⛰ Letter 72: Three Peaks, Shark Diving, Sparking Curiosity, Sarah Kinsley, Mopeding, Incredible
What expectations in life are weighing me down? How can I notice them and let them fly free?
Aloha fellow learn-it-all
Greetings from Waikiki, Hawai'i 🌺
My cousin Christa has been staying with me in the hostel and loving it! The close 3 minute walk to the beach really stands true to what my dad told me growing up about real estate: the three most important things are location, location, and LOCATION.
We've been having a bunch of adventures before she returns back to Indiana University to for her 2nd year of college (IRL!). She even talked me into buying a moped without ever having driven one by myself.
Being a Michigander who grew up outside of Motor City, I feel like a traitor to cars. This decision was based off of the norms of where I'm living and to have more freedom to go on my own schedule rather than waiting for the frequently tardy buses. Yes, Mom and Dad I promise I will protect my brain and will wear my helmet.
Side note: I am still taking name suggestions of what to name him/her.
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Now, let’s dive into letter from a learn-it-all. Enjoy!
My cousin introduced me to Sarah Kinsley recently. Her song “The King” gives me goosebumps as I listen to it. I can see why it appeals to a broad audience blending Indie, Rock, Indie, and Alternative.
Spotify describes her latest album as, "Melody-rich and poetic, these songs work as well on Saturday nights as they do on Sunday mornings. Beats-driven, guitar-kissed, synth-painted. Five tracks, five standouts."
Kinsley entered the music scene in 2018, when her voice caught the attention of Grammy-nominated artist ford., who ultimately featured her on his album (The) Evening.
After reading more about Kinsley, I learned that less than 2 percent of woman in music are producers and even fewer of their own music. Kinsley is a part of that small percentage of self-produced pop artists. This has piqued my interest and I would like to learn more about why.
I love Kinsley's approach of posting parts of songs on TikTok that (unexpectedly) blew up for her. She is unafraid to experiment with unpredictability. It created demand and proved a need to finish the songs. It is an audience-first approach that I think many content creators (including myself) can learn from.
It is tempting to create a big project up in our noggins without thinking about breaking it down to test.
Thank you Sarah for being a Woman in the Arena as inspiration being a part of the 2 percent and making me smile as I walk along the Waikiki beach front in the morning.
I read Austin Kleon's piece on curiosity and his friend Rob Walker who wrote this book on the Art of Noticing.
"Like creativity, curiosity might be better thought of as a verb, not a noun — not something that some people possess and some people don’t, but something everyone can do and get better at."
I completely agree. It is a muscle that gets built. We never know what we are curious about until a new page in each of our own books of life gets turned and shows something novel.
Of these ten tips below me favorite is number six: Zoom out; Seek connections. As someone who tends to jump straight into the weeds without grounding this is beyond helpful.
Which one(s) do you want to try out to spark your curiosity?
I watched a silly Sony Pictures movie with my cousin Christa (one of her favorites) about surfing penguins called Surf's Up.
It is a 2007 American computer-animated mockumentary comedy film. It follows Cody Maverick (Shia LaBeouf) as he enters his first professional surf competition. It was such a popular film that it got nominated at the 80th Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature but lost to the Little Chef rat called Ratatouille.
I took a bunch away from this film apart how grateful I am that my dad wasn't eaten by a Killer Whale ;)
I had a love/hate relationship with Cody throughout the movie for his obsession with winning. Here are five takeaways I gained from it:
Competitions are not all about winning. Remember the process of how you get to the outcome
Yes, idols like Big Z are easy to put up on a pedestal as perfect but they are still human (or penguin) too and are not all-knowing despite how it may seem
It's not about the result in the short term, but about where it takes you for the long term
All it can take is one person (or penguin) to inspire you to get out of your rut and back into your passion out on the waves. You can fall back in love with a hobby while teaching it to a beginner
You can change your mind about what you believe of winning being the most important thing. Big Z told Cody "No matter what, find a way cuz that's what winners do."
🏖 Hawaii Update
I hiked the Olomana Trail also known as the ⛰ Three Peaks yesterday. It is a 4.4 mile trek up 1,856 ft defined as 'hard' in the AllTrails app 😳
As implied in its title, there are three peaks and each one is more challenging then the next to summit. I made the goal of doing at least the first peak and trying out the second. I blew that out of the water after checking out the third peak and making it all the way to the top.
It’s pretty technical with lots of bouldering, rope sections, and tree roots to navigate so my body got quite the workout. After reaching the first peak, the views along the ridge-line were incredible. The Koolau Mountain Range is hidden in the clouds behind the ominous third peak. It is what I have been told one of the most spectacular hiking views on the island.
I read that the third peak is dangerous and should only be tried by experienced hikers in good shape and requires ropes all the way up. Considering I suck at indoor rock climbing, I didn't think I fell into that box.
Christa and I kept trekking along with the mindset that we could turn back at any time if it felt too scary or we felt uncomfortable. She gave me the extra nudge to keep going on and realizing that I was overthinking it. I wasn't confident at all but after making it to the first two peaks I felt so much more confident in each step I made.
Four mantras that I kept flowing through me:
I am a mountain goat.
I can do hard things.
I am strong.
I trust my body.
Some takeaways that I learned while doing this hike:
Breeze is a blessing while covered in sweat.
Sometimes you need to shut off you mind and listen to your body
Don't panic if you are lost in the woods taking the path less traveled. Your brain will shut off and you need positive self talk to get out of it.
When in doubt bring extra water. It tastes so good, and being dizzily dehydrated is scary.
Bring jerky. Lots of it.
Know what you are paying attention to. If you focus on the little black flies all around, you'll miss the views and the sights that make it all worth it.
Some other events from the past week include:
Hiking Crouching Lion with my students and all dispersing into different pods of what challenge level to pursue
Spinning fire isn't all too scary
Mulan is the best Disney movie and brings me joy
Shooting up the learning curve on my first driving lesson on a moped
Getting stung by a bee and a jellyfish within the same 24 hours
I don’t think my feet have ever been this callused in my life
🔎 Word to define
Incredible: Impossible to believe
Etymology (history of the word)
First used in early 15th century to mean, "unbelievable, surpassing belief as to what is possible." It comes from Latin incredibilis "not to be believed, extraordinary," from in- "not" + credibilis "worthy of belief". It was also used in a now-extinct sense in c. 1400 as "unbelieving, incredulous." It can be translated to French as incroyable!
"Incredible! One of the worst performances of my career and they never doubted it for a second."- Ferris Bueller
The fact that I made it to the top of Three Peaks without more than a few scratches and bruises is incredible for a newbie hiker like me.
Personal note about the word
I feel like it is easy to overuse a word and cause it to lose its meaning. For example, along with incredible, I hear awesome and amazing all the time and used in exaggerating ways. I myself fall into the trap of failing to find a better descriptive word to use. I recognize this though and it takes away the power of the word's meaning.
🌟 Quote to inspire
“Where you are is a result of who you were, but where you go depends entirely on who you choose to be.” -Hal Elrod
❓ Question to think about
What expectations in life are weighing me down? How can I notice them and let them fly free?
📷 Photos of the Week
I did a thing and went diving with an eight foot female Galapagos shark. These are the main sharks in that swim around Hawaii.
My rational brain was ringing out of its mind as I first jumped into the deep blue water knowing I’d see a shark as I put my snorkel mask under water. I was thinking to myself:
“Why the heck did I sign up for this??? Usually I try my hardest to swim away from shark infested waters but here I am voluntarily paying money to go swim with something that could potentially make me a scrumptious snack.”
My first couple breaths were extremely shallow and I was afraid to look at my heart rate on my watch. Then as I swam with the shark and dove down to lock eye contact with it, time slowed down. The shark was so peaceful. As it swam, it calmed me down.
I felt seen and for the better.
This was not at all what I expected because I am used to seeing sharks portrayed as villainous like in Jaws or Finding Nemo or Shark Tales. In this situation, rather than hyperventilating, I felt my breath slow down.
These sharks like to feed on crustaceans and fish, so if they came up close it was because they were curious about who this funky looking fish was (myself) in their territory.
It was an epic experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world; however, the company advertised that we’d see multiple sharks so my expectations weren’t met. And this is why expectations are critical for anything in life. Where you set a bar matters in life.
Some reasons why we only saw one timid female was because:
It is the mating and pupping season, so the sharks can sometimes be preoccupied
It is tiger shark season, so when they are around it makes the Galapagos sharks more skittish and they stay a little deeper in the water. Sometimes the tiger shark shows up and sometimes it’s close but just out of view.
It would’ve been cool to see the Tiger shark that was in the area nevertheless, my outlook on all sharks has changed.
To Christa for proofreading this newsletter and helping me figure out what was most important to share and catching some typos along the way. A second set of eyes goes a long way :)
I appreciate you reading this! If certain ideas resonated or you have feedback to improve my future newsletters, I’d love you to leave a comment, reply to this email, or send me a message on Twitter @JenVermet. If you want to learn more about who I am, I welcome you to visit my online home.
Never stop learning 😁
When is it that we need to trust out mind more versus our body? When is the rational brain not actually serving us?
My students and cousin are about to leave this week. How can I foster a community while knowing no one before coming to Hawaii to feel a home away from home?
Notice when things don’t go as planned and attempt to figure out why
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Love this letter! (biased given that Christa is in it - lol)... but really, glad that she joined you for an experience of a lifetime. Thank you for leading her through all of these crazy adventures. Thankful that both of you are safe, unharmed, and alive! Love you! xoxo