Welcome to What We Learned, a monthly community link up where we each take some time to reflect on the last 30-ish days before moving ahead into the next.

What We Learned in October

Find a new favorite show? A cool function on your phone you didn’t know about? Learn something about your own personality you didn’t realize before? No lesson is too small to share in this space, as you will quickly see when you read my list.

When mentioning books, I use affiliate links, so as to help run this fine establishment at no cost to you. Here are 6 things I learned in October:

1. My house is a 3 day and 7 hour drive away from Kilcher Road.

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 10.10.26 AM

I thought it was bad enough that I read Jewel’s memoir basically the week it came out. But then I went and googled how long it would take to drive from my house to the Kilcher homestead in Alaska, home of one of our favorite shows Alaska the Last Frontier. (For the initial excitement over learning Jewel, one of my favorite artists from the 90s was also a Kilcher, see Things I Learned in June 2013).

Also Alaska is really far away.

2. Keeping my makeup in the bathroom makes my mornings better.

Kon Mari my Makeup

For years I have carried my makeup around in a little bag in my purse, pulling it out only to find my blush crumbled and my lipstick top missing.

But after starting The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I decided to keep all makeup in the bathroom drawer, forcing me to be a grown up and stop applying mascara in parking lots before I walk into meetings. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I found it triggers a low-grade hustle in my soul when I do it too often.

That feels unnecessary.

This new routine has had a surprising, calming impact on my mornings. Now I’m hunting for more ways to make small changes that help me feel less hurried.

3. Non-Fiction audio books are easier to listen to than fiction.

Since I’ve been driving the girls to school this year, I’ve finished two audio books in the car. First I listened to Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool (fiction) and last week I finished Zero to One: Notes on Start-Ups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters (non-fiction).

I enjoyed them both, but Zero to One  was by far easier to listen to in the car. I think it’s because if I miss a few non-fictional details, I’m fine. But with story, I want to know and understand every detail and character which made car listening more difficult. I couldn’t flip back and review!

4. Science Fiction is not my genre.

The Martian by Andy Weir

I already knew this, you guys. But I was basing it only on the word “science” and felt like maybe that wasn’t fair. So I took the advice from this post where I asked you some suggestions of a book to read outside my regular reading categories.

I picked up The Martian and finished it over the weekend. Here are my thoughts: Andy Weir is basically brilliant. I mean seriously. But the formulas and periodical table-ing was a drag for me as a reader and I found myself putting it down often.

To his credit, every time he was about to lose me completely, he would make it funny. This is what kept me going. (Disclaimer: One of the first words in the whole book is the f-word so, you know. That could deter some as well. But you know, he was stranded on Mars so perhaps his use of the word is justified? You’ve been warned.)

5. Sometimes I avoid writing for the same reasons I avoid silence: I’m anxious over what I might find (or not find) there. 

After a full book-launch season, I’ve been living in the exhale over the past month or two. Many things I’ve been looking forward to are now past, leaving room for something else: some of which I know and some that has not quite been made clear. I wrote more about that this month here: For Those Who Wait in the Fog.

What We Learned in October

6. “Holy unhurry flourishes in a heart filled with hope.”

That’s a quote from Alan Falding and it’s one I’m learning to live. I just returned from a 24 hour silent retreat, short but sufficient to remind me the importance of walking at Jesus’ pace. I needed to remember how he walks like a friend who has no other place to be. I am learning to meander through the day with joy.