noccalula-silhouette 2
Me and my afro at Noccalula Falls – Gadsden, Alabama

I love listening.

I believe it is a lost art and I’ve always found it fascinating. As a child, I would try to decode body language and match it to what I heard and felt. It wasn’t a game to me… it was genuinely interesting.

My grandparents’ home was the perfect place to hone my observation skills. My grandmother loved on community members that were “less appealing” by modern society’s standards.  By offering them odd jobs around the house or helping her run errands, she gave them something constructive to do with their minds as well as their hands. In exchange for their labor, she would offer a hot meal or some money to help them along. Furrowed brows, hearty laughter, squinted eyes… Communication was an intricate puzzle and I wanted to include all of the pieces to see the big picture. Somehow I managed to scratch this itch without getting smacked for being in “grown folks business.” Thank God for that.

While obtaining my Communication Management degree, I learned that besides “ear,” the Chinese symbol for listen is a combination of word characters for you, mind, eyes, undivided attention, and heart.

As I got older, I realized that while I engaged all 6 parts toward others, I had not been successful in doing so in my own life. In a nutshell, I only asked for directions when I was at a crossroads, not along the way. The noise of completing my agenda each day was drowning out God’s voice. So, I made a pact with myself. I was determined to “listen at the speed of life (LATSOL),” not just when things got crazy. Now, I am committed to writing what I hear within me as fast as I can. Instead of plowing through life, then begging for God to talk to me in a crisis, I decided to be a better listener. I downloaded the Evernote app on my phone and kept a notebook everywhere… in the car, next to my bed, in my dance rehearsal bag, anywhere I could tuck one away.

I began to realize that God was talking often, but I wasn’t listening.

I saw the smallest things around me as opportunities to listen more intently. Clouds, trees, roads, bad customer service experiences… they were all moments where I could be missing a lesson. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t walk around with my head in the clouds, but I do seek out drops of inspiration wherever I can find them.

By sharing my experiences, I pray that these moments provide inspiration and encouragement to you. Go to your friendly neighborhood dollar store and get a couple of cheap notebooks and one pack of pens (to stay with the notebook so you never have to look for one). As for notebooks, I prefer the spiral 5.75″ x 8.75″ size for easy traveling. Trust me, if you do this right, you’ll be wearing out the front cover as you translate and transport nuggets of wisdom all over the place. Leave the pretty journals at home or bring them with you to your ILS, or intentional listening spot. They’re not for this part of the mission.

With your materials placed in areas where you spend significant time, join me in my pact of listening for wisdom every day. Feel free to share your moments so we all can learn. Here’s to starting your own listening journey!

To learn more about me, check out my interview with Shoutout Atlanta!