At the end of every month, we have a regular practice here of looking back before moving forward. While some of the deeper, more in-process things I may keep private for a while, other things are fun to share here. And when you share things you’ve been learning, I always discover lots of fun tips, great new shows, and encouraging thoughts to begin the month.
Here are 10 things I learned in January in no particular order.
Alright. I’m not proud of what I’m about to tell you, but it’s something I have recently learned about myself when I travel that I think I need to shake it. Ready?
3. I get way too involved in the lives of my fellow travelers.
Because I talk to them? No, no. Without saying anything except for “Excuse me” and “Sorry” and “Do you mind if I put the shade down?” I learned the following about the man sitting next to me from Chicago to LA:
- he owns a fitness club
- divorced in 2013
- served in the army
- might possibly be in trouble with the IRS
I also saw his home address and know that he has poor eyesight (the texts on his phone were so big I think you could read them from the ground.) I promise I didn’t try to learn these facts. I was even reading my book and watched a whole movie. But he was on his laptop and sitting one half an inch from me and the observations were endless and I couldn’t keep myself from writing a character sketch in my head.
What I want to know is WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? Why do I waste so much energy paying attention all the time? It’s exhausting. And also creepy and weird.
4. “Our souls weren’t made for the easy life. Our souls were made for the easy yoke.” Thank you for that reminder, John Ortberg.
5. This Waterdeep album is everything right now.
6. Most readers who get my notes from The Bench prefer one fat secret letter rather than two shorter ones.
January’s newsletter was rather long, so I asked how many of you preferred that or if you would rather me split them up into two shorter letters. While several responded wanting two (which I completely understand and also expected) the majority of you prefer one longer letter a month. This kind of surprised me and also made my heart sing a little.
It seems like having less email always wins and many of you like knowing when they come you can settle in to read them slowly when you have the time (Sign up here to receive the letter in February – complete with my current reading list, favorite music, and words to help your soul breathe.)
7. I’m happiest in my work when I care the least about what happens.
8. Just because something is good doesn’t make it mine.
I’m slowly learning to discern the work that has my name on it. Shauna Niequist’s advice to “do your thing with great love” is surprisingly helpful in this venture.
9. Writing a manifesto for staying sane while writing on the Internet has actually helped me to stay sane while writing on the Internet.
I have been thankful for this. I came up with fifteen thoughts to remember while I write and have reviewed them each time I craft a post this month. They have helped me to write in line with my purpose and my personality. (You can download the list for yourself here or use it to write out your own.)
10. “Identity is never simply a creation. It is always a discovery.” This from Dr. David Benner in The Gift of Being Yourself.
Now it’s your turn.