The practice of reflecting on what I’ve learned requires an intentional pause and often leads me to gratitude. And here at the holidays, I welcome all pauses and attempts to slow down and be thankful.
Author Emily P. Freeman several years ago on her blog began encouraging her readers “to pause to reflect on the past season before we move ahead into the future,” and I first I took up that practice last year.
So here, in no particular order, are 5 things I learned in fall 2018 (September through November):
1. Sharing Our Photos and Stories Heals the World
As a photo organizer, including nearly 20 years of helping people create scrapbook albums and photo gifts, I’ve seen firsthand the power of sharing stories and memories. But one Saturday in November, I saw it again in a new way.
Crews were in Durham, NC, filming a segment for a forthcoming PBS Show, “Family Pictures USA.” Another organizer and I spent the day talking to some of the families whose stories were being featured, as well as the crew and volunteers organizing the event.
Family members brought in select photos, allowed makeup artists to powder their faces, and sat for on-camera interviews about their connections to North Carolina. (The show taped in Florida a few weeks before, too.)
As people walked from area to area protectively holding their photos, albums, and other memorabilia – some of which was more than a century old – the joy shone on their faces. It revealed love, belonging, happiness.
What if photos and stories held that power for each of us? It does, if we figure out ways to bring them back into our lives.
2. The Enneagram is One Cool Tool
The more I read and hear about the enneagram as a tool for learning about ourselves and others, the more I want to know. Have you discovered it yet? I’m planning to use it in some of my coaching in 2019. Stay tuned for more details, or send me a note if you’re already familiar with it and want to geek-out with me now. It’s been a really interesting topic I’ve learned about in fall 2018.
3. “Mindfulness means not hitting someone in the mouth.”
Meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg led a two-day workshop in my area, and she shared the value of mindfulness – defined as paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment of the thoughts that arise or the mind that wanders. Salzberg quoted a fourth-grade student in California who had learned to meditate and notice the value of responding instead of reacting. When asked his definition, the student said, “Mindfulness means not hitting someone in the mouth.”
4. Audio books are “saving my life” right now
When 2018 began, one of my goals was to read at least 25 books this year. The first one I finished was Barbara Brown Taylor’s “An Altar in the World.” In it, she shares “what’s saving my life right now.”
For me, audio books are saving my life right now. By the end of November, I’d completed 28 books and found myself in the middle of two others. This fall, I finished 8 books, but only three were the paper versions. I love the versatility of audio books, so I can listen while I run, walk, drive, or clean. And I especially enjoy those read by the author.
5. Two-thirds of Americans don’t have a will
Death isn’t something most of us want to think about, nor do we want to talk about it. And that means most of us are avoiding planning for the inevitable. But having a will and other estate documents can protect your family financially and emotionally, and if you have minor children, it’s even more important.
I learned in fall 2018 that only about 1/3 of American adults have a will. Further, a 2017 study says that only 36 percent of Americans with children under 18 have a will (and named guardian) in place.
This point may seem like it’s coming from left-field from a health coach, but it relates to peace of mind. And that affects our overall health and well-being.
So now it’s your turn, and I’d love to hear from you. Would you like to share what you learned in fall 2018? Comment below, or send me a note.
Hi! I’m Amy Hoogervorst, an integrative health coach offering grace and space for a healthier you. Thanks for reading! You can read previous “what I learned” posts on the blog. And if you’d like to stay in touch, please subscribe to my weekly Well Check and other email updates. I’m glad you’re here, and I look forward to connecting with you.