In the modern age, long past the time Aesop and Burl Ives were telling stories, hybrids thrived.
One such unlikely combination was the grasshopper and the ant.
Now, you would think that being such behavioral opposites their paths would never cross.
You’d be wrong.
Somewhere in the reeds and weeds all the bugs were doing their thing. Beetles rolled balls of doo-doo around in circles. Bees started happy hour before five o’clock while cockroaches didn’t look anyone in the eye.
Ants, on the other hand, saw none of this, nor did they care. Their journey was always the same: back and forth back and forth from here to there here to there without looking left or right the whole time.
“Don’t wait it’ll be too late don’t wait it’ll be too late,” That was the mantra of the ant.
A world away – in bug terms, actually only a few yards – a grasshopper did grasshopper things. A traditional dance danced to a traditional song. A game of Reverse Limbo. Hopping and leaping hopping and leaping getting the rep of not being in one place too long. A grasshopper’s boots were never parked under anyone’s bed.
“La la la la la la live for today.” That was the grasshopper’s mantra.
Now, I know a lot, I’m very smart and awfully tuned-in, but, to be honest, I don’t know how the two of them – being so different and all – got together.
But they did.
No longer was it this way or that way right or wrong yes or no. The grasshopper and ant created an us where before there was only a yours or mine. No longer just different bugs, the grasshopper and ant created more:
A view looking down plus a view looking around;
Purpose and play all in one day;
In turns open-minded and single-minded;
Rewards from busy and the permission of intimate;
All that, plus leaving room for each to do their own thing.
Here it is, the end of my story. I thought long and hard about the best way to finish it.
The truth is that the end is the beginning as much as a beginning is an end in itself. It’s truly true that an ant by itself and a grasshopper alone is never as juicy as the two together.
Two together is the only way to live happily ever after.
The End (The Beginning, as well.)
A couple of weeks ago I introduced Rachelle Friedman to those of you who don’t know her. If you recall, she became wheelchair-bound due to a freak accident at her bachelorette party. I promised to tell you more…
Not to be cheesy, but Rachelle and her husband, Chris, are nothing short of inspiring. They never chose to be in the spotlight, but they are. Their lives together have a level of transparency they’d never planned, where privacy doesn’t look anything like it used to.
The very act of being married is a prime example.
He stayed with her? Actually married her? No shit! Uh, what about sex? They don’t “do it”, do they?
The answers are all “yes”.
Much is made of Chris’ staying with her. It’s not just that she had an accident, ended up in a wheelchair, and except for that everything else stayed the same. Rehab was long and painful. With paralysis, her body changed and she’s plagued by low blood pressure, which makes activity dicey. And even though she can’t move her legs, nerve pain still exists — something medication doesn’t completely take away. So why does Chris stay? “The extra hardships don’t outweigh his love,” Rachelle will tell you. It’s not that he “stayed with a girl in a chair that makes him great. It’s that he’s loving and giving no matter what.”
Rachelle doesn’t understand the fuss that’s made of her everyday life, either. “Just because I wake up in the morning, eat breakfast, work out every now and then and play sports with a disability…does not make me inspiring.”
One of the biggest changes has been in Rachelle’s career path, and the corresponding change in life plans because of it. She can no longer teach aerobics, nor can she be a reliable 9-5 employee. This young woman likes to inspire and also to educate. She is registered with a speaker’s bureau and has been doing some cool speaking gigs. If money was not a roadblock, wants to be a coach, helping other people. With the loss of that second income, the couple struggles financially.
You could call her the Queen of Lemonade, but I think there’s more to Rachelle than that. I’m sure there are moments… But she is blessed with talent, beauty, and drive, so Rachelle would be a winner no matter what. That she has a wheelchair in the way, well, that’s just a lotta lemons.
Kathe Skinner is a Relationship Coach, Certified Relationship Expert and Marriage & Family Therapist in Colorado where she conducts communication workshops for couples, pre-married’s, the invisibly disabled, and the over 50 crowd. Kathe enjoys collaborating with other professionals in order to reach more relationships affected by hidden disability. She sits on the Executive Board of the Invisible Disabilities Association, is a regular contributor to Disability.gov., and is an ardent-and-natural-teacher-without-a-classroom. She has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis for over 30 years. More about Kathe at www.BeingHeardNow.com.
Open mouth, insert foot. It’s the verbal version of walking through the restaurant with toilet paper on your shoe. We’ve all experienced the mortification of poor verbal choices. Sometimes, embarrassing stuff just happens. Letting those blunders happen more often than not, though, is a problem that goes beyond stuff that sometimes happens.
1. Slow Down: I’m reminded of reading only the first part of a test question only to have it turn out that the actual question was in the part I didn’t take time to read. Being impatient diminishes the amount of information you have at hand, which leads to uninformed or ill-informed comments. You haven’t demonstrated complete interest in someone else; you’ve taken over control of their speech. You’re seen as self-centered, rude, brainless and uncaring. Men report that women talk too much, citing that as the reason they don’t listen. Whatever the cause, look for the speaker to shut down and become disinterested in you as a conversation partner.
2. Pay Attention: It is nothing short of insulting when the listener doesn’t appear to be listening. The oops can be verbal or non-verbal: eyes looking elsewhere instead of making contact with the speaker; paying attention to your own task while saying you’re listening; saying something irrelevant to the conversation. Some of my worst oopses have come from replacing the speaker’s reality with my own. The result is that I’m left behind and the speaker knows it’s because I’ve broken a cardinal rule of good communication: I haven’t paid attention. I cringe every time I look at a picture taken at a business function where one of the guys I’m talking to is looking around the room, not at me. When that happens to you pay attention to how you feel; I guarantee you won’t do it to anyone else.
2. Stop Assuming: Unless your crystal-ball is in good working order, acknowledge you don’t know everything. Take in what your environment is really about; those who assume don’t. The result includes finishing other peoples” sentences, interrupting with comments that go in the wrong direction, misinterpreting what’s really being said. Women pull out their crystal balls when they complain that their partners don’t talk to them, or even listen in the first place. The assumption is that a partner’s thoughts, and especially feelings, are being purposely withheld. The result can lead to a rift that is about far more than what the topic of conversation was. Want a clue? Look for a surprised or confused look from the speaker.
3. When in Doubt: People are generally uncomfortable with dead air. If you doubt that’s true, pay attention to your comfort level when the radio or t.v. looses sound. In fact, there is no rule that says that the air must be filled with someone always saying something. For some of us, the tendency to chatter takes hold, resulting in poor or unconsidered statements. When in doubt, zip it.
4. Apologize Sincerely: There are times when everything you’ve done has turned out wrong. Your enthusiasm leads to interruptions, perhaps because of identifying so much with the speaker’s topic you take over. Other times your disinterest may show. Or you may fail to edit yourself: what comes up, comes out. There are so many examples, I’m sure everyone can think of a cringe-worthy moment. Whether or not you’re responsible, tune immediately into the speaker. Be truly sincere when you say how sorry you are you’ve caused confusion or distress. People generally react warmly to someone who really cares how they feel. Don’t make it long and drawn out and be light-hearted if you can. Whatever you do, don’t put blame out there somewhere. Accept responsibility and be sincere about it.
5. Know Yourself: I’m an inveterate talker because I’m so curious. I know, too, that when I get nervous I talk too much. Two thousand feet down in the Molly Kathleen gold mine, you couldn’t shut me up; the tour guide finally stopped acknowledging me at all and my husband pretended like he didn’t know me. When I tuned in to their non-verbal responses to me, I knew to be quiet.
Truth is that sometimes goofs happen. Part of what makes us endearing is having flaws and being vulnerable because of them. Pay attention to basic communication skills; you’ll benefit from not crossing the line into mean, and your oopses will be quickly forgiven.
Kathe Skinner is a Colorado Springs Relationship Coach with a sub-specialty working with couples whose relationship has been impacted by invisible disability. She herself has MS. Kathe and her husband, David, teach Couples Communication Classes along the Front Range of Colorado. Personal experience makes them believers that good communication skills are necessary for a successful relationship.
Every now and then, the background becomes foreground, and I stop.
And I listen. And I’m reminded.
I hope this song will do the same for you.