What I Learned in June

Emily over at Chatting at the Sky has made it a practice to record the things she learns each month. It’s a valuable habit, this habit of reflection, and so I’ve been joining her in it this year. If you’d like to join us as we remember, you can comment on this post with what you learned, or head over to Emily’s site and link up there.

1. Two basil plants produce more than this family of three can eat. (And plants that start small at the nursery don’t stay that way for long.)

Ah, summer. While I despise the way our house bakes this time of year, I love the fresh produce available to us – peaches and strawberries and nectarines, green beans and tomatoes and basil. I planted my own small garden for the first time this year, scoffed a bit at the recommended distances between plants, bought cages for my tomatoes that seemed way too large. Well. The plants that were so tiny when I put them in the ground have grown tall. The basil produces leaves faster than we can eat them, the tomato plants hang heavy with fruit that will keep us satiated in the next few months.

A great (albeit somewhat obvious) allegory awaits you here, in this lesson, should you choose to pursue it.  I will leave that as an exercise for the student.

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In other news, I had a difficult time capturing the hugeness of my tomato plants with my camera.

2. Fresh basil keeps best at room temperature.

Finding myself with great handfuls of basil, I googled what to do with it. As it turns out, putting it in some water in a mason jar, covering it loosely with a plastic back, and leaving it on the counter is the best option. Who knew?

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3. Maintaining good habits takes work.

I made some resoutions regarding social media at the end of May. I had every hope of approaching each day with more purpose, and for the first week or two, I was consistent in holding to the goals I had set for myself. Somewhere along the way, however, the old habits snuck back in, and so now I am working to get back to where I want to be.

(Side note: I share things here on my blog, for all the world to see, in the hopes that the things I am learning might benefit others, but also so that I might have some measure of accountability. Please feel free to ask me about how I am doing! For that matter, please feel free to talk to me about anything I post online – I welcome the conversation!)

4. Grumpy Katie usually equals hungry Katie.

If I were a more experienced mother (or maybe just more aware), I would have come to this realization long ago. More often than not, when Katie begins to fuss, her grumpiness can be quelled with a snack. It’s remarkable what some string cheese or yogurt or fruit can do for her mood.

If it isn’t hunger that drives her fussiness, it might be that she’s tired, or that I’ve been involved in some project and she craves my attention. When her needs are met, she tends to be a happy child; I imagine it must be frustrating to know what you want but to not be able to communicate that effectively.

This is a valuable lesson for me as a parent, but also for me as a human being, and it raises a question I ought to consider: when somebody in my circle (including myself) is in a foul mood, what needs are unmet for that person? The answer to this question may not “fix” their mood – human beings are not so simple as that – and as she ages, I hope to help her learn to express those needs and frustrations in healthier, age-appropriate ways, but asking myself this cannot hurt.

5. Writing prompts are good for me.

I recently signed up for Sarah Selecky’s daily (fiction) writing prompts, and I am glad that I did. Taking the time to write, by hand, for ten minutes a day is not only good discipline – it’s fun! I’m learning to start writing whatever comes to mind, even if I don’t know where it’s going to go, even if it feels clichéd or stupid or boring. The things I write might never turn into anything more than scribbles in my notebook, but I’m enjoying the process and the practice.

6. I don’t really know what I want to write.

This month, I realized that I am unsure of which direction I want to take my writing, which may be part of the reason behind my relative silence here on the blog. I know that I love words and the power to express myself through them. I love the connection writing brings, the satisfaction of a well-turned sentence, the moment when I find the perfect word to say what I want to say. I know that writing is my means of processing, of making sense of this world. And yet there are so many ways to pursue writing – through blogging, through non-fiction essays, through short fiction, through longer works – and I’ve been experimenting with my options, trying to determine which way to go.

This isn’t to say this blog will be going silent anytime soon; I enjoy this form and the value it brings to me and (I hope) to you. Thank you for your patience as I figure this out!

That’s what I learned in June. How about you?

Loving Others, This Thing Called Life, Writing

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4 Responses to What I Learned in June

  1. I have to be pretty careful with my social media too – everytime it starts taking over my life, it’s usually time to take a break. Letting the church calendar set my Facebook rhythm has worked pretty well with cold-turkey fasts. I’m an Orthodox Christian, so that means four breaks a year, ranging from 2 to 6 weeks. I’d like to extending that concept to no FB on Wednesdays and Fridays, but that one’s been more a struggle so far. Like you said, good habits take time. Popping over as your neighbour from Chatting at the Sky. Happy Tuesday 🙂

    • Jenn says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Rachel! I love the idea of syncing with the church calendar. I’m not Orthodox, but fasting at regular intervals sounds healthy and beneficial. Thanks for the input! 🙂

  2. jywatkins says:

    My absolute favorite thing to do with fresh basil is fresh pesto. I often forget about pesto– we never ate it growing up so when I am planning meals, it never comes to mind, but I love it! I hardly have the pine nuts around to include, but it’s delicious anyway with the garlic and olive oil. And writing, yes that’s exactly how I’ve been feeling lately, nt sure what direction to go and neglecting my blog.

    • Jenn says:

      Oh, we are big pesto fans around here, though we rarely never have pine nuts either. I usually use walnuts, instead.