Monday, October 11, 2010

Paying Attention

Squirrel munching on an acorn - he let me take his picture!

Since I've started making it a point to live a quieter life (i.e. no cable t.v., no endless activities, etc.), I have noticed a dramatic change in how I look at the world. Time moves slower. I listen to my daughter more and spend more time with her. I take naps. I read my Bible. I light candles and sit and write.

I've really noticed this new quietness when I take my walks. I go on a trail that passes two lakes full of ducks and geese (and I've noticed a Blue Heron hanging around, too), and gorgeous trees and bushes with squirrels scampering around and bunnies hopping amidst the low branches.

The best part about this time of the year, though, is that I have literally looked at the trees every day and watched their somewhat astoundingly fast progress from summer to fall. The leaves really don't take their time in turning gorgeous colors. Blink and you might miss it. Within the space of a week, I've seen green leaves turn to dark golds, reds, and even peach. If you take the time to pick up one of the fallen leaves and study it, you will see a pattern of color that no man or computer could ever reproduce.

Whenever my quietness slips away and worry starts to nag at my brain (mostly over recent health issues), I go out for a walk to reconnect to God and to quiet my mind again. I pay attention to to the beauty around me: the changing leaves; the cool breeze rustling through the trees; clusters of bright red berries on the bush; acorns smashed on the sidewalk; fluffy-tailed squirrels darting up trees; fallen leaves crunching underfoot; and the scent of pine trees and sun-baked leaves.

This has all contributed enormously to my writing. I "see" things differently - character motivations, descriptive passages, dialogue, themes, etc. I feel like I have a vast amount of material to mine just from opening my mind to the simpler, smaller things in life.

Because in the end, that's what it's really all about.


  1. I love walking too, and walk often. It's really about more than just the act of walking, isn't it? There's a connection to so much more with life. And when I bring my camera too, I seem to have a different perspective on the everyday (like that squirrel!), looking through the lens.

  2. I am so with you on this. There's a tremendous amount of beauty and inspiration in silence.

    More often than not, I need total quiet to write, or at the most some soft instrumental music. I pray in silence too, which is probably also why I write better after I've prayed. My quiet time with God sets the tone for creativity, I guess.

    I hope you continue to be inspired by those moments of stillness.

  3. I've been practicing a bit of a slower life these days and it's amazing to me how overwhelmed I get when I step back into the rat race. I don't miss is. I love this new serenity.

  4. I love that you have been doing this and the changes it is bring out. We dropped our TV but use a small antenna which means fewer channels. But I am noticing we are spending our time doing better things together, like sitting on our porch talking, reading and finding simple activities to work on.

  5. You're right, Melissa. You're so right.

  6. We are kindred souls. I hope your health issues get resolved - but sometimes they do help us get centered and quiet. That is my experience as well.

  7. I'm envious, too! That's awesome, and it sounds wonderful.

  8. I notice that when I go on a walk without my ipod it's much more relaxing. I think I need to try your lifestyle.

  9. Joanne - You nailed it. It's about so much more than just walking. I feel like I really connect with God and nature during those walks. I feel renewed and energized (at least emotionally!) when I'm done.

    Travis - Go find a good walking path and get to it! ;-)

    Hi L.C. - I crave silence - especially at work where it's hard to come by in the cubicle-enrivonment), but I do like to write with music - Big Band and 1940s stuff for when I'm working on the novel and even classical (Bach, Vivaldi, and Mozart are my faves!).

    L.T. - Oh, I hear you! Serenity is an excellent word for it.

    Janna - Thanks. :-)

    Hi Wendy! Thanks for stopping by! Yeah, the health issues aren't fun, and this one is getting me all sorts of worked up (potential hysterectomy), so I'm digging iup all this information on the Internet. I finally had to take a walk the other day to regain my sense of balance again and let it go for awhile.

    Sharla - I hope you can find a place to walk and get away from it all, too!

    Hi Patti! Thanks for stopping by. I actually have never gone on a walk with any kind of music precisely because I want to hear the sounds of nature. It is such an integral part of the experience for me. :-)

  10. Terri - Isn't it amazing how much t.v. influences us? I'm glad you and hubby are spending more quality time together!

  11. I'm trying to slow down and notice the little things myself! How are you doing?

  12. I'm writing a blog post now on "seeing" like a writer...if I slow down, I might actually find time to post it!

    Beautiful thoughts, Melissa.

  13. T. Anne - Hanging in there. Have an appointment with my doctor on Friday to discuss options. :-)

    Christine - Looking forward to reading your post!


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