Learn Create and Connect

I’ve started reading Karen’s blog a little over a year ago. I don’t remember how I found it. Some of the other blogs I read linked to it, I’m sure, and once I landed there, I stayed. Karen’s voice speaks to me and I often enjoy her images and her thoughts. I bought her book last Christmas and absolutely loved it.

When she announced that she was going to teach a 5-week course on creating your own beautifully different life. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to sign up. I feel like I like my life as it is right now. I am not saying it’s perfect or even my ideal but I feel content right now and I’ve taken a few courses in the last few years on similar areas which left me a bit jaded in these types of courses. I don’t have big dreams right now. I feel like I’ve come a long distance and I am on sort of a pause where I am just trying to enjoy where I am instead of aiming for other places.


But I like Karen. I like her way of approaching things. Her point of view. And I like taking classes. I really like taking classes. So I signed up. I couldn’t help myself. As soon as I paid for it, I was flooded with hesitation. Did I really want to take this class? Was it worth it? What was I looking for?

The questions went on and on but, alas, it was too late. I’d signed up. So I just patiently waited until the lessons started coming. The first week was last week and the focus was on “introspection” which is something I love so I was looking forward to it.

One of the first things Karen had us do is the process she outlines in this blog post. She had us make a list of everything we love to do. Everything. I must admit this was already hard for me. I thought it was a bit odd. And didn’t see the point.

But I am a good student, so I did my homework. I wrote four pages of things I loved (in retrospect I didn’t read carefully and wrote some things I loved (not doing but just things like chocolate.) and I think it would have been better for me to make sure they were all actions.) and I still didn’t see the point.

Then she made us write why we loved them. This is where the magic begins. I put off this assignment for a bit cause it came on a day when I was deliriously busy and I wanted to be able to take my time. When I finally sat to do it, I quickly got amazed. There were certain things on the list that I’d loved to do forever, like reading, so I hadn’t thought a lot about why I loved it. So I took a long time thinking about it.

The interesting thing is that I’ve loved reading ever since I learned to read. As a little girl, it was my way of escaping a world where I felt like I didn’t belong. As I grew older, it was a way to learn and practice a language that wasn’t my mother tongue. And then it was about the stories. And then the people. Now it’s about seeing how other people see the world. Learning about different worlds, people, ways of looking at things. So the activity is the same, reading, but the “why” of my love for it has changed over time and it was great to step back and think about it.

Just like thinking about why I like to blog, why I like to knit, take photos, etc. I was especially stumped at some of the nature-related items on my list. I love sinking my toes in the sand. I love feeling the waves wash over my legs. I love to watch the sun set or come up. I love taking a walk in the woods. I love watching the ocean. I kept thinking about why I love these things. Nature makes me feel calm, content, peaceful. I feel awed by it. I don’t just like nature, I like immenseness of it. I love the super-tall red wood trees; I love the endless ocean. I love feeling small and feeling like my problems are insignificant in the grand scheme of our world. (I made a piece of art about this many years ago.) So I kept thinking why did I love nature. And I finally decided it was because I love the feeling of being connected to something bigger than I am. Same reason I love volunteering or teaching. Diving.

After we’re done filling the why’s, Karen asks us to look for patterns. I’m a computer programmer; I like patterns. I love looking for patterns. The idea was to come up with verbs that might define the kinds of things that light you up. As with most pithy things, it seems so simple in retrospect, my words came out to be: learn, create, connect.

These words shouldn’t be surprising to anyone who reads my blog.

I was so fascinated by this that I asked Jake to make a list, too, and since it was my birthday yesterday, he indulged me. My goal was to see what things might come up in both of our lists. Even if he and I loved it for different things, it would be great to see what we both loved to do.

What came out was even more fascinating to me. Jake and I had similar things of course. And we even shared some of the same words. But it was in different ways.

For example, he and I both love learning. But we go about it so differently. I love to learn by watching others do it, taking classes, reading books, etc. He loves to learn by reading/listening and then thinking about it deeply so he can understand it from the ground up. He likes to learn by building, experimenting, tinkering, trying. By doing. So by the end, he generally has a much deeper understanding of things than I do. I generally learn a bit and then do, do, do. I might not fully know what I am doing. But a few months down the line, I will. I learn by doing, too, but not the way he does. This is the kind of stuff that fascinates me. Knowing how I work. Knowing how others work. Seeing the subtle differences. Acknowledging them and paying attention to them.

I think paying attention to these details is what makes relationships work better. The awareness allows us to make room for the possibility and understanding that others don’t work the way we do. And our way is no more right than theirs. So we can respect that they work their way.

Sorry, I know this is long. But I have so much more I want to write. About how knowing these words has already helped me a tremendous amount and I haven’t even finished going through my whole love list yet. I might even do the whole thing over and make sure to focus on verbs. But I still feel pretty confident that some form of learn, create and connect will end up being my words. And I have specific examples of what kind of learning, creating and connecting I like to do.

And knowing them allows me to seek more opportunities doing all three of these things. (Which was Karen’s point, of course.)

Sorry if this is all rambling a bit. I wanted to get some of my thoughts down before weeks pass and I forget. Part of the connecting (which for me is also sharing and connecting with my own inner thoughts, hence writing them here.)

All this from the first week of a class I wasn’t even sure I wanted to take.

Not bad, eh?

6 comments to Learn Create and Connect

  • sounds amazing!!! glad your enjoying it!

  • Cheri Stine

    WOW–I deeply appreciate your sharing what you are learning from your class. It sounds amazing, not only for the assignment, but also for your dedication and total committment to completing the assignment so thoughtfully. So many of the things you love (reading, sticking toes in the sand, watching the ocean)are on my love to do list. As I was reading your post, I kept shaking my head in agreement with what I was reading. Thank-you for sharing so much of yourself with me.

  • sophie

    Thank you for this post Karen. I needed to read this and I definitely will do the same exercise (and look into taking this class if it is possible). This is something I feel I need to do so a million thanks for sharing this with us and providing me, once again, with the necessary encouragement to get up and do it.

  • Hi Karenika,
    Loved this article. It spoke volumes for me…
    I love signing up or buying books with “assignments” that are similar – but sometimes as soon as they ask you to go deep it gets scary. Figuring out “why” you really love something really unlocks you. Thanks again for the inspiration and being real!
    Enjoy your day.

  • Stacia

    What a *great* exercise, Karen. I’m glad you’re getting so much even from the first week of the class, and thank you for sharing with us. Really thought-provoking and intriguing. I don’t think it would be easy for me to do this kind of exercise but I know it would have great benefits, to be more aware of what I love and *why* I love it, to see out more of that in my life.


  • thank you for sharing… I think it’s interesting that you and Jake share similarities and differences for the same things – I imagine if I did this exercise with my husband, the page would be blank, or at least very one-sided.

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