Archive for December, 2005

listening to others well

December 31, 2005 Leave a comment

Grace Janzten, commenting of the life of Julian of Norwich, regarding one of the tasks of an anchoress (ancient spiritual practice where a woman would lock herself voluntarily in a small room for prayer, contemplation, solitude, and occasional counseling of visitors to the cell) writes,

“To be able to listen effectively and sympathetically in this way without allowing her own preoccupations to determine what she heard would require much inner quietness and discipline, the ability to be fully available to listen, without being mentally involved with other concerns. It would also take a great deal of grip on herself for the anchoress not to yield to the sense of urgency and offer hasty ‘solutions’ which might give immediate relief, but would only cover over the wound instead of allowing the gentle though painful process of prolonged exposure and healing….Considerable humility would be required of the anchoress to desist from applying remedies, which, even if they were the right ones, could not help because they were imposed from the outside. The anchoress must not become a ‘little miss fix it,’ but rather the place were the love of God patiently takes to itself the pain of the wound, and thereby brings lasting healing.”

I want to listen like that.

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re-framing negative emotions in our minds

December 30, 2005 1 comment

Anger, anxiety, fear, sadness, worry. These are all states of mind that people experience over the course of life. Occasionally this is good.

Anger can lead us to right something that is unjust or wrong; look at the ancient anger of Jesus Christ at the misuse of the Temple, or look more recently at the positive result of the shared anger of people joining forces against the sub-human treatment of African Americans in the 1960s.

Worry can also be good. Worry and anxiety prompt us to think through our actions, to count costs, and to consider what negative consequences may come as a result of our behavior. Worry can drive a mother to protect a child from a spreading cold at school, or it can compel a man to have a doctor look at the growing mole on an arm.

Even sadness has its benefits, as it causes us to slow down from the normally horrid pace of life that we lead. This slowing creates a pause in life that can be used for reflection, remembrance, and grief.

But, too often, these mental states take over our minds – an emotional hijacking of sorts – and hold us captive. Anger, anxiety, and sadness all have a paralyzing effect, causing people to withdraw, stuff and carry emotional baggage that can quickly become unbearable. Amazingly, except for severe or clinical cases, much of the paralyzing power of emotion can be countered.

Research clearly shows that by capturing a negative or angry thought in its infancy and ‘re-framing’ it against truth and reason, the power associated with the feeling can be thwarted. Unfortunately, most people are not self-aware enough to recognize what is going on emotionally inside their minds, and so they choose instead to dwell on negative thoughts, or allow angry feelings to ruminate and brood inside them, both of which are actions that will only intensify the feeling of sadness or worry.

To be emotionally intelligent means to be aware of what is going on, and to be proactive in countering the negative emotions that we experience. Anxiety, anger, worry, fear, and sadness are not necessarily preventable, but the long term affects that tear down the quality with which we experience life, can be.

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what I’m thinking about at 1:15 am

December 30, 2005 Leave a comment

Thomas a Kempis asks the question:

“A clean, pure and constant heart is not broken or easily overcome by spiritual labors, for he does all things to the honor of God, because he is clearly mortified to himself. Therefore, he desires to be free from following his own will. What hinders you more than your own affections not fully mortified to the will of the spirit? Truly nothing more.”

I don’t really want to comment on this anymore than to ask you to please read it again and really think about it. Especially the bold part. This is ‘spiritual meat’ that we all need to be chewing on way more than we do.

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Hello world!

December 30, 2005 Leave a comment

Welcome to This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

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minnesotians love their coffee

December 30, 2005 2 comments

My friend signed my email up for Dunn Bros. fanchising information. Here are some stats they emailed me:

The Minneapolis/St. Paul market is the 6th largest coffee shop market in the United States (in actual number of units open – NPD Group research – Nations Restaurant News – March 2005). With approx. 60 Starbucks (non-franchise), approx. 130 Caribou Coffee (non-franchise), approx. 40 Dunn Bros Coffee (yes, you can own one of these), plus many independents, Minneapolis/St. Paul is a highly competitive coffee house market!

I have probably been in 1/6 of these. Crazy. That leaves quite a few to visit.

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creatures of habit never change

December 28, 2005 1 comment

This is a quote from Daniel Goleman’s book Emotional Intelligence

“The underlying basis for our level of ability [re: emotional intelligence] is, no doubt, neural, but as we will see, the brain is remarkably plastic, constantly learning. Lapses in emotional skills can be remedied: to a great extent each of these domains represents a body of habit and response that with the right effort, can be improved on.”

I believe that most people have no idea how habitual they are, and yet it is our habits that largely determine who we are. To change something about ourselves (if we even notice that a change is necessary, which is a rarity in itself) we have to change our habits. We have to be intentional about self-reflection and redirected behavior.

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laundry is fun

December 27, 2005 Leave a comment

If you don’t know Isabelle Balvin then you probably have no idea what a sweet, beautiful, strong-willed, little terror she is! Last night was one of those nights that make you question ever having kids in the first place. I guess the positive is that I discovered we are now getting the Fox News channel and that it has pretty good programming from 2-5 am.

The thing about Izzy though, is that during the day she can melt your heart with a smile, a wet kiss and the exclamation ‘Dada!’

This afternoon we were having some fun with the laundry…and no Grandma(s) I didn’t really run the machine!

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