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🌋 Letter 79: Diamond Head Move, A Letter to Barbara Oakley, Being Local, Ideation, Relish

6 min

What is something small enough that I would enjoy taking action on and creating every day?

Aloha fellow learn-it-all,

Greetings from Diamond Head, O'ahu 🌺

I moved over this past weekend. And it was exhilarating!

This wasn't just any move. This will be the most ‘permanent’ residence I'll have until the end of the year. (Snail mail is much appreciated if you ask).

I used I dread moving. From a hostel bunkbed to a hotel room, a hammock, a tent, and an airbnb house, moving is what has become the norm for me. It’s been upwards of six times over the past three months that I’ve moved. Now finally, I’m at this apartment with a beautiful lanai and view, I am here to stay.

A big thanks to my partner in crime and roommate Emily. She found this place on Craigslist.

It's actually pretty fun to go spend hours at Costco and start figuring out how to store our stockpile of food into the quaint kitchen and decide which walls create feng shui. I’ve really liked this place so far. I mean, goodie goodie gumdrops, it came with a 9 foot surfboard!

If you are new here or missed last week's edition, you can catch up on the past letters here. If you are reading this for the first time, I’d love you to sign up below to join the other learn-it-alls:

Side note for those curious: Diamond head is the volcanic cone on the island of O’ahu. Hawaiians call Diamond Head, Lēʻahi: brow of the tuna. It is most likely derived from lae plus ʻahi because the shape of the ridge line resembles the shape of a tuna's dorsal fin.

It is the most popular Hawaii State Park. When I hiked it, there was a helicopter airlifting a tourist to the hospital. The park ranger told me it the 12th one this year. There is no shade and dehydration is real. Remember to drink your your water people.

Now, let’s dive into letter 79 from a learn-it-all. Enjoy!

🖊 Writing

Dr. Barbara Oakley has been an inspiration to me ever since three years ago when I discovered her massive open online course (MOOC) on Learning how to Learn. She has been a lighthouse who shined the light on how I want to live and has inspired changes in my actions.

For the purposes of this letter, I’m going to call her Barb. I’ve never met her in person, but I feel like I know her by how much I have learned from and been inspired.

Thank you Barb for sharing your story of how you got to where you are today. When I first found you, I had recently left my job out of college as an analyst at a risk insurance company. I abandoned my old definition of success with my finance degree, and felt lost. You helped me realize that the dreams up in my noggin could be a reality. You modeled the way of what a curious and courageous life could look like.

To read the rest:

📖 Reading

I read "You don’t have to be local" by Derek Sivers. This was a timely piece for me as I feel I have one foot in the local community trying to get involved to make friends here in Hawaii, with another foot swimming in the Internet as a part of Write of Passage.

This was never a 'problem' per se until after college. Of course I read Morning Brew everyday in college to stay up to date on the news for business school. But this whole tension, of whether to be more present with people IRL or online, has been one that I don't know the answer to.

Sivers explains how both forms of connection have tradeoffs. I reached out to him to advise. He said to give such an interesting place my best attempt to make it a local experience, even if it is disheartening and easier to have a global focus with an internet presence.

So basically, it's like how in my winters in Michigan I'd twiddle my thumbs knitting scarves or gaming away online. There wasn't a sense of urgency to maximize the experience. This time around is different.

Mission for Jen to become more local is beginning.

Ideas, tips or words are encouragement are greatly appreciated.

👩🏻‍🏫 Write of Passage Writing Group

In a fast-paced course like this, it feels as if you blink, get morphed into a new identity and then struggle to explain what the heck happened. That's why reflection is such a crucial step.

It's kind of like how I wish my college career counselor actually asked me what I enjoyed across my courses before stressing me out. She’d ask me what about progress on finding job stability and know the industry. We’d round off the meetings about how graduating on-time and would be a squeeze to fit in everything I wanted to do.

So much of my coulda, shoulda, woulda's from what I wish I had studied differently in college could've been solved with a little bit more time to pause.

Stillness to reflect and look at what the heck was going by out the window as I drive my bus ride of life. There were so many people getting on and off and rules of the road that I never stopped to question whether a detour was needed or if I was on the path best for me.

Something else that surfaced from the discussion is the importance of ideation. Sparking intentional inspiration is something that can be systematized. Biggest breakthrough for me when I started writing these letters in March 2020 is how constructible and process-driven the magic of creativity truly is. It’s not as mystical as you think. All writers need to have a constant input of idea generation for quality output.

🔎 Word to define

Relish: to enjoy; to be pleased with or gratified by; to experience pleasure from; as to relish food

A power of pleasing; to taste or eat with pleasure or like the flavor of

Flavor that gratifies the palate with enjoyable quality


In the 1520s, "a sensation of taste, a flavor distinctive of anything,". An alteration of reles "scent, taste, aftertaste," (c. 1300), from Old French relais, reles, "something remaining, that which is left behind," from relaisser "to leave behind," from Latin relaxare "loosen, stretch out."

Especially "a pleasing taste," hence "pleasing quality" in general. The meaning "enjoyment of the taste or flavor of something" is attested from 1640s. The sense of "condiment, that which is used to impart a flavor to plain food to increase the pleasure of eating it" was recorded in 1797, especially a piquant sauce or pickle: The modern stuff you put on hot dogs (or don't) is a sweet green pickle relish.


  1. I relish the thought of writing my own songs to play.
  2. "You might be surprised to learn that my colleagues and I actually relish the opportunity to look inside your mouth." -WoP student Jack Wartman from Hug your Dentist

🌟 Quote to inspire

"Don’t postpone joy until you have learned all of your lessons. Joy is your lesson."

-Alan Cohen

❓ Question to think about

What is something small enough that I would enjoy taking action on and creating every day?

📷 Photo of the Week

I cannot believe that yesterday marks three months of me living in Hawaii. It feels like I wrote Three Weeks in Waikiki last week.

There's something about this feeling of being in a time capsule on these islands. If I look close enough, I feel like I see a rainbow almost every day. It's unbelievable to think that before coming here, I cannot recall the last time I saw one of these.

🙏 Shoutouts

I appreciate you reading this! If certain ideas resonated or you have feedback to improve my future newsletters, I’d love you to leave a comment, reply to this email, or send me a message on Twitter @JenVermet. If you want to learn more about who I am, I welcome you to visit my online home.

Never stop learning 😁

Mahalo 🌺


👣 Footnotes

On consumerism:

On imposter syndrome:

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