Notes to Self (On How to Write)
October 23, 2019 § 9 Comments
By Heidi Barr
Remember to be grateful for what is already good. There will always be things that feel stressful, like they won’t ever work, that keep you up at night. Don’t give your attention, and the energy doing so requires, to things that don’t deserve it, or to things that don’t exist. If you must pay attention to something you would rather not, or that is hard because of life’s circumstances, or that is draining because of all the things that can cause something to take instead of give, reserve some of your energy: pay attention to it if you must, but don’t give all your reserves away. Save at least some of your energy for that which returns it in kind.
Give your attention to that which lights you up with aliveness. To that which leaves you bursting with radiance. To that which adds peace to the tumult that is part of existing on an evolving planet. Find delight. Revel in pleasure. Cherish your body, and give it what it needs. Honor your mind. Nourish it with curiosity and enough rest to be curious for another day. Feel your spirit join with something greater than yourself, and remember the oneness that makes the world pulse with love. Feel all the nuances of joy, even the parts that make you wonder if you’ve gone completely mad. Let the perplexing beauty of a human experience fill your being with luminosity and reverence. Keep going outside, even when it’s cold, or too hot. Notice the way ice cracks in the sun and how a pen feels in your hand as you scribble in a journal. (Especially important after many days of tapping a keyboard.) Notice the burst of red when a cardinal visits the dead tree outside your office window. Allow fresh air to direct your attention to breathing, even when it isn’t comfortable. Slip into fresh bed sheets on a cool summer’s evening. Turn just picked strawberries over in your hand on a warm day, lifting them to your face to inhale their sweetness. Let rushing water caress your bare ankles as you walk upstream.
Practice noticing. Build your capacity for attentiveness, and give voice to the bits of astonishment that gather in the wake of doing so. Be attentive to the way gratitude polishes the rough edges of human experience, and give in to wonder. The world needs you to keep wonder alive. Mary Oliver wrote, “May I stay forever in the stream.” Take her lead. Stay forever in the stream, and let it be a stream of gratitude for what already is. Let that stream return the energy you need to continue on for another day.
Remember to be grateful for what is already good.
Co-founder of 12 Tiny Things, Heidi Barr lives in Minnesota with her family where they tend a large garden, explore nature and do their best to live simply. Author of four books, she is committed to cultivating ways of being that are life-giving and sustainable for people, communities and the planet. Visit her at heidibarr.com
Instagram: @heidibarrwriter and @12tinythings