Our Stories

Stop, Look and Listen

June 5, 2017

Mary did not know what wutherin’ meant



The Secret Garden

Are you really listening to your friends, kids, spouse, employees, or even to the sound of your own heart?

We can HEAR sounds without engaging in them, but a whole new world opens up when we really LISTEN.

For example, I am sitting in my regular chair at Starbucks, from which I can HEAR the familiar sounds of ice being scooped, espressos being pulled, and orders being taken. But if I LISTEN closer, I can recognize the joys of a shift almost completed, or see the stress of a new employee over a backed up line and I can even sympathize with the concerns shared at an adjacent table over a regular customer’s ailing dog.

You see, hearing is basically accidental and effortless. We can’t help but to hear things. But to really listen to understand…takes intention.

Mary paints this picture perfectly in The Secret Garden when she said,

“I wasn’t listening, I was just waiting for you—and I heard it.”

Too many times, in my tornado of busyness, I am just as passive as Mary was here. I’m just standing there, trying to do a million things at once…as the words fly at me…with only my ears to catch them. My brain is NOT engaged. And by not stopping to really listen, I have let the words of those around me, especially those of my children, fall meaningless.*Sigh.*


Listening requires Focus, Consciousness, and Concentration,

but too many days I am Distracted, Semi-Conscious, and Scattered at at best.

Is anyone else nodding their heads?

I heard recently that “hearing is through the ears, while listening is done through the mind.” And since my mind can be a very crowded place full of: schedules, worries, fears, story ideas, random movie lines and 90’s rap lyrics, it makes it nearly impossible someday for me to listen well.

So I am putting together an action plan for better listening…and thank goodness it is pretty simple. To better understand I am going to try to STOP, LOOK, and then LISTEN. Who’s with me?


Stopping means putting down the distractions that are keeping us from really listening. When engaging with your heart, your kids or anyone else, try to eliminate all external distractions: screens, devices, paperwork, movement (walking/driving) and more to give total focus to that which is in front of you.

“She STOPPED and listened to him and somehow his

cheerful, friendly little whistle gave her a pleased feeling.”

The Secret Garden


Let’s take the time to LOOK into each others eyes and talk face to face. Don’t just text. I know it is easy…but it isn’t the full story. Then, open your eyes to SEE what they are saying with their eyes, body language, and other visual cues.

“Colin kept lifting his thin chest to draw it in,

and his big eyes LOOKed as if

it were they which were listening,

instead of his ears.”

The Secret Garden


It’s only when we have mastered STOP and LOOK, that we can really listen. And I know WE CAN DO IT!

I am leaving this last lesson to a 3 year old boy named Mateo who has stolen my heart.

It’s true, I am obsessed with a spunky little boy, who’s video has gone viral lately. Here is the video premise:

He was caught trying to swindle Grandma into letting him eat a cupcake for dinner, and his mom Linda is videoing herself confronting him with her evidence. He is busted and feels like he is not being heard properly, so he keeps saying,

“Listen Linda…look it…look it…LISTEN to Me.” as he tries desperately with his childish charm and wit to get his mom to see past his behavior. 

I am constantly quoting him now in my daily life, and I have even considered renaming at least one of my chickens “Listen-Linda”.

His tactics have clearly been used on his mother before, because she is NOT falling for any of it.

But as he repeats himself over and over and over to his mother, I can’t help but hear my two kids, husband and even my own heart in his voice, imploring me to:

“LISTEN (Mommy, Honey, and Keri), Look It, Look It, LISTEN TO ME.”

Wishing Each of You the Time, Place, and Space in your Life to STOP, LOOK, and LISTEN better,

FHB and Especially Me