I’m continuing to love linking up with Emily P. Freeman and practicing the art of slowing down to record, reflect, and share what we’re learning in our lives each season.
This is definitely not an exhaustive list of what I learned this spring, especially considering all I learned and experienced in Italy, but here are 8 of the highlights.
What I Learned This Spring:
1. Life Savers were NOT created with a hole in the center to save a child’s life by preventing choking on the candy.
My little boy asked me if he could have “one of those hard circle candies with the hole in the middle, just like Grandma has in her purse.” I shared with a friend that I’m uneasy about giving my little ones any type of hard candy, including Life Savers, because of the fear of choking, even as they get older.
This friend looked at me and unknowingly shared what I now know (thanks to Google and Snopes) to be a myth that has continued to circulate over the years. I had never heard it before.
And so I learned the myth before I learned the truth. My friend’s story made sense, maybe, I thought. But I still wasn’t sure so I “researched.” According to Snopes.com, the claim that “Life Savers candy was so named because the inventor’s daughter died from choking on a non-holed mint” is FALSE.
Really the story behind their creation has nothing to do with choking or saving a life. So mommas, beware this myth and keep your little ones safe.
2. The name “Israel” means “to struggle (or wrestle) with God.”
I labeled myself as a struggler for a long time now. Struggling with various aspects of and roles in life, struggling to be successful or see victory in certain areas of my life and battling feelings of failure, wrestling with God over deep spiritual things…. struggling with almost anything that appeared in front of me, wanting to do better and be better but always struggling to do so…. You get the picture.
I saw my identity as a struggler. I tried to make light of it. My favorite hoodie reads “THE STRUGGLE IS REAL.”
But deep down struggling is tiring and depressing and shame was growing wherever I struggled, especially as someone who loves Jesus and knows and believes His Word.
Of course God spoke softly to my struggling heart, reminding me my identity is one of victory in Him. But it wasn’t until my rereading of the book of Isaiah with She Reads Truth over Lent that I learned the meaning of the name Israel.
Y’all it was a healing revelation.
One of my favorite verses in Isaiah has always been 43:1b:
…the One who formed you, Israel– Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine.
But honestly I generally skipped right over the word Israel in the verse, and for all the times the name Israel appears in the Bible, I never took time to pay attention to it’s meaning – at least not until it spoke to me personally.
God changed Jacob’s name to Israel and later God gave His people the name Israel: “struggles with God.”
Me, the one who struggles with God. Me, replacing my name with Israel. How much more powerful did this already powerful scripture become. It was incredible and freeing.
I further learned that some translate it to mean “May God prevail” or “God perseveres.” Amen.
3. When packing for Italy, leave the sandals at home.
Italians do not wear sandals. They wear cute and comfy close-toed shoes. I learned this my first day in Rome.
Of course I was wearing smart comfortable tennis shoes for walking that first day, but my suitcase was packed full of sandals. I quickly noticed NO ONE wore sandals. And I did not want to be “that” tourist so my sandals stayed mostly packed for the rest of the trip.
If you’re ever going to visit Italy, pack multiple pairs of comfy walking shoes and leave the sandals at home (unless you visit the coast in which case you only need a pair).
4. I learned how to make pasta from scratch in Italy.
This was one of those “bucket list” items / life dreams fulfilled in Italy. I watched and learned and then made my own spaghetti noodles.
It was all that I dreamed it would be. It was simple and beautiful and scary yet easy and so fun. It made me want to buy one of those noodle machines (clearly I need to learn its name) even though I would probably use it once a year. But we’re talking homemade pasta, maybe it’s worth it even once a year??
Did I mention it tasted deliciously amazing too?
5. Dinners in Italy are delicious and late and loooooooong….
In Italy restaurants don’t open for dinner until 7:30 or 8PM. The meal is then served course by course, very s-l-o-w-l-y… On average our dinners would last until 10 or 11PM, at which point we always felt like we had to beg (politely) for our check.
Don’t get me wrong, a nice slow-paced dinner is lovely. Especially in Italy. And the food is amazing. But just prepare yourself if you ever visit. It’s just how they do dinner. Late and long.
6. These gorgeous iconic Italian trees are called Italian Cypress trees.
I had no idea of their name. I only knew I loved them in every picture of Italy I have ever seen. And then I saw them in person.
Thanks to my good friend Google, I was able to determine that these dreamy trees are called Italian Cypress trees.
7. Michelangelo’s David is truly magnificent and stands over 17 feet tall.
Of course it’s a masterpiece. Of course I should not have been surprised by its magnificence in person. But I was.
What I really didn’t expect was how large it would be. I had no idea of the size of the famous sculpture before seeing it in person. It really was breathtaking when I walked in the room standing just over 17 feet tall. Almost 3 times my height.
Not only was its size magnificent, but the detail astonishing. I mean can you see the veins?
8. Yale is in New Haven, Connecticut – and we’re moving there this summer! (Surprise!)
Proud wife! I will forever get to proclaim “I know someone who went to Yale” and that someone is my husband. He will be attending grad school there. Super excited for him.
So yes our whole family will be moving this summer. This was not in our long term plans at all and just recently unfolded in our lives.
Change is hard. Moving is hard. (Especially when you just bought your dream house exactly a year ago). Starting over is hard. (Especially when it’s for less than a year).
But it’s Yale. And I’m going to be able to visit cities and places I’ve always longed to visit! Like NYC and Boston! And show our kids more of our country. So we’re focusing on gratitude and excitement and good in this new assignment.
If you happen to have any Yale or Connecticut insights to share please message me all the things!
I also learned that as a spouse of a Yale grad student, I can audit courses, which means I can take courses at Yale for FREE! I won’t receive credit nor will I have to fulfill any course requirements. But FREE education at an Ivy League school. Yes please!! Give me all the writing courses!
What did you learn this spring?
Share here the comments or link up on Instagram with #whatwelearned #whatIlearned and tag me in your comments @an.expectant.heart