Monthly Archives: September 2010

52 things I know about words (and you should too): #3 Words Linger

Words linger.

I suppose I might have long known this, but I had never thought about it much until I got this message on Twitter:

@itsleisa Words have the power to give encouragement long after the writer has forgotten them and I thank you for that. ~ @Ultralucky

Unknown

Wow. Wow because I don’t know @Ultralucky, and until I got the message, hadn’t been following him on Twitter. Still, somehow he’d been moved to send me that message. I blog about the power of words to shape our lives. I can only guess it was something I’d said on my blog, in a tweet or something.

In any event, it got me thinking of recent words that have lingered for me. Other messages of appreciation and gratitude that I’ve randomly received, from friends, and few folks I didn’t even really know.

Forgotten

Like this Facebook message a few weeks back from a woman who had participated in a workshop that I helped facilitate:

I have a memory of you….
I’m not sure if you remember me, but I wanted to share this with you.

So, I’m in the workshop, and you are coaching people that are having a hard time creating a declaration for thier future.

I am “done” with mine and you invite me to help coach a classmate. He’s crying about the past and unwilling to declare himself–and I want to hug him and tell him it’s okay, poor baby, etc… He explains where the pain is coming from all while crying–

And you say to him–“I got all that, but what’s the drama about?”
I was shocked at your “coldness” and your ability to be so direct. My eyes were wide and I just stared at you for what felt like way too long.

I watched the guy (I don’t remember his name) stop crying, get over it, walk on stage, declare his future, and move on.

By the end of Sunday night of the workshop, I “got it” for myself. I remembered what life was like before I started feeling sorry for myself. And then began living that again.

I’ve always given the course leader the credit for me moving to a new level in my life–but when I saw your face on here today–I remembered what happened.

I moved myself–by watching you stand for someone.
You make me proud to be a woman!

Yep, that one made me cry. Having facilitated a myriad of workshops, I have no memory of that interaction. But but there it was – my words had lingered in a big way.

Old friend

Then, a while back man I haven’t seen in years, but am connected with on Facebook said how much he enjoyed my Facebook posts and called me an “accessible goddess” – I’ve never dared think of myself as goddess-like, but if I am for him – I’ll accept the mantle with pleasure.

Renewed friend

And I learned I was quotable in a conversation with a sweet friend who had just moved back into town. We were sharing and chatting like crazy to catch up on the last two years, I started talking about the things I am passionate about, and what is lighting me up these days, when she said

“Stop. Wait. Get me a pen and some paper, I want to take notes.”

Yes, I hesitated a bit in sharing these anecdotes. I’m desperately afraid of sounding pompous, when in fact I am deeply humbled and honored by these acknowledgments.

You are lingering

I share because I know you have your own version of these moments. And I share mine to make the point – words linger. And you don’t know who’s listening. And you don’t know what will linger, or with whom, nor for how long.

This has always been true, but in our digital age, even more so. Now, rather than our words lingering in our family or immediate community, they linger globally. Immediately accessible, searchable, save-able and shareable, by millions, if not billions of people.

Where once I might have been blissfully unconscious of the reach and impact of my words, this realization has gotten me very interested in paying close attention to both who I am talking to, and what I am saying.

I now speak with an awakened curiosity of how, where and with whom my words might linger. Do you?

What about you?

What words have lingered with you?
What words do you want to leave lingering?

photo credit: Gregory Bastien

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Lonely petunia – A case for action

ac·tion

/ˈækʃən/ [ak-shuh n] –noun

1. the process or state of acting or of being active: The machine is not in action now.
2. something done or performed; act; deed.

Origin:
1300–50;  < L āctiōn-  (s. of āctiō ), equiv. to āct ( us ) (ptp.; see act) + -iōn- -ion;  r. ME accioun  < AF < L

Action only happens in the now. Taking action (really doing something) and thinking about taking action (good intentions, plans, goals all that) are two very different things. The future created by action, is very different from the future of intending to take action. I was just recently reminded of this fact.

“Action is eloquence.” – William Shakespeare

Lonely PetuniaA few days ago on my walk with Chloe, I saw this lovely little flower. It was lonely pink petunia, all by itself in a neglected, untended dirt side yard. I saw it and loved it instantly. It wasn’t cared for or fertilized. It wasn’t planted. It wasn’t a part of well-thought-out flower bed. It was just this lovely little flower. All alone. Surrounded by nothing by but tan, dry dirt, displaying its cheery self to an indifferent world. “Awwww, how sweet…a lonely petunia.” And then I loved not only the flower, but the phrase – lonely petunia.

I wanted a picture of it, but didn’t have my camera. No worries, I’ll come back by and get it on the next walk. That was a week ago or more. I walked past, again without my camera, three or four times. Each time thinking “It looks healthy, not like the bloom will fade anytime soon – I’ll get it next time.”

Then a couple mornings later over coffee, I thought again of my lonely petunia. Its image and phrase had kept coming back to me. Time to finally go get that picture. Now. No more waiting. Note: This was August. Summer in Seattle, and it was raining. Really raining. Not just sprinkles raining. Gray, cold, windy, reminding-you-of-November raining. But I was determined not to wait any longer to get that picture of my lonely petunia.

On with the Gortex and rain boots, remember the camera, and down the street I go. Just a few short blocks. I’m wet already. Here we are – only….you guessed it…My lonely petunia is gone. Someone or something has plucked it. It was just gone. Done. No more lonely petunia. In my procrastination I had missed it and all that it represented.

It was still raining and raining hard, and I stood there. Stood there looking at the empty dirt all around, and the bare green petunia plant and just stared. I stood there and stared for a long time. How long? Long enough to feel sad. Long enough to feel disappointed in myself. Long enough to wonder – How silly must I look standing in the rain looking at a bare petunia plant? Long enough to know that somehow the plucked petunia had a lesson for me, and that I was determined to stand there long enough to learn it.

Men are what they are because their characters, but it is in action that they find happiness or the reverse.” –Aristotle

I started to see, it wasn’t a picture of a flower that I had missed. What I had missed was a moment of now. I had missed a precious, creative moment of taking action, moving with and toward something that had inexplicably and insistently called to me – for no other reason than that it had called. I had been called by something. I heard it, but instead of acting, I waited. And because I waited, I would never get to see where that calling would have led, or what it had to show me.

I stood there long enough to realize that this wasn’t the first time, and probably wouldn’t be the last. I stood there long enough to realize that even though I didn’t have the picture of my lonely petunia, its image and lesson would to stay with me. Reminding me to move, to take action without waiting into the next moment of now.

What about you?

  • Are you in danger of finding a plucked petunia?
  • What action is calling you now?

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