The long process of training began. I used canned mackerel as my bribe. But as hungry as she was, she just did not trust me. I spoke to her in my most endearing, quiet coo.

No dice.

What to do? An idea came to me. Years ago I raised Shaded Silver Persians. I remembered how the mother cat used to call her kittens, so I tried it. Willa’s ears perked up and she made a beeline toward me. However, she stopped about four feet away because while I sounded like momma, I sure didn’t look like momma. I tossed a piece of fish to her and she devoured it. As long as I meowed, she stayed put. If I spoke in English she scurried away. Over the following days I continued speaking her language and feeding her.  However, she never got close enough for me to touch her.

The next week Willa began to trust me more. She came closer and ate from my hand. And I could mix in my English with my cat-speak and she wouldn’t run. The week after that, while she ate, I could reach behind her and stroke her back. Two days later I could also scratch behind her ears.

Last week I picked her up and held her close, cooing in English and barely meowing at all. Now when I come out with her food, she runs up to me. And as long as I sit down, she will get into my lap, give me a few nose-bumps and knead me with her paws. The process is slow and ongoing. She still will not let me walk over and pick her up. But she will.

You know? The same process I used to earn Willa’s trust can be used to promote trust and communication between people. The key is to help them in their time of need and be willing to speak their emotional language instead of expecting them to speak ours. Over time as trust is built we can use both their language and ours. Then the day will come when they trust us and understand our language. All it takes is patience and the willingness to enter their world.