Thursday, September 5, 2019

26




It's birthday #26, and I've never felt so...calm?

Usually, I'm awash in the glow of Birthday Magic, 
but this year I just feel kind of relaxed.

This morning I opened a letter to myself at 26 that I wrote when I was 21. I was struck while reading it by just how much I didn't know. I guess that is always the case - how could I know what was coming? I had to learn the hard way, by going through those years. But I look back and feel now as if I have learned. That even though the person I was at 21 feels, in some ways, very different from who I am at 26, that both versions of me are valid and there will be other versions yet to come.

Like, even having this blog.

It's crazy to me that I've been able to maintain a blog for so long. Acoustic Erin was "birthed" in 2013, and I've been writing birthday posts since my 21st year. It's one thing to have journals, but to also have this blog, this record of who I am, is sort of like a time capsule. I kind of wish it was tangible, sometimes. That I could hold it and read it and put it on a shelf, because it's been such an important place to me for so many years.

So, welcome, 26!

Welcome, with all your level-headed calmness, and hope for the future. I don't know what songs I'll cling to this year, but it feels fitting to kick this year off with (what else?) Paramore's "26." I love when artists memorialize ages like that in their work. Adele's albums come to mind, and Switchfoot's "Twenty Four." Maybe one day I'll do that, too.

Old birthday posts can be found here: 21, 22, 23, 24, 25.

Already hungry for birthday cake,
E

Sunday, September 1, 2019

The Quiet Life



Sitting on the porch, listening to the birds' song, I realize: I want to live a simple life. This is certainly not the first time I've thought this, and it won't be the last, but it sticks. I want to have a simple life, moving quietly and humbly through the world. I want to rejoice in a thousand little things and put less weight on the trap of appearances.

I was raised this way, I was born to want this.

Maybe it was thrifting trips with my grandparents or spending time in nature at an early age. Maybe it was born from those days spent fishing with my childhood best friend, something that was both a ritual and a reset - but somewhere along the way, all of these little, simple things sunk their teeth in me and got me hooked. And I just want to live the "quiet life," as 1st Thessalonians puts it.

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you."
- 1st Thessalonians 4:11

The Quiet Life: Mornings like this one, spent on porches; cups of coffee and worshipping in community groups; trees, many trees; making a vision board; buying somebody's old stuff at a thrift store and calling it treasure. Iced green tea; novel writing and novel reading; a lazy record on a lazy Sunday; trips to the bookstore; writing by hand in purple ink; looking at old photographs; running, singing, dreaming. Baking cookies.

I have determined that I don't want much.

I am grateful that a life can consist of these simple things and somehow feel full. Our world may be broken, but there is still such a beauty to it. And a certain giddiness fills me now that it is September, arguably my favorite month of the year, with all of the goodness that it brings.

Reasons to love September (an ode):

Thoughts of fall; pumpkin spice lattes; an excuse to resurrect the sweaters in my wardrobe (if Florida will let me); my birthday; school supplies; etc., etc.
I rejoice in these little things.

I always try to write goals for the new month, and September is no different.

I feel newness, good things coming. This summer was a season of growth and change. I feel like fall is going to be about joy and victory. I want to claim all the good things God has for me this month.

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland."
- Isaiah 43:18-19

A song for your Sunday! Do take a listen if you feel so inclined. 

With joy,
E

Saturday, August 24, 2019

A Proper Dose of Nostalgia



I must say that I find myself missing people (and my beagle). I know that I am the type of person who is, and presumably will always be, fixated with the past. With retro things. With memories that others have long forgotten. With old photos, with the way we laughed then, with stories and songs I probably should have let go of a long time ago. It feels strange to me how much things can change decade to decade. 

And then, at the same time, there is something so magical about the present.

Because this place I'm in right now, this moment - these are the days I will long for when I get nostalgic in the future. So does it make sense to say that I always feel nostalgic? Even for moments I'm living in presently? Because I know that one day, these moments will fade out into memories, too. And I just wish sometimes that everything could stay the same and change all at once. That we could have both. 

But we can't, and that's ok.

That's the way that this was set up. If nothing moves forward, we can't meet new people, make new friends, sing new songs. And what would be the fun in that? Though I am always going to carry around these colors and these places and faces, they are a part of me, even if no one else knows it. Even if the people who are long gone never realize that they still walk with me, in the form of songs and stories and smiles remembered. You know, sometimes I dream about buying the old cottage that served as the backdrop to my sixth and seventh grade summers, and just living there forever. Even if it won't bring the memories back to life.

Even so, I will rejoice in - and hope for - the new.

Because at one point, everything in life was new. The best friends you have made, the coffee shops you frequent, even the music you listen to - there was a first meeting, a first finding, a first listen. So I can't be afraid of firsts. That's life.

I remember when I was so terrified of starting college.

On my first day, seven falls ago, I was literally shaking, trembling beneath the straps of my olive green backpack as I snuck into the back of my Creative Writing class. And now, all these years later, I am working full-time at the very university I attended as a worried little freshman. Students return to campus come Monday, and it just blows my mind. How could that have been me, not so long ago?

It makes me wonder, where will I be in another seven years?

Still working at the university? Working somewhere else? I guess I just don't know. Gosh, I'm glad I don't. If I knew in 2012 that I would be working in higher ed one day, I would have been so scared. I wouldn't have understood. How could I have? So, I guess I need to just let go. Which I'm not good at. Is anyone?

There's this Alvvays song that I love, "In Undertow," that is kind of the song of my spirit, and has been for a long time.

"Time to let go. There's no turning back." I think I've been afraid to let go and let God, to borrow a tired expression. Because the past is so good. The past is safe, it's what I know. The future is the thing with teeth - the great, big unknown.

In a couple of weeks, I will turn 26.

I remembered the other day that, tucked into the pages of one of my (many) old journals, I wrote a letter to myself. A letter for Erin at 26 to read, written by Erin at 21. Strange! I wonder what it says? I'm looking forward to opening it. She probably doesn't know what she's talking about, but I'm glad she chose to write. Maybe if I'm feeling brave, I'll post a snippet of it here. It's just odd to me how time passes. I'll have to write myself another letter to be opened in the future, once I do turn 26. Because I want to remember who I was, in this moment, right now.

Keep on,
E

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Snapshot of a Season | Act 1, Scene 1



We're entering a new season, can you feel it? My sister and I sit on the couch, laughing and crying as we watch an episode of Queer Eye. Happy tears, anxious tears. This week has been a study in emotion, both in expressing it and knowing when to hold it back. It has been the regrowth of sensitivity, of learning to keep my heart open, of tender-hearted prayer with palms up to the sky.

I know I won't always have this. And that's hard.

At the same time, "I'm ready, I'm ready, I'm ready to move on." Why is it that I must long for a new season, all the while mourning the present one? One day I will wake up in a different town and a different home and my sister won't be on the other side of the wall, playing J. Cole at full volume and strutting about the room in high-waisted denim and yellow espadrilles. One day this will all be different, and it will be good, but I will miss this. I know it, I do. But it doesn't stop me from longing for the future.

The other day, a wedding invitation came in the mail from my cousin.

And then another wedding invitation, from my other cousin. And somehow time is moving, and now it's us, my family, and my friends, who are putting on the rings and having the babies, and I don't know how this happened or who gave us permission to grow up. Change is good, change is good. Life is change, and we move forward. But wow, it's all going by faster than I expected.

A couple of weeks ago,
Daisy and Kaylie and I went to see the Lion King remake.

I sat in a darkened theater and silently wept as Mufasa died, once again. Why did I feel like somehow this time it was going to be different? I don't know why, but I did. Like maybe we could change things. Like maybe he could just hold on a little longer until help arrived. The music to that film just cuts me to the core. It was an odd feeling, connecting with a film that I adored as a child, seeing it again as an adult. In a way, that exactly describes how I've been feeling - as if two parts of me are meeting in the middle, and shaking hands with each other. One part past, one part future, both pulling me in different directions.

So, what even is this post?

This is me processing. It is a sigh of relief, a reclaiming of this space. A tree letting her roots exhale and grow. And you know, I have to say, I'm writing this for me (hence the rambles), but to the people who have stuck around this blog to read even one post or leave a kind word or two: you all are just the sweetest of souls. And I'm grateful that we get to share our thoughts with each other and that you, too, see value in creative spaces and the evolution of those spaces and their authors. I would rather see this space change over time than become sad and stagnant. 

Re: blogging: I think that somewhere along the way, I lost the poetry.

Not that this was ever really a poetry blog. But I miss the outlet these "pages" once were. And I miss having art in my life that is for me. I realized yesterday that I don't write anymore. It took a trip out into the country to realize how much I rely on the Internet and social media to keep myself entertained. I miss those days as a child when I would write by hand with clunky pencils and create stories from nothing. Before my brain was hardwired with this compulsion to constantly "keep up." So I come to this space seeking to reinvent it once more, and to celebrate the fact that it even exists at all.

In less than a month, I will turn 26.

I almost feel as if August is both a prelude of what's to come in my next year, and a season closing, fading out into something new. I don't have exact, concrete thoughts for what the future might hold, but I feel a general sense that inspiration is going to be at the heart of it. Exhibit 1: Last night I felt inspired and revived my old Tumblr. Maybe I'll drop it in a couple of days, or maybe it will become a new space to share my thoughts. Either way, I want expression to be at the heart of my 26th year. Is it weird that I feel like I'm claiming whatever "26" will be for me, now? And taking advantage of the freshness of a new year before it even arrives? Doing it anyway.

To do:

Read more C. S. Lewis. Revive the Twenty Five Project. Write full novels to the albums I've been obsessed with lately (read: music by Bastille, Imagine Dragons). Keep praying with open palms. Keep your door and heart open. Buy flowers. Sing songs.

Til next time, 
E

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Miniature Life Update | Summer 2019

It's July! We've reached the half-way point of 2019. How is this possible?
At the beginning of 2019, I started a new project on the blog that had me writing content based around monthly themes. It was fun for a while, but then blogging started to feel like a chore again - and I felt like I was letting people down if I didn't churn out enough posts for the month. The pressure came only from myself, of course, but it was enough to make me want to bow out of blogging for a while.

Then summer happened.

June and July have been such transformative months for me. I started working out again, I went back to Bible study, I stopped hiding. I think I'm finally beginning to experience healing in certain areas of my life that I've long-held insecurity over. Instead of letting me isolate myself, the Lord has been gently nudging me out of my comfort zone into community. I'm meeting people, making friends, opening up. As an INFJ (read: Capital H Hermit), this is a huge deal for me. And the progress I'm making at work and with personal goals has really grown my confidence and restored my joy.

But where does that leave this blog?

Honestly, I'm not sure. I created Acoustic Erin back in 2013 as a random, fun place to post my thoughts. Then it slowly grew into something I felt like I had to maintain for others. My day job is in marketing and communications, so the last thing I want to do is come home and worry about branding, marketing and designing this blog. UGH. I mean, it should be something fun for me - an outlet. All of the blogs I admire are more concerned with writing posts that read more like poetry than promotion. These bloggers write for themselves, to document their own journeys, and it shows. I freaking adore that.

So this space might get a small makeover.

Not in terms of design, necessarily. But I wouldn't be surprised if I continue to dial back my posting and only write when I feel like I genuinely have something to say. That might mean more randomness, more music recommendations, I'm not sure yet. But I do know that it's important for me to return this space back to its original intent - as an outlet for me to post about whatever, whenever, instead of worrying about SEO, my posting schedule or being the World's Best Blogger. 

Yo, I'm just here to share memes.

Related image

What about you?

How has your summer been?
Has anyone else already binged Stranger Things 3?
(Please keep the comments spoiler-free if possible, but WOW, that season was the jam!)

Saturday, May 11, 2019

QUIET | Why Being Quiet Isn't Being Lazy (Guest Post by Victoria Grace Howell of Wanderer's Pen)



Today on the blog I have a special treat for you: A guest post written by the one and only Victoria Grace Howell of Wanderer's Pen! I was so excited when Victoria reached out to collaborate, and am so happy to share her essay on why time spent being QUIET and restful isn't time wasted. Without further ado....let's jump into her essay!

I spent my childhood around a previous generation that believed
hard work was the key to success in life.

They’d work themselves to the bone to keep their families going and/or to pursue their dreams. For years, I adopted this practice because it felt like if I wasn’t working myself into exhaustion, I was being lazy. I’d take on tasks from waking till sleeping and I was productive, yes, but so exhausted. While I felt like I was accomplishing so much, at the same time I was withering and suffering from burnout.

Going on the occasional vacation never felt restful enough because although I was away from work, I was still going, going, going -
just for recreation instead of a paycheck.

It wasn’t until I was working a day job, involved with three different writing organizations, trying to write my own stories, and being diagnosed with depression and anxiety that I realized I have to take some regular time to be QUIET. I highly do not recommend coming to such a low place to have such a revelation, but I do strongly recommend finding time within a week or even every day to rest and reflect. I’ve started taking one rest day a week where I sleep in, relax, and not burden myself with a never-ending to-do list. I also take an hour or two every day to just refresh myself before
going to bed.

I know not everyone can take a day out of the week, but try taking an hour or two every day to just do things for you.

Watch a show, read Scripture, take a walk, draw, whatever brings you joy. Spending time being QUIET is like hitting the refresh button. When a web browser page has been working too long, you often have to hit the refresh button to get it working again. You have to do that with yourself, too.

Since taking that time, I've felt even more productive, I've slept better, my mental health has improved, and I've felt like my life is fuller.

 I believe strongly in hard work, and I don’t by any means believe it is a bad thing, but it needs to be balanced with QUIET and peace, too. Resting doesn’t equal laziness.

Erin here: Can we all just give it up for Victoria?

I loved reading her thoughts on taking time to wind down, because it truly does make us more joyful and productive in the long run. And I believe it vastly improves our quality of life. A big thank you to Victoria for sharing these thoughts!!
Everyone go give her blog some love!

What about you?

What kinds of things do you like to do to prioritize your self care and QUIET time? For me, it's all about listening to new music, taking a park walk, writing my novel and watching Harry Potter movies with my family. Thanks again to Victoria for the awesome essay! Have a stellar weekend, my dudes.

This is the second post in the QUIET series.
Miss last week's post? Fret no more, find it right here.
Or click here to read through all the posts in the QUIET series.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

QUIET | Why I Want to Say Yes to More Quiet Time in May





Easter morning was spent on the back porch of my parents' house in the country, swathed in a sweater and drinking chai tea. The day before, what seemed like my entire extended family arrived to celebrate, but the next morning was quiet, still. There is a certain amount of peace surrounding these kinds of places that words can't do justice. Whenever I visit small towns and this little country house in particular, I feel whole. My only job is to unplug and be present.

Even so, I don't always do the best job of this.

Our lives are so easily filled with noise these days. I'm not saying that we all need to move out to the country to escape it all (wait that's exactly what I'm saying) but I think we have to find ways to cope with the constant surge of sound present in our daily lives. At least in my own experience, any given day can be filled with noise from the media, social networks, texts, emails, music, even my own thoughts. That's why this month will be devoted to posts about pursuing QUIET.

The posts will kind of piggyback on last month's theme, VOICE.
I think that we can create best and really have an impact with our words
when we take time away from everything and rest in the silence.

So, what does QUIET look like? Why should we value it, and what does it mean in terms of places, faces and mental spaces? (I promise I'll stop rhyming; it was just super good timing. OOPS.) I hope to explore posts about this in May, and *throws confetti* we will also have a special top-secret guest poster sharing her thoughts as well!

As always, if you guys have anything you'd like to
see me post about this month, let me know!

I'll leave you with a verse that has been a favorite this year (emphasis mine):

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life,
to mind your own business and to work
with your hands, just as we told you."
- 1st Thessalonians 4:11

I don't know about you, but the quiet life sounds pretty darn lovely to me.

      What about you?

      What do you do to step away from the noise of everything? What kinds of activities do you enjoy that allow you to unplug from the constant stream of sound?
      Hoping your May is off to a stellar start! 🌸


      It's the first post in the QUIET series!
      Which I actually managed to publish on the first day of the month.
      Not too shabby if I do say so myself!

      Sunday, April 28, 2019

      VOICE | 12 of My Favorite Songs in 2019 (So Far)


      It would be kind of ridiculous to write about this month's theme (VOICE) without mentioning music. I actually don't talk about music on the blog as much as I'd like to, which is kind of odd considering my blog name. But for those of you who don't know, I am capital-o Obsessed with music and am always looking for new songs, albums and artists to add to my playlist. Here are some of the songs I've loved in 2019. Keep in mind these are songs that weren't necessarily released this year but that I've adored anyway.



      Aesthetic: Floating gently to the bottom of the sea as the sun reflects off the water.


      Why this song: Ok, so maybe I was initially a little late to the Billie Eilish party, but now that I'm here, WOW, my dudes. I love Billie's full-length LP (honestly all of those songs are the jam), but this one in particular is so hauntingly beautiful. Her voice is so young, pure, and innocent, but coupled with genuine pain and heartfelt lyrics. Love the layered vocals towards the end of the song. So sad and beautiful, I DIG.


      Related image
      Aesthetic: Parading around your living room in a full black cloak for sheer theatrics; background music for reading Edgar Allan Poe.





      Why this song: Why not this song? It's ridiculously short, sweepingly dramatic, beautifully breathtaking and an absolute gem of a track that easily takes the cake as my favorite song by this band. It's Queen, of course (read: maximum drama), but somehow more pleading and soft than anything I've heard from them. I went out and bought the full album on vinyl the other day just so I could listen to this track.





      Aesthetic: Foot-stomping your way down a woodland path in the park, as the sun dapples down and your spirit soars at the joys of living (WOW what are my words today).

      Why this song: My sister and I saw Hozier in concert this year, and before that night, I hadn't heard this particular track from his new album, but OH MAN. His raw vocals (and stellar background singers) on that killer chorus make this one an instant favorite. Worth a listen, or twelve. DANG IT ANDREW HOZIER-BYRNE. Be right back, just going to be scream-singing this one for the rest of all eternity. 





      Aesthetic: You're literally these two from Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom, and you're going on adventures, darn it.


      Why this song: It's Miike Snow but with a sort of whimsical twist. I love the playful keys and the whistling, and the marching-band style drums give it a youthful feel. It's cute, very summery, and simple enough to sing along to after literally one listen.




      Image result for there is more live hillsong

      Aesthetic: Breathless declaration of identity while gently swaying from side to side.


      Why this song: I usually don't listen to a ton of worship music (which I'd actually like to change), but I heard this song at a Bible study and WOW, the lyrics and powerful vocals just move me. I have sung this song at the top of my lungs more times than I can count, just leaning into the promises of God. Love the live recording because it feels like there's a whole stadium of people singing with me. Also, the song just keeps going....it gives you time to let the lyrics wash over you. 


      Image result for lumineers gloria

      Aesthetic: Leaving town with only a suitcase to your name and a long woodland drive ahead of you.


      Why this song: I can't even begin to describe how much the Lumineers' music affects me. It's relatively simple and often acoustic, but there's an urgency to it, and the raw vocals from their lead singer are like a wound. He believes every word he sings, you can tell. Those keys towards the end of the song also have my heart. Eagerly awaiting the third record.


      AND THESE GUYS:
      What about you?

      What are some of your favorite songs this year, my dudes? I look forward to hearing your recommendations! So far 2019 has been a wonderful year for music.

      Miss the last VOICE post? Check it out here.
      Or click here to read all of the posts in the VOICE series.
      Looking forward to announcing a new theme very soon!

      Saturday, April 20, 2019

      VOICE | It's Not Too Late: Don't Let Perfectionism Stifle Your Words





      On Tuesday, I sat down with a woman I'd never met before and listened as she told me stories about places and faces half a world away. I was interviewing her for a podcast series at my job, but we talked about so much more than the questions on my list. In that hour, she taught me about perseverance, how you've got to continue to move forward even when your spirit is crushed, how you must keep on using your VOICE even when it feels like you're shouting into the void.

      When I meet people like that, it just lights something up inside of me.

      I couldn't help but think of this space, and my own little assortment of words. I thought about all that I want it to be, and how I want it to matter, even if it's not there yet. That's been something that's been stewing on my mind for a while - blogging (or just writing in general) and perfectionism. It's something some of you have shared that you struggle with, too. It's the post I've been trying to write as I sit in coffee shops, but, ironically, it never comes out sounding right.

      It's taken some time, but I'm realizing that my fear of not having the perfect words (or the perfect blog) shouldn't be enough to stifle my VOICE.

      To you worrying if your novel is good enough, if you should just quit writing, if your blog is pointless, or if your VOICE even matters: It does. You do. Just the other day I was thinking about how intricate the world is, how there are so many of us on Earth, but how each one of us has a personal impact. Only you know the people you know, and only you can reach them. When your best friend calls you crying or your sister has a panic attack, they are not looking for Perfect Words. They just need you, your true and authentic self.

      Often I think that the biggest blessing comes when we have doubts,
      but we write the thing anyway.

      When we share our VOICE in a post or a text. When we write the book even as our hands tremble. When we take a step of faith and believe in ourselves and hit that big orange Publish button. I think often times there is opposition and difficulty in getting that message into the world simply because someone out there needs it. Even if it's you.

      So that's what this is.

      April, all of it. The VOICE theme. It's refusing to give up even when it feels like I don't have the pretty words or motivation to keep bringing words into this space. It's waking up and writing my novel and having a good laugh at what I wrote even thought it's just me and the word doc. It's forgetting about page views and just pouring out my heart. It's believing that the Lord gave me the love of writing for a reason and that it's never too late to Do the Thing. And it's not too late for you, either.

      What about you?

      What has been holding you back from sharing your VOICE? What would you write and say and do if you were completely unafraid? Wishing you a wonderful Easter, my dudes.

      Miss the last VOICE post? Check it out here.
      Or click here to read all of the posts in the VOICE series.

      Saturday, April 6, 2019

      VOICE | Finding Peace in All the Noise



      "Hey, God has you." 

      It's the short text sent from an Asheville airport that finds me in an exhale. My father, hundreds of miles away and experiencing anxiety of his own, sends the text anyway.

      God has you.

      When circumstances change or our emotions run rampant, it can be hard to find peace. When demanding deadlines and confusing questions fill our days, it can be difficult to slow down enough to remember Who is behind it all, weaving beauty into our lives and sprinkling little joys throughout our days. Butterflies and birds soaring and someone sharing cake in the break room. A bouquet of carnations and a Switchfoot song to sing at the top of your lungs.

      I went for a walk in the woods this week to get away from the noise.
      To be present in nature, even if just for a little while.

      This week, the Lord has been whispering to me about peace: "Trust in Me. I've got you." I'm learning that I don't need to know what lies ahead and that when my own anxious thoughts try to solve everything and see the end of my story when I'm still at the start, there is One who speaks to me in a soft VOICE.
      He tells me to take it one day at a time.


      I want to put this VOICE first. Sometimes it can be hard to hear Him, when I'm so focused on my own thoughts, the blare of social media, the magazines I read, the lyrics I listen to.

      I need to carve out more quiet spaces devoid of technology,
      media and other people to really hear Him.

      I'm not there yet, but I'm on my way. And in case you were wondering, or maybe in the midst of it all you've found you've forgotten: Hey, God has you.

      What about you?

      What do you do to unplug from the craziness and spend quiet time with God?
      Any tips for taking time away from technology (it's such a distraction)!
      Hope you all are having a wonderful April.

      Miss last week's VOICE post? Check it out here.
      Or click here to read all of the posts in the VOICE series.
      Talk to you soon!

      Monday, April 1, 2019

      VOICE | Hello, April: Introducing a New Theme

























      If March was a month of taking a step back from writing to focus on the ESSENTIALS of life, then I want April to be filled with words.

      Words, loads of them, rough draft sentences or polished phrases, I want them all. This month, I don't want to let my focus shift to perfectionism and hold me back from actually Writing the Things. My words may not be perfect every time, or even some of the time, but they're still my words, and I'd rather write them and express them then keep them neatly folded into unread pages and unpublished drafts.

      So: I am hitting publish on this post in hopes that declaring April as a writing month will inspire me to follow through and make it work!

      The theme for this month is VOICE. With my April posts, I want to celebrate everything expression, whether that takes the form of music or writing or speaking words of encouragement into someone's life. More to come soon, but for now, enjoy your April, hug a friend, and remember to go outside and sit in the sunshine for a bit, because that can do wonders for the soul.

      What about you?

      What are you looking forward to in April - any special goals? The picture up above was from the Hozier concert, by the way, which was EPIC, my word! P.S. If you have any post ideas you'd like me to write up this month, I'd love to hear them. Until next time, friends!

      Sunday, March 24, 2019

      ESSENTIALS | Resting & Re-Centering Myself in March




























      This month has been a lesson in focusing only on
      what is absolutely necessary.

      A few weeks ago, I was all geared up to launch March's theme, ESSENTIALS, to better explore the things that are vital in my life. The things that are there when all of the frivolities get stripped away. What I hope to build my life on: God, family, nature, creativity, music, rest. My own personal ESSENTIALS.

      Interestingly enough, I never got to draft that full first post,
      because March had other plans.

      This month has tested my limits with stress and made me essentially (pun wholly intended) have to start practicing what I wanted to preach: When stress starts to rage, how can I dial back, take a breather, and build my life around what is absolutely necessary?

      This is something my sister likes to remind me of when I get overwhelmed.
      Only do what you have to. Go to work, come home, and sleep.
      Don't do more than you have to do during difficult seasons.

      As a person who wants to constantly push myself to work harder, create more, run faster, this is welcome advice. Dialing it back to only what is essential in my life means protecting my time, putting the pause on creativity in favor of a full night of sleep (still not the best at that one), and setting boundaries so that I don't push myself too hard and burn out.

      Oh, March. I wanted this month to be full of so much blogging.

      But instead I tried to focus on Jesus, my tribe of loved ones, and allowing my spirit to rest (via nature walks, chai tea lattes, and reading books in the backyard). Unfortunately, I realized this blog was not one of my ESSENTIALS. It is an outlet that I adore but I can only pour into it when I have the time, energy and creativity to write something I resonate with. And if that means fewer posts and more resting, that's a trade-off I have to be willing to make.

      I am curious to know what falls into the ESSENTIALS category for all of you.

      What are the things that, even at your lowest and weakest, you know you need in your life to thrive and bring yourself back to a normal state? This could take any form, really. I know personally that a morning run and a cup of tea with some good reads will recharge me. Throw some vinyl in there and a vanilla bean candle and we're all set.

      What about you?

      How do you go about taking things off of the table (RIP my novel) when life gets too stressful? What kind of ESSENTIALS help recharge you? Oh, and how was your March? Mine has been a doozy, but I've learned so much. Looking forward to hearing from you in the comments!

      I hope to be back in April with a new theme. We'll see!
      Until then, I wrote a thing for Burning Youth and if you'd like,
      you can read that here.

      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.