seasons

seasons
the chill of fall is here my friend
soon there will be frost
August is but a memory
July forever lost
the days fly by like blowing leaves
rattling along the wind
the light flees the sky earlier now
into a night without end
leaves change color daily
orange red and yellow
this world is in need of rest
a pleasant doddering fellow
winter will replace the fall
the wind the bones will chill
the snow will drop deep and wet
children ride down the hill
the winter air is lovely
crisp cool and clean
but winter will also pass
making way for spring
during this season the rain will fall
it is the rite of spring
plants will return to life
bathing the world in green
flowers bloom a rainbow
a feast for every eye
almost as quickly they are gone
far too fast to cry
summer is upon us again
heat mixes with the birds call
just as quickly it is gone
we then return to fall

The Conversationalist

One of the greatest compliments that a person can receive is when he or she leaves a conversation and one person says, “you know, it was really great talking to him or her.”  It is also an extremely rare occasion anymore.  Why you may ask?  Simply, we most often communicate and far less often we converse.  The difference between the two might seem like splitting hairs; however, the goodwill created in a conversation is not shared when one communicates.  Here are the four keys to being a great conversationalist.

  1. Listen carefully. In many verbal exchanges, we listen with the intent of being able to respond.  But in a conversational situation, we should listen to make the conversation more enjoyable.  Listen to what the other person is saying.  Watch and the speaker’s body language when he or she is talking about a subject.  These clues will lead you to the topics that he or she really wants to discuss.  To be considered a great conversationalist, you must talk about things that the other person finds interesting.
  2. Ask questions. Chances are, if you are engaging someone in conversation for the first time, he or she will know far more about his or her preferred topic than you.  Even if that is not the case, ask questions instead of making statements.  People like to be considered an expert in something; they like to spread their knowledge.  It is a conversation, not an I-know-more-than-you contest.
  3. Verbal and nonverbal acknowledgements. It is not enough to let someone talk without showing any interest in what he or she is saying; your partner has to know that you are listening.  This can be accomplished verbally and nonverbally.  Part of the verbal acknowledgement is asking questions highlighted in #2.  You should also make positive comments while your partner is talking, but not to the point that it will stop your partner’s speaking flow.  Consider saying things like “yes” or” I agree,” but not during every sentence.  Using nonverbal acknowledgements will also show that you are being attentive.  Lean slightly toward the speaker.  Though subtle, this conveys that you are paying close attention.  Make eye contact as often as possible.  Let the speaker know that he or she has your complete attention.
  4. No phones. I know that we think that we must be in constant contact with the world at all times, but if you are in a conversation, leave the phone in your pocket.  Nothing says, “I am bored and ready to move on” like pulling out your phone and dashing off a text message in the middle of someone’s story.  It is rude and self-absorbed.  Truthfully, this action will probably be the only thing that the speaker remembers from the conversation.

If you can incorporate these suggestions into your next conversation, I assure you that the next conversation will be far better than your normal conversation.  Like everything else, the more that you practice it, the better you will become at it and the easier it will become.

Crossroads

Crossoroads

standing at the corner

bathed in the midnight moon
waitin’  for the meeting
he should be here soon
I am certain this is the place
where things are bought and sold
I gotta make my best deal
before I become too old
there is a vile smell
sulfur floats in the air
gotta get this thing done
do it while I dare
he’s not coming round tonight
got others to deceive
not going to waste the time
on one that don’t believe
the voice startles me and
I step back in fear
how could I not know
that another was so near
although her mouth was smiling
her eyes were cold as death
seemed like hours had passed
while I coyly held my breath
you got nothing to trade as
you have every believed in naught
never helped a single soul
never defended a single thought
when you are trading nothing
you get nothing in return
maybe you understand
perhaps you may yet learn
so I stand at the crossroad
alone and full of fright
never shall I return
not another fearful night
many spend their life with faith
I spend my life and know
I was saved from death this night
‘neath the moon’s pale glow.

Be yourself

I am Saeval

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“Be yourself.”  This is a term that we hear on a daily basis, but which me am I supposed to be.  Should I be the me that I am when I am at home with my wife?  or perhaps the me that I am when I stand before students.  Maybe I should be the me that I am when I am trying to make a business arrangement.  This line of thought led me to the question, “how much of who we think we are is really us?”  Yes, philosophical crap, I realize this, but how much of who we think we are is just constructed through media and peer pressure?  We are told how we are supposed to look, talk, sound, act, and be.  Further, we are influenced by what we see in the media all the time.  Still further, clothing manufacturers decide what we wear, auto manufacturers decide what…

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The Valley

the morning breaks across the hill
bathing the valley new
the grasses sparkle wildly
as sun caresses the dew

the smells of nature ring clear and sweet
floating along the mist
the smell of flower and of trees
with a little decay mixed.

life often springs from ashes
or the remains of other life.
a sprout rises brave and true
parting soil like a knife.

a rabbit hops among the grass
appearing quite aloof
but ever casting a wary eye
for the fox or for the wolf

I sit within the valley still
over some with joy and pride
I help to nourish the grass, the trees
like others who have died.

do not weep, do not be sad
that I no longer live on the lane
my essence, my love is crystal clear
a single drop of rain

Ways to Appear Smarter

 

Ways to appear smarter. It sounds like a method to bluff your way through life. That is not what this means at all. Truthfully, most people have their intelligence underestimated most of the time. While this can be an advantage in some situations, such as negotiations and other contentious exchanges, it is a distinct disadvantage in most cases. Showcasing your intelligence is important and the vehicle for this is usually conversation. Here are 5 ways that you can use conversation to appear more intelligent.
1. Read. Wait a minute, you said we were going to talk about conversation. Aye, that I did and reading is an awesome way to improve your conversation skills. I am not talking about reading stuffy, boring stuff either. Read what you enjoy. Read instead of watching television. Read anything that you can find. Why? Well, for one, it gives you something to talk about intelligently. I immediately perk up when I hear, “I read this thing the other day and it said…” Secondly, it exposes you to ideas that you might not normally see. Often, our circle of people is very similar to us, so we spend a lot of time regurgitating the same ideas over and over. Reading throws new wood on the fire.
2. Refrain from using “um” and “ah”. This is the bane of my existence. I have a terrible time with this because, for some reason, I think that every second of conversation time must be filled with my voice. When I make the conscious effort not to use these filler sounds, I find that people pay far more attention to what I am saying. I have also found that I pay more attention to people when they don’t use these filler sounds.
3. Actually listen to the other person in the conversation. I know that this sounds cliché, but most people listen to respond. That is, people listen while trying to better understand why they say what they say and why they feel like they feel. By listening in this manner, you can respond to the other person’s concerns, which makes you appear more in tune with the conversation and the other speaker.
4. Speak (reasonably) slowly. We often want to get all of our words out at one time. We want the other person to understand exactly what we think and feel, and we want to do it all at once. This is not the best way to communicate, but we often think that everyone will understand our rapid, incessant ramblings. It never works out for the best and often requires a lot of explaining.
5. Use expressive words. This is my personal favorite. When my daughter was a little slip of a girl, everything was “good”. I explained that there were hundreds of words that meant varying degrees of good and gave her a boatload of examples. Her next response was “VERY good.” The English language is expansive for the very reason of being as precise as possible. I am not suggesting that people attempt to use all the hundreds of variations of “good”, but circulating five to ten in your conversation will make you appear more intelligent.