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Monday, May 25, 2015

Wander Woman + Chasing Lovely

On Sunday night, my friends and I put on a little open-mic night and house show focused on empowering women and creating sisterhood. We had help from the Nashville band, Chasing Lovely. The talented sister duo played beautiful music, welcomed a living room full of girls into their artistry, and guided us through the storytelling of their lyrics.

The night started with over twenty girls coming together. Dropping judgments, labels, preconceieved notions, and just loving and accepting each other as we are.

Most of the girls didn't even know each other before the event. How incredible is that? There was sharing, uniting, bonding, and empowering between girls that had just met each other. 

Sunday night made me realize that we are not alone. And so often when we are going through something, the last thing we feel is community, but in reality we are all in the midst of facing our own trials, questions, and hardships. You can be going through something that feels so singular and so personal, but I can promise you, there are others like you, looking around for a shred of hope.

And that's what the event was: hope for our future, hope for us. Hope that cycles of abuse, labels, judgements would all be stopped. Hope that we would stop being   judged for things that fade and instead loved for things that make us unique, beautiful, and strong individuals. We are women, we are the future. It is our job to fight for what we believe in, support and love each other, and always remember we are more than enough.  

I cried after girls shared part of their stories, their hearts. And it really was because I felt this immense relief that we are all just striving to be more us than we have ever been. Authentic, genuine, true blue. We all lie down at night with similar worries and questions. As women we hate on our bodies, our skin, our hair, our nails, everything. And we often think we are the only ones, or we feel to shameful to admit that we all do it. But on Sunday night, I felt like girls came as they are. We admitted to sometimes not being so nice to ourselves. We shared that we wanted to be different. And it was all so special.

Here are some photos and video clips from the evening. I feel so grateful to have meet all the beautiful ladies that attended. You made the evening unforgettable.








 


 
 


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Forgiveness



I can't think of anything more beautiful than dedicating my life to bettering myself, learning to love all that I am, and sharing that mindset with others. A life full of self-discovering, sharing, community, and love.

I realize how I want to live every time I write, and the potential that words have to heal us. Strengthen us. Guide us to exactly where we need to be, even if we don't want to go there.

For me that place lately has been forgiveness.

Everything we have to endure has a purpose, I believe that whole heartedly. When we face our trials with the question, "what am I going to learn from this?" and "how is this going to make me grow?" we are better off.

I am learning each day about forgiveness. Learning about it and practicing it. Learning that because of forgiveness, I will get to be more of my truest self. Practicing forgiveness because I want to see that change.

Yesterday, I sat still in my sister's room, listening to music and taking a moment to be silent. Running through my affirmations, think of the person I am. Thinking about how forgiving those who have hurt me isn't for them, it's for me.

I wrote this in my journal:

Forgiveness isn't about the other person. It's not about making them feel good and forgetting what happened. Forgiveness is about you, letting go of the power they have had over you. It's about taking back control over your life.

When I was a teen I read a quote by Augusten Burroughs that read, “And I began to let him go. Hour by hour. Days into months. It was a physical sensation, like letting out the string of a kite. Except that the string was coming from my center.”

Forgiveness sets us free. It doesn't mean we forget. It doesn't mean we give our strength back to the person who made us feel weak. It means we finally decide that we love ourselves more than any hate or hurt that has been done to us.

Wishing you all a beautiful weekend. Love yourself more than those who have hurt you. Love yourself enough to forgive them, so you can be free.

xoxo.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Soul Sister-Ember Grey




When I started blogging, I really didn't know what I was doing.

I had this vision of what my blog would be like, this picture of what I thought I would say, and I tried to recreate that. My blog was never supposed to be quite as personal as it is. But that is what life is.

Life is sharing what makes us who we are, sharing what makes us fearful, hopeful, happy, and more. There is something so beautiful and uniting about what a blog can do. Connecting us to people who understand. Connecting us to those who believe in second chances, and sunny skies after storms.

I am beyond grateful to have met Emily from Ember Grey, who has done all these things and more for me. I found her blog while just starting mine, and a post of her, "The Past has Passed", made me realize that I wanted to share and grow. I wanted to be my most accepting, authentic, loving version of myself.

I emailed Emily and told her how much the post meant to me. This small email started a large exchange of personal stories, shared hopes, dreams, and ideals. Emily is one of the most beautiful, inspiring, and talented people I know.

After an emotional weekend away, I came home to a package from Emily. The notebook, mug, and sweet card made me cry (always crying btw), and I thought today I would share the post that started a friendship I never want to lose.


Thank you soul sister, for helping me believe in who I've been, who I am, and who I aspire to be.


The Past had Passed (It's Time to Twirl) by Ember Grey



The past has not defined me, destroyed me, deterred me, or defeated me; 
it has only strengthened me. - Steve Maraboli 

I could tell you that I've been through a lot in my 30 years of life. The details of what I've been through aren't important to share right now, if ever, but as you sit where you are reading this, I'm sure you too can reflect back on the hardest times of your own life... perhaps you're going through it now. Whether we share details with each other or not, whether we talk openly about things we've been through or not - everyone has a story. It's not fair or right to compare our stories or hardships with others while thinking, "My feelings aren't valid because she/he had it worse" or "There's no way she could understand hardships or pain because she's never gone through what I've gone through." We can't mistake constant smiles for a label that says, "I've had an easy life." Sometimes the story is held deep inside, never spoken about, and those people still need comfort and kind words that say, you are okay.
We all have a story. 

Someone close to me once said, "I was worried it would break you, that it might change you." And I'd be lying if I said there weren't times I truly wondered if it would. Don't get me wrong - I've also had an incredibly beautiful life in these 30 years, full of joy, and gifts and grace I don't deserve. I have the most amazing parents, brother, friends. And what a complete life blessing my husband is to me. He has brought so much light to my life, lightness and laughter. And maybe my forever thankfulness for the beauty in my life is only greater because of the storms I have endured. (And darn it, I made it out alive didn't I?) I think, perhaps by now, you all have a pretty good idea of my personality. I think I'm a positive person and always try to see the good in people and situations. If something seems "doomed" I will immediately come up with 5 things that might "make it okay." And that's not an easy thing to do, especially when going through the storm. You have to hold on ever so tightly to the memories of JOY during those times you simply don't feel it. And during the times it absolutely just breaks your heart? You have to cling to something greater, something higher that whispers deep inside - you are okay, for I have made it so. 

He heals the brokenhearted and bandages up their wounds. -Psalm 147:3

I had protected my soul for quite some time. Like, consciously protected it. And not (always) in a defensive way, but in a way that I knew nothing could touch me. Nothing could break me. (Even if I felt like I was breaking.) I was safe. I made it so. It became my job. I got really good at faking a smile. I was a pro, actually. To where even those closest to me didn't know that I was... tired. Like, really tired. Exhausted. From being strong and protecting myself from the past. From anything that felt sad, whether it was from memories or things that might come up and hurt me in the present or in the future. I had it figured out. In my head, I felt safe because nothing was getting to me. But I was far from free. Those things that had happened to me, while I may not have been some jaded and bitter person because of them, they were still keeping me prisoner from what God really wanted for my life. 

Have you ever pictured your soul? Like what it would look like if it was a color or an action or a thing? I did this often when I was young. For me, my soul is a girl with white blonde hair, twirling and twirling in sunlight that sparkles like gold. She is happy. And she is far away from anything bad. Far away from anything that hurts her. She is free. 

Years ago, during one of my storms, I found myself in the card aisle of Walgreens. I was just walking up and down, looking at the cards, killing time, finding as many distractions as I could to get a break from the pain in my heart. I didn't even know what I was doing, looking at the cards. But it was then that I saw it. It was a little girl who was dancing, twirling, and she had the happiest look on her face. I used to be her, I thought. I snapped a picture of the card with my camera and when I went to look at it on my phone, I realized that the flash from my camera had made a bright light - right where her soul would go. It was exactly what I'd always pictured. 


So there I was in the card aisle of Walgreens, bawling my eyes out. This picture was a reminder, to remember who I was. Who I still was. How God sees me, no matter what I've been though. 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. 

For someone who has always wanted to know and understand the reason behind just about everything, to have it figured out (eh hem, understatement of the century), you would think my whole life I have asked that question when it comes to the things I've been through. Why? But I have realized that it's not about understanding why any of it happened. I have realized that I am who I'm meant to be despite (or perhaps in spite) of it all. And I wasn't meant to be held prisoner by those things of the past. I wasn't meant to stay hiding in the dark. This whole time I had been needing to dance, to twirl. Through all of the pain I'd experienced, all of the attacks - I'd spent so much energy on protecting myself and being strong, I hadn't given myself the chance to not think. To be free.
You can light a candle or curse the darkness. - Unknown

The past has passed, and believe me when I say- you are not a prisoner to it. You're not. I say light a candle. Light a lot of them, and then take that light and give it to those around you- to as many as you can, and don't ever stop. Because yes, we all have a story. We are all in desperate need to be healed, to be reminded that we can still be a light. We can still twirl with arms stretched wide. Twirl away, my friend. 
Wishing you all a beautiful week. I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I do. xoxo

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day

Mother's Day makes me insanely emotional. It's that good kind of sad, when you realize just how good you have it. Or in my case, what you have and how good it is.

My mom has not always had it easy, but you would think that she has never known defeat. I am my mother. I am often too trusting, optimistic, silly, I eat too much sugar, I cry easily at movies/books/everything, and I think a good pair of shoes can fix any bad day. I love hard, and I could talk to strangers for hours. I laugh wildly when I am tired. But mostly, I am a daughter of a mother who loves me so fearlessly, completely, unconditionally, that I have no choice but to do the same with myself.

And maybe that's the whole point. It's not how great we are in our lives, but how great we make others feel. If I can impact one person the way my mother has impacted me, I will feel like I qualify for a Nobel Peace Prize.

I am sharing a poem today that I wrote  for my mom a few weeks ago about a single drive we took when I was 17. 

When I was seventeen, I felt this enormous lack of faith take over my life. It was a time my sister was sick and we had yet to have a diagnosis, my parents were recently (& messily) divorced, and I was thick in the muds of self-hatred. I found a school in Washington, WSU, and decided I had to go. Pullman was this tiny town with the big university in the center, and I just thought about how much getting away would help.

My mom never went to college and had no money. None, you guys. But I told her I wanted to see the school, and she put two plane tickets on a credit card, and took off with me.

That moment is without a doubt one of the most pivotal in my life. We landed in Spokane, Washington after being so excited and anxious, and drove through snow and fog to Pullman. We couldn't see through our rent-a-car windshields, so we drove slow and listened to James Taylor the whole way.

I just remember looking at my mom, and feeling this immense, indescribable hope. This faith that I had lost was beaming brightly in her eyes.

Things had been really rough. And within a few months we had been uprooted from any sense of normality. But we drove and drove. We both started crying as we realized that everything would be okay. Every little thing that we had given up on, would find it's way back to us, in a way more beautiful than ever before.

Here's the poem I wrote to her. Sending so much love to my mom today- Mama, we are brave now.







we drove down twisted roads
and the sky tried to stop us
but we kept moving forward,
because we are brave now.


you are
bright eyed and giggly
james taylor- singing
happiness- believing
and I want to be just like you.


it’s never been easy.
we are sometimes fish
at the mercy of bears
but there is no one I’d rather
swim the current with


it’s true isn’t it?
that you loved me long before I belonged to you
and my heart yearned for you
my soul knew it would be safe with you
since I was just a thought in the clouds


I see myself in your eyes
in the specks of gold
and when you speak to me
the words curl, sweetly
like everything you say
is wrapping me in a hug.


you are too good, mama
you are of a light that so little have seen
and I never want to forget what it was like
to drive down those twisted roads
crying because things had been really difficult
but in that moment we were reminded
that the things that hurt us, build us
befriend us, eventually nourish us
and in that moment
I had never known anything to be more
true or beautiful.


we can’t see ahead of us
and the sky keeps telling us to turn around
but we move forward,
because we are brave now.


Hugs those who love you unconditionally extra tight today. Happy Mother's Day, xoxo.
Link up with Ember Grey for #gratefulheart.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

You are enough

Image via Pinterest

Lately, I have been struggling with the idea of being enough. Doing enough, trying hard enough, being skinny enough, pretty enough.

These constant battles lead me to look for validation in anything that screams to me, "you are enough."

I have written draft upon draft of this post. I mean it you guys, I have like fifty drafts that all circle back to this topic and for some reason, I just have never hit "publish."

As a young woman, there are constants that I am always striving for. I like to think this isn't just me, but human beings in general.  The number one thing is love. Directly following that is appreciation. We want to feel wanted and we want to feel valued. And sometimes, we lend these things to the wrong people. We wait for validation from people that will never know how to truly fill that void. From there, we circle between jobs, friends, relationships, places, everything. We revisit and knock on doors that look almost perfect, waiting for some nod of approval behind them.

We have moments in our life where we were told we weren't enough, and instead of walking away, we create "new" situations to get a different outcome. One boy turns us down and every relationship after we have to be the one to do the heart breaking. We disappoint our parents, boss, peers, and suddenly nothing after feels like enough. We are constantly chasing tomorrows, and new chances, and new people, instead of facing the fact that one bad experience has shaped all the new ones.

My whole life, up until recently, all I wanted was some outside source to validate me.  That I am talented, and smart, and worthy. I can't tell you guys how many accomplishments haven't felt as significant because I just keep thinking, "Well what do I do next to stay this good?"

I realized something- I have never been waiting for anyone else, but instead, myself. My heart has just wanted me to love myself as much as I love this idea of how someone or something else could love me. I can completely fill that void by shamelessly loving who I am, was, and have yet to be.

We can't wait for someone to mend our pieces when they themselves are shattered. We can't wait for love from someone who has never been able to love the person they see in the mirror. I know that. But what I am learning is that "someone" is just a projection of ourselves. We are waiting for our own heart, soul, and mind to prepare for all the we are. We are waiting to hear our own voice say, "you have always been enough."

I will never claim to have it figured out. I really don't. But I know we get a choice each day, who we give our power to. We can give it to the people who will use it against us. Or we can build ourselves up, and in turn, love those around us. I have to actively wake up and choose everyday that I am worth this insane amount of love and potential I have within me. I have to stop lending it to people that makes me feel as if it is a weakness.

If you are questioning where to go, who to be with, what is next, look inward and realize you are all of it. All encompassing, all beautiful, all strong, gifted, guided, and enough.

The answer and validation is not around you, but inside of you.


Wishing you all a beautiful day, xoxoxo.



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