Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Telling the Truth Tuesday -Compassion and Communication

Happy New Year everyone. Hope you all had wonderful holiday times with family and friends. I did.

On this, the first day of 2013, I want to share a story. I was on a plane from Boston to Albuquerque, heading home from our Christmas holiday. My hubby had the window seat, I was in the middle, and the aisle seat was empty as we waited for passengers to board at our stopover in Chicago (it was Southwest Airlines).

A very tall elderly man asked if the seat was vacant and I said yes, a small voice inside going oh no. His hair was greasy, his clothing rumpled and disheveled and he simply looked grumpy. He proceeded to seat himself, his knees pushing into the seat in front of him. Clearly, he did not have enough leg room. I had two carry-ons under the seat in front of me, with about six inches to spare on the right side. I'm short, so leg room is not a problem for me, but my knees are an issue. If I keep them in one position too long, they really start to ache.

Shortly into the flight, this man's left foot made its way to the six inches of room I had in front of me to stretch my leg. I was extremely irritated, but didn't say anything. His elbows were also invading my seat space. I shoved a little. He grumbled an apology, and then five minutes later, the elbow was back in my space.

I stewed for awhile, working up a good mad. But something happened. Something I didn't do consciously. Suddenly I felt compassion well up inside. I turned to the man and said, "I realize you don't have enough room for your feet, but I need to stretch my leg out as well."

"He said, "What am I supposed to do?"

I said, "How about we shift positions every so often. You keep your feet there for awhile, and when I need to shift, I'll tell you."

We worked it out for the rest of the flight. Turns out he is a writer of children's books. One of his books has sold 34,000 copies. Need I tell you I was a bit envious. We talked writing and publishing for the next half hour or so. He even gave me a great suggestion for the novel I'm working on.

Compassion and communication. Now, he could have told me when he sat down that he needed some additional space and asked if it were all right to put his foot in my space. He didn't do that. And I, rightly so, some would say, could have been irritated and angry the rest of the trip, making us both miserable.

I am so grateful that a compassionate spark ignited in my soul in that moment and that negative energy shifted.

What a lovely way to begin a new year - I think compassion will be my New Year's resolution, along with finishing that darn first draft!

How about you?


Francene Stanley said...

I LOVE this story. What a wonderful way to start the new year. I hope I can face each challenge with compassion too--or even empathy.

Laura said...

Good story and it sounds like you are on the same path as me. I'm aiming at finding the positive in every situation. And getting a first draft out :)
Laura x

Luanne Smith said...

Good for you. I admit I probably would have stewed the whole trip, fighting for that inch of space.

Happy New Year, Karen! You're off to a great start. :)

Karen Walker said...

Francene, I am not naive to think I will face every situation this way, but I can certainly try!
Laura, good luck to you!
Luanne, I came very close!

Manzanita said...

I say yay for compassionate sparks. I had about the very same spark when we went to see Les M. on Christmas day. Long movie, long legs, huge lady in next seat but I gently spoke to her and she was most space-respectable the rest of the movie.
So happy you got the spark and look at the rewards.

Tonja said...

That's a great story. I thought the ending was going to involve an explosion and a lot of regret. Yay, you!

Michael Di Gesu said...

Happy New Year, Karen,

What a great story. Its all about communications and being positive.

You definitely started up the new year right! ALL the best for 2013!

Ruth said...

That's great you could get everything worked out.

Yolanda Renee said...

Very inspiring! Good for you taking the high road.
I'm sure he was just as appreciative!

Pk Hrezo said...

Hey Karen! Love stories like these. And man those seats are such a pain. I flew four hours with an extra large lady spilling into my middle seat once. She felt so bad I could tell, but at the same time, I had to suffer miserably.
Had you been rude to this man, you would've missed out on a wonderful opportunity. That's so cool. I met another writer on the way from Denver to LA last year--sparked up a conversation cuz she was reading Save the Cat and we talked the entire flight about writing, blogging, etc. It was great!

Happy New Year to you! May 2013 be filled with blessings!

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

You handled this so much better than I would have and look how well it turned out! I'm with Yolanda...very inspiring, Karen. :)

Misha Gericke said...

That's such an amazing story! It's amazing to know how far a little bit of kindness can go.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Karen .. you taught me something - and this is such an inspiring story .. loved it. Great he was so helpful too ..

I hope you feel better soon - big hugs for a happy and prosperous New Year ... singing, dancing and writing your way through ... cheers Hilary

Sharon Lippincott said...

Beautiful! Inspiring! May this shift endure.