R is for Relate

photo by Marlene Cornelius. Used with permission. Please click on the picture to visit Marlene's lovely blog.
photo by Marlene Cornelis. Used with permission. Please click on the picture to visit Marlene’s lovely blog, Life through the Kitchen Window.

This series is an alphabetical exploration of 26 options for living well, despite everything. It answers the question–How can we live well, despite problems? 
It’s difficult to be miserable about my own problems when I am able to wholeheartedly notice, connect with, be concerned about, feel compassion for, identify with, relate to…
someone else.
Note to self:

  • Pay loving attention to the person you’re with.
  • Listen whole-heartedly.
  • Don’t interrupt.
  • Don’t jump to conclusions.
  • Don’t rehearse what you want to say while the other person is talking.
  • Stop thinking about a million other things.
  • Just relate to the one you’re with…

… because the past is gone, the future is uncertain, and now is the moment we are called to love someone.
It doesn’t take enormous wealth to be able to give someone an invaluable gift.
I merely need to acknowledge another’s importance, by giving my undivided attention.
What are you going to do today, to foster feelings of connection, kindness and compassion? 

50 thoughts on “R is for Relate”

    1. Jennifer, thank you for your lovely comment about my photo. The baby, one of my grandchildren, was 18 days old when that was taken. Such a treasure to spend time with her, holding her hand in mine.

    2. Isn’t it great? It was exactly what I was looking for, trying to figure out how to find a baby to take a photo of, and I happened across this on Marlene’s blog. Thanks for allowing me to share it, Marlene!

      1. Hehehe, I guess you are right… 😉
        Yes, things have finally gone back to sort of normal and so we’re back in the blogosphere 😉
        Feels good to be able to enjoy your posts again, Tracy!

  1. Tracey, it’s so touching to see my photo associated with this post. Relating is so important. Life is fleeting. It seems that I turned my head and my oldest grandchild is in school full time. So now I am focusing on spending more time with all my little ones, even if it’s only 20 minutes at a time, and to spend that time fully present with them. And by extension, to do that with my own children and other people important to me. i still have to resist the temptation to pick up the phone sometimes and check email or apps, and sometime’s it’s a challenge to keep my mind – a very busy place indeed – focused on the conversation and not other things. I am but a work in progress, but at least I’m in progress.
    Another point, I think relating and presence lead to heightened gratitude, and that’s a very positive and healthy thing.
    FYI, the link to my blog isn’t working; the colon is missing in http://. Oh the difference one character can make!

    1. I’ll fix the link right now. I had 2 “http://” ‘s !
      And you’re right about gratitude–it does flow from relating and being present. And it’s definitely healthy.
      I, too, am a work in process, trying to keep my mind on the moment, and not elsewhere, when I’m with others. I really need to get better at it.

  2. Today we saw a movie where every interaction between characters is an excellent example of “relating”–either well or poorly–BLACK OR WHITE, with Kevin Costner as the grandfather fighting to keep his mixed race granddaughter.
    Your “notes to self” are superb, Tracy.

    1. Not easy to do, though. Loss is heavy and tends to weigh on us. It often feel to me like swimming upward through mercury, trying to focus on the remaining relationships rather than on the lost ones. Especially when the loss is fresh. But it is an antidote to despair if one can manage it.

  3. Wonderful advice Tracy, thank you for sharing! Simply relating to someone and not offering unsolicited advice can often be challenging. You offer some great insight and tips on how to do this well. And I agree that often you do feel more connected after relating to someone.

    1. Offering advice comes from a place of caring, I think. But it’s so often not helpful. What people generally want, is just to be heard.
      I’m noticing that the more attention I pay to others, the more I feel that a true connection has been made. It’s the opposite of what I felt when I was young, when I believed that connection happened because someone noticed me.
      Thanks for pointing that out, Heather! <3

  4. Being a good listener and giving someone your undivided attention is a wonderful gift. There’s no excuse, it doesn’t cost money and you do don’t have to spend time in a crowded mall…it’s there for the giving.

    1. Well said, Jill. There is no excuse for not giving another person a moment or two of undivided attention, and yet it’s a gift rarely given. I’m not sure why, when it doesn’t cost us anything but a few seconds of time.

  5. Very encouraging post. I think when we follow your ‘advice to self’ we help others know they are valued. Giving people back their humanity by valuing them needs to be our top priority if we want a healthy society. We can all make a difference.

    1. Another gem from the eminently quotable Rod, “Giving people back their humanity by valuing them needs to be our top priority if we want a healthy society.” I’m using it on Twitter. Thanks, Rod!

    1. Thank God for teachers like you, Judy, who are working to make sure the art of listening doesn’t entirely die. Some of your students will retain what they’re learning from you, I’m sure. <3

  6. Spot on. There’s not nearly enough of that, especially in the casual conversations we have with those we encounter briefly–check out personnel at stores, cabbies, etc. They’ll say something like, “how are you?” and when i respond and then say, “and how about you–how’s your day,” (and wait for and listen to the reply) it brightens both our days.

    1. I used to be so shy that I would never talk to strangers. My husband, by example, taught me the mutual pleasure of noticing and conversing with the people who serve us every day. I think you too would get along famously.

  7. Paying attention and listening are real attributes – so often I am guilty of only half hearing something. I’m stealing your notes to self, Tracy and will make more effort to focus on what is being said to me at the time: not what was said or will be said whenever.
    Thought provoking as usual 😊

    1. Thanks you, Jenny. 🙂
      I just noticed the verb “paying” attention. Attention does cost us a little bit of something… I’m trying now to define in my own mind what, exactly we “pay” with. I’m thinking that perhaps finding that concept will help me do a better job (it’s not my strong suit these days; I’m so terribly distracted!)

    1. We’re all guilty, Denise. Which lessens the burden of guilt, I hope. After all, we’re trying; people like you and I care. I’m Hoping that makes us “responsible” rather than guilty. <3

  8. I think of the scripture: ‘…be quick to listen and slow to speak…’ when I read your post. Something I aspire to do but seem to fail at too many times. You are right…investing our time in someone else, just stopping and listening, validating, paying attention, not thinking of what we want to say next but giving them our time, none of which costs a penny, is the best gift of all. Beautiful photo, I caught it over at Marlene’s beautiful blog…perfect too for your post. Blessings to you Tracy <3

  9. Tracy, I wanted to comment on Ben’s Chili Dogs–the next post–but there was no “Your turn” place. So I’ll tell you here. You have a delightful but annoying way of describing and photographing food…in Rhode Island. And I’m in Colorado. ;(
    This post had me drooling.

  10. I think the hardest thing to do in relating to others is to block out concern for “the next thing” and to focus on the moment at hand. What are some practicals to help with the world’s constant admonition to multitask?

    1. I agree. Practical help for me is a daily conscious meditation on the words, “Be still and know that I am God.” I also reject the notion of multi-tasking, because it develops an attitude in my heart which is antithetical to the biblical admonitions of love, joy, kindness, gentleness and patience. (Not saying I succeed all the time in drowning out the demands of the world, but I conscious try to say no to them).

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