My husband Brian, dog Bentley and I live in a three-bedroom home that a real estate agent would describe as “cozy.” To us, it’s just right. No matter where we are, we’re not that far away from each other but far enough to have privacy when we need it.
As our years together have gone by in our cozy house, Brian and I forged a habit of talking to each other from different rooms. No, not talking. More like hollering or, as my high school drama teacher would call it, “projecting.” He’ll be in the office, for instance, looking for a file stored our old desktop computer. I’ll be in the living room. He’ll call out to me, “WHERE’S THAT PICTURE STORED AGAIN?” and I’ll respond with, “I THINK IT’S IN THE FAMILY PHOTOS 2012 FOLDER,” and he’ll call back, “NO, I DON’T SEE IT THERE,” and I’ll respond again with, “LOOK IN THE MISCELLANEOUS 2012 PHOTOS FOLDER,” then there’ll be a pause before he says, “OKAY, THANKS.”
There’s nothing wrong with this or any habit until there is. Once this particular habit of ours was firmly in place, we both began multi-tasking while hollering to and fro. In the previous scenario, add in Brian being on the phone with his mom and add in me writing this story on my laptop. Now the physical distance between us has to compete with the fact that we aren’t giving each other much priority in our cerebrums, either.
Meanwhile, I started noticing that sometimes I would be surprised by new information that Brian claimed he had already told me. Sometimes I would get frustrated that I needed to tell him something two or three times. Normal joking around about being forgetful didn’t seem so funny anymore.
And then it hit us. We weren’t together in these conversations in any meaningful way. We allowed multi-tasking to be more important than listening, and in the end, we ended up wasting more time repeating ourselves and feeling frustrated, even “unheard.”
It was time to undo this habit. Because I like words, I came up with a tagline (of course I did) that we both have permission to say to each other when we find ourselves easing back into our conversational easy chairs in separate rooms.
“If I can see you, I can hear you.”
If you want it to be, I guess this could be a message to the world. It might also be a fundamental tool for practicing mindfulness (see footnote). To me, it’s just helping my sweetie and me spend more minutes in the day looking into each other’s eyes.
IN THIS ISSUE
The theme of our November 2021 issue is mindfulness, which was inspired by several of our contributors who have recently begun incorporating mindfulness practices into their lives in interesting ways. The idea of being fully in the present in a non-judgmental, open-hearted way is a timely reminder for so many reasons, particularly as we approach the holidays. Rather than turn the last two months of 2021 into an over-the-top do-over of 2020, let’s just enjoy each moment that we’re in, together.
- In that vein, Kendall Quirk takes a new look at some of her Thanksgiving traditions and offers insight into developing a daily mindset of gratitude.
- “Create like Ted Lasso,” exclaims Lindsay Whittenberg, who has seen first-hand that everyone can be creative. Throughout November month, Lindsay and we will be releasing seven different artfully mindful exercises that can help you tap into your own creative spirit.
- Health equity researcher Dr. Marcela Nava visits with Amy Schultz about her free, online course designed to help us all have more well-informed discussions about health policies and immigration. She also talks about what drives her to seek common ground even when it’s hard to find.
- Calling all Do-Gooders! Sociability is working to build a comprehensive directory of opportunities in Arlington to volunteer and donate food, clothing, and toys during the holidays, and the early results are in! Click here to see our Do-Gooder Directory-in-progress and click here to add to the directory.
- Our friends at the United Way of Tarrant County are taking over InstaGratitude this month as a token of our gratitude for their above-and-beyond efforts to spread the word about our Do-Gooder project. Special shout out to Regina Williams!
- Lisa Farrimond always makes us way more than 10% Happier, as does her colorful review of the Dan Harris best-selling book by the same name.
- We’re thrilled to be partnering this Fall with Dr. Erika Pribanic-Smith, Associate Professor in the UTA Department of Communications, and members of her digital storytelling class. In this issue, UTA senior Stacey Main takes us inside the Tu Vien Phat An Buddhist Monastery in her original photo essay. Stacey has worked full-time for CBS11 for over twenty years and is an avid volunteer.
- As the cooler weather of Fall sweeps in, we invite you to rediscover How to Sit: Finding Magic in Your Own Backyard by Garret Martin, originally published in our April 2021 issue.
- Speaking of gratitude, thank YOU for helping Sociability find its voice(s)! This month, we’re celebrating our first year anniversary. Be sure to check out our First Year Photogallery and reflections by Sociability publisher Tony Rutigliano.
According to Greater Good Magazine, published by the University of California-Berkeley:
Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens. Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.
Though it has its roots in Buddhist meditation, a secular practice of mindfulness has entered the American mainstream in recent years, in part through the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn and his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, which he launched at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1979. Since that time, thousands of studies have documented the physical and mental health benefits of mindfulness in general and MBSR in particular, inspiring countless programs to adapt the MBSR model for schools, prisons, hospitals, veterans centers, and beyond.