Be a Noticer

This week I was going to write about the birthday I had over the weekend and how it felt to be a year older. But, instead, I decided to write about noticing instead. It’s been on my heart and mind.

Noticing other people. It’s not wired in us, is it? Except for when they’re interfering in our business or keeping us from where we want to go. We find it hard to pay attention to other people when they’re speaking because we’re thinking of the next thing we want to say and forget learning what another person is interested in if it doesn’t interest us. It’s not worth our time. Then, we wonder why we’re lonely and seem to have few or no friends.

I’ve written about feeling lonely and feeling like I haven’t found my tribe before, and it’s not a pleasant feeling. To think I could only talk about the weather with someone or the latest football score has been disheartening.

But, then I started thinking about the people who notice in my life and thought I would tell you some of their stories today. The first one is my husband. We’ve been married for over twenty-five years, and he’s surprised me with almost every gift he has given me. Yes, I have made lists for my birthday and for Christmas, and he has gotten me some of those gifts. But, it never fails. He’ll notice something in a store that I touch six months before the occasion, and inevitably, it ends up in my pile on Christmas morning. He notices me and the kind of person I am, and I am grateful. I was especially grateful that he bought me an All-Access Pass to Master Class last year which I used to take several classes from well-known authors. I learned so much and was glad he continued it for this coming year.

Another person in my life who notices me is someone who I have known since college. She is one of my best friends, and I consider her an adopted mom. It’s been over thirty years since I first met her, and there are many stories I could tell you. But, I want to focus on one that happened just this week. She sent me a birthday card which she usually does near my birthday. The card had this written in it. “I can’t wait to read your novel.” I felt so validated. I don’t have many people in my life that acknowledge my writing efforts, and sometimes I just don’t feel understood. It’s a “me” thing, I assure you. So, to have her do that made me feel so good.

So, with this on my mind, I decided to make a point of trying this myself. If being noticed made me feel this good, imagine what it could for someone else. At the end of Thanksgiving weekend, the residents of where I live were asked not to bring any more garbage to the dumpster. It was broken, and it would take a few days for someone to come and fix it. Of course, no one listened. Everyone wanted to get rid of their trash from Thanksgiving. Anyway, I had just bought a few Christmas cookie mixes and decided to mix up a batch for our maintenance crew. They would be the ones who would clean up the mess, and I wanted to make sure they knew they were appreciated. I didn’t think a whole lot about it though. It was just…something that felt natural. I also knew I might not get any kind of response. But, I did it anyway. And I think I felt just as good if not better than the young men who received those cookies. They, and the job they did, had been noticed, something we all long for.

I also spent some time with my birthday buddy during the weekend of our birthday. She is a young lady at my church whose birthday is on the same day as mine. She, her mother, and I went to the mall, and I felt joy in noticing the little things she liked. We went up and down escalators, explored stores, and talked about the toys she had bought. It was a great afternoon! (Thank you, Jenny and Ivy!)

Finally, I want to say this. Make an effort to be a noticer. Notice when someone is happy and when someone is sad. Notice, and don’t try to fix it. Just be there. I believe that’s the way Jesus wants us to be present and to show His love to others in our sphere of influence.

God bless you all!

PS–I wrote this last week, but haven’t been able to get it posted before now because of computer problems. Thanks for reading!

Quiet Servant or What I Learned During NaNoWriMo

As promised, I am back in this space after a month of working on a story that I care deeply about. Did I accomplish the goal of National Novel Writing Month which is to write 50,000 words? Did I finish my first draft? The answer would be no to both of those questions. But, I wrote 26,826 words of a story I care deeply about and plan on continuing. I learned some things this year though, and that’s what I want to share with you today.

The first thing I learned was that life still exists during November, and people still expect you to live it unless you have the good fortune to live alone. (Maybe I’ll plan that for next November. Lol) There were dogs who needed walks, people who needed rides, and things that needed to be accomplished like going to the grocery store and paying bills. I did all of those things, of course. I mean, I do like to eat, and having a place to live does have its benefits. 🙂

But, it cut down on the time I had to write, and it made me wonder if I really respected my writing time, or if I’ve made my intentions clear to the people I share my home with. Somehow, I think not. When I, as mom or spouse, let myself be interrupted at the least little issue, it shows me I haven’t made my intentions clear.

For that matter, I also learned that the people closest to me (and I am widening the circle to include friends and acquaintances in this one) are not necessarily the ones who are going to understand my need to get words on the page or on the screen. They are also not the ones who are going to participate in that all-important use of the like, comment or share buttons on social media. Yes, I know this is a more recent invention, but it is also a more visible way for authors to interact with people who read their work, and it can be frustrating when it doesn’t happen.

What also has made me wonder if I’m any good or if it is worth it for me to plan time to write is the lack of commentary on my abilities as a writer. When I see publicity like “Come hear this person speak. He is a gifted communicator,” it makes me think my gift is lacking. Now, I am well aware that I may not have the gift of writing at all and that I may be just shouting into empty space. I don’t know. If I think about it too long, it can be depressing. That is why I so appreciated the meme I saw from Create Magazine yesterday morning. “To the artists who have not yet felt the impact of their work upon others, thank you for showing up, thank you for creating.” It inspired me to keep going.

But, I look at these words and realize I’ve left Jesus out of the equation. No human being is going to care what I create or even care about me, for that matter, as much as He does. And with His love, I can respect what He’s called me to do and respect that I am valuable enough to make the time. Make the time to write.

So, in retrospect, I am a writer and a servant who very often is relegated to the background by the world and those in it even my Christian brothers and sisters. But, Jesus doesn’t relegate me to the background. He loved me enough to die on the cross for me. So, I can write, and I can serve and know that my Lord is well pleased I am using the gifts He has given me. Thank you to all who have inspired me, and may our Lord and Savior continue to inspire those of us who create.

God bless you all today!