🧐Letter 108: What have you been loving, lacking and learning?
April Review, Context why I review, Michigan Reflections, Blue Hawaii, A Star is Born
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Aloha fellow learn-it-all!
Greetings from my layover at the LAX Airport 🌺
The magnolias were blooming this past week in Michigan :-)
It's good to be back folks!
I meant to write this letter on my 9-hour flight last week but then got sidetracked with journaling, writing a letter to my future self, crying my eyes out to a movie mentioned below, and comparing photo libraries with a new travel photographer friend next to me.
With the nerves of backpacking for the first time for six days this upcoming week in Hawaii, catching up with family, my mom's birthday, and sorting out my job, I’ve had a lot going on. I hate making excuses and pointing my finger though. Next week I’ll be sharing about promises we make to ourselves.
Before we dive in a shoutout to my mom. Because of her, I am driven, caring and inclusive. I am who I am because of her love you momma V.
Now, let’s take a cannon ball into letter 108 from a learn-it-all. Enjoy!
❓ Question to think about
What have I loved, lacked and learned this last month?
Five things I loved
New readers. I welcomed 26 new friends to the community. Hello, welcome and thank you for being a part of my learning journey! There are now 356 readers of these letters as of April 30th😇
Assertiveness. This month I expressed myself more openly. Instead of festering or overthinking something that I never end up saying, I said it. In practice, this meant not shying away from overhand serves or setting in volleyball, advocating for myself during my new job, having difficult conversations, and tweeting things that feel like tmi.
Reflective writing. Half of my current journal has brown paper. I've committed these pages to doing longer form thoughts on things varying from rants about growth digression, worries about the near future, remembrances of drinking days, and green lights for friendship.
Weekly hikes with friends training for my backpacking trip
Reconnecting with family and being vulnerable getting closer to friends as I ask for emotional support surfaced problems. Also proving to myself that a wedding can be fun while sober with an open bar.
Four things I lacked
Stillness. I felt scatterbrained. A part of this is me starting a new job. Another part is that I’ve been sitting at a table much of the day and feel more stir crazy. I refuse to allow problems to become excuses though.
Professional Confidence. Because I haven't been a project or community manager in a while, I've feared that my muscles have atrophied and that I forgot how to use the skills I've learned over the years.
Reading. I have gone through a period of barely reading. Instead, I was watching an hour of Star Wars for 12 consecutive nights. My roommate said I started talking like Yoda. No shame. He’s a legend. Long live the Jedis. You call all call me padawan from now on as I’ll always be a beginner at something in my life.
Public writing. I can't help but compare my present self to the gal a year and a half ago who published something everyday for my Ship It project. Why didn't I do that last year again during my sabbatical? Why aren’t I writing more? I’ve made so many writing friends and feel like I’m falling behind as I unconsciously compare myself.
Three things I learned
Growth is not linear so I cannot expect myself to linearly improve. I refuse to give up being a beginner because it constantly reminds me of my favorite quality in others: humility. I choose to be a beginner at many things like backpacking, beach volleyball, yoga, meditation and surfing. I’m not doing all these things to become an Olympian. I am doing them for fun. Other reasons are to scratch some curious itches, make friends, to stay fit, to stay sane, and to stretch my zone of familiarity.
Rewatching movies with captions on is such a valuable use of time. Their meanings change as I watch them in different ages. Anne Hathaway movies really speak to me too: Ella Enchanted, Princess Diaries, and Devil Wears Prada. With captions on movies, it feels more memorable and more likely to remember the quotes.
In order to keep doing these monthly reviews, I need a kind mindset to celebrate and acknowledge the passed time rather than criticize or become anxious.
Two questions I’ve been asking
What's one decision you can make today that will save you from making ten more decisions in the future?
What is a small, but courageous choice you can make today?
One new habit
Meditate daily (at least ten breaths)
Context on why I need the habit: I am doing this again. Back in February, I tried this out where I tried to increase 1 minute every day. I barely got to half of the month. I failed with too many different environments, lack of prioritization, and no tracking of the minute increase.
⏮Context on my Reflecting
Above I showed you a summary of some higher level snippets I feel comfortable sharing. This is a process I started back in 2020 with an accountability group. My future self always is thankful to be doing this. It always helps me to be more proactive and intentional in how I live my life.
What a nice segue into the next section…
📖 Reading Again...
I dusted off one of the most impactful books that I read in November of 2018 after graduating from university.
The book: The Defining Decade Why your twenties matter- and make the most of them now by Meg Jay.
Four years ago, this book helped me get off the hamster wheel of life. I started to be more intentional with my life.
I just began rereading it. Here’s a quote from Meg Jay that explains the concept that helped to start taking action and running experiments in my life.
“Identity capital is our collection of personal assets. It is the repertoire of individual resources that we assemble over time. These are investments we make in ourselves, the things we do well enough, or long enough, that they become a part of who we are… It is how we build ourselves bit by bit, over time… [It] is what we bring to the adult marketplace. It is the currency we use to metaphorically purchase jobs and relationships and other things we want” (6).
There were a lot of life events that I attribute to this book, in addition to reading the Growth Mindset by Carol S. Dweck, and taking Eric Koestor’s Book Writing entrepreneurial course.
For context, I’d recently quit working in risk insurance. I started researching and interviewing strangers who I saw as lifelong learners with the aspiration to become a writer. I did my first Dry January after reading it. I started doing solo trips to figure out who I was. I started taking seemingly random courses I felt compelled to join. These surrounded me with others intentionally living their lives.
I started to see beyond the status quo. This book created a call to action for me. As Jay wrote the finding from her 27 yo patient Helen, “… you can’t think your way through life. The only way to figure out what to do is to do– something” (15).
Without this book I doubt I’d be writing to you today.
I know, that’s mystical. Had I never read that book, I wouldn’t have started to seize more life desires. My curiosity and courage led me into the space of personal development and finding others who were like me. That is those who love growing, creating, being curious and sharing their ideas for the hell of it.
I found my notebook with its book notes in my parent’s basement. More to come :)
🎬 Watching Part 1
Blue Hawaii was filmed 61 years ago in 1961. The year my mom was born. This got me thinking: what movie came out the year I was born?
Back to the movie: we watched Blue Hawaii on her birthday. Its lead role is Elvis Presley and takes place in O’ahu. I was thrilled to see so many familiar spots like Diamond Head, the Tantalus lookout, and the shopping street Kalakaua Avenue. Though, the misogyny of the movie made me frown. In the movie, his mother is super needy, who didn't approve of his working class girlfriend. I honestly don’t know what the story arc. Sure Elvis could move his hips, but this movie made me repulsed by the character he played. The scenes have beautiful shots, but the way that the men act around woman repulsed me.
It’s nostalgic for my mom. But she snoozed off, and enough was enough. I have no idea how the movie ended. I honestly don't care.
This mindset makes me think of Stephen King: "Every book you pick up has its own lesson or lessons, and quite often the bad books have more to teach than the good ones." Whether it’s a book or movie, same difference. We can still learn from the bad stuff.
I want to focus my attention on more timeless ideas: evergreen content. The ones that survive the test of time. They are relevant rather than the ones that will leave my (hypothetical) grandkids with a sour taste in their mouths.
🎬 Watching Part 2
⭐️A Star Is Born
This is a movie I watched on the plane starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. Cooper finds her in a hidden drag bar and uncovers the natural talent of Lady Gaga’s natural talent for singing and songwriting. Talk about a stroke of pure luck! He takes her on tour with him.
I got chills as he asked her on stage for the first time and the courage it must’ve taken to go from never singing any of her original songs in front of anyone to a whole crowd of people.
Many of the themes are:
Alcoholism and its impacts on mental health
The downsides of fame and losing privacy
The toll tours take on romantic partnership
How something you love can betray you like hearing loss
A favorite quote from the movie:
“You don’t think about where you’re going because you like where you are.”
🌟 Quote to inspire
“You learn something every day if you pay attention.” - Ray Le Blond
📷 Photos of the Week
My cousin Thomas got married last year. He’s the first cousin on my mom’s Polish side of the family for my generation to get married. Kind of a big deal.
Because last summer was during a time where large gatherings weren’t safe, the wedding was small. This reception party and other family gatherings were the first time I got to see some family members in a couple months or up to a couple years pre-covid. It was so lovely to reconnect.
Some highlights that came up from my week in Michigan:
Deciding amongst my cousins that the Popovinnnie day-after wedding parties will be discontinued as they put too much exhaustion on the newly weds.
Winning the war against the squirrel in the backyard and a cone on the birdfeeder perfectly placed away from the window ledge
Being treated unique breakfast creations: Steph’s air-fried pesto breakfast bagel creation and Dad’s bacon, basil cheese egg pancake
The one day of the blooming magnolia was my last day in Michigan
Dog sitting and walking four dogs each night
Eating samples at Costco with my dad for brunch
Carrot cake to celebrate my mom
Back massages in front of movies
Buying many hanging flowers
To James Clear for sharing the second question in my monthly reflection I’ve been using to be more courageous in my life
To Matt Yao getting over the hurdle to start his newsletter. We met up and it’s been cool to have an IRL and Internet friend. I recommend checking his out here if you’re interested in nomadic living or photography or exploring life after college
I appreciate you reading this! If ideas resonated, I’d love you to leave a comment, reply to this email, or send me a message on Twitter @JenVermet. Visit my online home if you forgot who I am. If you want to know what I'm up to right now, check my now page.
Never stop learning 😁
PS - If you missed last week's letter, here's a distilled tweet recap
PPS - You can read the full letter 108 on my binge drinking here.
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On what a learn-it-all is:
On one of my favorite dutch treats that I grew up eating:
On why we need patience
On how school and tests creating limiting beliefs of who we are:
On yet another reason why I will never stop learning: