My good friend Lynn Rosen asked me if I would be a “minder” for author Dani Shapiro during an Open Book event at Congregation Keneseth Israel in Elkins Park, PA. Author and fellow podcaster Gretchen Rubin interviewed her about Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love for an episode of Shapiro’s podcast Family Secrets.
As a minder, my job was to take care of the author, making sure no one monopolized her time or approached her when she wasn’t signing books.
Perhaps you listen to your body when it tells you that you’ve overdone it at the gym or that you shouldn’t have binge watched all of season two of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel the day it dropped. Maybe there were times you ignored the subtle messages of your body until they got louder, fighting hard to get your attention, and you found yourself with the flu or a pulled muscle in your back. Your body had to shout, take care of me!
But do you listen to your body when it’s not in distress? When it’s happy?
This past year I spent much of my time developing mindful writing curriculum and leading workshops and retreats. I love this work, not only because it brings me joy and purpose, but because of the people it has brought into my life. I looked back on how I came to develop this work and found that there were a lot of people to be grateful for.
I am grateful to have discovered mindfulness all those years ago by reading Dani Shapiro’s Devotion.
I am grateful to the Penn Program for Mindfulness. It was there when I needed it after my husband’s death, giving me a way to structure my grief and a new way to live my life moving forward. The MBSR foundational 8-week program really did change my life.
I spend a lot of time on Facebook. Too much time. Usually I justify it by saying it’s my main mode of communication. It’s where I post my book reviews, readings, essays, blog posts, and where I advertise my upcoming workshops and retreats.
I justify it by saying this is how I stay engaged with my community. I follow other writers and learn about their upcoming publications. I read their essays and articles and blog posts.
I justify it by saying this is where I get my news. I follow reliable new sources. My friends follow other reliable new sources and share articles. So I am informed about the latest news and the state of our nation.
This week in my Building a Mindful Writing Practice class, we focused on listening in many different ways. Listening to ourselves, to our bodies, to those around us, to the world around us, to the words of writers (both living and dead) and to our own writing, spoken aloud.
As writers, our job is to pay attention. As writers, our job is to be in conversation with the world around us. The first part of that job is to listen. In doing so, connections are made, ideas come forth, and words come to the surface.