How to Mend Miscommunication

Have you ever walked away from a conversation understanding one thing, but found out later on that the whole thing was misconstrued? I have multiple times and I’m here to tell you that even though the feeling of discomfort doesn’t completely go away, you can grow from each experience. There are so many layers when diving in the well of miscommunication and it can seem overwhelming. One misspoken word can be the end of a beautiful relationship or business partnership. Mending those broken relationships and exploring conversational rifts are intentional work that takes time, but here are a few steps to get you started.

Open Your Heart and Mind

When addressing miscommunication, you have to remember that each individual is coming into the conversation with their own perspective and a set of points that they want to get across. It’s not easy to be the bigger person, but if the relationship is of value to you, it would be in your best interest to be the bigger person and open your mind to their perspective and calm your heart when you hear their frustration.

As humans, we come into this world with these intense emotions that most of us have learned to regulate as we’ve gotten older. These regulated emotions are what keep us from flying off the handle at a moment’s notice or screaming obscenities at our neighbors for letting their dogs poop freely in our yard for the upteenth time this month. We have to remember that empathy is a necessity, no matter what, so listen intently to their concerns without the overwhelming desire to respond. Digest their words, mull it over, and respond accordingly.

Ask Questions

There have been times in my life where I didn’t ask enough questions or the right questions. Who am I kidding? There are days where I still don’t, but I now have a better frame of reference for when and how to ask questions. In my youth, when I would take trips to the doctor, I never inquired further about things pertaining to my body because I was of the mindset that they had already told me everything I needed to know. I thought, “They’re the doctor, they know what’s best. Case closed”. I saw no reason to press the matter further. In high school, I had moments where I was given an assignment where upon first review, things seemed straightforward, but upon further review, I found that all the requirements weren’t clear and I would struggle to complete the assignment that night. My mom would then ask me why I hadn’t asked more questions, and my answer would always be that I didn’t know I needed to ask more questions. I had walked out of the classroom thinking I had all the understanding of the subject that I needed, which time and further analysis proved false. It is within these crucial lessons that I’ve gained the understanding that sometimes, we are so uninformed on a topic that we don’t know what questions we should be asking. If you find yourself on the receiving end of miscommunication, meaning that your words were misconstrued, please practice empathy and remember that you too desire patience and understanding where proper communication is involved.

Respect One Another

Respect is a two-way street. It is also a form of currency. When I enter into a conversation with someone, I am exchanging my words, ideas, beliefs, and energy. The person I am speaking to is doing the same. Issues tend to develop quicker when the two individuals are on different frequencies of conversation. My ideals may not align with theirs and vice versa. For example, let’s say I am talking to a friend about getting some ice cream. I tell them I want chocolate and they say, “Yuck! Vanilla for me”. I could respond one of two ways: 1. Understand that they are expressing their opinion or 2. Take it as a personal attack and become defensive. Personally, I would inquire about why they don’t like chocolate, which allows me to walk away with a better understanding of them as a whole.

When we asks questions with respect and seek to understand one another, people tend to respond better and will be more likely to remain open in their responses. These open responses aid in getting you closer to desirable resolutions. Just the other day, I found myself in a misunderstanding. I found myself a bit flustered because I didn’t see where the miscommunication was. All I knew was that we disagreed on a matter and I wanted it resolved. I also knew that I didn’t want to respond impulsively, which could potentially ruin a great relationship. Thus, I waited, formulated a proper response that allowed me to get my point across while leaving room for an open conversation. Thankfully, the issue was resolved smoothly because I understood the importance of hearing the other person’s perspective and reevaluating it with my own. By doing this, we were both able to identify the breakdown in communication and were able to grow and move forward amicably. I have not always been as successful in my mending endeavors, but I hope to spread hope and share my experiences with the hopes of inspiring you to mend valuable relationships with those three steps. Have a wonderful day, loves!

Farming With Your Fork

At the beginning of the 2020 global pandemic, I reached out to neighbors, friends, and family to make sure folks where OK – physically and emotionally. The common thread of our conversations was a calling to get serious about gardening but beyond that – it was about living as a self reliant community . Garden related “wishes” we chatted about centered on gaining practical skills and further exploration into actions like putting up a greenhouse for year round growing, starting micro-greens, getting serious about composting, or preserving the harvest. I fueled the conversation by asking about their companion planting plan? How many harvest where they planning on trying for the season? Are they starting seeds in succession to have a continual harvest? What integrated pest management techniques they think they will try? Gulp – I think I got WAY too excited. However, at the core of each conversation was the desire to cultivate self – reliance by growing foods, medicine, and beauty. These chats have motivated me to outline my 5 steps towards turning your garden into a “farm” that becomes your “grocer” – in essence your garden becomes your farm with your fork as your grocer.

Growing up during the 80’s Brooklyn, gardening was the thing older folks from the South did and no one else paid attention to.  One day on the bus I sat next to a sweet elder lady who looked over at my biology textbook about the part of a plant and commented “I never had a book to tell me about plants – we always knew what each part did, how to use it, and which ones to stay away from.  I guess these days you have to learn somehow ‘cause you are no longer connected.  I looked up politely and she continued – “we had huge gardens.  We saved our seeds for the next season, we preserved and canned, we used the throw-away stuff to fertilize the soil, and we cooked and cooked and cooked – mostly everything we needed was in the garden our in our neighbors plot…” She looked off into the distance and smiled.  I asked “you didn’t have a supermarket?” “Baby”, she said,” our garden farm was our grocer! “- “and we hardly got sick, we never went hungry, and Sunday dinners was a fest that lasted for days.”  I smiled not understanding the power of her words.  As she got off the bus she sealed our connection by saying “So much power in putting your hands in healthy dirt.  It’s up to you kids to continue doing these things!”  And these words would have a profound guidance on me and choices I would make years down the road.

During the 90’s Los Angeles I was a college student in the middle of the reaction by the community to the Rodney King verdict.  The town was on fire, people frustrated, and I watched stores burn.   I went back to my dorm and decided to stop my formal college education and seek a more practical and hands on path to reliance and peace on earth one garden plot at a time.  Yes, that conversation on the bus years earlier jumped into my very existence and steered my life path.  I started studying and practicing Permaculture shortly afterwards. Permaculture is a coined phrase for a set of principals and techniques for the harmonious integration of our landscape to benefit YOU and the Earth. “Farming with your fork” is a powerful and simple action. We create a demand or market with each bite for the crops and livestock we want on our tables AND how they are raised.

“Control oil and you control nations. Control food and you control people.”

Henry Kissinger, US political figure

2020 has shown is that we cannot continue to depend on outside forces as the sole provider of food. If its not the changing weather due to cyclic earth changes / grand solar minimum creating crop loss, disruptions in the supply chains, or corporate greed feeding us products based on destructive mono-culture farming techniques – we are at the mercy of factors that are not sustainable. What a sobering reality…

We can take charge by creating a demand by supporting your local farmers and ranchers, creating food buying groups, working together to turn empty spaces into abundance with gardening, and preserving and sharing the harvest. Each step becomes your template for abundance, community and self- care from your loving labor. Gardening is humbling to me because these are no mistakes – only actions you don’t repeat or you need to modify for better outcomes. We create “food security” with passion, imagination, courage, and community. Continue the conversation with friends and neighbors. Work together towards your community food security.

Photo Credits: Kim Mendoza

Dovanna Dean is a lover of dirt, pets, plants, and house music.

On New Horizons: Shaping a Life of Goodness in 2021

What do you do when someone treats you kindly? How do you react to the “nice” person in the room? How do you treat your closest neighbors? These questions have been on my mind since October 2020. I’ve noticed how sometimes my acts of kindness, my greetings and my cheerful smile are met with suspicion; I’ve experienced how my joy hangs in the air like an unwanted odor instead of being met with generous reciprocity. When this happens, I retreat to the safety of long-time friends and marvel: What will a person get when they rebuff kindness, goodness and friendship? It’s akin to inviting a nightmare.

Sadly, it’s human nature to repeat patterns and expect a new outcome. This is partially attributable to mindset and habituation. When we do something long enough, it becomes comfortable, familiar and we form an attachment, possibly even perceiving a behavior or habit as an extension of ourselves. So we must first break out of these mental formations. We do this by recognizing that all of us, from the oldest person to the youngest, has something to learn. Embracing learning from a growth mindset will facilitate working and moving toward change. I taught myself to hang about the so-called nice people in the room and to avoid the dreaded pinch faces who populate every sector of society. It turns out that nice people really are kind. Like many of you, these lessons were so slow to come–a great fog obscuring my vision. Fortunately, the more I practice reciprocating kindness, the more I attract good and kind people into my life and let the others go their own way.

Over the years I’ve observed how my husband and i approach so many basic activities differently. As an observer of human nature, I’m fascinated by how often I judge (Okay, I’m an INTJ) these diverging behaviors as right or wrong. Some years into our healthy relationship, I’ve learned to drop that judgment and move toward a value system that recognizes contribution over process. The end result is itself the goal, not how we get there. On the other hand, my husband is cool as a cucumber most of the time. He smiles and waves at everyone. Sometimes I imitate him, because I fell in love with that quality. I do this when it matters, with the people I see regularly at work, school in my neighborhood. These shifts in behavior allow me to focus on what I need to change in and for myself rather than on external elements of my life, which brings me to 2021 and all that I want to leave behind, and a few things I wish to pick and cultivate along the way.

My 2021 Resolutions:

  • Reduce alcohol consumption (I’m human.)
  • Proactive stress reduction (Avoid chaos and toxic people.)
  • Increase eustress: Go back to school for my PhD (Embrace challenge.)
  • Adding a few good friends to my inner circle (Good people are good.)
  • Take care of the children in my life–all them, even yours.
  • Earning a living wage.
  • Create jobs for people in my community.

Make 2021 the year you smile back. Take a moment to return the salutation of a stranger or casual acquaintance. There really is enough time for this. In times of crisis, your neighbors–like it or not–will be the people upon whom you may have to rely. Don’t wait until there is a need. Cultivate a community of people who will nod back at you, give you ride in a pinch or leave a gift when you need one. People look for quick external fixes to their problems; someone to blame for their unhappiness; an excuse for why they keep doing that thing, whatever it is. This year try getting uncomfortable and extend your kindness everywhere you go. Your smile won’t open every door, but you will gain a few more friends and be welcome where they do.

Edissa keeps a mask handy at all times to answer the door and protect neighbors, friends, family and herself from COVID19.

We’ll Travel For Food

Vacations are looking more like staycations nowadays. Couples are huddled up in their living rooms with blankets, moscato, and the latest Netflix movie release, and honestly, I can’t think of a better way to do a date night in! I had however, hoped in 2020 to have a summer full of travel and delight, but was met with shelter in place mandates and disappointment. With the country on lockdown and states operating individually, it was hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel where travel was concerned. With states opening up, however, I have seen the light, and it came in the form of a road trip for food up the East coast to Philadelphia (Philly).

We began our food journey by doing our due diligence regarding the travel, Airbnb research, and general Covid safety measures. Sitting in the living room of our Philadelphia Sonder Airbnb that looks over the vast city landscape, I am in awe of the beauty of the city lights. It reminds me a bit of my hometown, Newark, New Jersey with the hustle and bustle and great eateries like Get Stuffed Jersey in Union, NJ. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a big foodie, so finding the best food is a major part of the trip. We started our food journey with Jay’s Steak and Hoagie Joint in Langhorne, PA. We heard about this spot through JL Jupiter’s YouTube channel. You can call ahead to order and due to Covid measures they have outdoor seating, but we ate in the car. Jupiter raved about the beer dipped pretzel bread philly. That’s right, I said pretzel bread! Let me tell you, it was well worth the trip! It was utter perfection. So much so, that there was nothing left to post in the blog.

On our second day in the city of brotherly love, we continued this hunt for great food by stopping through the Reading Terminal Market. There was stall upon stall of deliciousness, but we ultimately settled for a breakfast sandwich from Smucker’s Quality Meat and Grill and a fresh squeezed cold press juice from Lancaster County Dairy, which was truly refreshing! The only downfall of this eating experience was the eating outdoor experience because it was early in the morning.

Reading Terminal Market

I was a bit full after that meal, so we decided to continue our stroll through the city down 12th street to take in the sights. What a beautiful city it truly is.

We closed this food trip with Luke’s Lobster Rittenhouse. They have pick-up and no-contact delivery options for your safety and convenience. We called ahead and ordered the chilled 4oz lobster roll, which was also recommended by JL Jupiter. I had my roll with chips and a Blueberry Lemonade, while my boyfriend ordered a lobster mac and cheese as a side, and my oh my! My beautiful readers, if you ever have the opportunity to venture down to 17th street, you should stop in this quaint establishment because it will truly bless your taste buds and your soul!

I know the world is a bit weird right now and the state of our capital is much to be desired, but I find comfort in knowing there is still some normalcy in the little things. I was able to travel safely across state lines and maybe you aren’t able to, but that shouldn’t stop you from venturing around your own city for some good eats even from the safety of your laptop. Go online, do your research, and order ahead for pick-up or delivery! There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to enjoy yourself and eat well when the opportunity presents itself. May the discounts from Grubhub, DoorDash, and UberEats be ever in your favor! Go forth, eat well!

The Waiting

Winter morning 

icy groundcover and overcast sky

I walk the neighborhood

Stop and stand beneath a tree

whose species I do not know

breath seen on the exhale, releasing upward

as neck stretched back, eyes awe-struck 

taking in the lime green of bunches of leaves

tucked tightly in the tallest peaks of its arms

tracing the leafless branches, umber and gray toned

between the layered twigs, a body, dappled

spotted belly, gray, black, and rounded

underside of a tail orange and dark

            a flicker

I have seen you in books, in digital pages

your raven-sun tail feathers gifted to me

wrapped in thin baby-blue yarn

such beauty and tenderness of your design

I have waited for you

and here you sit silently, dazzling, observing

I set aside all expectations now

I know if I wait your flight will aim my way  

If I am only patient

as the street cat who peers into the cracked door

of a home, waiting to give in, to trust

to weasel her way into a warm, safe life

curled up in a corner bed, soundly asleep

until her human returns from walking into epiphanies

with western birds.

Photo by Georgina Marie, Flicker Feathers and Elements

Dear 2021, I Hope You Like Challenges

I implore you to come in, have a seat, and don’t touch anything because everyone is still reeling from 2020. Do forgive my rudeness, but this last year has been a wealth of… experience, to say the least and you have a lot of catching up to do. There was a pandemic that has us separated from loved ones and has caused the deaths of millions across the world. The economy is pretty shot and don’t even get me started on the election! Though many have complaints about the majority of 2020s experiences, I, however, have a list of joy. It was a year in which I’d moved, once again, across state lines into unfamiliar territory and once again I was surprised with love. Only this time it wasn’t just familial. It wasn’t just romantic. It was intrinsic. I love myself in more ways than I can count now and I wouldn’t have had the time to see it all- how truly far I’ve come- if it weren’t for 2020. So thank you, 2020 for halting my life along with the lives of others. I’m witnessing a world wide awakening to love in all its forms and an awareness of self and others in ways that I’ve only read about in books. Others may curse you, but I thank you. Thank you for the pivotal moments that caused my mother and I to relocate. Twice. Those movs have reconnected me to nature and creativity. Thank you for the shelter in place mandates that allowed me to sit quietly and enjoy the night sky. Even the Earth utters it’s thanks for the reprieve you’ve given it. I don’t feel that I have the vocabulary vast enough to describe my gratitude, but I do have gratitude, and in this day and new age, I believe it’s truly necessary.

To those reading this letter, I ask that you extend gratitude to yourself and others in this New Year. Extend gratitude to the people and things that serve you. While you clean and declutter thank the clothes on your back for clothing you, greet your home and thank it for sheltering you. Those of you who are familiar with the KonMari method will understand this. I thank my phone bill when I pay it because my phone serves me. It is a service I need for communicating and marketing for business via social media. This practice of thanking one’s possessions may seem like an odd task and some may think it to be an act of valuing possessions over people, but it’s not. Expressing gratitude in all things can be a useful practice in everyone’s life because it is a higher expression of love in a time where fear is so prevalent. I have learned to choose love in all situations. Sometimes love is tough and needs to be protected, while other times it calls for a softness that is to be shared. This is a lesson that I will carry into this new time in 2021. 2020, though you were much like an ex I’d never hope to see again, if I could say one last parting thing to you, it would be ‘Farewell and thank you for pushing me to be the woman I am today: healthy, healing, and well on my way to wholeness.’ Hello 2021, and so long 2020, it’s been real.

With love,

Sarai W.

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