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September was jam-packed (as I’m sure you noticed from Friday’s monthly recap post). All the activity provided fertile ground for some deep learning, and I was uncharacteristically intentional about taking time to acknowledge the lessons while ithey were occuring instead of waiting until afterwards to do my processing. Here’s a glimpse at a few things I learned last month.

1. Studies have linked recognizing faces to personality.

Apparently extroverts are much better at recognizing faces than introverts, which makes sense to me because I am terrible at facial recognition and I am a very strong introvert. I learned this fun piece of trivia came from my mom, who texts me a Fun Fact each Friday; this was my favorite one yet!

2. The GroupMe app is a great alternative to group texting.

My Bible study group was running into trouble with group texting because we have too many members in our group (AT&T limits group texts to 10 recipients [also something I learned this month], and our group has 14 women). We solved this problem by starting a group chat through the app GroupMe, and I’m finding I like this a lot more than chatting through text. It’s easy to use and we are able to chat without blowing up everyone’s phones with tons of texts.

3. Having Charleston “help me” with my Bible study homework is the easiest way to make sure it gets done. 

In the past I have always waited until Charleston was in bed at night before working on my Bible study. Inspired by the ideas in this post, I began to realize that he is old enough to understand what I am doing when I study God’s Word, and it’s something I want him to see me modeling. So now we do it together: I read the questions and the passages of Scripture aloud while he colors the pages along side me, and although he might not understand the exact words, he is able to grasp the idea of what we are doing. He loves working side by side and actually asks to work on Bible study together (which ensures that it gets done each week!). Having my homework marked up with toddler scribbles is hard for my inner perfectionist, but I remind myself that seeds are being planted, and this thought helps to offset the temporary discomfort.

4. I have a tendency to be pretty intense.

I’m not very good with small talk and often start off conversations with some pretty earnest questions; I have zero qualms about going deep! It had never dawned on me that this was unusual until a recent acquaintance pointed it out. When I asked a few close friends if they had noticed this about me they confirmed that yes, I am unusually intense. Thankfully my friends reassured me that this was one of the things they love most about me—which is good because I’m not sure I would know how to be any different.

5. I have a lot of black-and-white-thinking healing work to do.

This all-or-nothing thinking is something that has been coming up for me in many of my therapy sessions. It seems as though nearly all of my personal hangups are rooted in my inability to see and appreciate the in-between. I struggle to find balance in my attitudes and views on life. However, my therapist is helping me to recognize these unhealthy thought patterns and then counteract them through nonjudgmental mindfulness: noticing various thoughts and experiences and simply recognizing them for what they are rather than labeling them as good or bad. It is much harder to view the world through a grey lens, but I can see that it is healthier and am thankful to be acquiring new tools that will help me with this.

6. Let go of control and leave “scary” decisions to the professionals! 

I’ve always been insecure about all things beauty-related. Wait, I take that back: I am pretty confident about my accessorization. (Need advice on jewelry, scarves, boots, or bags? I’m your girl!) But fashion, hair, and makeup have always seemed foreign to me. For my sister-in-law’s wedding, I decided to help myself enjoy the day by getting as much help as possible with these things. When the bridal party all went together to get our nails done, I asked another bridesmaid to pick the nail color. (I also went with the bride’s recommendation to do gel nails: she was right, they are amazing!) We hired someone to do our hair on the morning of the wedding, and I went in with zero styling requests, instead letting the stylist do my hair however she thought best. I even asked the maid of honor to do all of my makeup and trusted her implicitly with the outcome. I can be pretty Type A, and it isn’t easy for me to relinquish control, especially about things that I want to be perfect (like my appearance on an important day), but it was very freeing to give up the editorial decisions on wedding day, and I was happier with the outcome than if I’d tried to do these things on my own or make these decisions myself.

7. I’m not the only one who struggles to stay on top of all the things.

I often feel frazzled and overwhelmed; it seems as though everyone around me is incredibly calm and has zero difficulty managing their time, which leaves me to wonder if I’m the only person who ever feels so totally inadequate. Social media has something to do with this feeling, but even my in-real-life friends seem to have their act together more than me. It was helpful to hear (virtually) from a few other moms this month who have difficulty managing life. Ashley opened up about her struggle in a very real and relatable blog post about feeling pulled in too many directions, and the team from Sorta Awesome dedicated an episode to not really knowing what they’re doing. These are people who, from the outside looking in, seem to be managing quite brilliantly, so it was helpful to see that even these “super women” are struggling and that I’m not alone in feeling ineadquate; simply knowing that the rest of the world isn’t more “with it” than me enables me to give grace to myself when I’m frustrated and floundering.

8. Libraries don’t want our used books.

I’ve always donated my old books to used bookstores, but I would have assumed that libraries would be another viable donation option. This article explains why donated books are actually a burden on libraries, and what you can do to support your local library instead. Very interesting!

9. Pilates (the fitness activity) is named after a person. 

Joseph Pilates was the German son of a naturopath who developed pilates in the early 20th century as a system of exercises intended to strengthen the body and mind. Mr. Pilates originally called the regimen “contrology” meaning “the science of control.” I enjoyed learning about the mind/body connection of pilates on Laura Tremain’s Smartest Person in the Room podcast interview with her own pilates instructor. 

10. I really don’t like feeling displaced.

I love traveling and seeing new places, but living out of a suitcase is the worst, especially when I’m traveling with a child who is also living out of (multiple) suitcases. When we travel to California, we are able to unpack during the time when we stay with my parents, but we have to live out of bags for hotel stays during the road trip there and back, and on this last trip we added extra hotel days (and suitcase living) since we were in a different town for the wedding. That was really, really hard for me and brought out my OCD tendencies in all the worst possible ways. I’d like to figure out a traveling system that involves more fun and less stress.

11. I have a hard time being productive during road trips.

We spent nearly fifty hours on the road during our trip to California this month and I had great plans for all the work I would accomplish in the car. Unfortunately I had trouble getting into the appropriate mental space and wasted way too much time staring out the window or zoning out on my phone. I did get some blog work done, but not nearly as much as I’d hoped (which explains why this post about September isn’t going live until the first week in October—oops!).

12. Travel with a little one does get easier.

I can’t blame Charleston for my lack of productivity in the car because he was a fantastic road-tripper. A year ago when we made the same road trip, our journey was so disastrous that I nearly swore off all future car rides beyond our city limits; what a difference a year makes! Not only was the drive itself easier, but managing Charleston during the rest of our trip—where we were outside of our usual comfort zones and routines—was a breeze. I miss the baby years with him, but his growing up certainly has its advantages.

13. I would never want to live at the beach, but I enjoy visiting it. 

Despite growing up in Orange County, I’ve never lived on the beach and never wanted to. In the past, I didn’t even like to visit the beach for any reason. There was too much sand, too much cold, and too much wind for my cold-blooded, filth-avoidant self to appreciate. And I was a little disappointed when my parents bought a house right on the water. But we’ve stayed at their beach home twice now, and I’m realizing how nice it is. The ocean views are truly beautiful and the beach culture is a lot of fun. I still wouldn’t want to live there permanently, but I’m finally beginning to see why people love their beach vacations. I’m also more than happy to leave the sand and sea behind when it’s time to go home.

What is one thing you’ve learned lately? I’d be honored if you would share it with me!

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