One of the ways I intentionally practice appreciating the beautiful but so-very-ordinary stuff of real life and regular days is by keeping track of what I’m learning.
My friend Emily is the mastermind behind this simple but meaningful practice. For several years now, I’ve joined her by jotting down notes of the small, the sacred, the silly, and everything in between.
More than anything else, this helps me pay attention to what’s happening around me, what’s happening within me, and what surprises me along the way.
Eleven Things I Learned This Fall:
1. Salt on a napkin keeps a drinking glass from sticking with condensation.
In retrospect, this seems obvious. Alas, I wasn’t aware.
2. There is an invitation hidden in the ticking of a clock.
I shared this on Instagram, but it’s worth saying here too… because something shifted this fall when time passing shifted from an attitude of rushing to one of anticipation:
“If a year was tucked inside of a clock, then autumn would be the magic hour.” – Victoria Erickson
It’s 75 degrees today. The sky is blue, the grass is green, and autumn is playing hide and seek. I just about missed this leaf on my walk, mixed in with the mulch. I literally gasped when I saw it, the colors and the beauty and the promise of a new season.
The clock is ticking. It’s funny – most of the time, that thought pushes me to hurry. Today, it sounds like an invitation to slow down. To watch, to be still, to wait with anticipation and pay attention to a promise fulfilled. Tick. Tock. Magic.
3. Wax has a memory.
Apparently, the first time you burn a candle is a “marker” for how far the wax will melt. In other words, if you light the candle and then blow it out when the wax is only half way to the edge of the glass, that’s how far the wax will melt in the future.
Thanks to Melanie Shankle and the Big Boo podcast, I stayed up an extra half hour waiting for the melted wax of my new Christmas candle to reach the edges of the glass. This is time I can not get back, but at least I’m in good company. While the wax slowly made its way to the edge, I watched Instagram Stories and couldn’t help but laugh with Sharon Hodde Miller… who was doing the exact same thing with the same Target candle. Basically, this information has ruined us forever.
4. JASON is hidden in our yearly calendars.
Thanks to another podcast (The Popcast with Knox and Jamie), I’m now equipped with this fun fact. (If you write out the first letter of every month, it’s JFMAMJJASOND.)
5. Virtual waiting rooms do indeed exist.
I had surgery in September, and I still can’t put into words the feeling of knowing you’re about to be wheeled back and there’s no one you know sitting in the waiting room.
If you joined me in that virtual waiting room — thank you. Thank you for showing up, for your encouragement and your prayers. One of the things I’m intentionally working on this year is asking for help. Writing and posting that prayer request was harder than I’d like to admit, but you filled the virtual waiting room to overflowing and I’ll never forget it.
6. I no longer have to wonder what items I’d grab first in a fire.
7. Life doesn’t look like what I hoped for, and it turns out I’m not the only one.
8. Grief is a thunderstorm and a sun shower.
It’s a free fall and it’s quicksand, a marathon not a sprint. It’s fog and doubt, silence and confusion, anger and bittersweet shadows. It’s hello and goodbye all at the same time. It’s a winding road that takes you by surprise, full of life and death and unexpected beauty.
9. Posting on Instagram may lead to photographing a wedding rehearsal.
Did I know what I was doing? No. Have I ever photographed anything wedding-related before? Nope.
But there’s a first time for everything, and if you say “I love the look of your Instagram feed, the way you capture often overlooked details. Could you come and take pictures as if they were for Instagram? No pressure… just capture through the lens you already use when viewing the world.” Well by gosh, I’m gonna give it a shot.
10. The word “hygge” is pronounced hue-guh.
I consider it a blessing that I’ve learned this fun fact before ever saying hygge out loud. Associated with coziness, the word hygge comes from a Danish word meaning “to give courage, comfort and joy.” I’ve seen it on memes, in social media captions of home decor, and in several books… and I’ve never once pronounced it (in my head) correctly.
11. Unrushed time to simply be and wander is nothing short of a gift.
Everything about Chattanooga this Fall was a gift… a dreamy airbnb, perfect weather, late night talks, the best sweet potato fries of my life, exploring without an agenda, pretending to host a travel/food show via Instagram Stories… All of it, a gift. But mainly? Time with this girl. Find yourself a friend who will belt show tunes with you in the car, accidentally match with you, play the piano just because the song makes you happy, and never complain when you suddenly stop to take yet another picture of the changing leaves.