Good morning ladies, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair and listen in, this is the Sassy Moments Podcast, Moment #13 – Homework for life.
True to my past self, I am an academic and I am giving you homework. The best kind of homework. This is an idea I stumbled across and fell in love with in the book, Storyworthy by Matthew Dicks. I highly recommend the book if you have any interest whatsoever in creating a life full of joy, meaningful relationships and purpose. I picked up this book because I am keen to figure out how to tell better stories to illustrate the academic points I want my readers/listeners to remember.
I had to face the truth that women over 50 are not that interested in the neuroscience of neurogenesis and the related neural growth hormones and peptides that offer up protection against mood disorders and cognitive decline. I’ve learned to recognize the blank stare when I drift into medspeak. So instead of talking about the impact of exercise on neurogenesis and quality of life in the latter decades of life, I share the story of Olga the 90-something track star and the secret to her longevity – break a sweat with friends. So much more helpful right?
Stories. Humans evolved and survived as a species by telling stories. “Don’t eat the red berries with the pointy green leaves, they will kill you.” “The blue ones that grow near the rocks by the creek are really tasty though.”
As I chatted in moments 2 and 3, you are the author and leading lady of the story of your life. Such a powerful stance to approach your future. Write yourself in as the hero too. If you want to change the direction of your life, you can write it in. As with my cycling adventure, I can imagine it and become a woman who cycles across Canada. Even if it never happens, the strategic byproducts of ‘going for it’ are worth the effort. More on that another sassy moment.
Homework for life is not about the future, it is about the present. Homework for life teaches you to pay attention to your day as you progress through it, noticing and collecting the precious moments and gems that build a brilliant life.
The problem is we miss these moments – we don’t see them. We miss their importance. At the end of every day, take 5 minutes – FIVE minutes, that is all and write down the most memorable moment of that day. More than one if you want, but start with one memorable moment. Memorable – not necessarily mushy or life altering. Just memorable. It could be about grooming your sheepdog, something she absolutely despises as she attempts to sink into the ground. Or burning pecans with your best friend. Or the pair of skunks who explored the bushes under your office window.
When you start to gather your memories, the more you will notice your moments the more meaningful your moments become, and as a result the more joyful and meaningful your life will become.
Be forewarned however… when you first start to collect your daily moments you might think you have nothing worthy of scribbling on a napkin, let alone story-worthy. That was my experience. My days are spent sitting and writing, pondering, thinking and reading. Dog walks. Cycling on a stationary bike. Snore right? Nope. It is often the mundane that makes for the best stories since the mundane bits of life are the most relatable, and forge connection with others. I could tell a story about running to deliveries in the middle of the night intubating premature babies, or staying up all night trying to arrange emergency transport for a teen with an ovarian cyst the size of a basketball obstructing her bladder to get her timely surgical intervention. But very few people can relate to these type of events.
Burning pecans, grooming dogs or unwanted neighborhood critters are more relatable and memorable.
So here’s what to do for your homework for life as explained by the author – “If I had to tell a story from today, what would it be? As benign and boring and inconsequential as it might seem, what was the most story worthy moment from my day?” You do not have to write it out with wit and beautiful prose. Just a sentence or two to trigger recall of the moment at a later date.
Like – burning pecans. My lifelong friend, an amazing cook and I were making homemade butter pecan ice cream… and while standing right in front of the stove top, catching up chatting and laughing – presumably monitoring the pecans… in an instant – the smoke billowing and ugh! The pecans… completely unsalvageable. True to our past, we laughed until we cried over that blunder. And yes we had more pecans and the ice cream was unforgettable.
A great story between us anyway.
The point is, by asking yourself to recall a story worthy moment that occurred during your day, you start to pay closer attention to your day and in doing so, you draw attention to the moments full of meaning that you currently don’t notice. They are happening, they just float right on by. Catch them. Write out a sentence or two. Then wait. Wait for the magic to happen. Your day starts to fill up with meaningful moments. Then you start to notice patterns. And other memories are uncovered.
Not only have we burnt pecans together, my friend and I have used clam shells for utensils while on a multi-day kayaking trip. Another inattentive moment – oops forgot to pack the spoons and related paraphrenalia. The burning pecans incident was this past summer, the clam shell utensils – over 20 years ago. It seems distraction is not only because we are over 60 now. We have shared a lot of laugh until we cry moments over the decades. Many of which are long forgotten – but now I capture them.
So your mission should you choose to accept it, is to capture mundane moments daily. Then brace yourself – the magic will happen.
Chat again soon.
Live Life, Love Life, Always…