The Best Clogs (and Other Shoes I Love)

The Best Clogs (and Other Shoes I Love)

Check out episode 182: One Fun Decision (The Shoe Episode) for more ridiculation about shoes. If you’re coming here from that episode, welcome! Here are all the shoes mentioned. I do use a few affiliate links throughout this post that helps to support my one fun decision. I’m glad you’re here!

If I were in charge of things, I would vote for everyone to have at least one decision in life that you get to be ridiculously extra about. I’m not advocating that we live beyond our means, overspend, or go into debt for the sake of fun. But what if in a designated area of life or a particular recurring decision, we decided ahead of time to let it be fun and take what it takes?

What if we allowed ourselves to take our time, not because the decision actually takes that kind of time to make, but because the process itself is one we enjoy?

Maybe for you it’s planning a gathering, reviewing books, putting your TV shows into order from most favorite to least favorite. Whether it’s purchasing, planning, collecting, or researching, having one fun decision means our next right thing is to take our time and enjoy the process no matter how inefficient in might be.

Here’s one of my fun decisions: I take a ridiculously long time to decide on shoes. It’s not because it actually takes that long, it’s because I love the process. Since this is one of those areas of life where I’ve done a lot of thinking and researching, I thought it only fair that I share some of my favorite shoes with you.

Note: I buy shoes and keep them forever. I say this because most of these are on the pricey-er end. You’ve been warned.

 

Lotta From Stockholm: Low Wood Brown Oiled Nubuck

 

 Find them here: Low Wood Brown Oiled Nubuck

I bought my first pair back in 2016 and they were the first clogs I owned (chosen after months of researching clogs). I typically wear a size 7 or 7.5 US and I have the size 38 Euro in this pair. If they didn’t have a strap, I would get the 37. I wear these clogs with everything and have taken them with me when I have traveled to Israel, London (twice) and Italy.

I’ve spilled red sauce on them, walked in the pouring rain, and have navigated all manner of reasonable terrain in these and somehow they always bounce back. The water dries, the stains fade, and the shoe is better for it. (Pay no attention to the inside of my old shoes. They age well on the outside!)

I have purchased two other pairs of Lotta clogs and these are by far my favorites. The other pairs I bought: The Classic Black Clog (I returned these because I think I bought the wrong size: they kept slipping off my feet) and the Peep Toe Clogs (they look more like sandals, also have the strap. I also love these but don’t wear them as often as the Low Woods.)

 

Swedish Hasbeens Lacy Clog Sandal

 

When I started looking for clogs, I had my eye on either the Lottas or the Swedish Hasbeens. So when I was in London in the summer of 2019 and happened to see a Swedish Hasbeen store in the Seven Dials area of Covent Garden, I walked right in because of course I did.

After months of reading clog reviews, I was glad to be able to try on a lot of pairs at one time. The ones I have are hard to find now, but I linked to them anyway as well as a few similar options.

If you can’t tell from the photo above, these clogs make me all kinds of happy. I think it’s my Dorothy Gale obsession. Red shoes! Now all I need is a yellow brick road.

 

No. 6 New School Clog on Wedge

 

Find them here: No. 6 New School Clogs on Wedge

This is the style Kristen Bell wears as Eleanor Shellstrop in The Good Place. She has them in Palomino and have them in Celery. Because they are slip-ons, I ordered the 37 (in clogs with straps I wear a 38) and the fit is just right for me. Bear in mind the heel is 3 inches so I don’t wear them quite as often but they are surprisingly comfortable for such a high wedge.

I knew I wanted a color other than brown or black for this stye of clog. At the time, the only other option available was this color (Celery) which is a green taupe-ish color. I might choose the Bone or Chalk (pictured above) if I had the option. Note: Mine are suede while the Palomino are not.

Tieks by Gavrieli

Find them here: Tieks Boutiek
Alternative: Lucky Brand Women’s Emmie Ballet Flat
Alternative: Minnetonka Women’s Suede Anna Ballerina Flat

Full disclosure: These are not my favorite shoes. I read reviews for months before I finally chose a pair in Metallic Gold in size 7. I am typically closer to a 7.5 but they don’t come in half sizes and the website said to size down because they stretch.

Of course when they arrived (in the most fun packaging!), they were too small and I could tell there was no hope they would stretch enough to be comfortable. So I sent them back for a size 8. (The customer service was great to work with and exchanging was easy.)

And while they are comfortable for ballet flats, they do not (in my opinion for my foot) live up to the high price tag. However, if you are a ballet flat lover and want one that travels well and will hold up over time, you might consider trying a pair of Tieks.

Pons by Avarcasusa

Find them here: Avarcas USA PonsUse code EMILYNPONS for 15% off!

Out of all my shoes that make an appearance on Instagram, these are the ones I’m asked about the most. I’ll be honest and say when I first saw these shoes, I was not immediately drawn to them. There doesn’t seem to be much to them. Don’t they fall off your feet?! Just the one random strap?!

But because finding a great shoe is a fun process for me and because I didn’t really have a good flat that I loved, I decided to jump into the research and chose a pair of Taupe Pons in size 8 (I was worried the 7s would be too small).

I wore these for almost a full year and loved them, but always wondered if they were too big. So I was excited to find a store in San Diego that sold them in person. (That makes it sound like I just happened upon a store. For clarity, understand that when I say “found a store” I mean I obsessively researched who carried Pons in California before I visited so that I could try them on in person).

Gold Leaf (an adorable shop, by the way) carries several different colors of Pons. When I mentioned to the shop owner that I thought mine might be too big, she took one look at them and affirmed that yes, they were too big and I definitely need a size 7. So I bought a pair on the spot in Brown and have loved them since that moment.

As for the “random strap” – I cannot explain to you how they work, only that they do. Once I got the right size, I wear them everywhere all the time in spring and summer.

The shoes are handcrafted by the 3rd generation of the Pons family in Menorca, Spain and let’s just say that family knows what they’re doing. I adore these shoes.

More Favorites

Note for The Next Right Thing podcast listeners: Here are a few more shoes mentioned in the episode but can’t find links for (this is the worst photo ever I’m so sorry.)

  • Skechers Luxe Bobs Rain Dance Slip-On With Memory Foam
  • Sanita Boots: I bought these on the Lotta website. They don’t have this style now, but when they’re in season I bet they will carry them again.
  • Kork-Ease Natalya Wedge Leather Bootie: I haven’t been able to find this exact style, but Kork-Ease have that signature wedge I love in several styles available widely.

I don’t know how much time I spent over the years choosing these 8 shoes but I’m here to tell you I thoroughly enjoyed the process. In fact, each shoe reminds me of a particular time in my life. I’ll stop there before I make things weird.

If this is your first time here, I don’t usually talk about shoes. But I always talk about decision-making, discernment, and your next right thing. Check out The Next Right Thing podcast or sign up here for help on making any decision today.

8 Things I Learned This Spring

8 Things I Learned This Spring

What started as a a post I shared at the end of every month transitioned into a post every season, sharing what I’ve learned in the last 90 days. We are doing our best around here, setting the intention to engage in reflection while also realizing we are all, in a way, relearning how to be people in the midst of countless transitions, questions, and reconsiderations.

Once per quarter I share my in-process considerations, not necessarily fully worked out narratives. You’re invited in on the journey. I reserve the right to change my mind. Here are 8 things I’m learning in no particular order.

 

1. Tiny red flags only get bigger.

My friend Holly told me this years ago when I asked for her advice about a speaking engagement. If you have hesitations at the beginning, tiny red flags don’t get smaller. They only grow. I have found this to be true over and over again. This continues to be a guiding principle for decision-making for me, both personally and professionally.

 

2. The moon is always worth it.

He left the house at 9:15 p.m. to pick up our daughter from work. Five minutes later, my phone rings. You have to see the moon tonight. I’ve never seen it so big. I pulled on shoes, jumped in my car, and drove straight east. That first glimpse is always magic and photos always disappoint.

3. I’m a better human when I acknowledge endings.

In the spring of 2019, I wrote about 3 things to do when things end. I still agree with myself (this is not always true about my own past writing!) and I’ve been putting into practice some of my own simple advice. We’ve been walking through a lot of endings these days. Acknowledging them, marking them, and celebrating the humans we’re becoming is something I will never regret.

 

4. An evening shut down routine is an important part of my rhythm of life.

When I interviewed Megan Hyatt Miller earlier this month, we talked about having an evening shut down routine, a way of ending the work day and entering into family life at home. A morning routine is not my problem, but that evening transition from work to home is something I’m still working out. This season I’ve named it as something that matters.

 

5. The opposite of people pleasing is leadership.

For years I’ve thought the opposite of people pleasing was somehow learning not to care what people think. I found that to be difficult and even harmful at times.

Instead, I’m learning to care in a different way. Sometimes that means disruption or discomfort in relationship. It doesn’t mean I don’t care what the people think, but it does mean that the people don’t get to decide if I’m okay or not. What people need most is my solid presence and my steadfast insistence on being okay with or without their consent.

6. Church feels complicated for a lot of us right now.

I keep writing a paragraph and then deleting it. Hence the complications.

On the Saturday before Easter I shared on Instagram that John and I have left our church and we haven’t yet found a new one (though we have been quietly visiting another local church and sitting in the very back for a time.) 

I wasn’t (and I’m not) fully ready to talk about it. Yet. And also maybe I never will be? It all feels really personal because it is. But I also realize so many of you are in the same place with us. 

But what I learned this season is it helps to say words about it, even small ones. So many of you are faithful, are deeply committed to Jesus, and are also asking important questions of yourselves and of the church. You’re not alone.

 

7. One hundred years ago, the wealthiest U.S. Black community was destroyed in Tulsa.

We watched this documentary over the weekend, Tulsa Burning: The 1921 Race Massacre on the History channel. It happened one hundred years ago today and I didn’t know about it until this weekend. I didn’t know a word. As it turns out, what we don’t know can hurt us. I’m committed to keep learning.

8. I will never regret being kind to myself.

Saying yes to lunch with a friend. Actually resting instead of multi-tasking. Scheduling a long-overdue mammogram. Taking a walk with John. Crying in the shower and not scolding myself for it. These are small actions, some more enjoyable than others. But they are all movements towards being a friend to myself. I’m learning how important that is.

 

I love having a community of people who value the art of reflection. Now we have a Guided Journal dedicated to this important practice. If you don’t have a copy yet, the beginning of a season is a good time to start. I’m always glad you’re here.
What We Learned This Winter

What We Learned This Winter

For years I’ve been engaging in a practice of looking back before moving ahead. It started as a a post I shared at the end of every month and then transitioned to every season. We are doing our best around here, setting the intention to engage in reflection while also realizing we are all, in a way, relearning how to be people in the midst of countless transitions, questions, and reconsiderations.

 

“It’s not the experience that brings transformation, it’s our reflection upon our experience.”

Jan Johnson

Once per quarter I share my in-process considerations, not necessarily fully worked out narratives. You’re invited in on the journey. I reserve the right to change my mind. Here are 8 things I’m learning in no particular order.

 

1. Kids will always need their parents.

Our kids are 17, 17, and 14 now and we are officially in the thick of the teenage years. Their needs are nuanced, sometimes confusing, and often hidden. But they need us every bit as much now as they did when they were toddlers. We’re learning how to show up for them without a playbook, a rulebook, or (sometimes) a clue.

 

 

2. Early Christmas shopping is the best thing ever.

Because we weren’t as busy this holiday season as we have been in years past, I did most of our Christmas shopping in November this year. All of the organized humans of the world have been telling us this secret since the dawn of time but I finally learned it for myself. Choosing gifts is much more fun when you aren’t in a hurry.

 

3. Time with my sister is essential.

Speaking of time, my sister and I prioritized time together this winter and it shows. She only lives a little over an hour away, but because of the pandemic we only saw each other three times in 2020 and all of those times were short, social distanced, and around other people.

For a couple of days in the last few months we finally had some time, just the two of us. We ate good food and I cried deep tears and all was right with the world again. I am more myself after I spend time with her. Little sisters will always need their big sisters.

 

4. “Quiet isn’t always peace.”

These words from Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem helped me to discern an area in our life where we were remaining quiet and calling it peace. But in fact our silence was contributing to our lack of peace.

I’m grateful for the poets who use their words and help us to find our own.

 

5. I love gas fire logs.

This feels like a confession. 

We’ve always had a wood burning fireplace and turned our noses up at the gas logs.

We’re not like those people who just turn a knob and have fire. We have to work for it! Bring in the wood and stoke the flames and hope it catches!

And then we stayed at a house with gas logs for a few weeks while we were doing some renovations and now we will never go back.

You just turn a knob and have instant fire! No chapped lips or cold rooms in the rest of the house!

Genius.

 

6. I’m learning to trust my intuition.

Not at the expense of everything else and not intuition all by itself. But I’ve lived most of my life suspicious of myself and this has been a season of calling myself out on that, of paying attention to the knot in my stomach, and of moving toward what I know is right even though people around me might disagree.

 

7. Choosing a word for the year gives everything a frame.

I’ve not always been a word of the year person. But last year I chose the word Welcome as my word and let me just tell you: that word was a lifeline in the middle of the pandemic when everything in me wanted to reject what was happening around us.

Instead, God invited me (through my word of the year) to have a different posture toward unwanted circumstances, challenging me to welcome them instead.

We’re only a few months into this new year but already I can tell the same will happen this year.

Pro tip: if you haven’t chosen a word for the year, it’s never too late! I even think it could be helpful to choose a new word every season. This is a great time for that.

 

8. Water is healing, starting with our tears.

I have cried more in the last 12 months than perhaps my whole life combined. This is not an exaggeration. There was a stretch of months where I cried every single day, multiple times a day. I cried so much I thought it might be changing the actual look of my face (this is also not an exaggeration.)

It got to the point where I wished there was a new way to grieve that didn’t involve tears, like jumping or standing on our heads or taking spontaneous flight. But over time I’m learning that God knows what he’s doing, and he designed our bodies to produce healing waters that come from our eyes, the window to our souls. And they fall one drop at a time.

 

This is what I know: Though the days of the old school blog link up are past, I still love having a community of people who value the art of reflection. Now we have a Guided Journal dedicated to this important practice. If you don’t have a copy yet, the beginning of a season is a good time to start. I’m always glad you’re here.

The 10 Best Books I Read in 2020

The 10 Best Books I Read in 2020

For the last several years, I’ve been writing down the titles of books I finish. Then, at the end of the year, I pick 10 favorites and make a list for you here. I’ll include the last six years at the bottom of the post. These are not books released in 2020, but ones I read in 2020. So many great books!

Will the Circle Be Unbroken? by Sean Dietrich

I’ve been reading Sean Dietrich’s work online for years on his website Sean of the South and I’ve always loved his writing. But to sit down with a whole book of his is next level. This is the story of his life, the story he said he would never tell. I was hooked from the first line. I read the hardcover copy but his southern accent drips with story so if you’re into audio books this might be one to listen to the audible sample online before you decide which version to read.


The Dutch House by Ann Patchett [Audiobook]

First, you must know I love novels where a house is one of the characters (see: my love for The House at Riverton by Kate Morton). I listened to the audio book of this one, read perfectly by Tom Hanks. The only thing I will tell you is from the book description: “Set over the course of five decades, The Dutch House is a dark fairy tale about two smart people who cannot overcome their past.” And one of the main characters names is Maeve which meant I was immediately interested in her.

The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible by Scot McKnight

Scot McNight submits that the way we treat our birds is sometimes how we approach the bible.  We trim their wings and put them in cages. Essentially,  we tame our parakeets. What if we approached the Bible less like a systemic belief system we are to figure out and adopt and more like a story we are invited into? That sounds rather whimsical and I have to say if you know anything about Scot McNight the first word that comes to mind is not whimsy. He’s a New Testament scholar, theologian, and author who has written widely on the historical Jesus. When he taught at my Masters residency several years ago, I took notes so fast my hand cramped up.

Be the Bridge: Pursuing God’s Heart for Racial Reconciliation by Latasha Morrison

One of my favorite things about this book, aside from the vulnerability with which Latasha tells her personal story, is how she emphasizes the importance of lament, confession, and forgiveness as the foundational framework for transformation.

Share Your Stuff. I’ll Go First.: 10 Questions to Take Your Friendships to the Next Level by  Laura Tremaine

Here’s what you need to know. First, Laura’s book will release in February 2021. But I read this for endorsement and knew I would like it a lot. I did not expect for it to be one of my all time favorite books. Why? I know favorite books are highly subjective and are resonate for all kinds of reasons having to do with stage of life, personal experience, and opinion. I loved this book because Laura Tremaine is a phenomenal storyteller. Beyond her honest vulnerability and graceful charm, the true gift of this book is the delightful alchemy that emerges at the end of every chapter where, after reading her story, I was compelled to share my own. That’s some skill right there. Five stars! Three cheers! I adore this book.

The Lazy Genius Way: Embrace What Matters, Ditch What Doesn’t, and Get Stuff Done by Kendra Adachi

The only thing better than reading a book by a great author is reading a book by a great author who also happens to be your in real life friend. Your let’s-take-a-walk-around-our-neighborhood friend. Your I-have-to-run-to-the-store-can-you-watch-my-kids friend. That’s Kendra for me. I wrote the forward for this one so technically I probably read it in 2019 but I had to include it here because I think everyone who wants to prioritize what matters and ditch what doesn’t (raises hand super high) needs to have a copy of this book on their shelf. It’s kind, practical, smart, and also funny because Kendra.

The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s by Andy Greene [Audio Book]

Nothing profound to share here except if you liked American version of The Office and you also enjoy behind-the-scenes stories then you will enjoy this book. I listened to the audiobook version and it was a fun, lighthearted back-drop to my dish washing and dinner making.

Searching For Sunday: Loving, Leaving and Finding the Church by Rachel Held Evans 

Shortly after Rachel died in May 2019, I saw a photo of her writing desk that someone posted on Instagram. It was messy, lived in, and intentional. She has quotes posted so she could see them like One true sentence and Tell the truth. I didn’t know Rachel beyond us following each other on Twitter. I had read her blog off and on but never a full book. This summer, I picked up Searching for Sunday. What an incredible writer she was. What an incredible soul.

Welcome Home: A Cozy Minimalist Guide to Decorating and Hosting All Year Round by Myquillyn Smith

I don’t know how she manages to write about home stuff and bring me to both belly laughter and head-nodding tears but she does and she did and I will never get over it. In a year where no one was gathering or hosting, this book released and hit the New York Times Bestseller List and it wasn’t because people needed to know what to make for Thanksgiving. Maybe it was because she said what we all know is true: that hosting is never about the host and hospitality is never about the house. Instead of welcoming all the people into our homes in 2020, we learned to welcome ourselves home. And that makes all the difference.

One: Unity in a Divided World by Deidra Riggs 

Finally finally finally I finished my friend Deidra’s book this summer. I started it years ago but never finished it for who knows why. But this summer I just wanted to hear from her. I wanted to lean in closer and hear her wisdom and I’m so glad I did. I’m grateful she took the time to write all of this down. The feeling I had had at the end was hope, gratitude, and a profound longing for God who is and how, at this very moment, God is in the business of making all things new.

***

As you make your own lists of books to read in 2021, perhaps you’ll add a few of my favorites into the mix. To give you more to choose from, I’ll include my 10 favorite books from the past six years.

If you would like to receive a monthly list of the books I’m reading, enter your name below and you’ll receive my most recent letter on the last day of every month. Happy reading!

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My Top 10 Favorite Books From Years Past:

8 Things I Learned This Fall

“It’s not the experience that brings transformation, it’s our reflection upon our experience.”

Jan Johnson

For years I’ve been engaging in a practice of looking back before moving ahead. It started as a a post I shared at the end of every month and then transitioned to every season. We are doing our best around here, setting the intention to engage in reflection while also realizing we are all, in a way, relearning how to be people in the midst of countless transitions, questions, and reconsiderations.

This is the place once per quarter where I share my in-process considerations, not necessarily fully worked out narratives. You’re invited in on the journey. I reserve the right to change my mind.

Here are 8 things I’m learning in no particular order (some links used are affiliate links):

1. Eating out is a luxury and a gift.

It actually always has been a luxury and a gift, but this pandemic has taught me just how much. I used to take for granted the fact that we could forgo our at-home dinner plans and grab something out. Now, eating out is a rarity (Are they open? Do they have outdoor seating? Do they only do carry out?)

One of our favorite local places has outdoor seating and we took full advantage a couple of times this fall. A gift, every minute.

2. We need leaders who have a well-developed emotional intelligence.

A year ago I would have told you I am a fairly grounded person – integrated mind, body, spirit. But I’m here to tell you after this year I have a lot to learn about being at home in my body, about respecting my own intuition and emotional intelligence.

Take decision-making, for example. If we have a decision to make, most would encourage us to make a list, weigh pros and cons, find clarity of thought. When people make decisions they regret, we often say they “weren’t thinking straight” or “acted emotionally” — all negative connotations.

What about relational intelligence? Emotional maturity? Intuitive decision-making? Imagination and sensing?

Thinking is one form of intelligence, but it isn’t the only form. It’s good and needed but it also isn’t isolated. We need the heart and the body, too.

I’m not just making this up: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37

It doesn’t say Love the Lord your God with all your thinking.

There is a kind of intelligence that moves beyond books, beyond test scores, beneath impressive resumes. Emotional intelligence is often overlooked or discounted (see: how we disqualify it by calling it “emotional” intelligence. As if regular intelligence doesn’t automatically include emotion.)

3. We belong to another King and another Kingdom.

With the US Presidential election now behind us, I’ve done a fair amount of reflecting about power, control, justice, and our longing to belong. Maybe you’ve done this, too.

I keep coming back to Kingdom language, and not in a condescending, dismissive kind of way we can sometimes see on the Internet ie: God is on the throne! (Yes, God is on the throne but God wasn’t on the ballot. We had to make a choice.)

More, I’m considering all the ways throughout history that people have wanted the benefits of the Kingdom (belonging, security, value, shalom) without the presence of the King.

4. Honor > Shame.

An obvious statement, it would seem. But one I have to keep learning. This has been a season of a lot of sadness for me personally. I’ve been tempted to carry some shame about that but I keep coming back to the true reality that no one has ever been shamed into freedom.

I’m doing my own work to honor the space I need for reflection, prayer, and healing. If you’re carrying sadness this season, I hope you’ll learn to do the same. I’m practicing this posture of honoring God by honoring the way God has made me to be in the world.

This is not easy, but it feels right.

5. We really needed the Pearsons this Fall.

This Is Us is one of a very few shows our whole family watches together and you guys. We’ve never needed Jack, Rebecca, and The Big Three like we did this season. (Not to mention everyone’s favorite Beth and Randall.)

6. Our five senses have a lot to teach us.

In September I hosted a five week series on our five senses on The Next Right Thing Podcast and loved every minute of it. What a rich experience it was for me to pay attention to details that often go overlooked! If you missed it, here are all 5 episodes in one place:

7. Growth happens outside your comfort zone.

This is not original to me, but it’s a phrase I keep repeating to myself this year. You might be nodding your head along with me, then I must be growing a LOT! When was the last time I was in my comfort zone?! I’ve been growing. And also grieving. You too?

8. Nail polish is for grown ups.

I’ve confessed before that I only wear black and white polish – usually white in summer, black in winter. The end. But during these quarantine times, I jumped on the Olive & June bandwagon just for kicks and found I enjoy the weekend routine of nail care. Who am I?! For me, the polish is great but I’m obsessed with the tools. Here’s a link to try them out! (That’s an affiliate link so I can get a free polish if you use it thank you for your service.)

This is what I know: Though the days of the old school blog link up are past, I still love having a community of people who value the art of reflection. Starting in January we’ll have a journal to use together (!!) but for now, I’d love to hear what you’re learning in the comments below or on Instagram using #wwlcommunity. I’m always glad you’re here.

10 Things I Learned This Summer

“It’s not the experience that brings transformation, it’s our reflection upon our experience.”

Jan Johnson

For years I’ve been engaging in a practice of looking back before moving ahead. It started as a a post I shared at the end of every month and then transitioned to every season.

In the spirit of simplifying my online life, one change I’m making to this quarterly rhythm is I’m no longer going to be including the link up at the bottom of these posts.

I know there is a small community of you who still love to link your posts up and I have plans to find a more collaborative way for us to share what we’re learning in the months to come.

But in this time of transition, I still invite you to keep track of what you’re learning and share it in your own spaces as I trust you have done and will continue to do.

We are doing our best around here, setting the intention to engage inn reflection while also realizing we are all, in a way, relearning how to be people in the midst of countless transitions, questions, and reconsiderations.

Here are 10 things I’m learning in no particular order:

 

1. Guacamole is a magical food.

It’s just avacado, tomato, red onion, cilantro, kosher salt, pepper, and lime juice. Why then, pray-tell, when you put them all together do they create a combination of perfection? And why did it take me so long to start making it at home? We will never be the same again ever.

 

2. Mitchelville, SC housed the first self-governing community of freed slaves during the Civil War.

Months before Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, this small area of Hilton Head Island was home to formerly enslaved people who created a thriving community together. They did so well that Harriet Tubman herself traveled there to learn how they might be able to duplicate these efforts in other communities.

According to this BBC article, “They were able to buy land, vote, farm for wages, and grow sweet potatoes and greens which provided vital supplements to their diets.There were elected officials, taxes, street cleaners, stores selling household goods, and crucially, compulsory education for children aged six to fifteen – the first law of its kind in South Carolina.”

This history is remarkable all by itself but even more? We’ve been visiting Hilton Head Island for over twenty years and I never knew this part of history.

My days of not knowing Black history are past and so while we were on the island in July, John and I drove up to learn what we could about these resilient people and their lives in Mitchelville on Hilton Head more than 150 years ago.

 

3. Not being racist is not the same as being anti-racist.

It’s been said a lot over the past three months, but there is a difference between being not racist and being anti-racist.

With gratitude to Dr. Lucretia Berry and her team at Brownicity, John and I are learning what that means specifically; for us, our family, and the way we move through the world. Black lives, families, hopes, history, and futures matter.

 

4. My first book got a new cover!

This isn’t so much something I learned as it is something that happened.

But two things I did learn is (1) when they recover an already existing book, you have to go through the cover process all over again. Which is kind of fun and also weird because you wrote that book 10 years ago. And (2) when you recover an existing book, all of the online retailers get extremely confused and the new cover version is hard to find.

But alas! Here she is.

 

5. “Supposed to be” no longer has any meaning.

“I was supposed to be in London right now . . . “

“We were supposed to be at a family reunion this weekend . . . “

“School was supposed to start last week . . . “

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in 2020 it’s that control is in fact exactly what they have always said: an illusion. To control, coerce, and manipulate is not our job (and if it was we’d be fired from it anyway.) Instead, we adapt, accept, acknowledge what we need to let go, and continue to do the next right thing.

 

6. The kingdom of God is most evident to me in the sacred overlap.

It’s that middle space where two separate circles come together. It’s the part they have in common, the middling part. J.R. Briggs wrote a book called The Sacred Overlap (I endorsed and recommend it!) and I found his words to be a ray of light in the midst of the heaviest fog.

When we’re afraid, either/or becomes our default mode as we seek to assuage the pain of uncertainty. Love is where we live between the extremes, not in the mushy middle.

J.R. Briggs, The Sacred Overlap

 

 

7. Things can change quickly.

In late March, I remember saying out loud to someone “I wonder if years from now we will be shopping for cute masks at real places like Anthropologie!”

That idea seemed so foreign and far away. And then April came. Normal can change to super weird fast. But that means it can also change again.

Things will not always be the way they are now. From pandemics that pass (history says so) to kindergartners who grow (history tells us this too) we are ever changing, growing, and learning.

 

8. When in doubt, love.

In the midst of the rioting, the anger, the injustice, and confusion of this summer, I read this post by my friend Kaitlin – and it reminded me of the power of love.

In the midst of my daily parenting, inability to answer my kids hard questions, and regular mess ups – I’m reminded of the power of love.

In the midst of not knowing what the next literal minute will hold and not knowing if we’re doing this whole thing right – I’m reminded of the power, the call, the invitation to love.

Power offers an easy substitute for the hard task of love. It seems easier to be God than to love God, easier to control people than to love people, easier to own life than to love life.

Henri Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus

 

 

9. Trader Joes chocolate croissants are the easiest way to have a fancy breakfast.

How to make them:

  1. Buy them in a pack of four in the frozen section at Trader Joes.
  2. Set them on a baking sheet the night before.
  3. Go to bed.
  4. Wake up.
  5. Marvel at how big they got overnight.
  6. Put them in the oven.
  7. Take them out and impress your family.

 

10. Struggle reveals what is true.

He is the best man I know. During this time of quarantine, personal heartbreak, loss among those in our close community, and the struggles of daily life, John continues to be the one. I like him and I love him. He sees me and I’m grateful. I didn’t learn this for the first time this summer, but I’ve learned it in a new way.

This is what I know: Though the days of the old school blog link up are past, I still love having a community of people who value the art of reflection. I’m working on ways to make this practice a more communal one in the coming months, but for now, I’d love to hear what you’re learning in the comments below or on Instagram using #wwlcommunity. I’m always glad you’re here.