Aloha fellow learn-it-all,
Greetings from Diamond Head, Hawai'i 🌺
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:
I’ve got some exciting news of a new experiment to share along with reflections on September and why I write these letters. Buckle up because this is lengthier than usual.
Now, let’s dive into letter 80 from a learn-it-all. Enjoy!
🤔 Reflecting on September
Truth be told, time has been an odd phenomenon for me lately. I write down the date every day in my journal yet I feel like the days are cruising by.
I used to share my monthly reflections in these letters each month. The last time I did that was at the beginning of May for a trimester review in 🥲 Letter 59: Failure, Getting Fired, Goals, Gasoline...
I am still compiling a reflection from my biggest learnings from the past three months in Hawaii. For now, here's some things I've been up to from the past month of September of what I loved, lacked and learned.
What I loved
- Facing fear of the dark and night surfing
- Artist dates of visiting the library, local bookstores, local cafes, and getting back into drawing
- Starting to publish on my website more consistently with four posts the last four weeks
- My fun habit for September of adding a new song from the album I listened to each day
- Facilitating, sharing lessons and being inspired by new online writers for Write of Passage
- Breezy sunset joy rides on my moped Ciao
- Conversations with my new friends about what adventures are still to come
- Moving into the Diamond Head area and being closer to my favorite park and the ocean
- Cooking vegetarian foods each night with my roommate while playing music
- Learning basic chords on the ukulele
- Standing AND cross stepping for the first time up the nose of my longboard
What I lacked
- Sense of homeiness without knowing my neighbors
- Consistent sleep with a wonky schedule of 5AM calls
- A sense of connection in my newer relationships
- Courage to try out skateboarding
What I learned
- Overthinking problems while hiking and running that I need to trust my body more
- Starting to track my heart rate on runs rather than my pace
- I need to get outside more to meet more people and ask them questions even though I feel stupid
- Recording little bits of my life can be rewarding for my future self
- I want to join more clubs. I joined a volleyball league for Tuesday nights and it's a hoot
✍️ Letter to my Future Self Exercise
Between now and this weekend (by October 10th), I challenge you to handwrite a letter to yourself that you will open on January 1st 2022. Yes, that means within the next three days. For the best experience, I recommend using a pen and paper away from technology. Seal it in an envelope and keep it somewhere safe.
I started this exercise last year and first shared it in letter 27.
This challenge is a way to pause before fall and winter fly by. Without a doubt 2021 has rocked the boat. In order to put our best foot forward in the new year, capture memories, thoughts, feelings, and learnings from 2021 to support your future self. Plus, it will be a nice gift to yourself at the start of 2022 (gulp I cannot believe that is so soon).
You don't know what to write about? The audience is for yourself so write whatever your future self would find valuable. Here are some questions to kickstart the process for you:
- What do you want to remember about 2021 thus far? Where do you hope to be this time in 2022?
- Who have you met and how have they impacted you?
- How have your values, priorities, and beliefs changed?
What struggles have you overcome and learned from them? How have you felt overall?
- What hobbies do you want to move up in your "To learn" list?
- What do you wish were different?
- What wins have you accomplished on your projects, at work, and in relationships?
I'll follow up in the new year and remind you to open these letters. I cannot wait! 😊
(This exercise was inspired by Victor Saad from the Experience Institute. )
🎙 Recording Racket Reflections
I've wanted to experiment with audio for a while now. Since 2018, I’ve been dabbling in the space using the Otter.ia transcription app and sending voice notes to friends and myself. None of it has ever been public
It became clear that this was something I HAD to do last week.
I was missing my grandma Omi (who I wrote a tribute to here). I surfaced a couple voicemails from her from when I was in high school in 2012. It's only about 15 seconds of her saying "Hi Jenny it’s 10 after 1. Nothing special. Just wanted to say hello, snoop. Give me a call. Tot ziens." It felt kind of creepy, but I immediately felt comforted by her silly Dutch voice. It triggered some emotions of wishing her well and how much I love and miss her.
Simply put, reading is not a comparable experience to listening.
For this audio experiment, I've decided to use an app called Racket. It's a frictionless way to publish recordings at a cap of 9 minutes.
The five reasons I'm pursuing this "audiOctober" are:
- Connect more with readers in an immersive way
- Admiration for some favorite writers who orate their own writing, like Mark Manson, Liz Gilbert, Matthew McConaughey, Steven Pressfield. Effective oration is a skill I’d like to learn.
- To take advantage of simple audio technology available
- To be courageous and overcome discomfort with recording my voice
- To have fun
These rambles are going to be on a first take each day for the rest of October.
Why first take? When I took Ali Abdaal's Part-time Youtuber Academy last November, I ended up dreading the filming. My perfectionist self got in the way of the fun. I would take 20 plus takes each time which inevitably made me want to rip my head off. It’s human to stutter. The more I became aware of my fumbles with words, the more I became profusely sweaty. So much that I'd have to change shirts mid-recording session.
Currently I don't have much of plan of what I'm recording. Current ideas are to share different adventures to improve my storytelling, to share highlights from my journal entries of learnings or gratitude, or to read out loud favorite passages from books or of my own writing. A far out there idea is to record myself playing the ukulele. Maybe even singing if I can get my voice to actually hit any notes. No promises. Humming might do.
Let me know if there's anything in particular you'd like to hear me record. I'm all ears for this experiment
I watched three movies recently that all seemed to be completely random. I noticed after the fact that they all had a common thread that attracted me to watching: each has outliers in them. Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, Lilo in Lilo & Stitch, and Hilary Duff in Cinderella Story.
If you'd like to hear more about this breakdown, I recorded a six minute reflection on Racket
👩🏻🏫 Write of Passage Writing Group
This past week a lesson in the course was learning how to write newsletters, also known as ephemeral digital postcards (what you are currently reading in your inbox).
It's pretty crazy that I started these 80 weeks ago. What a wee youngin' I once was.
Despite all that time, I still distinctly remember thinking "who am I to write this thing?? I'm nobody. Why would anyone want to read what I've been up to or thinking or consuming?"
Don't get me wrong these thoughts are still there. They are what I call my Resistance. Here's a letter I wrote to them. It's another way of addressing my fear.
Since beginning, the main nine reasons of why I still write these letters are:
- To stay in touch with relationships no matter where I live
- To become a better curator of quality information that I consume and distill
- To figure out what I care about and pose questions to help others become critical thinkers
- To act as a forcing function to write each week distribute what I write on my personal website (when I do write something)
- To appreciate the written language more by understanding where words come from
- To inspire others to take action and belittle my own Resistance each week by publishing
- To be courageous as a a woman in the arena by openly experimenting and sharing half-baked ideas up in my noggin
- To challenge myself to take pictures each week to share a story
- To leave public breadcrumbs for my future self because of the inevitable entropy of my mind’s memory
If you’re thinking of starting one of these, I’d love if you free to reached out. I’ve got some videos that could help you out.
📖 Reading Walking in this World
During my think Weekend back in February of this year in 💭 Letter 46 from a learn-it-all, I mentioned how I started Julia Cameron's 12-week course called The Artist's Way on how to break into my creative discovery. I never finished this course and left it back on the mainland. When I went to the library, I checked out Cameron's second course called Walking in this World.
As it implies in the title on top of the three pages of random morning pages each day and weekly artist dates, there is the additional assignment of weekly walks. This is right up my alley as mindful daily walking was the monthly habit I started this year to get outside each day (even in the bitter cold of Chicago).
I'm excited to spice up my journaling practice and pursue this sequel with some "intermediate level" techniques to break through some creative ground.
So far in the beginning pages I have already found priceless insights. Here are a couple favorites around ideas:
Everything is energy. Ideas are simply organized energy, a sort of mold into which more solidified energy can be poured. A book begins an an idea. So does a social movement. So does a building. We cast our dreams and desires ahead of us, and as we move toward them, their content takes on solidity. We cocreate our lives.
Ideas come to us as we walk. We also invite their quieter friend, insight. Walking often moves us past the ‘what’ of our life into the more elusive ‘why.’
If you are interested in joining along and having accountability for your journaling or would like to discuss the marvelous ideas by Julia Cameron, please respond to this email. I’d love to start a conversation around her work. Maybe a book club 🤩
🔎 Word to define
Gung Ho: unthinkingly enthusiastic and eager, especially about taking part in fighting or warfare
Extremely or overly zealous
In 1942, it was slang motto of Carlson's Raiders, the U.S. guerrilla unit operating in the Pacific in World War II, from Chinese kung ho meaning to "work together and cooperate." It became widely adopted in American English in 1959.
I appreciate most about my Hawaii friends is how gung ho they are about ideas and taking initiative to make them happen.
🌟 Quote to inspire
“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life waiting for us.” -Joseph Campbell
❓ Question to think about
How can we do more scary things in life?
📷 Photos of the Week
I hiked the Wiliwilinui Ridge trail over the weekend. Even though this was my first sunrise hike, I sadly didn't get to see the sun at the summit because I was up in the clouds. I felt pretty clumsy in all the mud and took a tumble at one point that freaked me out.
I learned that I need to stop overthinking so much and trust my body to do what it does best: keep me alive.
To listen to my seven minutes of Racket Reflections with more details on this story:
- To Victor Saad and Experience Institute team for inspiring this exercise for annual letters
- To Reddy for nudging me to use Racket for my experiment
- To my pseudonymous friend for being such an avid reader, sharing so many ideas, and coming up with the audiOctober name
- To Winny and Chief for being the dream team of doggos to accompany me on the hike. They were a constant reminder of joy rolling around in the mud
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 😁
- On experimentation:
- On the first time I’ve drawn since last summer:
- On a new dream of mine to own a book store like this someday:
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