Monday, November 24, 2014

Sister, sister

I write about my sis all the time because she is the most wonderful person I know.

Even though Lizzie and I “love each other’s guts” (that’s our coined phrase), there are still times where we annoy each other to a whole new level.

I was going to make this post all about what Lizzie does to annoy me, but I decided that wasn’t fair. We both do annoying things and I am about to share ten of them.

  1. Lizzie never answers my phone calls. Sometimes I call 157 times in a row, and after the 2nd call, I think to myself, “If she really loved me, she would answer.” So I just keep calling. She has now told me I can only call in a state of emergency. Ridiculous, I know.
  2. When Lizzie finally answers she says things like “Waz here.” or “ELLO.” Sometimes when she has me on speaker, I say things like, “You sound so far away..” To which she replies, “I’ve never been closer.” Creepy and hilarious.
  3. I like to talk to Lizzie in the early morning about what a wonderful life it is. I like all the windows open and the sun streaming in, and I like to sing all about what I will do for the day. I’m like a modern day princess with bad bed head. Lizzie doesn’t appreciate this, and will often retreat to her room, which remains a dark lair no matter how bright it is outside.
  4. Lizzie keeps count on her food items. So sometimes when I eat one of her bananas because I am starving, she frames me into telling her the truth and then does this thing, it’s like an imaginary choke hold + a punch where she stands in a warrior pose and pretends she is choking and punching me at the same time. Lizzie also frames me into telling her if I have used her shampoo/conditioner or hair brush. I am getting sneakier and I am finding ways to avoid her evil mind games.
  5. The constant torture that I listed above is put to shame when I remind Lizzie she would never look cute if it wasn’t for my adorable wardrobe that she uses at her dispense. She also destroyed a dress of mine last year by getting a stain on it. The clothes she borrows are typically returned with chocolate stains- an unforgivable act.
  6. Sometimes I scare Lizzie by hugging her so tight and nearly knocking her over. Lizzie scares me by doing this dance where she lifts up her shirt and says, “I’m belly-licious” and rubs her belly until I join in on the dance- I’ll admit it’s a really catchy song.
  7. Lizzie and I scare each other by always finishing each other’s sentences. One time we said the same thing, made the same face, and then laughed the SAME LAUGH. Lizzie is also a klutz and claims this is only because of our telepathy, and she can sense when I’m getting hurt so she gets hurt instead. I call BS. Exhibit A, I got my ear’s pierced last summer, Lizzie fainted, a split her eyebrow open and passed out. She had to be rushed to the emergency room-in a neck brace.
    Lizzie entering hospital

    Lizzie leaving the hospital
    At the hospital she told me she fainted because she felt I was going to faint. She claims she took the fall, literally.
  8. Lizzie braids her hair all the time. And then she looks at herself in the mirror like she’s Elsa, and pets her braid. She also watches the graduation episode of Laguna Beach a zillion times a week, and she can quote every. single. line.
  9. Sometimes (all the time) I make giant messes. And l drop food on the floor when I cook. I don’t see it until Lizzie is screaming at me about the piece of avocado she stepped in.
  10. Lizzie is my most favorite friend, my beautiful sister, my life-line. She is the carrier of our childhood dreams, the gatherer of our precious memories, and the voice to my favorite laugh. This makes all those annoyingly hilariously pet peeves go away.
Happy Monday! xo
Share what you are grateful for today over on

Friday, November 21, 2014

Love yourself

I never want to come across as preaching on my blog. I definitely don't know it all, and I'm not certain about a lot of things. But I write each day to strengthen that certainty. I write to uncover my truth.

Like most girls and women, my self-esteem and self-love has been a slow-growing process. It's something I find myself writing about all the time. Yesterday was a tough day, full of self-doubt. So I decided to write what I do know.

image from Etsy, by Lim Heng Swee

If you can’t find a way to love yourself, there is honestly nothing you can do to fill the void in your heart, the one telling you that you aren’t enough.

You can travel the world, date a hundred “right ones”, you can search all over the universe to fill that self-love deficit, but you will never fill it just right.

That’s what I know for sure. My self-love is a lock, and I am the only one that has the key to open it. It doesn’t matter how many keys feel like they could possibly fit, or how many guys, hobbies, places I feel could nearly match that lock. The truth is, loving ourselves is a job we must do before allowing anyone else to do it.

It doesn’t matter if you have someone showering you with compliments, believing in all the things that you don’t think you are, if you cannot fall madly in love with the person you see staring back at you in the mirror, none of it matters.

Each day that I wake up and choose to not be kind to myself, I realize something a dear friend once told me. “Not loving yourself is like being in an abusive relationship with yourself. Why would you decide to punch yourself when you are already down on the ground?”

When it is time for me to find love, I want to love without conditions. In order to do that, I have had to learn what it is like to love myself unconditionally.

I think beyond being in meaningful relationships, loving ourselves allows us to see the best in every situation, and make decisions that have our best interest at heart.

You eat better, you exercise more, you take trips, you laugh more, smile more, dream more.

You want the best of all things in life when you love yourself.

Love yourself for all that you are, all that you were, and all that you have let to be. 

Happy Friday, xoxo.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Grateful Heart

Sometimes, we get so caught up in our life that we let the novelty, the magic of mundane moments, wear off.

I have eyes that see so far ahead, and a mind that is constantly racing, desperately trying to place my next steps. I have been actively working on what it feels like to be still. To really take in the goodness of a single second. The smile of a stranger. The warmth of my first sip of coffee in the morning. The beauty of my everyday surroundings.

This week, I am grateful for the things that make up my week, nearly every week. I am grateful that the rhythm of my life is filled with so many kind-hearted people.

Here's a list of six things I am loving from this past week.

1. That even though my mom doesn't live next door, she takes a day trip just to see me. It's the biggest blessing to just have the day to vent to her, laugh about silly jokes, and get asked if she's my sister. Seriously, the woman does not age.

2. Coffee dates with friends. Anyone that truly knows me, knows my love for coffee. Conversing with inspiring friends and drinking my favorite cup of goodness?! Endlessly grateful for that.

3. Little babes and their sweet hearts. I've been babysitting to help pay for a big adventure that's underway (will be sharing soon!), and I am reminded that staying innocent, curious, asking too many questions, and laughing too hard is not something that has to be for "kids only". Also, the cuddles. You can't feel sad when a baby is hugging you.

4. Car washes. There's something really relaxing about getting your car washed and having the giant red sponge-y things smack against your windshield. (Is that weird?)

5. Sunset runs. Not only am I grateful for the changing colors of the skies and the cooler temperatures, but also for legs that work as hard as I want them too.

6. Time to read and write. And drinking Mama Chia.

I challenge you to create your own list this week. Everyday you think to yourself, "Man, this is a sweet moment." Write it down. Whether it's as little as having clean sheets fresh from the dryer, gas being .05$ cheaper, or spending time outside.

Really soak in what a beautiful life you have, despite the messy parts.

Wishing everyone a wonderful week! xo

Friday, November 14, 2014

Blue Box Years

the blue box years

Since I was little, I have had this idea of exactly who I would be when I grew up.

I had this plan, a grand scheme of exactly the steps I would take. Exactly what my path would look like and exactly what every detail of my life would entail.

When I was little, Lizzie and I used to stay up late clipping photos from magazines, talking about what our future jobs would be like, what we would wear, what we would say as "grown-ups." Whatever made the list, was cut and put in a blue box. Sometimes we would write things on paper. Sometimes we would cut things out of magazines, or ask for permission to use the printer. (This was when we had a huge desktop and a very limited 30 minutes of use a day.)

That blue box represented a very predicatable, safe future. There was no wonder, no curiousity past the box. I simply assumed that once I was an adult, change would end. Making life-altering decisions ends once you're an adult, I thought. No school, no more lunch boxes, playgrounds, mom won't buy me my back-to-school clothes. No more picture days. That blue box repsented "still" years. My years. Everything would be exactly the way it looked in those magazine photos.

As I got older, and the box was lost in a move, I found myself missing what I thought was predictable. Everything I wanted and would have had been picked for me, by me.

When I moved out, I realized my first home wasn't the one I had clipped out of Beautiful Homes magazine. My outfit was not off the runway clipping from Vogue. My words would sometimes hurt people, hurt me, hurt strangers. They would not be the words I wrote down specifically on a paper, and placed carefully in the blue box. My first loves, my first friends, would not be the people I had picked from Seventeen magazine.

There would be heartache, letdowns, trials, and change. Nothing would be exactly how I had pictured it.

Instead, everything would be better.

The first home held memories the blue box never could. The outfits for job interviews and first days were the result of late-night closet raiding, laughing with my sister while we both tried to find the perfect outfit. My words, my way of jotting things down on paper would become my compass. My path would be paved by just how honestly I allowed myself to be. My first loves, my first friends would be people that shaped me, molded me, guided me. They would all measure out to be so much more than a one-dimensional photo clipping.

I guess we plan for things our whole life, and we search for what will be perfect. And in that time of planning and searching, life takes place. And while we all have had a blue box filled with exactly what we wanted, our life has a way of taking pieces of exactly what we need.

The blue box was a time of innocence. It was a time to prepare the steps, so I didn't have to worry what it would be like to ever be lost. The blue box was a time to tell myself, if you carefully build a future, no one could ever come near it to break it down.

Planning a life isn't living one.

 I have learned that while we are busy planning, life unfolds in ways we could never plan for. I have learned that the moments of my life that would have never been picked for the blue box were the most pivotal. The most sacred. What didn't make the blue box is called life, and I am so blessed to be living it.

Happy Friday everyone, xoxo.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Grateful Heart// Fall

I wake up early, because the sun urges me too. Daylight savings brings me a new joy, as 6 a.m. is what was 7 a.m. and the light is up extra early, ready to break the darkness.

As I sit outside, and the sun is bright and the air is cool, I breathe deeply.

Inhaling the goodness of change, of second chances, of renewal.
Exhale the bad, the worry, the doubts that this season, my favorite season, would come.

Inhale and take in my lovely surroundings, exhale any doubt that change could never be so beautiful.

Fall is living proof that change is the most beautiful thing of all.

I feel the grass poking through my shirt, as I stare up through the trees, sunlight dancing on my face, my neck, my collarbones. I am here, I am present, I am alive.

Leaves are scattered like my thoughts. Leaves fall quietly, resting themselves among the grass.

That’s one of my favorite parts of fall, the change is silent. Leaves don’t need to make commotion as they fall to the ground and yet they never go unnoticed. Again, change doesn’t call attention to itself. Change is simply needed.

I wake and praise this beautiful day. I walk and admire this beautiful life.

They call it Fall, I call it my reason to rise.

Link up with Emily at Ember Grey and share what you are grateful for today.  

Friday, November 7, 2014

Life Is with Emily from Ember Grey

Life Is...| With Emily

Emily is the blogger behind the beautiful space,
More than a blogger, Emily has become a dear friend, and my soul sister. I found Emily's blog in a trying time in my life when I was deciding whether to commit to a blog and a career and educational path that involved writing, or stick to the safe route I was travelling on. She wrote a post, The Past has Passed, and I cried at my desk. That is the beautiful thing about this space we create, this space that involves so much heart and passion : every blogger has the opportunity to connect with strangers, to give people the hope they were hoping to discover.
For me, hope was found in Emily's blog. And since then, I find myself travelling back to her blog each week, connecting to her posts. I laugh, I cry, but most of all, I leave her blog feeling brave.

Emily's blog contains a kind of heartfelt honesty and love that is one of a kind to Ember Grey. And today, she's sharing her lovely philosophy on life. I love it and I know you will, too.

What do you think the three most important parts of living a meaningful life are? // Gratitude, Compassion, and Self Love.

- Gratitude // There really is something to starting each day with a grateful heart and for me, this practice has helped tremendously on the really hard days or times I am going through a valley. Remaining grateful doesn't mean you'll never have a bad day again, but it certainly puts things into perspective when you do. One of my favorite quotes is "Gratitude begins where entitlement ends." - Steven Furtick. This is something I have to check myself on often - putting praise and thankfulness into the beginning of my day rather than waking up and thinking "I need [and deserve] this and this and this in order to have a good day." Any day we wake up breathing is proof that we are alive and have purpose in this life. 

-Compassion // I have wanted to save the world since I was a little girl, and while I now know that alone I cannot save it, I do believe that through acts of kindness and banding together with others, we can absolutely change it for the better. That, to me, is what life is about. Less judging, more compassion... it's not always easy (especially in the world we live in today), but the truth is- everyone has a story, and we all just want to be loved and feel like we matter. 

-Self Love // This was a hard one for me to grasp for awhile and it actually took allowing my heart to be broken by someone else to realize how important it is to first love and respect myself. I think when we reach that point of self respect and love, we can pull our own heart through whatever we may come to or go through. Whether it's cutting ourselves some slack (because nobody is perfect), a self pep-talk (keep pushing forward), knowing how to protect one's self (sometimes it's okay to walk away), or the daily lessons of learning how to be comfortable in your own skin - self love actually makes more room in our hearts to love others and to love them well.

Who do you look up to? // There are quite a few people I look up to, for many different reasons. I look up to my dad and his never-ending wisdom, I look up to my mom and the unconditional love she has for others, always putting others before herself. I look up to my husband and how brilliant he is at his craft and how hard he works at it every single day. I look up to one of my best friends and the type of mother she is to her children - it's beautiful and strong and honest and real. I feel blessed to have so many influential and beautiful people in my life, it's hard to choose just one :) 

What are three non-essential things that get you through the day? // Music, Coffee, and my best friend. 

Music // I listen to so many different genres while I write, but there is always music playing in our home. I listen to it when I write, while I'm getting ready for the day, before I go to sleep. I love Spotify for the sole purpose of exploring different and "new to me" artists. (I'm listening to Workday Zen right now - I love this channel for writing.) 

Coffee // A true addiction, I'm sure of it, but I literally cannot function without at least one cup. I usually have 2 cups in the morning and then a cup of decaf in the afternoon.

My best friend // My best friend is my husband. Whether it's a hug, a smile, or an incredibly ridiculous joke, he's "my person." On the days he is out of town, his text messages or quick "just called to say hello" phone calls give me just the extra pep I need :)

What does the world need more of? // I would have to say compassion. Again, I think if more of us took more time to think of others than we do ourselves, this world would be in a much different and more peaceful place. 

What is your personal mission? // To wake up each day with a grateful heart, to work really hard and to push myself to be a better person, and to live a life that glorifies Jesus. 

Tell us about a moment in your life that has shaped your belief system. A single moment that your heart holds onto forever. // There have been quite a few moments that have strengthened my beliefs, often times having nothing to do with me, but one personal chapter in my life that stands out was shared in my post, The Past Has Passed (It's Time to Twirl). An excerpt from that post: 

So there I was in the card aisle of Walgreens, bawling my eyes out. This picture (I'd found) was a reminder to remember who I was. Who I still was. How God sees me, no matter what I've been through. It's how God loves my soul. This reminder was a life jacket carefully thrown out to me while I was so, so busy just trying to keep my head above water. It was a gentle and beautiful and strong reminder. God is gentle and beautiful and strong. And nothing we do or go through will ever change the way God sees us. We are so fiercely loved.

What is your favorite quote? // I have many, and my favorite will change depending on what's going on in my life at that moment. One of my all time favorites though is, "She stood in the storm, and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails." - Elizabeth Edwards.

Fill in the blank. Life is... // hard and beautiful, but more so, life is a journey to be lived, experienced. Make every day count for something, this is the most important journey we will ever walk. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Rest in Peace, Mike Vaughn

photo from my recent trip to NY
You can't separate the seconds of your life. The seconds that turn your world from upright to turmoil.

Even in our darkest days, we can't say we are "weathering a storm" because even the greatest of storms come with signs: rolling clouds, change in temperature, violent winds.

The mere seconds that change your life are the swelling of a tide. You have no idea the power and force of a crashing wave, until you are underneath it.


My friend, Maddy, called me last night to tell me her boyfriend's brother, who was only 16, passed away in a longboarding accident.

Chills covered my body, as I tried to comprehend the terrible loss.

Mike Vaughn was a friend, leader, son, brother, twin.

I immediately called my sister, just to hear her voice. To pretend I wasn't scared or troubled by this.
To say I love you. To wear out the words.

I didn't know Mike, and I didn't have to.

If he was half the man the people around me described him as, he would have been nothing short of incredible.

I constantly heard how smart he was, kind, generous, funny, determined.

Maddy would talk to me about the great things he would do with his future.

I would hear the kindest words leave people's mouth as they mentioned him.

And last night, I thought about how he would no longer be with us.

I thought about how, seconds before I got the phone call, I was babysitting, eating dinner. There was no sign of tragedy nearby.

Mike hit a rock while long-boarding, and succumbed to a serious head injury.

Life is never going to be exactly how we plan it. And there are times that are going to shatter us, and leave us broken on the shore.

It's not practical to say, "drop everything" or act like every single moment is a ticking time bomb. Living in fear is not living at all. There is going to be painful reminders, and there will come a time that school, work, and other responsibilities get in the way again.

So, we have to fully appreciate each moment as we are in it. We have to appreciate the people who stand before us. Close our eyes and soak in all the good. Allow ourselves to really feel, whether we are happy and joyful or broken and lost.

We have to make our words more truthful, and our actions worth the effort.

We have to believe in the goodness of tomorrows, even if they aren't certain.

Today, and everyday, we have to honor those who don't have the chance to do all these things anymore. Today and everyday after, we honor Mike Vaughn.

Hug those around you extra tight, and wear out your "I love you's." Keep your promises and stop saying things you don't mean.

Live a deliberate life, love with a fearless heart, face each and every moment with a brave and true spirit.

Vaughn family, please know that prayers are being said endlessly. Know that you are supported by an army of people who adore you. Know that you are so loved.

If you would like to donate to help the Vaughn family cover the memorial costs, the link is below:
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