10 Things I Learned in September

At the end of each month, I share things that I learned. This habit helps me pay attention to life, myself, and God’s presence. It’s my way of reflecting and celebrating. In no particular order, here are 10 things I learned this month:

1. Fantasy Football is surprisingly addicting. 

This is my first time playing in a FF league with friends. And while I’m very ambivalent about the NFL in general, I really care about how my pretend team does. Even though it has no bearing on real life whatsoever. This is probably due to the competitive streak that runs in the family. 

2. Making new friends is like going on blind dates. 

You test the waters with people, seeing if there is any meaningful connection and potential for more. Sometimes you part ways, sometimes you find a person you click with. It takes some courage and risk, but maybe you end up with someone who becomes a true and lasting friend.

3. A good water bottle is a life changer. 

I used this Camelbak for years, and it was great. But after moving to a tropical (hot) climate, my water bottle needs changed. So I got this Hydro Flask. At about $30, it was an upgrade. But it was totally worth the money. Now I have a water bottle that keeps water cold for hours, and it doesn’t sweat all over the table. I’m a fan of the Hydro Flask.

4. Stand up comedy is one of the bravest things people can do. 

Steve and I went to a stand up comedy show, and I was in awe of people who can write some jokes, deliver them in front of an audience of judges, and hope that their performance will connect with people enough to make them laugh. We have a few friends in the stand up comedy world, and I salute those people for their bravery.

5. When you mess with the status quo, you will encounter opposition. 

Change is challenging and uncomfortable. It unearths people’s fears and insecurity. I am seeing this reality play out in several ways around me as I make some changes. It is important for me to remember opposition is to be expected, and even a good indication that something meaningful is getting birthed. 

6. My frustration or anger toward people is inversely proportional to the amount of compassion I have for them.

When I have compassion, concern for other people’s suffering, there is decreased space in my heart for anger. Conversely, if I feel angry or frustrated with people, that’s a good indicator of how little compassion I have for them. May I become more filled with compassion for others. 

7. Fall is a strange season in Hawaii. 

Pumpkin spice lattes and autumn color schemes seem completely displaced here. I mean, I love me some pumpkin bread, but it’s just not the same when the day is 80 degrees and you’re wearing shorts. 

8. I have evil fatigue. 

With the racism, mass shootings, hatred, and all the other awful, horrible things happening around our world, my heart aches. I am struggling against the feeling of being overwhelmed and disengaging. I am so very tired. But I want to fight and hope too. 

9. My grouchiest, most irritable time is when I wake up in the morning. 

I vaguely recall being a great morning person. But now I have a baby who is a terrible sleeper, and two other kids who wake me up before I’m ready. So I’m in a foul mood each morning – annoyed that I’m already tired at the beginning of the day, worried about the things I need to do, and longing for the experience of feeling well rested. I typically have a cup of strong coffee, which helps me ease into the day with a better outlook. But still…before coffee, watch out for Larissa the Grouch.

10. People are seeking spiritual guidance. 

Every time I tell people that I’m a spiritual director, I get responses of intrigue and curiosity. “What is that? Tell me more,” said one woman who had come to my door trying to sell me something. When I explained that I help people encounter God and pursue spiritual growth, her eyes lit up. “Oh, you’re like a coach for people’s spiritual journey. I need that!” she exclaimed. When I have interactions like these, I am reminded why I’m doing what I’m doing. 

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