Choose to be Curious, Life Lessons

Curiosity Across Political Distance

I’ve been trying to channel Walt Whitman’s wisdom, “Be curious, not judgmental,” but I confess I’m not always successful.

And, drawing on an old aphorism I used in my previous career — that if one person is asking, five more are wondering, I thought it would be interesting to have a conversation with someone who is genuinely trying to be curious across current political divides, both ideological and geographic. photo - Snyder Studio Shot

Enter Stacy Snyder, Arlington potter and founder of Together Virginia, a PAC devoted to  fostering conversations between Virginians with a particular focus on rural voters. Their goal is to encourage trust and understanding.

Which seemed like a grand place to start a conversation about curiosity and listening well…

Listen to Choose to be Curious #29: Curiosity Across Political Distance. 

Choose to be Curious, Curiosity Journal

Curiosity to Go, a debut

Going into Year two of this Choose to be Curious adventure, I’ve been wondering where the stretches will come — which way I’ll decide to push myself and the show — and where those efforts will take me.

Opportunity knocked.

The morning show hosts at WERA asked me to put together “shorts” for their use during the drive-time program. Ever the station enthusiasts, they see it as an opportunity to highlight programming, but they concede they actually like Choose to be Curious, love that it’s gotten them thinking, and they’d like to share that with their audience. Who am I to stand in their way?

So this is my first effort with previews and highlights, all in under five minutes. Turns out this format is an entirely different beast. Listening to it on the air, I heard all the room for improvement, had second thoughts about construction, saw where else I might have gone with it. And there’s the beauty: it’s another chance to learn, to stretch, to test.

I think what I like best about this format is the chance to link very different shows in new ways. In an interview for InPower Women’s “Coffee Break” series earlier this week (more on that later), I shared my “reiterate, reflect, repeat” mantra. These “Curiosity to Go” segments are just that – an opportunity for reiteration and reflection, coming to me from entirely unforeseen source.

Just me, listening to the universe again…

Listen to “Curiosity to Go – Ep. 1 – 2017.05.17”

 

Choose to be Curious

Curiosity and Writing Fiction

One of the many things I love about doing the radio show Choose to be Curious is the many and remarkable new people it brings into my life. But sometimes I return to familiar folks, and this was one of those special occasions. Such a pleasure to explore curiosity and the art of fiction with author and college friend, Laura McBride.

Listen to Choose to be Curious #28: Curiosity and Writing Fiction – with Laura McBride.

Laura’s new novel ‘Round Midnight, “equal parts intricate and graceful,” was released May 2. More on Laura and her work here.

Choose to be Curious

Curiosity & Trust

How lovely to mark the first anniversary of Choose to be Curious with a focus on something like trust!

From the very first conversation with teacher Micaela Pond to the most recent with Monique Brown on racism, trust kept coming up in our conversations about curiosity in work and life. So I asked Scott Nycum, whose take on curiosity and leadership has been so well-received, to come back and explore this tender topic with me.

And what a delight to have the excuse to revisit some favorite moments in shows with Kelly Falkner on scientists and curiosity, Tom King on curiosity, the CIA, and the Caped Crusader, fellow WERA producer Jesse Robinson on the curiosity of “yes-and” in improv, Evie Priestman’s curiosity battle cry in our look at gender identity, and Jenn Seiff’s calming “5-5-5”.

I am deeply grateful for all the people who have made Choose to be Curious possible – from my talented and endlessly patient teachers, trainers and mentors, to my gracious and wise guests, my loyal listeners, and all the things so worthy of our curiosity. Thank you for choosing to be curious with me!

Listen to Choose to be Curious #27: Curiosity & Trust – with Scott Nycum.

Choose to be Curious

Curiosity and Challenging Racism

I take baby steps, stumbling, falling backward as often as making progress forward. But like a toddler, I’m determined to get better at this challenging racism thing. It takes practice, allies — and curiosity. What can we learn by making an explicit choice to be curious about race and racism? A lot, friends. A lot.

I am deeply grateful to Monique Brown and her colleagues at Challenging Racism for helping me and so many others along this important journey.

Listen to Choose to be Curious #26: Challenging Racism, part 2 – with Monique Brown.

You can listen to the first installment of this two part conversation here.

Back Story, Choose to be Curious, Life Lessons

201

201 is an HTTP status code indicating a new resource was successfully created in response to the request

201, in binary (11001001), is the title of an episode in Star Trek: The Next Generation

Upon upload, I received a cheerful message from WordPress that my most recent blog entry was the 200th post on Listening to the Universe. That (1) came as something of a surprise and (2) makes this #201.

Upon reflection, I thought: right!  I’ve been at this almost exactly two years, and with two posts a week, every week, mostly reliably for those two years, well, here I am: 201.

And upon further reflection, I realized it was time to listen to the universe anew. Which in my case has meant deciding to hit the pause button on Listening to the Universe.

listening earsI put my listening ears on this week, both fabricated and figurative. As a Roving Reader at a local elementary school, I donned tiger-striped ears and read the story of Elizabeth Blackwell, first American woman to earn a medical degree in the U.S. to first graders; a charming confection about a child “zooming” with his mother in her wheelchair to Montessori preschoolers; and a story of Ella Fitzgerald’s youth that taught me a thing or two and kept the 4th and 5th grade band members on the stage in rapt attention despite the lunchtime din coming through the curtains behind them.  My fuzzy headband was meant to model good listening, but the kids didn’t need reminding.

I came home and put my listening ears on again, sans fur. I heard the deafening yawn of my own disinterest and knew, in my bones, it was time to acknowledge that my energy and focus are elsewhere. That this blog, in this form, was right for that time. That I’ve said what I found I needed to say, for now, here.

That it’s time to listen, deeply, to the voice that calls me in a new direction.

I invite you to join me on that journey. Much of it won’t seem very different from a lot of what you’ve seen here: in Choose to be Curious I share episodes of my radio program and plan for periodic and more in-depth writing on curiosity.  There are a few old Listening to the Universe nuggets you might recognize there already: the talk that got me started; reflections on the magical mix of curiosity and walking [this one too]; the roots of what I hope will be a robust body of work on leading with curiosity, and various interviews. It’s been fun to revisit them of late.

I began with this….

Then today, two days after my birthday, I find myself on a liquid diet, preparing for tomorrow’s colonoscopy. It’s a routine procedure and, other than a previous cancer diagnosis, I have no particular reason to be worried about it. But it is still a reminder that there are no guarantees. That life is short. So you should just do things and stop worrying about whether it’s good enough already.

Today I am reminded that my best decisions in recent months have all been about things that pushed me outside my comfort zone. That the universe offers up opportunities complete with encouraging messages more often than we realize — if we will only listen.

So here I am, taking a deep breath amid all my unvarnished work-in-progress dust, and plunging forward before I can second guess myself again. Spinning this out there among all the other stardust. Trying to listen when the universe talks. Trying to learn as I go.

The learning? I’ve certainly deepened my appreciation for the discipline of writing. I have a new reverence for the awesome accountability of wholly self-imposed deadlines and the power of operating outside my comfort zone.  I have a newfound and profound admiration for the the many, unexpected and unsettling places teachers lurk and of the innumerable lessons yet to come. It feels like two years well spent.

Please consider signing on to receive the Choose to be Curious blog posts, as you have received these. It’s been wonderful knowing you are out there, along on this journey in some form or another. Thank you for being a listening ear as I’ve tried to listen to the universe — and to myself. I am delighted to have found wisdom in both.

I hope you’ll join me next time. Until then — choose to be curious!

 

Choose to be Curious

Curiosity & the Farmers Market

IMG_1557What if you go somewhere familiar and choose to be curious?

What more do you see, hear, taste and learn? We find out on this fun visit to Arlington Farmers Market at Court House.

How to make soap, taste test olive oil, store mushrooms; where the best fruit grows; who plays the charango….and some of the stories behind all the people who make up the market.

Listen to Choose to be Curious #24: Curiosity & the Farmers Market.