In an effort to better myself I committed myself to a year long journey of reading more. I like reading and don’t get me wrong I read a lot of blog posts, AD magazine (thanks to my husband), and WSJ (thanks to my father-in-law) but a year ago I found I was rarely reading through a whole book! I had gotten into a slump after college of making time for the wrong things like GOT binges and online shopping black holes. I no longer HAD to read for tests or research so why bother. But a the start of 2018, I turned a new leaf. It was time to start focusing on edifying myself. I picked up a book for the first time in a long time and began the quest of self betterment through reading.
A new series I am starting this month is sharing with you all what I’ve been reading and listening to. To be honest, I’m not an avid reader. I love books but sometimes there are so many other things I would love to be doing and sitting still is not one of my strong suits. In many failed attempts at forcing myself to sit down and read, I’m creating this series as a not-so-subtle last ditch effort to keep me pinned to the books. Hopefully you’ll find some fun things to read and learn along the way.
My first book in this series of blog posts is- When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi.
“That message is simple: When you come to one of the many moments in life when you must give an account of yourself, provide a ledger of what you have been, and done, and meant to the world, do not, I pray, discount that you filled a dying man’s days with a sated joy, a joy unknown to me in all my prior years, a joy that does not hunger for more and more, but rests, satisfied. In this time, right now, that is an enormous thing.” – Paul Kalanithi
I know what your thinking- Why such a heavy book to start off? I guess its been on my mind of late. This book was suggested by a co-worker who thought I would enjoy this book and she was right! When Breath Becomes Air is a story about a neurosurgeon diagnosed with lung cancer who comes face to face with the hardest question of life- What makes life worth living? A thought provoking, inspiring book to read but make sure you have a box of tissues near by.
Along the same lines as When Breath Becomes Air, I have a much shorter portrait of loss in the words by Brenda Miller. The Shape of Emptiness is a flash non fiction piece about loss and emptiness in each our lives through the piece her student shared in class. A beautiful quick read to mull over a glass of wine or cup of tea.
“But for now, when he finishes reading, he gathers our hands and gives them back to us one by one. We take them from him carefully, so we can carry our emptiness into the day. We compare them, showing off the shapes of our grasping. Curled like prayers. Like anger. Like love.” – Brenda Miller
I don’t know about you, but October is one of those times of year where I always get back into music. Throughout college making playlists was pretty much my second major and finding new music is one of my favorite things to do. But I never expected adult life to hit as hard as it has. I never have the time to listen to music especially since my full time job is talking on the phone. But this weekend I had sometime to get back into one of the things I’ve neglected for some time… THERE IS SO MUCH GOOD MUSIC OUT THERE!!
Never forget the things you love and take the time to make them a priority or you’ll get old and cranky…
Enjoy some of my old favorites and some of my new finds 🙂
Hello again! Long time, no post… Let’s be honest, 2016 was a tough year. But, for many of us, the tough times are often the most informative. I’ve spent this last week reflecting over this past year-the ups, the downs, and the in between times and each year I try to summarize it by one word. Sometimes its a good word and sometimes a bad word, but either way it helps me formulate some goals for the coming year.
This year my word is: limitation
1.a limiting rule or circumstance; a restriction.“severe limitations on water use”
2.LAWa legally specified period beyond which an action may be defeated or a property right is not to continue.
A weird word to pick I know, but bare with me…
2016, more than any other year, has taught me about limits. You see, most of the time our limitations are viewed as something keeping us from accomplishing a goal or stopping us from going further in a certain areas. A good example is running. Fun fact: I am SUPER slow… In Middle school my track coach made me run a 400 meter dash…and I failed….miserably…. every. single. time. No matter how hard a train I will never be a Usain Bolt and thats just something I have to live with. My running is a limitation, especially if I ever have to out run that scary person in the scenario every girl has nightmares about.
For me, limitations have always been a sore point. I’m a prideful person and admitting a limitation isn’t something I’m good at. I’ve often let the fear of failing because of my limitations keep me from trying things. Im afraid of what people will think of me if I end up not being able to perform. What if they stop liking me? What if they can do it, but I can’t? I’ve always been worried about those pesky limitations.
This year, something changed in me, almost like turning the light switch on in a dark room. What if our limitations are actually our allies. When my husband and I got married, he gave me a camera for a wedding present along with a 55 mm lens. I love it and continue to use it now. Its a great lens too, but it presents problems when I want to take wide angle shots or photograph in my tiny house. At first, this frustrated me… I can’t take photos of what I want! Why does it have to be so hard to photograph what I want?! But over time, I began to see the lens as a challenge. How good could I get at taking stills, close up shots, and details? It began to excite me, challenge me and push me to see the limitation of no zoom as an asset to my learning. And over time I learned more and more. I’ll never be a Henri Cartier-Bresson or a Dorothea Lange with the camera but with each shot I continue to learn more and continue to grow.
If I had always viewed my lens as a set back rather than a challenge I never would have kept trying. An easy lesson, but a hard one for someone as stubborn as me. Maybe you’ve already learned this or are born with an innate sense of challenging ones self, but for me limitations is a scary word. But I think for 2017, I want to challenge all of us to nail down some limitations we have and try to see how those limitations might help make us better. Maybe its a stinky job, a lack of experience or connections. Whatever it is, try to make 2017 the year you rethink your limitations and begin to use them to propel you into the next great idea or project. Don’t let another year go by where your letting your limitations be a bad word.
Ultimately, my limitations have made me put greater faith in a limitless God; trusting that He knows best in all things and has made me perfect for what He wants me to accomplish. It is for His glory we have been given everything! So, I guess that means even our limitations too… Maybe in our limitations He is challenging us to look to Him in all things and trust that He who began a good work in us will continue it to completion.
Happy 2017 and God bless!
This series of blog posts began out of a greater pursuit to read more. If I have to confess… now-a-days, I feel like I spend more time skimming articles, watching movies about books than actually reading them, … What happened to our love of words?! Has the saturation of words and videos in our online lives ruined our desire to ACTUALLY read stories?! How do we stop this declining trend in our society…My solution, setting aside time to read. So in an effort to curb my lack of reading, each week I will be featuring a book (or story) I’m reading to keep me on my schedule of self improvement, as well as, inform you of great reads (or not so great reads).
This week it’s a story of flash non-fiction, called Close to Shore. by C.B. Anderson, from Brevity Magazine. If you are unfamiliar with the term, flash non-fiction it’s one of my favorite things to read. All based on writing a creative piece less than 55o words, flash non-fiction gives writers restrictions in order to get a point across in a dynamic way through describing real life events. I was introduced to flash non-fiction in college during a writing class and, unlike other forms of writing, it is a good blend of short story, poetry and articles. Focused on descriptions and painting pictures for readers, flash non-fiction reminds me of our sense of smell connecting us with isolated memories by stringing thoughts and ideas together in a deliberate way.
Close to Shore, discusses the life of Thomas and his daughters after the recent abandonment by their mother. What I love about this piece is how it changed my perspective of divorce through focusing on random details after separation. Creating a unique juxtaposition of a parent giving it all and another who does everything for themselves it’s told in second person . Emotional and tangible, its a great quick read. If you like this short story, Brevity features lots of great stories when you just don’t feel like reading a novel, but you want some creative reads. Check it out here- Brevity Mag.
I love reading magazines but one thing I frequently find is products that are like a bajillion dollars more than I want to spend. Its not that I don’t care about my skin! but I would rather spend 50 dollars on a new shirt than on a beauty cream that does basically nothing more than make me greasy. SO… is it true that you have to break the bank to have quality? No…I’ve found that price doesn’t always equal quality. Don’t let price fool you, there are great beauty products at every price level and you don’t have to spend tons of money to get good skin and hair.
So here are a few of my favorites ALL under 50 dollar:
- BCBGMAXAZRIA perfume- $25- Every woman needs a good perfume. One of my favorites scents… flowery, sweet, yet subtle this perfume is perfect and gets better as the day goes on. Thats all I have to say about this… get it…
- Crabtree and Evelyn lavender hand cream- $9- This is a great lotion for anyone who doesn’t like super heavy hand cream. Just a little bit goes a long way and its perfect to carry in a handbag or for a travel kit. With light lavender scent it isn’t overpowering like some lotions… and the packaging is pretty.
- Smith’s Rose Lip Balm- $8- I. LOVE. THIS. It is my absolute favorite chapstick. Its light, not sticky, and is long lasting. They come in several different flavors and are available at anthropologie and urban outfitters. Despite what you think you don’t need Taylor Swift red colors or Kylie Jenner’s fake lips to make you look beautiful… classic lip-balm is sexier and keeps better.
- Jergens BB Body Lotion- $3-5- When it comes to drug store brand lotions Jergens bb cream is my favorite and helps even and brighten skin tone. Its perfect to start using before vacations on the beach or events that call for glowing skin.
- MaryKay translucent powder- $16- A good translucent powder is something I always have in the arsenal. They are perfect for making the skin glow after applying makeup. Bare minerals illuminating veil is also a great powder too, if you like there products better. I have both.
- Supergoop sunscreen- $19- Everyday sunscreen is something I never save on… you only get one chance with the skin you have so don’t play around. Supergoop is my go-to sunscreen choice. I got this sunscreen in a sample kit a year ago and ever since then, I’ve been hooked. Only a little dab goes a long way and protects your skin all day and it isn’t greasy. Science and beauty meet in this antioxidant rich, cellular response technology cream to help keep your skin bright and healthy longer. My advice… don’t skimp on sunscreen! It does more for your long-term outer beauty than any blush or lipstick ever will.
- Maybelline Define-a-lash mascara- $6- Mascara is my beauty product. There is nothing a good mascara can’t fix. Don’t believe me? Go a day without your mascara and people will ask you if you got enough sleep. Mascara helps wake up those tired eyes and make you look ready to face the day even if you’re exhausted on the inside. My go-to is Maybelline Define-a-lash. Not clumpy or thick, it gets the job done. I get waterproof because I am always rubbing my eyes… (which, FYI, you shouldn’t do).
- Pond’s Cold Cream Cleanser- $5- I have sensitive, dry skin and so I’m always on the lookout for a good cleanser that is light and easy on the skin. Pond’s is the best I’ve found. With no exfoliant, it keeps me from drying out but still gets off the days worth of dirt and makeup residue. It also feels soothing especially after a long day.
- Aveda Volumizing Tonic- $20- SO… for hair products… I try to stay as clean as possible. Using too much heat and pumping with hair spray is so bad for your hair, but One thing I DO love, is Aveda’s volumizing tonic. Light, non-sticky, and of course their signature aveda scent, this product is great for going all natural. It helps lift the hair and make it light without being puffy or stiff.
- OGX Moroccan Argan Oil- $6- This is the second hair product I can’t live without. Apply once to everyday of the week after a shower and you will see results! I promise. Keeping my hair silky smooth, this product helps me protect my hair from damage and drying out. I love it.
- Contigo waterbottle- $12- LASTLY… and I know you’ve heard it before… drink water… you need it! But instead of buying plastic water bottle do a favor for the beauty of the earth and get a glass or reusable plastic one! Set a goal and try to drink at least 64 ounces a day! Water is the first step to healthy skin and serves your body in many different forms… to name some… it can help lubricate joints, protect your spine, improve your mood, help you lose weight faster, and help relieve your body of toxins (cough, cough… better skin, nails, and hair…). Our bodies are 60% water! so you need water! If you hate water… (which is weird to say)… try adding some lemons, cucumbers or fruit and pretend your at a spa. Cut out caffeine and alcohol those are no good for you and can effect getting sleep which is also bad for beauty. Making health changes is the cheapest way to save on beauty… so start with water, then diet and exercise. You won’t need those expensive acne products or night creams with simple changes in habit and diet.
Ultimately, you need to find the products that work for your skin type. After trying loads of different products, I have found that taking good care of your skin isn’t out of reach… Great beauty products are out there for any price and the myth that you need to spend tons of money just isn’t true. My final thoughts, its about taking care of your skin… not changing what you have… there is no product that can do that. Being comfortable in your skin is whats important and how we do that is simple… focus on whats inside. Cliché, I know, but it’s true… the most beautiful people are the ones who see outward beauty as secondary to being a loving and kind person. Generosity and goodness are more attractive to others than having perfect skin… so before you stress about being the best looking one at the party, take a look on the inside and think of ways to be helpful to the host, generous with the spot-light and, finally, smile because the world doesn’t revolve around you and your looks.
WORDS | IMAGES BY BETHANY STUMPF
This past summer, one of my best friends from high school passed away during the week of my birthday. It was a peculiar moment in my existence…a conglomeration of celebrating life in two very different ways. In one moment I was celebrating the life I still had yet to live and in the next celebrating the life that Ashly had left behind. Until that day, I had never really thought how with each day’s passing so am I passing. Recently, those feelings from the summer came back to me while doing something very different than a birthday or commemorating Ashly. I was gardening. Caring for a living plant made me realize even more that everyday we grow up.
Watching plants “grow up” has helped me mark my own growth over the last couple of months. With each day they grow, I grow with them. Somedays theres little growth, somedays theres lots of growth but overall the challenges they face produce stronger and healthier plants.
Seedlings, before planted outdoors, require hardening which is done by giving them some resistance though wind. This allows the plants cells to grow stronger for the upcoming outside elements. If you put unhardened seedlings outdoors they won’t be able to handle the harsh environment and eventually die. As humans, we also need hardening to handle the winds that come into our own lives. Hardening for us looks different than plants but the idea is the same. Rather than creating a tough exterior like plant cells, for us it is developing inner strength while maintaining a soft exterior to those around us. The winds of life create a test for each of us that both grows us to be stronger towards harsh realities and maintains the soft gentleness needed to feel compassion and love for others. Ashly was great at this. Even in the last months of her life, she never grew hard towards those around her even though the circumstances were making her internally very strong.
While I don’t know if my plants will survive my harsh treatment of them, I do know that they are teaching me so many lessons. I have learned that nothing good is achieved without hard work, everything takes time, and learning is accomplished through using everything around you as a textbook.
Furthermore, plants are also helping me understand the peace often talked about in the Bible. When we are willing to trust the growing process God puts us through we don’t have to be afraid of jumping in and letting some resistance come towards your way- knowing that it will make us stronger in our faith and wiser to the things of the world and of Hid goodness. How do we expect to grow faith if we don’t ever test it through doing something that requires lots of faith! The best thing about plants is they don’t doubt their creator. They grow and produce fruit whether it survives or not and are unafraid of the time and place knowing God will accomplish what He wants through them. The truth is there will never be a time and place perfect for the projects you want to start. The key is to begin and let whatever obstacle that come be teachers to make you smarter, stronger, and better for the next time. I read a really good quote the other day that I found extremely encouraging from the maker of This American Life, Ira Glass– he said
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
This isn’t just a creative thing he is talking about. It’s life. We will never have the “perfect” life and there will always be struggles but by putting in the hard work and striving to do better each day and with the grace of God we will grow through all the difficulties, successes, and fruits that come along the way.
WORDS BY EMILY CRISMAN | IMAGES BY BETHANY STUMPF
Every spring, people have their annual cleaning day or week where they purge their basement of all unnecessary items and cleanse every forgotten corner of their home. Every New Year we make resolutions to better ourselves in any capacity, whether it be health, finances, or relationship statuses. In this time of self-reflection and goal setting, we can often be focused on things of the material world, and let the most important goals as Christ followers fade into the background. Cleansing our minds of unrighteousness and cultivating our hearts for growth should be what our yearly goals revolve around.
Looking behind in 2015, I know all to well the thorns that pierced me; anxiety and self-doubt clouded my judgment countless times, and my lack of trust in our God left me broken from trying to do things myself. What struggles and sins grasped a foothold on you in 2015? 2 Corinthians says “Now the Lord is the Sprit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect, The Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
This year and everyday we can hold onto God’s promises in the New Covenant, and Jesus’ death on the cross that we have freedom from the sins that haunt our daily lives. We can put the past behind, and seek a fresh start, and accept the clean slate given to us.
With that clean slate, we can begin cultivating a heart for growth and allowing the Holy Spirit to transform our minds. You see this call to transformation in Romans 12:2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- His good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Often times, I do not take an active role in my sanctification or transformation. I simply sit back and ask God to transform me without even moving a muscle. God does call us to pray, but he also calls us to take action. Knowing what God’s word says can help us combat our deepest, strongest struggles. When anxiety overwhelms my mind I can resist by knowing Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Or when I lack faith I can reflect upon Psalm 46. “God is our refuge and strength, an every –present help in trouble therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”
Knowing God’s word and allowing it to infiltrate into every part of our hearts and minds can transform our responses to temptations in this coming year. Yes, I want to work out four times a week, and tidy my house for fifteen minutes every night before bed, but more importantly I want to pick up my cross daily and advance the kingdom of God. Let us bask in the goodness of the gospel, accept our clean slate and continue to cultivate a heart and mind for growth by knowing and applying the word of the Lord. Cheers to 2016 and Spring Cleaning.
Hello friends, it’s good to be back after a long break from the blogging world for some R&R and family time. Like everyone, I’m ready to start off 2016 with a fresh start. 2015 was one of the best years of my life, but I’m ready to see what 2016 has in store! The beauty of the New Year is a fresh start, a beginning of a new journey, and the hope of whats to come next. This year I took some time to think of some attainable goals for the New Year. Goals are never easy to accomplish, but they are something that sets us in the right direction. This is the first year without being a student. While I loved school, I am so excited to have time to start planning for a life outside of class times and paper deadlines. So I sat down and made a list of what to do in 2016.
Don’t be downhearted if you break your resolution plans. I see resolutions as a conscious opportunity to make a preemptive decision for the upcoming year. At the cusp of 2016 we have the chance to make a fresh start. So here is my ideas for a fresh start to 2016!
- Wear heels: All girls love scouring pinterest for great outfits and lets be honest 99 percent of them have cute heels. We pin them, we love them, we shop them, but so many people are afraid to wear them, but why? To tall, to silly, to uncomfortable… We come up with all kinds of reasons. But 2016 is going to be different! So try to wear heels this year because you aren’t to tall, you don’t look silly and if you look hard enough you can find a comfy pair that are beautiful!
- Read more: If you’re like me, reading is something I love to do, but rarely make time for. Yes MAKE time for. I find all sorts of excuses to do anything but read. Take 2016 to make reading a daily thing. I have found that picking a time to sit down and dedicate to reading each day is a really rewarding. And now! I look forward to that reading time every day. Make a reading list and try to work your way through it.
- Learn a new skill: Piano, drawing, painting, baking… etc. Try your best to learn more skills that will make you a more rounded and talented person. Its fun to learn new skills!
- Don’t be negative: Negativity… it’s so easy to be negative when the world can be such a unfair, dark place. But when has being negative ever helped a situation get better? Negativity can be frustrating to be around and sometimes we don’t even notice that we are being negative too. In 2016, lets do our best to be positive, to always be hopeful and to pursue life with a passion. If you hold on to your negativity you will never accomplish any of these goals.
- Talk less (or more): often in life there are moments when we all think… Shoot… I said to much or I should have said more. In 2016 make a conscious effort to make each conversation count. When its time to listen become the perfect listener. When its time to speak up take a leap of faith and say what needs to be said…
- Get organized: MESS– the one word that describes my closet. I spent the end of 2015 cleaning out my closet of everything I don’t wear. To be honest, it can be so hard to get rid of clothes but it feel so good once the deed is done. Don’t let 2016 be dragged down by clutter and mess. Take time to clean your closet and find the perfect way to organize it. If you want to sell nicer items try websites like Thred UP or try local consignment shops. Live by the motto- New Year, New Me.
- Develop your creativity: 30 minutes everyday- write, paint, or draw. Your creativity is so important and take steps to grow it in 2016. Channel your inner child and do something creative everyday. You’ll be surprised how much your creativity will grow and develop.
- Wear chapstick and sunscreen everyday: While its seems superfluous to lather yourself in sunscreen when its 30 and rainy your skin will thank you and you will feel better! Let me put it in perspective for you… You have to have this skin your whole life so it needs to be taken care of.
- Drink more water: On the topic of skin and health in general, water is something you need more of in 2016. 8 glasses. Everyday. You’ll be amazed at how much better your skin, nails, health, and sleep will be. I know! Your sleep! When you are hydrated you aren’t as groggy in the morning.
- Write handwritten letters: Handwritten letters are a lost art in our culture. With the development of email, texting, snapchat, googlechat (the list goes on)… we have lost an essential skill of a well thought out letter. There is something more serious about a real pen and a real piece of paper. What gets written stays, it can’t be erased, replaced, or changed. In 2016, don’t be afraid to put your thoughts on paper and send it away using snail mail to a special someone, who with much anticipation will be overjoyed to read your thoughtful note.
- Cultivate your green thumb: Get a plant and take care of it. Other than teaching responsibility on a small scale, a plant will be a friend to you. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing a plant grow and flourish. Whether a cactus or a ficus, you will love having a plant to care for and it will be an endless supply of joy to you on a cold day.
- Be a better friend: Lots of big changes accompanied 2015 and goes in the books for the fastest year ever. When life gets busy it can be easy to change plans or communicate less with close friends. But when I look back I never regretted taking time to be there for a friend who needed me or wanted me to spend time with them. I think we often forget how much we need relationships to help us through difficult stages of life. Whether its giving a quick phone call, writing a text, or spending the day with friends, I am slowly learning that being friends with people outside of college takes work and dedication. If you want relationships to be “friendship for life” you need to take them seriously and invest in every aspect of peoples lives. Being a good friend in 2016 means (for me) more encouragement, checking in and being the one to ask to hang out (not being the one who waits to be asked)… I know I let the fear of not being liked or irritating others keep me from staying in touch. Be someone who brings people together in 2016 not someone who waits for someone else to reach out.
- Don’t let fear guide your decisions: I am not a risk taker… the idea of being a thrill junkie or going outside my comfort zone is a foreign concept to me. But 2015 was a big year for me..I learned a lot and I realized that I have been getting a little to comfortable and letting the fear of messing up or failing guide my decisions for too long. My husband is mostly to thank for this realization. He never is afraid of anything and he welcomes failure as an opportunity to learn more in order to succeed later. This year I am taking an example from his book and letting more decisions be made out of faith and fewer out of fear.
- Plan your outfits: Something I never do… I am a spontaneous person who rarely makes a set plan for any day BUT I realized that as my closet grew out of control it was also time to plan what to wear.
- Get your nails done: One thing I love is perfect nails. There is nothing better than the glass like surface of perfectly manicured nails and the joy that you didn’t have to struggle painting them on your own. In 2016, make getting your nails done a small reward for a job well done- You reached your workout goal, a promotion at work, or a successful day of shopping? Whether the reason is silly or serious its an opportunity to make sweet things sweeter.
- Be more intentional and don’t quit: I bet we can all think of one thing we bailed on in 2015… A party, coffee date with friends, a project we started. We quit so many things in hopes of finding something better. In 2016, quit less and be more intentional and don’t be afraid to make plans and keep them. Our generation is famous for never making plans and holding out for whatever plan seems best to us. It is the most frustrating thing to be on the other side of but we all do it more often that we would like to admit. Being intentional is a quality to undervalued in our society today. Make a small contribution to today’s society by being one of the good ones who commits to friends and plans made.