6 things I learned in June

6 things I learned in June

Joining Emily Freeman to share what I learned this month, from the serious to the silly.

1. I like a scratchy pen. 

I’ve been saying since I was ten that I’d happily write with fat-tipped markers every day of my life, because my handwriting looks better that way.

But first I taught a bullet journal class at the library and tried out a huge variety of pens in preparation. And then I started taking a penmanship class. (I am not kidding.)

The combination made me realize that some pens are smooth like markers, and some pens are scratchy, and that I can actually control the pen a little better—and have better handwriting—with the scratchy ones.

I’m still experimenting, but right now I’m partial to the Uniball Signo 207 (micro) and the Pigma Micron 005 (.2mm). The microns are my favorite: the point is so exceptionally fine it looks like mechanical pencil. But I have to be careful with them (read: I can’t let my kids use them) because pressing down on the nib ruins the tip.

I’m wondering what this means for my fountain pen use, which is currently nonexistent, but it’s something I’m interested in exploring one day. If you have experience here I’d love to hear about it.

2. When it’s crazy hot out, take to the trails. 

We’ve had unseasonably hot and humid weather this month in my town, and it’s been approaching unbearable levels in the sunshine. Asphalt parking lots have me hallucinating about Little House winters. Despite this, I’ve been running a lot (for me) this month, and it’s because I’m hitting the trails.

We hike sometimes, but I’ve never been a trail runner. But Will and I have been on a few runs together lately, and when he picked the route that’s where we went and it was glorious. It’s automatically cooler because it’s not pavement, and it’s shady, and it also happens to be good for the soul (and the musculature).

Not a bad way to keep in shape, especially during the blazing summer.

3. I’m learning how to boss myself.

This spring I fell in love with the Pomodoro technique. It’s a simple time management method: you throw yourself into whatever you’re working on for 25 minutes, take a 5 minute break, and repeat. I’m prone to rabbit trails and Pomodoro helped me stay focused on whatever I was supposed to be working on.

However, those 25 minute intervals felt a little short, and those 5 minute breaks weren’t long enough to take the quick walk I always wanted. I’ve been stretching the work intervals and the breaks.

And then I felt totally vindicated when those old articles started making the rounds again this month, saying the optimal work/break ratio was 52 minutes on, 17 minutes off.

4. Sephora has a program roughly similar to Amazon Prime.

It’s called Sephora Flash, and while it’s not new, it’s new to me.

For $10 a year, you get free two-day shipping for the calendar year. (It’s free for the Rouge level of their Beauty Insider rewards program, but I don’t spend anywhere near enough to qualify!)

Sephora always ships free when your order is over $50, but usually when I need something, I need it right away, and it’s totally worth the $10 a year to me to be able to click “ship now” instead of getting lost in the website, trying to find another item or three that will catapult me over the free shipping limit. Paying $10 to minimize my decision fatigue is worth it to me.

5. Manhattanhenge is a thing. 

I’m a month late to the party but my inner urban planning geek could not get over the photos from Manhattanhenge, also known as the Manhattan Solstice, which happened on May 30. This happens when the sun aligns perfectly with the city’s grid, producing incredible sunsets, a la Stonehenge.

This phenomenon happens in other cities that have a tidy street grid and an unobstructed horizon, like Chicago, Toronto, Baltimore, and Montreal. Chicagohenge, Torontohenge, Baltimorehenge, and Montrealhenge are also real things.

6. Jumpsuits are back. 

I was at Anthropologie in search of a very particular dress because I need something to wear to an event next month. That dress turned out to be lovely but not fancy enough, so I grabbed a half dozen off the rack.

When I got back to the dressing room, I was flabbergasted to discover that one of the beautiful, black, fancy-looking dresses had legs! I seriously did not realize it until I was halfway into it and realized I couldn’t quite get it on. And then five minutes later I made the same mistake again with a different dress! Er, jumpsuit.

I can’t quite believe that jumpsuits are back and I’m not sure this is a good idea. Although as I type this I’m happily sitting here in capris, which I had similar thoughts about when they came back fifteen or so years ago after a twenty-year hiatus.

What did you learn in June?

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  1. #1 – I know! All my good pens are ruined when the 4 year old borrows them, even though she is forbidden to do so. Someday I’ll be able to have something nice! (She’s worth it. Several times a day she cups my face in her hands and says, “Mommy, you’re so beautiful.”)

    #2 – True!! We took a family hike last week for our family worship night and I couldn’t believe how nice it was on the trail. It was a good 10 degrees cooler in there.

  2. Cheryl says:

    #1–Funny, I was just reading another blog in praise of fountain pens and their smooth-flowing ink. I use, and happen to love, a slightly scratchy Waterman fountain pen. I only use it when sitting at my desk because I love that pen and don’t want to lose it. Oh! I also use it to sign important documents. My early morning writing routine is not the same without that pen.
    #6–After four kids, I do not trust myself to be able to pull off a pantsuit as quickly as might sometimes be required. Ahem.

  3. Kathleen says:

    Trail running…the best! We recently moved and are now near a ton of forest trails within a couple blocks of our house. It’s been so fun exploring them on runs and walks. I like the variety, the scenery, the quiet, and the cooler air.

    What I learned in June is that my stress levels decrease significantly when I’m not battling city traffic every single day. We moved from a pretty big city to a smaller town and I’m loving the lack of traffic and hectic driving.

  4. Paula says:

    I learned that I’ve been using categories and tags wrong in WordPress. I had way too many categories, and I wasn’t using tags at all. Oops! And I’m not too sure about jumpsuits either. Way too complicated for me!

  5. Nicole says:

    #1 I agree but being a lefty I find that the ink always smears. And totally off topic I am new to your blog and podcast and am obsessed. Am interested in bullet journaling for my poor planner’s sake. Have you written about it before and if not any tips for a newbie? Thanks!

  6. Lisa says:

    How did I not know about Sephora Flash??? Thanks so much for bringing this to my attention. I learned in June, that I can and will survive my divorce. 🙂

  7. Kelty says:

    Aaaagh! Scratchy pens set my teeth on edge! Like nails on a chalkboard, those. I’m always the one buying .07 or .09 pens and pencils. I love to slather the page with ink and graphite as my pens swim on the surface of the page even though it has the chance of smearing on the page, ha!

    But to each her own, for sure. 🙂

    P.s. Any chance you’ll be showing us any of your BuJo classes? Like via video?

  8. Guest says:

    If I could only write with Sharpies for the rest of my life, I’m quite convinced I would be entirely content. I buy packs of them and keep a thin piece of cardboard under my page so it doesn’t bleed through on other pages.

    Something new I’ve learned about this week and am completely intrigued and want everything to know about (ha!) is pharmacogenetic testing. A friend shared that she had told her doctor that she believed an anti-depressant she was taking was causing anxiety. The doctor dismissed it saying this particular drug was also used to treat anxiety. My friend (a psychologist) began doing research on pharmacogenetic testing, requested it and learned that, indeed, this particular medication is a “red” drug for her. The testing, created by Mayo Clinic, gives your doctor a red/yellow/green dashboard based on how your body metabolizes a specific class of drugs. If your body metabolizes a drug too quickly, it’s ineffective. If your body metabolizes a drug too slowly, you have side effects because it’s staying in your system longer than it should. The Mayo tagline for it is “right drug, right dose, right patient”. I’m a nerd and am THRILLED to see a practical application of personalized medicine coming to life. Here’s a link for those who feel they or their loved ones might benefit. I’m planning to have it done should I ever have to go on statins because my entire family has awful side effects from them. http://mayoresearch.mayo.edu/center-for-individualized-medicine/drug-gene-testing.asp

    • Thanks for sharing this! I am on some hormones that I think are causing me to itch when out in the sun for prolonged periods of time. My gyno (who is also my friend so I have more credibility with her) has never heard of this side effect. Googling only dug up one reference on a hysterectomy forum (not exactly Mayo Clinic reliable). But now I feel vindicated reading your comment!

  9. Elizabeth says:

    I’m with you on the trail hiking vs bright, no trees, blaring sun, open pavement areas. Ugh – I feel the heat just typing that!

    The other day, I got this cute picnic blanket at Target and I’ve been using it non-stop at parks with big, shady trees. It’s a good way to be outdoors without burning in the sun.

  10. Kelli says:

    I’ve never heard of Sephora Flash – wow!! And the tip about trail running is good to hear. I’m a little afraid of it because I’ m a newer runner and the flatness of the treadmill is a great thing 🙂

    I have jumped on the jumpsuit bandwagon. I needed something to wear to an event last summer when it was really hot, and I bought one with a tank top. I wear it as is for casual hot weather, and dress it up with a cute jacket for fancier occasions. I’ve worn it lots. The only problem is having to take everything off to pee 🙂

  11. Mary Kate says:

    Yes yes yes, I will only run on dirt from now on. So much better for your legs than concrete.

    And to each their own, but for me, it’s no no no to jumpsuits (and high-waist jeans, and super structure-less dresses). I’m so glad I no longer care about being trendy, otherwise I’d currently be in the process of amassing a wardrobe that looks very bad on my body shape.

  12. You had me cracking up about the jumpsuits. Totally agree! And, whenever I hear the phrase “scratchy pen” I immediately think of Anne in Anne of Windy Poplars and her letters to Gilbert. (Any other Anne nerds that make that connection?)

  13. Elena says:

    I never had pen angst until I began bullet journaling! I’m a Bic Cristal 1.6m gal for rapid note-taking, but been using .07 gel ink in my bujo and a retractable Sharpie in my Filofax so each vessel has it’s designated pen!

    I learned that I’m not a complete failure in the garden. My tomato plants I started from seed on 4/29/16 are now over 12″ tall!

  14. Suzanne says:

    I would love to know more about the penmanship class. I lament that my handwriting has gotten so bad. I credit it to greater typing and weaker hand muscles. I would love to cultivate my skills and redefine my adult script.

    I learned that I could operate a bandsaw. After offering moral support to my son and husband while they tackled an Eagle project, my DH asked if there was anything I might like to cut. I gulped, swallowed the nugget of fear and channeled the exhilaration. Next thing I knew I had a script S ready to paint and hang on our front door. 🙂

  15. Naomi says:

    I love pens in all colors and shapes, but when I’m working on a story I like to write by hand first (type later). I know, not very efficient, but I feel more connected. My preference has always been the slightly scratchy very fine point Pentel R.S.V.P. (in blue). It’s got great hand feel which is helpful for marathon writing sessions.

  16. Anna says:

    I could talk for hours about pens and pencils. My favorite for writing basic things is a black fine point Sharpie. I can write smoothly with them, and my hand will not get tired as quickly as with other pens. I like the clarity of the fine point. I have them in all colors for writing in my planner, and I also really like the Frixion erasable pens. I always hated the way erasable pens write until I tried these. I have those in 24 colors, and I bought the erasable highlighters, too. I don’t really *need* erasable highlighters, but I couldn’t resist. I also bought some Pilot G-2 07 glitter gel pens after Christmas. I have been using those to write in my journal, and I love them, too. I’m a little obsessed with pens and having a variety of them.
    I think only a very few people look good in jumpsuits, and I’m not one of them. I imagine that they are kind of a pain to take on and off every time you have to use the bathroom.

  17. Lauren says:

    Yes! Where did you ever find a penmanship class??? I would absolutely LOVE to try one of those.
    I learned that I am terrified of putting myself out there when it comes to anything that comes remotely close to a request for support, especially when it comes to social media. I tend to be pretty private in general, I suppose, but I recently started a series of medical treatments and I found myself unable to share that with friends on Facebook, even though I have a private account and a very small group of friends consisting of people who I really DO consider to be friends. Fear or introversion? Hmm. I think it’s fear because I could probably talk to these people about it easily in person. Here it’s easy to mention because of the anonymity.

  18. Charles Rose says:

    One thing I also learned for this month, is that….Study someplace with children. I did all of my studying at home, with my three little kids running around. Coughing and page turning and whispering did not even reach my ears yesterday. I would literally jump when the proctor called 5 minutes and final time. If you can learn to focus through shrieking children, come test day you will be a rock.

  19. Krys says:

    I also like scratchy pens, but I also like writing with fine-tipped Sharpies. I haven’t learned much this past month, only because I’m still trying to recover from a very traumatic event in May. I guess I can say that I’ve learned to be super frugal lol
    – Krys

  20. Lynn Ker says:

    Love, love, love scratchy pens! If you want to try a really nice fountain pen I would recommend the Lamy Joy fountain pen. You can buy a refillable cartridge for it and also an extra fine point nib. If you want a more permanent ink without paying the crazy cost of De AtramentisR Document Ink ($117.92 Canadian on Amazon) then you can try Noodler’s Ink it’s more waterproof. I use my pen for sketching as well so this is just my personal preferences 🙂

    Happy writing!

  21. Nikki says:

    I learned that my introversion prefers text chat support when dealing with technical difficulties. Hours and hours of technical phone difficulties. (And all because the podcast app was refusing to download. Horrors!) I learned that replacing my DVR remote was a quick fix vs. the months of procrastination using a malfunctioning one warranted. ? I learned I’m reading about 7.7 books/month so far this year. I was reminded how stressful car shopping is and why I procrastinate it. I learned chairing my library’s strategic planning committee is fun to me and everyone we’ve approached is supportive of our process. And finally, having listened to several podcast episodes lately interviewing opera singers, I learned that opera music makes me cry EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

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