I’m sure y’all have noticed that More Cowbell usually stays quiet on Wednesdays.
Wednesdays are for hanging with Baby Girl and trying to rest up after working 10-12 hour days on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday is for cooking dinner for my honey, for hitting the farmer’s market. On wonderful Wednesdays, it’s for writing.
This hump-day will also have a ROW80 check-in, but that’s just because I remembered at this very moment to do it.
That being said, these last few weeks THE UNIVERSE has been giving me the “Shut-Your-Pie-Hole and Listen Up” Smackdown.
You saw the first memo in my post about my blood clot scare. The second one was in yesterday’s post on character engagement. I mean, me coming across a post on “open listening?” After a week of being forced to rest and take care of myself? That was a call to relax, zip my lips and open my ears, if I ever heard one.
Then, yesterday at work, I was cleaning out my filthy Inbox and I saw pictures from a nature walk the firm took at the end of April. Yep, more than two-and-a-half months ago. (That’s about how long it takes me to process and react to things nowadays. I told you…I’ve still got Christmas presents that haven’t gone to their rightful owners. Some of those presents were calendars. I’m just sayin’…)
So, back to the Nature Walk…
The picture at the top of the post is of one of the signs along the trail at the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy. I read it in the Spring sunshine while listening to the conservancy docent talk about 19 uses for leafy sage. (Apparently there’s almost 40 uses but I missed half the list.)
It was one of those serene, perfect moments of quiet. That I promptly forgot about when I returned to my harried life. It all came back to me when I saw the pictures.
Here are the two lines that most attracted me to that sign:
Look carefully and listen. It won’t take you long.
Flashes of color, body shape, and behavior are clues to a bird’s identity.
When I opened that email yesterday, I got that squinchy feeling on the back of my neck and rolled my eyes toward the heavens. “OK, O-kay!” I shouted in my head. “I got the memo already!”
Here’s what my personal memo from THE UNIVERSE says:
Take twenty blessed minutes for a walk in the sun.
Listen to the birds.
Think about your characters as birds and then re-read the second blue line above.
Smell the flowers and your baby’s hair.
Listen to her laugh. Really wallow in it.
Take your honey out on a date.
Write more, talk about it less.
Get those Life List Club goals finished!
Appreciate your life and quit fretting. It’s not like anyone can prove that we get more than one shot at it so make it count.
What does your memo say?
Can’t WAIT to read the comments on this post…
p.s. This is it…my Wednesday hello to you and a Row80 check-in: Yes, I’m writing. (And I’m not gonna talk about it!)
my memo? Only one item.
If I died today – can I look back over my life and say, “It’s good enough?”
That’s a pretty great memo, Laura!
Several years ago I went through a lengthy chronic illness. All better now though I have to be careful about a few things.
It was a big smack upside the head from God. Too much on my plate, too many directions. His message: Slow down.
LIstening to the universe can help up put life in to perspective. I am more deliberate about the decisions I make, I am more patient, (try to be) more forgiving and more empathetic. Lunches with friends, afternoons with my children, time with hubby and time to write take precedence over a clean house and a completed task list.
I don’t fret about things the way I used to, refuse to get caught up in Christmas frenzy. Presents aren’t bought? Wrapped? Delivered? Doesn’t matter. Christmas is coming, ready or not. Jesus doesn’t care if I have tinsel on the tree. Doesn’t care if I have a tree. He does care about what’s in my heart, how I treat others, and how I take care of this life He gave me.
Bless you, Jenny, for taking note of your memo, and sharing it with the rest of us.
We sure are glad that you’re all better now, Sherry. We like you just the way you are, and love having you here at More Cowbell!
Mine is learning to say “no” and meaning it. It nearly broke my heart to say it, but I could not keep rescuing the same person.
Good for you for being so brave, Linda. It’s always better to put that same kind of energy into rescuing ourselves and our own dreams, don’t you think?
This is truly the theme of the week. Last night on the news they featured a 60 year old woman who is now enjoying life in the moment. She’s swimming 30? miles from Cuba to Key West, through shark infested waters. She tried and failed at 26, so I guess its still on her bucket list. But her main message was, don’t put off the things you truly want to do. I have to remind myself of that all the time. Slow down and listen to people. Enjoy my family from the oldest to the youngest because the older ones won’t be here that long and the younger ones will be through this stage faster than my dog after the cat. That’s why I am now writing. I’m no longer saying, I don’t have enough time or worse, its a waste of time. It feeds my soul. I love having something that is work that makes me feel better when I’m doing it and not drained at the end of the day. Writing lifts me up. Now if it would just pay those bills!
Good for you, Jessica, for pursuing your dreams NOW. I’m a huge fan of “Don’t Wait.” I’m delighted to hear that the writing is nurturing you. And dang, I want to be in that kind of shape when I’m 60! I could live without the shark-infested waters though…
Another wonderful post. Sometimes it takes the worst happening to make us realize not to take life for granted. My oldest brother was killed in a car accident in 2005, and that changed my perspective on a lot of things. I learned not to let family issues get out of hand, and I made a major effort to stop taking so many people for granted.
The real turning point, however, was in Sept of 2008. I flipped my car while texting (like an idiot). Rolled up on the side of a bridge, flipped over, and ended up facing the opposite direction. The street is a busy one, but miraculously I wasn’t hit. Worst part? My daughter’s car seat somehow flew all the way across the back. I guess it wasn’t snapped it correctly.
That’s when I got my head out of my butt and stopped sweating the small stuff. Life is too short to get upset about little things and to let our harried lifestyle get in the way of living and being happy.
Holy crap, Stacy! I got an adrenaline surge just reading this. I hope you and your daughter don’t have any lasting effects from that accident, and that you put all that energy into your writing. This kind of scary life stuff always makes for great writing mojo! (I haven’t been able to find any other good reason for why such nasty stuff happens to us.)
Grace wasn’t with me, thank God. I’d just dropped her off at preschool and was four blocks home. I did have some lasting effects, lots of guilt. I spiraled into a depression because I’ve always struggled with failure issues. It took a long time to get past, but writing again really helped me.
Thank God, Stacy! I think we all have failure issues…reading the comments, we are a group of writers that likes to exceed the mark in our lives. Gene was our dude commenter today and check out the Zen on that guy! We need to all take our cue from him.
p.s. Grace is such a beautiful name…it came super close to being my daughter’s middle name but the family connection won. 🙂
Gene has a lot of zen. I need to learn from him.
I think we do, too. Failure is definitely a dirty word, but we also need to fail to learn. That’s what I keep telling myself.
And thank you! She’s our miracle, so I wanted her to have a special name.
I’m glad you got a miracle baby, Stacy. We did too. 🙂
Isn’t it funny how the miracle tots are nearly always girls??
“How to live well” is the topic that my friends and I have been discussing avidly for the past few weeks. For me, it means that I need to remember that I am not Research-Bot 2.0: I can’t force myself, or expect myself, to only work on schoolwork 24/7 and not take time for anything else. For the first couple of years of graduate school, I was convinced that this is what a “serious” scholar did, and becoming a serious scholar was my goal in life, so I stopped reading fiction, writing fiction, and basically doing anything fun (or if I did something fun, I felt insanely guilty about it — “I should be reading theory instead of going out for drinks with friends!”). We get taught a lot of things in graduate school, like how to network and publish scholarly work and chase down tenure-track jobs, but no one ever tells us how to truly LIVE.
Anyway, my memo has evolved over the past few months to include the following: pack a picnic and make regular trips to the beach; spend time outside on the deck and just listen to nature; take time to plan and cook meals (instead of just foraging around for chips); start gardening (again: more outside time); read for pleasure, and not just for work; and above all, WRITE for pleasure. If I can train myself to do these things now, to live deliberately and to live well, maybe I might form habits that I can bring with me when I leave grad school and move on to a *real* job.
But thank you so much for sharing this, Jenny. I think it’s so easy to forget about ourselves (especially as women) in the mess of responsibilities and duties that we end up assuming. The best advice that I’ve heard, I think, comes from Billy Joel’s song, “Vienna”: “Slow down, you crazy child/Take the phone off the hook and disappear for a while/It’s all right, you can afford to lose a day or two/When will you realize, Vienna waits for you.”
Your comment was one of the first things I saw this morning and I found myself thinking about it through the day. The thing I wish grad students were told:
You’ve already proven that you are in the top 10% – that’s why we let you in.
Definitely study but take time to make friends and experience life so you don’t leave school all dragged out and twitchy from continuing to try to be the top 10%.
It’s OK to be average now…we know you rock.
BTW, I’m lovin’ the Vienna lyrics! I don’t think I ever heard that Billy Joel song and now I’ve got to go take a peek on iTunes. THANK YOU!
Wonderful post Jenny. Thank you for taking note and sharing your memo.
Stopping to take note of the world around me is high on my list, much like that first line: Look carefully and listen. It won’t take you long.
And like Writersinthestorm, if I were to die today would I have regrets?
You are welcome, Raelyn. It was a moment that needed to be shared! Thanks for listening and taking time to write such a sweet comment. With the busy summer at hand, and FOUR boys, I know your time is in short supply.
My memo always includes time for my kids, time for my wife, time to talk to the squirrels, time to listen to the insect chorus in the hot summer air, time to watch a cloud move by and in all that time to dream and write.
Great post, Jen. Have an excellent Wednesday 🙂
Ooooooo, Gene, I dig your memo! And I think you should do a blog telling us about these squirrel conversations. 🙂
It is so interesting that your post was about listening. It amazes me how often a problem can be solved, or resolve on its own if I simply listen and step back instead of trying to force change, give unwanted input, or expend limited, priceless energy into a situation that doesn’t warrant it. Hmmm… I think sometimes you may be blogging after reading my mail… so intuitive and such perfect timing Sis, you rock!
My scripture reading today was Mark 4:20 “These are the ones sown on good ground: those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirty- fold, some sixty, some a hundred.” To me, this says listen and accept what is being spoken into your heart and your life then you will prosper from it. I really need to pay attention to this message today.
I’m so glad you are resting and enjoying the many blessings the world has for you. Especially that precious niece of mine 😉
I’m glad this came to you at just the right time. I tried to call you and tell you about it on my way home from work but it was 10-Freaking-PM so it’s probably better that you got the post on your own time.
I agree that we just need to take heed from messages we’re given, and stop always trying to swim upstream.
Can I just copy your memo to the universe? It’s perfect – except I can’t smell my baby’s hair. 🙂
It really is the perfect Writer’s Memo for the day, isn’t it? You go right ahead and borrow it, Tiff. You can even swing out to California and smell Baby Girl’s hair. 🙂
I read up to Write more, talk about it less. And opened my wip and write 250 words. THANKS!
NICE, Ansha! That’s an entire page…go, you!
I’m a type A. Whatever I do, a voice is screaming in the back of my mind, “Do it better. Work harder. Not good enough.” It’s difficult for me to slow down. It’s difficult for me not to think I can make things go in the direction I want them.
The message I need to hear? Take it easy. Don’t take things so seriously. Have more fun. 😀
Yep, Catie…I’m often in Type A mode and it’s horribly stressful. You get to the point where you want to take that imaginary person with THE VOICE and snatch her bald-headed.
We want to hear more about this fun when you get to that part of the memo…. 🙂
WOW, Jenny. Thought provoking post that deserved more than a flip of my flippant switch–more than a snark attack. I read all of the posts and nodded. Yup. Yup. Here’s my list, but I’m not there yet. I’m a work in progress.
*Talk to the Big Guy (Yes, we have conversations in the morning before He turns the lights on. I DO opinion shop with Him, tho’. “Not the answer I was looking for. I’ll get back to You with more details. When You’re in a better mood.”)
*Learn to be a Caregiver versus Caretaker (Gloria-Richard-Adopt-a-Problem Agency still opens its doors. Did God die and put me in charge? Noooo.)
*When good things happen, my job is gratitude. Let others handle the atta-girls.
*When troubling things happen say the Serenity Prayer. (I say it in Spanish now b/c it helps me internalize the words. I may have to move on to another language soon.)
*Keep your head where your feet are, and your feet moving toward your dream.
*Perform Random Acts of Kindness as often as you can.
*Know when to say “no.”
“Always, always, always maintain a gratitude list for the people in your life. Recent addition? Jenny and COWBELL! EEE! Sherry and Margie have been there since January 2010.
*Ask for help when you need it.
I could go on and on and on. Bt tht wld b so nt me. (Svng my vwls 4 my bk.)
WOW back, Gloria…I’m very proud and pleased to be on your gratitude list! I like your memo – you’ve got some gems on there. The one that we share?
* Ask for help when you need it.* I have a hard time with that!
The part of your list that made me start laughing:
Gloria-Richard-Adopt-a-Problem Agency still opens its doors. LOL…
I shouldn’t laugh at how funny that sounds. It doesn’t feel funny when everybody piles it on you, but your delivery of that one takes me back to my own Ms. Fix-It stage.
Grins back atcha, Jenny. Ahem.
Are you going to ask to “borrow” the adopt-a-problem-agency concept? Or, are you hell-bent on keeping your 2 point lead in the phrase-a-thon you didn’t agree to enter. Some rascally person (rolling eyes) shoved you into it. I await your response with bated breath. Ever wonder what that smells like? I do.
Malfunctioning neon “closed” sign on the front door: Jenny-Hansen-Adopt-a-Problem-Agency.
Things are what they are. We can’t really change them so we might as well enjoy them. That’s not easy sitting on a car that has no air conditioner during the rush hour traffic in the afternoon but I managed. Just open the windows, enjoy the sanity that the radio offered, and watch in amazement how, despite the crawling traffic, we still made it home in an hour or so.
What else? We can do everything but we shouldn’t get impatient and get everything done at once.
How are you going to be awake for our webinar tomorrow, missy??!!
Made it on time. 🙂
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