🤯 Letter 135: Surprises, Spaciousness & Letting Ships out of the Harbor
A reflection on my month of November
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Aloha fellow learn-it-all 👋
Greetings from a beautiful sunset at one of my favorite beaches to swim at with monk seals and sea turtles: Kaimana Beach in Honolulu, Hawai'i 🌺
Today I am writing you as a triathlon finisher. Last week was certainly one that’d go down into the books.
I’m still wrapping my head around how to explain what exactly this challenging experience was like.
*Teaser for next week’s piece*: It’s crazy how a life experience can completely change your perception.
If I had to I could go compete in another triathlon tomorrow, I’d have half as many nervous butterflies swirling in my tummy as I did on my first one on November 26th.
If you have any interest in triathlons, I am thinking of adding some tips for beginners and would very much appreciate reading the questions you have.
Anyways, I don’t want to spoil any more for next week’s piece. Before we zoom in and ahead to close out this crazy fun year, this letter is taking a step back and zooming out on my month of November.
Now, let’s fly up into a bird’s eye view for letter 135 from a learn-it-all. Enjoy!
❓ Question to think about
What the heck happened in November?
At the end of each month, I write myself a card and ask myself 3 simple questions about love, lack, and learning. As the year-end nears, it brings even more clouds of introspection my way. I added some other questions by doing retros on habits, surprises and questions I've been thinking about.
❤️ Ten things I loved
Feeling accomplished post-triathlon. I framed it as an experience rather than a race and it was so much more fun. I am grateful for my body and its health.
More mindful music and movie consumption. I’ve started using Letterboxd for movies. For music, I’ve been listening to full albums. Some of these artists include Noah Kahan, Lawrence, and Sleeping at Last.
Helping my friend face her fear of the ocean. I love the ocean and I need to share that love.
Letting the ships out of the harbor and airing things out in my life. There’s no more room on the shelf to bottle things up.
Channeling selflessness through acts of service with support from my roommate to notice where I can be better.
Starting my days with gratitude, writing snail mail, and walking to the postbox.
Audience growth. Adding 36 new readers to these letters and 87 new Twitter followers.
Falling into dreams more deeply about holidays with my family in the snow, what my life could look like as a full-time travel writer, or if I lived another season of my life in Holland again.
Sending thoughtful voice notes to friends and getting more comfortable narrating. Thanks to Derek Sivers for the nudge in 📗 Letter 133: Derek Sivers taught me how to live.
Using Notion to double down, not only for work, but also on my personal projects. Pro tip: make sure when you start a project that you have an end date. Here’s a snapshot of mine:
🎯 Ten lessons I learned
Only say Hell Yes to things.
I have been bottling up emotions all my life, but I am ready to change. This has been helping in friendships so that I don’t repress a feeling or hold a grudge. I feel lighter when I share. Life feels easier when it’s lighter.
Emotions add texture to life. They are meant to be felt and let go. Do not hold any of them captive in a cage. (inspired by my Zen teacher Michael).
I joined a dating pact with some friends to go on four dates before the end of the year. I’ve gone on three. In the spirit of saying Hell Yes in my life, I let all the lads know upfront I didn’t see a future. This left me feeling empowered to close loops and save time rather than sizzling out.
Expressing gratitude daily is a surefire way to focus on love and appreciation in life. It’s like a vehicle to radiating joy and happiness. It’s easy to think that it’s overrated but it works!
When something is talked about openly, fear holds less power over you. If I talk about money more often, the discomfort lessons.
There are so many layers to people with various ways to connect.
Music is beautiful — it’s a miracle to be lyrical ;). Art can truly change the world if you believe that it can. It connects us in profound ways to each other.
Talking to my Ambition in my letter allowed it to be seen, content, and appreciate how Rest is important.
My 12 hour walk created a lot of spaciousness that I love. It taught me to be patient. A favorite breakthrough: “The rain is always going to be there, might as well go see the views.”
❌ Four things I lacked
Consistent movement. Just because I like sprinting doesn’t mean neglecting regular walking breaks.
Book reading. I’m embarrassed. I haven’t touched a single book at all in the last month. My main forms of consumption have been courses, deep conversations, music, and movies. Maybe the holiday season can change that.
Clarity on what the heck I want to do with my life in 2023.
Consistent effort on my Website migration from Squarespace to Ghost. It’s been a headache that I dread.
🤯 Twelve things that surprised me
How much fun it was to get crafty creating cards for friends.
I miss swim meets. After all these years since high school swimming, I still have it in me to be a sprinter and get jazzed around competition.
It doesn’t take much planning or foresight to do a 12-hour walk. You just go. Left foot, then right foot.
Channeling patience this year has been one of the greatest gifts and I am shocked my past self was this wise.
How much traction my Derek Sivers curation thread would get as my most popular tweet EVER.
Why don’t I sing in the shower more often??
When Paul Millerd mentioned me in his newsletter and I got 20 new readers (!!)
There are frequent Tiger Shark sightings at White Plains beach where I’ve surfed multiple times before………..
TMI but my period came 8 days late. Usually, that means my mind is putting too much stress on my body and that I need a better diet and sleep schedule and to lay off on the fitness. Being a woman is hard sometimes.
An acquaintance diagnosed me with ADHD during a zoom breakout. Still unsure how I feel about this.
I started binging online courses again… I need to put my foot DOWN on my learning budget again. It’s gotten out of control. I wish I could buy courses for family members as Christmas presents without feeling like a total nerd.
It’s fun to share stories in an intimate setting with acquaintances on self-reinvention and who I used to be. It inspires others so that they can do it themselves.
❓Six questions I’ve been thinking about
Since you’ve been rejected before, how can you be even more bold to stand out? (inspired by my friend Dan)
How can I say Hell Yeah to everything in life? (inspired by the legend himself, Derek Sivers)
How can I make the most of my time? (inspired by my time anxiety)
If there is no ceiling to love that I can give, how can I share that more openly with everyone in my life? (inspired by my roommate)
How can I get the bottles of hidden emotions off the shelf? (inspired by my friend Teresa)
What is my place? (Inspired by Babā Yim, principal of the Hawaiian immersion Ānuenue school)
💭 Two reflections on habits from November
🧵 Thread-vember. A Twitter thread every day of November to build the muscle of marketing my ideas in a distilled manner. I’m in a Twitter group for accountability on this. Typically, I dread threads.
Reflection: I now see how tweet threads can be fun! At the same time, I am looking forward to taking a break from the bluebird app.
Gallivanting Gratitude. Mailing a handwritten thoughtful note every day of November. That's 30 cards. I ended up writing 35 cards. I impulsively bought 100 stamps at Costco and have a minor problem with the number of cards I own, so no excuses left to keep this going.
Reflection: When I start writing I feel inspired to continue to write. I’m going to keep sending letters. I wrote a friend a poem so now that has started something new for me this month…
☑️ Two new habits for December
The Playful Poem Project.
Daily poems. Free verse, haiku, or limericks. It’s getting groovy over here!
🕺🏻 Dancing Days of December.
Every day I move my body however I feel to a song.
🗞️ What’s on the menu for the rest of December?
A beginner’s guide to becoming a triathlete.
A reflection on living 18 months with Hawaii as my Home.
Lots of poems (31 to be exact all being distributed on Twitter here).
Breakthroughs from my misogi challenge this year: a 5-day silent meditation retreat from May
If you have any interest in supporting these to come to light with questions or ideas or overall interest, I welcome your support in creating.
🌟 Quote to inspire
“I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.”
— Charles R. Swindoll
🪕 Poem of the Week
If you would like to listen to me reading this poem, click this link here.
📷 Photo of the Week
A special shoutout to my friend from college, Ben for visiting me again this Thanksgiving.
Ben’s the friend who convinced me to join the club swim team when my fear was telling me I wasn’t good enough. I’d already been rejected by club lacrosse and I’m glad I was so that I could enjoy swimming. I kept at it even after getting a bloody nose at my first practice when I thought they’d definitely kick me off.
He’s witnessed Jenny V crowd surfing at a house party onto a pool of college swimmers at Mizzou. We’ve both gotten van certified to drive swimmers through mountains to USC and through corn fields to Cornell.
A couple of hilarious moments from his visit:
“What is the cost of beauty?” stated in a rhetorical manner in the Foodland Farms parking lot. “It’s expensive,” stated seriously by a plane-faced stranger who intercepted our conversation while passing by.
In the Ala Moana food course mid-spoonful of pho soup for dinner, “No, we’re actually not siblings. And yes we did go to the same beach but Ben doesn’t believe in wearing sunscreen.”
To fellow Michigander Michelle Varghoose for nudging me to start the Playful Personal Project more openly with Twitter to create a group out of it. It’s only been a day and is already so rewarding to have a group conversation about poems.
To Ben Schneider because he wants to become a more often contributor and editor to these newsletters to progress toward his dream of becoming a journalist.
To Adrian Stobbe from Munich, Germany who reached out to connect. He is studies computational science & engineering, is an aspiring software craftsman, writer, personal development nerd, linguaphile and salsero. Check out his site here.
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. If you forgot who I am, I welcome you to my online home.
Never stop learning 😁
PS- in case you missed 💪 Letter 134: My Letter to Ambition from last week, it is a favorite of mine and also had a 49% open rate.
PPS- If you missed other letters in this format: November’s review 💯 Letter 131: Full Send Saturday and October’s review 🍃 Letter 127: Reflections on Nomadic Life & Overflowing Socialization.
If you’re reading this because someone shared this newsletter with you, welcome! I’d love it if you subscribed:
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Would love to learn about your misogi -- if you wrote about it previously, may you share a link? I am interested in how you decided on the activity, how you planned for it, and thoughts throughout it!