Joined at the Heart · Writers Write

Listen To Your Broccoli

I have to confess that I haven’t been trusting myself much.  I’ve started a bunch of posts and abandoned them because I haven’t been inspired.  While waiting for inspiration to strike, I’ve been . . . you know. It’s funny how time slips away when the conscious self tries to control the message.  

I’ve been reading Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird.  Whenever I’m stuck, I reread it a chapter at a time until something penetrates the miasma.  Bird by Bird is one of the best writing books ever written because Lamott doesn’t instruct.  She nudges me in the direction I didn’t trust myself to go. In a chapter called “Broccoli” she quotes a bit by Mel Brooks where the psychiatrist tells his patient “Listen to your broccoli, and your broccoli will tell you how to eat it.”  Here’s the short form of the concept.  Trust your instincts (the broccoli).  Without them, you’ll burn out early and give up.  That’s what’s been happening to me, so I’m trying to listen to my broccoli.

My mother gave Bird by Bird to me for Christmas in 1995.  I know because she inscribed the first page. She always sent me notes in books. Sometimes, it was a marked verse or a dog-eared page or a random quote at the bottom of a letter followed by “Have you read this yet?” Mom died in 2002. She’s still sending me messages in books.  

Cherry and Coco have started competitive swim season.  Now that school is out, they’re in the water every morning by 8:00, and they love it.  The endless down-and-back laps in the 25 meter pool seem like torture to me, but the girls see them as a celebration, a rite of summer.

When the Olympic Games begin in August, think about this.  When they were six (or younger, Coco started at three), each one of those swimmers had a parent that got them to practice early every morning. Close your eyes and imagine those moms and dads standing right there on the podium with their kids. Maybe, it’s kind of like my mom giving me the writing book in 1995.  Thirteen years ago, she believed I’d be writing a book one day.


One thought on “Listen To Your Broccoli

  1. Just write whatever’s on your mind. Be true and honest and say what you feel… Listen to your broccoli.

    If you try too hard, you will burn out. Just do what feels right and be natural. Give yourself a break once in a while.


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