If you stay over at my mum and dad’s house, like I am doing right now, the chances are my dad will appear in the kitchen at some stage, book in hand. He will read you this thing that he is enjoying and his fist will be raised in the air by the time he has finished. It will be the best thing ever. It will be changing his life.
We are all a bit like this in my family, to be honest. We use up all our superlatives on our current book, or our latest musical find.
Wait till you hear this.
Let me just find the page…
My 4-year-old has this phrase she likes to use for emphasis when she has told us something. “Isn’t that A-MAZ-ING?”, she will ask, eyes wide, awaiting our affirmative response.
So we sit in each other’s kitchens sometimes, sharing favourite writers, best box sets, a great new place that does Japanese food. We aren’t as demanding as Imogen in our requests for affirmation, but we are hoping someone in the family will share our new love. Isn’t that amazing?
The internet is a bit like access to a zillion people’s kitchens. I have had to learn that I can’t access them all. So many recommendations and favourite things and other people’s life changing magic.
I have had to make peace with the things I don’t do including knitting, batch cooking and living in a yurt.
This all makes me reluctant to venture out of my real-life kitchen very often and add my recommendations to the mix. Yet, there are 2 things the internet has introduced me to that are changing my life, worthy of a virtual fist pump.
1. The Enneagram
It sounds weird. It looks occult-y. It’s a slow burn. It is A-MAZ-ING.
Simply put, the Enneagram is an ancient personality typing system that helps people understand who they are and why they see and relate to the world the way they do. It’s a helpful tool for spiritual formation and for developing self knowledge. Ennea is the Greek word for 9 – the Enneagram teaches that there are nine different personality styles in the world, one of which we gravitate towards and adopt in early childhood.
The Enneagram is not magic, but it is really helpful. It requires you to do your interior work, but it is totally worth it. Figuring out your type takes time (generally steer clear of online tests that will churn out a number at the end, it’s not that simple).
Here’s what has helped me:
The Road Back to You by Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile is the perfect place to start. This book calls itself a primer and it does a wonderful job of introducing something so complex in a clear and easy-to-read way. It’s wise and funny, too.
Ian and Suzanne also host a podcast which is in its second season. I have been immersing myself in these episodes since it first aired last summer. They are a great way to slowly widen and deepen your understanding of the Enneagram as they interview guests across the 9 numbers. Listening in will make you more compassionate towards just about everyone you know!
The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective by Richard Rohr is a great book if you are already convinced about the merits of the Enneagram and are ready to wrestle with it more deeply. It’s not an easy read!
The Enneagram Institute gives detailed descriptions of each type here.
As Ian and Suzanne say in their book, “The Enneagram doesn’t put you in a box. It shows you the box you’re already in and how to get out of it”. I like it because, unlike other personality typologies, it is concerned not with your behavior (what you do) but with your motivation (why you do it). This is a really helpful thing to know about yourself. It is also unique in the way it takes into account the fluid nature of personality and offers great insights into where we move when feeling secure, or under stress.
Perhaps the most unique thing about the Enneagram is that it reveals to us our shadow side, the dark parts of our personality, and then helps us release our grip on our old, self-defeating ways. That’s not much fun, initially, but as Ian Cron says: “The good news is we have a God who would know our scrawny butt anywhere. He remembers who we are, the person he knit together in our mother’s womb, and he wants to help restore us to our authentic selves.”
2. Bullet Journaling
My brightly coloured Bullet Journal is never far from my side these days. Apart from being a wonderful excuse to buy stationary, this craze is the real deal.
You can get an overview of Bullet Journaling from its creator Ryder Carroll here. It calls itself The Analog System for the Digital Age. It is basically a practice of using and self-curating a single notebook for all your tracking, organising and planning.
There are many, many YouTube tutorials and Pinterest posts that you can lose your mind over, if you want, but once you get a brief overview it is best just to give it a go and see what works for you.
I like it because it is flexible, handy and personal.
You can start one in any old notebook lying around or you can become a Leuchtturm 1917 junkie, like my sis-in-law and I. (The colours!) (Hers is red, above, mine is yellow, below).
So basically, if you hear Debs and I talking about future logs, signifiers, collections or migration… it’s Bullet Journal talk (BuJo to devotees like us) and if you hear something about my 9ness and her 2ness, how JM is a 5 and Chris…clearly a 1w2 … well, that’s the Enneagram. I can’t recommend either highly enough!