Ever since the last Exchange, I have been trying to be aware of and engage The Twelve Rules of Life, by Jordan Peterson. It took going to the beach, slowing down and being INTENTIONAL in my listening for me to apply Rule Number Nine. It states, ASSUME THAT THE PERSON YOU ARE LISTENING TO MIGHT KNOW SOMETHING YOU DON’T.

Peterson shares, that when you are involved in a genuine conversation, you are listening and talking, but mostly listening. Listening is paying attention.  It’s not thinking about what you are going to say in response to what they are talking about.  When people talk, it’s amazing what you can learn.  And you will find that very few of your conversations will be boring.  Are you ready for this? You can in fact tell whether or not you are ACTUALLY listening in this one simple way. If the conversation is boring, you probably aren’t listening.

Did you catch that?  If the conversation is boring, you probably aren’t listening!  So I decided to try my very best to listen to those around me.  Really listen.  To David.  To my kids.  To the lady in the nearby condo, that sits on the steps next to our balcony all day long soaking in the sun. Listen to their words.  To their body language.  To their facial expressions.  All of it.

People are really interesting.  And they can teach us a lot, if we pay attention. And I am not only referring to those that are older and wiser.  Kids are excellent teachers as well.  We just have to be willing, patient, humble learners.

I have only been here a few days and I have learned a lot.

My new balcony friend taught me that she prefers this unusual spot to soak up the Vitamin D because the building blocks the cold wind.  She also taught me that the pink/red/white color of a flamingo comes from the food they eat.

After countless conversations and with the patience of Job, David taught me that although vacations with big families are A LOT of work (and therefore not really a vacation) they are MORE than worth it.

Walker taught me that I don’t really listen to her very well. I listen to her words but I don’t seek to understand the meaning behind them.  She taught me that I really don’t grasp how important certain things are to her.  And how some of my silly antics really upset her. I learned that she gets “dramatic” to garner my attention. It took the beach for me to be able to REALLY hear this.

Mary Madden taught me that sun poisoning makes your feet swell.  This is an inflammatory reaction as the skin is trying to heal. It is kind of gross actually.  The capillaries dilate and become leaky. This process causes the localized swelling but will usually resolve on its own over time. Gross.  And OUCH. And who knew?

During a mean game of reverse charades, Witt taught me that he just wants to please his mama.  To set the stage… It was blondes vs. brunettes.  Even though it is now artificial, I am captain of the blonde team.  (Which also means I have the three youngest children for teammates.)  My competitive nature kicked in and I might or might not have yelled my frustration at my team for not being able to guess something as simple as QUARTERBACK.  My sweet son was heartbroken at my outburst and ran from the room. (Mother of the year right here.)  I had to pause the game so I could ask for forgiveness and make amends with his fragile heart.  Witt taught me that relationship is more important than winning.  That it is never too late to ask for forgiveness. And that he gives grace when I don’t deserve it.

Jack taught me that even a senior can want to spend spring break with his family.  And that even a grown man can be sentimental and nostalgic about leaving his family. I witnessed that the reason his siblings love him so fiercely is because he has showed up for them day in and day out for the last eighteen years.  What you reap is what you sow.

Unknowing that I was writing this blog, Josh taught me that if you are still at the beach and really listen, you can hear everything around you.  Conversations, birds, music, laughter and screams.  You just have to listen, Mama.

Finley taught me even if no one else likes your flamboyant cover up, wear it anyway.  And by flamboyant, I mean rainbows and unicorns and pom poms. Wear it anyway.

Libby taught me that being in middle school is hard. And it’s even harder being a teenager on the brink of high school, finding the right bathing suit, finding your place in this world.  And even finding your place in this big family. And most importantly, that she doesn’t want me to try and fix it.  She just wants me to listen.

Maxton taught me that we often miss what we once took for granted.  We have been coming to Hilton Head for 20 years and it was never his favorite vacation spot.  Until now.  When he can’t come with us because he is off at college.  He has called me every day to talk. And to talk and to talk and talk.  And it’s amazing what you can learn when you listen….