How Much Love Can Fit In a One-Inch Picture Frame?

One of the most stellar bits of writing advice I’ve ever read was dispensed by Anne Lamott, the author of writing classic, Bird by Bird. Not only does Lamott give you “permission to write crap,” she also gives great brainstorming advice such as:

  • “Keep a one-inch picture frame on your desk to remind yourself that for each moment, you only have to write as much as you can see through a one-inch picture frame.”
  • In other words, when a whole project is overwhelming, break it into little pieces or as she says, “don’t try to eat the elephant in one sitting.”

I think of that one-inch picture frame all the time.

Maybe it’s because I’m a writer, but I’m always looking for examples of “big message” in a little space.

My Hubs is a master of this.

The first time he did it was about six weeks after we met. We were on the phone, planning a date, and he said, “Don’t you have RWA this weekend?”

One sentence. . .six little words. . .and I knew he was a keeper.

I knew this guy was tuned into me. When I’d said, “The second Saturday of the month is my writers’ meeting,” he not only listened, he put it on his calendar.

That was the moment I knew, I was a goner.

We’re coming up on 10 years and he’s still slaying me with little gestures that say, “I’m paying attention to you and I think you rock.”

A few days ago, I went into our shared OneNote binder for the family (I told y’all about it last week) and read through our list of upcoming appointments. Down at the bottom of the list, right after his birthday, I see this:

Relationship Picture Frame

What says love more than a partner who’s a great parent, does the dishes and keeps track of when you met? For me, not much.

Seriously, I swooned. I’d have gobbled him up like chocolate mousse right at that moment if he’d been in the house. Instead, I’m blogging about him so y’all can think he’s a badass honey too.

What little gesture says “I love you” to you? It doesn’t have to be romantic, it just has to be a little message that goes a long way into your heart. Enquiring minds LOVE to know these things here at More Cowbell!

~ Jenny

p.s. I hope y’all are having fantastic holidays and that all who celebrate Boxing Day are finding some great deals as they shop. 🙂

p.p.s. Writers, did you see Laura Drake’s fab post yesterday? You Know You’re a Writer If. . .

About Jenny Hansen

Avid seeker of "more"...More words, more creativity, More Cowbell! An extrovert who's terribly fond of silliness. Founding blogger at Writers In The Storm ( Write on!
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34 Responses to How Much Love Can Fit In a One-Inch Picture Frame?

  1. LauraDrake says:

    Oh yeah Jen, definitely a keeper there. Love your hubby (wait -not that way!)

    I have a friend who knew she was in love when her then boyfriend looked on her dresser, noticed she was almost out of perfume, bought it, and didn’t say anything…just left it on her dresser.

    Not for me, though. Give me Alpha Dog, who blares old westerns all day, wouldn’t notice if I walked out of the house naked, BUT – likes me with no makeup and natural gray hair, because that’s HIS Laura.



    • Jenny Hansen says:

      You DO look completely fantastic with naked face. (Lucky dark-haired woman!)

      I think it’s great when people find the person who gets THEM, in all their glory. That’s magic.


  2. GOBSMACKED by your hubby’s OneNote reminders on important milestones, Jenny.

    Do you suppose I could link into your joint OneNote so he could remind me to…

    Never mind. The milk from the grocery list would sour before I could get it to So Cal anyway, Sigh!

    Hope babykins got well enough to enjoy her day. BEST to you and yours.

    Hopping over to that Laura linky-love now. I Gasp! did not get online at all yesterday.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Well, we absolutely could share the OneNote file with anyone – that’s the beauty of it. But I think he’s got all he can handle keeping track of ONE writer. Two of us might send him over the edge. 🙂


  3. Good Morning to All WITS’ers!

    Jen — I want to meet your hub!

    Laura — Test your theory. Get naked. Walk past Alpha Dog and out the front door. I’d like to know his reaction. 🙂

    Immersioners know my hub is the most caring, most helpful, most take-care-of-whatever-needs-to-be-done guy. He shops, cooks, and cleans up the kitchen for all my home-based Immersion classes, about ten classes a year. That’s fifty days of Immersioners in his home every year. And he keeps smiling and having fun with everyone.

    I was in a big bad car wreck several years ago, and Tom took care of me for many months. One little thing he did is still visible.

    He used some wide glow-in-the-dark tape, and cut out our initials and a heart. He stuck them to the angled piece of wood that supports the eaves. It juts out above my side of the bed. I’d stare our initials and the heart at all hours of the night–and feel loved.

    I still see them every night. They still make my heart dance.

    Jen — Thanks for your remember-the-love post.

    Happy, happy holidays to all!


  4. K.B. Owen says:

    Jenny, your man is definitely a keeper! Thanks for sharing him with us! My hubs is such a fab guy, and I love when we can spend time together, but even when we can’t we each feel as if we’re still connected. I really treasure the holidays, when we can spend some more time together, even when it’s mundane stuff! I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!


  5. The Regular Guy NYC says:

    It’s always great when your partner is a big supporter of what you love to do. My gal loves that I write a blog and is encouaging me to write a book. One day……


  6. I love what your husband did for you! Definitely a keeper. Mine? The most recent came this Christmas. He surprised me with (in my opinion) an awesome gift. He’d heard me complaining that the current office chair was hurting my back…so he bought me a really nice new one! When we decided to give me a shot at writing late last year after losing my job? He got me an engraved leather journal book to let me know he supported my dreams.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Awwwwwww! That’s turbo sweet, Kitt. Especially since it’s where you spend so much time. It’s like having him give you an all-body hug every day. 🙂

      That supporting the dreams thing is such a powerful heart-warmer. I love it!


  7. tomwisk says:

    Jenny, I’m rereading Bird by Bird for the umpteenth time. Anne rocks my world. I love her books on faith and I recommend Operating Instructions for any woman who is planning to have a child or is in the process of carrying one. She writes so anyone can understand. You’re lucky you have someone who stands with you. In this transitory age where long-term relationships mean they last longer than a year it’s nice to see people who hang in. And in your case, enjoy it. You rock too. Happy New Year.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Anne should be required reading for every writer. She reaches in and gives your soul a hug, doesn’t she?

      And on the transitory thing…you notice in the middle of that OneNote picture is counseling? We go once a month, whether we need it or not. It’s the best $100 we spend each month because we know it keeps us in tune with one another. 🙂


  8. That was indeed a good sign right from the beginning. Listening and scheduling AROUND your life to be with you – not expecting you to CHANGE your life to be with him. That’s awesome!

    My hubby vacuums – regularly – without complaining or being asked to. He just assumed this as his household chore. I love that about him.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt


  9. mj monaghan says:

    I like the picture frame as a tool. Had never heard that. Can apply to any profession, really. Hope you all had a wonderful California Christmas, and Cheers to 2014, Jenny!


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I liked it a lot too. I have a post somewhere called “How to Exercise Your What-If Muscle” that has tons of brainstorming exercises. Let me know if you want me to dig it up, if you’re in the midst of brainstorming. 🙂

      Happy New Year to you, MJ! Welcome in from the lurking gallery. We like to have fun in the comments here.


  10. Your Hubs always sounds like just the kind of thoughtful, sweet, funny, smart partner you deserve! Happy holidays from my house to yours. May your 2014 be brilliant!


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Thanks, Patricia! I think he’s all that. 🙂

      Happy holidays back, and may you continue entrancing us all with your Fridays in France series. It’s fantastic! Happy 2014.


  11. Jess Witkins says:

    Aww your hubby is a keeper for sure. My one inch moment that comes to mind is Joe and I dancing in the kitchen last night at his family christmas. It was the end of the night, everybody was passing out on the couches or grabbing more late night snacks, and we just slow danced in the kitchen – off in our own little world.


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  13. Julie Glover says:

    I find this so refreshing, Jenny! In a world where married men are often portrayed in media as selfish or foolish or mean, the truth is that there are some fabulous husbands out there! Good on you for finding a good guy.

    My own is a definite keeper. I could tell several tales, but how about at the beginning? The first thing my beloved ever bought me was ice trays. Yep, ice trays. I had moved next door to him, and we’d had an offhand conversation about how the apartment refrigerator had two ice trays and it would be nice to have more. Soon after, he knocked on my door and presented me with ice trays he’d picked up for me at the store. That’s when I knew that this could be a lot more than friendship: This guy was thinking of nice stuff to do for me while standing in the Walmart aisle. 🙂


  14. Sue says:

    Loved this- you DO have a keeper! “Liking” your spouse is just as important as loving them. And love is so often a “choice” and an “action”, and not a “feeling”. Your list supports that. Right now we are trying to sell our house and we have been preparing ourselves and the house. I was cleaning the basement and walked past the water heater and saw a red heart with the initials “S + D” inside a heart written on it in red sharpie (hubby is a sharpie freak). I had forgotten he had done that when we put it in a few years ago. I hope the new owners will realize the love that lived in this house and add their initials too. 🙂


  15. I’m sorry that I’m late to the party. I have to say this post was such a loving tribute to your honey Jenny. And after reading this, he definitely deserves it. I have had the privilege of meeting your honey and he is badass in the sweetheart department. How do I know this? Because I am married to one badass sweetheart myself. We just celebrated another anniversary a couple of weeks ago. Don’t ask how many. lol. There’s been too many to count and it just makes me feel old. But, this man I could never replace. This man cares for me like no other. I could go on and on but this is not my post. Nor do I want to make this about me. I will say that if you’re with the right person, the longer you are together, the more in sync you become. It’s kinda cool because you almost become one person as you work towards the same goals in life together. It’s truly an amazing and beautiful blessing. Congratulations on 10 years to both you and your badass hubby! 🙂


  16. Aussa Lorens says:

    Aw, that’s pretty dang sweet. Ten years, huzzah! I’ll have to tell my boyfriend about this whole “shared calendar” thing– I’m sure he’ll be thrilled 😉


  17. Cue the aw! Love stuff like that!

    Mike and I got married this past August (so we’re still new), but we’ve been together for seven years. He’s really good at remembering little things I’ve mentioned that I like. Months later, he’ll pick it up for me as a birthday or I-love-you gift, and I’m always amazed by his memory. He’s a keeper. 😉


  18. helena mallett says:

    Mine wrote ” i love you’ in a giant heart on the beach – that did it for me. 30 years together and still counting …


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