Listening Lesson #1: Pay Attention


Earlier this week, I was reading a thought provoking post by A.J. Juliani titled the Power of Writing Every Day, and some of his words stuck with me that I could not shake loose, so I had to write about them.

He wrote:

Instead of focusing my blog as only a place for reflection (which it sometimes is) I’ve tried to make my posts as useful and helpful for other teachers, writers, and learners as possible. Really, I try to teach with my blog as much as possible.

Thinking about my own blog posts, I began analyzing how many were reflection posts and how many were teaching.  There are probably too many reflection posts, as I use my writing for reflection, although, we also learn from these reflections, so sometimes, reflection and learning go hand in hand.

The voice of self-doubt then started to creep in and by the time I’d spent a more than adequate time thinking about it, I’d convinced myself that I spend too much time thinking about what to blog about and then actually choosing a topic for my blog to blog about and then wrestling with the content of the blog, revising, editing, etc. . . that by the time I’d finally spent a half a day with a post and hit publish, was the whole mess even worth it?  I mean, reflection or teaching ~ what’s it matter if no one reads the dang thing anyway?  Seriously, the only one who benefits is me, because maybe I learned from it.

I sat there. Defeated.

Suddenly, a pillow of smoke arose in front of my eyes at my desk.

My candle had decided to go out.

This was strange because there was plenty of wax in there to keep that candle going.  But, at that precise moment, it died.

As I looked at the candle, the “Message from My Angel” card sitting next to the candle hooked my attention.  It’s message:

You have an important life purpose involving communication and the arts.  Please don’t allow insecurities to hold you back.  I will help you.

Archangel Gabrielle ~ the angel of communication sits at my side.  She is a constant reminder to keep going.

And the candle? It’s message:

Don’t let your dream die out and go up in smoke.

It’s this kind of listening that guides me in the direction to go each day. This stillness of the mind that allows me to pay attention to the quiet whispers God is sending me is a constant conscious effort every moment of my life.  I often let my mind do all the thinking and get lost down the wrong path.  On days that I allow to unfold naturally, these messages appear constantly. They uplift my spirit and give me inspiration and courage.

Paying attention takes practice.  Most of us are rarely paying attention because we have so much on our minds and when we don’t, we reach for technology to occupy it.  These are distractions that keep us from the signs we are meant to notice.

Today, I challenge you to be still and pay attention.  You don’t need your phone with you in the bathroom.  Quit checking facebook. How many email messages do you expect to receive in an hour – do you really need to check every five minute?  Just unplug for awhile and breathe.  Your listening skills will improve and before you know it, you won’t be searching online for the answers to your questions, you’ll just be sitting still to hear them.

Shari 🙂

5 thoughts on “Listening Lesson #1: Pay Attention

  1. Shari,

    I am the reason you write! Truly! I learn and reflect from your words, as you learn and reflect from the words of others. Even more than that, I am reminded yet again, that God is here to guide me. I just have to stop and listen. Thank you, Shari!


    1. Joy,
      You are another angel at my side cheering me on. Thank you for reading my words and then leaving some words of your own to encourage me onward. 😉

      I think that if the words on the page can reach even one person, it’s worth it.

      Shari 🙂


  2. For the last week, I have been in travel mode with barely enough time to read emails and posts: too tired to think for anything relevant to write about. As I read through your post, I realized as I read through your post, a lot of what you said is exactly why I get hug up on posts. Even then, I was learning from it. Then, I hit your words – On days that I allow to unfold naturally, these messages appear constantly. That’s what I’m aiming for in order that my words don’t sound so forced and unnatural. Thank you for sharing this. And – definitely – don’t let your writing light go out!


  3. I think about this same issue with blogging–inward vs outward reflection. What’s just for me, and what’s maybe useful for someone else? I think Pernille Ripp does it so, so well (a nugget of her own reflection, some kind of learning that results, and questions to make her readers reflect on their own practice). When I first started blogging and had no audience besides myself and my mom, I had a really hard time figuring out what to write about and how to write it. My voice was all over the place! Then as I began building an audience, I began to have a much better sense of what kinds of things I might blog about effectively. But that’s still a growth area for me. I also try to be mindful to write what I most enjoy reading. Funny how hard it is to do that! I personally love reading deeply reflective (and long!) blog posts and don’t enjoy as much the kind of “tips” posts that I see on a lot of teaching blogs, though my students much prefer the “tips” posts that I share!


    1. Isn’t funny how we all prefer different kinds of reading? I, too, prefer the longer deeply reflective blog posts. These blogs give me so much food for marinating in my mental cookstove. I suppose those who reflect more deeply seek that kind of reading and those who want to cut to the chase, need the “tips” posts, huh? So, writing in a variety of ways to attract all kinds of readers would seem smart.

      Pernille’s structure is effective for me as a reader (thank you for noticing this and making me aware of it!) in how she writes her posts and quite often, just having a structure is most helpful in getting some writing on the page, as does having a structure over the course of the week, of which I am inspired with from your blog, Elisabeth. Your Sunday readings are something I always look forward too. You are a mentor for me! 🙂

      Thank you for skipping over to visit my writing!


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