9 Things I Learned in November


It hasn’t been that long since I started to stop at the end of each month, thinking through the things I’ve learned within it. For some reason, this makes the months longer. November, for example: I feel like I could write a book about November.

As all the thankfulness and cold weather and joy and sadness of this month swirled around me (and occasionally crept inside me) I began to realize that one of the greatest things I’ve learned through this exercise is that I am always learning (and that learning is always needed).

Here are a few of the things I learned in November…

1. Online friends are real friends.

I should preface this by saying that I knew this. But I learned it afresh this month. Whether on Twitter, Facebook, email or Skype, these women and men provide a support system unlike any I’ve ever known. I can’t even begin to tell you all of the ways that they have enriched my life. Coming from a season of real difficulty this summer, I’ve needed that more than ever.

2. Music matters.

I knew this, too, but somewhere along the line I forgot how a song can take me back somewhere long forgotten, bring a smile to my face, or create a new memory. I switched computers recently and have found myself without my music for a while. Slowly, I’ve been missing having friendly songs at my fingertips, digging through my hard drive to find the files.

Also, I’ve been embracing Pandora and the radio and discovering new music (and making new memories with it). The mixture of old and new, like all of the other parts of my life, is bittersweet and beautiful.

3. Working as part of a team is lovely: with the right team.

4. I have used books (among other things) as unhealthy coping mechanisms.

5. Anxiety is not part of my personality.

I’ve spent a great portion of my life thinking that being anxious was “just part of me.” I wanted to be one of those people who didn’t stress and worry and try to constantly control, but I figured that wasn’t part of my personality.

I do tend to make these pronouncements over myself.

As God does, often, in these rocks and hard places I’ve set up for myself, He came in and said: “Is there a reason you’re doing this the hard way?”

6. I went to college with Wesley Hill’s brother. This blew my mind.

7. When I’m really myself, no one dies. (At least not so far).

8. I really do want a relationship. 

I spent the greater part of this year getting used to the idea that I wouldn’t get married. Whenever I thought about wanting a romantic relationship, I dismissed the thought. I embraced not worrying about being always on the lookout, always on, always available.

This was good.

But somewhere in the not worrying, I forgot that I could still hope. That I could leave the door open, that I didn’t have to slam and bolt it.

It’s hard to leave doors open, which is, I guess, another thing I learned in November.

9. Living in the moment is liberating.

I’ve never lived in the moment, not really. I’m a writer, a photographer, slightly more I than E on the introvert/extrovert scale. I have used all of these excuses for not fully engaging in what is in front of me.

This month, I learned that it is not only freeing, but much more fun, and get this: the moment always changes.

How about that.

What did you learn in November?

As always, I’m linking up with the lovely Emily P. Freeman at Chatting at the Sky for a monthly exploration of learning in community. You might just want to read some of the other posts as well. I always learn something new.

{photo credit}

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  • http://gravatar.com/emilyavatar emily freeman

    These are fantastic. I especially like “Anxiety is not part of my personality.”

    That’s rich.

    • Cara Strickland

      Thanks, Emily.
      I’ve internalized that one for too long. So amazing to walk around now thinking: this is what it feels like not to be anxious!

  • http://redneckgarage.wordpress.com Redneck Garage

    Change is the only consistent thing in life.

    • Cara Strickland

      So true, Patrick. Sometimes I love that and sometimes I hate it.

  • http://thisvintagemoment.wordpress.com Breanne :: This Vintage Moment

    Yes, the online world is a beautiful place. And living in the moment is liberating. Says one who is also learning this. =)

    • Cara Strickland

      Oh, I’m so glad, Breanne!
      This month all felt very personal and very life changing for me. Glad you’re seeing and experiencing some of these things too!

  • http://ccpruett.wordpress.com ccpruett

    So good. I have wanted to incorporate a monthly post similar to this- maybe that will be a goal for 2014. “Anxiety is not a part of my personality.” I think we all need to tell ourselves this a bit more often! Thanks for sharing :)

    • Cara Strickland

      I hope you’ll join in on the link-up soon! I’ve found it to be such a good exercise to look back at each month and find the things I might gloss over otherwise.
      Yes. The anxiety thing is huge for me!

  • http://www.natalietrust.com Natalie Trust

    Love this, Cara.

    I learned that I feel worse when I read less. I learned that I find peace in starting my mornings at Mass. I learned that it’s a beautiful thing to hear the voices behind the words on the screen(yours included!). Much to be grateful for this month.

    • Cara Strickland

      Thanks, dear Natalie.

      I love hearing these pieces of your story (and I didn’t say anything about Voxer, and that was something I learned too, oh well).
      Your voice, both on and off-screen. So wonderful, my dear. I’m blessed beyond reason to have you in my real-life.

  • Christina Thomas

    I learned that it’s healthy to say ‘yes’ to a few good things and ‘no’ to a lot of good things. Now, I know this in my head, putting it into practice is another story.

    • Cara Strickland

      Such a hard thing, always.
      Grace to you, my friend.

  • http://kellygrace1.wordpress.com Kelly Grace

    #1, #4, #5, & #9 are what we share in common my friend, also I use to have Chateau as a theme. Don’t tell people IRL that online friends are real friends. They don’t get it and start looking at you like you drank the Kool-aid. But here, we get it.

    • Cara Strickland

      Love these places of connection, Kelly!
      You’re right, I usually don’t mention that my friends are people I often haven’t had a chance to set real eyes on.
      But I’m hoping that will change for many of these relationships this year!
      Thanks for saying hello.

  • http://www.mywordstudy.com Lisa

    Your transparency always provides a refreshing, albeit scary challenge. Such an interesting post concerning books in your life. Very thought provoking. Also, I’m thinking the reminder about music is something I needed. My world might be a little too silent. Thanks. (and by the way…I did finally conclude my “identity quiz” story concerning Naomi vs. Rahab, titled Qualified for Blessing” over at my blog. wasn’t sure if you knew) Blessings to you. Thanks for such quality writing.

    • Cara Strickland

      Thank you, Lisa!
      Don’t worry, I’m scared too, but I’m trying to move forward one step at a time.
      The book thing was hard to realize and hard to write about, but I’m seeing such a change for health in my life since.
      And yes, the music. It’s so easy to let things go quiet, but sometimes, I just need a soundtrack.

      And thanks for letting me know about your quiz. I’ll check it out, I do want to hear the conclusion. I’ve been thinking about Rahab (and Naomi) quite a bit lately.