BIG THINGS COME IN SMALL SENTENCES
November 8, 2016
“Mary’s words almost tumbled over one another.”
Too many times, as a writer and a mom who is trying desperately to be heard over the noise of a busy life, I am guilty of using way too many words. The previous sentence is a perfect example. I could have simply said:
“I talk too much, I never shut up.”
(but then…because I want you to really understand… I would need to add this note about my quote for those who speak my LOVE LANGUAGE of RUN-D.M.C.)
Ugh. I clearly can’t help myself.
But as a woman who is on a mission to do less in her life…
- less worrying
- less running
- less pushing myself to the brink
…I can see that reducing my words to make a bigger impact should be added to my list of less.
Friends, TIME IS PRECIOUS and we are NOT guaranteed another chance to say what we need to say to our kids, parents, friends, or even to the cashier behind the counter that is struggling to get through her day. We may only get this one chance, so there is no room to mess around and clutter up the messages with too many words “tumbling over one another” like Mary’s from The Secret Garden. It’s TIME to get to the point.
I see this even more now that my kids are full blown teenagers, constantly on the move. Some days, I only have time hurl a few words at them as they pass through the kitchen for another feeding.
DID YOU KNOW?
Here is a mind-blowing fact: According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the average attention span of a human being is only 8 seconds, one second less than the attention span of a goldfish.
Yes, I said goldfish.
The Challenge: How can we use those precious 8 seconds to make the BIGGEST impact?
I think Hemingway answered this conundrum with two simple words of advice, “Be brief.”
And it seems that he, a man of many words, was able to put this into practice. Legend has it that Hemingway was challenged at a bar to write a story in as few words as possible.
“For Sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.”
Did your heart sink like mine did when you read this? Love, loss, and letting go…it’s all there is 6 WORDS!
Another great example of brevity’s impact is this sign I pass on my drive to town each day. I marvel at how it can consistently say something so profound, funny, and/or insightful in only 4 lines and 28 letters. They clearly have mastered the art of communicating while the cars whir by, as this sign is always a topic of conversation around town.
“Did you see Billy Gene’s sign today?”
Now, I am not suggesting that we all only stick to 6 word sentences or 4 lines and 28 letters, but it proves the point that big ideas and words of wisdom can come in small sentences.
THE WORDS WE LEAVE BEHIND
Every day we leave behind a trail of words in our wake. The question is, will they inspire or will they leave a mark?
THINK BACK. What did your parents, grandparents, friends or mentors say over and over to you? Can you recite their words that still linger in your heart?
It’s typically not the long winded stories, but the quick bits and quips others have said that you still have stashed in your back pockets today. And I bet you have even pulled them out once or twice saying…
“My mother used to always say_____.”
And it was somewhere in that repeating…
that we started believing.
My husband is great at this idea of positive repetition, always saying to our kids when he drops them at school each day:
“Do the Right Thing. Be a Leader.”
What are those things that you are repeating over and over to those around you?
Right now, I must admit that the words I tend to repeat to my kids are not so inspiring or back-pocket worthy:
“Pick up your shoes.”
“Did you feed the dogs?”
“What time do you need to be picked up again?”
“Please let me go to the bathroom by myself.”
IT’S TIME TO BE INTENTIONAL
Perhaps it is time that I intentionally decide what words of advice or wisdom I want to leave in their hearts, because “feed the dogs” is only going to get them so far.
Aibileen Clark, a nanny in the book The Help, would take time each day to repeat these beautiful words to the sweet girl she watched over,
“You Is Kind. You Is Smart. You Is Important.”
I like that, but I think my sweet husband already has this one covered in his daily words to them.
Shana Neiquist, author of Present Over Perfect, received this bit of advice from a mentor that soon became her rally cry, often repeating it in her mind as she worked to dig herself out a life run by busyness.
“Stop. Right now. Remake your life from the inside out,” her mentor said.
I love the focus and “just-do-it” tone in this…but not sure the message is right for me to share just yet with my kids.
It’s clear as I write this, that I am going to need to do some more serious thinking on this…so stay tuned for a follow up blog.
In the meantime, let’s chat. What words will you leave in your wake this week?
Remember to make ’em short, simple, and packed full of goodness and love!
Less is more,
FHB and Especially Me
P.S. Here are some FUN FACTS ABOUT HEMINGWAY and my great great grandmother FRANCES
Though Earnest Hemingway published his first book two years after Frances died, I think they would have been “friends for sure”.
- Lived in Paris just after getting married for the first time.
- Were both divorced…more than once.
- Both were published by Scribner’s.
- Loved to travel.
- Produced what today is considered “classic literature”.
- Had a love of nature and adventures outdoors.
According to Hemingway’s Quarrel with Androgyny written by Mark Spilka,
“She(Frances) was, in short, a woman whom Earnest Hemingway might have admired – as Mark Twain actually did…”
P.S.S. I just finished Present Over Perfect and there is not a single page that I didn’t highlight, underline or dog ear! I highly suggest it for anyone who is looking to DO LESS in order to BE MORE of who God has called them to be.
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