Things I Learned This Summer…and Fall?

Every few months, Emily P. Freeman encourages her readers to participate in an evaluation of the things they’ve learned over the past quarter. Every few months, I intend to participate. Every few months, I do not.

She had a round of posts on September 30th, and I really intended to participate. In fact, I started this post in October, and here it is…December…and she just posted another round and I still haven’t finished! 😂 I was just about ready to throw in the towel on my intention when I thought, Self, does it REALLY matter if you don’t get it done in proximity to the end of the quarter? Are you REALLY going to throw the baby out with the bathwater on this exercise?

As such, here I am on this fine Wednesday morning (wait…that was in October; I’m here on this snowy, blustery Saturday afternoon in December now), with a few spare minutes to sit in front of my computer screen and write, not giving up and not giving in to the tendency to avoid things I didn’t do juuuuuust right. We’ll see how long it lasts. Which is to say we’ll see how long I get to write before the kids start bickering again. 😉

{and cue about 3 minutes before the doorbell rang}

{and then 3 months went by…}

Things I Learned Over the Last Six-ish Months

one || I’m unlikely to die if I don’t sanitize my groceries || what a relief this one was! I felt like the general trend on coronavirus-cleaning was to quit more out of exhaustion than data. But after seeing eleventy-billion people explain why the study about coronaviruses lasting up to 3 days on surfaces probably doesn’t apply to general life, I’ve (cautiously) stopped washing. Most of the time. I still wash things my kids might touch (looking at you, Goldfish) because they get them themselves and can I really trust them to remember to wash their hands after they serve themselves a bowl? No, no I cannot.


two || After the early-pandemic-era shortage of flour, I expanded my search radius from local stores to online retailers. My flour of choice is King Arthur all-purpose, and it finally occurred to me that I might be able to go directly to the source…which I could–they do sell direct to consumers–but that’s not what I learned. What I learned was they have an amazing catalog that makes me excited to bake ever time it arrives, and their email newsletter is almost as great. They include oodles of recipes and they all look sooooo gooooooddd!!! If you enjoy baking, I highly recommend the King Arthur catalog and email list, things I don’t usually find myself recommending.

three || When you shelve the “what makes your soul come alive” activities in favor of “the things that neeeeeeeeed to get done” activities, you really do shrivel up. After a long stretch of not wanting to get out of bed most mornings, I talked to my counselor about this and she asked me to plan one thing each day to which I’d look forward. Usually they were little things, but they were absolutely transformational. And then, of course, I slipped back into my old ways of feeling overwhelmed by all there is to do and how much I’m not getting done and telling myself I don’t have time for the fun stuff. Wouldn’t you know it, and here I am again feeling shriveled up and dry. So again, I’m returning to the practice. What’s one little thing that would excite me today? Don’t laugh too hard, but it’s getting rid of the extra sheets in my linen closet. I have all these sheet set halves because one of the pieces ripped. But I keep saving the other halves for kid forts or for padding when we move or because…I don’t know…maybe there’ll be a fabric apocalypse and I’ll have to make all our own clothes? See? I told you. It’s leeeetle things sometimes. Mundane things, even. But if I clean it out, I know that every time I open the linen closet I’ll smile, and that’ll be worth it.

four || The most mind-blowing thing I learned…trees mother their tree babies. What???!?! I HAD NO CLUE! There’s a whole network of stuff that goes on under the surface of the earth, and one of those things is mama trees making space for, sending nourishment to, and sending messages to their tree babies. I don’t even have words! You can learn more about it at the article/video here.

five || Sometimes anxiety exists to inhibit other emotions. I’m a pro at numbing behaviors; doom-scrolling, eating my feelings, gathering information, naps, and Netflix are my drugs of choice. I’ve also had anxiety since toddlerhood. But I had never connected the two, and it never occurred to me that anxiety might also be one of my numbing strategies until I started reading this book. It didn’t take long for me to be convinced, and now, when I notice I’m anxious, I try to remember to ask myself, “What other feelings are you avoiding by feeling anxious?

You guys, we did it. We’ve almost made it. 2020 is almost over, and for as difficult as it has been, I hope you’ve also gleaned some nuggets of truth and self-revelation that will go with you into 2021 and make your year better and happier than it could have been without them.

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