Eight Minutes of Attentiveness

I was issued a challenge this morning. In this blog post about Sensory Awareness and Storytelling, readers were encouraged to take two minutes every two hours to “stop and become aware of everything around you.” We were encouraged to come back at the end of the day and share our observations.

Why just comment when you can write a blog post?!

10 AM

What I see: The view out my window, past the (many) tabs open on my computer I am not doing anything about during this enforced period of awareness
What I hear: My favorite morning show, AMHQ, in the background; the tinnitus which fairly constantly creates static in my ear, house sounds
What I smell: I’ll spare the general public the details, but my house does not smell like a haven. Yuck
What I taste: The Powerade Zero I drank when I just completed my run
What I touch:: The nubby feel of the towel I am sitting on so the sweat from my run won’t further ruin our dining room chair


12 PM

What I see: The sight of myself in the mirror after just getting out of the shower
What I hear: Kellie Bartoli’s voice doing the noon news
What I smell: Nothing stands out
What I taste: The aftertaste of toothpaste
What I touch:: The lingering dampness of the shower, followed by another towel, this one to dry off with


2 PM

What I see: Green grass, sunshine, my car
What I hear: Birds, lawnmower sounds
What I smell: Grass, Nature
What I taste: The aftertaste of Diet Coke
What I touch: The warmth of the sunshine touching me


4 PM

What I see: My back yard
What I hear: Birds, crickets, bugs, lawn machines
What I smell: Outdoors smells
What I taste: Is “hungry” a taste?!
What I touch: The wind


Then Came Toastmasters

I discontinued the plan after the 4:00 break, because I had to be at Toastmasters at 6 and I couldn’t very well tell a whole meeting to put itself on hold for two minutes so I could commune with my senses BUT …
My responsibility at Toastmasters tonight was “word of the day.” It’s a bilingual club so I chose the word “sentido” (senses).
During “Table Topics,” which are two minute impromptu speeches, one of my fellow Toastmasters was given the prompt “talk about Mexico.” As it turns out, the Toastmaster is of Mexican descent and still has strong ties there. He started speaking: about the fact that the smells in Mexico are a bit of a mixed bag, about the sounds and textures, but most of all [insert long pregnant pause here] the pure pleasure of where his emotions go when he thinks about the tastes of Mexico. I think for two minutes all of us, even those of us who had never set foot in Mexico, felt something too.



Did this exercise put me in touch with parts of my world I had previously ignored? Kind of!

Every time the timer rang, at first I resented stopping my train of thought for TWO MINUTES. But the two minute periods did make me pay attention to:

How ingrained my habits have gotten; working at home, I get in a dining table/laptop rut

How desperately I want to get a handle on the general disorder of my home

How refreshing it is to go outside, even for two minutes. By 2 and 4 pm, I was making a beeline for the outdoors the second the timer went off

How accustomed I have gotten to telling my stories in pictures, as in “hey! look at my green grass.” That’s an entirely different thing than paying attention to my green grass and trying to hold its sensations in my mind’s eye

Something as small as thinking about the senses can send a group of eight people on a different two-minute trip: one where a little boy in Mexico eats a taco al pastor surrounded by the people he loves.

For that, I say operation sensory awareness led to an unqualified and utterly unexpected storytelling success!

pablo (20)

16 thoughts on “Eight Minutes of Attentiveness

  1. What a cool topic! When I go somewhere new and different, I’m in awe of all the new things to see and experience. I wonder why I have gotten so used to the looks/feels/smells/sounds and especially tastes of Tallahassee that I don’t actually notice them anymore?

    • Exactly!! I love running with music but I also think there’s something to be said for running w/o — to really take in the environment around you. This was eight minutes well spent yesterday.

      • It’s really fascinating how we start to take the daily for granted and forget. I’ll be honest, I really became aware of how much I was ignoring sensory stimulus when I moved to Maine. Life has so much less buzz in general here it allows you to take in the details. I’ve grown so much from it across the board!

  2. This is an excellent reminder for us all. Particularly for writers (like me) who sit and sit and SIT all day. I am going to try this. So powerful and important for our souls. Love it!

  3. Another gold star! This is excellent. And I love your take aways. I hope you keep it up. I think you’ll find it will help your running as well. Every few minutes tune into where you and your body are in time and space….

    • Yes, I agree. When I am participating in races, I never run with earbuds. I always feel sorry for the people who are missing the interactions with their fellow runners. Running for training is different, but I agree being plugged in 100% of the time results in missing some general sensory awesomeness.

  4. love that you had the added benefit of getting a blog post out of this – it’ll be a good reminder to do it again sometime 🙂 ~ Leanne

    • I really should get up more often and yesterday was a reminder. SIGH. It’s also weird that ……. I am the caregiver for my FIL so I anticipated my observations would be full of the blaring tennis on tv and the various less-than-sensorily-pleasant parts of that but he pretty much napped all day. Maybe it was fate’s way of cutting me a little tiny break and sending me outside with the fresh air. 🙂

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