The Best of a July Day (with Kate Payne)

Friday, July 28, 2017

Note: This post was written by Kate Payne. Kate is the newest contributor here on H&H who will be providing a monthly roundup of quality products and various creative content. Her natural eye + heart behind her recommendations is something I am eager to share & implement often here on Habit & Heart.

As the days heat up, I find myself filling my hours with intention. In a whole year, we only get one summer, and I am learning to spend it wisely, fully and boldly. Though the days are long, I am keeping my to do lists short: I'm not doing more things, I'm doing better things. The same goes for what I'm using. This month, I've made it a goal to use less, focusing on quality instead. Below is a list of what I'm using, doing and loving on a typical July day.

IN THE MORNING
Image via Kate Payne
01 | PINEAPPLE MANGO SMOOTHIE
This smoothie is closer to a desert than a breakfast. It's bright flavors epitomize summer. And even better, it's almost impossible to mess up. Gather, 1/2 cup frozen pineapple, 1/2 cup frozen mango, 1 and 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk, and a handful of fresh mint. Place in a blender and blend till creamy. Garnish with a sprig of mint. 

02 | BEAUTYCOUNTER CLEANSING BALM
Get used to me talking about Beautycounter because at least one of their products are going to make my favorites every month. This stuff transformed my skin. I won't dive into the details here, but you can read more about my skin journey and Beautycounter here

The BC cleansing balm is without a doubt my favorite product. Though I use it morning and night to wash my face and remove my makeup, there is something extra special about using it when I wake up. It leaves my face feeling awake, invigorated, hydrated and bright. 

03 | TELL ALL MY FRIENDS ALBUM BY WILL REAGAN
I LOVE starting my day off by listening to this album. Will Reagan has always been one of my favorite Christian artists, but this album is awesome. It's lyrics are deep, relatable and full of truth. It provides a perfect soundtrack to my morning quiet time. Check it out on Spotify here.

IN THE AFTERNOON
Image via Kate Payne
01 | CAPRESE SALAD
This caprese salad screams summer and only takes about seven minutes to make. It's rich in taste & color and will leave you feeling not full, but satisfied. I make it by slicing up a large, bright red tomato, an onion and fresh mozzarella. Then I pick basil leaves from my herb garden (homegrown all the way!) and wash six-ish big leaves. Then I stack those items typically in the order of tomato, mozzarella, onion, basil and so on! Top with a sweet italian dressing, sea salt and pepper, and voila! All of summer's freshness right on your plate!

02 | BEAUTYCOUNTER SUNSTICK
I hate sunscreen. Always have. I know it's pretty essential, but there are few things more annoying than having to lather every exposed inch of your body with this pasty lotion before jumping in the pool. But this different. Made with coconut oil and acai fruit oil, the BC sunstick is a joy. When I lightly run it over my face, chest and shoulders I feel like I'm enhancing my skin--not clogging it. It's light, breathable and smooth. Plus, it's compact, so I take it just about everywhere I go and can even use it on top of make up. Purchase this sunstick (for just $18), and I promise, you will love it just as much as I do. Shop it right here!

03 | COMMONWEALTH BY ANN PLATCHETT
I've had this book on my list for awhile (mostly because the cover is darling), and I finally checked it off.  It was one of those light, easy, sweet reads, perfect for summer. It tells the story of two families, blended by an affair, and the adventures and tragedies they face together. I absolutely fell in love with these characters and was actually sad when it ended! 

IN THE EVENING 
Image via Kate Payne
01 | GEORGICA POND ALBUM BY JOHNNYSWIM
Another album I have on repeat. This husband-wife duo have been rocking my Spotify since their debut, and their second album is GOLD. Seriously "Touching Heaven" makes me sob. Go download this album!
02 | AVOCADO CREAM PASTA
I accidentally invented this pasta when I had nothing else in my refrigerator, and it was one of the best mistakes I've ever made. It's SO SIMPLE. I boil noodles, and meanwhile I mash one avocado and stick in in a sauce pan with 1/4 olive oil, 1/4 cup milk, salt, pepper, parmesan cheese, and garlic. I heat that on low and then let it simmer until my pasta is al dente and then combine! In about fifteen minutes you have a light and satisfying summer dish. 

03 | THE ACSENT OF WOMAN DOCUMENTARY
WATCH THIS. It is BEAUTIFUL. Who do you talk about in history class? Men. Who do you read about in books? Men. Who do credit for the greatest discoveries, inventions and innovations? Men. This Netflix documentary tackles this issue. Why do we not talk about women in class? When was the gender binary formed and what historical events enforced it? Each of the four episodes explores this. I love cozying up to a good documentary before bed, but I really love cozying up to one that challenges basic gender norms!

I hope that some of these inspired you. What products, habits, and recipes have you adopted this summer? I'd love to hear!

Written by Kate Payne. Follow along on Instagram HERE and her personal blog HERE

The Unvoiced Aspects of Self-Care: Part Two

Monday, July 24, 2017

Image via Cate Willis
NOTE: This post is PART TWO of a mini-series on true and long-lasting care for ourselves. In the previous post, we talked basics of this deemed buzz-word "self-care". You can view the article HERE.

Now that we know what self-care is and isn't, what does it practically look like? And, how can we actively day in and day out practice this authentic type of care for ourselves?

01 | Establishing Routine 

Treating ourselves feels good in the moment, while self-care honors our value for both today and days to come. Indulging in routine and rituals is just one way we can celebrate our worth. Whether it be a weekly coffee date with an encouraging friend or setting daily "alone-time", adding practical care into our schedule allows us go through life hopeful and with peace of mind. Even simply giving yourself time for a proper meal in the morning and a moment to read or converse with your spouse, family or roommate can allow you to slow down and invest in your day.

RESOURCES: 
My friend, Sawyer, has great recipes and a genuine outlook on health over on The Wholesome Blog. Sawyer was featured on H&H earlier this summer sharing "Summer Recipes Even a Gilmore Could Make".

02 | Making Time & Space to Reflect 

When we go through life without taking the time to reflect on what is actually happening, it eventually catches up with us. That is why it is so vital to give ourselves the space to recall and contemplate our days. This does not have to be a daily habit, but implementing some sort of reflecting time often is important. This can be through writing, talking it out with a friend or simply giving ourselves the mind-space to think. Ah, yes, thinking. It's good for you.

RESOURCES:
a) A quality notebook. My trusty favorite is by Shinola.
b) On a solo drive? Try out "auditory journaling" by utilizing voice recording on your iPhone.
c) A designated physical space to reflect in. This can look like a lot of things, but ultimately this should be a space you know you will not be distracted or interrupted that also provides peace and familiarity. Mine is either a local coffee shop or solo-driving down my favorite road.


Image via Cate Willis 
03 | Seeking Counseling 

This is a hard one to talk about, but I can say from personal experience of counseling in different years and seasons of my life that it has proved to be one of the best decisions I have made to care for myself. Allowing a professional to walk beside us in a difficult period of our life is not something we should feel ashamed of. Consider this: we care for our body through seeing a doctor and our mind through various education, yet why don't we take the time or space to care for our emotions and feelings? In recent years, seeing a counselor has been seen as a failure or weakness (though that stigma is slowly but surely changing!), when in reality it is a simply a wise decision to care for ourselves in our need. (Plus, seeking wise counsel is not only smart, but biblical!)

RESOURCES:

I cannot give specific people or places due to the both the variety of locations and needs of my readership, but I encourage you to take the time to poke around on the Internet for counseling services in your area. (FYI: For those in college, many campuses provide free counseling services for students and faculty. Also, many places of worship provide services as well.)

04 | Making Clear What Is and Isn't Okay

Ooo, yes - boundaries. Boundaries with yourself, family, friends, coworkers, etc. are such an important aspect of caring for yourself. When we do not view ourselves as important or worthy, we lack being about to discern - and declare those discernments, too - what is and isn't okay. And, that is what boundaries are in Brene Brown's definition: what is and isn't okay.

Setting up practical boundaries with others and ourselves can be evaluating friendships by taking a deeper look into relationships to see if they encourage and build or if it perhaps is a toxic relationship that may need to end. For me, one way I have been practicing this is through staying true to my commitments while also being aware of the need to say no. (How I know when to say no: I am either emotionally or physically exhausted, knowing we would benefit more from another time when we are both available to fully show up.) Boundaries are a learned and practiced process for most of us: learning how to determine a work/life balance, learning how to have hard conversations with family & friends, learning how to not let your mind wander to unhealthy places. Therefore, boundaries practiced well with intention and forgiveness.

RESOURCES:
a)  Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend
b)  Rising Strong by Brene Brown (Honestly, any of Brene's work is very helpful to this subject.)
c) Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
d)  "How to Handle a Friend Who Wants Too Much of You" by Rachel Brown via Darling Magazine

Image via Cate Willis
It is in the simple things. And, since I only have first-hand experience with my life, here are a few ordinary ways I am choosing to care for myself (besides stopping with the Pop-Tarts everyday):

01 | Regularly purchasing the melatonin medicine that works and helps me sleep through the night rather than the cute on-sale decor item I see at Target. I know consistent, quality sleep is far better for me to get through each day rather than a throw pillow.
02 | Getting out of the house an hour before I need to be at work for a coffee date with myself to recharge and rest.
03 | Saying "yes" over and over to sharing in community with others. Even when I am tired. Or would just rather watch Master of None on Netflix for the evening. Surrounding myself with people that love me well and push me towards truth is the biggest gift (and, far better than Netflix any day).

And, I asked over on Instagram ways you care for yourself. Here are a few of my favorites:

@ratchelroberts: "I use essential oils in this fancy diffuser I bought on amazon. I also bought a fancy robe from Free People because more often than not I find myself wanting to prance around in a pink silky dream." (Same, girl, SAME)
@tori_foushee: "Journaling! Helps clear my mind and keeps me somewhat organized."
@thekindpilot: "Running regularly. Clears my head and that breaking a sweat and clocking the (pretty small) amount of miles feels good."
@kaesturg: "Alone time is just so valuable. Doing literally anything by yourself is refreshing."
@elainemacq: "Hot lemon water instead of coffee every morning." (Guilty culprit on the latter.)

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Caring for ourselves should not be a luxury, but a necessity in our daily life. To give ourselves the permission to intentionally take care of our needs and desires is a beautiful, brave creative endeavor that points to the immense value and worth we obtain.

Join the Conversation: How do you care for yourself in the day-to-day?
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The Unvoiced Aspects of Self-Care: Part One

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Image via Claire Nichols
Ah, self care. A buzz word in this day and age on the ol' Internet. Honestly, I'm a-ok with this since it is addressing the simple need to care for ourselves that has been overlooked and ignored for far too long. However, cultural self-care has turned into something too trendy and only based on temporary satisfaction, while a true caring for oneself includes the real, tough and sometimes far-from-rosy work that honors our true value.

So, let's get some things straight on what caring for ourselves is and isn't:

01 | Self-care is not the same as "treat yo' self".

I'm a big advocate for Parks and Recreation's famous "treat yo' self" mentality. Still, when we view caring for ourselves as treating our short-lived desires, it eventually harms our identity and worth. For, "treat yo' self" is what it's name deems: a treat. Getting a milkshake after a hard day should be filed under the "treat" category rather than defined as true and long-lasting care. This is due to the fact that caring for oneself should be something we practice day in and day out regardless of circumstance or emotion.

Image via Claire Nichols
02 | A bath does not cure everything (sure does help though).

I love a long bath at the end of the day. Always have. I truly do not understand those who hate on baths and claim that you are "soaking in your own filth". (I'm just over here like "I like my filth and it feels GOOD".) However, I cannot count the times that I assume a bad day will be alleviated by a bath and ultimately disappointed when I still feel the weight of the day afterward. That's because a bath (or snack or small purchase) is not created to completely cure a crappy day or situation. It is made to help, I think - to be a small joy that we should enjoy to its fullest potential while understanding its worldly limits. Yet, even these good things do not heal the way we are made to heal - with truth, grace & love.

03 | Self-care is not selfish.

I know I am not the only one who has felt the guilt or shame brought onto me by others when caring for myself. Only recently I have started to see self-care as a valuable necessity to my life rather than a selfish endeavor. Hear me when I say this: Giving of ourselves for the sake of others is a beautiful thing and something we should practice and do often. Yet, when we forget to give ourselves that same care, time and energy, we are unable to fully show up for others in their need. Being able to recognize and express our own needs helps us to better understand the needs of those around us. When practiced well and often, this makes going through life together an even more beautiful endeavor.

STAY TUNED FOR PART TWO. I think this topic is both weighty and important, so I decided it would be best presented in two parts. Look out for a continued post on self-care -- specifically, some practical aspects and resources -- later this week. 
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H&H Update: Contributor Call

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Image via Ellie Hicks; Other images HERE
Popping in today to share with you a piece of my long-term vision for Habit & Heart. I am currently in the process of rebranding the site, updating information, adding more resources, as well as inviting a few more people along with me on this adventure. I am learning that we can't do it all, and this blog is no exception. With that being said, this is a post to explain what I am looking for in a possible contributor. As a firm believer that we are better together, I hope that this invitation allows for building more consistent, quality content on Habit & Heart. 

Habit & Heart is looking for some gals + guys with a similar voice, style and desire to celebrate the real life that its content hopes to achieve to fill a few roles here on the blog. For the sake of organization, let's break this down into three parts.

Part 1: ROLES & POSITIONS to fill

01 | Photography Contributor 
Description: This role will basically provide images for various posts, with credit attributed. Selected images should reflect the content and nature of the post. If you are looking for a place to showcase your photography, this role would be the perfect fit.

02 | Post Contributor
Description: In this role, you would write and edit your own post for Habit & Heart. This could look like one of two things: One, a pitched & approved idea that reflects the content & values of H&H or two, an assigned or collaborated idea with me.

03 | Writing and Post Editor
Description: This position will differ depending who is interested in this role. I currently do not have anyone to regularly look over my work, but I think that needs to change. This position would be great for someone who is talented in the ways of grammar, sentence structure and literary terms who can also provide constructive feedback on various posts. 

04 | Visuals and Graphics Creator for Promotion & Social Media
Description: Where my graphic-designers at? You don't have to have a job title as such, but just a pure interest and growing expertise in the world of visuals. This role would be someone who is able to create consistent work for promotional content and social media. 

Desired role not listed? If you have talent + passion in a certain area, please let me know how this blog can be a platform to showcase that.

These roles could be a permanent commitment, such as a frequent post or consistent photography contribution, or as a more temporary position, such as a one-time or on-call type of situation. A-ok with either as long as you are loyal to your decision!


Ideally, I am wanting about five or six people to come alongside me in taking H&H to the next step. I ultimately want this to come together organically, but for the sake of expressing desires & needs, here are some aspects that I am looking for:

Part 2: My ideal NEEDS & DESIRES 

01 | At least one or two contributors to reside or live near Columbia, MO (my full-time location) or Little Rock, AR (hometown). This desire is so we could have some in-person time to talk through and create content together.

02 | A GUY! Maybe even two. Who knows. This blog's content is not targeted at just women, but all those who desire to live a creative & real life. So, I am *trying* to reach both women & men on H&H, and I think having a guy come alongside me would be beneficial to that goal.

03 Variety in ages, backgrounds, perspectives. Though H&H does need to stay consistent with its overall style and form, by myself, I am limited due to just one demographic. Therefore, expansion should come hand-in-hand with variety.

Again, this little list is purely an ideal desire. I am so thankful for whatever contribution interest I receive, but learning that speaking (or in my case, writing) your dreams gets you a little closer to them.

Part 3: EXPECTATIONS for contributors

01 | Quality, thoughtful work that is relevant to H&H's readership and true to your values.

02 | Organization and ability to work well on a deadline.

03 | Clear communication with me, other team members and readers. Must be available via email, text and in-person (if possible).

04 | Loyalty (loyalty, loyalty - Kendrick reference, anyone?). I know that a lot of us have a creative endeavor or side hustle already going on + school, work, family, friends, and well, LIFE. I think those things are far more important than this blog, however with a position I expect consistent time and effort put into your content.

Ok, that's a wrap. If interested, fill out THIS GoogleForm. Just asks a few questions so that I can gather some basic info.
(Form should take less than a minute to complete.)

Questions to Fight the Small Talk

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Image via Karissa Nickish
Small talk. Let me tell you - I hate it. Naturally, I know I am far from good at it, tend to cringe or often duck & hide whenever it arises. And, I am not the only one: Eleanor Roosevelt claims, "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people". I think Eleanor gets my intense dislike and would probably of rather had an in-depth one-on-one conversation with someone than talk about the weather any day. For, small talk is what it's name recalls - small. We are prone to talk about surface similarities and the lives of others which ultimately does not allow for the authentic understanding of one another that we so crave.

So, how do we get past talking about the weather? My answer: be curious. Be interested in others past the initial thing we have in common, past the obvious, and past a factor unrelated to conversation. This does not mean going down the TMI road, but simply choosing to ask good questions that simulate a real and rooted relationship.

01 | What was one of your favorite seasons in life?

WHAT THIS DOES: Sometime the present is not always pretty or fun to talk about, so this question grants us the opportunity to recall a time that we hold dear and share that with one another. Getting to talk about why a year of your childhood was so sweet or how much you adored a certain semester of college creates a space to learn about one another outside of what is right in front of us. 

Image via Karissa Nickish 
02 | If time, money & resources were unlimited, what room would you like to add to your home?

WHAT THIS DOES: Showcases, quite literally, what we want to make space for in our lives. Whether it be a space to create, cook, read or play, this questions allows for our mind to dream out loud and together.

03 | What is one of the best gifts you have either given or received?

WHAT THIS DOES: Allows us to talk about what we value when we give and receive. Birthdays, holidays and various other celebrations come around so often that an idea should pop into our head with ease to avoid the silent stumped face and "that's a good question, but..." response. When we give, we are thinking of the interests of others - this can let us acknowledge the traits we admire in those we love. And, the gifts we like to receive normally come from those who we are fully known by, thus letting it be a natural avenue to talk about ourselves in a real and honest way.

Image via Karissa Nickish
04 | What is one thing you always keep with you?

WHAT THIS DOES: Identifies a unique quirk that you may not notice or guess at first glance. Whether it is a photograph, go-to makeup product or that emergency 20 dollar bill - these small aspects, though material, can showcase a consistency in a person's life that is translated through both their purse and personality.

05 | [...] How are you learning from that? 

WHAT THIS DOES: This is a good follow up question that goes past the "what" of a situation, but doesn't cross into the "why" territory that could be uncomfortable for someone to navigate through in a conversation. By asking someone what they learned from a small instance that may be easy to divert from in a conversation (i.e. doing poorly on a test, a difficult week at work, relational problems), it opens up the door for a friendship centered on growth and authenticity.

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Other go-to questions that cultivate that deeper relationship we desire: What would you want to implement in your daily routine if you had an extra hour each day?, What you would tell yourself to not worry about five years ago?, or What are ways you would reinvent your life (i.e. jobs, locations, hobbies)?

Keep the conversation goin': Do you dislike small talk? How do you get past talking about the weather? 
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Summer Recipes that Even a Gilmore Could Make

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


Let's be real - eating well can be a challenge. Especially considering other factors that are inevitably apart of our lives: budgets, business, tiredness and emotions & situations that are seemingly unpredictable. In Gilmore Girls, Lorelei gives the following advice to daughter Rory after going through a breakup:

"Get back in your pajamas, go to bed, eat nothing but gallons of ice cream and tons of pizza." 

And, you know - I like that advice. That guidance feels good and holds a bit of truth in the area of comfort. Yes, for a period, wallowing and eating junk food may be necessary. But, does that advice truly satisfy?

I have partnered with fellow Gilmore Girl lover and nutrition-savvy friend Sawyer Cobb from The Wholesome Blog to share with you three easy summer recipes that even a Gilmore girl could make. (Well, almost - throw in a Pop-Tart and we can call it a day, alright?) Creating meals that both satisfy our body but don't let the preparation consume a large portion of our day is a creative endeavor at its very core. So, let's get creative with our meals this summer with these three recipes.



01 | Homemade RX Bars

Ingredients:

1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup shredded unsweet coconut
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp pure coconut extract
4 egg whites
10 dates
1/4 cup cacao powder
1/4 cup carob nibs

Instructions:

1) Throw it all in a high powered blender, and BLEND.
2) Lay it all out on a small baking sheet.
3) Bake on 35o for 20 minutes.
4) Let them cool and cut them in squares! It should make about 6 square bars.


02 | Veggie Curry

Ingredients:

1 jar of Maya Kaimal Jalfrezi curry (Ingredients: Onion, tomato puree (water, tomato paste), sweet red peppers, coconut cream, expeller-pressed canola oil, lemon juice from concentrate, apple cider vinegar, salt, spices (including turmeric), garlic, ginger, cilantro, Serrano chili, xanthan gum.)
*I got the jar of curry at drug emporium but they also have it at natural grocers and market street
1 can of full fat, unsweetened coconut milk
1 zucchini
1 sweet potato
1 bell pepper
1 bag of crinkle cut carrots (You can use any kind, but I used the crinkle cut ones)
1 large head of broccoli
1 head of cauliflower
1 tsp of cinnamon

Instructions:

1) Mix the can of coconut milk, jar of curry, and cinnamon in a pot and turn the heat up to medium/high.
2) Let this heat up for 5 minutes and then add all the veggies and stir it together.
3) Put the lid on and simmer it on medium/high for 45 minutes, stirring a few times.
*To make the cauliflower rice all you do is throw it in a high powered blender and blend! Then put it all in a skillet and turn the stove top to medium heat then stir it around for 5 minutes.

03 | Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Ingredients:

2 cans of unsweetened full fat coconut milk
1 cup of coconut sugar
1 cup of strong brewed coffee (I used Intelligentsia coffee made in a french press)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp coconut extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup carob nibs
2 tbsp coffee grounds
 INSTRUCTIONS:
1) Mix milk, sugar, and coffee together in a saucepan and whisk together on medium heat until it is all combined.
2) Remove from heat and add in the vanilla and coconut extract.
3) Put in a container and chill overnight.
4) After chilling it, it is ready to be added to the ice cream maker and just follow the instructions that your ice cream maker gives you.
5) About 5 minutes before done, add in the ground coffee, chocolate chips, and carob nibs.
6) If you do not have an ice cream maker, these would also make really good popsicles too! I want to try that in the future!
*Side note: this will not taste like dairy milk ice cream. Coconut milk always tends to be a little more icy than dairy milk. This recipe is vegan, gluten free, and dairy free!

A LIL' PSA ON VITAMIN B12:
"Sources include red meat, milk, & eggs. B12 helps regulate proper red blood cell formation, normal brain functions, and distribute energy throughout the body. Without adequate intake of this vitamin, one can become anemic and begin suffering from always being tired, sick, and weak. Doctors recommend that if you are a vegetarian or vegan, you should get your levels checked regularly and consider taking a B12 supplement."

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Thank you so much, Sawyer, for sharing these three great recipes for the summer. We eat well because we love our body and want to treat it right - plus, if chocolate chip ice cream can be healthy, I'm in. OH, and be sure to follow along for more recipes + fun with Sawyer on her Instagram  and  The Wholesome Blog!
Join the Conversation: What is your go-to meal for the summer, or a recipe you want to try?

Ten Years of Missing on Father's Day

Sunday, June 18, 2017

*Note: A personal post. I learning it's good and important to talk about stuff like this. Even on the internet. YEAH, the internet. Okay. Here's a piece of my heart, dear friends.*



I can almost feel the old, droopy ceiling lining of my dad's green Jeep Cherokee just barely resting on my head. (We always meant to get stuff like that fixed.) Listening to James Taylor on the stereo, windows down, probably driving to do something fun + carefree. Maybe ice cream or a trip to the pool. It was five and six and seven years old - and all the years before that - that my childlike nature was natural and distinct. The constant question asking and curiosity that quickly turned into nosiness, the afternoons spent in the backyard unaware of time, the way in which life seemed stable. Peaceful, even. And, yet, these childlike years were blended with first encounters of pain, grief, and confusion.

A decade later, today marks the tenth father’s day without my dad. That number feels heavy these days. Sometimes as weighty as it felt those first few years and sometimes barely noticeable at all. A lot has happened in these years - times of joy and grief. Seasons of letting go and starting new. Spaces + people to laugh, cry, and share in the everyday with. It’s stuff like this that is as beautiful as it is heartbreaking. 

I'll be honest - I like to ignore this day. It makes it easier. I never really know how I will feel on Father's day, but I do know one thing: I will choose to celebrate because it’s a day worth doing just that. Celebrating the time I had with my dad - the sweet stories and moments both big and small. The strength, the grace, the fun he shared with me + so many in each circumstance. Celebrating the immense growth over the years - a lot due to the love of family + friends + mentors who have walked beside me in both obvious hard days like today and the basic missing that lingers in each day since his passing. And, ultimately, I am choosing to celebrate the pure grace and power of the forever Father we have in Jesus. 



These days (months, years - you name it) I am learning a few things:

01 | Celebrating can look like laughter and shared stories, but also comes in the form of reflecting and tears and longing. I’m learning to be okay with that. Missing is a beautiful thing, for it declares how beautiful and temporary this life is only further pointing us to better days. Today, celebrating looked like getting ice cream for dinner after work and sitting in my car teary-eyed as I felt the weight of all that this day means to me. The joy, the pain, the love, the growth. We've come so far, I kept saying to myself, we've come so far. It is grief and it is grace - both heartbreaking and beautiful.


02 | Healing happens in the passing of time. In choosing to grieve. In community & letting people be apart of your life that is too heavy to deal with alone. And, it happens in Jesus since he provides purpose in that passing of time. It is only through Him that I can say how thankful I am for this long + ongoing season of loss. There are not many words that allow me to genuinely explain this, really. (&, I hate that. I like to be able to accurately account for these things well. My writer soul is kicking myself right now.) Thankfulness for such a hardship seems odd and honestly, a bit wrong. Yet, being able to walk through this period (& continuing to do so) with an overwhelming sense of joy is only possible through the power of Christ. Truly cannot explain it any other way.


03 | I'm so damn human. I am a mess of emotions and feelings and thoughts most days. That's why I am choosing to say "I'm learning..." in regards to a lot of things lately. Learning how to embrace, celebrate, and even grieve the contents of what each day brings. It is easy to convince myself that after a decade, I should have all the answers or understand in full. I’m learning that A) I don’t (haha) and B) It’s better that way. For, it leads me over and over again to the perfect love of Christ and to eternity. I’m so stoked for that. 

Therefore I can say: 
Today & everyday, hallelujah

[ Authors Note: Thanks for reading and being apart of my life, friends - the real and the far-from-pretty life. I know that days like this are hard for so many. Whether you yourself have lost a significant male leader in your life, or perhaps your father is simply not a part of your life or apart of it in the way you long for - I get it. I read this article on Darling that hit home with me today. Maybe it will for you, too. Surrounding yourself with Truth on days like today is so vital. Allowing yourself to be loved on. To cry. Stuff like that. This life can be heartbreaking & beautiful, yet actively choosing to be apart of that kind of life produces joy + hope. All in all, writing this to share my heart and to allow you lean on me if you need it. Comment, message, text or call - we are meant to go through this life together. Here for ya, C. ] 
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When Life Is Far From Rosy, We Choose...

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Image by Karissa Nickish
There are seasons in our lives that seem hopeless, awkward, painful and just down-right difficult at the core. The list of descriptions can be exhaustive when we inspect the hard details of our lives. Yet, we are not guaranteed a life without trials, hardship, transitions, or pain. Nonetheless, we are promised a full life of joy and hope despite our circumstances. 

If you are in a season that is far from rosy, or perhaps know a friend in this season, here are six things we can actively choose to do in this period. That is the key -- it is a choice. We choose to not retreat from the problem but rather embrace this season with all the beauty it, too, has - a time of diving deep into growth. 

We Choose to Learn

Ah, learning. While looking at the situation through a more academic lens may initially cause the chills of a high school math class, it can allow us to see multiple perspectives of an issue. It is important to feel all the emotions in a circumstance, yet we should not let them rule our hearts. In practice, this could look like asking ourselves questions in our seemingly-hopeless circumstances: Why is this causing pain or hurt? What are specific ways to hold fast to hope? And, ultimately, how can this be used as an avenue of growth and learning? 

Note that choosing to learn does not simply mean "looking at the bright side of things" -- for, that solution is only a temporary fix. Let's look at all the sides of the circumstance to fully embrace and press on in and through the mess. 


Photo by Karissa Nickish
We Choose to Zoom Out

When I was purchasing items for my college dorm last year, I bought a magnifying mirror to use when I get ready in the morning. And, boy, let me tell you -- you see everything in this mirror. Your facial imperfections and morning bed head are even further emphasized making the thought "do I really look like this?" roam your mind too often. 
What this mirror is good for is a small list: plucking eyebrows, fixing stray hairs and perfecting my contour*. Yet, at last, it mostly just punctuates an issue I wouldn't focus on otherwise. Likewise, when we zoom too closely into a circumstance, we are only seeing a fraction of our condition and letting that define it in its entirety. So, let's take a large step back, shall we? This way, we are able to gain proper perspective and allow the little details to take the back seat.

*Who am I kidding? Contour?! You know this girl does not have even the slighted clue how to do that. 


We Choose to be OK with Imperfection

In these far-from-rosy times, we are tempted to want to fix and fix now. While recognizing a problem and choosing to move forward in some way from it is a wise step to take, let's give ourselves some grace. We do not have to formulate a 1-2-3 step action plan to get back on our feet or have it all figured out in a set number of days. It is in the valleys brimming with imperfection that we have the opportunity to realize our humanity in full. When recognized and felt, we can choose to just do our best with where we are at each day (even considering purchasing this shirt with the mantra). Grace  on grace on grace, friends. We are all just trying to figure out this doin' life thing, right?


Photo by Karissa Nickish
We Choose Vulnerability

Allowing people to be apart of your season of life that is painful is scary. Terrifying at times, even. Yet, the vulnerability of admitting your hurt or lack of hope to a friend reminds both of us that we need each other. We were not made to go through the hard times alone, for it is in community that we can experience the beauty of carrying one another's burdens.

Practically, this can appear as simply sending a text to a close friend or family member letting them know what you are walking through and inviting them to be apart of that. Or, this can look like sitting down with someone older and wiser than you over coffee to process your emotions. Whoever it may be, those who are deeply rooted in your life want to be apart of your mess to encourage and hold you.

We Choose to Surround Ourselves with Truth

It is easy for our heart + mind to get a little foggy in a cloud of emotions some days. We tend to forget the things we know to be true, thus leaving us to buy into falsehood left and right. Though it may take time to fully believe or feel, choosing to surround ourselves with truth is vital to maintaining our sense of worthiness. What we need to remind ourselves of in a situation can differ depending on circumstance & person, but here are few phrases I prompt myself of in the thick of it: 01) This is only temporary, 02) Community heals and 03) There is hope (even if I do not see it right now). Either it be a close friend who speaks truth often or simply a sticky note on your mirror, setting our minds on what is real and honest far outweighs any lies we can believe.

Photo by Karissa Nickish
We Choose to Love

When life does not seem to be going our way, it is only natural to let that consume us. Still, life somehow seems to continue for both ourselves and our community. Therefore, we are not alone in our struggle; actually, we are in great company. While we are limited people making our giving modified in times of sorrow, we can still love those around us. Whether that be through thanksgiving for our friend's support or listening to someone's struggle without the intention of pulling our own into the conversation, we can love.


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While not a perfect or complete list, I hope that we can be active participants in our lives and the lives of our friends + family in these far-from-rosy times. For in our mess and weakness, there is strength and beauty.


Join the conversation: What do you choose in times of struggle? How do you hold fast to hope despite your circumstance?

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by mlekoshi