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Captains Curious: Curiosity Is the Ultimate Room Freshener


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Welcome to Captains Curious, a weekly series of guest posts on the subject of Curiosity. The newest member of the Captains Curious is Karen Caterson! To learn about the other Captains Curious, please click here.

Curiosity is a window-opener

Open the Windows!

Have you ever walked into a room that’s been closed up for a significant length of time? One that has a musty, stuffy smell?

If you have, you probably opened the windows wide – immediately.

Why? Because an open window brings in freshness – fresh air, if we’re talking about a room – and fresh thinking, if we’re talking about the “window” of curiosity.

For example…

Even before I knew she would be hosting a Curiosity Series I learned that Susan is a Curiosity Advocate. I happened to mention to her (in a “Whatcha been doing?” note) that I was nervous about an upcoming call with my son.

Manchild (one of the nicknames I have for my son) had written me a short email mentioning a purchase he and a friend were considering – a yacht!

They’d found a yacht online. Yacht. Online. What the WHAT?

My son spent the past year interning at a Quaker youth hostel in DC – he’s not independently wealthy (or anywhere close to) – and he can’t swim. You might imagine that I had a lot of questions for him (and you’d be right)!

Should I mention that he said, “It needs lots of work” – and he’s a musician, not a handyman? Yep, lots of questions!

I asked to hear more about it and Manchild suggested a Skype call rather than email – so we set up a mutually agreeable time.

When I wrote Susan I was experiencing motherly concerns (out the wazoo), and worrying about how to achieve some kind of parenting balance between listening and advising (and also – mostly – worrying about how much “advising” I’d be likely to do while in a Holy #&%*! state of mind).

That’s where Susan (and her Curiosity Championing) came in. In response to my saying that I was a bit anxious, Susan wrote: “…I have no advice. But in my experience, just asking appropriate questions can be very helpful.”

Susan’s not-advice was like having someone open a window for me: It brought in fresh thinking and helped me create space for curiosity.

Create space for curiosity…

Questions! I had tons of them! (Did I mention that before?) I set my fears and my own agenda aside (the first step there was noticing that I had fears and an agenda) for the Skype visit with my son, and…

…firmly grounded – with curiosity as my foundationwe had a great talk! I was able to get excited with him, honor his plans and ideas and convey my concerns – which, frankly, weren’t all that concernish once I allowed myself to listen to his plans.

That left us time to concentrate on the really important stuff – like why in the world Manchild and friend were even considering renaming a yacht?!? (There’s a world of superstitious stories around renaming a boat.) It turns out they had that covered, too – they’d researched and found a “proper” ritual for the renaming.

…and curiosity brings in fresh thinking, discussion and Wonder

Curiosity is a window-opener: It brings in fresh thinking, discussion and wonder – much better than the stuffy, musty stuff of fears and preconceived agendas!

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Karen Caterson – aka Square-Peg Karen – is a recovering psychotherapist & Mindful Nonconformity Advocate and offers encouragement, humor and resources to fellow Square-Pegs (i.e. Mindful Nonconformists) at Square-Peg Reflections (http://squarepegpeople.typepad.com/). Follow her on Twitter @SquarePegKaren.

* * * * *

Would you like to submit a guest post on the subject of Curiosity? Send an email to susan {at} susanTblake {dot} com with the subject line: Captains Curious.

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14 Responses to Captains Curious: Curiosity Is the Ultimate Room Freshener

  1. Susan T. Blake April 28, 2011 at 8:40 am #

    Karen, thanks so much for this personal story! I especially love the part about noticing you had fears and an agenda.

  2. Char Brooks April 28, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

    Great job Karen of noticing (especially amidst so much understandable concern!) and then asking questions rather than jumping to conclusions which is so easy for me to do with so many things.

  3. Square-Peg Karen April 28, 2011 at 1:36 pm #

    Thank YOU, Susan – I’m thrilled to be part of the Captains Curious Crew!!

    Hi Char, thanks! And I hear you about how easy it is to jump – I actually DID jump to conclusions (and frightful outcomes and all that), but then jumped BACK (I think it’s great that we can be bouncy!)

  4. Susan T. Blake April 28, 2011 at 3:27 pm #

    PS – I think it’s delightful that you knew about the superstitions around renaming a yacht (and I learned something) – that’s kind of esoteric, which says something about your curious mind. And I’m curious about what makes a “proper” renaming ritual…

  5. Square-Peg Karen April 28, 2011 at 4:18 pm #

    Welllll, Susan – I lived on a yacht during high school and motored (not a sailboat) around in one for a number of years before that – so that’s where I heard the boat-naming superstition stories.

    And here you go – here’s the link that my son & friend found when they were considering renaming a boat: http://boatsafe.com/nauticalknowhow/rename.htm
    (the seriousness with which they talk about what to do and not do around the renaming sounds a LOT like the boat stories I heard way back when).

  6. Pam Belding April 29, 2011 at 10:10 am #

    Awesome post! It reminds me of something I wrote not too long ago about part of analogy I wrote called ‘You’re the Boat’….charting a course toward a life worth living. You can check it out here http://burlapnbeads.com/2011/04/23/the-islandcuriosity/. Once again, this was wonderfully refreshing post!!

  7. Square-Peg Karen May 1, 2011 at 10:52 am #

    Thanks, Pam! Glad the post touched you. “You’re the Boat” – sounds like great analogy!!! And “charting a course toward a life worth living” makes me smile.

  8. Giulietta Nardone May 3, 2011 at 8:14 am #

    Hi Karen,

    A topic I adore! Let your curiosity guide your life and you’ll have a grand life. Why we teach children to shut it down and lead a dull life makes no sense to me. My cats are most curious, always investigating anything new and even the old, making it new.

    We need World Curiosity Day! (Is there one?)
    Thx, G.

  9. Square-Peg Karen May 3, 2011 at 9:48 am #

    Giulietta – leave it to YOU to come up with a World Curiosity Day, no wonder you’re The Muse (notice caps – grin)!

    And *really* – the thing about teaching kids to shut curiosity (& creativity) down – it’s a crime (I mean that deeply, not “tsk tsk”).

  10. Susan May 3, 2011 at 1:28 pm #

    World Curiosity Day! I love that idea! Hmmm…

  11. Milliver's Travels May 5, 2011 at 6:01 pm #

    Wonderful! Wish I’d read this about a week ago before I had a Holy #&%*! moment with my daughter.

    I do love the question approach, though I usually use it on myself to dig things up from the inner realms. My hubby is great at using strategic questions in touchy situations and I’ve gradually been getting better at it myself after watching him.

    Sounds like soon you’ll be riding on the (renamed) yacht and posting your blog posts from onboard. 😉

  12. Square-Peg Karen May 5, 2011 at 6:34 pm #

    Oh, Milli – do you *really* think I’ll be onboard soon? LoL Kinda think I might put an ole’ lady pall on the party boat atmosphere, but who knows.

    I hear you about getting better at using strategic questioning – I’ve been learning from watching my oldest daughter (and from friends like Susan here – who’s got a brilliant mind for that type of thing!!). Pretty soon we’ll both be skilled at intuitive & strategic thinking – then no one can stop us – grin!

  13. Susan May 5, 2011 at 6:36 pm #

    Awe shucks, *blushes*. I can proudly attest that it just takes practice.

    Hi Milli, welcome aboard! 🙂

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