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Howling winds, rain, and thunderstorms

January 9, 2023

"I LOVE howling winds and rain and thunderstorms." There was a time in my life where I lived with an older couple who loved me deeply and cared for me. I was just a little girl, but the house where they lived brought me comfort and safety. It was an old house with lots of cracks and windows that would not shut, and a wood stove that would keep one room warm. I was 2 when I went to live with them for 4 years (while my mother was recovering from Polio), and then I went every vacation to stay with them. Those times of safety were vital for me, those times were a break from chaos and abuse. I have amazing memories of helping Konrad with making honey, learning to keep bees, spin the honey, and stir the honey so it would be soft and creamy. I have memories of going for walks in the woods every afternoon and having 'hasen brot' (a simple sandwich that tasted so much better when on eaten on the road). I have memories of staring out the window and watching thunderstorms. But my favorite memories where being tucked in a featherbed with a warm brick (warmed in the oven) at my feet to keep me warm while the winds would howl through the house. On the cold nights the bed was warm and cozy and brought comfort to a small girl that was trying to find her place in the world. That is why I love howling winds and rain and thunderstorms.

"I hate howling winds and rain and thunderstorms" a friend told me. It reminds me of living in a trailer, nothing was working, there was no heat, the winds would be the worse, it would make the cold so much worse and sounded so frightening. I just hated it, she would state.

The same winds and rain and thunderstorms and yet such different experiences!

As I was laying in bed a couple of days ago, the window open so I could hear the wind, the feather bed keeping me warm, I was thinking that this is so true in life. We can have the same experiences and yet the outcomes, the way we interpret them, the way we think about them can be so different. What I experienced and what my friend experienced all depended on the context.

I want to learn from that. I want to not question people's experiences and assume they are like mine. I want to listen to stories, hear people's hearts, learn from their experiences and love them deeper. Jim Henderson (an organizational leadership coach) has three practices: "I practice being unusually interested in others. I practice staying in the room with difference. I stop comparing my best with their worst."

This year, I want to stay curious and listen.

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