In the end, I just want to know I made a difference.
That's what I took away from my week with family and friends.
As I sat and listened to each of my "people", I tried to soak in what was being said. Listen for the needs and wants and wishes - and just be there for them.
Perhaps it is one of the gifts my job has afforded me to polish off - "needs" based listening. I just wanted to make a difference, in any small way that I could.
On the way down to Georgia, the egyptian and I enjoyed a very tasty lunch. I listened as he talked about what was next for him. He asked lots of questions about different cities, and lifestyles - just lots and lots of questions. I tried to answer them to the best of my ability. What I gathered from him was his need to feel useful. To find a routine that works best for him. To be the man he hoped he would one day be.
When I finally arrived at my home, my mom talked openly about her excitement about retirement. She is ready to embrace a lifestyle where she can pursue her talents - something she is very clear about. I listened to my sister talk about a website she was working on, and how she was struggling with financial aid at her university and most importantly, I listened to how she was excited and proud of her daughter's progress.
My father on the other hand had a more "traumatic" and life altering week. I listened as he expressed his concern over his new-found retirement. He was forced to take disability due to health issues and for the first time in 40 some odd years, he felt useless. I listened to him explain how he needs to create a new routine, pursue some hobbies and work on a new life - a foreign life. I heard him loud and clear - Change is not comfortable to him.
I visited with friends on Saturday night and listened to them discuss grandchildren, and kids and in high school, and vacation plans, and health issues. We are all forging our way through middle age and I feel like the stress and ridiculous issues of our 20s and early 30s are finally gone.
I attended a work conference and listened to how the American Heart Association created Life's Simple 7 - where optimal health was officially defined. I heard our board president and epidemiologist explain how standards are set now to PREVENT cvd occurrences versus treating the issue. I heard change. I heard health.
I spent the night with one of my best friends and listened as she explained her current hopes and dreams. How life was quickly changing and she finally has some simple clarification on the next half.
I watched as my husband spoke to a middle school and explained what the similarities and differences are between the middle east and islam. I heard the sincerity in the children's questions. I saw they genuine interest. It gave me hope.
I traveled to a mountain city with my family and watched as age and money has officially become a factor. I heard in my husband's impatience that I talk a little too much and possible repeat myself (old age?? ) I saw the beauty in every single detail.
I listened to Native Americans as they shared their connection to the earth at the Ocmulgee Indian Festival. I watched colorful dancers move around a field to the beat of the drum. It reminded me that I am a guest here - and lucky to be born on this land.
I listened. I learned. I recharged. That's where I am going these days - I want to listen.
In the end, perhaps the things I learn and garner can be shared here - and together, we learn.