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Book 339 - A Year of Magical Learning

Reflection Title: One More Step!

Book – The Nightingale: A Novel by Kristin Hannah (Part 1 of 2)

Book Description:

With courage, grace, and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of World War II and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women's war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France―a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.


I normally don’t consume novels or fiction books as I struggle to find new learnings in them, which is the only reason I like to read books in the first place. However, when a good friend gives you a suggestion for a novel and promises me that I will still learn something, you listen. With The Nightingale, she was spot on. This book had it all and I walked away from it taking a few thoughts and new learnings with me that I won’t forget anytime soon.

One of the reasons I love audiobooks so much is because it allows me to combine 2 of my favorite activities that Emilia and I love to do each day, which is learning and moving. Since this journey began, we’ve been listening to an audiobook almost every single morning together while out on a run around the park near our house, central park in NYC, a beach in Florida, oceanside trails in Hawaii, or wherever we are on any given day. I can’t get enough of it, and we almost always have a blast as we get outside, move, see the world, challenge ourselves, and all the while getting to learn something new together.

However, as with all amazing things, sometimes circumstances outside of our control can turn something we love more than anything in the world and make it feel like a burden. A few days ago, this is how I felt. The night before I had a late-night tennis match for my USTA league. It was a long and tough grinder of a match that I was able to pull out a victory. I didn’t get home until late; I was filled with adrenaline still from the competition and couldn’t fall asleep until way past my normal bedtime. The next morning, I got up and I was all kinds of tired, groggy, and sore from the late match the night before. However, living for 2 isn’t something that takes a day off, so I got my ass out of bed, wrote our morning reflection, got changed for a run, and fired up our audiobook, The Nightingale, as we set out down our street.

As Emilia and took the first steps of our morning run, everything on my body hurt. Each step I took felt like I was wearing 20-pound weights on my ankles. My lower back ached with each step, and I was going at a snail’s pace. A part of me wondered if I was pushing this just a little too hard. I started to ask myself, “What are you doing? The point of Living for 2 isn’t to torture yourself!”. I kept going, but was miserable.

I got about a half mile into the run, and I found myself staring up at the beginning of a long uphill section of the run. I thought to myself, “I can’t do this!” I almost was ready to throw in the towel. Just as I was feeling like it was time to give up and stop this madness, a section of the book came on exactly when I needed it most. One the main characters, Isabelle, was leading her first treacherous pass across the Pyrenees Mountains to guide 4 downed pilots back across enemy lines to reunite them with their people so they could continue fighting for France. One the soldiers, a Canadian in the RAF named Teddy, fell on the treacherous hike and he was refusing to get up. He told the group he was done for and had enough. He asked them to leave him. Isabelle stopped and encouraged him to get up and keep moving. Teddy again responded that he was done and to just leave him there to die. Isabelle didn’t know what to do. She asked him out of desperation, “Do you have someone waiting for you at home Teddy? Maybe a girl?”. Teddy responded, “Yes, her name is Alice”. Isabelle said, “Well then get on your feet for Alice, Teddy!”. Teddy responded, “Oh you’re good!” and he got up and kept going.

Immediately when I heard this, I thought of Emilia. I almost started crying as I was running up this hill thinking about why I was out on this run in the first place, why I was suffering, and why I couldn’t give up. I was there to live for 2 to spend time with my daughter by living our values together, to learn something new together, to enjoy nature together, and to keep pushing forward and enduring like Emilia taught me.

I thought to myself, “Get on your feet for Emilia, Chris! Take on more step!”

I took one more step, then I took another, then another, and so on. As I got to the top of the hill where I looked up and noticed for the first time how beautiful of a day it was. It was mid-February in Indiana, and it was 55 degrees outside, and the sun was shining bright. I was even starting to sweat a little, which is rare in winter running. I thought about The Alchemist, the first book reflection in the YOML series and the story of the wisest man in the world. I reminded myself not to forget to look around at the beautiful castle and all the amazing tapestries as I’m trying to keep all the oil on the spoon.

Before I knew it, I was back at home, we had run 4 miles, and Emilia and I had spent a lot of time together moving, learning, and enjoying life. This day was a great reminder of what and who I was doing all this for in the first place.

We all need that person who will push us to take one more step no matter how much it hurts.

For me, that person will always be Emilia!

Question: Who do you think about when you need some encouragement to keep moving forward?



What is The Year of Magical Learning? An Introduction

YOML Podcast Discussion - Coming Soon

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