🎄Letter 91: The Grinch who Stole Christmas, Piano under the Northern Lights, Gratitude, Fulsome
Have my actions been in alignment with my values?
Aloha fellow learn-it-all
Greetings from Royal Oak, Michigan ❄
Christmas is looking a little bit different this year.
Unlike when I would sprint downstairs growing up for presents, I've been quarantining alone at my brother's house since coming down with Covid.
I didn't want to ruin the festivities for my parents and siblings, though it is the absolute oddest to be alone on Christmas. I now know what Macaulay Culkin felt like in Home Alone. Also I’m flabbergasted that Typhoid Mary, also known as Mary Mallon, was arrested as a public health threat in 1907 as a typhoid carrier despite her ignorance to believe it. Her quarantine lasted past 23 years in isolation on North Brother Island, New York. Oh dear, I cannot fathom that.
When under the weather with a wrench thrown into plans, it really makes you think about life as a whole. As many plans as I like for cookie exchanges or holiday dinners or hitting the slopes can be made, none of them matter. It is all under the assumption of feeling in tip top shape. Like I said last week, health = wealth.
For now, I’m cozeyed up with up with hot coco and ear muffs filled with gratitude. It feels so good to be back in Michigan for the first time in 11 months.
If you are new here or missed last week's edition, you can catch up on the past letters here. If you are reading this for the first time, I’d love you to sign up below to join the other 313 learn-it-alls:
Now, let’s dive into letter 91 from a learn-it-all. Enjoy!
✈️ Travels to the Mainland
Earlier this week I spent 48 hours or so traversing across a handful of different states. With an eight hour flight to Minneapolis (fun fact: voted best airport in North America) then one hour to Chicago to then rent a UHaul truck, unload my storage unit and drive seven hours to Detroit, Michigan.
Wow what a hoot that was. I love traveling but it takes a toll on you. I have since slept 12 plus hours the past few nights. No wonder, immune systems are not invincible.
Some silly and culture shock observations made:
A flight attendant scoffed at me remarking I'm going to freeze
Everyone looks rushed and it makes me feel rushed as well
Folks do not drive with aloha here
The first squirrel I’d seen was a fat grey squirrel lunge into a bird feeder acting like its last supper was upon it
The optimism in me is still ever-present. I will soon get my dose of quality time with loved ones once my quarantine is up.
I watched the 2000 movie, How the Grinch Stole Christmas featuring Jim Carrey.
What a festive treat this is. I couldn't stop laughing and then tearing up. Jim Carrey rocked this role.
The rhyming with the Dr. Seuss poetry is priceless. It read like music and is an inspiration to me. Also, I love how in touch he is with his inner child to channel such imagination.
Enjoy this bit below:
Every Who Down in Whoville Liked Christmas a lot...
But the Grinch,Who lived just north of Whoville, Did NOT!
The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
Now, please don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
It could be his head wasn't screwed on just right.
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
But I think that the most likely reason of all,
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.
I never picked up on so many funny lines as a kid like how the mayor bought such a huge diamond ring with all the citizen's taxpaying dollars.
Upon reflection of my younger self, the real star of the show isn't the cute dog companion of the Grinch. It's Cindy Lou Who.
She's the legend for showcasing her skepticism through curiosity. She had bravery to question all the consumer traditions and what the holiday was actually about.
Cindy believed that all the ruckus was superfluous. She didn't buy into it which in the end paid off with a lesson. Christmas is about having spirit as a state of mind and sharing the joyous feeling. Love does not come with a price tag, so don't try to buy love with expensive gifts.
Cindy Lou Who is an inspiration.
I've been listening to Sofiane Pamart playing on a grand piano at freezing temperatures under the Northern Lights, in Lapland, Finland for Cercle.
It is absolutely dazzling skies and such calming music. If I'm ever off topic while writing and want to take a peak at my tab, this is the one.
I recently subscribed to Cercle on YouTube. They produce unique experiences, by organizing, filming and broadcasting concerts in carefully selected locations around the world. Cercle's primary goal is to showcase cultural heritage and landmarks throughout the prism of electronic music and video.
If you're looking to see some fun videos over the holiday break, I encourage you to subscribe here. (I’m not incentivized to do this, I just really enjoy their channel and think you would too).
🔎 Word to define
Fulsome: complimentary or flattering to an excessive degree
Of large size or quantity; generous or abundant
In mid-13th century it meant "abundant, plentiful". In Middle English the compound of ful "full"+ -som means "to a considerable degree"
In 1828, Noah Webster listed the only definition of fulsome in his dictionary as "disgusting or offensive," while The Oxford English Dictionary listed "excessively flattering" as the only current definition in 1897 — dating it to 1663 — labeling the others as obsolete.
In the Oxford English dictionary fulsome means too generous in praising or thanking someone, or in saying that you are sorry, so that you do not sound sincere a fulsome apology He was fulsome in his praise of the governor.
Usage notes from Merriam-Webster states that dictionaries have made the word’s meaning more confusing rather than more clear. The result of this muddy history is muddied meanings. Even though full is usually a positive word, fulsome has pejorative and derogatory connotations in phrases like fulsome praise, where it is usually taken to mean “effusive, excessive, or insincere praise.”
Dictionaries are to make sense and common meaning. I wonder how many other words are out there that cause conflict as well from their rocky past.
'Tis the season to be fulsome in thoughts and actions of gratitude.
🌟 Quote to inspire
"Life reveals itself most fulsomely in gaps and intermissions." - Roman Murakov from On Do Nothing: Finding Inspiration in Idleness
❓ Question to think about
Have my actions been in alignment with my values?
If not, what can I change?
📷 Photos of the Week
Polo is the best boy out there. He might’ve gained some weight since I last saw him and not make it too far on walks, but his smooches make my heart full.
I can’t leave out my sister and Paisley. They’re also the best.
Okay, I’m the worst at superlative statements. I am too openminded to make up my mind of favorites. Anybody else relate to this?
To Khe Hy Annual Review workshop that inspired the Question to think about
To Dr. Seuss for writing such comical and beautiful poetry of the story of the Grinch. The whole poem can be found at Poem Encyclopedia here
To my friend Ben for helping me unpack my storage unit in Chicago. Couldn't have done it without you!
To the caramel fudge bar my sister Steph made. If I just got a cavity, I know who to blame
To my brother Mitch for taking the floppy pink tongue photo of Polo
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 😁
On how it is our choice to give power or attention to an idea or thought:
A life-changing 15-minute habit that I believe in:
Great to be back at the same airport from 6 months ago in Chicago:
On why I believe in physical journals:
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Hello Jen, and a very merry Christmas to you - your solitary confinement notwithstanding. I hope you find joy in your solitude: you seem to be. Thank you for this marvelous cornucopia of a Learn-It-All newsletter. I enjoyed all of it - like a fully stuffed stocking after a visit from Santa. I especially enjoyed the Cercle intro and have been listening to Sofiane Parmat playing under the Northern Lights for the last hour in front of the fire as a storm rages outside. Enjoy your time back on the Continent and keep the aloha spirit alove inside you. Best wishes and thank you for your writing Steven