10 Things I Learned in November 2017

IMG_9560

This habit of writing down what I’m learning helps me pay attention to life, myself, and God’s presence. It’s my way of reflecting and celebrating. I love the process of looking back, and seeing the deeper lessons that I might otherwise miss.

In no particular order, here are 10 things I learned this month.

1. Getting a dog was good for our family.

This is Pono (Hawaiian for “righteousness”), and he is our sweet, energetic labrador. He joined our family in June. The first few months with our puppy were craaaazy – he chewed up everything, peed everywhere in the house, and took lots of attention. But now he’s mellowing out, and is super fun and less work. Look at his little face…LOVE.

IMG_4026

2. How to cook the fastest, easiest Thanksgiving turkey.

Over the years, I’ve probably cooked turkey using six different methods. But this method of butterflying the turkey really ended up being super moist and tasty. Note: I dry brined the turkey 48 hours ahead of time with a generous layer of salt. I’ll cook our turkey this way in the future because it was so delicious.

Also a good Thanksgiving tip: if you have lots of leftovers, invite friends over the next day for a Thanksgiving potluck!

3. A capsule wardrobe is the better way to pack.

I am a minimalist packer when I travel. I hate packing more than necessary, especially now that we have a family of five. So my solution for trips is now to create a capsule wardrobe when I’m planning what to pack. The idea is that you pick carefully chosen pieces that can work in multiple outfit combinations. I use the Stylebook app to do this, and I make sure to use a lot of neutrals with a few accent colors. If you’ve heard me talk about this app, you’ll know that I am an evangelist about it. Below is my capsule wardrobe for our upcoming December trip to California. Oh joy, I get to wear scarves and knit hats! The photo below doesn’t include undergarments or jewelry, but you get the idea.

IMG_4122 2

4. There is evidence that women have less confidence than men, and that confidence matters as much as competence.

This article from The Atlantic resonates with my own experiences as a woman, as well as many women I know. Reading this article caused me to reflect deeply about how confidence has played out in my life, what I’ve done in the face of inner fear, and how I’ve grown in self-assurance.

5. When I am upset, I need to take a deep breath and think before speaking.

If I am angry about something, my immediate instinct is to say something. But sometimes (often) the first thing out of my mouth is reactionary and unhelpful. I am working on disciplining myself to pause first. Consider what the situation is, and think about how to respond in a way that creates something good.

I have moments of forgetting to do this, and then need to apologize. When I do, I use this simple framework for a good apology.

6. The fall season makes me want ginger and soup.

I’ll pass on the pumpkin spice everything – I’d rather have gingerbread lattes. I’ve already made several batches of these chewy molasses ginger cookies. They were a hit at my friend’s cookie exchange.

As far as soup, some of our family favorites are Meatball SoupZuppa Toscana, and Chicken and Smoked Sausage Gumbo.

59b4f-chewy-ginger-cookies

7. Mundane moments can be the place of miraculous God encounters.

Our faith community has been praying for and seeking more of God’s presence and revival, and it has been incredible to witness. There have been miraculous healings, dreams, prophecies, and spiritual breakthroughs, all happening in very ordinary moments and people. What a wondrous journey we’re on!

8. I get a burst of joy watching my daughter dance hula.

Alexandra is among the youngest dancers in her halau, and even though half the time she’s offbeat or out of step, her enjoyment as she dances is so fun to watch. She sways to the music with flair and smiles through every dance. I love it.

IMG_4206 2

9 . My guilty pleasure is Nongshim Hot & Spicy Bowl Noodle Soup.

I know…it’s terribly not nutritious, full of awful preservatives, and has a name with poor grammar (“bowl noodle soup”? Who speaks like that?). But I don’t care. If it’s a chilly afternoon, I drop in an egg and some spinach (healthier!), and zap it in the microwave. Yummy Asian comfort food in three minutes.

10. The book Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend continues to be an essential source of wisdom.

I think I originally read this in college, and have since read it several other times. It is all about having a healthy framework of identity, and defines who you are and who you are not. I love it because it guides you in how to relate to people in healthy ways. I’m now reading another book by the same authors, How People Grow.

Other good books I’ve read recently: Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull and Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng.

What about you? What things did you learn this month? Tell me your lessons or favorites!

10 Things I Learned in February 2017

65578-2015-06-142b06-53-46

It’s been a while since I wrote a “10 Things I Learned” post. Life has been full lately, so I’ve had less capacity to blog. But here we are!

This habit of writing down what I’m learning helps me pay attention to life, myself, and God’s presence. It’s my way of reflecting and celebrating. “10 Things I Learned” are some of my favorite posts to write. I love the process of looking back, and seeing the deeper lessons that I might otherwise miss.

In no particular order, here are 10 things I learned this month.

1. I love baking bread with wild yeast.

img_4359-2

For several months I’ve been maintaining a sourdough starter, and using it to make all sorts of bread. This is the method used before packaged yeast was created. The rhythm of feeding the starter (which I named “Nasty Woman”) with new flour and water to keep the yeast active has become a part of my daily routine. And now our kitchen is often filled with the scent of rising dough, freshly baked sourdough, and crusty baguettes.

img_1602-2

2. If you’re ready to do a deep dive into self-awareness, explore your Enneagram type.

The Enneagram is a tool that helps you identify your personality within a spectrum of 9 different personality types. I began learning about the Enneagram several years ago, and it has given me so much insight into who I am, what motivates me, and how to continue growing.

img_0199

I’ve read several books on the Enneagram, and recommend The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Don Riso and Russ Hudson, and The Road Back to You by Ian Cron and Susanne Stabile (they also have a podcast!). For those who are curious, I am a type 1 (the Reformer) with a 2 wing.

3. Spotify is amazing.

We just started using Spotify, and YOU GUYS, GAME CHANGER. But you all probably know this because I’m pretty late to the discovery. I love that I have access to so many digital albums and songs, without the hassle of having to actually own and store them. I thank Spotify for all the hours I get to listen to Hamilton on loop and create Disney playlists for my kids.

4. My favorite weekly ritual is our family’s “Golden Fork and Spoon Night.”

Once a week, one person in our family gets to use the special golden utensils at dinner. During that meal, the rest of the family shares all the things we appreciate and love about that one person. It is a way to celebrate and affirm each person, and create space for gratitude as a family.

5. I get excited about packing.

This makes sense given I am an Enneagram 1 as mentioned above. Creating lists and order are comforting. But now I love packing even more since discovering eBags.

241465_11_1

I received the eBags Weekender Convertible, an awesome carry-on travel backpack, as a Christmas present. Later I purchased the packing cubes and toiletry case. I’m a huge fan of the well-designed eBags products.

6. I am rich in friendship.

Several recent occasions reminded me of this. Steve and I took a trip to Los Angeles, where we had the pleasure of reconnecting with many friends from our 15+ years of living there. We’ve also hosted a few gatherings in our home in the last few weeks. These experiences were brief snapshots of the many lifelong friendships I’ve been given, and I am so grateful.

7. Parenting three kids makes my life a lot more fun.

img_1974

I love how much fun my kids add to my life. Because of them, my days involve more play, imagination, and humor.

img_1326

8. Lagunitas Brewing Company is churning out some of my current favorite beers.

Try their IPA, Undercover Investigation Shut Down, or Brown Sugga.’ Mmmm.

img_1357

9. Storytelling is a powerful way to increase empathy and compassion.

Have you watched a movie or read a story that invites you into a human experience other than your own? If you allow yourself to enter into the story without judgement, you begin to understand the perspective of other people. I watched a recent episode of This Is Us (so good!) that showed a major character experiencing an anxiety attack. It was heartbreaking, and deepened my compassion for people who deal with this level of anxiety.

Our world is filled with an ocean of human experience. Let’s all resist the temptation to remain in our own bubbles, and listen to stories of people who are different than us. Listen to the people with whom you cross paths. Read books from authors who have a different background than you. Watch films that shine light on topics that may make you feel uncomfortable. Perhaps you’ll grow.

10. If I could, I’d wear a flannel shirt and jogger pants all the livelong day.

Steve Jobs was known for wearing black turtleneck and jeans every day. Maybe my flannel shirt and jogger pants uniform will increase my visionary leadership and innovation. Or maybe it’ll decrease all my productivity altogether.

Reflections On 2016

happy-new-year

Happy 2017, dear friends!

Near the end of the year, I take time to reflect on the past year. It helps me to remember what I learned, consider the greater context of my life, and embrace the coming of a new year.

1. What was the best thing that happened this year?

Getting to live with lots of purpose and passion through spiritual direction, ministry, writing, and other creative venues.

2. What was the most challenging thing that happened?

This year felt like a horrible earthquake with never-ending aftershocks, so it’s hard to boil it down to one thing. Maybe a good way to sum it up is “all the people treating other people like crap.”

3. What was an unexpected joy?

Creating a really awesome community in my Facebook group The Spiritual Journeyers.

4. What was an unexpected obstacle?

Hopelessness. I’ve been battling hopelessness, particularly with racial injustice and the U.S. political climate, and trying hard to remain engaged and hopeful in God’s redemptive power.

5. Pick three words to describe 2016.

Tumultuous. God-driven. Listening.

6. What were the best books you read this year?

The Listening Life by Adam McHugh
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
Americanah by Chimamada Ngozi Adichie
The Invitation by Tony Stoltzfus

7. What did you do in 2016 that you’ve never done before?

My husband and I were on a performing arts team for an international audience of about 1,000 people. It was exhilarating. I also became a contributing writer for The Huffington Post.

8. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

My 2016 was characterized by two aims:

  1. Follow the joy – build life around what is fueled by joy.
  2. Listen and obey – make space to hear God’s voice and follow his lead.

Those two guidelines seemed to lead me to good places. I think I’ll continue in that direction in 2017.

9. For what are you most grateful?

There are so many things to be grateful for…

  • a rich friendship with God
  • my husband and our three kids
  • living on Oahu
  • being near my parents
  • community with courageous people

10. How did you change this year?

I am more confident than ever before. This year I did things that normally would have made me feel insecure, but instead were exhilarating. I’m not sure if this confidence comes from years of pressing into my belovedness with God, or simply because I’m now in my mid-thirties. In any case, I’m glad to be here.

11. What moments were most memorable?

Performing theatre in Indonesia for 1,000 people. Going on a cruise in the Carribbean with Steve’s family. Hearing God give us direction for 2017.

12. What were your greatest discoveries?

  • Disney’s Moana filled me with joy
  • Everlane shirts are all I want to wear
  • Classes at my gym
  • Canva for designing graphics

13. What are you looking forward to this coming year?

I am excited to extend God’s love and presence to people around me, launch a monthly creatives gathering, and publish a book.

14. What was the most significant thing you learned this year?

We become our truest selves in the presence of God.