What if Wonder Could Be a Habit?
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “wonder”?
The Grand Canyon
The birth of a child
The northern lights and shooting stars
Standing in a field of spring wildflowers
Seeing a Monet painting the first time in person
The big, all-consuming instances of awe and vastness that impact us, but that we are absolutely not able to orchestrate daily, if at all.
But what if wonder could become a simple, accessible, tangible practice we could lean into and experience every single day instead of something we grow out of in adulthood or that which is reserved to a limited number of epic life moments?
What if wonder is a practice that could build the ability to bounce back, that could actually make us more creative?
A practice that could offer tools to navigate a growing national crisis of loneliness.
A practice that may not only help improve our individual well-being, but also help us hone critical skills like active learning, problem-solving, creativity, innovation, initiative taking, leadership, resilience, stress tolerance, and ideation… all of which are in the top job skills list for 2025 by the World Economic Forum.
A practice that could help us engage in helpful conversations, even in tense situations with people who see the world differently than we do.
A practice that can help us pivot and thrive as creatives in uncertain economic times, both in business and life.
A practice that makes our life deeper, kinder, more resilient.
For me, cultivating a Wonder Habit™ has been the practice that gave me back my life.
The Day I Became a Writer Who Lost Her Words
The morning of January 28, 2018 I woke up with a stranger’s brain in my head.
I started reading when I was around 4. My favorite game in pre-K was to learn 3-5 syllable words from our family Webster’s. I was writing poetry at 10, reading Shakespeare at 11. Words were my safe place. My first creative love. Both paintbrush and pigment.
But when I woke up that January morning, all those words were gone. Locked behind an impenetrable wall of fog that had colonized my brain overnight. I could look at a coffee cup and know I knew the word but be completely helpless to find it.
I was in a car crash the night before that caused my brain to ricochet in my skull because of the impact. I didn’t have an open head wound, and even though I felt odd and my glasses had been snapped in two right off my face, I had other injuries that took the attention. Then I was told to go home and sleep it off.
I’m lucky to be alive.
When I woke up, most of what made me feel like me had evaporated into the mist overnight.
I couldn’t think straight or hold a thought for longer than a hot nanosecond. Light was tortuous and sound even more so. Any semblance of emotional regulation went out the window.
I found out exactly how many four-lettered adult adjectives I knew as they came out of my mouth before I realized I thought them. I couldn’t move my head or eyes without the room spinning. Short term memory was almost non existent. My eyes no longer tracked together. I was seeing double. Headaches and nausea kept me in a dark room for months. You get the idea. I was a hot mess.
I lost almost everything for the 2nd time in five years. It was terrifying to watch my life that I had painstakingly rebuilt fade from view in mere hours.
Six-months in I was advised to find a therapist and settle down with my new limitations.
Excuse me, but HELL no. As I’ve shared before, I am team neuroplasticity and grit over here.
Between a traumatic brain injury (while I was writing my master’s thesis project nonetheless), losing my business, and then caring for my parents full time, losing both parents less than 6 months apart, the pandemic- yep it’s a lot in the last 5 years.
But the pain of this path also led me here.
I made myself keep reading even if I had to read 10 words at a time 5 times over and still not have them stick. Even if I got migraines. Even if I wanted to throw the books out the window I was so frustrated.
This is the story I’m telling myself. I am no longer a speed reader. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be a deep reader. Slow rivers are deep rivers. I am a deep reader.
I took poetry writing workshops. Copywriting courses. Lectures and masterclasses from authors I love.
I learned words once. If I have to learn them again, I want to learn to be a better writer than I was before. A better communicator. A more powerful storyteller. To build something I love more than everything I had lost.
About a year and a half in, my relationship with language was changing. Poetry became a lifeline. A place I could find the footprints of where words had once been. Over the next 4 years, it started me on a glacially-paced path back to myself.
Poetry lights up the brain in ways literal prose, like instruction manuals, never can (so found this study from Exeter explained in greater depth here).
Poetry and the prose found in how-to articles and appliance manuals act on different parts of the brain, literally.
And all the poetry lovers say a resounding, "DUH, ya think?"
Making Wonder an Everyday Practice
In the middle of navigating trauma, grief, and a million hard and jagged things, intentionally looking for the beauty and goodness in the smallest, simplest moments started to breathe life into my soul again.
Taking a few words at a time that captured my imagination and relishing them slowly, began to open doorways to find new language.
Meeting ongoing challenges with curiosity rather than animosity, slowly I am growing a life that is very different than I imagined, but beautiful nonetheless.
Wonder doesn’t just live in big moments, it lives in the cracks of our world we pass by in our rush to get where we are going.
Welcome to a space where we can find them together.
Wonder in the Weeds
Want to give this a try in 3-5 minutes tops?
Take 30 seconds in the next few days to look up from your screens, step outside, and look at the ground you are standing on. What does it feel like? Is it hard like cement or shifting like sand? Does it feel stable or uneven?
Now, while you’re looking at and feeling the ground, see if you can find a “weed” nearby. Study the flower or the greens. Look at the way the leaves are growing.
Join me in the practiced art of crouching low enough to observe beauty only found 6 inches from the ground.
What can that weed tell us about flourishing against all odds?
For creative pros, what insight can this bold and brave scrappy plant we call a weed give you about growing your business in hard places and times?
Jot down your first thoughts unedited. If more come, and you want to, write those down as well. Whatever is there with zero judgement. Make a quick sketch if that’s more your style. Or do both.
If you like, pop what stood out to you in the comments below so we can encourage one another.
Congratulations my friend. You just started a wonder habit. I’m so glad to have you here.