Skip to content

Letter #24 from a Learn-it-all

5 min

walk in the woods, meditating, running tips, a review of Mulan, the story of Joan of Arc, bivouac, self-confidence

Hello fellow learner,

Greetings from Petoskey, Michigan.

To my American readers, happy labor day! It is already Fall here in the Midwest, and I can’t believe it. Time to get out the wool socks and sweaters and start shopping for some apple cider. Yesterday, I went on a long walk in the woods with my dad and two golden doodles, Paisley and Polo.

My dad loves the trail we took especially because of how much the dogs love it. We got to go up some rolling hills, walk through wild-flower filled fields, and enjoy the babbling brook. The dogs absolutely love cooling off their paws in it and drinking the absolutely gross water. Here are some happy doggies with pink dogs!

Now, let’s dive into letter 24 from a learn-it-all. Enjoy!

Some things I’ve learned through…

🧘🏻‍♀️ Meditating

As I mentioned in last week's letter, I will be holding myself accountable to meditate each day. Why am I starting this habit? I find myself talking tangentially often and getting off course in my writing every day. I want to be more conscious of where my attention goes.

Here’s a free 30-day course for the Waking Up app with Sam Harris that I am doing. I saw success last year with a long streak over a few months until I thought I didn't need guidance anymore. I was wrong. I like relying on Sam to help guide me.

🖊 Writing

This week I reinforced my daily writing habit and shared 5 Ship It posts. Each of the pieces is less than 400 words. I explained my rationale behind starting it here. My favorite piece was a reflection of running lessons from 100K:

Below are the highlights from my other posts:

Thank you - Two of the most underrated words in the language. They are simple yet more than necessary. My grandma drilled these words into me at a young age. Thank you Omi.

Fleeting attention - There is no denying that attention spans have shriveled. Your grandparents patiently read a book. That is not something that comes naturally or easily nowadays.

Noticing the simple pleasure = happiness - We can always want more. It is infinite. More is the common denominator that our society lives upon. It is surmounted with consumers. Craving 'more' is a moving target and it by no means equates to living a better life.

Respond > React - We all react. Animals do not control their first impulses. Saying or doing something without thinking is the unconscious mind running the show. It is our survival instincts. A reaction is based in the moment and doesn't take into account your analysis of the information. It is the first answer, which is not necessarily and probably not the best answer.

🎬 Watching

I watched Disney’s newest live-action Mulan movie. I was underwhelmed and prefer the original animated version. I dressed up in 6th-grade for music class to sing Mulan’s “Reflection” song and that scene was cut out. I am sad. Typically I don't prefer musical versions. But when you know every word to the songs, I can't help but hope to belt out lyrics during the movie. I really love this song, so if you're not familiar I recommend giving it a gander below:

I really missed the characters Mushu and the lucky cricket. They replaced these two fun fellows with a mythical red kite. It would appear symbolizing the Pheonix bird when Mulan needed an extra nudge of encouragement. The director Niki Cairo explained it is because Mulan needed more realistic friends with soldiers. Touché Niki, but I still miss Mushu. It was my dream growing up to have a little dragon as my best friend. I am beyond biased in my rating but out of ten, I would give this new movie a four. It didn’t live up to my expectations.

📖 Reading

I dusted off a book I found in my childhood bookcase that I originally was supposed to read in middle school. It was the story of the warrior saint Joan of Arc. I really appreciated how simplified the book broke down the context of the era, so I might be reading more children’s books moving forward. Due to my dread for reading during school and history being dominantly reading, I hated history.

Joan of Arc (Jeanne d’Arc in French) grew up a farm girl in a village in northeast France. She became a warrior at age sixteen (her exact age is unknown) and was a courageous maiden who fought for the glory of France against the English. Despite the skeptical men and her lack of knowledge of battle tactics and the art of war, she had a strong sense of purpose. Her convictions gave her confidence that flowed to those around her. This led to numerous unexpected victories.

What struck me about the context of this era during Joan of Arc’s life was the lack of leadership. Everyone who believed her story of fulfilling the prophecy raced to fight by her side. The prophecy was: "France was lost by a woman (Queen Isabelle) and will be saved by a maiden."

Thanks to Joan's resilience and cheering to ignite their confidence, France became victorious in many battles, relieved the siege of Orléans, and helped to crown the Dauphin as King Charles VII. However, his ego got in the way after being crowned and he dithered on decisions of how to expel the English from the rest of France. He didn't help Joan after being captured by the English. She was accused as a witch. Joan became a martyr after being tortured and burned at the stake in male attire around age nineteen. The polarization of the times is a frightening thought. If Joan was not seen as a saint, she was a heretic.

Historians are still puzzled today and question the answers to who she was and what she was. In modern times, there are inquiries that she could have been schizophrenic with having different voices talking to her. It’s interesting to look back and have even more questions despite all the answers this story seems to share.

🔎 Word to define

Bivouac: To watch at night or be on guard, as a whole army, when in danger of surprise or attack. An encampment for the night without tents or covering.

Mulan quickly volunteered to bivouac overnight every night. She'd rather lose sleep than be in the uncomfortable sleep conditions with her army mates.

🌟 Quote to inspire

"With realization of one's own potential and self-confidence in one's ability, one can build a better world.” -Dalai Lama

💭 Question to ponder

The season of summer is coming to a close, what are you most looking forward to making happen this fall?

I appreciate you reading this! If any of the ideas resonated or you have feedback to improve, feel free to leave a comment, replying to this email, or sending me a message on Twitter @JenVermet.

Never stop learning 😁

Until next week,


P.S. look here if you want to see how my post-running ice technique has progressed.

If you’re reading this because someone shared this newsletter with you or you clicked a link somewhere, welcome! I’d love it if you subscribed below to receive future updates:


Subscribe to receive the latest posts in your inbox.