Leah Farmer

Personal perspectives on faith, literature, and life.

31 Days of Self Love: Mantras

31 Days of Self Love

Day 29: What words or beliefs do you live (or want to) your life by? 

I love love love words. If you know me, you know this. A perfectly written sentence brings me pure joy…whether I wrote it or someone else did. So when it comes to words I live by, I have several go-to phrases. 🙂

For a long time I’ve lived by the phrase “Dogs don’t bark at parked cars” which sounds like something I might have learned from Dr Phil but actually learned from Max Lucado during a sermon. I love the idea that people will chase and nip at you because you are on the move…stirring shit up…getting things done. But they never bark or bother someone just standing there doing nothing.

Two of my other favorite phrases are from Dr. Maya Angelou, who is someone I look up to and admire for her wisdom, writing, gifting in relationships, and honesty.

  • When you know better, you do better.
  • When people show you who they are, believe them.

I have used both of these phrases when dealing with wounds from the past and making decisions in the present. It’s incredibly important to both hold ourselves accountable and to trust that people will hurt us if they show that inclination. I am sometimes naive about peoples motives and about being too trusting…and Dr. Maya would say “It’s not cute.”

During conflict at work…mostly because I don’t have conflict at home much or in my personal lives these days…I can be heard to say “Everybody take a breath.” I believe that the small act of taking a deep breath often buys your brain enough time to say or do the next right thing. And hell…if you decide you are still going to yell at someone, at least your lungs are full.

Lately I think a lot about what Dr. Brene Brown says in her leadership book Dare to Lead. In it she says that when giving feedback and talking about difficult things, “Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.” I try to remember this daily and get to the clear message instead of trying to soften the blows or not hurt feelings. When clear is kind and I want to be kind, my words get concise and I say what I mean.

When it comes to writing I follow two very important lines from my writing hero Anne Lamott:

  • You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.
  • Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something – anything – down on paper. What I’ve learned to do when I sit down to work on a shitty first draft is to quiet the voices in my head.

And finally, when the world is too much or when I begin to doubt myself or feel scared, I repeat this quietly…

 

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