Recently, I have been following along with Emily P. Freeman through her podcast, "The Next Right Thing", and her Instagram. She recently shared that at the close of each season, she reflects on and writes down what she has learned over the last few months. I have decided to join her in this writing exercise as a way to reflect on + articulate to myself what I am learning! If you are interested in joining, you can find her reflection lists here! So here are 6 things that I have been learning this season:
1. Podcasts! I love them. I like to listen to them when I am making dinner, getting ready in the morning, cleaning, or while I am driving around making flower deliveries. A few that I am loving right now are The Journeywomen Podcast, Dear Daughters, The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey, Marriage is Funny, Up and Vanished etc. etc. If you have other podcasts you're loving, send them my way!
2. The importance of being faithful in the small things. In many areas, I feel that I am not quite where I want to be (eating healthy, growing in hospitality, growing my small business, spending time with God, encouraging and serving others and the list goes on.) . I tend to focus a lot on the results rather than the process, and perfection in any given area rather than being OK with a small step forward. I recently heard the quote, "The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention" by Oscar Wilde. I often get overwhelmed with all my grand intentions, so much so that I never get around to the small act of kindness. Here is an example of how my mind works. 1. I think I should write a note to encourage so-and-so. 2. Actually, here is a long list of people that I really should write encouraging notes to. 3. I am completely overwhelmed by the thought of writing a note to everyone important in my life. Therefore, I will not write anyone a note. So in the time I could have taken a small step towards progress, I instead just wasted a lot of mental energy. Crazy! For realz. I'm pretty sure not everyone thinks like that, but give me a holla if you do! It is exhausting, and so in this season, I have been trying to focus on being faithful in taking one small step forward rather than getting overwhelmed by everything I "should" be doing.
3. The importance of forgiveness, grace and reconciliation in marriage. My husband and I have been married about 2 1/2 years now and there was some time earlier this season where things between us were feeling a little rocky. We both felt misunderstood and hurt by each other in different ways. But through hard conversations, considering our own contributions to each others' hurts, extending grace, apologizing, and turning our eyes upwards to Christ and focusing on his abundant supply (rather than on our own inadequacies) we were able to find reconciliation and grow together in love. This article is one of the best that I have read on how to have a happy marriage.
4. The creative process is both extremely frustrating + extremely satisfying. The past few months, I have been working on a 2018 Common Silver Botanical Calendar. I had never done a 12-month calendar before, and I thought it would be relatively straightforward-- Illustrate 12 of my favorite flowers, add watercolor, scan them in, digitally edit them, and get them printed. Voila! I didn't account for how difficult it is to draw flowers (and you actually have to practice, A LOT), how difficult it is to control watercolor (lots more practice), and how much time it takes in general to learn something new (like how to make a wall calendar). Multiple times, I worked for hours and hours on one part of the calendar only to completely scrap the whole idea and change directions. I had so many moments of frustration and feeling like I had wasted precious hours of my life. But those moments were not wasted-- I was learning valuable lessons like how to take time to really observe a flower, how to give up perfect and be content with "good" in order to move forward, what I like and don't like aesthetically, how to better use InDesign + Illustrator, and how to follow through on a large project.
5. The importance of community. I have been thinking a lot about how people are wired differently from each other, with different strengths, different gifts, different ways of being in the world. I find frameworks like the Enneagram (I am a 9!), the Strengthsfinder test, or spiritual gifting tests to be really helpful in extending grace to others and seeing the God-given value in how people are uniquely created (even though those differences can feel frustrating or make us feel misunderstood at times). In the body of Christ and in humanity as a whole, we all need each other, and it would do us good to observe and learn to appreciate each others' differences, rather than letting them be divisive.
6. The importance of cultivating gratitude. And not just this Thanksgiving week but all the time! Gratitude is huge in fighting off discontent or comparison or fear-- all sorts of negative thinking. This last month, I have been trying to be more intentional and when I get a moment, write down or pray things that I am thankful for. It really makes a difference.
I would love to hear your feedback on anything that resonated with you. What are you learning? I would love to know!