🌱 Letter 144: My three words for 2023
Peace, Courage, and Connection
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Aloha fellow learn-it-all 👋
Greetings from Honolulu, Hawaii ⛰️
Woof. It’s been one helluva week. It started out in a botanical garden for a company retreat — more on that at the bottom of this newsletter.
I’m writing to you slumped in my bed hoping to make it outside today. I caught myself a case of a cold. No fun. For the last handful of letters, I’ve orated and added a voiceover, but not this week due to my sore throat. I couldn’t wait any longer to get this out the door. My annual review has been stewing in the crockpot for too long and I’m excited to share it!
Now, let’s dive into letter 144 from a learn-it-all. Enjoy!
❓Question to think about
What were my words in 2022? What are my words for 2023?
A reflection on my three words from 2022
I’m in love with words and language, so started a kooky practice of selecting three words that guide my year. For a brief history of how these words have played a part in my life in the past:
In 2020 → Practice → publishing for 100 days straight, adding up to 100K words and starting my own freelancing business
In 2021 → Play → after turning 25 I decided to jump out of the familiar midwest to move from Chicago to Hawaii which led me to reinvent myself and redefine fun
In 2022, Patience, Meraki, and Consonance were my main words.
Definition: Expectant with calmness, or without discontent; not hasty; not overeager; composed.
I chose this word because something that I learned from my sabbatical the previous year was that whenever I rushed decisions it would typically not be the best decision. I wanted to lean more intentionally toward what trusting myself to be calmer would look like. Just because my mind fires off thousands of neurons off a second doesn’t mean that’s how I need to operate.
Patience showed up in my year through:
Spacious walks and running without my phone
Sending notes by post mail and waiting for them to be received by the recipient
Quitting caffeine and waiting for my body to wake up before my brain did
Taking a daily typing course for four months and improving my speed by double from 30wpm to about 60 wpm.
Becoming sober and needing to be in the mood to have fun rather than having an inebriant to prompt it
Using the sun to wake up instead of an alarm clock
Spending Wednesday nights meditating for two hours
Enrolling in Building a Second Brain cohort 11 alongside my team
Operationalizing the previously synchronous team I work with to be asynchronous
Walk for 12 hours straight
Being a student in Daniel Vassello’s Small Bets course to plant the seeds of how I can as an entrepreneur diversify the bets that I place
Definiton: Describes doing something with soul, creativity, or love — when you put “something of yourself” into what you’re doing, whatever it may be.
I chose this word because after living six months in Hawaii and feeling a sense of living without needing permission, I wanted to unveil and use my creative potential to leave a unique mark of who I am on it.
Meraki showed up in my year through:
Being a Mentor for Write of Passage Cohort 8 and being unapologetically myself teaching some of my favorite creative writing and journaling practices
Creating (AND editing) my video resume.
My weekly newsletters. I consistently insert my personality into them each week so there’s no way Chat GPT could write these babies.
Whenever someone hosted me, I always made it a habit to leave them with a card out of appreciation for their service and kindness.
Agreement or compatibility between opinions or actions. Synonyms: congruity, harmony, accord, consistency.
I chose this word because after taking my sabbatical, I realized how I wanted to have more overlap in my life.
Consonance showed up in my year through:
Creating my own job.
Choosing slower living: snail mail, poem project, zen practice, yoga practice, tea drinking, foam rolling, and daily walking.
Competing in triathlon because it has more variety and that speaks to me rather than purely running.
Taking Nate Kadlac’s Approachable Design course.
My Three Words for 2023
In 2023, Peace, Courage, and Connection are my main words.
Definition: The ability to do something in the face of fear. Strength to venture, persevere and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.
Four relevant quotes:
“Courage is like—it’s a habitus, a habit, a virtue: You get it by courageous acts. It’s like you learn to swim by swimming. You learn courage by couraging.” - Brené Brown
“There is no courage without vulnerability.” - Brené Brown
“People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built.” -Eleanor Roosevelt
“Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice….have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.” -Steve Jobs
Why this word?
For much of my life I have made decisions by keeping my older wiser self in mind. I want to minimize regret and cultivating courage has been the best way for me to become aware of my fear and act in spite of it.
How will Courage show up in my 2023?
Make writing the most important thing I do all year. Vulnerable and playful. Cozy and exploratory. Bare minimum, I will be continuing at my current cadence with weekly Letters from a learn-it-all.
Acting 101 course. Currently giving this a whirl and it’s leaps outside my comfort zone. Also, wildly humiliating. Hopefully this will become more fun by the end of the four weeks.
Launch a Poetry 101 course. This will be with the lovely Ellen Fishbein and promote her poetry collection Spacefaring.
Create my own credibility through my writing. I would like to do this by publishing a book project of some sort. Some initial ideas:
Notes to Self is my current idea. I outlined this idea here and might create a second publication around it.
A collection of poems
A compilation of the past three years of my writing themed into sections
Compete in my first Olympic distance triathlon. This is in Honolulu on May 21st. Consider the national triathlon in Milwaukee in August if all goes well.
Visit a foreign country: Malaysia. This flight has been booked for three weeks April to May. This will be my first time going to Southeast Asia for the first time. More specifically Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The dream is to connect with locals to learn about the culture, go scuba diving, test how much spicy food I can eat, and to find some new peace inspiration in the temples.
Run HOPA journaling workshops. These will be in schools around Oahu, Hawaii. My first one is for an 8th-grade class next Friday on February 10th.
Sail a voyage. What, when, and where is still to be decided. I’d like for this to be at least a week long. I know that will create a lot of scariness within me.
Definition: Freedom from disturbance. Tranquility.
Three relevant quotes:
“If it costs you your peace, it's too expensive.” - Nassim Nicholas Taleb
“Peace is happiness at rest; happiness is peace in motion.” - Naval Ravikant
“A rational person can find peace by cultivating indifference to things outside of their control.” - Naval Ravikant
Why this word?
I have felt like I am either rebelling again societal norms going against the grain or trying to go with the tides and pleasing other people my whole entire life. I am tired of it. I want to have peace and trust that it doesn’t matter if I please or rebel against anyone. I want, no I need, to find inner peace in hopes that it will ripple out to others around me.
How will Peace show up in my 2023?
Maintain my ongoing schedule of movement with walking at least 8K steps/ day. Movement makes me feel good and my body to feel seen.
Continue weekly stretching. This included regular attempts to become more flexible and when possible go to yoga classes.
Hele Malie Backpacking Zen Sesshin Round 2. This will take place in May with the Diamond Sangha I am a member of.
Seeing a therapist. I will make my mental health a priority. This will start with therapy. I’d also like to have regular check-ins with other doctors become a part of my adult routine like with chiropractics, massage therapy, and gynecology.
Create a train-the-trainer education program for the aforementioned journaling workshops. When this process is created to scale the impact of the journaling process, peace of mind will follow.
Apply to the Peace and Conflict Education Graduate Certificate. This is a one-year program through the university of Hawai’i at Manoa School of Communication. The deadline is coming up. (If I don’t get accepted for the scholarship, I intend to buy the books and find a way to still learn what is taught in the program.)
Relationship with technology and my phone. At of the end of my week I get notified about my screen time going up or down. My mood shifts based on these numbers. This is an adhoc experiment I want to run.
Continue writing letters to my future self. It has been a practice I started a couple of years ago that allows me to make decisions more confidently after I know myself more intimately. An ancillary benefit from it has been like a reward for me to cope with the passage of time.
Definition: To join, unite, or cohere
Why this word?
I like to learn in tandem with friends because it makes it more fun. I love “show and tell”. I want to fully embrace and own the fact that connection is a human need that I don’t want to shy away from.
“The conductor of an orchestra doesn’t make a single sound (he connects people and empowers them).” — Benjamin Zander
“You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” — Steve Jobs
“To develop a complete mind: Study the science of art; Study the art of science. Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.” ― Leonardo da Vinci
How will Connection show up in my 2023?
Show my parents my home. In March, they’re visiting me and I cannot wait to have new adventures in Kauai and Oahu with them. Swimming, long beach walks and eating lots of shave ice together.
Show friends my home. I know Hawaii is a faraway land but I when my sister visited me last year I felt such a grander appreciation for where I live and simultaneously learned a lot. I genuinely want to mention to friends to come out to me.
Finding more true fans. I’m still in shock I’ve made it this far. 500 readers in about three years and over half of my fellow learn-it-alls open my letters. I’m still striving to get to my 1000 true fans. That’s the dream.
Facilitate tea parties. These will be intimate gatherings with friends to converse about life. I was gifted so much tea that I will have enough to last me until 2024 unless I share it.
Take a vacation in the summer. I did that last year on a road trip across the Netherlands prompted by my cousin’s wedding and that was lovely. I am open to where that could be this year. I much enjoyed the spaciousness and opportunity to reconnect with friends. Subleasing my Honolulu apartment and bopping around the mainland again would be fun as well as some quality time on Walloon Lake, where Earnest Hemingway used to hang out. Oh, how I love it there. Kid Rock was onto something in his song All Summer Long, “It was summertime in Northern Michigan.”
Seeing a favorite musician live. Noah Kahan in September. This will be with my dear friend once she gets back from deployment.
Become a journalist-esque writer. Conduct interviews and start a company HOPA (House of Pure Aloha) newsletter that will spotlight the community members in the One World O’hana.
To make at least four introductions a month for Q1. Within my network, there are so many like-minded people that I know for a fact would bring joy to one another’s lives. I’ve added a relation to my CRM in Notion that will hold me accountable to making these introductions. Khe Hy calls these “Mutually Beneficial Introductions” or MBIs.
Historical figure podcast club. Instead of a book club, why not try a podcast club? My dad loves consuming podcasts more than anyone I know so I’d like to start this with him to make it less daunting.
Calligraphy snail mail. This is something that I would like to start where I have some accountability for learning calligraphy while writing letters to friends and adding something unique and memorable.
Leave 12 book reviews. These will go on GoodReads with highlights and on my website. Even if the books are not complete. This gives me a point to jump off and reflect on what I have read so far. Last year, many books impacted me but I never typed up or shared my notes. I’m creating a system to be accountable with this. I change my mind often, so this feels daunting, so I’ll be channeling some courage to do this as well.
To read the rest of my ~8000 word 2022 Annual Review:
Maybe if I act real nice
Maybe if I smile real big
Maybe I could change the shape of who am 'til I fit in
I guess I lost myself
Trying to be somebody else
So I'll sing a song that only I can sing
A melody nobody knows but me
A million things I could pretend to be
Maybe best thing I can be is me
Maybe the best thing
Maybe the best thing
Maybe the best thing I can be is me
This song today gave me the courage to share my intentions. If I zoom out, there really is no reason that I need to share any of this so ‘publicly’. In a way, I share my intentions with you all as a promise I want to hold for myself this year. Life is messy but I want to try my best to make sense of it by having these intentions serve as my north star.
🔍 Word to define
Intention: A determination to act in a certain way or to do a certain thing; purpose; an aim or plan
Etymology: late 14c., entencioun, "purpose, design, aim or object; will, wish, desire, that which is intended," from Old French entencion "intent, purpose, aspiration; will; thought" (12c.), from Latin intentionem (nominative intentio) "a stretching out, straining, exertion, effort; attention," noun of action from intendere "to turn one's attention," literally "to stretch out" (see intend). Also in Middle English "emotion, feelings; heart, mind, mental faculties, understanding." (link)
🌟 Quote to inspire
“Words are things, I’m convinced… Someday we’ll be able to measure the power of words. I think they are things. I think they get on the walls, they get in your wallpaper, they get in your rugs, in your upholstery, in your clothes. And, finally, into you.”
– Maya Angelou
⏯️ What’s next on the menu?
This is a topic that I will be writing about next week. I’d love to know what you think.
📸Photo of the Week
Above here is my HOPA team. We are small but mighty and camped out under the gazebo in Foster Botanical Gardens going through developmental goals for this year personally and organizationally. I came out of this company retreat full of hope and connection with my team. It left me truly grateful. Some of my favorite activities were the afternoon tea, the sound bath, and my first time eating Zippy’s while presenting my annual review with the team.
To many conversations and feedback from friends on my themes for this year including Bronson Chang, Aria Almario, Ben Bradbury, Amanda McCreight, Dan McGlinn, and Jon Borichevskiy
Towho is looking for her husband. Keep on the lookout :)
Tofor meeting up with me and going surfing!
I appreciate you reading this!
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Never stop learning 😁
If you’re reading this because someone shared this newsletter with you, welcome! I’d love it if you subscribed:
On the wildness of infinite idea generation:
Some motivating words on your unique writing practice:
On a timely poem I shared:
On becoming a monagamous book reader:
On forming friendships:
Great that you finally got this one out. Liked the concept of 3 words to define the years ahead and behind.
I love your 3 words, Jen. I also have been doing 3 words since 2012. My 2023 are: rolefulness, coalesce, reverb. (Note to self: Write about my 3 words.)