What I learned in August


Taking a page from Emily P. Freeman's What We Learned, a chance to pause to reflect on the past season before we move ahead into the future. The sharings are silly, serious, sacred, and just plain useful. 




1.  Scalp care is as important as hair care.  

I jumped on the dry shampoo train this past year, and I have loved the time it has saved me blow drying my hair.  What I haven't loved?  The feeling of buildup of dry shampoo near my scalp.  I began to question if dry shampoo was for me.  I sweat a lot in my exercises classes, and I thought I was prone to dandruff, which typically means you need to wash more often, not less.  After using Head and Shoulders religiously for a few months and overhauling my hair care routine, I discovered I didn't have a dandruff problem; I had a dry scalp problem.  I'm now using a shampoo and conditioner with tea tree oil and massaging it all over my scalp.  Unfortunately, I have also learned that dry shampoo just doesn't work so well for me.  I am one of those shampoo-every-day people.


2.  I want to make a checklist or chart for everything.

I fell down the YouTube rabbit hole this summer and learned about all sorts of cleaning routines and kids' chore checklists.  Back to school season puts most of us in a productive mood, and I am no exception.  I designed chore charts and getting ready lists for our six-year-old and finally figured out how to stay on top of the deep cleaning (mostly).  It only took me until age thirty.  Adulting.

But seriously: checklists are amazing.  Make the accountability external and take the guesswork out of the equation.  I am no longer nagging our daughter; the checklist determines if she is ready or not.  I don't debate if I can put off dusting for a few more days; I consult my schedule.  If it is a Monday, then I dust, plain and simple.


3.  I really love my husband.

Okay, I knew this one already, but I have a newfound appreciation for Dan after this summer.  He was gone for six weeks for work, and our ability to communicate was sometimes limited.  I missed my co-parent and housemate for obvious reasons (single parenting is no joke), but I mostly missed my best friend.  I took for granted how much I would process decisions with him, both big and small.  He plays a huge role in my discernment.  We are life partners, and it is hard when you're not living life together.


4.  The kind of screen matters.

I prefer app-based scripture devotions so I don't have to take a heavy Bible with me when I travel (I don't like reading from pocket BIbles).  But I hate reading on my phone.  A friend suggested reading from an iPad, and that has been a game changer.  Much better.  I am more relaxed and centered, and I do feel almost as though I am reading from a book.  The size of the screen makes a huge difference.  Also: We gave up cable, so my TV watching has dwindled significantly.  I don't like watching videos on a computer screen, but I finally set up an Apple TV so I could watch shows on a big screen (maybe not a great thing on second thought).


5.  My kids both love olives.

We knew this about our daughter already, but we gave our one-year-old son an olive, and he was similarly delighted.  We never assume we know what our kids will and will not like.  


6.  God starts out subtle and then becomes less so.

I always hesitate to use the words "God told me so" because I think there is so much we do not know.  We discern the best we can with the information we have, and we hope with prayer and the support of our communities that we move in the right direction most of the time.  

Yet sometimes you just feel God's spirit and know where she is guiding.  I have been wrestling with a decision for many months now, and I find when I keep pushing hints of God's direction away, it comes back with stronger force.  The subtle nudging becomes aggressive pushing. 

There's beauty and grace in this, I think.  We get second and third chances.  Life is a gradual unfolding.  A few decisions we make in a discrete moment, but most decisions we must make again and again.  We decide where to invest our energy and attention,  We continue to show up for our loved ones, to do the work in relationships.  We read the eight hundredth book to our children because we know that it is not the one book we read but the sum total that will make the difference.  We take care with what we write to our boss in every email not just a special project because we want to show respect.  And so those times we miss the mark, we can recalibrate.  


What did you learn this month?

Emily Rowell Brown