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Blogs For Com-men-’try

richard-aaron-billy-idol

“I wanna see it yeah, heh . . . . . BLOGS!  Blogs for com – men – ‘try!”

(To the tune of “Flesh For Fantasy”)

“Blogs For Com-men-try” is the tongue-in-cheek Billy Idol-derived name of the Google Doc listing some blogs I regularly comment on.  In the interest of “radical Web 3.0 social media nakedness” or whatever the trendy term is, I’ll share a small part of that list with you to promote and honor some people I’m proud to be blogging buddies with.

In the interest of keeping this post shorter than War And Peace, this list will necessarily be incomplete — if you aren’t on the list, you’ll almost certainly make it into my next round of link love.  Let’s begin, as we must, at the beginning:

Albert, amateur boxer and professional (or at least professional-quality) blogger, needs no introduction.  Head abbot of a virtual urban monastery comprising some 6,000 virtual monks, The Urban Monk seamlessly merges the psychological insight of the West with the spiritual wisdom of the East.

Davina Haisell, writer and intrepid wilderness adventurer from the Great White North, writes with disarming honesty and clarity about her experiences.  I hope I won’t embarrass her too seriously by pointing out her poetry, which is one of my favorite parts of her blog.

Evan Hadkins is a blogger, hailing from Down Under, on health, spirituality, psychology, philosophy and a host of other topics.  I think Evan is a unique combination, in that he’s a genuinely learned guy who writes from the heart, and I think nearly anyone who checks out his site will get some value from it.

Evelyn Lim, it seems to me, definitely “walks her talk” when it comes to spiritual practice.  She’s followed her intuitive guidance in changing careers, designing her online business, and revamping her blog title, and her posts help readers listen to their own inner voices.  She also has irresistibly adorable daughters.

Evita Ochel positively radiates warmth, kindness and enthusiasm about what she’s doing in the world.  The site I just linked to is but one part of her blogging oeuvre as we say en francais, ”Evolving Beings” — there’s also Evolving Wellness and Evolving Scenes.  She’s just doing too much evolving for the rest of us primates to keep up with!  :)

Wherever to begin in discussing the captivating conundrum of Jannie Funster?  For starters, she takes photos of the holes in donuts, her part-time gravatar is a blue bunny set against what appears to be an Obama campaign t-shirt-style background (I know Blue Bunny definitely gives me Hope), and she is the world’s first Canadian from Texas.  And she has truly been a Hanna-Barbera-style Superfriend to me!

Karl Staib is another blogger down in Texas (clap clap clap clap clap).  Karl writes about bringing humanity back to the corporate workplace, where I think it’s sorely needed.  I also like his dry sense of humor, which is showcased in his videos.

Mark a.k.a. tobeme a.k.a. The Naked Soul writes heartfelt and insightful posts about his journey of self-discovery.  This is neither here nor there, but I was just reading Mark’s post called “Knocking On God’s Door,” and I was like “is he going to refer to the Guns N’ Roses version of Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door?  Naaah, why would he do that?”  And then he goes and puts the video right at the end of the post!  Rock!

One fateful day, mild-mannered Megan Bord stumbled upon the secret to existence — that life is meant to be enjoyed — and thus went the secret origin of the superheroine known only JoyGirl!  Suffice it to say that JoyGirl is to blogging what The Joy of Cooking is to cooking.

Michelle‘s site has been repeatedly responsible for distracting me with hunger pangs during my workday.  She takes close-up pictures (and provides recipes) of various vegetarian victuals so tempting it’s all I can do to keep from jumping up and jogging to Whole Foods.

The title of Patricia’s site, Patricia’s Wisdom, is certainly appropriate — Patricia is definitely wise – and she imparts her wisdom in an earthy and unpretentious way, grounded in her personal experiences.  I particularly like the stream-of-consciousness-style posts she does sometimes, like this one, where she gives us her raw, in-the-moment experience of living.

Sara Healy is not only a superlative photographer, but she also regularly puts up her photos on her site and gives away stuff (or at least encouragement) to people who make up cool stories about them.  And if you just want to show up and make silly comments without participating in the contests, like I do, she’s okay with that too.

Stacey Shipman is a yoga teacher, multifaceted entrepreneur and, as I once said, “wellness warrior” from Boston.  Stacey has done some posts recently about stretches you can do from your desk — no yoga mats or pretzel-shaped poses required — that I’ve appreciated.

Blogs For Com-men-’try

richard-aaron-billy-idol

“I wanna see it yeah, heh . . . . . BLOGS!  Blogs for com – men – ‘try!”

(To the tune of “Flesh For Fantasy”)

“Blogs For Com-men-try” is the tongue-in-cheek Billy Idol-derived name of the Google Doc listing some blogs I regularly comment on.  In the interest of “radical Web 3.0 social media nakedness” or whatever the trendy term is, I’ll share a small part of that list with you to promote and honor some people I’m proud to be blogging buddies with.

In the interest of keeping this post shorter than War And Peace, this list will necessarily be incomplete — if you aren’t on the list, you’ll almost certainly make it into my next round of link love.  Let’s begin, as we must, at the beginning:

Albert, amateur boxer and professional (or at least professional-quality) blogger, needs no introduction.  Head abbot of a virtual urban monastery comprising some 6,000 virtual monks, The Urban Monk seamlessly merges the psychological insight of the West with the spiritual wisdom of the East.

Davina Haisell, writer and intrepid wilderness adventurer from the Great White North, writes with disarming honesty and clarity about her experiences.  I hope I won’t embarrass her too seriously by pointing out her poetry, which is one of my favorite parts of her blog.

Evan Hadkins is a blogger, hailing from Down Under, on health, spirituality, psychology, philosophy and a host of other topics.  I think Evan is a unique combination, in that he’s a genuinely learned guy who writes from the heart, and I think nearly anyone who checks out his site will get some value from it.

Evelyn Lim, it seems to me, definitely “walks her talk” when it comes to spiritual practice.  She’s followed her intuitive guidance in changing careers, designing her online business, and revamping her blog title, and her posts help readers listen to their own inner voices.  She also has irresistibly adorable daughters.

Evita Ochel positively radiates warmth, kindness and enthusiasm about what she’s doing in the world.  The site I just linked to is but one part of her blogging oeuvre as we say en francais, ”Evolving Beings” — there’s also Evolving Wellness and Evolving Scenes.  She’s just doing too much evolving for the rest of us primates to keep up with!  :)

Wherever to begin in discussing the captivating conundrum of Jannie Funster?  For starters, she takes photos of the holes in donuts, her part-time gravatar is a blue bunny set against what appears to be an Obama campaign t-shirt-style background (I know Blue Bunny definitely gives me Hope), and she is the world’s first Canadian from Texas.  And she has truly been a Hanna-Barbera-style Superfriend to me!

Karl Staib is another blogger down in Texas (clap clap clap clap clap).  Karl writes about bringing humanity back to the corporate workplace, where I think it’s sorely needed.  I also like his dry sense of humor, which is showcased in his videos.

Mark a.k.a. tobeme a.k.a. The Naked Soul writes heartfelt and insightful posts about his journey of self-discovery.  This is neither here nor there, but I was just reading Mark’s post called “Knocking On God’s Door,” and I was like “is he going to refer to the Guns N’ Roses version of Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door?  Naaah, why would he do that?”  And then he goes and puts the video right at the end of the post!  Rock!

One fateful day, mild-mannered Megan Bord stumbled upon the secret to existence — that life is meant to be enjoyed — and thus went the secret origin of the superheroine known only JoyGirl!  Suffice it to say that JoyGirl is to blogging what The Joy of Cooking is to cooking.

Michelle‘s site has been repeatedly responsible for distracting me with hunger pangs during my workday.  She takes close-up pictures (and provides recipes) of various vegetarian victuals so tempting it’s all I can do to keep from jumping up and jogging to Whole Foods.

The title of Patricia’s site, Patricia’s Wisdom, is certainly appropriate — Patricia is definitely wise – and she imparts her wisdom in an earthy and unpretentious way, grounded in her personal experiences.  I particularly like the stream-of-consciousness-style posts she does sometimes, like this one, where she gives us her raw, in-the-moment experience of living.

Sara Healy is not only a superlative photographer, but she also regularly puts up her photos on her site and gives away stuff (or at least encouragement) to people who make up cool stories about them.  And if you just want to show up and make silly comments without participating in the contests, like I do, she’s okay with that too.

Stacey Shipman is a yoga teacher, multifaceted entrepreneur and, as I once said, “wellness warrior” from Boston.  Stacey has done some posts recently about stretches you can do from your desk — no yoga mats or pretzel-shaped poses required — that I’ve appreciated.

Assumption-Free Conversation

People sometimes observe that I form emotional connections quickly with the people I meet, and that I tend to make friends and build relationships with people after just a brief conversation.  Occasionally, people ask how I do this.  They wonder if it’s the specific words I use, my tone of voice, or the way I move my body.  It’s actually none of those things.

I connect with people by refusing to make assumptions about the way they experience the world.  Instead, I ask them about their experience of life—their emotions, aspirations, defining moments, and so forth.  I understand that their experience of the world is probably different from my own, and I take pleasure in learning the unique ways in which they see and respond to the world.

To understand what I’m talking about, it’s important to see that a person’s experience of the world is different from the facts about his or her life.  For instance, the facts about my life include where I work; my income, age and marital status; what I ate yesterday; and so on.  By my “experience of the world,” I mean the way in which I experience the facts about my life.  My feelings of excitement and passion about what I do, my enjoyment of what I ate yesterday, my irritation about having to stand in line at the post office, and so on are all aspects of my experience of the world.

Often, our conversations revolve around the facts about our lives rather than our experience of them.  The questions we ask in conversations are usually geared toward learning about facts rather than experiences.  We ask things like:  “So where did you go to school?”  “What’s your degree in?”  “Where do you live?”  “How long have you been in your job?”  “What was your golf score yesterday?”  And so on.  Unfortunately, this approach makes for dull conversation and doesn’t create emotional connection.  Somehow, asking for and reciting facts about our lives just doesn’t make interacting interesting.

The reason for this is that the facts of our lives are not nearly as important to us as the way we experience those facts.  Suppose, for instance, that my significant other and I break up.  From my perspective, the mere fact that we broke up isn’t the important part of this event—the important part for me is how I feel about it.  I may feel devastated because the relationship was very important to me.  I may feel liberated because the relationship was becoming smothering.  Or, I may have mixed feelings about it.  Whatever my emotional response to the event is, it will be the most important aspect of the event to me.

Most of us, I believe, understand that our experience of the world is more important to us than the mere facts of our lives.  However, even though we know this, we often hesitate to inquire about the way others experience the world in our conversations.  Instead, we make assumptions about their experience of the world based on the facts they give us.

For example, if I told someone that my significant other and I broke up, they would probably assume that I felt bad about it.  Thus, they wouldn’t ask how I felt about the situation.  Instead, they would likely say something to console me, ask for more facts about the breakup (“how long had you been together?” and so forth), or become uncomfortable and move onto another topic.

I used to make these sorts of assumptions about others’ experience of the world, and I made them out of fear.  I was afraid to inquire into others’ experience for two reasons.  First, I feared that people would think I was asking stupid questions.  For instance, if I asked someone how he felt about breaking up with his girlfriend, I figured he would get angry or disdainful, and say something like “obviously I felt bad about it.  How else could I feel?”

Second, I believed that people would think I was being rude and intrusive.  “It’s none of your business how I felt,” I thought they’d say.  To avoid negative responses like these, I would stick to “polite” questions about the facts of others’ lives.  “Personal questions” about others’ emotional experience were reserved for people I already knew well and felt comfortable with.

Eventually, I became frustrated with the interactions I was having.  Many other people I knew seemed to find social interactions meaningful and fun, but I usually either dreaded them or found them dull or both.  I wanted more friendships and intimate relationships, but I didn’t know how to get them into my life.  Ultimately, I decided to do an experiment.  I would try discarding the assumptions I’d been making about others’ emotional experience, and start expressing my natural curiosity about how life made them feel.

I was surprised at the results.  I found that people were far more willing to open up to me than I’d expected.  More importantly, people I’d just met started telling me that talking to me felt good, and that they felt connected to me—things I’d rarely heard before.  And people I’d known for a long time started wanting to be around me and introduce me to others in their lives.  For the first time, I started developing an enriching and enjoyable social life.

Many of us go through interactions with others believing that we shouldn’t ask them how they feel until we really get to know them.  The flaw in this approach is that, unless we inquire into their experience of the world, we can’t “get to know” them at all.  We can’t create an emotional connection with someone without talking about their emotions.  If we want uplifting, exciting and deep relationships with others, we have to take the risk of asking them how they feel about the events of their lives.  If we don’t, those relationships won’t develop.

And is there really any “risk” at all?  I don’t remember anyone ever shunning or lashing out at me for asking how they experience life.  Yes, those questions are “personal,” because they go to the heart of who someone is as a person.  But we can only connect with each other and form meaningful relationships if we learn about each other as people.  When we give up our assumptions about how others see and react to the world, and actually start asking people about their experiences, we can interact with them on a deeper level than we may have explored before.

(This article appeared on the Avenue of Authenticity blog, located at http://coachgirl.typepad.com/.)