Tag Archives: recent posts

3 Ways to Practice Listening

6 Mar

If you like being heard, you are in the right place!  You, like most people, like being heard when you are talking.  And not only that, you also like to be understood.  And that is where the art of listening comes into play.

It sounds counterintuitive to say that it takes a good listener to make a good conversation, but believe me when I say that it’s true.  (Are you listening?)

Customer Service has been my department of work for the last eight years.  I’ve talked with business men and women, moms and dads, kids, grandparents, hobbyists, enthusiasts, know-it-alls, and everyone in between.  I’ve answered hundreds of thousands of phone calls, and I’ve put forth my best effort to provide the best customer service.  And at the end of the day, you know what makes my customer service great??  Listening.

This afternoon I called a customer.  The reason for my call was a bill that was due.  The gentleman on the other end of the line answered in a friendly manner.  I told him the reason for my call.  Well, that did not go over well.  He proceeded to get mad at me for poor customer service from our collective department.  And so I listened.  He asked me insulting questions to which I gathered my breathe and answered in the kindest way I could without sounding smarmy or letting on that he was being rude.  I told him I would handle getting his account taken care of, apologized for his poor experiences and we ended our phone call on a positive note.

It wasn’t my fast typing skills or my mean mouse navigating skills that made my customer breathe a little easier when he hung up the phone.  It was that I listened to his complaint, acknowledged his frustration, apologized and fixed the problem.  Happy camper?  Yes.

The point of my sharing that story was to bring home the point of this post – 3 ways to practice listening:

  1. Become interested in the speaker.  If you are not interested in the speaker, you are not going to be interested in what they have to say.  Their words will become mumbo jumbo and you will not remember what they said.
  2. Don’t take it personally.  Was I offended that the customer insulted me for something that wasn’t my fault?  Eh, I let it roll off because I figured that he was not only upset with previous service.  He was probably using me as an easy target to air his grievances from something else that was bothering him.  Okay, fine, I’ll give him a pass.  That’s part of my job (and yours too if you are interested in becoming a good listener.)
  3. Put yourself in their shoes.  You like to be heard.  We all do.  When you talk, you want the listener to process your words.  Not just inhale your words and breathe them back out again without a second thought.  Become absorbed in what the other person is saying, and their method of driving their point home.  Do they use jokes, rhetoric, or monotone?  Do they use humor and stories?  Do they share personal experiences?  Gather the words, put them in your pocket, and don’t let them get away.  When talking person-to-person, look the other person in the eye.  It engages their heart.  People experience a sense of importance when someone else looks them in the eye when they are talking.  It shows respect.  And everyone deserves respect.

Finally, dear reader, I challenge you to this: Listen deeply to the words you hear today.  What is the person saying?  How can you listen better?  How can you empathize?  And better yet?  What are they saying that you can pray about for them?

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

 

Three Reasons to be thankful this season – and some thrilling news!!!

24 Nov

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(My first pecan pie was a success!  Ps., I kinda cheated and bought the crust, but the rest is all home-made.  YUM!!)

With Thanksgiving Day just hours away, I’m sitting surrounded by clean laundry waiting to be put away, running shoes, books, and card-making supplies.  I feel overwhelmed, but in the peaceful sense of the term.  My heart is overwhelmed with grace and gratitude.  The rain is trickling down from the trees outside, cars rush by splashing through puddles, and the scent of baking lingers in my kitchen.  There is a certain quietness in the air and my heart thanks my Creator for this peaceful moment.

This holiday season might already be filled with cheer, or perhaps not, but either way, allow me to share with you three reasons you should allow yourself to be thankful this season:

  1. In choosing to focus on what we have instead of what we don’t have, we find our attitudes and perspectives shift immensely.  We have more peace and less stress by our attitude of gratitude.
  2. Blessings surround us.  I may have a lot to accomplish around the house (laundry, dishes, bills, etc.) but I can’t complain.  I have a washer and dryer, money to pay the bills, and warm house, a roof over my head.  The world is a messy, crazy place to be, but God has filled it with family, friends, the beauty of nature, stunningly beautiful architecture, great music and delicious food.  We all have our dislikes and annoyances, but that’s expected and that’s okay.  There is so much good to focus on in the world and so much good happening, that rather than zooming in on the craziness, let’s zoom in our focus on the blessings and the goodness that we would otherwise miss if we didn’t stop to look around.
  3. We have a God who loves us – each and every single one of us in the entire world – with His whole heart.  His heart thirsts for our love.  He calls us out of our sin into his loving, merciful arms – who can resist???  This is the best blessing that we have.

 

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There is something else I am incredibly thankful for this season.  A month and a half ago, my boyfriend B., took me on a hike.  It was a beautiful day, and the falls leaves were just starting to change color.  We started out at the park with a picnic lunch.  We then hiked through a beautiful woods, up the mountain to the top where we climbed up onto boulders to get a view of the valley and the deep blue lake below.  Then B. took me to a lookout where we were surrounded by the beauty of the woods, overlooking the lake.  While we took in the beauty of nature and the peacefulness of the moment, he asked me to MARRY HIM!!!!  I said “YES!!!!!!!”  AHHHHH!!!   WE ARE GETTING MARRIED!!!  We couldn’t be more excited!!!  My heart is so full of love for B.  He is a man of virtue and he is courageous, prayerful, strong, and handsome.  He is so much fun and always makes life an adventure.  He challenges me through his own example to be patient, kind and generous.  Please pray for us as we prepare for marriage that we continue to be sacrificial and selfless and that we may glorify God in all that we do.

Here we are the day of our engagement feeling like we were on top of the world

(cause we pretty much were on top of the world while on top of that mountain 😉 )

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My prayer for you, my dear reader, is that you may know how blessed you truly are and that you count your blessings this Thanksgiving season.

“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing;

that you may abound in hope, and in the power of the Holy Ghost.” – Romans 15:13

Happy Thanksgiving!

Worthy Of A Beautiful Marriage

27 Sep

It is 1:03 AM.  I can’t sleep.  So, I got up and put my laundry away, put my room in order, and decided to blog.

Life has been amazing.  Amazingly good, amazingly stressful, and amazingly blessed.  Everything to becoming an insurance agent over the summer, to answering phone calls about insurance questions and claims (EEEK!) to dating the man of my dreams and growing as a couple, to planning our future together.  This summer has been incredibly wonderful.  There are so many things I could write about at this wee hour of the morning.  I could write about my job, or I could write about the presidential debate, or I could write about my new hair-do.  But, I have something far more important I want to write about right now.  I want to write about marriage.

Although I am not yet married, I love talking about marriage.  I see it as an opportunity, a journey, a cross, a blessing and a GIFT.  I hope to always see marriage in this way.

Marriage is a journey whereby a man and a woman commit their lives to each other to grow in holiness and share in the joys and struggles together – to help each other carry their crosses and rejoice in their blessings – to help each other get to Heaven.

In my opinion, there are far too many people who see marriage as a day where the couple signs up for long-term misery.  In the past several years, I’ve had co-workers tell me not to get married because “life is much easier when you’re not married.”  That is so sad to hear because that gives marriage a bad rap.  I’m not denying the fact that marriage is hard.  That is a given.  Any noble cause such as marriage is hard.  It takes a lot of work and a lot of selflessness.  I just had it on my heart to write about marriage and remind you that it’s good, and imperfect, and even though it’s hard, it. is. beautiful.

Once a very wise man told me that marriage is not 50/50.  It is 100/100.  We give everything for the sake of the other person.  We withhold no generosity, kindness, charity or patience even when we are tired and feel like we have nothing left to give.  If life were more about giving of ourselves as much as we could, can you imagine what an amazing world this would be?  It would be simply amazing!

My boyfriend B. and I pray for each other every day.  Even though he lives out of town, we still find ways to have date nights on a regular basis.  We love each other through the good and the bad, the laughs and the misunderstandings.  We carry each other’s crosses and work stresses, and we share each others joys and blessings.  We pray together and ask God’s blessings on our lives and our future together (and we pray for our forthcoming engagement this year!  I’m so excited I can hardly wait!!!!)

I have been praying for my future marriage for years.  I have dreamed of my wedding day over and over again, and have dreamed of having my own children. I want it so badly that it sometimes makes me cry.  I pray that I may be a good and holy wife and mother, and an obedient daughter of God.  I pray for married couples and for couples who hope to be married someday.  Marriage is good, beautiful and holy.  It is hard and it is difficult.  It is all a GIFT from GOD.

I pray that you may find peace, love and joy in your marriage.  God is there with you through the good and the bad.  Because He loves you.

You are worthy of a beautiful marriage. 

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Cherry blossoms in Washington, DC, photo taken spring 2016

Guess who turned 92 yesterday?!

5 Aug

He lives on his own, drives his own car, buys his groceries, and attends Mass every day.  He is one of the most godly men I know.  He puts God first, no matter what, and treats everyone in the way that Christ would treat them.

I am honored to call him my grandpa.  If you know my grandpa, then you know that he is one of the most thoughtful men in the world.  He is a self-taught handy man.  He can fix pretty much anything.  When I was little, he and my grandma, (who passed away a few years ago) would come visit.  He would work on projects around the house for my mom, and would read to us kids.  One day when I was about fifteen, grandpa was outside in our backyard, and came back in the house with a rose and gave it to me – a simple gesture of love.  He has always been that way – thinking of other people and putting their needs before his own.

One of my most vivid memories of my grandpa is from when I was about 8 or 9 years old.  I was spending the day with him and my grandma and we were in the car driving near their house.  My grandpa saw a car pulled off to the side of the road with car trouble, and my grandpa pulled off the road to help him.  He looked at his car with the guy He helped him and gave him some cash to get supplies for his car.  I remember thinking how generous and selfless my grandpa was to that man.  He is like that to his friends, family, and total strangers.

My grandpa and I have “date nights” at his house where he fixes us dinner and we talk and sometimes look at the atlas and talk about history, or watch an old timey tv show.  A few years ago, I taught religious education once a week at the Catholic church near his house.  I would drive over after teaching, and we would talk about everything from the Catholic faith, to geography, to the economy, and politics.  To this day, I love going to his house for our Grandpa/granddaughter date nights.  He refuses to let me wash the dishes, and he cooks everything before I come so that it’s hot and ready to eat when I get there.  For dessert we almost always have ice cream – we both LOVE ice cream 🙂  He tells jokes and we laugh until we have tears in our eyes.  His favorite phrase is, “Are we having fun or WHAT?!!”

Yesterday we celebrated grandpa’s 92nd birthday!!  We met up for dinner – we, as in all six of his children, their spouses, and most of the 40 grandkids!  Below is a picture of one of my cousins, my grandpa, and me.  My cousin shares a birthday with my grandpa.  She turned five.  (She was soo proud of her earrings and the pink ring on her finger 🙂 )

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Here’s to my grandpa!!!  May God continue to bless him with health, happiness and holiness!!

When life throws you insurance…

27 Jun

Hi!  How has your summer been?

Mine has been complete with a job change, my sister B’s wedding, traveling to Wisconsin, and going to the doctor for the first time in forever due to a really sore throat I got with a virus.   (Thankfully it wasn’t strep throat!)  I’ve also been studying for my insurance licensing class.  Who knew that I would be studying for my insurance license this summer?!?  I sure had no clue.  Thankfully Saint Anthony and my dear heavenly Father helped me find this job that has landed me a fresh and new opportunity in the business world.

After I hired in, my manager signed me up for class.  I’ve been studying a lot and listening to the insurance CD’s in the car.  I feel like I’m learning a whole new language with the new terminology for property and casualty insurance. Here is what one of the study books looks like:

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A couple weekends ago I went to an airshow with my boyfriend B. and his family for his birthday.  We got to sit in the cockpit on one of the jets!

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IMG_2526[1].JPGWouldn’t it be neat to fly in this plane?

 

In August I’m going to be running a 5K with some of my siblings, and I ran for the first time today.  It felt good to be running again after a long hiatus.  One of my friends and I are going to start running together to keep each other on track.  It’s more fun when there is someone else to exercise with.

A couple weeks ago I was sorting some paperwork and ran across my blog topic folder and almost threw all my notes away because there are so many topics and not enough time.  But I kept all my scribbles of paper in hopes that someday soon after my insurance class and licensing, I can pull out the notes for my blog, pick some topics, and write to my hearts’ content (*sigh*.)

How have you been?  Have you been enjoying this beautiful summertime weather?  Do you have any tips for studying for insurance testing/licensing?

 

Peace and God’s blessings,

Rachel

 

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