Meaning Mondays: The Hummingbird Edition

It was shaping up to be a ragged week.

As much as the parched California landscape needs the rain, and as grateful as I am that El Nino has purportedly arrived, the onslaught required a period of adjustment for me. And of course, the first storms of the year brought with them the minor aggravations that first storms of the year often do.

A few client drop-outs, calling to reschedule appointments.

The garbage can coldcocked by a menacing gust.

Scattered tree branches that left the lawn looking like a miniature wooden sculpture garden.

All told, nothing out of the ordinary.

But by midweek, I was ragged as well. Too little sleep. Not enough exercise. Cranky. Stiff. A bit overwhelmed by the “list.” (Maybe you have one too? Sometimes I look at mine and feel like I’m swimming through mud).

So that was my background music last Wednesday. Standing at the sliding door looking out at the gathering storm.

For a few fleeting moments I considered going out in it.

Now that, I figured, would be an experience to write about.

Oh yes, in that instant I wanted so to be the woman who creates a meaningful moment by traipsing out into the storm. I imagined I’d walk for several miles. Skirt the tree branches. Sway with the wind. Do some puddle jumping. Watch the river rise whilst I heartily embraced the downpour, arms extended like Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain.

What a good story it would make!

Yeah. I wasn’t feeling it though. Better not to force this meaning making thing, I reasoned.

And then, as my reverie was loosening its hold, along came a red-breasted hummingbird, on his way to the feeder. Very small, as hummingbirds are. And very wet. But determined to suck up some of that lip-smacking-good sugar water.

This little guy knew what he was doing. After several seconds at the feeder, he’d fly under the eaves to perch on the string of patio lights hanging across the back of the house, remnants of warm summer evenings. He’d bolster himself with a few deep breaths, a fine ruffle of feathers. Then back for more nourishment.

I stood and marveled at his rain dance for several minutes.

Just as I was about to walk away, he gifted me with an unexpected encounter. He broke his flight path and hovered, right across from me. In that instant, we connected. Two living things, sizing one another up through a rain-streaked pane of glass. I see you. I acknowledge you. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Exactly enough.

And in that small moment of meaning making, both my day and my week turned.

Sometimes, when I’m concentrating on consciously creating meaning each day, an event takes place that becomes a leitmotif. A through-line. It stays with me and enhances each subsequent meaningful experience.

The hummingbird was like that.

He sat on my shoulder as I purged closets and drawers, filling five bags with stuff to give away. He landed on my sewing machine as I made a paisley duvet. He flitted around the dinner table as I savored Dave’s home-cooked meal.

In fact, although you probably can’t see him, he’s here now, helping me to remember (again), that life doesn’t have to be difficult. That we can get out of its way. And sometimes, all it takes to do that is a quick look out the window.

How about you? What’s been meaningful for you this past week? I’m in such a mood to hear about it, so please share. And if you’d like to participate more fully in Meaning Mondays, check out these questions I’ve been using to amplify the small meaningful opportunities that are everywhere:


  • What is inspiring me?
  • What needs to be enjoyed?
  • What am I seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, smelling?
  • What am I feeling?
  • How can I make meaning?



25 thoughts on “Meaning Mondays: The Hummingbird Edition

  1. I love how nature gave you exactly what you needed! the storm was too much; the bird was just right. For me it’s watching the bulbs in my house do their business. They’re growing roots and preparing the bloom that will come in a few weeks. It reminds me that life is present. It’s just moving more slowly right now.
    Enjoy your week, Patty!

    • Hi Maryse – Yes, I love that too. How when we look to nature, be it bulbs or humminbirds, we find everything we need in the season we’re in. Thanks for the thoughtful comment!

  2. I love these chance encounters that bring with them such unexpected joy. I suppose the trick is to keep one’s eyes and ears open and let the moment (the hummingbird) do the rest. By the way, those are some great questions for a Monday morning.

    • Hi Nothing Profound – Welcome! So nice to see you here. Those chance encounters are joyful, aren’t they, particularly when we can grab them and not let them pass by. Thanks for you lovely comments.

  3. Hi Patty! How perfect! It really pays to pay attention to nature doesn’t it? That little bird had it all figured out – we just have such messy brains!!!

    While somewhat stuck inside for the winter, I pay a lot of attention to my little dog, Mondo. He reminds me to stay in the present moment and keep things simple. He also “tells” me that just looking out the window for awhile is perfectly ok. If I get too carried with “work”, he reminds me to take a break. Now is anything he does inspiring – I mean really inspiring? On the surface, no. But learning to just BE keeps stress and negative crap away. What gets done, gets done and if something doesn’t get done, oh well. Life goes on.

    I love how you visualized that hummingbird throughout your day! Beautiful!

    • Wow, SuZen, Mondo is a very wise little guy. Sounds like he really keeps you grounded, and remembering, “it is what it is.” Love that! Thanks and a big hug back.

  4. Patty — I loved that the hummingbird connected you back into the moment. What a special meaningful moment:~)

    We have hummingbirds where I live, but only in the summer. I love watching them. They are so fast and hover so well. Truly, they are proof that there are always wonderful things to discover in the world!

    I had to look up the meaning of leitmotif:~) Now that I know it, I really like how you used to weave together the hummingbird and the actions of your day.

    As you said, meaningful moments are always there. We just have to open our eyes and see them. Thank you for this post:~)

    • Hi Sara – Yes, it was a special moment, and quite unexpected. I love hummers too, so incredible. I’m glad you liked leitmotif. It just sort of came into my consciousness in that moment. Not even sure it made total sense but maybe it does! I love the way certain words just hit me. Thank you for your wonderful comments.

  5. Patty I have been waiting all weekend to hear the little bird story and it was worth the wait. I totally agree the opportunity for meaning are every were but i would argue that we do not make then we find them. The meaning is there whether we experience it or not. if we miss it some one else will find it but the beauty of meaning is that even if we do find it it is still there to be found by others.

    • Hi Quinn – I’m so glad to hear that! You’re right, we do find meaning, in that we always need to be on the lookout. But one of my favorite authors, Eric Maisel, says that if we concentrate only on finding, seeking, searching for meaning, and never actually grabbing it and making a meaningful moment, then it will just pass us by. His point – that a meaningful life is something we have to work at on a daily basis, not just wait for. That’s what my experiment is about this year. I like what you say, though, about how if we miss it it will be there for someone else. To me that also implies that there’s always another meaningful experience right around the corner. Thanks so much for the good conversation!

  6. Great post. “Life doesn’t have to be difficult. Get out of it’s way.” Healthy philosophy. We do make things difficult and loose the moment when we do that. The hummingbirds don’t usually come to Colorado until late March or early April. I will look for him. I particularly like the question about what needs to be enjoyed!

    • Hi Erin – Yeah, I have to remind myself of that philosophy now and then. Hmmm, now I’ve got it in my mind that this little hummer will be making his way to Colorado in the coming months to have a peak into your window! Thanks for putting that lovely thought into my head.

  7. I love your story of the connection with the hummingbird. Today I was blessed with a warm 60 degrees, yet very strong wind accompanied by much rain. Each season has it’s reason. I am thankful and inspired by the quiet strength of nature.

    • Hi Mark – Yes, I would agree that the quiet strength of nature is one of my top needs and values. If I can just get out of my way and pay attention to that, I will also be a place of inspiration and thankfulness. Thank you for putting it so well!

    • Hi Belinda – That is so true! I find them magical in some way. Once I took a trip to Patagonia, Arizona just to visit the hummingbirds there. It was truly magnificent. Thanks for being here!

  8. “What has been meaningful for me this week”; you ask?
    I relate to your list overwhelm. I do not make lists on paper, but I do have them in my head.
    We are busy right now, lots of holiday visitors as it is full on summer here and we live glorious and near a wonderful beach. Then we have the fruit ripening and needing processing and then there is work!
    So overhwelm in my head for sure.
    There was no hummingbird but a lovely partner I am now learning to trust and use so I can deal with those lists in my head.
    So while sipping a delightful cup of coffee in bed, I shared my list and how I could not see the week work out.
    And of course my list was not as big as I thought, because guess what? I thought I had to do my list in one day, but of course the list was for the whole week, not today!
    Ha, that made a difference and how blind I was to what was causing my feelings of overwhelm.
    I might start putting things on paper so I will not make that mistake again.
    Thanks Patty, that was a great way to get me reflecting, xox Wilma

    • Hi Wilma – Oh, you’ve said such an important thing about those lists! I too get into some weird rhythm where I believe it must all be done now. But that’s just silly, isn’t it? This is how I get sucked into scarcity thinking. Not the usual scarcity thinking, where I think, “why bother trying for that because it won’t work out.” No, for me it’s time scarcity – there’s too much and I can’t do it all. But getting clear on what truly matters helps, and also, changing my relationship with time. Realizing that time is fluid. The hummingbird helped me see that last week, as did your wonderful partner. Thanks! xox

  9. I love watching birds flutter about taking care of their birdie business. It’s fun to watch them splash about in the bird bath, or pick out the best bits in the bird feeder. I’m not much for cold winter rains, but I love a spring or summer rain, when it’s nice and warm, and the cool rain brings some momentary relief.

    My meaningful time last week came from an extra day off. In my new job we work 9 hour days and then get every other Friday off. Last Friday was my first off Friday. I spent a lot of time just enjoying my family. My daughter and I played a bunch of board games, we played with fairies and princesses, we went to the park and ran all over the playground. It was really nice having an extra day to squeeze in a bit more fun with the family.

    • Oh yes, Eric, I imagine those spring and summer rains are glorious in your neck of the words. And I bet the birds love them too. That’s very cool that you get every other Friday off. I think we all should get Fridays off! A little less time at work and I bet we’d all be more productive. (Of course, I know you’re working 9 hour days to get that day off). But I digress. I loved hearing how you spent that day. It sounded tremendously meaningful for you, to just be with your family. Thanks for that!

  10. hi patty,
    life doesnt have to be difficult and in a lot of cases, it’s the simple things/events that bring about or create lasting results and thoughts.
    this reminds me of a quote from marie curie …Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.

  11. Patty, I had a meaningful encounter with a bird myself quite a few years ago. I was in my parents’ two storey home at the time, washing dishes in the kitchen. I was gazing out the window while doing this when a kingfisher flew headlong into the glass.

    It must have fallen at least 10 metres or so to the ground. I rushed outside, fearing that it was dead. For a while there I couldn’t actually tell; I was too scared to touch its crumpled form in case I made things worse. I went to get a shoe box to put it in…

    When I came back, it was gone. To this day I don’t know what happened, whether a cat or dog got to it, or whether it recovered and flew off after all. I thought about that bird for a long time afterward.

    I don’t know why that encounter affected me the way that it did, but it got me thinking about my mortality, and about directions in life and the hubris one needs to decide which direction is more correct than another. So many possibilities and only one of me to hopefully realise some of them.

    Frankly, life’s still a mystery to me.

    • Hi Tony – Welcome! Thanks so much for coming by and sharing this story. I so know what you mean, and I think life will always be a mystery to me!

  12. Pingback: Meaning Mondays: Creative Chick Meets Warrior Woman Edition « Why Not Start Now?

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