Thursday, February 28, 2019

BEGINNINGS | Q&A Interview with Nabila About Blog Beginnings

Today on the blog we have a very special treat: To conclude February's theme of BEGINNINGS, I interviewed Nabila (who blogs over at Hot Town Cool Girl) about the beginning of her blogging journey and what she has learned! Please give Nabila a warm welcome and check out her answers in the segment below. Happy reading! 

Q: What sparked your interest in blogging?

A: My friend! She had a blog and was showing it to me. At that point, I didn't have any social media and neither did any of my friends. The thought that you could have this space that was truly yours that you could do anything with made me so, so happy.

Q: How did you go about creating your very first blog?

A: When I came home from my friend's [house] that day, I immediately asked my parents [if I could have a blog]. They said yes! They knew a bit about it because they also had blogs for work. I named it "Nabila Eve." It was very dark and had about a thousand gadgets.

Q: What advice would you give to your younger self about
beginning a blog now that you have more experience?

A: Design really counts. Also, proofread. I think one of the most important things, though, is to reach out to people! In the beginning, I thought I was a lonely blogger and there were no other bloggers around my age at all. When I actually found other bloggers and started talking to them, I felt so crazy accepted and they helped me so, so much.

Q: What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start a blog?

A: Just do it! So many people want to do things but they never do because they're too scared or anxious. Also, write about stuff you're actually passionate about. Don't start a blog just because you think it will be popular or you will make money off it.

Q: What is your biggest blogging victory?

A: I haven't done anything amazing with my blog like go to New York or get some award [but] I think one of the biggest things that has come from my blog is it has helped me find myself. I used to think I was boring and had no skill. With writing my blog, though, I found out that wasn't true. I have lots of skills and people actually like me? Like what?  

Thank you again to Nabila for the fantastic interview! It was so fun getting to 
read your answers and share the story of your blogging journey.

What about you? What kind of advice would you give to current bloggers and/or your younger blogging self? I remember when I first started blogging, I crafted an entire post dedicated to Pi Day. You read that right, folks. Share your embarrassing blog beginnings stories with me below!

This is the last post in the BEGINNINGS series! (Boo hiss.)
Click here to browse through all the posts in the series.
I'll be back in March with a new theme for you all soon. 

Saturday, February 23, 2019

BEGINNINGS | Learning to Replace Negative Thoughts with Biblical Truth



I will be the first to admit that a lot of the time, I struggle to believe what is true.
I could blame it on our culture and its constant stream of media, but that wouldn't really be fair. What is more often the case is that I choose to listen to my own thoughts instead of what I know my family and friends and the Lord are all saying to me: good, beautiful things. Why is that?

Years ago when I spent a week with tanned legs and bandanas galore at summer camp, I learned that to get rid of one thought,
it helped to ruminate on another.

That was a big part of me beginning to realize just how I could shift my mindset
For every negative thought I had, I found a Bible verse to replace it, so when I was feeling angry, insecure or doubtful, I could read what the Bible had to say on that particular topic. That was also probably the same summer I came home to show the weird and (literally) campy program videos to my non-camp friends and learned that one should never, ever do that. BUT I DIGRESS.

Those verse cards helped me learn how to swap bad thoughts and replace them with truth. Which is something I find myself needing to learn again now as an adult, interestingly enough.

My friend Jenny also created a similar resource for me when I was still in middle school. Jenny is the best, I seriously have to give her mad props for being a mentor to me at a time when I was 13 and hyper as heck. The little card she made me is still taped inside my Bible front cover to this day and has a list of all the things God says about me (and you). Cards like this have been such a help to me over the years, so I thought I'd share it with you:


Loves me: Isaiah 43:4-5
Cares about my feelings: 1 Peter 5:7
Knows everything about me: Psalm 139:1-10
Is close to me: Acts 17:27
Forgives my sins: 1 John 1:9
Is my friend: John 15:15
Died for me: Romans 5:8
Never changes: Malachi 3:6
Comforts me: 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Hears me when I pray: Micah 7:7

All credits go to Jenny. I was so blessed by these both then and now, my heart.

What about you?

Do you ever struggle with negative thoughts, and if so, what do you do to feel better? Did you ever go to summer camp and make weird memories? And what is one thing you're looking forward to this weekend? Thanks for reading, friends.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

BEGINNINGS | Beginning Again: Dealing with Change and New Seasons

The journey from 2018 to 2019 has been such a wild ride. I know we're already more than halfway through February, and really the new year isn't so new anymore, but I can't help but still feel in awe at how different everything feels from last year. All the change. All the forward momentum. The direction I'm going in, where I'm headed.

Yet sometimes, I don't see how far I've come until I look back.

On my lunch break a while ago, I wrote out my thoughts on this, on the back of whatever paper I had at the time (scraps of card stock and the back of an envelope). 
I never published them, but the sentiment still rings true: Change is sudden, but it also happens slowly, and then suddenly, the things that scare us don't scare us anymore. That's the best way I know how to summarize this new season, jumping into 2019 after a crazy 2018.

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."

Life is weird because you can feel like you aren't moving forward, but then all of a sudden you look back and you can see how everything has changed and is different now. The people I surround myself with, the church I attend, my confidence in myself and at my job. How the Lord is surprising me with His 100% better plans for my life, when I was so busy focused on my own. Things I was so nervous about don't freak me out as much. When God provides, He also provides peace.


I remember the beginning of college, and my very first day.

I remember that feeling of absolute terror I had, waiting in my mother's idling car in a one-hour parking space for Creative Writing class to start. And then, how over time, without my even noticing it, that terror transformed into intrigue and joy, and then routine. And now I can't imagine that I was ever afraid.

Maybe there will always be new fears on the horizon, and maybe it will still be difficult to navigate new seasons with faith and trust.

But if there's anything 2019 has taught me so far, it's that God's got me. He can take a weary spirit and a scared soul and calm all the fears, doubts, insecurities and worries you have and turn them into something beautiful. He can give you a fresh start that you didn't even know was possible. He can walk you into a new season of life that only He could have provided, and hold your hand along every step of the way.

Here's to a new, beautiful beginning.

What about you?

What has life been like for you lately? I genuinely want to know. What kind of season are you in: a beginning, middle or end? Also, major shout-out to my sister for letting me borrow these stellar photos. Happy weekend, friends!

Miss last week's BEGINNINGS post? Check it out here, my dudes!
Or click here to browse all of the posts in February's BEGINNINGS series.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

BEGINNINGS | Introducing February's Theme & Some Quote Love



Before we move any further into the already super-short month of February, allow me to introduce this month's theme: BEGINNINGS. It may seem kind of counterintuitive to post about new beginnings and fresh starts in the second month of the year, after all the New Year's inspiration for goal setting and reinvention has somewhat cooled. But that is exactly the point!

This February, I am finding myself in search of balance, rest, and restoration.

The Lord has shown me that with Him, I can begin again and again and again, and that He always has grace for my mistakes. If that looks like a fresh start on February 10, and not the super shiny January 1 #BestSelf I craved, then so be it. I am longing for that new life that the Lord can breathe into a familiar routine as He helps me navigate this season of life.

To start off BEGINNINGS, I compiled a list of inspiring quotes and lyrics about rejuvenation, time, beginning. As I feel refreshed and encouraged to move further into 2019 in God's strength, I find that I am still looking for my own words to share. So please enjoy these lovely little bits of goodness, in a new segment I'm calling Quote Love, woop woop, cheerio, pip pip and all that:

Quote Love: BEGINNINGS Edition

"To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance."
- Oscar Wilde

Oh dear, is this one ever true. Knowing yourself and prioritizing time to preserve the person that you are is vital. No one is perfect but working on yourself and learning and growing are the best steps to take in becoming who you want to be.



"For last year's words belong to last year's language
and next year's words await another voice."
- T. S. Eliot

I could snap, this is poetry in motion. Gone now are the words and the thoughts of even five minutes ago. So long as we have breath, there is always a chance for us to start over again. Now is the time to lean into a fresh goal, perspective, head space or moment of grace for ourselves.



"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed,
for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning,
great is Your faithfulness."
- Lamentations 3:22-23

There is nothing I could possibly add to increase the impact of this phenomenal passage,
so I write only to say that it's a promise, and we can cling to it. My heart!



"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end.
But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."
- Winston Churchill

I don't even know why but this one hit me so hard, I actually said "OOF" aloud. 
LIKE WHAT WINSTON?!



"Woke up in the corner store, someone saying my name,
Everybody moving around, acting like nothing had changed,
But something had changed in me."
- Bleachers, "Good Morning"

I will never cease to be amazed by this song, or Jack Antonoff's music in general. To me, that whole second Bleachers record feels like moving on, starting over, saying goodbye. It hits me in the heart. My fave, my fave, my fave.

What about you?

What kinds of things do new beginnings bring to mind? Does anybody else struggle to live up to the pressure of a January New Year's #BestSelf? And do you have any Quote Love to share with me?

This is the first post in the BEGINNINGS Series!
Stay tuned for more posts in the series coming atcha real soon.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

NOURISH | My #1 Tip for Learning How to Love Your Writing























Earlier this week, I was holed up in my room, writing my novel,
when I realized the impossible: I was actually enjoying myself.

This might sound ridiculous if you are genuinely pretty confident about your writing, or if you really dig in and lose yourself in your story. While I have moments like that now, for a while there, I felt really stressed about my novel.

I struggled to enjoy crafting my own specific story because I was constantly thinking with the end in mind: When is this project going to be finished? Will this ever get published? What will people think of my words? What if they're absolute garbage?

When I realized that I was legitimately enjoying writing my book, even in its (very) rough draft form, I knew something had changed.

It wasn't my story. It's still in shambles, with lots of editing left ahead of it (bless). No, it was my perspective. *Light bulb* I was no longer writing to please others, or to meet a deadline, or because I felt I had any semblance of responsibility to anyone or anything.

Simply, I was writing for moi. And it was awesome.

Perhaps this is something you have known for a while and you are reading this thinking, "Duh, Erin! Write for yourself. Enjoy the process already." And to that I say, wow, you're totally right. But also, WHO ARE YOU. Somewhere along the way (and I suspect comparison plays heavily into this), I lost a little bit of the wonder of novel writing and instead started to think about the end result and what other people would think of my words (ew). So I tried to write Really Resonant Prose (double ew), but it just came off feeling inauthentic to my voice.

Hear me out: Trying to sound like someone else is exhausting.

In writing for myself I realized that my writing voice is a bit weird. (Big surprise.) It's a little humorous, a little out there, and if I don't sound like some of my favorite writers (I totally don't), THAT'S OK. I sound like me. I'm the only one who can. So why has it taken me so long to embrace that?

Once I was able to put aside the all-consuming thought that Real Live Humans will read my novel one day (oof, my child), I started to sound like myself and have fun.

Does a character seem too flat? Let's give them a love of opera and rainbow sock hats. Are certain scenes too introspective? Let's add some Stellar Quips. I just started doling out ridiculous sentences into this story like Oprah gifting people new cars. 

After all, how can you expect another lovely soul to enjoy your writing if you (its metaphorical mother or father) aren't having fun with it? If it's not authentic to you?

Y'all: YA GOTTA LOVE IT. That's my number one tip: Write for yourself, and the joy that encouraged you to write the story in the first place will nourish your heart and actually make you a better, more genuine writer. So let yourself write that really indulgent, cheesy first draft. And then edit it to pieces.

What about you?

Have you ever struggled to enjoy your own writing, and if so, what has helped you nourish your process? And if you could describe your own writing style in an aesthetic, what would it be? Thanks for reading, as always!

This is the last post in the NOURISH series!
Click here to browse through all the posts in the series.
I'll see you all in February to reveal a new theme!

Saturday, January 19, 2019

NOURISH | Cultivating One Day of the Week for Nothing But Rest

Full disclaimer: I absolutely adore Sundays. Sunday mornings in particular, when the only things on my to-do list are to sleep in, drink coffee, and read. But Sundays weren't always so peaceful. Even after a long week of work and a busy Saturday out and about, I used to try and make my Sundays (gah) productive. BUT NO MORE, I SAY.

Before we continue, *please* go listen to the most perfect Sunday morning song there ever was as your Required Background Music for this post.

I don't know if any of you are like this, but I used to...not let myself rest? I used to demand too much of myself in terms of both creativity and running, which in the end led to inevitable burnout. Saving Sundays for myself has been a way to actively nourish that quiet part of me that just wants to snuggle up in bed with coffee and reflect on the week. And read #AllTheThings.

Now I have a whole day where I know going in that I'm not going to be doing much of anything. Just...breathing. Exhaling after a long week. Looking through blogs before church. Choosing caramel iced coffee instead of chaos.

Everyone's routine is different, but I think it's important that we each carve out time to rest. I look forward to my Sunday mornings more than just about any other time of the week, and it's because I'm consistently choosing to prioritize it for peace.

How to Cultivate a Rest Day in 5 Steps or Less or Your Money Back






1. Pick the day where you have the least to do. Rest days work best on those days where you don't have a work shift to get ready for or classes to attend. You might still have some small priority tasks, but generally the best time to rest is when you know you're going to have less on your plate.

2. Get comfy. Pajama pants, slippers, blankets, beanies. IT'S ALL ABOUT OPTIMAL COMFORT HERE, PEOPLE.

3. Grab a beverage of choice. I prefer coffee but you do you, boo.



4. Inspire yourself. Something I've been trying to do more of lately is actively assemble a list of videos, articles and other little links for me to enjoy on Sunday mornings with my coffee. Often these are thought pieces or song recommendations I didn't get to check out earlier in the week. I save them all up in a document (and rip pages out of my old magazines, shhhhh) and read them all on Sunday. It's my new favorite thing.

5. Go out. Or don't! But I typically find that venturing out into society on my rest day (even if it's just an hour for church or to grab yogurt), makes me feel more accomplished. No one even has to see you. You can just go for a drive. But do it! You'll be glad you did.

What about you?

Do you have a designated rest day that helps you recharge? Or do you carve out time for rest a little bit each day? I have now shared my Sunday morning hermit steps with you, my friends. And now, to crawl back into my cave....

Miss last week's NOURISH post? Check it out here!
Or click here to browse through all the posts in the NOURISH series.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

NOURISH | What I Learned From Hiking the Appalachian Trail























One of the most spontaneous decisions I've ever made was to hike the Appalachian Trail. It happened like this: My father and sister had hiked the AT before me, driving up to Georgia to walk in the woods for days at a time. They were getting ready for the next leg of their trip, and there was just enough time for me to jump in, grab my sister's old pack and join them. No training, no hiking shoes, just a backpack, a bandana, some old trainers and the wilderness. (Ok, and granola. There was a lot of granola.) So...I jumped.  I was scared, nay, terrified. But also, refreshed.

My father hatched the idea for this post, which I share with you in honor of this month's theme, NOURISH.

Hiking the trail has taught me many, many lessons, like the necessity of procuring a trusty walking stick and how much I undervalue having hot water on the daily when I'm home. But it's also taught me a few things about life and nourishing my soul, which I share with you here.

What I Learned From Hiking the Appalachian Trail



























We have more than enough.

Hiking the trail with only a backpack, I quickly realized: 1. Just how heavy it is to carry even a few belongings around, and 2. We have SO MUCH stuff. When I'm out hiking, I don't crave possessions as much as I miss the warmth of the indoors and (of course) my mom. But being on the AT also makes you realize just how much we constantly have things (from coffee mugs to vanilla bean candles to a stack of library books) on hand when we need them. You don't need that much in the woods, and it's kind of lovely.

























That being said...I need the trees.

I am a woods person. Living close to the beach, I have always appreciated the sea but pined for pine trees. Getting out into the woods and walking through the forest each day was one of the most calming experiences ever. The stillness of the forest isn't something I get to experience in my daily life and it's both haunting and humbling. There is a quiet majesty to the woods that has my heart. 



Ditto the mountains, the sky, the stars. The things you see when you're up in the mountains is unreal. You can spend days hiking for views that you wouldn't otherwise have had access to because hiking through the AT is the only way to see them. It makes you feel accomplished and exhausted in the best possible way. Away from technology, seeing the sky and crazy expansive views just makes my heart sing.

I need to feel small.

It is so easy for me to focus on myself and forget that outside the comfort of my air-conditioned home, there is a huge, natural world waiting to be explored. The trees nourish my soul and I remember many times just talking to God as I walked. It's a way to feel closer to Him by being in the creation He established long before buildings and technology gave us the lives we have today. It's nice to feel my problems pale in comparison to this huge, wonderful world full of people and trees that our big God has made.



























Our lives are hectic.

This became immediately clear to me once my only task was to wake up, prepare food, take down camp and walk. That was it - my entire day's agenda was to walk, to eat. To nourish my soul and my body. There is so much unnecessary chaos and clutter that comes with our lives and getting out into the forest helps remove you from that.

























What about you?

I spent some time walking in the park yesterday and I feel like I got a small-scale sense of peace that I do when I'm immersed in the woods. What makes you feel at peace? Do you have any favorite nature spots or places that calm you down? Thanks for reading!

Miss last week's NOURISH post? Check it out here!
Or click here to browse through all the posts in the NOURISH series.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

NOURISH | Six Ways to De-Stress After Work



When I first started working full time, I didn't realize the importance of unplugging once I clocked out. I quickly learned that sometimes people took their work home with them, staying in their email or constantly connected. While I wasn't someone who felt tempted to log-in after hours, I had other hurdles to my peace: What seemed like an endless array of distraction.

For me, this was (is) YouTube.

I would come home from a long day of sitting behind a screen to (you guessed it) sit behind another screen. For me, this was a way to unwind from the day's stress, but it also started to distract me from what I really wanted to be doing: Writing, reading, taking walks, talking with my family. Living a bit more slow-paced in the hours after work so that I could rejuvenate myself again.

I'm still not perfect at getting the work-life balance right and I definitely still watch my fair share of YouTube, but here's what I've learned in my quest to nourish myself long after I've left the office:

Get into a routine.

This is something I'm still striving to do, but it helps if, once you get home, you have tasks already lined up for you. For me, I know I need to eat dinner, meal plan for the next day, pick out my clothes, maybe catch a walk, etc. Having these routines can give you a natural rhythm to your evening and help you destress quicker.

Sweat.

There is nothing better after a stressful work day then to get a quick workout in. This will help channel  your stress into a healthy outlet and also give you a better night's sleep. I like running, walking or doing a Fitness Blender HIIT workout.

Leave it behind.

Bad day? We've all been there. It's ok to talk to someone about it, but make sure your venting doesn't become the focus of your entire evening. Write it down, pray it out, but then LET IT GO. A bad day at work is never a reason to let it consume your off time.

























Get out of the house.

Especially now that it gets darker earlier, I can find myself going a little stir-crazy in the evenings. The best thing for this is to get out of the house! Take a 20-minute walk or run a few errands to take stress off of you for the next day. OR GO TO TARGET. We can all agree that Target trips qualify as the sixth love language. It's a way of life, people. Bonus points if you get out of there without spending your entire paycheck.

Rest.

Be the best you can be for the next day of work by just getting some rest. Take a nap, read a book, relax on the couch with a movie and your family (might I recommend Moonrise Kingdom?). Unplug from tech an hour before bed and let yourself unwind. Have an established bedtime so your body gets used to your routine each day.

Make time for yourself.

It's super important to remember, after a long day of representing a company, that you are still YOU. Your job isn't your identity, however great it may be. Fuel your uniqueness by doing what you love, even if it's only for 15 minutes. For me, this means making time to write and read, but it might look different for you. Make lasagna, learn another language, write techno music. Whatever it is, make sure to make time for it. 

What about you?

How do you unwind after a long work day? Do you have a special after-work routine?
Am I the only one who loves post-work Target trips?!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Special Announcement | Introducing a New Project & January's Theme


























New year? New project!

At the tail end of 2018, I started listening to podcasts. This is significant for two reasons: 1. I've gained so many new insights from this medium and also feel 14% more like a Real Adult Podcast Listener, and 2. Podcasts re-introduced me to the concept of creating themed content. I've loved listening to different segments and stories centered around a specific theme, such as love, new beginnings, work or writing.


I've really wanted to get back into a more creative vein of blogging, and what better way to do that then to create monthly themes for my content?

With that in mind, in 2019 I will be creating monthly themes for my posts around a topic or phrase that inspires me. There may even be some guest voices in the mix and potential for collaboration along the way (shoot me an email), as well as a resurrection of the Creatives Project (GAH fingers crossed).

The theme for January 2019 is NOURISH.

What does it mean to nourish our minds, bodies, and souls? This is something I especially want to explore around the timeliness of the new year. What are ways we can nourish ourselves, and what does that nourishment look like? Posts coming up this month discuss work-life balance, body image, prioritizing rest and more.

I'm looking forward to creating conversations around the topic of nourishment this month and its many forms. If you have any ideas for posts or want to see something specific, please let me know!

The first NOURISH-themed post is set to drop this Saturday, so be on the look out for that! I'm excited to share this new way of posting with you and hope it's something that can inspire you as we enter this new year.

What about you?

What are you looking forward to this year? What kinds of things come to mind when you think of nourishment? Happy New Year, friends.