Archive | April 2014


Sitting with a close friend whose no longer conscious, his body quietly shutting down as he is in the final stages of terminal cancer came with great heartache. As I sat talking to my friend about everything, and about nothing, my mind went to an abstract thought about listening. I think being good at listening is one of the ways we can humble ourselves with others, and with our world.
  Quite possibly l was avoiding what my heart was feeling, but that’s another post, for another time. This is about listening.  
As I tend to do when something catches my attention I began thinking about it. Listening; observing how I listen, and later I began reading about it.
We crave the sound of another’s voice. Our human voice’s triggers laughter, tears, anticipation, urgency, often time love, and even comfort. Our ears are the complex instrument that for most of us we use to identify, perceive, and decipher speech and sound.
Our internal receiver & amplifier if you will. I’ve heard in the past, and just recently again I read that hearing is one of the last senses to leave us as we die.
Listening as an art isn’t something everyone does on the same level, and for a variety of reasons. But even in the worst case of environmental conditions for listening for most of us our brains act like a fine piece of software and reconstruct words, allowing us to decipher the gist of what is being said.
Cognitively we have learned how to pick up on clues and isolate them out, and sounds yes, but just as important to ‘listen ‘to are the lip movements, smiles, frowns, pauses, stammers. Our brain’s stitches them together in a commonsense of order which we use to communicate. 
I’m curious how often I miss something important being said because I heard only the gist of it. 
I was listening, I received most of it. Right?
The majority of what we think we hear is a product of our imaginations. Apparently without being conscious of it we tend to fill in missing gaps in other people’s verbal narratives. We often correct grammar, interpret accents, add punctuation. and even substitute words all the time our brain’s word processor is creating what we hear as the other person speaks. 
How many times have you known what someone is going to say before they have even finished?
Nothing about listening is passive. I had no idea there is an actual name given to this phenomenal effect, let alone that there is literature written on the topic.
It’s a process called ‘Phonetic Restoration’– Briefly, it’s a survival skill we all make use of that allows us to decipher communications, for instance when the captain of the ship is trying to communicate to frightened passengers over a public address system in a full-on roaring wind storm. The passengers get the gist of the warning.
Let Wikipedia have a go at it, a better explanation:
For reference compliments of Wikipedia: – Phonemic restoration effect is a perceptual phenomenon where under certain conditions, sounds actually missing from a speech signal can be hallucinated by the brain and clearly heard. The effect occurs when missing phonemes in an auditory signal are replaced with white noise, resulting in the brain filling in absent phonemes. The effect can be so strong that listeners do not even know that there are phonemes missing. This effect is commonly observed in a conversation with heavy background noise, making it difficult to properly hear every phoneme being spoken. Different factors can change the strength of the effect, including age and gender.
This effect is more important to humans than what was initially thought. Linguists have pointed out that at least the English language is full of false starts and extraneous sounds. The phonemic restoration effect is the brain’s way of resolving those imperfections in our speech. Without this effect interfering with our language processing, there would be a greater need for much more accurate speech signals and human speech could require much more precision. For experiments, white noise is necessary because it takes the place of these imperfections in speech. One of the most important factors in language is continuity and in turn intelligibility
I find I’m being more mindful now when listening. Intentionally I sit back, relax, and just listen with every sense. Being aware of how much concentration it takes to follow and absorb every word of a verbal exchange is daunting, but an amazing experiment.
Talking isn’t necessarily a requirement to be a participant in communication.
We also convey what we mean with our glances, how we tilt our head, smiles & facial expressions, these all become part of the exchange. Silently we can orchestrate the arrangement of a conversation, influencing its course, and its outcome.


Writing about listening needs to include a word on words. Words are a key element to communication, an obvious component of listening. 

Apparently our brains create about 500 hundred words per minute (wpm) when in a quiet environment. Our brain’s have a tremendous large appetite for auditory stimulation. Most of us speak about 150 words per minute, that is assuming we are using full sentences when conveying a desired message. This leaves a lag of about 350 words. (using the 500 wpm theory) We make use of this lag to listen to our intuition and perceptions. We engage, we listen with our eyes as much as with our ears.

It’s said that a good listener is also a good spectator by following a discussion along while also scrutinizing facial expressions and body language.

Yet even with adopting these listening practices we might not come away from a discussion with the ability to repeat what was said verbatim, or to remember things such as dates or names. But we will have absorbed the entire concept creating our own perception’s of what was said.


I don’t think we need to beat ourselves up when we come away without complete recall of important details such as dates and names. According to one major university study intellectual content only accounts for about 7% of all verbal communication.

Surprise you? Did me.

What we share between a speaker and listener’s is more than sharing mere words. We feel vibrations in speech, even though it’s not always audible. Some tones trigger auditory responses, some affect our moods, and some create unexpected thoughts or memories.

What we don’t hear in words we register with our other senses. Being good at listening ultimately means to use our entire being, all of our senses as a sounding board for what other people are communicating.

I intend to pay closer attention

. .


It’s Really No Secret-


It’s been a strange Spring.

It’s become one of my busiest Spring’s I’ve had in some years. This isn’t a bad thing,  Embracing all life’s adventures that are appearing along my journey I have days when I “hit the rack” almost asleep before I get there. Though some days  I am reminded that I live with chronic illness being part of my life, most often I’m able to function pretty well in my self-accommodating ways without much interference. I say most often. Tuesday April Fools Day was not to be one of those days.

I’m writing this because what old symptoms masked could have been dangerous; and to share my experience of learning how foolish it is to self-diagnosis. No matter how well you know your own body.

The day started in my normal laid back routine. After washing my face & teeth, a brush through my hair I begin the day with music, coffee and toast. in that order. But that morning I wasn’t really hungry. I sat down at the computer to do some work for the artist’s I work for, needed to begin some new research for radio promo copy, and to transpose a live radio interview into a written narrative interview. I had plenty to do.  I’d been out-of-town the Thursday before through Saturday and just the road trip and sleeping in a different bed had incited muscles spasms that are a chronic problem,  just enough to pay attention. Nothing a good stretch would not rectify.

I soon could tell that the muscle spasms (thoracic back muscles) were beyond tense, spasms full-on that make me nauseated. The vicious cycle this starts has also become routine. I couldn’t keep the medicine down that would help my muscle spasms because the spasms themselves were making me nauseated.

I paid attention,  tried the usual treatment modalities that typically work, and tried waiting for the spasms to relax. To no avail.

By noon I was in full spasms.

Full thoracic spasms for me trigger nausea. Not always, but this was not to be one of the times not.  Typically once I can get the spasms to calm down and relax with medication I improve within a few hours. I assumed this was the same thing going on.

Only it wasn’t.

I had misdiagnosed myself.

My daughter had already arrived in response to my call to come help me put a Lidocaine transdermal patch on my back for me.  One of the tools in my arsenal of treatment modalities. I thought at one point that I was improving. But when the spasms intensified and started coming around to my chest muscles I got scared. I asked my daughter to phone the paramedics. I wasn’t sure what was happening , but I was getting freaked.  Literally,

By the time the paramedics arrived I was hyperventilating, as well as in severe pain and very ill.  These fine professionals (is it a prerequisite that all  fire-fighter/paramedic be good-looking?) were thorough, yet fast. They were able to assure me I was not having any type of cardiac event.. but  I was in obvious distress and was advised to go the emergency room.

I did.  I’m lucky I did.

I was diagnosed (first) with Pancreatitis.

When I say I was lucky that the doctor who treated me in the emergency room is a good detective this is no exaggeration. I was given by IV pain medication, muscle relaxer, anti-nausea medications and fluids for hydration. Once the meds and relief from the pain hit I apparently passed out.
Upon waking despite my reassurance to the ER doctor that “I felt fine now” and my assurance that my self-diagnosis was what I was dealing with I asked to go home. Unbeknownst to me this fine doctor had done some detective work with my blood  tests and after receiving my lab reports explained his detection of pancreatitis. He explained to my daughter and myself that this is a potentially dangerous condition and he was admitting me straight away. No if’ , an, or buts.  Do not pass go.
I tried to convince the doctor that I would promise to come back at the end of the week, that would fit in better with my schedule and the obligations I had. This was not to be. And trust me, he was not amused or impressed.
 I was admitted immediately, had an ultra-sound imaging of my pancreas, gallbladder, and liver. Finally a kind orderly transported my heavily medicated self up to my room. Angels watching over me yet once again because the room was private with an amazing view of my mountains..
mountain view from st charles_04_02.2014
Along with the diagnosis the night before the morning light brought this magnificent and majestic view looking west outside my 4th floor private room as well as another diagnosis of gallstones.  St Charles Medical Center is a Hilton of hospital’s including room service menu to order, and not your typical hospital food. I was a little disappointed that I was not able to order as I wanted off their menu, I went from ‘nothing by mouth’ to clear liquids, to bland-low-fat all in 3 days. Which is to be my diet for the next few weeks. The treatment for pancreatitis is to treat the pain and nausea, and to rest the digests system until the pancreas is no longer inflamed.
I was able to come home by that Thursday afternoon. I will have to have the gallbladder removed the first part of May.
I wanted to write about this because had another random ER doctor seen me the chances of finding the source of my distress might not have been so forthcoming. The symptoms I presented with were atypical, and the typical symptoms for pancreatitis were absent. The quick diagnosis was really a life saver. We can live without a gallbladder, but not so much without a pancreas.
My new found respect for emergency room doctors and the validation of the fine medial staff on the high desert has become a great source of the gratitude I’m feeling today.
I also wanted to write about the life lesson I found,  and an irony ( for lack of better word) in how the universe grabbed my attention. When I was hit with this news the first thing that went through my mind was “I don’t have time for this” I wanted, as I said, to just go home and get n with my life. There is a lesson I am trying to absorb. To slow down and appreciate the projects and work in my life. I went into this reinvention of my professional life out of passion, I need to make certain that passion has room in between all the minutia of work.
The timing of all this kind of blows me away. Funny how life lessons work in this way. I wasn’t home from the hospital 3 days when a message from an award-winning recording artist asking me to phone him with his phone number included. He graced my Sunday with a fantastic chat, his music (even a personal concert via the phone) and yet more networking for both of us. I look forward to working with him here in Oregon.
Add to that another business proposition concerning a record label in the works that I have been approached with I can hardly breath. From excitement and passion.
This is why I’m here  writing about not losing grasp of that fact.
I’m blown away n many ways how this is all transpiring. I know it’s happening because it is meant to, I also know it is happening because it’s where my dream chasing the last 2 years have led me. Thinking, wishing, praying, and being proactive towards working for those things that matter really does add a positive energy that can have a fabulous outcome. By keeping the faith and not allowing the negatives into that energy we create with our thoughts and actions,  this become goals accomplished. This becomes dreams chased down.
While a frightening and painful experience this has been and I’m still not through it all I’m still choosing to see all the positives. Ever heard getting ahead of your own good?  Or getting too big for your pants?” ( a favorite expression of my mom’s)
I find this “whoa-it down” an emotional intelligence lesson as well as physical.
I need to remember to not forget to stop and smell the roses all along the way.
Wings soaring- Wings descending.
Deep and slow breath in…. exhale slowly.
Repeat as needed.
brick fields and the chosen ones

Music by Brick Fields. (self-serving on my part here because Brick Fields is part of making my own dream happen by hiring me as their artist manager.)

Thank you Rachel & Larry. Love you Brick Fields!!



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