What I Learned in October

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. I have so much to learn about writing.

Engineering major that I was, I never took a creative writing course in college. Worse than that, I did everything I could to get out of as many general education classes as possible, doing my best to convince the head of the English department that my “Human Situation” classes – which focused primarily on reading and analyzing classic works and very little on the mechanics and the art of writing – should count towards the credits I needed. I mostly succeeded, and, though I did begrudge him the English Comp I class he forced me to take, it was the only real course of its kind that I’d taken. I’m ashamed to admit that, as a senior engineering student, I blew it off, putting as little time and effort into the class as I could reasonably get away with.

All this to say, writing has been, for me, something primarily learned by osmosis and intuition. I am a prolific reader, which is no small thing for a writer. But now, for the first time, I am participating in a class. Specifically, the MOOC How Writers Write Fiction, by the University of Iowa. There are so many things I did not know, hadn’t even really considered, that have been brought out for me in this course, and I am grateful for that.

(For things I’ve learned that have something to do with writing, but really, more to do with life in general, check out this post. Or this one. Or this one.)

2. Being vomited upon is as unpleasant as it sounds.

Katie, poor kid, was sick this past week, a fact she made known to us by emptying the contents of her stomach on my chest and my shirt and my hair. I am so glad she’s feeling better now. A sick toddler, who has no understanding of why she doesn’t feel good, and no ability to express what’s wrong, may be one of the very saddest things I’ve seen.

This experience came during the same week that we were studying the church at Laodicea in BSF’s Revelation class, which brought an entirely new image to mind when reading about Christ threatening to vomit the lukewarm Christians out of His mouth. It reinforced rather strongly to me that I do not want to be the one who causes such a violent and ugly reaction from God.

3. Sun Gold Tomatoes produce and produce and produce and produce …

While we have had an unseasonably warm October, one in which the temperatures have yet to dip much below fifty degrees and the normal rain showers (which we desperately need) have failed to appear, the number of tomatoes I’m still able to pick astounds me. Add to this the fact we had to shut off our irrigation water at the beginning of this month due to a pierced pipeline that we haven’t yet repaired and, as a result, I’ve stopped watering my (mostly dead anyway) garden, and the Sun Golds are an easy pick for future seasons.

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4. I am grateful my husband does not travel much for work. 

Jonathan was gone the first week and the last week in October. That’s after a week in August and another week in September, which was a lot. We missed him (understatement, much). BUT, barring some emergency, he’s all done travelling for the rest of the year. Hurrah.

On a related note, I have a renewed respect for those whose significant others travel often, and those who are doing this parenting thing on their own. Wow.

5. Some friendships are only renewed every few years. And that’s ok.

We got to meet an old college friend (Hi, Anna!) for lunch this month. It was the first time we’d seen her in several years and I am terrible at staying in touch with people who don’t live in the same town as me, so we had a lot of catching up to do. It was a thoroughly enjoyable visit, and I am so glad we had the opportunity to hang out. While I wish that we were as close as we used to be, it was good just to have a few hours together.

6. Letting go can be difficult. Sometimes, though, it’s necessary.

In the past year and a half, I’ve alluded a number of times to the restlessness of being home all day, about struggling with whether I am doing “enough.” In September’s “What I Learned” post, I stated that I was coming closer to peace. And somewhere, about the middle of this month, I realized that I was really, truly, happy and content in my life as a stay-at-home mom. While I’m well aware that this is grace, pure grace, and that there may be days where that contentment comes and goes, a big part of this (for me, anyway), was letting go of the idea that I needed to be producing, to be building, to be doing, letting go of Career and Writing Portfolio and Blog Following, and to do the tasks set before me today. This isn’t to say that it was easy, but somehow, I got there. And I am so grateful.

7. Speaking of letting go, some Really Great Ideas are good for a season, and then you need to try something else.

I really, really, really liked the idea of Friday Night Dinners. I had visions of fellowship and community and all things good and lovely and wonderful and true happening here in our home each week. (And, perhaps, that is a part of the problem – that they were my visions, my home – but that’s a post for another time). And all of that happened … for a time. But as ideas are wont to do, it lost its lustre, lost its allure – at least for others, it seems. I wrote about them, posited some questions and ideas on my blog and on Facebook about why they aren’t working and about what might make them better, and got zero response from local friends.

Which tells me that this is my dream, my idea – and that it doesn’t necessarily meet the needs or desires of anyone else. And so I need to figure out how to adapt or to change, to take these principles of hospitality and fellowship and apply them in some other way. 

How about you? What did you learn in October?

This Thing Called Life

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3 Responses to What I Learned in October

  1. So glad that we are neighbors over at Emily’s place today! You learned some great lesson this month! As a now empty nester, I had almost forgotten about the sick toddler/covered in vomit days! 😉 Oh but I remember… that never fully goes away!

  2. I want to try those sun gold tomatoes even if it is just because of the pretty name. haha

  3. ambervanderpol2015 says:

    Well I’ve completely stopped reading blogs for almost two months now… which is just about unheard of for me. But I’m declaring RSS feed amnesty and trying to prune and start again because I do miss it.

    I’m sorry we haven’t been coming to the Friday Night dinners. I started teaching a Shakespeare class every other Friday at the beginning of September (lots of fun, and over now) and it feels like when we roll around to an open Friday we’d just rather be home. On the nights when we went we enjoyed it, but we would get home much later than little kids needed and we would be putting crying and overtired children to bed, then having to deal with them in the morning (and all Saturday, really) when they got up at their usual time and were grumpy from lack of sleep. And then not being on FB was a little bit of a mental barrier too.

    I do think it is a great idea, and I’m not sure what suggestion to offer. Maybe ask people in person if they can give you an honest evaluation? It is so easy to blame busy-ness, but often that’s just a cop-out.

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