It’s that time again! I’m joining Emily P. Freeman’s “What I Learned” community in reflecting on the past season before moving into the next. Below are six things I learned this spring in no particular order. I hope you can see yourself in one of these (though hopefully not the last one because it’s more than a little regrettable).
Here we go:
1. My long-standing girl crush on Jennifer Garner is completely warranted.
It’s no secret to my family that I have long thought Jennifer Garner to be one of the cutest, loveliest celebrities ever. Whenever she appears on our TV, my daughter says, “Look, Mom, it’s your favorite person.” Or my son, “Mom, isn’t that the girl you love?” Should this embarrass me? Probably. Does it? Never. Especially not after a flurry of Instagram posts this spring proved her amazingness and all but cemented by undying love for her.
A few of my favorites:
2. Target runs are cheaper without a cart or basket.
I started making my smaller Target runs this spring with my bare hands. I decided that if “I need to pick up a few things from Target” was the level truth, then I should be able to carry everything I came for—and not one Magnolia candle more—around and out of the store.
3. I exercise more when the workouts are decided for me.
For my entire childhood and a year of college, teams of coaches and athletic trainers decided where, when and how I kept my body in shape. The first time I set foot in a gym on my own after moving on from the Arizona State Track & Field team, I sat on the quad extension machine and cried. I was a former Division 1 athlete with not one half a clue how many reps to do or where in the gym to head next. It was disorienting and discouraging, but eventually I figured it out.
Well, kind of.
I spent several years wandering aimlessly around random gyms until I figured out that if I started showing up to group classes (first at a YMCA in Minnesota and then at Las Vegas Athletic Club), there’d be an instructor there to make sure I was making real progress. When we moved to Phoenix two years ago, we opted out of monthly gym memberships and set up a mini Crossfit box in our shed. When my husband planned our workouts, I did them consistently. When he didn’t, I made them easier…or slacked off entirely. Then my dad got cancer, life got messy, and I got out of shape. Pass the cheese, please.
After trying on my own to get my groove back this winter and only doing okayish, this spring I realized I had to find someone to boss me around virtually. I signed up for an OpenFit membership, and it’s changed everything. The only thing I have to decide each day is when to press play in my browser. The moment I do, someone who knows more than me (like Xtend Barre’s Andrea Rogers) tells me what do to for 30 minutes. It’s easy to stay consistent because it’s only 30 minutes and I can do it anywhere. This month I’ve pressed play behind my desk, in my bedroom, in our shed, and in two different hotel rooms.
4. Facebook can go jump in a lake.
After reading Digital Minimalism and Here, Now, I finally got the nerve to tell Facebook to go jump in a lake. With each passing year, the platform seems to take more from me than it gives. I realized this spring: it’s just not for me anymore. My account is still active to allow me to manage some business pages for work and church, but I’ve otherwise made a clean break.
If you’ve flirted with the idea of stepping away from any number of social platforms yourself, but aren’t sure if you can or should, make sure you’re signed up to receive my monthly e-newsletter, The Last Word. Later this summer I’ll be sending a secret post to my subscribers about how to discern whether it’s time to stay or go.
5. Car rides with teenagers go better with podcasts.
I’m not a conversationalist by nature, so drawing words out of moody, broody teenagers during car rides is doubly hard for me. I learned recently, though, that if I play a podcast while we drive instead of turning on music, they interact with me instead of with their phones. My 13-year-old is a drummer and my 14-year plays guitar, so the Song Exploder podcast has gone over well these last few months.
6. I’ve buried some anger alive.
This spring, I finally admitted to myself and to my husband that I am angry about some things. I’m not sure if was losing my dad, turning 38, taking the hard right turn that is parenting teenagers, or a combo of all three, but I looked around recently and realized I am fed up with putting on hold—or setting aside completely—my dreams so everyone else can pursue theirs. The list is a mile long and includes big things like going to grad school, getting paid to write words for a reader, taking our family back to Africa, and ridiculous-to-everyone-but-me things like buying a hammock and fixing a tooth I’ve hated all my adult life. There’s only been so much time, money and bandwidth to go around. Turns out I’ve been mad (for a while apparently) that it hasn’t gone to me. The good news is that now that I’ve named it, I can do something about it. And, I am.
To be continued…