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Living Life Interrupted

It happens when you are least expecting.
It happens in fleeting moments of pure joy.
It's completely out of your control.
It's freeing.
It’s beautiful.
It's saying yes to new adventures.

You look back on those moments; those short glimpses of heaven where you sat watching the rain fall soft on the warm pavement, when you knew exactly how you wanted your future to look. It’s those moments that shatter everything and bring about the most radically beautiful adventure.

When life is truly interrupted, big decisions are made for you. It is no longer a series of challenging “to do’s” or terrifying tasks but rather a simple and peaceful “yes” to opportunities that feel second nature, to opportunities that feel like home.

I truly believe that when you set your mind to something, absolutely nothing can stand in your way. Often times, the only thing keeping us from getting exactly what we want is our own attitudes and self-doubt. I’ve come to find that throwing negative self talk and personal disbelief out the window in attempt to uncover the greatest adventure that I can possibly find is the most eye opening of joys I’ve ever come to know.

Times of transition don’t have to be difficult. They don’t have to be overwhelming. If you set out to achieve a series of goals and spend time re-evaluating what you want, I promise you will find exactly what you are looking for. Refuse to take no for an answer. When you are open to new, challenging adventures, opportunities to meet your goals will present themselves and you will be ready to say yes with full confidence.

It is in times of transition that I have come to know indescribable peace. Saying yes to the unknown no longer evokes crippling fear, but brings comfort. I believe, with every ounce of my being, that when an opportunity is right for you, nothing in your power can keep you from being exactly where you are meant to be. Regardless of how often you deny it, list excuses or doubt that you are deserving of the opportunity at hand, that simple “yes” will be the easiest word you’ve ever uttered when the timing is right. That’s true peace. It’s that almost sedative-like state where everything simply makes sense and you truly come to understand clarity.

Living life interrupted is a funny thing. Even when you go looking, you won’t know when it’s happening. It will completely blindside you.  It will fall into your lap and you’ll sit in absolute awe that it was so seamlessly orchestrated, seemingly out of your control. Refuse to stop looking for life interrupted. It’s a beautiful way to live. It’s a mentality that motivates and brings about growth, room for beautiful relationships and indescribable adventure.

Embrace moments that scare you. In time, they won’t seem quite so debilitating and before you know it, you’ll be living the life you’ve only dreamed.

Stop dreaming. You really can have it all. With a creative heart, an open mind and a positive attitude, your dreams can become your reality and your reality will continue to bring about the most overwhelming sense of joy and peace that you’ve ever experienced.

I tell myself once again:

Lean into ambiguity.
Be open to possibility.
The sky is the limit.
Take risks.
Pursue your wildest dreams.

This time, I mean it.


What Suitcase Living Taught Me

I am in the process of perfecting the art of uncertainty. I have spent the last three months hopping planes, trains and automobiles searching for what I want to call home. With less than ten possible wardrobe choices, three pairs of shoes and a carry on suitcase, I’ve spent 97 nights couch surfing, air mattress living and staying with friends, both old and very new. After eleven flights and countless hours on the road, I can tell you for certain that I have absolutely no idea what I am doing but I have every intention of doing what I love. I’ve been learning to find the stunning beauty in moments of absolute ambiguity. I’ve found that in those moments, it seems nearly impossible to avoid stumbling upon opportunities, people and places that make you think twice about everything. Here are the biggest things I’ve learned: 

Pursue what makes your heart sing

Life is absolutely meaningless when you stop pursuing the things that bring you the most joy. We were given desires, longings and dreams for a reason and what a joy it is when we run after them. For me it’s the small things. It’s watching the rain glisten as it falls soft on dimly lit cobble stoned streets. It’s walking brick building lined neighborhoods before the city wakes up. It’s being fully submerged in cold ocean water, knowing how good that breath of fresh air above the surface will taste. It’s knowing that when things are deep, heavy and challenging, as long as you are actively seeking out what makes your heart full, these moments  of pure joy have a tendency to appear on their own. 

Live with just a little but a do it BIG

We really truly need very little to be happy, but we need to do it big. Bring just a little bit for the journey. Love hard. Do life BIG where you are. You don’t need to be in a bustling city with a C-Suite job title to live life as large as you’ve always dreamed. Taking risks looks different for everyone. Sometimes it’s returning to where it all began. It's knowing what makes your heart beat faster than ever and running headfirst towards those motivators. 

Hush comparison

It is the most freeing feeling in the world to know that you are where you need to be, while silencing the subtle competition that is comparison. You are you for a beautiful, intricate and fascinating purpose. Entering the mindset that the work you do is good and the work others do is good independent of each others goodness is the first step in embracing confidence and finding contentment where you stand. 

Stop running

When you know what you want, it will become unavoidably apparent. It will hit you in the face like a ton of bricks and every other possibility won't seem nearly as enticing as the thing, person or place tugging at your heart strings. We must look fear in the face and visualize success. It is a challenging skill, but one that is absolutely worth putting to practice.  Learning to pause, acknowledge what you want and dive head first towards that goal, no matter how intimidating, is a necessary step in embracing beauty and living this life to the fullest. 

The more time I spend in on the road, the more I realize how malleable our lives really are. Our stories are being written as we go and nothing is standing in our way. 

Saying yes to the adventure is all it takes. 


Craving Life Interrupted

Craving Life Interrupted 

I am craving certainty in a time that has very little. I am craving direction in a seemingly directionless season. I am craving something tangible; something to which I can cling so the ambiguity of living doesn’t seem quite so debilitating. The romanticized notion of endless opportunity that once sounded so tempting now causes crippling fear. How terrifying it is to succumb to vulnerability and put that thought in writing. Permanent. 

Something about it feels wrong; cowardly. We hear things like:

Lean into ambiguity. 
Be open to possibility. 
The sky is the limit.
Take risks. 
Pursue your wildest dreams. 

The pursuit of dreams contains an element of fear. With times of uncertainty come the decision to step into the comfortable or step out in faith. There is no longer that “one day” or that “perfect timing.” The time is now and time is not waiting. 

It’s truly is an A+ problem; one that so many millennials are facing. Looking at the life set before you, you  realize you have nothing but opportunity. You have been adequately prepared for the journey. You can achieve what you’ve always dreamed. It’s just a matter of doing. It’s almost as if having constraints or limitations of some kind would provide a sense of peace; knowing that there are some things that are simply out of reach. 

My heart so badly lusts after something to hold onto. It wants life interrupted. It wants something or someone to come crashing in to provide guidance; to provide certainty. How naive of me to think that this is truly living life interrupted. 

Life interrupted is doing the work that is set in front of you well and inviting new opportunities to come crashing in. Planning is a myth. Opportunity is the most beautiful of  gifts. I’ve been forced to realize the beauty of staying open; open to the possibility that something or someone may very well  interrupt each and every plan you’ve ever made. Until then, we must live the life we have set before us and live it well. 

Tomorrow holds the possibility for new experiences, conversations and relationships. The idea of tomorrow provides the hope that my heart so desperately craves. Tomorrow opens my soul to the knowledge that certainty limits life interrupted. To truly be interruptible, we must lean into the unknowns with faith that it will happen, though we might not know what it is just yet. 

 I pause. I try to listen more clearly this time:

Lean into ambiguity. 
Be open to possibility. 
The sky is the limit.
Take risks. 
Pursue your wildest dreams. 

Though these ideas may be deeply romantic, I argue that if we want to find joy at the heart of each and every day, we must embrace romantic thought. If we approach living as a list of to do’s, a series of challenging decisions, and people as utilitarian characters in the storybook that is our lives, we lose beauty. We lose joy. We become uninterruptible. 

We spend far too much time approaching life as a series of formulas and calculations. True joy is lost when we  treat others and opportunities as means to an end, as a challenge that must be overcome, as a check mark on a list of daily tasks. Life becomes interruptible when we lean into the unknowns, take risks, pursue our dreams and truly believe that the sky IS the limit. Romantic? Incredibly. Necessary? Absolutely. 

Embrace tomorrow and lean into the questions that it brings. Lust after beauty. When living life becomes interruptible, the question of how or why no longer looms thick, rather, each day becomes an opportunity to uncover something new. What a joy it is to become fearlessly committed to discovering an endless array of tomorrows. 


Why Does Confidence Matter?

Confidence. Independent of others. The ability to carry yourself in a way that conveys purpose and certainty. That thing you are told to aspire to from the time you're young. For some it comes easily, for others it simply doesn't. The question I want to ask is this. What does it mean to carry yourself confidently? Why does confidence even matter?

I've come to observe the biggest joy killer amongst our generation. We constantly seek to be affirmed by others. We look for love and affection in all the wrong places and worst of all, we let it get to us when things don't go according to our plan. Our worldview and sense of time have become so narrow that with each small failure, we lose purpose. Slowly but surely, our confidence can be stripped from us. With every disappointment, misunderstanding or embarrassment, a small chunk of our sense of self can be so easily flaked away and before we know it, our independence is nowhere to be found.

Confident people are more often than not, the people who draw you in. The ones who, for some unknown reason, create a safe space with their words, actions and simply by how they carry themselves. How beautiful is it, to be someone who creates that space for others. There is so much to be said for confidence; for holding your head high when things don't go according to plan; for embracing change and knowing your strengths amidst challenges.

How beautiful would it be if with every disappointment, misunderstanding or embarrassment we came to rely more heavily on our strengths rather than sulk in our weaknesses. What if every time we came face to face a confidence shattering situation, we came to more fully know and understand what makes us inherently who we are. 

Without a doubt, each time we question ourselves, something eternally beautiful about our truest self is revealed. With every whisper of self doubt there lies vulnerability and with vulnerability comes an overwhelmingly beautiful window to self discovery and relationship building, both necessary to foster and develop self confidence. 

I've come to believe that carrying yourself with confidence is absolutely essential, necessary and valuable. Even in times when you have absolutely no idea what you are doing, taking a deep breath and approaching every situation with your head high will surely create a space where you and those around you can flourish. 

One of the ways that I love to explore confidence is through fashion. How does what we wear boost our sense of self confidence? I've always been of the mentality that how I present myself determines my perceived sense of success. To demonstrate the concept that confidence looks different for every single person, I asked some of my lovely friends to model for me in what makes them feel the most confident. Take a gander. They are some pretty darn attractive humans. 

Here's the takeaway. Know your strengths, lean into your weaknesses and hold your head high. Be vulnerable with others. Confidence can expand your worldview, your relationships and draw others in. Confidence is an essential piece to finding true beauty in this crazy world we call home. 


Making Meaningful New Years Resolutions

New Years resolutions can be exciting, helpful and motivating. They can also be incredibly self-defeating and leave us feeling worse than we did pre-resolution. How do we set goals that pave the path to success rather than failure?  While thinking about the things that I want to pursue in the upcoming year, I thought to myself, how can I set quality goals that are going to build me up rather than tear me down? How can I set goals that matter? 

For the sake of convenience and easy reading, here are four steps to effective goal setting. Excited yet?

Step 1: What's getting in the way?

If you have no idea what it is you want to change, pursue or seek after, think about roadblocks; the things that get in the way of your personal productivity. Why do those things get in the way? What is the underlying issue? More often than not, patterns of avoidance point to something much deeper, so why not tackle the issue head on? Self betterment doesn't happen on it’s own. That would be far too convenient. 

Step 2: What is on your mind most & why?

Think about what consumes your mental capacity; the things that you think about when you’re stuck in traffic, in the shower, or right before falling asleep at night. Ask yourself why that thing is always on your mind. It is so essential to decipher if it is healthy for those thoughts to be constantly swarming around in your brain. If it is, pursue that dream & make it a reality! Inspire those thoughts to action. If it’s unhealthy and bringing you down, find ways to reverse that negative thinking and get going on the road to effective goal setting. 

Step 3: Think big picture (but not for too long)

Imagine being able to see the next year laid out in front of you. What do you want to be different by this time next year? Now after you’ve thought big picture, stop it. Find small ways to pursue that large scale goal. Doing it all at once can burden to the load. Goal setting shouldn't be something that you beat yourself up over, rather it should be refreshing and leave you feeling rejuvenated, like you can conquer the world, because you CAN!

Final Step: Think about the larger impact

I’ve found that one of the easiest things to leave out in goal setting is thinking about community impact. Personal goals only affect me anyways, right? WRONG. Try thinking about what it is you are wanting to pursue and how that is going to impact those around you. Bring others into your new resolutions and get involved in theirs. Support from friends & family is absolutely essential to effectively setting goals and living into them.

So what are you waiting for? Let's make this year count. I have a feeling it will be over before we know it. Pursue those dreams, take risks and support each other along the way. Simple. 

Shoutout to Ms. Jassy Verdult (assoc. photographer) & Ms. Jenny Speakman for modeling for me. 


Do You Know Your Worth?

I’ve come to realize that I have been sucked into and warped by what we consider “dating norms,” more specifically “hookup culture.” I wonder where we went so wrong that we search for validation in selfish, fleeting moments that come and go, leaving us with a deep sense of longing. The aspect of this that concerns me most is that this has become a normalcy for our generation. 

I’ve come to learn that I don't have a heart built for casual hookups. My heart is not wired to find contentment in isolated moments of physical intimacy. My heart is wired for something much deeper. I wonder if we are all wired for more meaningful connections, but fear has built a wall where vulnerability needs to stand. 

Often the term “hookup culture” is put on millennials like it is a new phenomena; one that we somehow fabricated out of nothing. I’ve learned that this certainly is not a new concept. My favorite novelist, Edith Wharton captures it perfectly in her novel The Age of Innocence, through the words of the main character, Newland. After being toyed with and strung along in what we would call a “friends with benefits” relationship, Newland looks longingly at the woman he has fallen hopelessly in love with and says, “What I want of you is so much more than an hour or two every now and then, with wastes of thirsty wanting in between.” Do keep in mind that this was published in 1920; hookup culture is not a new concept. Generation after generation, we still have the tendency to look for love in all the wrong places. 

It seems to me that what we most fear and what we most long for is honesty, vulnerability and genuinely being known. Our greatest desires and our biggest fears have come to align with one another, how isolating and terrifying that is. We want so deeply to be validated by another, with a nonjudgmental eye. We want to be loved despite our oddities and insecurities. We want someone who will enter into life alongside us. Why do we waste time hoping some short lived, moment of intimacy will evolve into something deeper or even suffice until we find someone who will provide more? 

I’m coming to understand what it really means to know my worth. You are told from the time you are young that you deserve the best, but coming to understand what that means is a  process; one that feels like trudging through knee deep mud in brand new heels. Sometimes it takes learning these things the hard way. It can take a moment of recognition to realize that you have been treated far less than you deserve for your definition of self worth to mean anything at all. It’s not easy coming to a deep and meaningful understanding of self-worth, but it’s such a beautiful thing when you learn to value yourself and put a high price on what you have to offer; because trust me; you have an infinite amount of goodness to offer.

*Model: Rockstar, Superstar & Genuine Beauty Ms. Elizabeth Thomas 


Loving Yourself When You Let Yourself Down

A common trend I have found in millennials, myself included, is this incredible ability to hold ourselves to high standards. We tell ourselves that we are supposed to graduate college, find a high paying job, fall in love, travel the world and do it all effortlessly. As we know, life is a little bumpier of a ride than that and things don’t always go exactly as planned. What happens when we come face to face with failure amidst the expectations we hold ourselves to?

Often times we are committed to a set of values and goals that motivate us. We fall into patterns of accomplishing the many tasks set before us, getting caught up in the "go go go" of each day. Things are going well... for a time. When we least expect it, failure comes crashing in, forcing us to reprioritize. 

In my experience, each time I have felt that deep rooted sense of self-disappointment, it is because a chord has been struck, something that pushes on a much deeper hurt than a menial mistake. Our conscious may be that little voice that reminds us of our failures, but it is also that little voice that inspires change. Learning to let go of the things of the past that cause hurt, guilt and bitterness can be a very challenging task, one I am certainly still working through, but acknowledging that within and taking time to refocus is essential and incredibly restorative. 

What does refocusing look like? 

1. Acknowledge what happened and how it made you feel. 

You know that cliche saying about how we are our own worst critics? How unbelievably true is that statement. When people of good character fail, they admit their mistakes, make up for the damage they caused and are forgiven. Others will forget our failures with time, but what about when we can't forgive ourselves? The sense of knowing you have failed yourself, causes a much deeper wound.

2. Ask yourself what your goals are and what motivates you. 

If you are being motivated by things that fail to align with your long term goals,
 they are sure to cause feelings of disappointment with ones own inconsistency.
 It is so easy to lose track of our long term goals in the day to day. 

3. Refocus your daily motivations. 

Once you have identified your long term goals,
 re-write your short term goals so that you can set yourself up for success.
Why waste time when the answer to your problems is in your hands?

Revisit this however often you feel it is helpful. 

4. Ask yourself if what you are doing now is going to reap the long term benefits you are hoping for. 

Successful people don't just stumble blindly into accomplishing their goals, they do everything in their power to grab hold of them. Remember what you are capable of, because it is so much more than you think. It is so easy to get hung up on our failures, to sit in the guilt and to continuously punish yourself because you think you "deserve it." No matter how badly you failed yourself, you do not deserve to wallow in guilt, what a waste of precious time. 

Recognize the decisions you have made and acknowledge the past but strive to turn your failures into opportunities for learning and change. With each new day we are presented with situations that have the potential to grow us, let them. Look back on failures and be grateful for what you learned about yourself, chances are it inspired change and we all know what beauty springs from times of transition. 


How To Stand Out in Millennial Dating Culture

In an era plagued by inconsistency, fear, and hypersensitivity, being driven to pursue deep rooted relationships can be a challenge. Even more demanding is learning to navigate the game that is 21st century dating as a person who appreciates certainty, intentionality and honest conversation. So how do we, as millennials striving for more than this hookup-culture has to offer, navigate casual dating? 

Accept it for what it is & jump right in

There is so much to be said for people who strive for more meaningful relationships amidst a culture that seems to value otherwise. Perhaps dating isn’t what it used to be, but it is what it is and resisting it can lead to more frustration than simply embracing a truly fascinating cultural phenomena. There is something to be said for those who constantly strive for deeper and stronger connections in a culture that highly values such, but is too afraid to actively pursue them. 

Ask the hard questions

Casual dating is fun and it should be, but pushing the boundaries of surface level conversation gives you an edge that many people are too afraid to embody. People want to be fully known and accepted. The simplest way of allowing for this is taking the time to let others feel heard, so why don't we do it more often? I like the analogy of a present wrapped in multiple layers of paper. Think of the true, unfiltered person you are dating as the gift, and every time you ask a difficult question, you peel back a layer of wrapping paper, getting closer to discovering the much anticipated gift. It’s a real head turner when you move from typical get to know you questions, to asking questions that require a little giving of self to answer. 

Keep your expectations low

Does it sound pessimistic to look at someone and say, "I don't have any expectations of you?" At face value maybe, but it should be more of a freeing conversation than a negative one. It opens the door to unselfishly getting to know the other person without any added pressure. When you refuse to hold someone to a certain set of standards that may or may not be unrealistic, it allows them to be them and you to be you. 

The simplest way to eliminate unhealthy expectations, should they arise, is to focus on your own goals, desires and motivations. Meet people where they are and see where that takes you. Expecting less keeps the door open for possibilities without pressure and what a beautiful thing that is! 

Do not let uncertainties occupy too much of your mental capacity

If you spend a significant amount of time thinking someone or something over, you will, whether you like it or not, put expectations on the person or situation, which has the potential to end in unnecessary disappointment. 

I've found that one of the best things for mental clarity is to focus on the things that are important to you, not becoming too singular in thought and if a new door opens or someone rises to the occasion, it will be more of a pleasant surprise than a fulfilled expectation. 

Yes, dating can be ambiguous, unclear and often times frustrating, but embracing it for what it is and striving to be different can be a beautiful strategy that might open doors you never thought possible. 


A Letter to The Single Ladies

*To preface this letter there will be no man hating. Men are fun, cute & don't deserve to be hated on. We should respect them and value how they think. 

Dear Beautiful & Fabulous Women... Who Also Happen to be Single,

Let’s face it, there is an immense amount of pressure to be in a committed relationship, especially in your 20's. Watching people your own age, get engaged and married can be a time where your singleness is pointed out, and maybe not in a super empowering way that makes you think “I am a badass female all on my own.” 

The above photo pictures a handful of incredibly sexy women; women I am BEYOND grateful to call my friends. They are intelligent, motivated, compassionate, hilarious and did I mention SEXY women with amazing talents and passions. Each and every one of them is single. (Surprising I know) However, these women have about 150,000 things that define who they are before their relationship status. You are looking at some amazing writers, talented artists, excellent communicators and fabulous students who kick butt in their classes every single day. These are women who are going to go out and do crazy incredible things, from working in healthcare, teaching, event planning, missions and ministry, even slaying the business game. You are looking at highly motivated, beautiful, intelligent women, who also happen to be single. 

Are we all single by choice? Not exactly. We are all single for many different reasons. Some of us have high expectations that have yet to be met, some of us would rather date around, some of our priorities don’t lie in being someone’s girlfriend, at least not right now. Some of us have been hurt by men and don’t know what healthy dating looks like. Some of us are ready and want a guy to look at us and tell us we are worth it, because we are. The bottom line is, we are all strong, powerful, beautiful, smart and SINGLE women, who would make wonderful girlfriends (If I was a guy, I’d date each and every one of these ladies, gladly). Just because it isn’t happening right now, doesn’t mean it never will. It also doesn't define you, by any means. (This is so real and true for men too, this goes for single people IN GENERAL)

For every person who has ever felt like you are the only one without someone else, you don't know how wrong you are. Everyone has their own reasons for being single, being in a relationship, even for being engaged at twenty; but your self worth is not determined by your relationship status.Being single does not make you "less of a person" than those who aren't. You deserve the kind of relationship that is right for you, whatever that looks like, and if that isn't happening right now, it is absolutely worth waiting for. 

Girls, we are going to find men who like us for who we are. If a guy wants to change some integral part of you, goodness gracious, he is not worth any amount of compromise that you are willing to make. I pray to God that there is a man out there who can handle my passion for bluesy electric guitar solos, 50 shades of red lipstick, leather, my faith, iced coffee and turn of the century novels about feminism. Something tells me he's out there and yours is too!

So do not, even for a minute, second guess your self worth because of your relationship status. You are worth a hell of a lot more than that. 

With all that being said, I do have a challenge for single women. Stop patiently waiting and praying for God to deliver you some beautiful, perfect husband who will magically appear and make you whole. (Just stop it). Put yourself out there. Ask men on dates. Experience the heartbreak of rejection & the feeling of falling for someone. Embrace the things that scare you. You will learn so much more about yourself than you would have sitting around pining away after some nonexistent, "perfect" guy. Guys aren't perfect, neither are we. But there is so much to be said for growing through and embracing your weaknesses and imperfections, while clinging to the things that make you YOU. 

Remember, there is no perfect way to navigate any of this. We are all in the process of figuring out how to effectively love and be loved; embrace it. 

*shoutout to my co photog - Ms. Natalie Jackson