The Creative Rhythm

On a Ten Percent Happier podcast I listened to recently, Dan Harris asked his guest, Prof. Lindsey Cameron, what her spiritual practice was. She said that she practiced meditation and a form of African spirituality. She was specific about the sequence – she meditates first and then prays. She recapped:

“I hear first, and then I talk.”

Professor Lindsey Cameron

That line totally grabbed me because I realized it spoke not only to my spiritual practice, but also my creative process.

I take in: podcasts, my kids talking, other writers, my quiet internal God voice. Then I am inspired to: write, dance, cook, create.

Now that I write this down I realize that it seems as simple as breathing. Who could get that wrong? And yet breathing, for all that we don’t think about it, can be totally transformative as a tool for the mind, body and soul.

Here are some things my kids said in recent weeks:

Oh, mine ear stuff is spicy.” (Mr. D from the back seat of the car while we were driving to school)

Are we the ones shooting or swinging?” (Miss O about a baseball game)

This is how we do partner hands.” (Mr D as he took my hand to walk down our stairs one morning)

Everyone in our family has been alive for quite a while so they’ve had a lot of time to practice.” (Miss O when we were talking about grown-ups seeming like they are good at everything)

Listening to each of those opens a world of creativity for me – about sampling our internal state, identifying our teams and how we belong, joining together to show support, and the up side of getting older. I suppose this is why I’m never bored these days but have a lot to say.

Because I have found a simple rhythm: listen first, then talk.

Please visit my personal blog at I also post on Wednesdays at the Wise & Shine blog. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter @wynneleon

37 thoughts on “The Creative Rhythm

  1. The Buddha discussed how to talk to others. Listening and speech that allows space for the other person’s voice made one easy to talk with. Talking with and talking to make a big difference. As the Buddha said, some spend their time in conversation waiting to interject, often impatient and without listening. He believed listening well to be an act of love. Thanks for opening that door, Wynne.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I like to think I listen first (I’m amidst a slew of posts that were inspired by things I read) but I don’t know how often I do that…though on an unrelated note but your post reminded me of this… twice recently people don’t me I was wrong about things…adamantly I might add….and these were fact based…and when I checked, I was right in both instances. Your post made me think that before you tell someone they’re wrong, check your facts

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  3. This is such a wonderful motto – Listen first then walk. I think it applies to everything in life, including school and work. Such an inspiring way to start my week – in a few minutes.

    As I always say, life itself is the greatest inspiration. And when see listen and see first, the creativity comes naturally and there are no shortage of things to talk and to write about.

    Wishing you three a wonderful week ahead. Yay for short week!

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  4. Listening is so important. There is so much noise around us all the time that we don’t always really listen. Butyouve also captured the benefits of listening; it means that whatever we do after will be more meaningful

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  5. Love this Wynne…and I chuckled because your post and the wisdom reminded me of a tool I used a lot in higher ed – especially with unsure first year students. The StrengthsFinder instrument provides feedback about top strengths…and no matter how many times I took it (great reliability there!) in my teaching and counseling roles, “INPUT” was always my top strength (this snippet is from the Gallup StrengthsFinder website):

    “There is a natural inquisitiveness to the Input strength, a desire to know more, to ask questions, to find out the what, when, where, how and, especially, why. Their need to know more can be limited to a particular subject area — but often that is not the case; they want to know more about everything they encounter. Input collects — sometimes things, but often ideas or experiences.”

    Sharing my results was a great way to connect with students, and those who shared my love of gathering info – by any and all means – found relief in knowing it was a skill they could manage but the natural inquisitiveness underneath was a strength…not a weakness. I’ve learned to manage the skill so I don’t end up in endless “input” loops…eventually I need to stop listening, receiving so I can move on or take action…but boy do I love — as you do — the time spent taking in info…just as you said. It’s like breathing. xoxoxox! 🥰

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    1. INPUT as your top strength. I can totally see that! You are such a natural learner and I love there is a way to measure that – your snippet is so interesting. And I love that you note the shadow side of it as well so we all are reminded we also need to move to action. Awesome!! ❤ ❤ ❤

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      1. Oh my goodness…I can see that strength “in action” with you, Erin. My favorite story EVER about using the tool in higher ed was about a student who felt so maligned about her career goal of becoming a reference librarian…it was her dream and one that her parents poo-poohed…endlessly…and when she found out her top ‘signature strength’ was Input…and that many very successful researchers, thinkers, LIBRARIANS also share the strength, her parents got behind her decision and today she’s a well-regarded reference librarian for a top-tier medical school — living her dream! 🥰🥰🥰

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      2. What an incredible story!! Sometimes we need a little external validation for that oomph to get others to see our perspective. I’m so happy to hear your student found her path!🥰

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      3. Wait…so Input is simply inquisitiveness, asking all the questions, needing to know? And we are speculating that talent resides with bloggers? OMG- I am so about the questions and often struggle to stop and do the listening first before rushing headlong into espousing some “important thing”! I just did that in conversations with both my girls over the last 24 hours, caught myself, and told myself to SHUT UP. I have no idea if this makes any difference to my own level of creativity but I love this conversation! My Saturday post speculates otherwise actually because I see what and why I write in a very different way- Totally agree on the listening before speaking though 😉

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      4. Inquisitiveness – that’s a perfect word for what you do so well, Deb! And I think the enthusiasm I hear you describing in your conversations with your daughters is also wonderful. Such a balance. Can’t wait to read your Saturday post and continue this fun conversation.

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  6. I love this post, Wynne. It reminds of an old English proverb that my grandmother would often recite, which seems so very fitting:
    A wise old owl sat in an oak,
    The more he saw, the less he spoke
    The less he spoke, the more he heard,
    Now, why can’t we all be more like that wise old bird?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m a good listener, always have been. I will share that in The Seven Habits of Effective People by Covey he says: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” I know this by heart because I worked for a company that was obsessed with the Seven Habits to a point of silliness.

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    1. Just goes to show that you truly can overdo a good thing. I can see that you are a good listener, Ally. It comes through in the insightful comments you make because I think there’s a skill in listening when we’re reading as well. Which ties back to the Covey way of putting it as “understanding.”

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  8. I do it backwards—talk first, then listen. I share concerns on my mind, ask questions, unload troubles, mull over issues, then I shut up and listen for answers. I do the same thing with journaling. Questions first, then answers appear. I’ll have to try it the other way around sometime!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ah, Julia – I love the image of “unloading troubles” and then listening for answers. It also seems like breathing – exhaling so that you can take a big inhale. And I love your trust that the answers will appear – I agree, the definitely do! Beautiful!

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