My Whole30: why I'm now a believer.

I am 12 days removed from my first completed Whole30 and I have to tell you... I have never been more thankful for a 30-day reset than right now. I feel energized. I feel happy. I feel strong. I've been excited to write this post for you all month long and it's finally, finally here! I hope these notes + comments encourage and empower you! Thanks for allowing me to be vulnerable and messy in this space!

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Trimming debt & budgeting like a baller.

I became debt-free at the end of 2016.

Goal-setting is like a reflex to me, I can't help but do it. For the last few years, I have made it a goal to kick my student loan debt to the curb. I made it a goal but I didn't make it a priority.

The difference between me finally getting rid of my student loan debt and me just talking about it rested in three things: action, sacrifice & focus. I think those are the core components to accomplishing any goal: action, sacrifice & focus.

When I say "student loan debt," I don't mean some small figure. I mean over $60,000 worth of student loans. I knew going into the four years of my higher education that I was taking on this burden. I remember being almost certain that I would never be able to pay it off. I would have regular anxiety about my debt as I watched it accrue with every passing semester.

For nearly five years, I didn't do a thing about my debt. Naturally, it spiraled and became larger as I paid the minimum every month and watched the interest make the number higher than what it was before I began paying it off.

So I made 2016 my year to kill debt. I looked at the $57,000 worth of debt and I decided to face this beast. I was paying about $500 a month and I knew there had to be a smarter way to tackle this debt. 

I've wanted to share my tactics for a while but I also want to be open and honest with everyone. I am self-employed and have been for four years. I don't have a fixed salary which comes with its own hurdles but I am able to increase or decrease the money I earn by the number of jobs I take on. I bring this up to say, everyone's road to becoming debt-free will be different. Set a goal that is manageable for you but also stretches you to focus and sacrifice. Achieving goals require discipline. Below are the things I did to discipline myself and erase my debt: 

1. Budget, budget, budget

I cannot stress this one enough. I created my own budget sheets last year and I am a really huge fan of them and it's not because I made them. I designed the budget sheets for someone like me who is often scared of numbers and wishes budgeting could be a little more inspirational. I love them only because they're working and I am someone who doesn't use products unless they work. It's been so cool to see people all over the world use these sheets. Someone emailed the other day to tell me she'd been using my budget sheets and, because of them, she erased $7,000 worth of debt.

She said it took her about a year to make it happen (which is freaking awesome) and the biggest things she focused on were: 1) eating out less 2) putting her tithe first 3) taking on extra side-jobs like babysitting.

Using budget sheets has helped me assign my dollars where they ought to go. Plus, I love keeping them in a binder and pushing myself to save better from month to month.

(P.S. there's even a space in the budget sheets for tacos. Because obviously.)

2. Consider a Challenge

At the beginning of 2016, Lane and I took on a Contentment Challenge. For the first three months of the year, he and I didn't buy anything except for necessities, groceries, and the occasional date night. Our minds were sufficiently blown and our bank accounts were thankful.

The coolest thing that happens in a contentment challenge is you figure out where your contentment actually lies. Whether it's cool stuff or the amount of money in your bank account. You figure out what you are dependent upon and what is in the way of reaching a point of contentment. For Lane and I, the common stumbling block where we spent the most money was on food and drinks. We enjoy going out and trying new restaurants. We don't keep ourselves from that experience but the Contentment Challenge helped us to reign in the spending on big dinner tabs and begin enjoying home-cooked meals.

3. Face the Issue

I couldn't begin tackling my debt until I was willing to look my debt in the face. I think we do this a lot with things we are afraid of. We hide them. We shove to the side. My debt was completely normal for a student in 2017 but I made the fear bigger than it needed to be.

The best thing I ever learned to do was look at my debt weekly and remind myself it was there. As I looked at it, I became proactive and started putting money towards chopping down the number. I tackled an $11,000 loan and a $7,000 loan during the Contentment Challenge. I took on extra jobs to whittle down a $5,000 loan. I made myself stare at the debt in order to become less afraid of it.

4. Pay those quarterly taxes

This applies more for the freelance crew out there but I cannot tell you how much of a difference it made for me to pay my quarterly taxes last year. I've dreaded the middle of April for the last four years because I know I will be writing a really large check to the government. However, I paid my quarterly taxes this year and I was free from the anxiety of needing to save unknown pockets of money to not be slammed come tax season. Know what you're working with-- that's why I tell myself now. Pay your quarterly taxes to figure out what is still yours to work with.

WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR BUDGETING AND KILLING DEBT? I WOULD LOVE TO CHAT IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!

 

Notes from an investor: people, projects, plans.

large Recently I started investing. My money. My loot. My greens. My Benjamins. My clams. My dough. My wad. My lettuce. Okay, I'm done.

It makes me feel like a serious adult to say that I'm saving money. I wiped out all my student loan debt this past December and I figured that was the next adult-ish thing to do: begin investing.

When you first start investing, the whole process seems a little intimidating. The website I use ultimately tells me how much I need to save up if I want to retire at age 67 (they picked the age, not me). There are pros and cons to looking "Big Picture" at your life like this. Pros: you see what you're working with. Cons: you figure out what you're working with and you realize you're not working so well with it. 

The app I invest with gives you a list of options as to where you can invest your money: a home, a retirement fund, your children's college funds.

There are too many options and I find myself thinking I need to invest in every single one right this very moment. 

I'm not writing a post about investing money right now.  I may have married a financial analyst but I'm not ready to come at you with my money savvy just yet. As I've learned the ins and outs of investing, I am starting to see that investing translates into all areas of my life.

We get the chance to invest in a lot of different people, places and plans. Some of us are naturally good at spreading ourselves out evenly. Others flounder under the pressure to be "all the things" to everyone they encounter.

You can't be all the things to all the people. I learned that lesson 2 years ago and I honestly gain more freedom daily by remembering it. I am not a perfect human. I cannot possibly please every single person in my email inbox. I will let friends down even if I am not trying to. I will forget someone's birthday and I will live with the rock in my stomach called regret for too long because of it.

You may be investing in a lot of things you don't even want without being aware of it. You may be so invested in the life of someone else that you are spending all your time comparing, contrasting, and trying to change yourself to be like them.

You may be the person who has a ton of time but never seems to be able to nail it down in one place and make something beautiful happen.

I am finding that to know where I want to invest my life, I must know what I have. I need to be willing to take inventory and then get serious with it. I'm a big believer that God wants us to steward things wisely. Time. Relationships. Money. Work. Sometimes I know God is looking at me like, "What are you doing with your life right now? You have so many things to take care of so why are you asking me for more?" So many of us have a number of these things but we are investing all our energy into only one area and neglecting the rest. On the adverse, if I am investing in too many things (and not enough things whole-heartedly) then my investments will be smaller than Future Me will need them to be.

I took the morning to break my life into three categories I think are worth investing in and jot down some thoughts on each area. Mind you, I am preaching to myself always and often. No perfect people are allowed on this blog. This is a perfectly safe haven for jacked-up and jankety humans who fail a dozen times before breakfast (just me?). 

Invest in People: because yes, they are always worth it.

  • I made a list of the 10 people I want to be investing in consistently. Ten looks like a large number but I don't know how to narrow the list just yet. These people are a combination of friends living near me and friends far away. They are friends I've had for years and people I'm looking to start investing in deliberately starting just this month. Ways I plan to invest: workout dates, trips to the farmer's market, meal-prep tutorials, unofficial book clubs and study sessions. I could always meet up for coffee with people but I think it's really beautiful and underrated to invite someone into the folds of your life and say, "participate with me."
  • If you are going to try to invest in everyone you've ever met then prepare yourself to see disappointment showing up at your door a lot. A lot of you said the last post on heartbreak resonated with you because it wasn't romantic relationships you were struggling with, it was friendships with people you'd invested in for years. I know that feeling. It's not pretty and it's not something you really want to highlight for the world to see. People come in and out of our lives all the time. Some stay for good. Some leave sooner than we planned. I don't have all the answers for that but I can say this: letting someone go so you can protect your heart and find some space to breathe is not the same thing as giving up on them.
  • In these crazy political times, it might be tempting to want to spend all your energy making people agree with you. Somehow our social media platforms became a tool for dividing rather than connecting in the last few months. We can't make everyone agree with us. No matter what is happening in the government, people in your life still need you like they needed you yesterday. Maybe even more. As people are scared, hurting, and unsure right now, the only way to love them through it is by putting down the devices.
  • Investigating someone's life is not the same thing as investing in someone's life. I cannot just "like" my friend's status and think it makes up for an in-person conversation. If likes, retweets and stats have ever made you feel empty inside then consider that you might not be the only one to ever feel that way. Investing in someone's life is rough and tumble but durability through the storms beats loneliness any day.

Invest in Projects: because work matters.

  • I want to be a good steward with any work that goes out into the world. Believe me, there are definitely days where I don't want to invest in the project at hand. It may be an unruly client, a problem I can't seem to fix or monotonous and thankless work. When I finally get over my pity party then it's time to get back to work. I can't be a quitter just because I don't like what is on the menu today.
  • It's easy to neglect the work you've been given to do because it isn't glamorous enough or Instagram-able for the moment. Somehow we got this idea stuck in our brain that if the work wasn't pretty then it was meant for someone else. That's definitely not the mantra our grandparents held. I know we are growing up in a different world where this idea of "doing what you love" has been thrust upon us but I also think there is a time to do what you love and a time to do what is necessary. Life will hold a lot of necessary work that won't seem pretty. If you do the work though, you'll grow. You'll be stronger. You'll gain thicker skin.
  • One more thought on that: I was reading in John 15 the other day. It's the passage about us being the plant and God being the gardener. He says he prunes off all the vines that aren't bearing fruit. Translation: all the excess stuff that doesn't help us become humans who don't lie all the time, cuss people out on the highway, or don't know how to love instead of hate. I dug deeper to find that the goal of pruning the branches (where fruit grows) is so that the branches will not become long and stringy. They will become thick and short. It seems like a pretty insignificant detail until you realize that you can grow fruit on long and stringy branches anytime but it is only a matter of time before those branches snap, break, and become useless because they can't support the fruit they're trying to hold up. Just like us: we become better humans by allowing the pruning process to happen. When we release our pride, our ego, that thing that tells us "this isn't cool enough work," then we can finally get over ourselves and do good work. We can handle more fruit.

Invest in Plans: because plans imply action.

  • I like the word "plans" more than "passions." I can talk a lot about my passions but it won't mean anything if I never plan to make time for them. Plans are action steps. They are things you are going to do rather than things you always talk about but never do. I've said it so much lately but I am terrified to get to the end of my life and realize I was just a spectator, a spectator in a life that demanded all the attention I could never give it. You will lose so much of your life if you only ever watch other people live theirs.
  • I chose "plans" over "things" because I always want to value experiences over new Nike sneakers or the latest phone to come out. Going places > buying more stuff.
  • Plans were my favorite part of this mapping process because I've recently fallen in love with the pockets of time in my calendar that aren't working hours. I plan to read books, take longer walks, drink more water and cook more ambitious dishes. I plan to finish this memoir on Savannah before Lane and I visit again in April. I plan to map out the birthdays of all the people who matter in my life to get back in the habit of sending cards. Anticipation is a really sweet thing and a really good feeling to share with other people.
  • Every couple of months, I pluck this book off my bookshelf. I don't think anyone should go all of 2017 without buying this book and then highlighting the snot out of it. In his chapter on recapturing time, MacDonald writes, "One needs to ask, what are my nonnegotiables? I have discovered that most of us who complain we are disorganized simply do not know the answer to this question. As a result, the important functions that will make the supreme difference in our effectiveness miss getting into the calendar until it is too late. Disorganization and frustration; the non-essentials crowd into the date book before the necessities do." If we don't map out our own plans deliberately, months will fly by on the calendar and there will be nothing to show for it.

Curious today: What are some of the plans, projects and people you want to invest in this February? Comment below and I will be reading! 

Full plan ahead: The best planner picks for 2017

I'm a former cheater. We should go ahead and just get that out of the way first.

I have been consistently unfaithful when it comes to picking a planner and sticking with it for 12 solid months. I know I'm not alone in this. I'm not the only one to ever pick a planner, fall madly in love with it, feel organized and like your life serves a purpose for 5 minutes, haphazardly visit Target and end up with an entirely different planner a month later. That has been the rhythm of my life for a long time and I am betting there are some people out there who do just the same.

The good thing about being unable to stick with a planner for 12 months? You date a lot of planners. You know what's out there. Eventually, the romance of a new planner with crisp pages wears off. Sticking with a planner isn't some whimsical "this is the one" feeling sweeping you up. You survey your options. You pick one. You write things down. You repeat. And you stop allowing yourself to look at other options. It's basically marriage.

I've stuck with my planner for 8 months now. Eight months is basically 8 years in Hannah-time. There are days where I look at it and am tempted to cheat again-- go find another boo with cooler margins and more white space-- but I remember an important fact about life, love and planners: your choices gain power as you continue to choose them. You give your choices value by saying on repeat, "I choose you."The magic of discipline and consistency cohabitate from that very spot.

Seriousness aside, I've wanted to write this post for a long time and there seems like no better time than now-- when we are all on the cusp of 2017-- to put it out there.

Whether you've picked your planner for 2017 or you are still on the hunt, there's some serious options out there for you.

I've included pictures, links and descriptions of some of my favorite planners below.

A few things about my selections:

  1. I picked planners for productivity rather than just the look and feel. Ultimately, how you organize your life should determine which planner you stick with.
  2. All of the planners below are analog. I am a big believer in putting the pen to paper and I definitely need that when it comes to my plans and goals. I keep a digital calendar, yes, but I love carrying a planner with me on the go.

Cheers to 2017 and writing it all down!


1.

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I am a big fan of whatever Anthropologie is doing. I keep tabs on their website regularly and am always checking in to see what brands they're carrying. This Big Plans Planner is simple and basic but it still has everything you could want and need. I love the clean look and how portable it is!

The cash you'll dish out: $28


2.

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I'd never heard of this brand up until today but I can't get over how dang cute this thing is. It's a monthly planner so be sure you only want to keep track of the month-by-month things before you buy it. I can't get over the shopping lists inside and all the little veggies dancing around though. After browsing their website, all their products are overall sweet and sassy.

The cash you'll dish out: $16.95


3.

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I know a lot of folks who prefer all things Emily Ley and I don't blame them! Emily is a friend of mine who I really admire and I have gotten the chance to see her business blow up in the last few years. This planner is definitely a solid pick for those who love organization paired with a minimal canvas. Plus, I love the pineapples!

The cash you'll dish out: $58


4.

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I will say it and stand by it: there is no lack in Target's planner game. I don't know how or when it happened but Target as brought their A-game for the last few years in the "office" section of their store. These planners are perfect for people who want to spend less but still get stylish with their daily plans. I recommend for the noncommittal folks out there who will only keep a planner for two weeks before they drop it for another one. This Target planner is basically a disposable boyfriend whose feelings won't get hurt when you drop him for something else in February.

The cash you'll dish out: $14.99


5.

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I used this planner last year and absolutely loved it. It has such a unique look and feel. The one thing about this planner that threw me off was that it was a little big and bulky. I found it hard to travel with this planner which is why I think I gave it up. However, this is a beautiful choice for a planner that sits on your desk and travels lightly.

The cash you'll dish out: $42


6.

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People ask me often which planner I choose to use. Here it is: Rifle Paper Co. I've stuck with this planner for about 8 months now which, to me, is a pretty big deal! I love the elegant feel to it and how much space there is to write notes and plan out the day.

My planner is currently sold out but the orange one (which I love equally) is in stock!

The cash you'll dish out: $34


7.

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Another love of mine: the Passion Planner. This is ideal for the people who are driven by their passion projects and lose sleep at night over the thought of color-coding something... anything. I've used this planner in the past (no joke, I've tried them all) and I really liked it. For me, the lines were a little too small but I hear from people all the time who are obsessed with their Passion Planner. Great news... it's on sale!

The cash you'll dish out: $25


9.

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I stumbled into this planner after some internet digging and I have to say: I'm hooked on the look of it. I am not going to ditch the planner I am devoted to but I am totally recommending it to you! The Volt Planner seems like the perfect fit for the people who are itching to get to 2017 because they LOVE GOALS and ALL THE GOALS. It's a minimalist look with a pretty cool backstory! Check it out!

The cash you'll dish out: $40

The valley of pg. 100.

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Everyone knows I go to “church” on Monday nights.

There’s a reason for using quotation marks to envelope that word “church.” It’s a different kind of church than the one I attend on a Sunday morning. There are no pews. There are no hymns or flashing lights. It’s just a bunch of girls, sitting in a living room, infusing the air with commentary on the latest episode of the Bachelorette.

Someone will be quick to say, “That’s not church! Rar! That’s not church.” But me? I am in the camp of believing that church is wherever you get united with other people who are struggling and fighting. Church is any place where God gets invited in. It takes only hope and a reason for God to be there to build a sanctuary. This world is crawling with sanctuaries that have yet to know God is hanging on the beams and breathing in the hallways.

...

So church. Monday night. I went there. There wasn’t a new episode of the Bachelorette so we all just came to hang out and catch up. There’s a new girl in the mix named Mattie. She lives in North Carolina but makes a regular pilgrimage to Atlanta for business. When she is here, the girls of Bachelorette night scoop her up and take her in because we want her to stay. Forever.

Mattie and I talked books. It was refreshing to talk about fiction and our lists and how we wish we had more time to sit on beaches, sip drinks, and just lose ourselves in good storytelling. We talked about the struggle we sometimes face to finish a book. It’s like you’re going strong in the beginning and you are jiving with the characters but then life hits you and the book hits a lull. You’re left crawling back to the pages months later because you just couldn’t finish what you started.

I tell her that’s my biggest fear as a writer.

“When I was writing my first book, that was what I was always so afraid of,” I told her as I took a sip of my kombucha because I am drinking kombucha these days. “I was afraid to not be liked as a narrator. You are always afraid that someone is going to leave you at page 55 or 92 and they won’t finish with you.”

...

Being afraid that someone won’t finish with you is reason enough to never start moving at all. We’re human so I think that means we crave a doubt, an impossibility, that will keep us standing in one place. We can never mourn the loss of losing people if we never fight to keep them.

Whether you are someone who wrangles words and puts them on a page or not, you’ve probably been fearful of the same thing. A lot of us are fearful that we will start this road surrounded and end up alone. We are afraid we won’t get the invitation to the party. We are afraid we won’t get chosen. We are afraid we won’t find love or our loved ones will leave us. The fears are mounting on top of one another. We want someone to stay.

I told Mattie that I basically have one rule for my summer reading: I will finish the book. I will not abandon the characters. I will follow through even if it’s painful or annoying or not turning out to be the literature I wanted it to be. I want to be someone who knows how to get to the finish line. I want to know that I might stagger and fall across that finish line but I intend to finish.

I don’t have every good word of wisdom in the world to keep you from giving up but I can say this: this world needs more people who finish things. We are good at starting but we are weak when it comes to finishing.

There’s no great secret to this life we are living. There isn’t some answer being withheld from us. You don’t need to roam through the racks of a bookstore to get better at being human. Just be there for people. Just try your best to finish what you start. Just know: we are all afraid of being left on page 156. We are all anxious that no one will care to understand pages 1-155.

Don’t abandon your people on page 118.

Don’t walk away on page 71.

Forge through the vallies of pages 60-82.

Stay on page 99 for however long you need to, for however long someone needs you to be there. Camp out. Make a fire. Put stakes in the ground. Someone’s faith is going to fail soon. Their faith will fail and they will need someone— maybe you—  to bend down and come close enough to whisper, “Page 99 is not all this world has for you. There is more. There is more for you too." 

When the first mile isn't sexy...

Dear readers,

We are getting ready to move. It's crazy to type that but I've outgrown this little blog home and we are in the market for something bigger, with more windows, and a better view. 

I am currently in the process of renovating the house (website) but I want to give you the sneak peek of what blog posts will look like in the future. 

So check out the new blog look & let me know know what you think! 

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I’ve been on a health journey since April 12.

I know the exact date because I opened my laptop that evening and recorded a video of myself talking. It’s a lot of me whining, being somber to the camera, about how I wished I could claim my health back.

I’m not particularly unhealthy. I’ve been a pretty good eater since adulthood. I like clean meals. I’ve always managed to work out consistently. In the last few years it has been harder to stay on track. It’s easier to eat at 10pm when work is finally over and you get a chance to relax. It’s easier to skip a workout because you’re too tired or you can “do it tomorrow.” It’s easier to grab french fries and then script a funny, little tweet about your french fries than to buy groceries and a make a healthy meal.

I’ve started, failed, and restarted this health journey so many times that starting again seemed impossible to me. I didn’t even want to try.

On April 12, Lane took me into the gym. He had a workout planned and he pushed me through it. I did not go through the motions of that workout without causing Lane great pain and agony. I cried. I whimpered. I begged him to let me give up about a thousand times. He dealt with my whining, my anger, my frustrated self.

Every exercise felt more painful than the next. I was pushing against myself and could feel this tangible resistance bundled up inside of me like the cords of the straightener and the curling iron getting tangled in an impossible knot. He kept pushing and cheering me on.

“You wrote about mile 19 today,” he said to me. “How you showed up for Brooke at mile 19.”

It was my Monday Morning email he was referring to. I’d written about showing up for my friend Brooke while she was training for a marathon. During her 20-mile run, in the middle of her training, I promised to meet her at mile 19 and run the last mile with her.

“Push harder,” Lane said to me as we transitioned into mountain climbers on the yoga mat. “This isn’t your mile 19. This is your mile 1.”

I was vividly frustrated. Tears were still coming and I could not control them. I didn’t want to be at mile 1. No one wants to be at mile 1. Mile 1 feels like an eternity; it feels like you are never going to finish mile 1. Nothing about the beginning of a journey feels sexy. There’s nothing to boast over. There’s no testimony post for social media about mile 1.

“Mile 1,” he keeps saying as we lift and row and lunge. “Mile 1. You’re at mile 1.”

It doesn’t even feel sexy to write about mile 1. I feel like I need more adjectives to make this post better than it is. I still feel like I am at the beginning of the journey, though I am technically over a month in. I see little bits of progress but my emotions are still up and down, up and down.

I’m learning progress doesn’t show up over night. Progress looks like learning to mince garlic and sub out sour cream for greek yogurt. Progress looks like those peanut butter energy balls you pinned last week turning crumbly and inconsistent. Progress looks like mornings where you don’t feel like getting to the workout class because you’re already imagining 55 minutes of torture.

5 things to remember about progress:

It’s slow.

And that’s okay! The culture we live in is a bigtime preacher when it comes to things happening “instantly” and in “5 easy steps.” It’s hard to even graze through a Women’s Health Magazine because everything is supposed to happen for you in 2 weeks or less. Truth told: I don’t remember the last time something happened for me in two weeks. But slow progress is still progress. Enjoy the road you’re on. Don’t give up on mile 1.

You’re not alone.

Surrounding yourself with other people who can build you up and make you stronger is key. I don’t think I would be on this health journey if Lane wasn’t constantly pushing me, helping me make meals, and challenging me to go harder. There is community out there for you, even if it is just one person.

Writing it down helps.

I have started keeping notes of my progress since April 12. I don’t do it everyday. It doesn’t always have to be notes on what I ate or how I performed in barre class. Here’s the note I wrote for myself on Day 3:

“I'm realizing the answer will never be on social media. It's the first thing I noticed when I woke up this morning, that I look to social media to numb me from whatever I need to face. It's weird... I didn't realize I was actually using it to numb me. When I first keyed into the problems with social media, I thought I was using it to seek the approval of others. Not the case. I am actually using it to numb something inside of me that is meant for the Lord. It was one of the first feelings today that I didn't want that for my life. I don't want this life to be one where I fill my holes with bad habits I have not managed to kick yet.

My prayer for the day is that the Lord would meet me in my issues and my mess. I pray he will lift me up, though I don't deserve it. I pray I can be productive and not defeated. He can help me train for this marathon called Life. It would be a beautiful day and I would start to understand this journey he is taking me on better and more fully.”

Don’t break something just to fix it again.

One month into the journey, I knew I was dedicated. I knew I would keep going— even if I never saw the progress I wanted. I kept looking at all these online programs— Kayla Itsines, Body by Simone, etc. I knew I loved taking barre classes but I was worried about the price of Pure Barre. I tried to come up with other solutions.

Wise, old Lane reminded me: It’s important to invest in what you want and what you know works.

Within the weekend, I was signed up for barre classes again. I wasted so much energy trying to find a solution to help me become more consistent in working out that I neglected the truth: I already had a solution. I already had a program that worked for my body. Why try to change it?

It’s a lifestyle change (and that takes time).

My initial motivation to get healthy was so that I didn’t feel overly insecure sitting in a bathing suit on a beach in Punta Cana next month. That was the spark but that quickly fell into the background when I realized I wanted this thing to last. I had to find something more to anchor myself into progress if I wanted this to be a lifestyle shift, not a 50-day goal.

What are my greater motivations for health beyond a bikini? Well, I struggle with anxiety and depression. Solutions for lessening those symptoms are rooted in health. I have psoriasis— an autoimmune disorder. Solutions for less inflammation all come back to health. I travel a lot for speaking and I often feel sluggish when I go places. All of that is rooted in… you guessed it… health!

It’s greater than a bikini, friends. It was never about a bikini anyway.

On dedication.

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 10.22.09 AM I haven't blogged in over a month. It seems like the things that have been nearly habitual to me have fallen to the back burner. Oddly enough, I'm not freaking out. I'm happier than I've ever been. I am doing really okay right now with not being perfect and not attempting to hold the world together.

Don't get me wrong-- I love this blog. I can't wait to get back to regular posting. But my heart and habits have shifted a little bit in the last month and I've been using everything I've got to honor those shifts.

It was about a month that I was sitting with my therapist, once again complaining about how my book proposal is still not finished. (Side note: I am a huge, huge, huge advocate for therapy. You don't need to be ill to go see a therapist. I see mine every two weeks-- even though my depression is at bay-- and it's the best investment of my money that I could possibly make).

Back to the book proposal... I could not push past the rut, no matter how hard I tried. What was even harder was that it didn't seem to matter how much I was kicking butt in other areas-- I could only see my gaping failure in this one particular area. I traveled around for speaking engagements for two solid months, I opened a print shop, I completed my first two writing intensives, I was blogging regularly, and learning to make healthy lifestyle shifts. It didn't feel like enough though because the one thing I wanted to be doing, more than anything, just wasn't getting done.

Here's the thing I'm learning though: it won't happen if you don't make it happen. The only way for something to be completed-- whether that's a book or a project or a workout-- is if you push yourself towards it. You will face resistance, sure, but resistance isn't a good enough excuse to not go after what you want. Anything worthwhile in life usually comes with a fight. There's a fight to start something. A fight to forge a new path in the road. A fight to keep a habit going. A fight to continue. But, in the fight, we learn some of the most valuable things about ourselves. We learn how much capacity we truly have. We get braver. We figure out who are people are and how loud they cheer. More than that, we figure out how much cheer other people on and whether or not we are an asset to the lives of other people.

My therapist basically told me that in the amount of time I talked about the book proposal I could have very easily written the whole book. The next morning, as I prayed, I realized my therapist was right. I was stalling and it was actually making me a worse person. The more I rejected what I needed to be doing, the more I felt discontented and projected that onto other people. I was actively deflating myself and surrendering to self-defeat without even giving the challenge a try.

I needed to clear the space. I needed to get my priorities straightened. I needed to put what I knew I wanted-- the hardest thing to walk towards-- first. I needed to surrender my excuses to God and let him enter into my insecurities and fill out the spaces.

In the month that has followed, I've completed the book proposal and also written over 40,000 words worth of material for the book. That, friends, is a miracle. Up until the time I sat down and just decided to do the damn thing I was always making excuses. Excuses don't add up to anything over time. They lose their luster. People eventually stop expecting things out of people who make too many excuses.

So maybe this post is a little late. I'm perfectly okay with that. I'm finally writing and I am here to report that still, one month later, it hasn't gotten easier. The resistance has been there consistently each day. The liars still show up at the door. The thoughts of "I can't do this" rattle in my brain. But I am doing it. I am walking towards what scares me. I am putting something I love first because I am afraid to wake up one day and realize I only watched but never participated.

It's short, guys. We know this. It's fleeting and it's not really predictable. We can't afford to be bystanders, especially if there is something in your chest that tells you that you were born for more than this. Pursue the workout plan. Pursue the book. Pursue 400 words. Pursue the person. Pursue the thing. You're the only one who gets how much it matters to you. It has to matter enough though, enough for you to make a change, clear the space, and finally get to work.

Kill your pity party and just do work.

Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 8.28.22 PM I've had to tell myself not to cry at least three times this morning as I tied a flannel around my waist, slipped into my Converse, and headed for the door to grab my morning coffee.

Don't cry. Don't cry. Don't cry. 

It's one of those mornings... you know the kind: You wake up late. Nothing you put on your body seems to fit you. You check the scale because it's possible you gained 10 pounds overnight because spinach dip, no matter how much we say it is a good idea, is never a good idea. Your hair won't do anything. Your to-do list is long. And nothing, no sweet texts or gentle embraces for the day, will please you.

This is my morning and I have to try really hard not to let the tyrant inside of me-- the one who already believes her day is crushed-- rule for the next few hours. 

A bad attitude about what you can or cannot accomplish throughout this day is never a good idea. Trust me. If you were going to be running a race this morning you would never think to invite a person who was going to ridicule you until you reached the finish line. In the same way, you should not invite the parts of yourself who want to have a continual, 24-7 pity party into your work day. Forget "haters gonna hate" and just stop hating on yourself for being not enough. 

Today I am deciding to kill the pity party and dig deeper into some of the things I do that help me feel less overwhelmed inside of an overdrive week.

  1. Do one small thing. 

It seems too simple. Especially for the ones of us who want to fix all the world's problems by 2pm, it seems way too simple to think one small task is going to change anything. But honestly? Every good thing and every hard thing begins with one small step in the right direction.

I thought of a million ways to begin writing this morning and none of them were getting me anywhere. I knew I needed to blog today (it's been about a month) but I felt crazed when I looked at all the potential topics. It's my job to get out of my own way though and so I sat down and resolved to write something. Anything. This is that blog post. It exists now. It is small and may never serve a mighty purpose but it's proof that I've accomplished as task for the day.

2. Get organized on paper

My boyfriend has been helping me come up with a system for the last few weeks to manage my tasks and sort out the different projects I am working on. I can't sit here and claim it's been easy. I've been stubborn. I've wanted to reject nearly every idea. He is patient and analytical so he is already processing all the tasks I have to get done with a spreadsheet mindset. Me? I am a hurricane who actually delights in her own chaos. If you clear out my chaos then what could I possibly be dramatic about? It's a bad habit that seriously needs to kick the bucket if I want to be more productive in 2016.

So we are trying out different task management applications and I would love to get your input on things you like and things you don't like. This morning, my great friend Lara Casey suggested I try out Things. She wrote a really awesome blog post on her own organization habits that I would suggest reading.

Mind you, I am a pen-to-paper girl so switching to a digital task management system is going to be hard for me. I will not eliminate my daily planner (a lot of you asked for the link) but I also need to find a way to be more efficient with my tasks, my copywriting clients, my team, and my grocery list.

3. Make a choice (and stick with it)

It's ironic that I asked you to give me task management suggestions in the point above when I really should have written, "Please don't suggest anything to me because the more you suggest, the more fickle I will become." Maybe that's you too-- the more options you are given, the more chances you have to be indecisive.

Trust me, I do not need an excuse or a reason to be indecisive and neither do you. The longer we float in limbo with our options, the less we get done. Options-- too many of them-- make us inefficient.

So how you do you drown out all the noise about options in 2016 when there are 57 different kinds of Honey Mustard dressing and a million different ways to dress your iPhone? Simple. You figure out what you like. You make a decision and you stick with it. You give value to that decision by continually choosing it over and over again. You don't introduce change into the mix unless you absolutely need change.

It makes me think about that scene in You've Got Mail where Tom Hanks' character talks about Starbucks. He says, "The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don't know what the hell they're doing or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self: Tall. Decaf. Cappuccino."

I think this is completely, 100% me until I realize that I do not want to be the kind of person who is incapable of making decisions. I want to be decided. I want to be resolved. The first step towards that?

Pick one thing. Pick that you want plain drip coffee with a little bit of cream. Proceed to buy that coffee on the regular. Keep choosing drip coffee. Drip coffee will not let you down. It never has. It doesn't know how to. 

4. It's mile 3... keep going.

I was sitting at church with a friend of mine on Sunday and he was feeling pretty discouraged about a girl he has been dating. He keeps trying to make plans with her and she's giving him excuses for every single proposal he makes.

** Pause for some friendly non-abrasive relationship advice **

Dear people everywhere,

If you are not interested in a person (either from the start or after a few dates) just tell them. Save that person time. Save yourself time. Quit the games. Honesty is the best way to lead, especially when it comes to other human hearts wrapped up in the mix. Just be honest and give up the game-playing.

Sincerely,

A retired game player

Back to my friend...

He was sincerely bummed out and wanted to give up. At this point, he has every reason to give up but I found myself telling him no.

"You are not giving up until you end it," I tell him. "You are not going to punk out at mile 3 and write yourself an ending to this story that isn't true. You're going to finish."

Mile 3 is a reference to a New Year's run that I've done in Central Park for the last few years. It starts at midnight. You run the loop of the park at the strike of the New Year. There are fireworks. It's a 4 mile race.

If you are not a seasoned runner then you start to get tired at mile 3. Mile 3 is where you begin huffing and puffing. My friends and I who have run this race before and we know that mile 3 is actually the best mile mark because it's where the sparkling apple cider in little Dixie cups is waiting for you.

You stop. You cheers one another. You say Happy New Year to the people passing out the Dixie Cups and you keep going because you know the real truth: you are going to make it. You are going to finish. You are capable.

"You don't punk out at mile 3," I reinforce to my friend. "That's where you chug the apple cider and you keep going." No one turns down sparkling apple cider. It is simply not allowed.

Last night I showed up at a meeting with a bottle of sparkling apple cider for my friend. I got it for $3.99 at Publix. It's really inexpensive to celebrate your friends but it's really very necessary.

I reminded him that we don't give up at mile 3. We keep going, even when it's hard. Even when it is overwhelming and we are tempted to script a not-true story to feed our hungry little egos, we cheers our little Dixie cups and finish strong.

Finish strong, you. 

You are a finisher who deserves really good things in life. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Approaching 2016.

Screen Shot 2015-12-27 at 11.28.53 AM The most popular question I’m approached with is simple: how do you hear God speak?

I reference it a lot in my writing. God whispered. God spoke. God said. I realize I address God as if we are sitting down together for morning coffee and he is dictating my day for me. I also realize that it doesn’t really work that way.

I never want to come off like God whispers to wake me up in the morning or I hear this slow, steady, streaming voice throughout my daily interactions as if he’s the voice of Siri.

God speaks through his word.

I wish it sounded cooler than that. Just yesterday I sat with a friend over coffee and she asked, how do you know he is speaking?

I say back to her, "I spend enough time with him to know the sound of his voice." Before I learned to sit and wait for him I would believe any voice that spoke to me.

I’ve learned that the more time you spend in the word of God, the more clearly he speaks into other areas of your life. The more time you spend understanding his voice, and what it sounds like, the more you are able to discern whether you are hearing from God or not.

Honestly, I don’t think it is always that we wonder whether God is speaking or not. There are a lot of competing voices. Half of the battle of a life of faith is knowing when you are hearing the voice of God or when it is the lies uttering half-truths to you on repeat.

I flopped open my bible two days before Christmas. I was fully aware that this year it seemed I would have no goals for the New Year. It feels like this is the first year where I don’t want anything. I don’t need anything. I am perfectly happy with my life.

I’m not trying to boast in this. I wasn’t fully candid with it last December but I lost four months of my life to the roughest battle with depression and anxiety that I’ve ever experienced. I wasn’t eating. I wasn’t sleeping. People ask why my faith is so mighty and robust these days and the answer is simple: he brought me out of the darkness. I only have forever to thank him for that.

I’m usually restless when I walk into the New Year. I want to get rid of things. I want to let go. I want to be a new person. I want that sacred, sultry do-over.

I am approaching 2016 differently than any other year prior. Instead of traipsing into the year with a list of demands for myself that seem not rational-- like "lose all the weight" and "organize all the things"-- I am quieter. I am less expectant of myself and more expectant of God.

I tie a little red thread around my wrist as a way to tell myself, "You want him to use you. You have always wanted him to use you. Let this tiny red thread me a reminder that you have to make sacrifices in order to best be used by him. You are a vessel, babycakes. Remember that, you are a vessel. This isn't about resolutions-- it's about progress." 

 

As I read I think, “Give me a word.” I want a word for the year ahead. I want it to be a good word. Something powerful. Something that will stir momentum inside of my heart. A word like “brave” or “strong” or “capable.”

I walk over to my mother’s bookshelf and I pull the Exhaustive Concordance from the corner of the shelf. I hold the book for a few minutes before I decide that I am simply going to open up the book and see what word sits before me. I don’t really recommend this method but it does work sometimes.

I open. I place my finger down. The word is “pure.”

I cringe. I hate all the connotations that come with the word “pure.” I associate the word “pure” with innocence. I think, this is a mistake and I need a new word. My word for 2016 cannot possibly be pure.

However, I am not a fool. I can tell that God wants to do something here. God is always wanting to dig into the places where we are most reluctant to go.

So I start to dig. I open up to the first reference of “pure” in the bible that catches my attention. James 4:8:

“Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

To be double-minded is to be unstable. Unstable, in this context, would mean you are a person who says one thing and then you do another. You might gossip. You might use the sharpness of your tongue. You might ask with big faith and then retract. You might believe God in one hour and then run back to the prisons of fear in your mind.

I can say with confidence that I don't want that. I don’t want to be the type of person who goes through life with two faces. I want to be single-minded. Single-tracked. Singularly content with God.

Contentment. That’s what trips me up every time. That’s the word in the room that I don’t like trying to dissect because I know it would push me far out of the confines of my comfort zone. Friends, we must ditch the comfort zone. We must ditch the comfort zone as if our whole lives hinged upon us going free.

I write down the question: what do I need to give up? What am I still holding too tightly?

Notes from the battlefield.

Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 12.38.28 PM

I used to think it was my grandmother who turned me into a writer but now I know it was my father.

My father, though he doesn’t always say a lot of words, is the most vocal of men when it comes to action steps. He uses his hands. He shows up. He helps anyone and everyone who needs it. “Showing up” has become a buzzword. I’ve used it so much that I am sometimes want to cut off both my hands so that my fingers can never type it again until they truly, truly know what it means. I’m not an expert in showing up— I am simply trying to get better by texting back, knocking on people’s front doors with wine glasses in my free hand, and choosing not to walk away.

Growing up, I could not be more embarrassed by my father. I was 12 years old and my father was a garbage man. I remember waiting for the day when he would wake up, roll over, put on a suit, and go to work. It never happened. But I remember lying to the kids in school about his occupation. Though he picked up their trash, and we all knew it, I still told them that his stint as a garbage man was a hobby, something he chose to do before going to work with a briefcase.

Now the man’s body is riddled and plagued and weathered by the years of hanging his lean body off the back of a truck and lifting heavy garbage bins into the open mouth of a trash bag chomping monster machine. Some days he doesn’t get out of bed because his body is so tired.

...

It’s getting to that point, probably closer than ever, where I might meet a man and we might spend a lifetime fighting for one another. I’m not sure. I’m on mission— wholly devoted to this writing career God gave me— and so I stay focused on that, above all things.

But when it comes to finding someone to be with, I am looking for my father. In the crowds of people. In the man across the table who pulls the debit card from his back pocket and pays the bill. I am looking for my father.

I am looking for a man who knows and understands the weight of work and provision. The year is 2015 and I meet a lot of people who are more focused on their brand than their character. They’re more focused on my brand than my character (which is even scarier).

It scares me to think that we would rather say the right thing, and get a few “likes,” than to invest in being a better and bigger person off the screen. 

Do not get me wrong, I love people of the internet. I have eaten with them. Drank cocktails with them. Prayed about them. Gone to parties with them and moved to new cities for them. But I have also seen the ugly side of social media that I think we don’t look at often enough: you can fool the world and pretend to be someone you’re not. You can get so good at upholding a false image of yourself that you never actually advance in the things that matter: humility, integrity, honesty, commitment.

...

I don’t want to be a faker. I just want to be a hard worker.

While I look at the men who pay the tabs at dinner, I am not just looking for my father— I am hellbent on becoming him. I am becoming a person who doesn’t need to highlight the work she does, she simply does the work because it has been handed to her. Even though I have devoted the better part of my 20s to a workaholic spirit, there is still the possibility that I could slip and lose the vision. If you lose the vision, you lose direction. This world needs leaders who are confident in their direction, not aimlessly looking for the next ladder rung to get them higher.

Trust me, I have wasted time. I have a wasted a lot of time on the things of life that don’t actually matter. I’ve eaten pride like casserole. I’ve loved myself and hated myself a little too much. I should have been studying or cooking or writing or creating but instead I was scrolling through social media accounts to see who had gotten ahead of me. My heart was being vandalized by bitterness, jealousy, and resentment but it was too dark to call them out by name.

I have wrestled to get off the phone. I have found watching the lives of other people to be easier than facing my own junk. But no one is going to clear out your own emptiness. When your dreams go unfulfilled because you didn’t start the work, the world won’t even know how to be heartbroken by the loss of things that would have made them better people. That’s the thing about the things you don’t do: you carry the loss.

You decide to either follow after what matters most to you or you follow other people. You either build people up or tear them down in your heart because you think they’re getting what you deserved and wanted. You build a Hunger Games arena in your brain and, as a result, you can’t stop hiding in the trees.

I don’t want to hear God say, “You cared more about following people than me. You were supposed to feed the others, not follow them.”

...

So here's my honest prayer as I lift my hands to the ceiling on a Sunday and try to trust him for than I did on Saturday. You can steal it if you want. I am always down for stolen prayers:

God, make me a worker. Make me a worker who is so focused on the calling that there be no time for comparison or competition or false humility. Make me the one who bends her head towards the desk and just gives herself to the process, not the praise. 

Keep me faithful. Keep me honest. Keep me real. Chip away what doesn't help me get closer to the others.

Make me fall so hard in love with this work that I fail to see the ones who'd like to see me fall.

Make me so faithful to the direction I am going in that my life won't be a good story but rather a map that others could use to find you for real. 

A "hell yes" harvest.

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 5.45.17 AM “If you have to ask me then you already know,” she told me over a Skype call. We'd been talking about relationships for the last few minutes. I'd asked for guy advice from a girl I barely even knew. That's just my style though-- I trust easily and thoroughly in the first five minutes and I get into the vehicles of stranger's far too much (do not follow my example) (please).

"I go by this rule of thumb," she continued, keeping her eyes locked on me through the screen. "If it is not a "hell yes" then it's a "hell no."

I never ceased to forget that. I've forgotten nearly everything else from our conversation a few years ago but I never forgot that statement.

If it's not a "hell yes" then it's a "hell no."

I pocketed that. I went out into the world looking for the “hell yes.” The certainty. The brave and bold and undeniable assurance. I believed in the “hell yes” for a really long. And for a really long time I shut myself off to people-- mainly guys-- because I was looking for that “hell yes” and it just wasn’t showing up for me.

...

I was looking for fireworks.

That's what I really wanted. Explosions. I wanted something to shift and shake my atmosphere and turn my world upside down and cause me to be unable to sleep at night because I was “feeling all the feels.” I was basically looking for a natural disaster of a human to prove to me that they were unlike the other ones.

Honestly though, why would God want that for my life? Why would he want someone to come into my life like a wrecking ball or a tornado? I forget too often that while he may be the God of burning bushes, he is also the God of little miracles & tiny things & slow, burning trust that takes days and weeks and months to uncover.

I can’t speak for everyone but I am ready to conclude this: a “hell yes” is impossibly hard to find when you live a life filled with Fear.

 

...

I’ve been talking a lot about Fear.

I think it is a bigger dictator than I ever wanted to admit. It has squeezed its way into every decision I've had to make. I think I have gotten so used to fear speaking in the background that I forget it was meant to be feeling- not a roadblock.

Fear is basically synonymous with Russell Crowe in Les Miserables-- he was always meant to be a character, sure, but someone let him sing too much.

And here's a last reality check on fear: if you are shrouded in fear-- absolutely basted in it-- then that’s not God. God isn’t fear. He’s quite the opposite. He’s love. And love, when you allow yourself to get close enough to it, will not resemble fear. Just like you gave fear the permission to grow, you have to give love that same chance to rock you too.

 

...

So how does a girl like me get to a “hell yes”? I’m not sure. But it starts with time. Everything begins with time and grace.

I have a friend named Jake who I wish every human could know. Really and truly, he is the male version of me. Put the two of us together and we will cry all the rivers and then somehow manage to drown in them. We are feelers. We are empaths. If you need a scale of how deep we can go then start looking at the bottom of the Atlantic because we are down there, straight chilling with the Titanic.

Even though I don’t know everything about Jake, as one of my closest friends I know this: he probably carries just as much fear as I do. He probably has just as hard of a time opening up as I do. And so every step he has taken in the last few months to heal from heartbreak and find love all over again makes me whisper beneath my breath, “I’m proud of you. I’m really proud of you.”

I texted him last night as I was writing. His is a safe message box to drop my fears and a smattering of emojis. I told him simply and plainly: I am terrified. I am terrified because some days I know what I want. And other days I don’t have a clue. I’m just so scared to let people in and let someone choose me.

“You don’t have to know,” he texts back immediately. Because that’s Jake: the one who texts back immediately when his friends need him.

“You’re choosing and that’s what you have to do,” he continues. “Just. Keep. Choosing.”

 

...

Instantly my mind gets pushed back to over a year ago.

I was standing beside a boy I wanted to love more than anything. I was angry, so angry with God, because those feelings weren’t coming. Nothing in my body was morphing into a “hell yes.”

I was living in Connecticut. I was resistant to the idea of Georgia even though I knew signs of me going there were getting planted before me on the regular. Atlanta would mean I would have to give me up my last shred of control. I was not cool with letting go of my last shred of control.

He’d asked me how I wanted the bookshelf to look. He was a builder and I was a girl who wanted a bookshelf.

"How do you want the bookshelf to look?" He asked it just like that.

It was a really easy question. How many shelves? How much room on each one? What kind of wood? I should have been able to spit it out right there, right there. But I didn’t know. So I trekked back and forth in the hallway that night asking myself, “What do I want? What do I want? What do I want?”

I got all clogged up and self-obsessed with my own indecision instead of just stopping, breathing, and making a choice.

I told myself that instead of "choices to be made" the story was really "you are a girl who doesn't know what she wants. So figure out what you want and stop at nothing until you get to it."

It was never about the bookshelf, friends. It had nothing to do with the bookshelf. It had to do with the fact that I stayed, and I waited, and the "hell yes" never came. It's okay to have a game-over. When you've stayed and stuck it out and tried your hardest, it's okay to have a game-over.

Up until today (this very moment), I believed I was a girl who knew exactly what she wanted and all my “hell yes” moments were going to stay in the distance until I uncovered them like buried treasure. That story could not be further from the truth so I am changing the script.

Beyond good people and a life that tests me, I don’t have a clue what I want.  I care too much about the things I want rather than what I know I need. I care too much about what other people want for me. It’s not about knowing what you like and banking on the hope that that will never change. Things change too often to rest your whole life in their certainty.

It’s simpler than knowing what you want: it's getting brave enough to make a choice.

One choice. And then another choice. And then another choice.

You choose your “hell yes.” You choose it hourly. Daily. You choose it so much that you let it grow roots down inside of you.

A “hell yes” takes time. It gets stronger as you go. But just because you don’t feel it, right in this very second, doesn’t mean you should shut all the doors on all the people who might just be your “hell yes” in the end.

 

...

Take me back to October of last year and I know I could not write these words. I was a girl who loved the instantaneous things of this lifetime. I was far too easily pleased by getting things quickly. So if the feelings didn’t come in 2.5 seconds then I was splitting before midnight. That’s how I have known to abruptly and swiftly not stay in things that could actually be good for me.

And then life shifted and shook. I got my wrecking ball. I got my tornado. It didn’t come in the form of two legs and a beard-- it was just Life flipping tables and yelling into me, “PLEASE DON’T STAY THE SAME. LET YOUR LIFE BE WRECKED SO YOU CAN JUST BE HEALED.

As I slowly reassembled everything in my life that used to be fine though not sturdy, I became the proud and hesitant mother of a garden bed. My own garden. I tilled the ground. I planted the seeds. I watered. I found patience. I surprised my friends- the ones who did not hold the faith that I could actually keep anything alive. And I didn't "let" things go. They simply grew. I gave things the time and capacity and space to just grow-- uninhibited by my expectations that are far too easily squashed and my fascist-like control sprees.

And yesterday I pulled the first of my cherry tomatoes from their vine, washed them good, and bit down hard. There was something sweet-- matchless-- about the waiting it took to get that harvest. The waiting, all in itself, was nectar.

I know I am learning to wait. I think I am learning to not hold expectations so close to my chest. God didn’t promise to honor my expectations. That would be such a sad, little life. He promised to prune me and love me just as I needed to be pruned and loved.

 

...

Dear you,

It’s okay if you don’t feel the “hell yes” right now. Take the expectations and the pressure off yourself. Rewrite the story and realize this: it’s not about knowing what you want, it’s about making slow and steady choices for the better of your character.

hb.

Dear Hell Yes,

You might be an instant thing or you might be a seed. I’m not so sure about you.

But sweet Hell Yes, if you are a seed then I am planting you today. I hope you grow. I so hope you grow to give me some of the shade I always needed.

hb.

I got 99 problems but a budget ain't one.

I also know exactly what I need to get on the budgeting train and stay on it: I need the set-up to be simple, smart, and minimalistic-- with a touch of sass. That's me. That's what will motivate me to budget and keep my finances in order.

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You can't be all the things.

You can't be all the things.

And let’s me be honest: not needing people, and not knowing how to need people, is the saddest thing in the world. It’s sad and it’s empty and it will leave you hollow and begging for the “more” you don’t know how to swallow your pride and ask for.

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