Recently, I helped a friend deliver a car to his aunt about an hour away from my home in Minneapolis.
"She doesn't drive much. Just to the grocery store and doctor's appointments," he said to me before we started out.
After a pleasant, Sunday afternoon ride in the country, we pulled into her apartment complex. A couple of senior women sat on a bench out front enjoying the fall weather. Rose Jill, my friend's aunt, approached us in the parking lot with the help of a cane. The retired cake decorator wore a purple jacket and a scarf over her head of short, blonde hair.
After showing her how to operate the car's lights and windshield wipers, my friend and I followed her into her apartment. As my friend used the restroom, I stood in the small, linoleum entryway. Rose Jill looked at me a moment and said, "You can look around if you like."
I slipped off my shoes and stepped onto the soft, beige carpeting of her living room. A single easy chair sat close to the television. The wall decor stole my attention: three hand-written power phrases on white notebook paper hung diagonally.
I become thinner
and thinner every day.
Walking back to her kitchen, I noticed of a couple more notes hanging on the cabinets and closet doors.
You have a beautiful home, one read.
But the predominant message of these affirmations motivated her to shed some pounds, and a moment of outgoing honesty had me ask her: "Have these notes helped?"
"I lost 42 pounds," she said proudly.
My introduction to Rose Jill was brief but memorable. This random meeting was all the more meaningful, because in the last year I've started putting up notes around my apartment as well.
I think in some respects, we've all done what she does. A mentor from a number of years ago had directed me to write a motivating phrase on a post-it note and stick it to my bathroom mirror. Perhaps for you, something similar was on your computer desktop or your refrigerator or artwork at your office; some wording, some place, to keep you motivated, elevated, or centered.
Unlike the post-it note, the suggestion from my mentor didn't stick. But last fall, for whatever reason, I became motivated to motivate myself in this way. I began to collect encouraging responses to my stories to fuel my writing. I printed the responses in large font, bought a few cheap frames, and placed them on my computer desk.
I appreciated these regular reminders regarding my writing, so I branched out to collect some of my own personal growth nuggets—general words of insight along with various ways of saying, Go get 'em, Brandon.
I framed these, too. But instead of putting them on my desk, I hung them from the threshold dividing my living room and kitchen, visible as I walk out of my apartment each day. I viewed them the day I left to help my friend, met his aunt, and saw that she, too, has gained from this practice.
We all walk about with a default subconscious attitude. This attitude isn't always as we'd like it—my American culture of better, faster, more, stronger aside.
Some seem blessed with a more motivated, positive, clear attitude—an outlook or worldview that sees the possibilities of things we think are out of reach—or that we don't even consider. Start a company? Write a book? Ask out that amazing person? These potentials simply don't reside within our regular consciousness.
Notes around my apartment help me to consciously exercise upping my attitude to where I'd like it to be. I get up in the morning, I live in my default outlook. Then I see the phrase on my threshold: Embody your Ability, and I remember and feel that I can write for the publications of highest reverence.
These phrases alter my outlook, because they aren't canned within containers of little substance. They tap into something personal, emotional. If you read them, you'd likely not feel what I do, because I had an experience to go along with them. Inspired words do reach other readers' spirits. But the phrase on my wall Keep Your Head in the Game takes me back to the room I was in, going though the experience that inspired this insight.
What started as one phrase on my threshold has grown to six. I know I can't wallpaper my apartment with them, lest they lose impact. So I've taken down ones that have served their purpose. One inspired from a breakup kept my head up for weeks afterward and reminded me how to better approach the next romance. I took it down. The relationship is in my past. But may the wisdom remain.
It is my hope that reading these phrases goes beyond the spot broadening of my perspective. I hope that regular doses of these reminders train my mind to default to a higher level of being.
It's comforting to know they've helped Rose Jill.