Wednesday, March 30, 2016

March and Me || 2016


CURRENTLY 
loving. Snow. I couldn't live in the snow, but goodness Lord could I live near it and ski regularly?
contemplating. Sabbath. Still. Thanks a lot Rachel.
smelling. My clean laundry. Am I the only one who changes detergents every time so the clean smell is always detectable?
writing. With these pens. I might have a new favorite in my life.
reading. Aloud. Well, actually audiobooks are reading aloud to me and I love it.
learning. How to use gouache paints via all the informative YouTube videos.
watching. What I'm eating. My mom and I signed up for a marathon. My goal is to beat 4:22 and not to gain any weight during training.
listening. Dr. Laura's Podcast because she makes long drives more entertaining.
craving. Another hike. We resolved to hike twelve times this year and so far, we're on track!
wishing. On birthday candles. I can't believe 27 is already here.
needing. A chance to play catch-up in my book journal. I'm behind, DESPERATELY behind.
wanting. To jet off to Europe and see all the pretty, art history things while eating amazing food.
eating. Birthday cake. And mason jar salads. And ALL the hard-boiled eggs. Balance ya'll.
drinking. Bubbly water. Specifically, La Croix.
feeling. Like I need to spend all day in the garden because BLOOMS.
working on. April's editorial calendar. I finally incorporated this into my bullet journal and LOVE having a loose plan of the month's content expectations.

 IN CASE YOU MISSED IT 
Since I'm a year older, I got honest about the lessons I've learned about skin care, make-up tricks, and how to fall in love with exercise.

I got really honest about the struggle I feel when I open my bible and He doesn't seem to show up.

The month kicked off with an amazing opportunity, my very first podcast interview. Goodness, love Meg, love her heart, and love creativity. Give it a listen if you haven't.

  CUE THE CONFETTI
This is a new addition now that the #confetticommunity is launched. Each month I'll share the moment that was most poignant or exciting or achieved with you because WHY NOT? Rachel and I believe that we should celebrate more of life's moments (big or small) and so, I'm starting with it here. 

Jason and my youngest brother convinced me to ride the cornice on our snow vacation earlier this month. I've (literally) never been so high and still have my feet on the ground. We all made it down, though I took a few wrong turns and worked up quite a nervous sweat. Living to tell a wild tale has me cuing the confetti. 

WHAT I'VE READ


YOU MUST READ:
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Book Store 
I'd heard the title of this book a few times, but wasn't particularly interested in reading it for lack of knowledge. Then, Audible.com's big book sale came and this was one of the selections. I listened to the preview and adored the narrator's voice so I purchased it. From the moment the book started, I was spell-bound.

The plot and the inherent mystery of the 24-hour bookstore were enough to keep me engaged. Add to the story line, a funny, sharp narrator like Clay and I couldn't stop listening. The cast of colorful supporting characters is documented and on display in such detail that I was unable to put the book down until I KNEW what was going to happen to my new literary friends.

The book isn't perfect -there are some dragging lulls and missing pieces in the tale of the book store-, but the juxtaposition (and internal debate) of old knowledge and new technology is relevant now and for years to come. The infinite possibilities of the literary realm coupled with the unending evolution of technology bring forth a richness not yet seen in another novel.

Long story short: you owe it to yourself to read this. 

Other novels finished in the month of March:

The Burn Journals (for #Collaboreads) || ★★★
Dad is Fat (review) || ★★★
The Confessions of X (review) || ★★★
Secrets of a Charmed Life (review) || ★★★★


WHAT'S HAPPENING IN THE SHOP

Animal-word association prints all over the place. This little adorable Aslan lion hangs on my studio wall beside his elephant friend and I just can't help but smile that this wild little dream I had one day has turned into a months long journey of making. 



Monday, March 28, 2016

#Collaboreads: The Burn Journal

BOOKS. Books, books, books. Books and more books with a side of books. That is what we're talking about today. Because what is good in life if there isn't a book about it? Nothing. Welcome back for another month of #Collaboreads! Rachel and I are thrilled you're here, but first:

If you missed what #Collaboreads is, you can familiarize yourself here.

Short version: Rachel and I pick a random criteria for the book (i.e. Takes Place in Summertime). You pick your book and read it. Then the last Monday of the month we meet up and talk about our choices.

There's a R.E.A.D.S. review format that we've shared for suggestion's sake (shared in this post), but feel free to review however you're comfortable!

I've always been a HUGE fan of memoir so when March rolled around and my list of memoirs overfloweth, I knew it only made sense to go alliterative while alleviating my To Read list. But then, I picked a book that wasn't on any list, but in my mom's recent finished pile because why not?


By Brent Runyon
RIVETING. 
I promise this won't ruin the story but, this is a book about a thirteen-year-old boy who sets himself on fire. He lives (obviously), grows up, and then tells his story of hurting then healing. The book is RIVETING for a few reasons.
  1. Runyon's preteen thought process is fascinating. The way he comes to lighting himself on fire and the interworking of his mind (even just in his own memory) shed light on the darkness of desolation and depression. 
  2. The content is, at times, hard to read but never extraordinarily graphic. Runyon's ability to talk about extremely painful, medical procedures without turning the book into a gross-out fest is amazing. 
  3. Runyon is hilarious. 

ELEMENTS.
Runyon's dry humor is what kept me coming back to the book. Though some of his misguided feelings or approaches came from his immaturity at the time of his self-immolation, he also maintained a quirky, joke-filled recovery. This seemed to harken back to the way we tried to maintain a sense of humor about my dad's dementia until the very end. Humor in heartache was our connecting point.

ASSOCIATE.
This is where I struggled. The Burn Journals really isn't like any other book that I've read. But I often found myself thinking of James Frey's A Million Little Pieces in the way both memoirs talk about deeply emotional and physical suffering. It also seems worth mentioning that A Million Little Pieces was the book that introduced me to memoir back in high school.

DESIGN.

The cover is perfect. And the design of the actual text is fascinating with the spots it is broken up and the pages that hold just a sentence or two. There's an interesting play with pace as you move through the novel because it lends itself to breakneck reading then slows to intense, plodding along. 

STARS. 

Four.

While it's easy to read, it's not for everyone. He uses foul language that I think could turn some readers off. There could be trigger warnings all over the cover with the content that lays inside and that would deter other readers. I was thankful for a gaze into the mind of someone who tried (aggressively) to kill himself and lived to talk about learning to live on the other side of it.

And now, it's your turn to talk about all the books that filled your month!


And some news,
we have decided to let #Collaboreads go for the time being. 

Rachel and I launched The Confetti Community last week and are DEEPLY enjoying all the celebrations and enthusiasm there. While we adored #Collaboreads, we saw the opportunity to make community in a different and possibly richer way, so we seized it. We do hope you'll join us

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Small Print of our Days


Today is Good Friday.

I didn't complete my Lent devotional this year. In fact, I stopped part way through for a number of reasons. And, to be honest, I was upset with myself for that fact. I saw the difficulty I was having with my chosen study as a reflection of struggling with Him. I grew angry with my restlessness and lack of devotion.

But, as I listened to a podcast on reading I heard someone mention that some books are simply our guide, meant to point us in a direct even if we don't complete them entirely. And I knew this was a tiny detail about to redirect my faith.

Because sometimes we just need a guide. Sometimes we need someone to push us in a general direction. But then we gain momentum, we begin to take steps on our won. And then that help, the initial push, is no longer necessary.

So, I'm reading Ruth for the next week. It's only four chapters, but I'm going to read it again and again. And, in doing so, I'm daring myself to soak in the details. Because if I've learned one thing in the three months since my dad died, it's that He is in the details. The timing, the pennies on the sidewalk, the poppies grown through sidewalk cracks. That is Him.

Three months ago, I walked in the depths of sadness. It started on a Friday and three days later ended in the dawn of Sunday morn. It was raining that day, fresh water rinsing away years of unnamable pain. And I remember watching a droplet trail maddeningly down the window of his final earthly room while salty tears dripped from my own eyes. I knew then and there it was always about the details. Sad or glad, happy or mad, He is in the small print of our days.

And today, the Good Friday of 2016, we are driving home after a week celebrating my birthday in snowy mountains. My legs are sore, my body is tired, and my soul is a deep sort of happy. I've spent a week staring at the way the teeny, tiny flakes of sparkling snow fall from the sky and join together in an ivory harmony for Him. The pines that rise taller than humanly possible to point the eye skyward. I knew then and there, high above the ground on the ski lift, it was still about the details. Sad or glad, happy or mad, He is in the small print of my days.

All this to say, this is a day -the day- God has made and I'm ready to be sad or glad in it's details.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Books on our Shelves || A Marriage Letter

This letter is one in a series of letters I write to remember mundane moments of my marriage that would otherwise slip away. I write with a dedication to hold tight to him and to remember how life looks right now at this very moment. The chance for these letters to shed light on our marriage before children for our children because they won't know us as newlyweds is a much loved and added bonus.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Dear Jason,

When we were looking to buy a house, we talked a lot about libraries. We knew at twenty-five we probably couldn't afford a spare room just for our collection of books, but we acknowledged it was a dream for one day in our lives. We dreamed and we shopped, ushering ourselves through one home and then another and then a few more.

One house had floor to ceiling shelves, a rolling ladder, and double-sided fireplace in the master bedroom. We stood in awe of the reading that could happen right there in that space. I pictured oversize wing-back chairs and cozy flannels nestled in that nook of our room. You reminded me of the downfalls of the other rooms and we, sadly, said next.

The small house had three rooms and no space for us to turn into a reading area. We knew it wouldn't work for us because we wanted to grow our library and our family beyond what was there. We longed for a yard that could hold our dog and a garden -something this house couldn't promise. We shrugged, sighed and said next.

And then our house. The house with two stories and four rooms -one with a wall of beautiful white shelving. What was one woman's sewing room became our library-office-studio. The shelves that once held yards of multi-colored fabric is now home to our reading collection. Your books are there on those shelves intermingling with mine. Your nonfiction, my fiction. Your political interest, my creativity encouragements. It's all there on solid shelves -a microcosm of our marriage.

The evenings we spend beside one another with books open in our laps are precious and dear to me. Gorgeously penned paragraphs, giggled lines, and interesting content all shared back and forth over the quilt that warms our legs. You've bred an interest in history and biography into my reading habit. And to you I bring books that feel less feminine, more brave and fascinating. The books we trade, the stories we share, are rich and bountiful -just a small reflection of what's unfolding in the pages of You and Me.

Always cozy and caccooned at your right hand,
Am

Monday, March 21, 2016

Community and The Importance of Confetti


My favorite thing about birthdays are the celebrations that come with them. I adore the confetti and the balloons and the sugar and sometimes there are flowers too. I adore the singing and the embracing that happens in honoring the joy another person brings to your life. I adore it all and then it's over.

You have your twenty-four hours of ALL THE CELEBRATIONS and then, you're twenty-seven and a day. If you're lucky, you can claim a weekend evening for some extra shenanigans. But most of the time, you end up celebrating the rest of your year quietly. You end up celebrating with a cup of Starbucks or a pancake breakfast, but you keep it to yourself because you might seem like you're bragging or selfish or the like.

My birthday is tomorrow. I have my twenty-four hour run. But, I didn't want to leave my confetti celebrations in my twenty-sixth year. And so, today before I begin my twenty-seventh circle around the sun, I introduce you to Rachel and I's newest, grandest collaboration:


This Instagram community (both @confetticommunity and #confetticommunity) will be our (the collective kind of our) celebratory place. It'll be a year round party honoring the BIG and small wins of life alongside one another because we don't do enough of that nowadays.

I am beginning to celebrate my twenty-seventh year with a new list in my bullet journal. It's labeled Goals.  It isn't simply business and blogging goals, but the biggest of personal dreams too.  Quite honestly, it gives me a shiver to see my wild hopes scrawled over the dotted page of my Moleskine. But, I owe it to  myself. And, in making both small steps and large leaps toward my goals, I get to embrace (and be embraced by) the Confetti Community.

The logistics are simple: use #confetticommunity and/or tag @confetticommunity in your Instagram posts. Share the small steps and large leaps of your dream-chasing days. And, be prepared to be featured because the best part of celebrating is the part where you're the center of attention.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Things Life Taught Me || Getting Into an Exercise Routine


I grew up playing soccer for years. When I retired from the fields, I quickly found my place on the cross country and track teams. I adored the challenge of hill courses and the timed trials of track while thriving in the community of the teams. College brought struggles -both nutritionally and without a team to train beside- that came with an accompanying twenty pounds.

It was at nineteen-years-old while on my summer break that I realized I needed to find a new normal in my exercise routine. And now, eight years later, I'm so thankful for the small tricks I've learned to keep my head in the workout game.

1. HONOR YOUR OPTIMUM TIME. 

I am a morning person. I am especially a morning work-outer. If I don't run (or head to the gym) as soon as I wake up, I will skip the workout completely. I blame this partially on my love to shower and be ready for the day by 8:00 am.

Jason, on the other hand, works out every afternoon in lieu of a PM cup of coffee. He skips the caffeine and hits the gym because mornings are not his time or place. My brother is my opposite and works out before he goes to sleep. Literally, he heads out to the gym at night when I'm sporting pajamas and winding down for the day.

All of our routines work for us, but WHEN is the key.

2. FIND YOUR FAVORITE GEAR. 

You've heard this before because everyone says buy yourself some nice workout gear and you'll be more consistent. BUT, I adore my Target quarter-zips. They're perfect for ninety percent of cold-California weather (there's a few weeks of FREEZE that require a heavier layer), affordable, and come in a whole spectrum of fun colors.

I can't just run in long sleeve shirts. So, here's what else I love:

Nike Pegasus Running Shoes: This is the fourth generation I've bought of these and I'll just keep on keeping on because they're my run or die.

Asics Running Capris: I hate full length running tights because they're usually too long on my short legs so I get capris. They're mid-calf with a wide-waistband which doesn't make my stomach feel squished while running but does hold the pants up nicely.

Champion Workout Tank: These are sold at Target and Sports Authority. They're affordable, slightly loose, and fit well under my favorite long-sleeve running tops.

Nike Tempo Running Shorts: Sometimes these are ridiculous in price. It makes me cringe to think of spending $45.00 on a single pair of running shorts. BUT, when they're on sale, they're amazingly on sale. Nike seems to be really consistent in releasing them, so sale prices are pretty constant.

3. MOTIVATE YOURSELF WITH CHALLENGES. 

It's a lot easier to push myself to run further when I have a race coming up. My preferred length is a half marathon, though my mom and I just signed up for our second full marathon. The new challenge of longer lengths has brought us to the next level in our training. We've missed the hours of running on the weekend and the interval training of Wednesdays. So, we're working hard because of the challenge.

Find some way you can compete. Push yourself in a new, further direction. Maybe try something completely different than anything you've done before.

4. FOCUS ON LONGEVITY, NOT IMMEDIACY. 

When I started running again in June of 2009, I couldn't make it through three miles. I was shocked at how far I'd fallen from the runner days of a few years prior. So, I made a promise to myself: this new exploration in exercise wasn't just to lose weight, but to fall in love with whatever routine I found.

This promise meant that I wasn't going to hit my target weight loss and quit or sprint myself into an unsustainable regimen. And it's a promise I continue to make to myself today.

5. IF YOU WANT TO BE A RUNNER...

Or a walker, Get a Fitbit (there's a new one on the market that's on my birthday wish list). I've raved about these before, but there is nothing as motivating as a quantification of your day's activity. On days when I don't run, it can be simple to get less than 3,000 steps. It is recommended to take at least 10,000 steps a day

Now your turn: what are your favorite workouts and accompanying gear?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

On Black Shadows and Technicolor Life


Life after someone dies can feel like the silhouette Apple commercial that got us all buying iPods ten years ago. You know the one with technicolor backgrounds, energetic rock music, and that black shadow dancing wildly about. Life after death feels just like that.

I see the bright, beautiful colors of life. I hear the music and dance to the anthem of my twenties. I swing to and fro, celebrating and overjoyed; but something black catches my eye. The black thing is hard to name or to track, because it's along the periphery. It's sneaky, shadow-like, but more menacing than a simple play of light and dark.

This is how life after death feels. The music continues to play -sometimes fast and fun, others are somber. But it's the songs beckoning you out onto the celebratory dance floor of life that call forth that black silhouette. It's the bright, bold, colorful moments that remind you of the missing.

In life after death, you don't feel it every day. In fact, you don't feel it every single week. But, you always feel death when celebrating life. A new baby, a birthday, a marriage celebration all bring forth the loss of a loved soul. And with my twenty-seventh birthday rapidly approaching, I have come to realize the black in my periphery isn't a crow or an evening shadow, but it's my dad.

It's the man who is dead despite my heart's longing for him to be alive. It's the man who gifted me a dimpled chin and short legs. It's the man who got the twenty-four hour flu on my eighteenth birthday and pretended to spill a puke bowl on me only to surprise me with the newspaper confetti he'd made in bed. It's the man who taught me to love snow and adventure and never understood why I hated riding dirt bikes.

I miss him in this confetti-filled, sugar-crusted time. It's a miss that isn't sharp in the way it hurts, but is a reflection of the place in my heart that's empty without his presence. It's a miss that happens in small moments. Like the moment you blow out the birthday candles atop the cake and the room drops into darkness as you make your twenty-seventh wish.

Like my breath and that candle, snuffed out and sudden, death comes and claims. Even with expectation and wishes, death comes and claims. And it leaves behind a wake of things, a wake of clumsy dancers learning a new jig. It leaves us here among the bright colors learning to embrace the a new rhythm next to the black absence.

Life after death is beautiful and tragic, colorful and monochrome, big and small. Life after death is just like it was before, but with more meaning and missing, less fighting and more fixing.

Life after death is still life just different.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Coffee Date || 22



If we were on a coffee date, I'd be drinking a vanilla latte but dreaming of the cold brew coffee I was consuming in February. It's cold in California again and, while I love it, I was enjoying the sandals and cold brew that came with love in my afternoons.

If we were on a coffee date, I'd want to talk about gardens. I'm getting some small sprouts in mine and there's something about the new life of spring that makes my heart skip a beat. I think I could spend all the days of my March out there staring at what's breaking through the darkness of the soil. I'd ask you about the prospective fruits and veggies of your labor this spring.

If we were on a coffee date, I'd be wearing my hot pink, glow in the dark retainer. You'll probably think that we've been transported back to middle school and our preteen years, but I have a few teeth that settled crookedly. Jason encouraged me to get a retainer so I did... And now my teeth are being moved back to their straight place which will be lovely but goodness my teeth are so sore.

If we were on a coffee date, I'd ask you what Sabbath means to you. The words Rachel wrote on this has me pondering how I can bring intentional resting places in to each of my days -even if just minor slices of restfulness.

If we were on a coffee date, I'd question you about morning routines. As on offshoot of the Sabbath conversation, I'd admit that I'm terrible at making peace in my mornings. The last few weeks have been full of running out the door like a woman on fire. I find myself irritated with Hazel as she casually strolls around the garage before loading up, but maybe she's got the right attitude and I need an adjustment.

If we were on a coffee date, I'd celebrate with you. I'm not sure what we're celebrating yet, but you'd share a success from this last few weeks and we'd celebrate. Big, small, or in between, I want our friendship to be one that fist bumps and cheers each other on.

If we were on a coffee date, I'd tell you that I'm drowning in good, fascinating books lately. I'm going to knock the reading socks off March with more books than I've read in a single month so far because Audible had a sale this last week. I only picked up four audiobooks and don't mind that I've finished two.

If we were on a coffee date, I'd push you to do something out of your comfort zone this month. I'd dare you and make you tell me what you plan to do because I'm going to check in with you next month at this time. You're going to shy away at first, but the things is I'll do the same. By this time next month, I want to have put a dozen new prints up into the shop. A dozen sounds like a doozy just saying it to you, but I shall, I shall, I shall.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Things Life Taught Me || A Make-Up Routine



I got my first tube of liquid eyeshadow and mascara nearly fifteen years ago. They were tucked unassumingly in my Easter basket, leaving me speechless before Sunday church. I remember leaning over the bathroom counter with my mouth wide open as the mascara wand clumsily marked up my eyelids again.

Now, fifteen years and a graduation from pure Tom Boy life later, I'm much more skilled at applying my mascara, but still learning that make-up is fun. In the last few months I've acquired three things that help my daily make-up routine go from basic to beautiful.

1. Nivea Aftershave Balm

A friend mentioned that she uses this as her primer before putting any make-up on her face. She said after doing research she realized the ingredients are the same between the two, but for a lower price you get lots more from Nivea. I've been using it for almost two months and I'm obsessed. I don't know that this is a fact, but I also believe the alcohol in the balm has helped clean up my bad skin.

2. The Beauty Blender Sponge 

I got one of these in my stocking at Christmas. After watching a few YouTube videos on how to use it, I got started and I won't stop from now until forevermore. The blender truly provides a wonderful layer on my skin, without being too caked. I do believe I look more airbrushed than ever before (but without the price).

3. Matte Setting Spray(or an organic substitute Rosewater Facial Spray)  

One of my most terrible of habits is touching my face. I swear my make-up is off by noon because I can't keep my hands to myself -or at least away from my face. This spray has stopped me in my tracks. There's nothing linking the lack of touching to this spray, but knowing that my make-up is extra-protected from the elements helps me to keep off. Add to that fact that this spray stops the shiny look of late afternoon and we have ourselves a must.

I refuse to spend an arm and a leg on my make-up. Outside of my Naked make-up palettes, all my product is drugstore variety. I believe in convenience so I don't miss what can't be purchased at Target or CVS.

What are YOUR favorite beauty products and make-up cheats?

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

When the Speech Balloon is Missing


I’ve been wrestling with Him about what it means to communicate. I’ve been begging Him to communicate with me the same way He does my favorite God-loving bloggers. I am inspired by the way they hear Him in whispers and shouts, through inklings and nudges. For the most part I’m inspired. But I’m also deeply jealous.

I wish there was a phone number for Him in the bible. I wish it was there, ten digits long with a promise to respond. I wish I could wander into a rest stop bathroom stall and see His name there with the magic digits sloppily scrawled underneath. I wish I had an old yearbook I could flip open and see his sloppy script that has ten numbers that magically come together in live connection between Him and I. 

I blame this selfish wish on the technology of my generation.

I blame it on the way we were raised with the birth and growth of texting. Its adolescence and ours walked hand in hand, like the family dog that was raised and trained beside us. We're a generation that communicates best through the ends of our thumbs. Our hearts leap in anticipation when the grey bubble with the three dots pops up to let us know someone is speaking.

Maybe we should scrawl that on the front of our bible as a warning. A warning the bears the fact that He is speaking and we are to wait, to listen.

Instead, I open the bible and name the believers who receive from Him better than I. I open the bible and beg for Him to be clear the way that He is with Hannah and Jane and Rachel and Tory. I spend my first moments wondering what they have that I don’t and He doesn’t seem to answer me. He doesn’t whisper or nudge or yell over the noisy, jealous words that are overcoming my spirit.

Instead, He sits and He waits. He waits for the chance for His grey cloud and three dots to catch my attention. And they don’t. They don’t because comparison is a loud, demanding voice.

I’m opening my bible and I’m screwing up. I’m not looking for Him there, but for the magical cure that’ll make me better at understanding. It’ll make me better at knowing His heart, meeting His words, and then sharing them all over the place. I’m ignoring the simple direction He gives with the three dots in a cloud: listen. 

Be still. Stop typing or thinking or worrying and listen.

Still. Listen. Still. Listen.

Maybe this ellipse-filled cloud season is the difficult place where I must choose to listen.

Monday, March 7, 2016

On Listening | A Creative Process Post



I feel I must first confess that I need noise when I make or write or settle myself down to pour anything out of myself. I can't stand the way silence seems to attack my brain into an insecure, lonely place that completely stops up my ability to make. I don't always listen to the same thing; in fact, I've found that some days are better fueled by music while others thrive with some Netflix playing in the background.

Today we cover all the noise that, each in their own way, enhances my process.

Podcasts 

My love and addiction to Podcasts now runs stronger than the ocean's waves.  Last month, I ran into a series of Podcasts that not only captured my attention, but had me listening through their entire feed for inspiration. There's something about a motivational episode to make my evenings of creating more productive.

Being Boss: This one covers the ins and outs of small creative business ownership. From wedding coordinators to musicians to authors to Etsy owners, every episode contains helpful tidbits of information as well as inspiring chunks of creative conversation. It's a well-rounded meal for your ears and creativity!
Start with this Episode: Creating Content with Erica Midkiff
Chasing Creative: I've listened to almost every Podcast that contains Elizabeth Gilbert, Anne Lamott, or Elle Luna in the title and, while they light a fire under my soul, they feel out of my league. Attempting to tie my thought process and creative approach to theirs is challenging because of my day job and their previous successes. Enter Chasing Creative which shares the process of everyday makers and doers with dedication and professionalism.
Start with this Episode: Building Creative Community with Kayla Hollatz
What Should I Read Next?: Anne releases a new episode of this every Tuesday and I listen to it before I go to work because I need to know what is happening in the lives of other readers. I don't add every recommendation to my TBR list, but I do spend much more time reflecting on why I pick out the books I do.
Start with this Episode: Book for Book Nerds with Tsh Oxenreider
Couragemakers: I'm going to admit I'm biased about Meg (the producer and adorable English accent behind this Podcast), but I adore her heart behind and passion about her BRAND NEW Podcast. The girl has reached out all over the world to all kinds of beautiful souls and is uniting them around the Courage Making campfire. Her enthusiasm is infectious and her guests (of which I am one!) are revelatory in their approaches to life!
Start with this Episode: Creating from the Margins with ME! 

Audiobooks 

The Martian: I am not a science fiction reader. But the narrator of this audiobook is undeniably wonderful. This one is good for when you need a step outside of your comfort zone both mentally and literature-ly.

East of Eden: Perfect for the moments when you're thinking on nature. Steinbeck's ability to describe the beauty of his environment is unparalleled. Doodle or paint while you're listening to this one. The length is daunting (25 and a half hours) but the writing is unparalleled.

The Coincidence of the Coconut Cake: This is a sweet, easy listen. But Lou's quest to find her identity through food and cooking will resonate all throughout your own creative process. You'll make it through this in a breeze.

Music 

Sia's This is Acting: Haunting. That's what I want to call this album and not in the eerie music kind of way. This album is composed moistly of tracks Sia wrote for other popular artists -Adele, Beyonce, Katy Perry, and Rhianna- that were rejected. Though the pieces weren't meant for her, Sia adds a depth and beauty to each lyric with her vocals and emotional engagement. She's a star; if it wasn't obvious before, it's undeniable now.
Favorite Track: Sweet Design (a J. Lo reject) 
NF's Mansion: If Eminem and Macklemore had a baby, NF would be it. There's the pairing of vocals with rap that made us all fall in love with Eminem and the social commentary that continues to draw us to Macklemore. Bonus points: no cursing so you don't have to worry about the ears that hear.
Favorite Track: I'll Keep On
Kelly Clarkson Piece by Piece: If catharsis had a soundtrack, this album would be it. Clarkson's included all the things we love about her -intense vocals, catchy lyrics, and a few hard hitting tracks. This is a praise hands in the sky sort of album.
Favorite Track: I Had a Dream
What do you listen to? What music am I missing out on? 
Give me all the recommendations! 

Friday, March 4, 2016

Things Life Taught Me || Skin Care



It seems impossible that it's already March (I know that everyone is saying that), but I truly can't believe we're here in the final month of the first quarter of 2016. And, the only thing that shocks me more about time, is the fact that I turn twenty-seven this month. I'm obviously in some sort of bizarre denial because I still catch myself telling people I'm eighteen when they ask my age.

People say with age comes wisdom and so, for the month of March, I'm going to share some of the things I've learned in my 27 years of life. For today, skin care routines. Because it only took me all this time to realize what it takes to keep my skin calm and smooth.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

I'm a girl that's always struggled with my skin. Always. I've tried a little bit of everything -short of Accutane- and only got real results from low-level antibiotics taken daily. This is all good and fine until you want to have a baby. Then they recommend putting nothing like that in your body. And so, my skin was free to go pimple-tastic on me. And it did.

The luxury of skipping a nightly face wash is something I do not know. In fact, I cringe when people say they don't take their make-up off at night because I just imagine ALL THE CLOGGING in the pores. The washing of your facial skin is important, refreshing, and quickly becomes craved. (Confession: washing my face now feels almost as lovely as removing my bra at the end of a long day. Almost.)

In November I took a picture that mortified me because my skin was a total mess. I refused to let pimples be a deterrent of life and photos, but I resolved to find a way to get my skin back in order. And I feel confident in saying I've balanced things out with a litany of fails and a few solid wins (knock on wood).





Having an awesome line-up of face cleaning product not only helps clear your skin, but makes the process enjoyable. Enjoyable enough to border on the line of fun. So, my three favorite products:

1. NEUTROGENA MAKE-UP WIPES
I really struggle getting all of my make-up off each night. It's the black eye liner and my black mascara (which is not waterproof) that seems to hang around to give me a side of raccoon eyes with my morning bed head. If you're ready to jump all the way in on these, the bulk price for these on Amazon is a WIN.

2. NEUTROGENA FACIAL CLEANSER  OR  EUROPEAN WAX SLOW IT BODY WASH
The Neutrogena cleanser is my night scrub while the Europen Wax Wash is my morning product. I use the European Wax product as a body wash, but also as a facial cleanser. It has little scrubby things in it that don't melt or fall apart and I love the way it smells.

3. ROSEWATER-WITCH HAZEL TONER
Just put it on a cotton ball and go to town. The smell is fantastic and it won't burn your eyes so any mascara that manages to hang around thus far will now be eradicated.

NOW, this is the part where I need to explain. I started using the following two things based on recommendations from Amazon reviews and Instagram -the two most trustworthy of sources, yes?.

VICKS VAPORRUB
I use this as spot treatment. The same ingredient that makes your sinuses clear up does wonders for your skin (or at least this is what I'm guessing). Plus, the thicker, oily texture of the rub helps keep my breakouts from getting TOO dry which is a DIFFICULT reality that I'm learning to balance.

DEAD SEA MUD FACE MASK
Amazon told me I needed this. And it was on SUPER sale so I bought it because there were claims it would help restore skin that is inflamed or has scarring. Jason and I both put it on our faces while we watched Cops last week. It's a LOVE. The mask is thick, so it helps to use some water to spread it. But OH MY SOUL, my face is so smooth. Seriously, so smooth.

I've added a couple things that I do weekly, instead of daily.

OLAY PRO-X THREE-SPEED BRUSH
I use it twice weekly with the mircodermabrasion head and their crystal cleanser. Sometimes I use it to buff my skin in the shower too, but that's more rare.

ROSEHIP OIL
I use this after the microderm brush and the face mask. It helps put some moisture back in my skin and the combination of the rosehip oil and Vitamin E are skin-restorative. I'm hoping this will help with some of the acne scars that I have (curses!).

Whoof. That's a lot of recommendations. But most of them are available at your local drugstore (or Target). And I promise that they're within your budget because I refuse to be fancier than what I can pick up on my grocery run.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Uncomfortable Places & Opening Up Spaces


Jason and I went hiking over the weekend.

The hike was at the top of a local mountain that is complete with the winding, switchback roads. It was a forty-five minute trek that I simply didn't want to make. I drove up because I get car sick and I was pouting because Jason was making me go and risk puking and then I'd have to hike around after our tense night beforehand. I was pouting and wanted him to give me a pass.

But he didn't.
He stopped in the ranger shack, paid our fees, and mapped out route for us. Then he smiled and started to hike and told me I did a good job driving up the hill when all the motorcycles racing down were making me edgy. I was too irritated to appreciate his effort in those moments of self-pity, but he's a graceful and kind guy.

Two and a half hours later, we sat on the tailgate of my car and ate pretzels with dried mango slices. We soaked in the sweet California sun (because February is behaving like July around here) and shared a pride in our accomplishment.

We ended up hiking seven and a half miles. It only took me two miles to trade in the silent treatment for some enjoyment of the nature and lots of love for the kind man who was patient enough to drag me up a mountain on a Sunday. We walked under trees and through fields and around a pond, of sorts. Up and down, slippery and solid, we hiked and then we talked.


We talked about the season we're in -a season that isn't particularly inspiring or beautiful, but that is our season nonetheless. We were honest about it feels like we're sitting in a waiting room together and hoping for our names to be called next. It's exhausting to wait some days and thrilling to see doors opened in others. I didn't know it, but we needed that space and the walking and all of nature to get outside of ourselves. We needed a new environment to grow a new connection and conversation.

The moral of this story (the dare for your month of March): just do it.

Get outside of your space -be it mental or physical or emotional. You'll make a dozen excuses (most of them having to do with the weather and your lack of time), but that's not the point. DO IT. Because you owe it to your mind and your creativity and your sanity to do the hard, differen
t, annoying, freeing thing. 

Maybe your IT is a blog series or bible journaling or reading a dozen books this year. Maybe your IT involves a mountainside (like ours) or a new website or watercolors. Maybe your IT needs a community or a quiet space or a blank check to happen. 

The best part of doing your IT is you get to define your course. 

Do it for the experience and the sake of saying it's done. Not because it's going to yield a dozen results that can be made into blog posts or Etsy listings or anything else. Do it because you need margins in which you can get honest, where check-ins can happen and you can ask "how can I show love to you best this week?" Do it so a small space can break open in your heart and soul.

And if your IT is a seven mile hike like ours, remember you deserve pizza and beer afterwards. 

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