Monthly Review

Ten Month Review

Life is full of countdowns right now, so even counting the total months I’ve been doing this project feels like a conclusion. 

How do you feel about the project? 

Ten months would feel like more of an accomplishment if I were on track with everything I originally set out to do. I don’t know why, but I can’t seem to just let it go!

What have you learned? 

Hmm. It’s funny how as the project has progressed, learning has gradually become more abstract.

I’ve been currently learning about how to live, and love, and give of myself, and end things well. People keep asking me what are the one or two things I really want to do before leaving Michigan. And really the only thing that comes to mind is finishing well–in work and in relationships. And, well, I wanted to go salsa dancing at least once more, but I’ve just gotten that one out of the way this past weekend. It was wonderful.

What do you like?

I like being unconventional and doing things that many other people only dream about. Not because I don’t want others to have great experiences and accomplish their dreams, but because it feels like confirmation that I’m living fully and chasing after opportunities and won’t regret it.

What do you not like?

Being unconventional is scary. Doing “an alternative graduate school experience” is all alternative and hipster and cool until it involves quitting your job, selling all your things, cutting ties, etc. Granted–those are mostly voluntary choices–but still. There are times I think I’ve completely lost my mind and will never be “successful” because of the choices I’m making right now. But then I just tell that voice to be quiet and go away because it’s not telling me the truth.

What are you looking forward to? 

I’m really looking forward to the experiences and learning I’ll have on the road, particularly in meeting new people. (I can’t believe I’m even saying that–I’m so not a people person.)

I’m investigating some volunteer opportunities for while I’m traveling, and I’m very hopeful that some of them will work out. It’s bizarre to think of not working, but I’m very excited about the thought of being able to give my time and energy to the things that are important. (Not that I don’t think my jobs are, as well.)

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Monthly Review

SIX month review

SIX months down! How is this even possible?? I knew it had been a while since I had posted on this blog, but I can’t believe this project is already halfway over!

How do you feel about the project? 

I feel pretty good. I’ve come to terms with not doing absolutely everything I set out to do. I think I’ve started incorporating learning and exploration into my day-to-day, and my mind feels healthier for it.

What have you learned? 

I’ve learned loads of things on a huge variety of topics, but I think two most valuable things I’ve learned are 1. how to keep growing and learning outside the traditional education system and 2. when to keep going and when to stop. For example: pursuing creativity and developing myself (and not my “career”) professionally  are worth continuing when I don’t feel like it. Trying to master every type of bread is not worth it. It’s a hobby and not a passion. And it’s okay to not excel at hobbies.

What do you like?

My vocabulary is expanding thanks to reading more (and more quality literature).

What do you not like?

I’m still a little bummed at the realization that I won’t be able to check everything off the list at the end of this year.

What are you looking forward to? 

The future! I’m really looking forward to taking a trip and moving, and continuing to expand my hobbies and skills even after this year.

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Monthly Review

Two Months Review

November

How do you feel about the project? 

I’m feeling glad that I decided to do this, but also realizing how impulsive of a decision it was. Even though I continually fail at completing each and every assignment for the week, I’m still encouraged by how much I am already aware of in the world. When I come across the name of an obscure Middle Eastern or African country in a news article, I can visualize where it is on the map. When NPR makes a mention of political and world events, I actually already know the backstory. (Thanks, The Economist!)

What have you learned? 

I’ve been working on the countries of the world using this website‘s quizzes, and although initially horrified at the state of my world geography, I’ve been improving a lot.

My class on Islam has just one more class to go, and I’m hoping to visit to a mosque soon too. I finished reading my book on Islam also, so maybe I’ll have another notes & quotes post on the class and book soon.

I’ve also learned that mental endurance is pretty similar to physical. All the excuses to not work out (I’m tired, I earned some rest time, it’s not going to be fun, etc.) also can be applied to doing things that are mentally taxing, but that’s when it’s time to dig deep and keep my eye on the prize. This usually involves sitting in the most uncomfortable chair in the house and drinking coffee or ice water to stay awake while reading. Or, I just practice baking bread.  

What do you like?

I like that this project is a measurable sign of growth. It’s so easy after being in the systems and rhythms of the education system to want to abandon it all for the freedoms of adulthood. (Tell me I wasn’t the only college student dreaming about the day I could get home after work and have all the time in the world to relax or sleep or grab hold of whatever else the wind blew my way.) And I did really love taking the time to do that right after graduation. But now, I’m enjoying the re-introduction of structure. I’m glad that I’m not a hamster running in circles but never going anywhere. I’m glad that I know what I’m interested in, and I’m investing in it. The times when I think, what in the world am I doing with my life? I quickly remember that I am working in 2 jobs where I am frequently challenged to learn new skills, I’m taking classes and reading books about new things, I’m learning how to tutor ESL, I’m on the path to discover the perfect loaf of bread, etc. AND I’m saving up for what will be an amazing trip around the world. (Lord willing.)

What do you not like?

I still don’t like feeling conformed to a one-year plan. Sort of ironic, since I got this whole project idea from a blog titled “The Art of Non-Conformity“. But I think that the best way I can keep pushing myself to stay accountable to the plan is, well, to stick to the plan–without deviation. I don’t like this tension, but I’m not sure how to get around it.

What are you looking forward to? 

I’m looking forward to the knowledge I’ll have at the end of this year! I am already seeing improvements in my mental and physical strength, renewed curiosity, and a desire to improve creatively (both professionally and personally). It’s great thinking it only gets better from here.

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Monthly Review

One Month Review

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One Month (and a half) Down! 

How do you feel about the project? 

In a word: overwhelmed! After about a week, I broke down the “requirements” into quarterly checkpoints, which is helpful. But I am feeling a bit bogged down even when trying to only focus on this quarter’s goals. I’m having to re-evaluate and realize this is a personal project, so I have to give myself the freedom to make it my own. There isn’t a right or wrong–any knowledge or experienced gained is an accomplishment. Period.

What have you learned? 

About myself, I’m totally an “achiever”! (See full explanation in this post.) I’ve also learned a ton of really helpful tips related to work and life in Todd Henry’s book The Accidental Creative, which I’m sure I can turn into a post all on their own. I’ve also learned why females love Jane Austen, that amazing honey wheat rolls can really be on your dinner table in 30 minutes, and other political tidbits from The Economist.

(Also, I’ve learned that those honey wheat rolls could benefit from a little more salt than the recipe calls for, if you decide to give them a try yourself!)

What do you like?

Even though I occasionally get stressed out about my reading requirements, I love that it gets me back into some good books. I forgot how great it feels to snuggle up under a blanket (or two… landlords: anytime you want to turn the heat on for our building, that would be wonderful!) with a great book and a cup of coffee. I also like that rather than just wondering about things I don’t know, I am starting to actually look up them up. I also like the idea of blogging, and when I find the time, I like the act of it, too!

What do you not like?

Feeling stressed out about an optional obligation.

What are you looking forward to? 

I’m looking forward to making good habits about managing my time and making independent learning a significant part of my life–for the rest of my life.

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