The (Abandoned) Art of Listening

Being an Artist, Philosophy of Life, Quotes, The Artist Life

Fiercelings,

You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time – M. Scott Peck

For awhile, this blog post has been on my mind. It is a topic that I feel is very pertinent in our society because our culture is so very opposed to it. Which is ironic considering that this is the age of social networking and updating statuses and friending and being connected. We strive very hard to connect but it’s an open secret that a lot of people feel that we’re even more disconnected due largely to social networking sites. In the age of media soundbites, sharing our thoughts in 160 characters or less, and responding in texting lingo (k?), everyone seems to be in a hurry and I believe because everyone is in a hurry, no one listens. 

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When was the last time you had a conversation without being interrupted? When was the last time you held your tongue versus cutting someone off? Can two people even really open up toward one another anymore and actually feel like they have equally gotten to express themselves? I raise these questions because a long time ago I became aware and convicted of the fact that I tend to interrupt people. I am an exuberant type person and I have a lot to say therefore I must talk, talk, talk, all the time in order to get out everything I want to say. I’m not sure when I became aware of this exactly but I did and then slowly I started to not speak as much and slowly I became aware of many times within circles of family or friends where someone would get cut off by another person and the conversation would never circle back to them where they could finish their thought. I felt that I was the victim of this occurrence a myriad times myself. I would try to share something but someone would talk over me or cut me off and I, in an attempt to be cordial, polite, and nice would oblige them by not talking and letting them speak, however I noticed no one would ever oblige me the same courtesy. It would seem that everytime I would try to speak I would get talked over and because this has happened to me a plethora of times I’ve noticed that it happens to people a lot and no one seems to be bothered by it much.

“The word listen contains the same letters as the word silent.” ~ Alfred Brendel

I love the quote by Alfred Brendel, “The word listen contains the same letters as the word silent.” How perfect and true is that statement! If you rearrange the letters in listen, you can create the word silent. It is a very accurate statement because in order for one person to express him or herself, another person has to remain attentive and silent while they speak. This is one reason why I have come to favor one-on-one times with a friend versus a group setting. I just find that it is hard to feel like I have gotten to learn that much about a person in group settings. And usually I won’t find out anything about someone in a group setting because people that aren’t talking the loudest get marginalized. I also think to a degree people favor group settings versus one-on-one because people fear dead air in a conversation. I overcame this fear awhile ago, I view silence between two people as an opportunity to reflect on the last topic and see if there is anything either I or who I am speaking with want to add. This also serves as a chance to think about introducing an entirely new topic instead of letting conversation flow naturally from one topic to another.

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I could write about my frustrations and thoughts on listening and being listened to all day long.  It’s become a very important topic for me;  it is like a pet peeve except far more serious then just an irritation. For example, when someone is convicted of murder it’s either 1st degree, 2nd degree etc. I view interrupting and talking over people as a first degree offense. It puts you on the fast track for me to not like you and seek to avoid you. Yes, I know it’s crazy to compare interrupting someone to 1st degree murder but hey it’s an analogy, leave it at that. Alas, let me not bore you with my laments but instead challenge you to be a person that listens. And here is why; “Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.” ~Karl A. Menniger.

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“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.” ~Karl A. Menniger

How aptly does that put what happens when we feel that we are listened to and have expressed ourselves? Don’t you want to be a person that draws other people to them? Don’t you want to be a person that makes people unfold and expand? Then listen to people. It is so simple and yet it’s rare to find someone that does it. I really think this quote needs it’s own post because of how fierce it is! Because of how I feel about this subject and because of how marvelous that quote is I have decided to start a renaissance of listening and I invite you to join. Decide to be someone that listens to the people around them. It is magnetic, strange, and creative as Menniger said so perfectly. Maybe that’s why this is so important to me, as a creative person listening to people is an art that society has abandoned. Hence, the renaissance. I feel like Les Miserable’s “Do You Hear the People Sing” is playing in the background. Haha! So in the words of Les Mis, will you join in my crusade?  Let’s listen to our friends and family. Let’s tactfully point out to people we know that they cut people off. There’s no reason to embarrass someone when all you’re trying to do is help them. Most people aren’t even aware that they do it. Many people are immune to the way that we converse that everyone plays the talk over people game because the only way to be heard is to talk the loudest and oftenest. Let’s change that. Let’s listen. As creative people let’s listen to others,  it’s a creative force after all. And isn’t that fierce?

Fiercely,

alexandria

P.S. If you read this entire thing you are fabulous!

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Fearless

Philosophy of Life, Quotes, The Artist Life

Hi fiercelings,

I read this quote a few years ago but I came across it again this morning.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?” Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us…And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Nelson Mandela

This speaks to me very deeply. For example, I have this blog and I really really enjoy writing. But I am scared to share it with my family! In fact, I told 2 of my 4 sisters that I have a blog and WordPress notified me in the recent past that I hit 50 posts. They weren’t aware that I had a blog! And they were very impressed that I had written as much as I have…I don’t believe I’ve written anything that will necessary last throughout all time but I try very hard to write things that aren’t a waste of time. I shared with one of my sisters that I am scared to link my facebook to my blog because (and this makes no sense) yes I have a blog and yes I want people to read my blog but I am scared that if I share my blog to my friends on facebook people might actually read it. As in, people I know. I love all the people that read my blog and follow it but it’s different having strangers read something and people that actually know you and therefore have opinions about you. A lot of people that know me I feel like have a pre-conceived notion about me and blogging and being a photographer would not match that opinion therefore they will write me off or dismiss me as a creative person and as much as I say I don’t care what people think about me and  as much as I say my manta “be fierce” in my head there is a small part of me that thinks “maybe they’re right.” I love what one of my sister’s told me when I shared this illogical thought process  “a blog doesn’t have to be an academic paper.” she told me. This is mine. And it doesn’t have to be perfect because I am definitely not perfect.

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Back to the Nelson Mandela quote, I love where he says “there’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you” I’ve always felt to a degree that I intimidate people. I’ve always felt that I am misunderstood. But maybe I feel that way because I put on a mask and I don’t be myself fully around people. One of my dearest friends told me that I am “disarmingly intelligent” and to this day that is one of the best compliments I have ever received. To this day I get annoyed if someone compliments how I look or what I’m wearing. Don’t compliment the outside, compliment me. But most people don’t even know how to give a compliment that esteems someone for who they are…

there is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you

There is fear involved in fully being yourself, maskless. Why is it that we humans shrink so that we won’t make others insecure? It’s an interesting observation. I fear writing my blog and being a creative and not being heard but I also fear being heard. It’s illogical. I want to be successful, but at the same time I am scared of being successful. “Your playing small does not serve the world.” Playing small does not serve the world. Or yourself for that matter. “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.”

Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?” Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.

yellow flower

I just love this so much. It just says to me you are fierce, so be fierce. You are a child of God, He made you to be “brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous!” Be that. Be fearless. This reminds me of the book I read that I shared in a previous post. The thesis of that book was that being creative is deeply spiritual. The Creator created us to be creative, therefore it can be an act of worship to be creative and to make art. It can be a labor of love. It can be our purpose to be creative in whatever capacity that entails for you…which if it is our purpose to be creative wouldn’t that imply to not be creative is sin? Oh dear, I worry I am getting too theological now. Let’s wrap this post up before it dives down more rabbit holes! “We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us…” Yes. That’s reiterating what I just said about the Creative Call, which is a fantastic book if you want to read something about being a creative person. “…And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us…And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Let your light shine. Break through the fear. As you liberate yourself from your own fear, others will take notice and that will automatically help to liberate others. Gollee, I love this. Be fierce, be fierce, be fierce. Don’t fear. Liberate yourself. As pathetic as it sounds, a way for me to liberate myself from the fear of being brilliantly creative is to share on my personal facebook that I have this blog. Let others read it, their negative opinions be damned.

Bird

I pray that this blog post made sense to you and perhaps in some small way inspired you to pursue being an artist, a creative, whatever it is that you were made to do. I shared in a previous post that I experienced something that said THIS is what I was made to do…and I’m still stepping into that space.

Be fearless,

be fierce,

alexandria

Queen Fierce

The Creative Call

Being an Artist, Personal

Back when I was in Oklahoma,  I stumbled across a book titled The Creative Call by Janice Elsheimer in the church library. I immediately fell in love with the book! It is a very practical book for artists of any kind or simply for creative people in general. I was drawn to the book because you will remember my word for the year is create. This book is all about being a Christian and being an artist! Ahhh, I am in love! It is kind of like the Purpose Driven Life meets being an artist.  I finished the book not long after I got it. The book is designed for the chapters to be read weekly which I didn’t technically follow per se but I believe I did end up reading it in roughly the amount of time it is intended to be read.

Single Bird on Beach

One of the things that the author talks about in the book is having space for you art or having a studio. I’ve been thinking of this recently considering the fact that I am in a new house in Florida. I need space to do my art. So I have mentally blocked out parts of the house that don’t seem to get used very much that can be “my art space.” Another thing that the author talks a lot about is that in order to create art you have to create art. Meaning that you have to do the work. This is another theme that occasionally I find myself learning about. What is my creative process? Sure, every artist has moments of inspiration at times where everything clicks and works out splendidly, but what led up to that moment of inspiration? Can it be reproduced? I read something somewhere that said a lot of artists have a specific process that they return to that can help get creative ideas flowing. I have said before in a previous post that inspiration comes in waves, so you better learn how to surf. I just love how fitting that is considering I live by the ocean now =D

Waves and seashells

Lastly, the author shares that in her house she has a quote on a wall that says “Go to your studio and make stuff” which reminds her to just do art. Good reminder. I made a painting that simply says the word create.

Waves Watermark

Fiercely pursuing my creative call,

alexandria

Obsession: Canon 60D

Photography

Have you ever been in love? Head over heels, can’t stop thinking about them, can’t find any reason to not spend all of your free time and then some more time with that one special person type of feeling? Because if you would like to experience that I suggest getting a Canon 60D. I love this camera and I don’t even know or understand how to fully work it yet! I mean like totally in my most hipster voice. It’s beautiful. I am so happy that this is the camera I am using to get started. It’s…dare I say, perfect?

Tyler and I were in Dallas a few weekends ago and that was the weekend following when I got my camera. Of course I had shot a few things here and there (tree branches from my balcony) but I hadn’t gotten a chance to really shoot with my new love (camera). We were at a conference type thing at a hotel and behind the hotel was an office park and winding between the office park was a pond with a bridge and fountain and ducks were swimming in it! And because it is an office park they obviously pay for sprinklers because everything was so green! I was loving it! I think my love loved it too…

Unsurprisingly, Miss Isabelle was in tow to shoot. Fierce Photography 1 125

She would lift her blankey up next to her face and play peek a boo with herself. Which I adore except for the slight shadow! Fierce Photography 1 128 Fierce Photography 1 129

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Peek a boo! It’s Izze!

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Simply precious!

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She’s beautiful!

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The pond where I was shooting was very picturesque! I have noticed that I look at places in term of whether or not it would be a good place to shoot.

Fiercely shooting everything,

alexandria