It’s a cliche, of course, but I can’t believe it is September already. It has been a year of ups and downs for us – not a whole lot of easy middle-ground. We’re hoping as the season changes that our lives settle into simpler rhythms too. As I sat down this month to write down what I’ve been learning, much like last month, I feel like this season has been a time of learning the same things over and over (and over) again versus learning much of anything new. I’ll try to come up with some new ones though…
What I’m learning…
“You are where your attention is.” That’s via Andrew Sullivan in this must-read essay. At Jasper’s school, they often tell the students that “we are what we repeatedly do,” so we’re often hearing that around the house as well. I need the reminder (often), but I hadn’t extended that thought to how much time I spend distracted. Grant and I have been coming up with some new rules regarding our use of screens. After all, if we can’t put boundaries and limits around our use of our screens, we keep asking ourselves, how can we expect the kids to know how to use screens wisely?
We have practiced “no screen night” for awhile now, but we recently changed it from Monday night to Wednesday night because, to be honest, we’re often tired on Monday nights and enjoy a night to veg out catching up on Netflix after the kids go to bed. We also recently moved our phone charging station, so that it is right inside the garage door, which means we’re more likely to drop our phones there when we get in the door and leave them there. We also started a “no screens” at the table rule, which mostly just applies to Grant and me. How do you limit your own screen time?
Pain is inevitable. Suffering is not. I told Grant the other day that I feel like everything I’ve been reading and listening to lately could be summed up by the idea that pain is where the magic happens – there can be no rising without the fall (I loved how Glennon talks about it here). The only way to redeem the pain is by sitting with it and doing the work required to heal and grow from it. Suffering (after some time, at least) is choice to wallow in the pain rather than confront it – suffering is what happens when we don’t sit with the pain, feel the feelings, and do the work. Specifically I’ve been learning from the following (all highly recommended): Falling Free, Love Warrior, and Everything Belongs.
Edited to add: I should have clarified that I’m talking about suffering due to past hurts, not physical or psychological suffering brought on by illness, which is a very different thing and one I’m not qualified to write about.
Depressed about the state of our country? Read historical non-fiction. I read two great novels this month – The Summer before the War about World War I and Everyone Brave is Forgiven about World War II, both set in England. The ever-present fear and stress of the war in both of these books were a good reminder that the world has felt like it is falling apart many times before (and certainly things have been more seemingly hopeless than they are now). I think I’m going to only read historical fiction until after November, just for some perspective.
I’m thirsty for the sacred. When I use the word “sacred,” I mean it in the sense of being set apart and different. Much of our regular life is noisy and busy. Much of what I see of others’ lives is flashy and photoshopped. I’m thirsty for the authentic, messy, quiet, so-called mundane – in my own life and in my relationships. After reading Shannan Martin’s (beautifully written and highly recommended) Falling Free and being inspired by her #heyletswalktoschool on Instagram, I’ve been trying to take daily walks (even if I only have five minutes) around our place or neighborhood as a practice in noticing. Wendell says, “We have the world to live in on the condition that we will take good care of it. And to take good care of it we have to know it. And to know it and to be willing to take care of it, we have to love it.” Join me in getting to know your place this next month!
Canned pumpkin is not actually pumpkin. What?! Canned pumpkin (and your PSLs!) is actually a strain of squash more closely related to butternut squash. All the more reason that we’re adding a pumpkin patch at Funky Farms next year!
What I’m loving…
MapMyRun app. A friend told me to download this app, so we could have a little exercise competition this month. It is SO fun and motivating. I assume you need to recruit a few friends to really make this work, but it’s like social media/peer pressure for working out, without the annoying aspect that typically comes with posting your after-workout selfie on Facebook (oh wait, is that just me?).
Rose water. I found this brand at Whole Foods on a whim, but I think there are lots of different versions. I’ve been trying to brainstorm other/new ways of self-care (versus self-comfort from last month), and I’ve figured out that the ambiance of things, especially good smells, can make a world of difference for me. So I’ve been lighting more candles lately, or diffusing scents just because I like them, and spritzing myself (or Grant and the kids) with some rose water on our faces because you can’t NOT feel rejuvenated after a spritz of rose water. Turns out it has all sorts of benefits too, but I’m happy to keep using it just because it makes me happy.
Breath of fire. Ok, go ahead and laugh at me for this one, but then go try it. Maeve and I watched this video a few weeks ago. We had fun doing it together, but we didn’t think about it much more. Then I was at yoga at my favorite local studio, and the instructor was talking about the many benefits of this breathing technique. The one that stood out to me was how it calms the mind. Maeve has quite the temper (which shockingly seems to set off my temper), so we’ve been trying to do the breath of fire when things get a bit too tense at home. And it really seems to work! If nothing else, it gets more oxygen to our brains, is a little bit silly to do together, and breaks the escalation.
Pole beans. We have had by far our best ever crop of pole beans this year, and I am loving it. I grow this purple variety because it is super easy for the kids to spot them and pick them for me. I’ve been canning lots of beans, pickling some, but mostly making this recipe (alternating tamari for the white wine mostly because the kids can’t get enough of the tamari version) nearly every night. We will all be sad when the bean harvest finally finishes up.
Ok, YOUR turn…what are you learning and loving these days?!
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