Tag: wholehearted

What Happens When You Focus On Your Words?

Posted on April 13, 2015 by

It was a normal Thursday afternoon. I pulled my red Prius into the garage after a long day at school, ready for the weekend. Our car ride chatter was nothing short of normal – with my teenage son, I’ve learned that some days are talking days, and some are best to be left quiet – and that words matter. Today we talked about the day, his classes, homework, and what he needed to do that night. As the radio clicked off and he swung his long legs onto the garage concrete, I heard him whisper, “Whoa, deja vu.”

“Whispers from your former life, bud,” I commented as I pulled my bulging bag of papers out of the back seat.

“No-not a former life, Mom. This has happened before. It’s the same thing,” he snapped back. Guess he’s not ready to ¬†believe in past lives just yet.

“Seriously, Cam. When we have deja vu it’s you repeating what you’ve experienced in another time. It’s part of the Universe,” I patiently tried to persuade him.

“No, it’s not. I’ve done this before. In this life,” he shot back as the door closed behind him.

And we were done.

I’ve noticed that conversations with him require intense concentration. They are short, deliberate and to the point – or they’re not. Sometimes they’re full of hidden meaning, of twists of language, or simply a game of trying to appease my questions and get me out of the room.

As a writer and his parent, this does not satisfy my quest for stories, to use language to share emotions, to delve into the insides of his brain, or even to recount how he made his chicken/pasta concoction taste like something from a Food Network chef.

But it does start me thinking about words, and what happens when we focus on what we’re saying. In my classroom, I’m forever telling my 8th graders that English class is to learn to communicate – to use written and spoken language to understand each other, to share history, to create an understanding of the human experience.

I want my students AND my children to feel the urgency to use words to learn and move forward with the magic of life, and to always remember where we came from.

For writers, the written language is our sustenance. Moving pen on paper or fingers on a keyboard brings vigor to our veins and joy to our world. Writers teeter between words gushing out and over and tumbling down our bones as a waterfall carries the current, debris tossed in with beauty. We then sort and shift and question every single word, each letter becoming part of a canvas for our emotions and thoughts and stories. We can squeeze out language in the most excruciating fashion, hovering for days to capture that precise moment stuck in our minds and begging release into the world.

This consciousness of language, of purposefully and deliberately thinking about the words we put into the world, becomes at times both painful and pleasurable. Head down, we squint to see a story take shape, to illuminate the shadows of our world with words chosen with calculating concentration. We seek to be understood, to create community with our words, searching for the beautiful connection that comes when the reader pauses, looks up to wipe a tear or breaks into giggles. And we struggle with the pang of unkind comments, misunderstood intentions, and careless words flung thoughtlessly into the universe.

Writers know how much easier it would be to dismiss our thoughts, to brush them off and become part of the unconscious masses who struggle to put together 140 coherent characters. We understand the ease of dashing off an idea, pushing submit and walking away, and yet we continue to push through the pain of process. Why? To nourish our souls, to spread joy and understanding and passion and consciousness and hope that someday, in that deja vu moment, someone will call forth an experience and smile, reach out their hand, and make the world just a touch more beautiful.

That’s what happens when we focus on our words. We compose a wholehearted life. We create the kind of world we want to live in, for now and forever.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Wholehearted Life: Big Changes and Greater Happiness

Posted on March 18, 2015 by

Big Changes and Greater Happiness: How To Live a Wholehearted Life

“Everyone chases after happiness, not noticing that happiness is right at their heels.”

~Bertolt Brecht

What is it you want out of life? Are you chasing around for happiness each day, searching everywhere but inside yourself? Are you pausing to breathe, to take in the ordinary in the extraordinary that is right in front of you? Are you creating YOUR story, or living out someone else’s version of your life? Are you living a wholehearted life, or feeling like there must be more but you’re just not sure how to make the change? Are you happy?

If you find yourself asking these questions on a regular basis, I have one suggestion: get a copy of Susyn Reeve’s brand new book, The Wholehearted Life: Big Changes and Greater Happiness Week By Week. Don’t wait another moment – order it right now, right here. You won’t be sorry.

As I’m moving into the second half-century of life, I’m noticing more and more frequently the questions that pop up in my mind – and how they are different than the ones I asked myself in my twenties, my thirties, or even last year. Less and less I find myself worrying about the external forces that impact my world, and more and more I’m concerned about how I  impact my own world. Questions about how what I do changes myself, my children and my students visit me much more frequently than questions about why someone or something might have exerted some action or influence. I realize how little control I have over anything or anyone besides myself, and how useless it is to get caught up in the cycle of wishing or hoping or willing change. The only way towards change, I’ve found, is to start within.

That’s where the appeal of The Wholehearted Life: Big Changes and Greater Happiness Week By Week comes in. Created over years as a self-esteem expert, master coach, corporate consultant, interfaith minister and award-winning author, Susyn Reeve has lovingly and carefully crafted a handbook-of-sorts to guide us through a weekly quest for mindfulness. This isn’t necessarily the type of book that needs to be started January 1 and then maintained on a rigorous daily schedule. Instead, The Wholehearted Life: Big Changes and Greater Happiness Week By Week allows the reader to move around at ones own pace.  If you like reading from start to finish, perfect. Prefer to take it weekly? No problem. Are you like me, and enjoy a daily dose of mindfulness each morning? Easy. And if life gets in the way, no worries. This book allows for multiple access points.

In her “How To Use This Book” chapter, the author compares using this book to ‘install(ing) a software upgrade in your mind, creat(ing) a personal ritual that nourishes wholehearted living in your daily life, and stock(ing) your personal medicine bag with remedies, tools, charms, and reminders to continually expand your capacity for wholehearted living.” I love that analogy of a software upgrade – my brain consistently feels like I have dozens of browser tabs open and scrolling at any moment! As a teacher-mom, I’m always harping about the need for ‘tools’ to navigate the world-and rarely do I think about replenishing my own toolbox.

The Wholehearted Life: Big Changes and Greater Happiness Week By Week consists of fifty-two ideas, organized with daily activities for each week. As a writer and wordsmith, I love Susyn’s incorporation of thought-provoking quotes from writers as diverse as Erma Bombeck, to the Dalai Lama, to Anne Lamott. A scan of the table of contents shows Week 1 beginning with “The Law of Attraction” – which inspired an upcoming blog post – and ending with Week 52’s “Celebrate Success”. I confess I did skip to the finish to read the last section, titled “Putting It All Together – Creating a Bag Of Tricks”-I always like to begin with the end in mind, and it made me all the more excited about what I’d discover in between.

If you’re looking to discover more, if you want to create happiness and get more out of this journey by living a wholehearted life, this book should be on your bedside table. Trust me – you’re worth it.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review purposes; all links are affiliate links.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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