Welcome to What We Learned, a regular practice we engage in together as we learn the value of looking back before moving forward.

No lesson is too small to share in this space, as you will quickly see when you read my list. This post includes affiliate links, helping me to run this fine establishment at no cost to you.

Here are 5 things I learned in November:
What We Learned in November

1. I have a new favorite way to start my week.

Monday prayers.

I’ve been writing short blessings on Saturdays for the blog for four years. But in November I decided to do three things differently: write them as prayers, make them a little bit longer, and share them on Mondays instead of on Saturdays.

As it turns out, this is now my favorite way to start the week – to write a prayer for us to share as a community.

In fact, I’ve been enjoying this new practice so much that I forgot yesterday (Monday) was the last day of November which is when this post was supposed to go up. Whoops! Here are November’s prayers all in one place.

A Prayer For:


2. Hurry and busy are not the same thing.


3. Joey Cook is my favorite person of the month.

Ever since American Idol aired last spring and Joey Cook was her favorite contestant, my daughter decided she wanted to dress as Joey for Halloween and that was that.

Joey Cook

So of course I had to share it with Joey on Twitter:

Joey on Twitter

And do you know the next day, Joey Cook responded and completely thrilled one North Carolina eleven year old girl?

Joey cook

Thanks Joey for being great and recognizing how cool it is when kids look up to you!


4. I have a strange affection for the city of Chicago.

I don’t even know, you guys.

I’ve only been to the city three times in my life (if you don’t count connecting flights, which you don’t): once when I was basically too young to remember, once with John and the kids when the girls turned 7, and a few weeks ago for a speaking engagement but we didn’t even really go into the city that time so I’m not sure that fully counts, either.

But there’s something about Chicago that feels like home.


I know some people feel that way about New York or Seattle. But for me it’s Chicago and I’m not sure why. It could be the mid-western-ness of it (I grew up living in Indiana, Iowa, and Michigan).

I wrote about the city once before, skirted around the edges of the strange longing.

I have a similar feeling about Alaska and also Maine. Maybe I want to live someplace cold? That can’t be right.

Do you have any cities you are drawn to for reasons you can’t explain?


5. Cozy doesn’t have to mean cluttered.

My favorite online course I’ve ever taken (by far) is the Cozy Minimalist course taught by my sister.

Listen, I paid full price for the course when it came out (she later got on me about that – I would have let you do it for free, you crazy girl!) But it was the best money I spent for my house.

Here’s the gist: If you give a girl a room makeover she’ll have one room she loves that someone else styled for her. But if you teach a girl to style a room then she’ll have a house she loves for a lifetime.

And that’s what The Nester does in the Cozy Minimalist course. For example, here is my awkward sunroom office before – my biggest trouble room because of all the doors and windows.

Cozy Minimalist Online Course

I’m telling you now because I’m pulling out the skills I learned in that course all over again and applying them as I slowly decorate for Christmas. For basically the price of a small lamp at Home Goods ($39) you can learn tricks to help you style your home with the stuff you have right now.

You can sign up for the self-study course and do it at your own pace. Treat yo self for Christmas and it will be waiting for you in the new year!

Next month, rather than sharing what we learned in December, we’ll do a massive What We Learned in 2015 link-up. I hope December offers you some pockets of quiet, reflective time to consider the past year as well as the one to come.