This is a picture of my favorite vacation place. I travel there in my imagination every two hours because it has been so cold here. It seems to help. I used to make fun of people with those Snuggie things, but at two this morning I secretly wished I had gotten one for Christmas. I could justify keeping it because I wouldn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

What’s best about my warm beach of choice is having the opportunity to simply sit and listen. The waves, the wind, people laughing, the music, even the sound of those prehistoric looking birds are all a part of why I relax. I suppose it’s mostly because I take the time to consciously listen.

Listening is honestly a learned art. It’s easy concentrating on the sounds of the beach, but it’s much more of a challenge to stay focused when someone else is talking. That’s probably because most of the time we are more interested in having our say than listening to what is being said.

What a gift you extend listening to a friend without analyzing, judging, or trying to fix anything. Being quiet, making eye contact, lifting an eyebrow occasionally, and saying things like, “Oh, wow!” or “Then what happened?” is like a dose of medicine for a flustered heart.

There’s more to listening than just being quiet. It’s not passive, but active. It requires silencing all the noise and conversations in your head and not thinking about what you’re going to say next. It’s pure attention and concentration on the other person. Listening is the greatest way to show someone you care.

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