It’s that time again where I join Emily Freeman to reflect on the last season and share what I’ve learned. Here are 8 things I learned this winter.
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1. Christmas cards don’t need to be perfect, nor should they be.
I was a little hesitant on the Christmas card deal this year. I didn’t have a perfectly staged family photo to send out so I seriously considered not sending one. But, when I started receiving cards from my friends who are more on top of things, like you know, first or second week of December, and I noticed that their cards didn’t include perfectly staged family photos, I found permission to send the not-so-perfect family photos anyway. Apparently I am still learning to get past perfectionism over here. Thank you my dear friends for reminding me that it’s not about the picture perfect Christmas card but simply about connecting with friends and family.
2. Some Christmas math:
50 hours in the car
+ 2 family Christmases
+ 1 trip to see friends
(all in 10 days)
= insanity & extreme fatigue.
After a year and a half of living in Washington, we finally made a return visit to California. But since it was our first time back, we wanted to hit everything! My eyes are always bigger than my stomach when it comes to this kind of thing. I know some people who do this with seemingly little problem. But I, for one, am a highly, sensitive introvert. Translated, I get overstimulated pretty easily and I need alone time to recharge.
So about two-thirds of the way into our trip I hit an emotional and physical wall: I got sick and I spiraled into a depressive episode. We ended up cancelling our plans for the final day of our trip so we could recharge for the drive home and have a vacation from our vacation.
Needless to say, we have instituted a new rule for Christmas travel: We will fly to one location to see one entity of people at a time. The end.
3. I enjoy wrapping presents.
In the past, wrapping presents has always felt like a chore. But this year, somehow it morphed into a creative outlet. I was surprised to find that working with my hands (and, of course, popping in a movie for the kids and locking myself in my room) increased my energy for the ninth inning stretch of an afternoon with small children. Wrapping presents FTW!
4. How to cook butternut squash.
Because of my newly implemented vegi-rich diet, I spent many hours in the kitchen this winter with new recipes and learning how to actually cook vegetables. It’s really a lot easier than one might think. For butternut squash, simply cut in half and put in pan cut side down. Add a bit of water to the pan and bake at 350° for 90 minutes.
I also learned how to cook dry beans so that I don’t need to buy them canned anymore. It’s surprisingly super easy and much cheaper. If you’re interested in learning for yourself, head here.
5. Spinach cannot be detected when blended in smoothies.
When my naturopathic doctor first threw out the idea of blending spinach with smoothies as a way to get vegetables into my breakfast diet, I cringed. She said that I wouldn’t be able to taste it, but I wasn’t so sure. But, while it does turn most smoothies an ugly green color, it’s true that you can’t really detect the taste. Spinach is actually pretty bland and the fruits and other flavors overpower it. So spinach smoothies have become a breakfast staple in our house.
6. The untold history of the United States.
Not long after the election, my husband and I found a documentary on Netflix called, “Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States.” The film begins right before World War II and continues until the present day, released in 2012. Stone included little known elements of our history that is not told in our history books and gives quite a different picture of some of our “well-meaning” decisions. He exposes how we have propagated one notion of democracy while undermining democracies in other countries. It was truly eye-opening for me.
I also recently finished the book by George Packer called, The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America which focuses on how the political decisions of the last 30 years have affected the day-to-day lives of average Americans.
I recommend these resources, not to make you a more cynical American, but so that your vision of who we are might be widened and you might have a better understanding of where we’ve come from and who we are as Americans, both the good and the bad.
7. The goal of parenting is relationship, not obedience.
While listening to The Lazy Genius podcast, I came upon this gem of an insight. Kendra interviewed The Nester’s husband, Chad Smith, who shared the wisdom he’s gleaned while parenting his three teenage boys. While of course, we do want our children to learn obedience, if we make it the be all, end all, of our parenting, we will miss great opportunities to relate with our children, know them as human beings, and help them make responsible decisions for themselves. To understand more about this idea, Chad recommends the book, Loving Our Kids on Purpose by Danny Silk . This is one I am definitely putting on my reading list.
8. You can vox yourself.
I’ve had the app Voxer for a few months now, and it’s my favorite way to keep in touch with people. I initially found it when a group of writers from Hope*writers organized a Voxer writing group.
I’m not really one to tinker with apps or tech. I generally just figure out how to use something for what I need and I only know how to use the tool for that one thing. Well, since I’ve started blogging, I’ve wanted a way to quickly capture ideas without a pen and paper, especially since most of my bright ideas come to me while I’m in the shower. I’ve been thinking about trying to find a voice recording app, but searching tech just feels so tedious to me so I’ve been putting it off. Someone in my writer Voxer group recently commented about how she voxes herself to leave herself notes. Brilliant! And, of course! So I’ve started voxing myself. You can too. Go ahead, vox yourself!
What have you learned this winter? Leave me a comment, I’d love to hear at least one thing you’ve learned this winter. Also, feel free to join the link up here on Emily Freeman’s blog.