Examining September

Dancing
Yugoslavian folk dancing is a family tradition. We danced the afternoon away at my Aunt’s wedding.

What am I most grateful for this month? I am grateful for my extended family.  One of my aunts recently got married and celebrating this milestone with my parents, siblings, cousins, aunts, and uncles felt like a bubble bath and a glass of wine for my soul. 

What am I least grateful for this month? On the one hand, I am surprisingly accepting of the fact that my new job is part-time.  Thanks to C’s graduate student stipend, we can make ends meet — wihile also saving a little and having some fun, though we do live quite simply — with me only earning a part time salary, and I have welcomed the extra time that I have to read, cook, spend time with C, and write.  On top of that, I really love my job, and I would rather be earning fifty percent and loving what I do one hundred percent than the other way around.  On the other hand, I have been feeling guilty about only working part-time and also about not using my non-working hours more efficiently.  I am not grateful for these feelings of guilt and I would like to spend October thinking about what I need to do to remedy them.  In particular, I would like to think about how I can make my non-working hours more productive and satisfying. 

What is something interesting that I read this past month? Speaking of not using my non-working hours efficiently… I spent the better part of one of my days off this past month in bed, reading The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.  Admittedly, I had some feelings of guilt about indulging in this way, but overall I leaned into the immensely satisfying nature of a reading a book that, though perhaps not exceptionally well-written, kept me turning page after page, resenting interruptions, and ultimately finishing it, in less than twenty-four hours. 

What is a meaningful conversation that I had this month? Though I feel very close to my brothers, I don’t often talk to them, as we live in different states and none of us particularly considers ourselves phone-talkers.  We stay in touch by all talking to my mom, who then disseminates the information she gathers from each of us.  It made me so happy when my 22-year-old brother called me, unable to get ahold of my mom, with a question about how to make chili.  Talk on tomatoes and beans soon evolved into life updates and sharing thoughts on the people we have been meeting recently and our observations of them. 

What is something new that I tried this month?  and What is something that I learned this month? I found two great new (to me) podcasts this month: On Being, with Krista Tippett, and Real Simple Magazine’s podcast I Want to Like You.  The first episode of On Being that I listened to was Tippett’s interview with Brene Brown.  I immediately re-started the episode after I had finished it, because it resonated with me to the extent that I just had to hear it again.  And then, I listened to it a third time when C was driving so that a) he could hear it and we could talk about it together, and b) I could take notes on it.  Brown’s research is on vulnerability and shame, and she defines vulnerability as “the courage and the willingness to show up and be seen in our own lives,” and states that these moments when we show up “are the most powerful meaning making moments, even if they don’t go well.”  Coming off the job search, and coming into a period of my life in which I am really trying to write more — and get my writing out there —  it feels as if vulnerability is a theme of my life right now.  It was helpful to have someone else put words to my experience.  And knowing that showing up to our lives won’t always turn out well helps me lean into the experience of being vulnerable and accept that it isn’t always going to be comfortable, or reap the results that I would like it to reap. 

What is something beautiful that I saw this month? I’m still settling into my new city and state, and exploring state parks, museums and other “tourist attractions” has helped me gain more of a sense of “ownership” of the place.  One site that C and I checked out was the Newport Winery.  I found the rows and rows of vines beautiful, and the grapes themselves gorgeous.

Grapes

How did I progress on last month’s goal? I didn’t write every day.  But I wrote more than I would have if I hadn’t made my September goal to write daily.  I’ll take this. 

What is a goal that I have for next month?  With a taste of some success on the writing front, I want to keep up the writing goal.  This month’s goal will be to write at least one blog post a week.