5 Things I’ve Learned this Fall

fall what I learned

It’s time to dish about the life-changing (not really) stuff I’ve learned this fall! I’m joining one of my favorite people on the internet, Emily P. Freeman, to “reflect on the past season before we move ahead into the future.” There’s a whole community of us and we’d love for you to join in! #wwlcommunity

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Here we go, 5 things I’ve learned:

1 .My family will eat the same thing over and over again if they love it.

I started making this soup last summer, which is crazy because who eats soup in the summer? It became a thing due to some dietary changes one member of our family made. It’s one of the few things the entire family loves and, bonus, it’s super healthy. I’ve been making it almost weekly this fall and everyone is still loving it.

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You can find the recipe here.

Pro Tips: I double it and add a splash of balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and red wine. Also? Just buy a bag of shredded cabbage because there is no sense in unnecessary chopping. About cabbage, I’m the only one in my family who likes it, but chopped up and simmered in soup, they don’t even know. Also, my mini-prep food chopper is my best friend because carrots and celery can be chopped up super fine and in less than 5 minutes. Final lazy tip: buy chopped, frozen onions. They’ve changed my life. I haven’t chopped an onion in months.

 

2. I love collections of short stories and essays.

I read Ann Patchett’s This is the Story of a Happy Marriage and I loved it so much. There’s something satisfying about being able to finish a whole story in one sitting.Yet each one had me looking forward to more words from the same author. (Rick Bragg’s All Over But the Shoutin’ was another one I read and loved this year.)

 

3. Getting stronger is empowering.

I’ve been in a state of injury for the last 3 years. I’ve been able to run a little bit but not consistently or in the way that I used to. I’ve experimented with some other types of exercise and also experimented with doing nothing at all. These are first-world problems, to be sure, but I knew I needed to take better care of my body. A bone density test finally drove the point home. As women, we need to get take care of ourselves by strengthening the places where we’re weak.

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I’m only about 6 weeks in, but I’ve been pursuing fitness in a way that’s kind and accommodating to my body. I don’t get the same kind of endorphins that I did from running but I feel like I’m laying an important foundation for long-term health and for (maybe) running more in the future.

Yesterday I noticed that I could do things I couldn’t do just a few weeks prior and I felt empowered by my own budding strength the rest of the day.

Sometimes we have to let go of what we’ve always done if it’s no longer serving us. I’m out of my comfort zone for sure. But it also feels good and right to be on a slow and gentle path toward greater strength and less pain.

 

4. I love helping others discover who they are and pursue personal growth.

I’ve become an unofficial Enneagram Whisperer.

The Enneagram is all the rage these days. If you’ve no idea what I’m talking about, it’s a personality framework with ancient roots. I’ve been using it as a tool in my own life for 7 or 8 years now and it’s been a total game-changer. My husband will tell you the same thing.

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In the last year, I’ve shared the Enneagram with a couple of different groups and we’ve also introduced it to our own small group. It’s been delightful.

I’m not an expert, just a student, but I’ve learned that I really enjoy helping others understand who they are and how to pursue growth and compatibility with those they love.

(The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey of Self-Discovery is a great primer on the Enneagram. You can also learn more and find a comprehensive assessment at The Enneagram Institute.)

Also, if you’re already an Ennea-fan, you have to check out my friend Sara’s Ennea-collection!!! Mugs + prints + tees + totes for your kindred Enneagram lovers. : )

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5. Being a shopgirl is so much fun!

I started with The Real Pretty Shop sales several years ago. I think I’ve done 5 shop sales and they’ve been such fun.

In October, I offered something new — a way for each of us to “wear courage” in our everyday lives.

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I sold out in a little over 24 hours.

I started this blog 9 years ago because I love sharing ideas, resources, stories, and beauty with readers. Though I’ve mostly shared my own words across the years, I love having a space where I can continue to share other offerings that inspire and encourage you right where you are.

Next week I have a new word and style that you can wear for yourself or give to others. I think it’s the perfect word for this season and beyond. Stay tuned. : )

As you reflect on the past season, what are some things you’ve learned? You can share in the comments section.

 

posts from this fall:

A Few of My Favorite Things for a Peaceful Holiday Season

Finding the Unlikely Path to Gratitude

Remember Who the Real Enemy Is

How to Wear Courage in Your Right-Now Life {a personal post + wearable reminder}

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10 Things I’ve Learned This Spring

10 things learned spring

It’s the start of a new season and that means it’s time to share what we’ve learned lately. These posts are some of my favorite to write because the serious and the silly get to hang out in one post.

“What We Learned” is hosted by one of my favorite people, Emily P. Freeman. It’s an invitation to “reflect on the past season before we move ahead into the future.”

You can find this community link-up over at her place, so join us!

On to the things I learned, in no particular order:

 

1. The Fitness Marshall is just as delightful and infectious in person.

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My sister-in-law turns 40 this year and each month of 2017, this sweet, laid-back, homeschool mom of 4 is trying to do something a little bit crazy. She introduced me to The Fitness Marshall months ago and it only felt right that since he was coming to Charlotte on his spring Tour of Booty {not making that up}, we’d join in the fun.

And IT WAS INDEED SO FUN. It felt like church. Or at least the way I want church to feel. All ages and shapes and sizes and colors all gathered together, showing up as we are, getting lost in the wonder and experience of it all.

There’s something magical about being in the presence of someone who is doing what they were made to do and sharing it with the world, whether that “world” is a giant stage or just the small gathering of a few. Caleb Marshall loves to dance, loves to encourage, and loves people. I’m so grateful he didn’t keep all of that to himself. {His cardio hip-hop videos are free on You Tube and so super fun.}

2. Sometimes it’s good when people have too much time on their hands.

Because they invent the wonderful ridiculousness of things like the Magic iPod. My brother sent me this text a couple of months ago.

“Themagicipod.com. You’re welcome.” : )

If you’re familiar with late 90s / early 2000s music, you’ll love this. You drag one of the songs on the left to one of the songs on the right and it mixes them.

magic iPod

My favorite? Mix Bubba Sparxxx with Vanessa Carlton. But not when your children are listening because the Bubba Sparxxx song is called, “Ms. New Booty.” {As if the 3 X’s in his name weren’t enough of a clue.} I know, this is a family blog and I’ve already typed “booty” twice. My apologies. Will I get illicit comment span after this?

 

3. You can return your most recent Audible book if you didn’t enjoy it.

I subscribed to Audible this year because I have a child who struggles a bit with reading and we needed a better way to get through some of the assigned books for school. But I’ve actually enjoyed having it for myself. I find that a lot of the “mundane” work in my life {driving, cooking, laundry, etc.} feels less mundane when I have the companionship of story.

Here’s the thing about audiobooks. Sometimes books should be read and not heard. One book that I won’t mention had lots of relational conflict and yelling. Guess what? Hearing someone do all of that yelling stressed me out so bad. But I had to find out what happened in the story so I finished it. It wasn’t one of my better decisions. So when I found out that I could return the book for credit simply because I didn’t enjoy the experience, that felt like a win.

I’ve now returned two Audible books and chosen other books in their place, all for zero dollars.

{If you’re interested in giving Audible a try, click here and you can get two free audiobooks for signing up. And yes, that’s an affiliate link but I’m a fan regardless.}

4. The 10-10-10 principle for prioritizing.

Historically, I’m terrible at prioritizing. All the things feel important all the time. Sometimes this lands me in a place of anxiety and sometimes it lands me in a place of paralysis. I’m always on a hunt for the “secret” that will unlock a cure for this disorder of mine. I don’t think it exists but sometimes I stumble across something that helps shift the way I think.

sandals

Recently I was reading through a January 2014 back issue of Real Simple and I came across an article, “Balance or Bust” by Marjorie Ingall. The subtitle reads: One indefatigable woman takes on a marathon research project (2,330 pages of self-help!), determined to master life’s juggling act — even if it kills her. 

It’s one of my favorite features they’ve ever done. She boils down all of the wisdom she’s binged and shares the basics with her readers. This one has stuck with me.

Whenever you face a tough decision, find your answer by considering the consequences of each potential choice in the next 10 minutes, the next 10 months, and the next 10 years.

I’ve started using this principle for everything from taking the time to read to my youngest, to choosing not to write as much because my scant spare is better spent on relational opportunities that are fleeting. Sometimes I apply this principle when I’m in a moment of panic, “Ten minutes from now I’ll still be in a bad state but ten years from now I won’t even remember. Deep breaths.”

Books she mentions in this article that I actually purchased {and have not yet finished because no time #irony.}:

In Search of Balance: Keys to a Stable Life by Richard A. Swenson, author of Margin, one of my favorites.

The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz {her favorite of all the self-help books.}

 

5. How to take vitamins.

My friend wanted me to try these vitamins so I took them for a week and actually felt better. {I’m going to buy some on my June order and see how I feel long-term. I’ll keep you posted.} Anyway, while doing some research, I stumbled upon this video of a darling gal with the sweetest accent and purple hair telling me how to take 6 vitamins at a time.

Y’all. It’s magic. It totally works. And it actually makes taking vitamins or any pills seem less daunting.

 

6. How to cook spaghetti squash.

As I type this I’m 26 days into a Whole30, something I swore I’d never do. I’m an “all things in moderation” gal and I don’t have any food allergies. I may have actually made fun of restrictive eating trends and regimens like this one.

But I turned 44 this week and let me tell you, hormonal shifts are no joke. Over the last year I’ve noticed a direct correlation between the sugar / bread / junk I consume and my mood / energy level / yelling. More protein and less other stuff keeps me stable..ish. Plus someone I love wanted to do Whole30 so I took it on as an act of solidarity.

w30 snack

What my afternoon pick-me-up looks like. “I’m jealous of that awesome snack” says no one.

Which is why I’m eating things like spaghetti squash. There are a gazillion links on the internet about spaghetti squash but here’s the big thing I want to tell you. Most people are cutting it wrong. If you want long “noodles,” cut the squash width-wise instead of length-wise.

This post and video from “Eat Within Your Means” taught me all about it.

 

7. The Popcast with Knox and Jamie is everything.

I know. Could I be any later to the party? So I’d heard about The Popcast for ages but didn’t check it out because I thought it was just a podcast version of People magazine. I love People. But I’m sooooo out of the celebrity culture loop that I figured it would all be lost on me. Also? People without the pictures had zero appeal.

But it’s not that at all. The Popcast “is a weekly podcast that educates the world on things that entertain, but do not matter.” And they absolutely live up to that bold mission.

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Knox and Jamie could talk about how to boil water or how to make your bed and guess what? I would still tune in because they are that hilarious and endearing. I started listening in January and haven’t missed an episode since. My favorite so far: Episode 181. “Misunderstood Songs and Misheard Lyrics.” 

 

8. Hemp Protein Powder is the worst.

On a quest to pump up our smoothies with extra protein that didn’t have a bunch of fillers {this was pre-Whole30}, I bought Hemp Powder. Thinking to myself, “Well, the more nutrition the better so I’ll just load these smoothies up with several giant scoops of health.”

My husband thought I had made his smoothie with soil and drywall mix. If you must use Hemp protein powder, for the love, moderation.

 

9. We need silence, not just rest.

I loved this article because it unpacked what I’ve found to be true for myself but am so quick to forget.

For a number of reasons, in April I took a 3 week hiatus from social media and the internet in general except for what I needed to do for work. And instead of listening to podcasts or stories or music, I mostly didn’t. It felt like a reset button for my brain and my spirit.

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The Harvard Business Review article explains it this way.

Cultivating silence isn’t just about getting respite from the distractions of office chatter or tweets. Real sustained silence, the kind that facilitates clear and creative thinking, quiets inner chatter as well as outer.

This kind of silence is about resting the mental reflexes that habitually protect a reputation or promote a point of view. It’s about taking a temporary break from one of life’s most basic responsibilities: Having to think of what to say.

Yes please.

Silence is free. It’s simple. But it’s also awkward, foreign, and even uncomfortable for us moderns who have a constant feed of information and noise at our fingertips all the time.

For me, choosing silence is a discipline I want more of.

 

10. The small griefs matter too.

Despite all the gifts of the past year, I’ve also wrestled with loss. I was telling my husband Sunday night that for twelve solid months, I feel like I’ve lost all my rhythms and some of my identity.

Because this season of life and motherhood and responsibilities has been surprising and unique in what it’s asked of me, my life-giving disciplines have been (at best) haphazard and (at worst) non-existent.

I’m not able to write as often. Certain creative projects that mean the world to me are sitting on a shelf. I crammed for my Bible study way more than I wanted to. I had little occasion to journal and be still. Some weeks I’d exercise 4 times and then go three weeks without doing anything. My days and weeks have been highly scheduled yet also wildly unpredictable.

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The internet hasn’t helped. Sometimes social media has felt like a sea of people all going one direction, passing me by with their pursuits and fulfilled dreams while I sit in a rowboat, working hard but seemingly getting nowhere that I’ve deemed worthy. I know this isn’t necessarily true but my perspective has been fueled by envy and self-pity, both of them terrible counselors.

I’ve faced far more painful things in my life than this. I’ve experienced real grief and walked hard roads. Which is why these lesser griefs and frustrations are embarrassing to admit. Recently I’ve confessed and processed with a couple of trusted souls who have been kind to affirm that the lesser losses are also worthy of our tears. Something about bringing them into the light has felt freeing.

If you’re feeling the same way, I wrote a little while back about overwhelm and these lesser griefs — and how I found safety and consolation in a strange and unexpected place. You can find it here.

So what have YOU learned this spring? I’d love to hear. We can dish about it in the comments and don’t forget that you can also join in over at Emily’s.

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I’m all about helping you recapture the possibility of your right-now life. Each post provides courage, companionship, and resources for life lived real.

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8 Things I’ve Learned This Fall

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The “Let’s Share What We Learned” posts are hosted by Emily Freeman as a “monthly community link-up to share the fascinating, ridiculous, sacred, or small.” I love these posts so much.

If you’d like to join in, just head over to Emily’s and link up.

In no particular order, here are 8 things I’ve learned this Fall.

1. If you swipe left on texts and hold, it shows the time.

My teenage daughter showed this tip to my husband and me. He and I were all “minds blown” and she was all “Um, everyone knows this.” Because of course.

Here’s a little tutorial that explains it better than I can.

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source

 

2. If you use the navigation app, Waze, you can change the setting to Madea’s voice.

I can’t type this without smiling from ear to ear because it makes me so happy! I feel safe with Madea as my co-pilot. “Don’t worry, I gotcha, Boo.” Yes, she says this.

 

3. We’ve all been pronouncing Roald Dahl’s name wrong.

British novelist Roald Dahl (1916 - 1990), UK, 10th December 1971. (Photo by Ronald Dumont/Daily Express/Getty Images)

British novelist Roald Dahl (1916 – 1990), UK, 10th December 1971. (Photo by Ronald Dumont/Daily Express/Getty Images)

Mr. Dahl was one of my favorite authors as a kid. He still is. My middle son received a boxed set of his books for Christmas several years ago and he still reads them over and over. My youngest and I recently finished The BFG and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory {possibly the favorite book of my childhood.} Which is why it’s crazy that we’ve been pronouncing our beloved author’s name incorrectly all these years.

So how do you pronounce it?

“ROO-ALL.” Don’t believe me? Hear it for yourself on this video in which he says his own name.

 

4. My phone autocorrects “wowzers” to “wieners.”

I don’t know what to tell you about this. It also corrects “thrifting” to “thrusting.” Apparently my autocorrect has her mind a teensy bit in the gutter.

 

5. Nestle makes sugar cookie dough sheets.

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Christmas just got more awesome didn’t it? I posted this fun fact on Instagram and a friend of mine thanked me for saving Christmas. Just doing my job.

 

6. A digital Sabbath is good for the soul.

I wrote about this as one of the ways I hope to stay merry and bright through the holiday season. But it’s become a practice that I now crave every week. Our weary souls need a break from all the input. And from all the output.

 

7. Every now and then, it’s fruitful to find your own people so you feel less like a weirdo.

Recently I attended the Hope*Writers workshop in Charlotte. I learned so much. But one of the greatest takeaways wasn’t taught in a workshop session. Rather, I felt it in the gathering of kindred spirits.

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Sometimes I think life would be so much easier if I could just be normal. Be a wife and mom and manager of my home. Work my day job. Live in community with others. The end.

But I have to complicate everything by pursuing the writing life on top of all that. I have things to say, words that {I hope} matter. It’s hard to live in the tension between the non-negotiables of my right-now life and the tug of my hoped-for writing work. Regularly I wonder if I should pack up my words and my blog, tuck them inside a box, and place them on a shelf until the timing is better.

Being with other likeminded artists reassured me that I’m not alone and that there’s no one right way to do this. Lots of us are living in the tension and writing our words, messy lives and all. My friend Emily Freeman reminded me that “movement is not the opposite of waiting. We can move and wait at the same time.”

I write quietly in my journals. I tap out thoughts in Notes on my phone. And I offer words for you in this online space. This is how I intentionally move in the right-now, even as I patiently anticipate the hoped-for.

 

8. A good bag is worth the investment.

Over a year ago, I purchased this bag from Fashionable. For years I’d been saving my pennies for a fabulous leather tote but I also loved the idea of purchasing with purpose. I’ve waited a full year before I talked about it because I wanted to see how it held up.

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I’m happy to report that this Mamuye tote is going strong and gets better with age. It serves as my everyday purse {and I keep a clutch inside of it that I can grab in case I just want to run into the grocery store, sans tote bag.} It holds all my regular purse stuff + my bullet journal + work notebook + laptop + wadded up cardigan. Basically, it has the capacity of a piece of luggage but the lightweight-ness of a knapsack. It can rest flat on the floor without falling over but doesn’t have so much structure that it’s stiff.

It’s the best, is what I’m saying. But what’s really the best is that when I buy a bag, I’m creating jobs for heroic women in Ethiopia who are working their way toward opportunity, one stitch at a time.

Click here to learn more about my favorite bag and to scoop up something FashionABLE for yourself!

Your turn. What have you learned lately? You can share in the comments or join in over at Emily’s

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New here? I’m all about helping you recapture the possibility of your right-now life.

If that sounds like something you need, sign up in the box below to receive fresh hope and possibility delivered to your inbox no more than a couple of times a week.

And I have a gift for subscribers:

school made simple freebie header
If you’re overwhelmed by the many educational options for your kids, if you’re curious about the most important questions to ask, I have a FREE resource created just for you!

*Some affiliate links are used. Thanks for kindly supporting this little corner of the internet!