Act N°8 (2017): Pause

I really need to be getting on with things – especially things I promised myself I would do for 40 Acts! – but bleugh. Today I can’t get myself going! I spent this morning doing teaching stuff – writing reports, preparing tomorrow’s lessons etc – but this afternoon I’ve just kindof wound down and can’t get going! I sit at my desk reading blogs and eating wine gums. Not the best way of Getting Things Done! I’m also getting “blog envy” from these people who are writing fascinating blogs about their fascinating lives in France, and scattering beautiful photos throughout their esoteric writings. Sigh.

Never mind. My focus at the moment isn’t that perfect Francophile’s life in the midst of a charming village de charactère where we meet typical, beret-bearing old chaps, who quaff red wine and regale us with tales of yesteryear. (Which is a good job, as I don’t know any of them!) My focus is 40 Acts, carried out as best I can in this small French town, where most people are busy going about their every-day life. As am I.

So, on we go…


The prompt reads: It’s easy to let cutting words slip out. But the barbs can sting and the effects of our words can stay with other people a lot longer than we expect. The best way to stem the flow of put-downs is to replace them with life-giving words. These words also resonate, sometimes for entire lifetimes.

The challenges are:

GREEN:Begin your day with a decision to catch your words before blurting them out. Just five minutes of intentional decision-making can set you up for a day of generous, kind communication. 

AMBER: Think about those closest to you – the ones you’re prone to get shirty with when you’re stressed/tired/hungry. When was the last time you said something harsh to them. What was it? Are there particular words or phrases that you use repeatedly? Write them down if you can, so that you catch them before you’re tempted to use them.  

RED: Ask a friend to evaluate your speaking voice. They could use these questions with you: am I too blunt? Too sharp? Slow to listen and quick to respond? Take their answers and see if you can turn them into action points – remember this is about taking on a whole new posture, not just methods to fix a few words.

You can read the full meditation over here.



This is an interesting one – it’s not just a “now” act; it’s not a do-it-once-&-feel-good-about-yourself challenge. This one requires thought. It requires consideration. It requires commitment. Even the Green act – the one that’s supposed to be easy (easier?) – is a challenge. *

I think (think! Not sure!) that since last year’s 40 Acts I have become less critical. I try to couch my requests to Mr FD in kinder tones (although, I suspect, he might tell you that I’m not always successful!) I try not to say some of the things that spring to my lips, because, when all’s said and done, they wouldn’t achieve much, and they might cause more conflict.

It reminds me of the words from an excellent song by Divine Comedy:

Sticks and stones may break my body but words can tear me apart.
So be careful what you tell me, spare a thought for my heart.

Broken bones fuse together, bruises never last for long,
But once they’re said words stay spoken
And hearts stay broken from that moment on.

But I need to go further than not saying sharp words and think about how words can build a person up as well. I am also trying to say Thank You more – if Mr FD has made dinner, or cleaned the cat trays when it’s really my turn. Things like that which need appreciating. It’s when efforts are acknowledged that a person begins to feel validated.

* Incidentally, I have been wondering why I have been finding the Acts more challenging this year, and I think this is the reason. I think that this year, we are being asked more to think about things and to make a commitment. It’s not just something quick, and fun, and bof! It’s done! But more and more, the challenges are long term commitments. I was happier when it was something I could tick off. I think I might be better with the children’s 40 Acts – they seem to be having much more fun! They don’t have to think – they just do!!



4 thoughts on “Act N°8 (2017): Pause

  1. Ah, there’s the rub, isn’t it? Through the indwelling Spirit, choosing to be a different person, not just occasionally doing something different. But as you’ve experienced, it DOES get easier with practice. I think when we heed the Spirit’s promptings, His voice becomes louder and clearer.

    Here’s another song about words I like:

    1. Thank you for your lovely, encouraging words, Michelle, and also the link to the song. I really like both the song and the sentiments it echoes. I’ve shared it on the 40 Acts page.

  2. I’m getting on better with these Acts after a sticky start. Thanks for the encouragement last week! I love Neil Hannons stuff, funny and poignant, and a great voice

    1. Glad to hear that you’re finding how 40 Acts can work for you. I’m still struggling, but starting to work out why…
      As you might gather I love Neil Hannon’s work – it’s odd, I agree about the great voice, but another friend described it as “someone trying to sing but failing”. His lyrics are very clever and witty. I cannot choose a favourite song, as they seem to fit so many different moods. Mr FD saw him sing live with Bert Bacharach a couple of years ago. I was SO jealous! We saw him in concert just before Christmas in Lyon. Really good.

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