Advice, Volume 2

A little over a year ago, I did a post entitled "Give Yourself Permission" and I thought a year has passed so I should sum up important things that I have learned as of late:

1) You don't have to please people. You only have to love them. Those are not always interchangable. Some people may try to manipulate into thinking that they are- but indeed, they are not. 

2)There's probably a reason a relationship from your past crumbled, so don't fall into the trap of "it was all my fault" or obsess over "what went wrong?"

3) Wonder Woman is a state of mind (okay, I got this from a meme but I LOVE it!)

4) Makeup + neat hair= optional in the summer time

5) Swimming is worth infinitely more than hiding your body and trying to keep your makeup/hair in tact

6) You workout because your musculoskeletal system begs you for it, not in attempt to look like Barbie.-Ironically, you can stick to your plan better.

7) Don't be afraid to dream and work relentlessly/sacrifice to make it happen.

8) Watch all of the BBC period dramas.

9) Spend at least 15 minutes a day intentionally connecting with your spouse/loved ones, without being connected to your phone, Netflix, etc.

10) You aren't going to have your dream home in your 20's, and quite possibly your 30's. Focus instead on creating a safe haven and cherishing the people you share it with.

11) Really research your style, understand your body type and invest in the smallest wardrobe accordingly.

12) And finally, a Venn diagram (because I am 8 again (▰˘◡˘▰) ) of what is really worth pursuing in life:

Favorite vacation moments

Last week Ryan and I went on vacation to the Outer Banks with his whole family-all 19 of us. Yes, we made it through an entire week of sharing one house and nobody killing each other (I just feel like my fellow introverts would understand and applaud me on such a point).

We laid around at the beach and ate until we could eat no more (if food isn't the center of your vacation hopes and dreams then I just don't know you). Ryan has this thing every vacation where he will lose weight in preparation for the weight gain that happens during vacation. Let me tell you, that boy came back from vacation 15 pounds heavier (≧◡≦). But he is also the type that he will eat healthy/exercise and have it off in like two weeks. Boys ╰(◡‿◡✿╰) !?

One day we went to an outside art show with his parents, and the talent was amazing! I wish I would have gotten some pics but some artists are weird about that, so I didn't try my luck. It was really cool getting to interact with some of the artists. One was a lady who had some wickedly amazing paintings (some of which were from a trip to China-ahhh! the life) and she told me how she didn't start painting until her 50's, in which she found out she had talent, quit her corporate job and became a painter. I loved her story. Another gentleman had a display of really peaceful scenes and he was the sweetest. Ryan told him that I'm an artist (which embarrasses me because I'm just starting to really learn how to properly draw!!!) and the gentleman kept telling me that he was sure I was great and to keep up the good work. It was the cutest thing ever. He signs all of his paintings with GTG in front of his name- "Glory to God". I just love humble people, they are my sort of people. 

That same day, we travelled with Ryan's parents to Roanoke Island where we toured the Elizabethan gardens. I died again and again with each and every flower. I snapped a ton of pics and have plans to use it as inspiration for a fabric collection. (Notice from the first picture, what Ryan named my file on google drive ↁ_ↁ)

After that, we met Ryan's sister, Danielle, and her husband and kids to eat dinner and go to a For King and Country concert. It was an outdoor concert on a remote part of the island, and we had trouble finding a place to eat because all of the sound checks and such took out the electricity to half the island!

We went to the concert, and it was opened by an Irish Christian band called We Are Messengers- and let me tell you-they live up to their name! The main guy gave his testimony and even reached out to a female member of the audience who is a mother of three, struggling with her battle with Cystic Fibrosis. The whole crowd was praying, it was so powerful!

For King and Country was of course amazing, but I especially relished in spending time with Danielle's three boys and seeing them get excited over one of their favorite bands. 

I also started the book North and South over vacation, and it was the perfect story. British Literature from the Victorian time period is truly the loveliest!

Even though vacation provided the rest I needed, I'm glad to be back in my routine, and in my own home complete with the orneriest puppies.

A dash of melancholy, but a heaping of fervor

My heart is heavy tonight for children.

Being in youth ministry for the past six years has totally opened my eyes. Teenagers these days deal with WAY more than what my younger self and peers were ever accustomed to.

Some of the teens that come on Monday nights have parents who do drugs, have parents that encourage them to come because that's another night that they are out of their hair. Another large percentage don't even live with their biological parents.

Just two weeks ago, a kid threatened Ryan's life. Although death threats are something that we take extremely seriously, it's kind of easy to see such a behavior coming from a kid whose dad died of cancer, his mom is terminally ill and his poorly fitting clothes cannot even begin to conceal the cuts on his body.

Then, this past week, one of the kid's mothers died from a heroin overdose.

Many of them don't. stand. a. chance.

Ryan and I do a check with each other every once in a while-"When should we give up youth ministry and move on to something else?" Not that we want to leave, we just don't want to ever become burnt out.

But now I feel that this is war. The desperately trying to swallow the young up. Destroying families, and making weak foundations. He knows, if he can knock them down when they're young, they won't have much strength to get back up. I can't help but feel that it's more than just my geographical area, but it's everywhere.

If we don't invest in the kids, who will? There are so many out there, not feeling wanted or loved. So many out there who have to fend for themselves and end up in the wrong crowd, all turning to dangerous behaviors to numb the pain. There are so many out there that at minimum, are emotionally and spiritually orphaned.

Who will stand in the gap?

I was inspired by a quote by Mother Teresa today:

"Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand."

I want to be that for people. But I fail so much. I often let my cynical nature and self absorption distract me from what is truly important.

There are two types of battles out there- people being torn apart because they don't know the truth and people becoming despondent after they hear the truth. Spreading the truth and covering it in love is one of the biggest reasons we are here. I pray I can more often remember and be guided by that.

This has to stop

And the award for the world's most annoying book title goes to:

Let me explain why this book title annoys me so much.

We ALL have struggles (regardless of race, age, religion, ability/disability, sex, etc). Circumstances, setbacks, discouraging (sometimes mean) people that can really make life a battle at times.

But do you know what makes a strong, successful person?

Not the absence of the above list, but the refusal to play victim to said list.

Strong, successful people are the ones who find creative solutions to problems that threaten their way of living or their lifelong dreams.

Everyone in this country is legally equal. (Well, almost everyone -the living, breathing unborn's right to exist is not legally recognized...yet)

I've seen videos of a man who has neither of his arms and get this-he paints the most beautiful pictures! Do you think he wastes a good deal of energy authoring a book entitled Why I'm No Longer Talking to Painters With Hands?

No. He spends his time making the world a more beautiful place and encouraging others. He even extends gracious comments when someone says something discouraging/bullying on his social media account. I can guarantee he is a much happier, satisfied person because of it. It does not mean that he comes without his fair share of struggles or pain, he has just chosen to not let them define who he is. 


I haven't blogged in a long time, so I thought a "currently" would be an easy and fun one.

Reading: I'm working on my drawing skills, so I haven't really gotten into any particular book in my free time. I'm referencing a lot of drawing books, mostly. I have a Harry Potter re-read on my nook to read during the occasional lunch break at work and I'm still chewing at bits and pieces of an Anne Bronte biography when I feel like it. The biography is not the greatest, but it's not terrible either, so I'm having trouble powering through it.

Watching: Frasier! We started it in March and we are almost through all 11 seasons-whoops! It constantly has us in stitches. I think it's going to be like The Office and Gilmore Girls-I'll be watching it on repeat for the rest of my life.

Listening: I've been in a bit of a music rut as of late. And in my wanderings, my musical taste buds have been a bit off- I have been gravitating more towards pop-in my best Jimmy Fallon as a teen girl impression- "Ew".

Wearing: Jeans, t-shirts, flip flops and the occasional flowy top. I am all about comfort!

Eating: I've been trying to change my diet over the past couple of weeks. I've always wanted to pursue a more plant based diet (more vegan, but not completely because, you confession: I don't cook. It's not that I don't like to, it's just all of the planning and then coming home from work at 6pm every evening, the last thing I want to do is cook. But with a more plant based diet, that requires a lot more effort. I have found some recipes and things that I really like, but my goal is to by the end of summer have it pretty much figured out- planning meals, discovering recipes that are simple, yummy and that don't require a lot of weird/expensive ingredients. I'm keeping track of things that I really like and may post them here as I acquire them over the next couple of months if anyone is interested.

Loving: the fact that it's basically Summer. I'd love it even more if I were a kid or a teacher and could have the freedom that Summer brings.

Not loving: Working. I know that sounds childish but I have so many things that I want to do and learn and after work and other responsibilities, it doesn't leave much time or energy in things that I would really like to invest in.

Annoyed with: Modern Feminists and how much our culture is soaked with a liberal agenda. But that is nothing new :)

Wanting: to be an artist.

Laughing at:

Feeling: Curious. I think that's why I have adopted so many hobbies and like reading books. Gives me something to explore.

Hoping: to get some good drawing time in this weekend and to make some progress!

Anticipating: the new Wonder Woman movie!!!!!

A Fail-Proof To-Do List

I have been learning something lately- I do not have to be a slave to certain mindsets. I am a woman who has been given free will. I can choose not to center in on negativity, insecurity, anger, bitterness, or bad circumstances.

I have a bad habit of letting bad thoughts play on a loop. Bad thoughts quickly breed more bad thoughts and before I know it, I feel toxic, overwhelmed and sluggish. But I can stop those initial things in their tracks when they first happen.
It's normally not as simple as "just forgetting" it. No, it requires action:

Facing the thing that I'm insecure about.

When I'm anxious, I get in God's Word and talk through how I feel with someone wise.

Giving thanks for the things that I do have when I am in want.

Formulating a plan of action for the things I can change.

When things aren't right between another and myself, apologizing when I did something wrong.

When I'm mad because I feel I have been wronged, deciding in my heart that it's probably petty in the grand scheme of things, and reaching out to reconnect with that person.

Deciding not to be critical towards people, even if they are doing something wrong, and especially not over petty things. They all have a private life behind social media, outside of their jobs that I do not know about. They have their passions that I may never understand, just like I have my own quirky things. I have to show the same compassion and mercy that I would like to be shown towards myself when I am at my very weakest.

It's the most freeing thing I have learned so far in my life. I wish I would have learned it before now.

An abandoned dream...

Around this time last year, I wrote a post being honest with myself that if I could pursue one thing in the whole entire world, it would be to design fabric. I'm forever oscillating between dreamy idealism and pessimistic realism. I spent all last Spring sketching, and gaining confidence. Then last Summer I took an online workshop on how to develop repeating patterns in Adobe Illustrator. It was challenging, and I remember pulling an all nighter to finish up my project by the due date. I had not worked that hard in forever, but watching my design unfold in the wee hours of that morning was more energizing than any cup of coffee or carefully curated play list.

I remember the first time I uploaded a sketch into Illustrator to trace and color and how nothing felt so right and to be honest, a little teary eyed at the whole process (I know, I know, I'm becoming my mother that my younger self used to giggle at).

Then, for whatever reason, I abandoned it. The dream was mismanaged and completely consuming. I understand that any lofty goal takes a lot of hard work, but I made it central to my identity. I have trouble with an all consuming passion of the things that I love, that I lose sight of reality. I spent this past Fall and Winter, realigning my priorities, thinking I had to abandon the dream completely. But evidently, there is still that small flicker burning inside of me.

I'm ready to begin again. With no solid expectations than for myself to put in a little bit of time every day. I'm currently working in my free time to finish up a quilt that my cousin commissioned me to do for him. It's one of my biggest quilts to date, but I'm hoping to have it finished by the end of the month. I've made the commitment that once I have that done, I'm going to spend an hour a day developing my skills/building a portfolio- watching Skillshare classes, taking inspirational photographs for my sketches, drawing motifs, and then uploading them into illustrator and building patterns. I tried stretching myself too far the last time, but I have a more focused, manageable plan this time around. I know I won't be happy until I at least try-so I pray that this time I can put in a good effort while keeping my life and ideals in balance.

My favorite focal print that I created last summer during the online workshop :)