Cell Phones, Technology & the Good Ol’ Days


In this world of technology today, it seems that everyone has some sort of cell phone. In fact, most of them are just handheld mini-computers. We check email, search the Internet, send text messages, call people, and so much more, using these devices.

Some people argue the point that they are “much more communicative (they) are in today’s world because of the cell phone.” I counter with the argument that these devices make us lazier and less communicative, because we are on information overload.

I like to think that I am reasonably current with using technology.

I know how to turn it on, do what I need to do, and figure out the solution, if I get stumped. If I cannot find the answer, I usually know who I can talk to to get more information.

To think that I grew up with an old, heavy rotary phone, I feel pretty darned smart with all this fancy-schmancy technology! I still remember my first phone number that I memorized at the age of five: EMpire 34076. I know there are some of you who will know EXACTLY what that means!

We didn’t have voice messaging back in those days. As children, in order to be allowed to answer the phone, we learned phone manners, how to speak clearly, and we were taught how to take complete and proper messages. When phone messaging systems came on the scene, we learned to check them, and transcribe them onto a pad and make sure that the intended received them in a timely fashion.

Nowadays, most do not have (what we used to call) a landline. If we do have a “home phone” it is through the magic of technology and attached somehow to our Internet or cable television service. If we have one of our older phones with the messaging feature, it sits quietly, as the feature is turned-off. Voice messaging through our provider fits that bill.

In today’s world, home phones are becoming more and more extinct by the day. All seem to opt for individual phone lines per person in the house. Instead of one family number ringing to the house, there are six cell numbers for Mom, Dad, and each of four children.

What I have noticed

What I have noticed recently among many of my younger friends and family, ages 35 and under. It is also true among the older ones, far too often for my tastes.

They do not:

  1. Answer their phones
  2. Listen to voice messages
  3. Return a phone call.

Instead, they:

  1. Screen the calls
  2. Tell you they did not get a call
  3. Text you to find out why you called

 I sound like an old person.  I guess now I am.

If I can change my old ways to accommodate some of the new ways that people are communicating in today’s world, why is it that others will not meet in the middle?

If younger people are going to brag about how much more savvy they are and are better communicators that the elder crowd, would it not make sense to use the devices for how they are intended? With a bit of patience, could there not be an opportunity for the youth to teach or help the elders with these newest gadgets?

If you want to mitigate communication with this particular old person

  1. If you are screening calls and don’t recognize my number or blocked call, then make sure you have your voice mail set up so I can leave a message.
  2. If you have voice mail set up, listen to your messages, and delete them after doing so. I cannot leave a message if your “mailbox is full.”
  3. Just answer the phone. I promise I can keep the conversation to a few minutes. I know you have things to do.

What I will try to do

I will do my best to remember to keep my cell phone plugged in and on my person at all times. I certainly don’t want to miss your text messages because I have no charge.

I just might, however, answer my phone that is provided through my cable company…that is, unless, the power goes out.

And, if that’s the case, please leave a voice message. I promise that I know how to retrieve them and will return your call.



Photo credits:  Pixabay, public domain.


LIFE is the Battlefield

It all begins a minor disagreement.

Then, one person gets so offended, they find it necessary go out on a limb to try to destroy the other.

This phenomenon is not new to any of us who went to junior high school. If you look at the history of the world, there is continual evidence of this.

These bullies relish finding people who will blindly follow them and do their dirty work for them. These “sheep” are sent out to be the annoyances.

Should there be a response or reaction from the intended receiver, the leader-aggressor will often give a surprised look, leaving the ambushed one to be the overly-reactive screaming banshee. The blame is always transferred to the vocal one.

Of course, the Bully and his or her clan will stand on the soapbox of sanctimony. They claim to have been picked on unduly, satisfied in their ability to have turned the tables on their intended, and often unsuspecting, victim.

Another set up. And yet again, someone else takes the fall.

People have not changed very much over the centuries. No matter where we are, or whatever situation it is that we may interact as human beings, there is likely to be someone who will always try to turn any situation into a battlefield, picking fights that are unnecessary.

Have you encountered this type of situation in your life? In your workplace? At school? On social media? With family or friends? Other situations?

Do you always walk away? Or do you try to defend yourself, your name, or your honor?

Walking away does not mean “ignore it and (maybe) it will go away.”

We must get to a point in our lives where we start to recognize the patterns in ourselves and in others.  Perhaps, you are like me that you find it necessary to prove your innocence, because you were made the scapegoat in many aspects throughout your life? You may find yourself continually in defensive mode.

Others know that they can “bait” you into the battle with comments such as:

  • There you go, always being defensive!”
  • “Why must you take it so personally?”
  • “If it weren’t true, you wouldn’t react as you do!”  

Sound (or feel) familiar?

  • The truth is…you take it personally, because the other meant it to be personal.
  • The truth is…yes, you are always on the defensive.
  • The lie is…what you are fed as their truth must also be your truth, accompanied by your reaction.

Walking away means that …

  • We know exactly who we are and own our choices and behavior.
  • We are no longer willing to live by the baited tactics of others, who may try to control our behavior by continually setting us up to fail.
  • We know the difference between competing to “be right” and behaving in a way to “do the right thing.”
  • We know how to love others, in spite of their faults, but recognize that we do not have to take part in, nor have an interest in, the matter or action.

We have to learn to let go.

There comes a time when we must know within ourselves what is right or wrong. Proving someone else wrong, no matter what you may know to be absolute truth because of the evidence you have, may not always be the best way to approach the situation.  Believe me, I know this one well.

Learning to let someone be (or think they are) right has been one of the best lessons I have learned.   Does it still irk me?   Of course, it does!

Yet, letting it go does not mean that I am wrong.  It does not mean that I am responsible for being life’s teacher to all of humanity in its ignorance.

The one truth that I have learned is that…

Life truly is the battlefield…

And I am the one that is allowed to pick the battles that are worth my time.


Photo credit:  Pixabay public domain

Moving On from Toxic Relationships

There comes a day when you realize turning the page is the best feeling in the world, because you realize there is so much more to the book than the page you were stuck on.  ~Zahn Malik

Over the years, people come and go throughout our lives. Friendships that once were close drift apart. We move jobs or locations. We move on.

Some of these friendships continue to be important to us. Though we may not be in contact for awhile, the connections never really cease to exist. When we make the occasional call or see one another decades later, it continues as if time never passed. Then we go back to our lives until our paths cross again, often years later, and for awhile…we move on.

We also have people in our lives from which we grow apart. We each change so much that we can no longer remain friends. What we had in common at one stage of life is no longer important, nor does it continue to bind us together. We wish them well, but then…we all decide to move on.

As we mature, we realize there are many friendships, which we can no longer try to maintain…that we SHOULD not maintain, if only to protect our own sanity. We know we must move on.

These may be with people who are extremely negative and try to drag you into their drama. Or they make you their scapegoat for everything that has gone wrong. Perhaps, they are unable to take ownership for their lives. Even when they reach out to you, there is a sense of blaming, control, or “woe-is-me,” and it has not changed in all the years you have known them. The handwriting on the wall. Yet, we struggle with knowing how to move on.

Because we care about these people, and once were close in our friendships, we give them chance-after-chance, time-after-time.  At some point, you are slapped upside the head and see that they are stuck in the loop of “same-old-shit-different-day/circumstance.”  You know instinctively that you cannot help them. They need the kind of help that you are not equipped to give them. You are not a trained psychotherapist.

When you try to set boundaries, they push back hard and become abusive in their language, blaming you for not understanding. They accuse you of turning your  back on a friend in need. Now you know that you must run as fast as you can to move on.

The only way out of this type of unhealthy relationship is to let them know that you no longer wish to be in relationship to them. They are toxic to you, and you realize that it is time for you to take care of yourself. You do it kindly, but directly. And then you block them from email, social media, and do not answer the phone calls.  You finally move on.

For a time, you may not hear anything anymore.  Life is peaceful. You recognize that your stress level is greatly reduced. You no longer take on their drama. You think they have moved on.

You develop healthy relationships with people who give you life, and affirm the value you hold in relationship to them. Being around these friends energizes you. There is reciprocity in the relational dynamic. You begin to grow and develop well-rounded friendships/relationships with people who who breathe life into you, and do not suck the very breath from you. You are able to move in similar directions, and celebrate life with one another, even through the difficult tests of time.

Then one day, you hear from someone you told years ago to not contact you. He/she reaches out in order to “move on” past what was. The boundaries you set forth a few years earlier are held in complete disregard.

The language becomes confusing, guilt-inducing, and the methods  feel creepy:

  • “I don’t know why you won’t call me me back.” 
  • “You misunderstood what I meant.”  
  • “I don’t think you understand what I was going through.”
  • Sometimes, there will be a suggestion that this is a return call, when (in fact) you have chosen not to call, but to ignore the attempted contacts.
  • Calls will come several times throughout the week,  late at night when you are sleeping, sometimes to your work numbers. The messages are nearly always the same.

All of these seem to be attempts to manipulate the situation in order to get you to respond to  with a return phone conversation or email exchange. You have seen this before, and you know what the end result will be. Nothing good will come of this, because their behavior has not changed over the years. You recognize the patterns.

It is not always easy to know how to deal with situations, such as this.  Each situation is unique. At some point, you need to be direct and say, “This is enough.”  

But when these toxic people start to resurface, what do you do? Do you entertain them? Do you call them back?  Do you email them? I think not. But there might come a time when you must discern what to do, dependent on the gravity of the situation.

It may require you to give one last message:

 “I HAVE moved on. Do NOT contact me again. Any further contact in any format will be considered harassment/stalking.”

You moved on. They need to move on, too. 

Until you let go of ALL the toxic people in your life, you will NEVER be able to grow into your fullest potential. Let them go so you can grow.  (LIVELIFEHAPPY.com)

The Challenge of Clear Communication

I have misplaced my cell phone. The last time I saw it was on Thursday.

“Call it,” you might suggest.

That would be a good idea, if it were charged to capacity. After this long, the battery has died and calling to locate it would be fruitless.

Thankfully, I have called it to retrieve any voice messages that one might have left. At least I know how to do that.  There have been no messages left, if anyone has called me.

Of course, that does not help anyone if text messages are used as the primary or sole method of communication. And that is one of the biggest challenges of clear communication today, especially between the generations, as I see it.

In my world, where face-to-face or real-time phone conversations were valued, communication seemed clearer and plans were not left to chance. One would call a day or two in advance to solidify any plans made. That was considered common courtesy.

smartphone-703385_640In today’s world, when technology is touted as being nearly fool-proof, there are many times when messages are not relayed. This is especially true when one lives on the outskirts, where cell tower coverage can be spotty.  I think we all have had times when messages are never transmitted or received, or they come in all at once several days after they were sent.

We must all remember that trusting modern technology to make it easier to communicate is not always an accurate assumption. It may only be easier for those who rely on it as their sole resource.

As well, each generation values communication between people differently.  Societal standards and expectations change over time.

Any time there is a breakdown in communication between people, it is never one-sided. Misunderstandings and hurt feelings are the results of issues much deeper than a missed text message or last-minute phone call.

But today, we can all blame it on a dead cell phone.

© Coral Levang, 2015 All rights reserved.

Technological Challenges of an Otherwise Adept Communicator

I am a communicator.

I like to talk. I like to write.

I like to interact with others.

I know that technology has opened up the doors and made things possible in ways we never dreamed possible.  But even as I try to maneuver through a process of trying to figure out what direction to take my blog, there are too many options and some of the language words used make absolutely no sense to me, let alone trying to understand how this all works.

Technology, though it has helped me in some ways, has left me feeling rather inept as a communicator.

Perhaps the time has come that I take a class somewhere.  Is there an adult education class at the local community college on “How to Blog Using WordPress”?

I am sure that there is a tutorial somewhere on this site that should take me through it, but what about those of us who learn better in a classroom, with collaborative, face-to-face learning?  I have watched videos, but I value the one-on-one connections with other human beings, where I can ask questions, get answers, and have someone talk me through the process interactively.

It has been suggested that I simply hire someone to do it for me.  My experience with that has been that the one who is hired is unwilling to do it collaboratively, but is impatient and wants to do it his way and has no time for me wanting to understand the process.

So there is just one of my dilemmas, as I move forward.  Any suggestions or advice?

I simply ask that you do not send me a tutorial for said advice. 😉


What a week!

Here it is, we are already into November. Can you believe it?

Here in western Washington, my lights have been flickering all morning with the wind storm that is picking up speed.

My experiences this week have felt similarly.  It seems that the energy that has been blowing all around me in many aspects of life has been picking up some speed.

Part of my week has not been fun.  I have encountered situations and people that were, at best, maneuverable.

I wrote about one particular situation and person in a diary entry this morning– “Dear Diary: This week was not so fun!”

Another situation that was difficult for me was making a decision in my professional life, which never seems to be easy for me.  It would have been a new training opportunity with the same company.  That is always exciting to me, as I love to learn and tackle new subjects.  But my doing so would have presented some other challenges for me.

One of the things I usually love about my job is the diversity of the class participants.  Taking on these new workshops would have severely limited the demographic of all the workshops I facilitate to mostly younger people with little experience.  I actually enjoy the classes of retirees, although this past week’s class may be an exception if I think too hard on it!  🙂

Because of that, and the unknown of medical test results due in January, I made the decision to decline on this opportunity for now, keeping the door open for future.

Every time I make a decision like this, I tend to question myself, which creates a self-directed anxiety that I do not need.  I wonder if I made the right decisions. Then I tend to ruminate.

And ruminate, I did, especially in light of the challenge I faced with “Mr. Sunshine,” the participant in the class who I described in my diary entry.  My mind even jumped right into doubt in my abilities and desires.

But as I reflect on the week, even though it was difficult and painful at times, I am becoming more clear in what I want and need from a job and the people I work with.  This extends to those with whom I choose to be in relationship.

Yesterday, I also had the honor to be in on a group call with Fabeku Fatumise.  Each time I am on a call, or get into dialogue with this man on any level, I have those “two-by-four-moments.”  You know the ones that hit you right between the eyes with something you need to learn (again)?

The subject:  Coherence.  There were so many great lessons and reminders to come from the call, but the one that resonated with me after this week’s events was this (and I paraphrase):

Coherence is not about (fluff)…it is having an identity that is plugged into an understanding of one’s bigness…it is also about finding balance in the relationships one has so that you can go about building, feeding and nurturing those relationships with people who support (me) in that bigness and coherence…it’s pretty simple, but it’s not easy…requires devotion to the practice…

Coherence is also knowing exactly who you are, without apologies.

When I heard Fabeku ask the same question I challenge my participants with, I knew that the week came full circle:


Continue to ask yourself that question.  Dig deeply.  Answer it.  Ask it again.

And though what we may in life may not always be fun, and can leave us feeling a bit unsure in the chaos, there is fun in the discovery. We simply need to open ourselves up to all the possibilities.

Copyright © 2013 Coral Levang.

One of Life’s Teaching Moments

There are times in life that can seem overwhelming.

It may be a situation or a person that is at the crux of the experience; something or someone over which we clearly have no influence. We can certainly allow ourselves to become overwhelmed, ruled by the feelings that the words we hear from others conjure up in our minds.

This is when life’s teaching moments seem to become most difficult to maneuver, as we try to make sense of the moments that we never saw coming and emotionally blindside us.

Indeed, it is important to be open to see where we might grow and improve as individuals, and in relationship to those people we love. We need to take personal inventory from time-to-time, not to force change but to understand how change may be a force for good.

How wonderful it is when opportunities for open, direct, honest communication can be created, where each party is afforded an equal chance to speak from a position of love and honor of oneself, as well as of the other.  Each person willing to hear the other to learn and understand.

There are times, however, when one will not be willing. One will speak their truth, but reciprocity denied. There will be no allowance to understand or be understood.

There will be nothing that the other can do.

And for whatever reason, when we allow others, their words and imposed situations, over which we are allowed no influence, to create chaos in our hearts, then we become no better than the confusion and craziness that is the source of the attack on our well-being.

“People can come into our lives, then leave without a moment’s notice. Each time someone new enters my life, I open a room for them in my heart. When they leave, the room remains. My heart is full of mostly empty rooms.” ― José N. Harris

The End of a Season and Beginning of a Life

DSCN2078May I say how grateful I am to be alive today?

The past 14 1/2 months have not been easy for me or anyone who has made the choice to stick by me this last year.

When I look at the period of time from April 2012 until today, I can honestly say that there were moments that I thought I could not handle anything more thrown at me by life. Cancer  certainly dealt many blows and there were times where I felt sheer terror, despair, and I was fearful like no other time in my life because of the health issues, concerns and predictions.

And there have also been some disappointments that I never expected, not only from the medical community, but from those whom I have  thought were my closest of allies.

One of the hardest pills of life for me to have swallowed is when people have “walked away” from me. Visits and calls stopped and  my attempts at contact or connection  have not been returned. (I know from talking with others this is not uncommon to those who are facing chronic illnesses.)

This is when I have felt most vulnerable, lost, and hurt.  It is harder yet when there has been an unwillingness to share with me their reasons for doing so, but worse yet, when I have been blatantly lied to.  It is in these moments that I want to lash out, but instead, I retreat.

I think I am an open and forgiving person and understand that we humans are complicated creatures.  Still it does not make the pain of distrust, hurt, and disappointment disappear.  Nor does it remove the feelings of emptiness felt once the realization that friendships and relationships with others are over or they never were what I believed they were in the first place.

Yet, with all the fear and disappointment in this past year, there has been great  joy, laughter, and love as I have never experienced before, often from total strangers.

I have learned to accept gifts of kindness and love from people who have offered me their hearts with no pretense.  These are souls who have simply shown up in my life to be genuine and caring.

Admittedly, I have not always known how to accept their kind offerings, as I struggle with old beliefs that nothing comes without obligation of reciprocity in kind.  I have reminded myself over and over again of the words that a friend of mine who lost her battle with breast cancer shared with me many years ago:  “When you do not accept graciously, you rob others of the joy of giving.”

I am so grateful to many people and I wish that I could I could list everyone , but there are a few that stand out to me tonight as I look back over the year:

  • Sue F.–After 15 years, we reconciled a friendship that was “lost.”  This last year has reminded me that when people are connected as we always were in the past, there is hope.  The laughter and adventures we share make my heart sing.  The gifts of forgiveness of others and of self are what I appreciate most from her.
  • Minerva P.–This beautiful lady was one of my first caretakers on the hospital ward and we made an instant connection.  She is brilliant, has a heart of gold and has given me the gift of friendship even seeing (and taking care of ) me at my worst in the hospital.  She took care of needs that others would shy away from. She is truly “mi hermana Cubana.”
  • Crystal G.–There are people in our past who weave their way in-and-out and it is as if there was no time lapse.  Crystal and I knew one another in Guam and it had been 20 years since we had seen one another.  Her gift was that she surprised me by flying up for my birthday dinner last August.  We laughed and joked as if it had only been a week or two.  She caught a flight back out that evening.  Knowing that we can always come back together again as if time stands still is priceless.
  • Tami H.–We met at a Komen function last September on a cruise ship (though docked).  We were both solo and experienced many laughs in those few short hours together. We share a similar sense of humor, understand that life deals some crappy blows, and that a shared quirky sense of humor is what is necessary to see us through the toughest of times.  I will always be her “Mona” and she my “Lisa.”  (You had to have been there to understand.)
  • Mary G.–What can I say about this “Angel?”  That is how I see Mary.  She offered her heart and the gift of “calmness” out of chaos.  We were brought together through an online chat group, and had a chance meeting when I offered to visit a friend of hers who has cancer. Mary opened her heart and home to me. She tended to me by: Making sure that I was fed with healthy food; feeding my soul with the gift of music when we went out to hear her sweetheart (Tom is a jazz pianist) play and a moment to sing in a venue that was like “coming home”; offering a calm, comfortable place to rest (I slept better there than I had in months); and gifting me with one of the most relaxing massages.  (She is a massage therapist, yoga instructor, stress management coach, and much more  out of the Portland area.) I must also share that she shared Ms. Lola with me, who gave me much-needed doggy-snuggles.
  • Rick D.–Despite our battles, differences and the evolution the relationship has taken over 30 years, we have maintained a friendship throughout it all.  That is a gift in and of itself, as so many others in our situation are incapable or unwilling to do so.  When I have needed and asked for help, he is there.  There are few in this world who are like him.

There are so many more whom I could mention.  None is more important than another.  Each has been instrumental to my getting through this past year and a quarter of uncertainty. I simply cannot thank each person for all you have done for me or explain what you have meant to me.

Last year this time, I had been out of the hospital for one day. Now, it is the end of this season.  We have all made it through the year; we have all made it through the first anniversaries of many tough moments.

We can take nothing and no one for granted.  Those things we think might be important today hold little value when we are faced with losing time with the people we cherish the most. The decisions we make in relationship to those people are the decisions to which we must learn to reconcile ourselves.

Each day this year has reminded me of just how important living each day to the fullest truly is and what it means to do so. It has also given me the resolve to let those who are important to me know it.

Yes, this first year of fear and uncertainly is over…one season is over and another begins.

After all, that is LIFE.

* * * * * * * *

Coral Levang is a “Personal Change Agent & Life Coach” who offers:

  • One-on-one coaching
  • Direct, straight-talking approach
  • Intuitive, collaborative style
  • Group workshops
  • Inspirational speaking for events

For more information or to book for coaching or speaking: 

Call (424) AGENT10 / (424) 243-6810 and leave a message.



Why I started writing online

I have had an online writing presence ever since I was encouraged by an acquaintance and fellow military veteran to sign up with Associated Content with a piece I wrote on Veterans’ Day nearly five years ago called “Thank You for Your Service: My Promise to All Veterans.”  Associated Content was bought out and is now called the Yahoo! Contributor Network and I’ve seen a lot of changes in the site.

I started writing online to give myself a “voice.”

Throughout my life, I’ve been accused of talking too much about things that should not be talked about and being too confrontational. Most saw this as “attitude” when it was actually my personality. Consequently, I took  a lot of criticism.

“You talk too much,” “You have diarrhea of the mouth,” “Why must you always have an argument?” and “Must you always ask ‘why?'” were comments and questions I’ve heard many times over the last 50+ years from people who simply wanted to change me.

Quiet me. Control me. Beat me verbally into submission.

I had rarely felt that others listened to what was beneath the words. I was careful not to question certain people, as “Why?” was not well-received in my family, in the military, nor in several of the companies for which I’ve worked.

But I could not help myself. It is part of who I am at the very core.

Curious. Challenging. Wanting to learn and understand.

It was not until much later in my life that I learned that most of the time the people who were most uncomfortable with me were people who were unsure of themselves.  They did not want to be challenged because they had no answers, nor were they comfortable with being able to “agree to disagree.”

What I also learned later in life is that I did not often speak my truth.  I was careful not to make others uncomfortable or to ask questions to make them think. I learned to “be quiet,” even though I was still quite loquacious.

I have similar stories from my younger days where writing is concerned, graded with high marks for spelling, grammar and the like; yet, I was marked down considerably for content that did not fit the “norm” or that was written in such a way to pose a challenge.

It was when I challenged myself and attended university in my mid-40s that I started to blossom.

Although I met some professors who did not share my beliefs and values and did not particularly care for my challenging nature and also tried to “quiet me,” I saw a marked change in my being free to share my opinions and my questioning.  There were equally as many professors who were quite adept at returning the volley in a way that energized me.

And volley they did!

I have found that the Internet is another place where there are people who are also capable of returning the volley!  I am able to share my thoughts, opinions and much more without as much fear of the criticism

Yes, I still receive a lot of criticism. But I have been able to say what I need to say with much more confidence.  Doing so in writing has allowed me to find my “voice,” able to talk about the things I think are important in a manner that is true to my personality. It has also helped me to develop similar skills in the way that I deliver the spoken word.

And I began to find others who think like I do. Not always in agreement with the content, but in concert with the right to say it. Friendship. Camaraderie. Like-mindedness. My cohorts.

My Tribe.

Now I am in the company of people from around the world who speak their minds.  Engage in conversation and philosophical debate. Who encourage me to do so.  Some like what I have to say and tell me. Others do not and also tell me.

I think this is a pretty good reason to continue to write online here on my blog and to find other avenues continue to speak what I think needs to be said.

From my head. From my heart.

Using my voice.

A message from the author:

To read my original “Thank You for Your Service,” if you do a search for the title and my name, it will take you directly to the article.  From that article, you can find many other things that I have written in the early years online.  Let me know by commenting at the content that you  have stopped by.

If you are unable to find it, let me know and I will send it to you.

Honest Communication or Platitudes?

I have often questioned how humans communicate.  What we speak or what is left unsaid.  How we interpret and negotiate meaning.  Words or behavior.

And the pundits conduct research to study people, their words and behavior, and come up with theories as to hows and whys and what we can expect given statistical evidence.

Ack! Even as I write, I find myself analyzing what will be the most effective way to say what I want to say, taking care not to write something to offend or make anyone someone uncomfortable.

Last month in the A to Z in April Blogging Challenge in “H is for Honesty.” I suggested that “(Lying) rob(s) us of self-respect, trust of others, joy and freedom…”   (Click the hyperlink for the original.)

I also said, “Honesty is vital to claiming who we truly are and what we want in life and with the others in it.”

Honest communication is much more than a simple choice of words. We consider intent, risk, value and respect (or lack thereof) for others, our view of self, and so much more before we justify or rationalize what we say and how we say it.

And sometimes, we say things without any consideration.  Saying things out of habit.  Just because. And I am guilty, as charged, of participating  in my share of it.

“Platitude: an idea (a) that is admitted to be true by everyone, and (b) that is not true.” ~ H. L. Mencken

I am tired of meaningless conversation. 

Canned questions and answers that rival a well-stocked pantry with No. 2 cans. (I’m showing my age with that metaphor.)

Question: “How are you?”

Response: “Great!”

Truth be told, both question and response can be rather trite.

We ask questions, not really wanting to hear the truth.  We answer, not wanting to “go there.” So, we simply act like we are engaged in conversation with someone else who (like us) is not willing to be genuine and vulnerable.

Consider this more genuine interchange:

Friend #1:  “How are you?”

Friend #2:  “Honestly, I’m having a really shitty day. I’ve been putting in long days so I don’t have to go back to an empty apartment.   I miss my kids. I’m having a hard time remaining civil around my ex-wife because I see her having moved on without me. I’ve tried moving on and dated a little, but I picked a real ‘doozy.’

I’m afraid to trust anyone.  I am not sure I trust myself.  I’m sad, I’m lonely and I put on a “happy face” around people. The truth is I’m really hurting and am not having much fun.”

Friend #1:  “I’m so sorry you’ve had that kind of day.  I thought my day was bad when the dog puked on the carpet this morning, had to clean it up, and then I picked up a nail in my tire and was late for work. It sounds like we could both use a little break from it all.

If you don’t have any plans after work, how about we go to the gym for a couple of hours? I still owe you one after the last beating I took on the court from you!”

This kind of communication requires us to be able to be vulnerable, compassionate, and genuine. It requires us to be truthful with ourselves and one another.

It does not mean we need to be an “open book” with people we do not know, nor those who have hurt us deeply.  We certainly must learn to set honest boundaries.

Learning to be vulnerable, set boundaries, and say what we want to say from “heart” is not an easy task.  It is too easy to fall into old habits. And we most often do it when we use the words…

“I love …!” 

Ice cream. Baseball. Chevy cars. Chocolate. (Fill-in the blank.)

We throw around the word “love” so often that its meaning has been lost convoluted where it counts the most. What means something to one person means nothing to the other.

We say, “I love you,” but our behavior speaks a different message.

We respond out of obligation.  To avoid feeling vulnerable.  Repeat phrases spoken to us in response, rather than initiating words that may make us feel raw and exposed.

Is it any wonder that so many are confused?  That there are so many hurt feelings? That we have such difficulty understanding one another? That so many families are broken apart? Friendships estranged? Romantic fires doused?

“Say what you mean. Mean what you say.”  (Author unknown)

Communication is not always easy, that is for certain.  At work.  At home.  At play. Between acquaintances. Friends. Family. Lovers.

We must attempt to make our thoughts, wants and concerns known to others who speak a different “language” from us based on our individual experiences and style.

Stop with the platitudes. 

Platitudes become the very reason that people will stop believing the words and believe only the actions.

They do nothing more than keep us in a constant state of grief, anger, fear, sadness, loneliness, guilt and shame. It pushes us toward unfulfilled desires and dreams of connection, love and pure joy in life.

We stop ourselves from experiencing all the things we say that we truly want from life with healthy, like-minded people who will laugh, cry, share and love with us.

Risk more. Learn to trust. Speak the truth.

Be honest.