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How 20 Minutes in the Park Helped Me Find My Authentic Writing Voice

Lessons Learned in Unexpected Places

Photo by Frank McKinley

A few weeks ago I took a walk in a nearby park.

It wasn’t just any walk. I wanted to disconnect from everyone and everything for a while. I took an artist date, if you want to call it that.

This was incredibly hard for me.

I have to confess — I’m a smartphone addict. I carry mine around like I was born with it on the end of my arm. It’s so handy! I can chat with it, write blog posts with it, and jot down ideas on it. It’s like having a computer right there in your pocket!

Since I know I’m weak when it comes to disconnecting, I just put in my pocket, turned off all notifications, and started walking.

The Beauty I Missed

It felt weird at first not having my phone out — kind of like being naked in public.

It was especially difficult when I saw literally dozens of people glued to their phones while sitting on benches or at picnic tables.

But I decided to push myself forward anyway.

I decided I’d treat this as an exercise in observation. What sounds do I hear? What sights do I see? What is so great about being outside next to nature that attracts people?

Then I heard it.

It was musical and magical. I stopped and took it all in. It felt a little like listening to improv at a jazz club — without the smoky darkness associated with it.

What was the music? And who or what was playing it?


Lots of birds.

They’d been there all the time, of course. But when I was captured by my smartphone’s hypnotic spell, I never heard a single chirp.

When the spell broke, I heard a chorus of singers that told a story and blended like an orchestra playing a symphony.

As I listened, I thought about what I heard. I don’t have my usual seven points, but I’ll share what I do have. I think they’ll help unleash the Thriving Writer living in you.

Birds sing because that’s what birds do.

They don’t go around pretending to be lizards, cows, or people.

They’re birds.

It’s good to know who you are. You’re happiest when you live in your calling. Don’t know what yours is? Look at the things you’re drawn to. What thrills you beyond words? What experiences do you have that others might want to hear about? What have you learned that you can teach others?

And what song can you sing that will change the world?

I’m not saying you have to test it out on Karaoke night at your local bar. Just find a way to express yourself that feels as free and fun and uninhibited as singing Karaoke.

Which leads me to my next point.

Birds are totally uninhibited.

They don’t care if their chirping disturbs your sleep.

They don’t wonder whether their feathers had a bad hair day this morning.

They don’t worry if their song is out of key.

They just sing because they want to. And they don’t care if you want to listen or not.

You can be that uninhibited, too. Just find your joy and revel in it. Write the story you were meant to tell. Teach the lesson you’ve earned the right to teach.

Inspire people with the knowledge that if you can get through a horrible and life-changing experience, they can, too.

Be fully yourself with others. They’ll love and admire you. And they may even tell their friends about you!

Birds start singing as soon as they get up in the morning.

I’m not singing right now as I write this.

It’s dark outside. The sun isn’t even making an appearance for the day yet. So everyone but me is asleep in my house.

Like the birds, I’m up first thing singing by typing words into my phone.

Start your day by making your art. It will give you an awesome feeling you can take with you all day no matter how challenging your life is right now. It awakens a sense of possibility inside you that will spur you on to make more art tomorrow. And why not start your day doing what you love?

I can’t think of any better way to start my morning.

Besides, I’m an artist. It’s what I do.

So start your day with a song.

Birds have their own local language.

I did some research on bird chirps.

I know, that’s not something most people would do while they’re on vacation.

But I wondered, do they have their own dialects? Do they have a family language that is like a code that strangers can’t crack?

I’m reminded of a friend who married a foreigner. She and her family speak two languages. So if she needs to say something she doesn’t want strangers here to hear, she says it in the other language.

I think that’s pretty cool.

The reason we have dialects is because we belong to a community. We have unique ways of describing things like soft drinks. Are they pop, soda, or Coke? Depends on where you live. But I guarantee you, the people around you will know what you mean when you use those regional words.

You also have phrases that fit your personality. You have your favorite metaphors, expressions, and sayings. They make you unique and familiar. So use them in all their glory. Be you, and don’t be ashamed.

It works for the birds.

Set Yourself Free

Do you feel inhibited sometimes?

It’s normal. We keep our necks covered because we’re afraid they’ll get cut.

Here’s a challenge for you. Take one small step to be more of yourself this week. Say something you’ve been thinking and maybe hesitant to say. If there’s nothing patently offensive about it, why not share it?

You might make a friend.

You could make a powerful point.

And you might just make a mark that begins to change the world.

Since we’re writers here, add more of yourself in your next blog post.

It might just be your best one yet.

Let me know what you think in the responses. I’d love to talk about this and find out what you’re doing.

Now go out there and be the Thriving Writer I know you can be.



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