7 pm happy hours and doing good for your heart

I was going to write this like a travel post. List fun places to stop, unique things to see, best BBQ…things like that. I had in fact rode up and down Tennessee for two weekends in a row, so it makes sense. And people love those kinds of posts.

But I got to thinking, why would someone drive up and down Tennessee? Why would they even need to know where to go? And for me, you only take a trip like that because you want to feel something you haven’t felt in a while.

There’s something about being alone for hours at time, it lets you remember someone’s been listening to your prayers the whole time.

There’s something about making decisions completely on what you think is best for the day, it reminds you who you are.

There’s something about strolling up on a late happy hour and feeling like it was this unknown city’s greeting to you.

There’s something about following someone you love and showing up for them in another state, it reminds you that they are like a all the parts of a road trip themselves and you love it.

These are the things we should drive all night for, and the cheap BBQ can only sweeten the deal.

But I didn’t just drive around and think of one-liners, I actually went to a creative conference and MAN did it blow my mind. I couldn’t move on without sharing some of the zingers from who are likely the most innovative humans in America right now.

Some you’ll think are corny, but it’s just you reading this, so feel free to believe them…no one will know 😃
“Your life is a musical and you are perfectly cast.”
 -Brad Montegue
“The key to failure is to fail fast and fail early, so you can get to the good stuff.”
 -Matthew Luhn
“We have confused comfort with happiness, and this is the source of all unhappiness.”
 -Dean W. (Ultramarathon Runner)
“Injustice doesn’t have the be the end of the story.”
 -Amena Brown

“You have to believe in yourself and have thick skin to accomplish much of anything.”

-Rich Correll (AKA the guy who produced, wrote on, etc. for shows like Full House, Happy Days, All In The Family-I’M DONE)

And then probably my favorite:

“The question shouldn’t be what would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? The question should be, what would you do if you knew you would probably fail…but it was still worth it.”

-Jason Jaggard

There’s a little pixie dust to help you lift. Life is full of the daily let-down, but it’s worth it if we’re actively engaging the things that spark our hearts. Can’t remember the last time you felt that? Jump in the car and go (and call me if you really want to know the best places to stop).


The best news about all this is that I have the BEST way to stay around this beautiful country if you’re a college student. My trip really would not have been possible without Spots: Travel on a Whim. I arrived late Wednesday night to my host Colleen, who had stopped by Kroger to get snacks for me. She and her home were inviting and after handing me a key and a long list of suggested things to do downtown, Colleen assured me that if I needed anything she’d be happy to help. Forreal, Spots and Lucas saved my behind. Thanks to Lucas, his team’s beautiful app and my sweet host Colleen, I was able to find a great place to stay right in Nashville, and best part is that it didn’t break the bank.

Cute selfies below:

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Summer Reads

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I know Summer is getting close to it’s kind of end, but hey! We live in Atlanta, which means warm nights on your porch are nowhere near over. So I wanted to share some of what I’ve been reading and listening to for the past few months or so, and what I hope to jump into before Summer is over. If you’ve read some beauties lately please leave them in the comments so Amazon gets all my money next month 🙂

Also, I made a GIF. I’m proud.

Present Reads:

Present Over Perfect – Shauna Niequest, this book is actually wrecking my life in the best way.

Rooted – Banning Liebscher, should be required reading for every young Christian leader.

Scary Close – Donald Miller, If you got on the bandwagon late like me…

Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with both our Hearts and our Minds – Jen Wilkin, CALLING ALL WOMEN, this book is for real changing the entire way I approach the Bible, for the better. It’s amazing.

Settle For More – Megyn Kelly, because I’m part journalist and love boss women.

The Skimm. A daily newsletter sent right into your inbox that gives you bite-sized news with humor and wine coupons. You need this in your life.

Present Listens:

Up and Vanished – Payne Lindsey, It will take your love for murder mysteries and you hometown heart and mix them up into one totally satisfied commute.

This American Life – NPR, for the story lovers.

TED Radio Hour – also NPR, for the curious.

Code Switch – also NPR (can you tell I’m in love with NPR and want to work for them??) for those wanting an inside look at race in America.

Plan-to Reads/Listen:

Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates

Just Mercy – Bryan Stevenson

Uninvited – Lysa TerKeurst, another bandwagon white girl suggestion, but if the shoe fits…

The Bible Project, I don’t know a ton about this one but I’ve heard raging reviews.

That’s it! It’s a baby list but it’s literally my right-now list, and if I’ve learned anything about reading it’s that one chapter at a time is the best way to go.

Much love to the readers and the nons!

xoxo

 

*Cover photo of this post taken by by Morgan Harper Nichols

The dirty secret about adulting

I moved into the apartment I live in now about two months ago. I was excited to adorn my bookshelf with a few books as well as the stand alone space-takers that create aesthetic. I’d gotten a desk and a printer and was re-purposing my comforter to fit the style of the girls that were already living there. I’d sorted my shoes and sent my winter clothes home when realized I had no where to put my pants. They were making my normal clothes-on-the-floor mound larger than normal, so we (I and my pants) declared an intervention.

The weekend had come, the dresser had been bought, and I naively started construction around 7 thinking I’d be tucked in bed around 11.

*cue buzzer noise from Family Fued*

Y’all, my pants stayed on the floor for another THREE DAYS because this was something terrible and in between IKEA dressers and real furniture store dressers-not yet assembled but still not easy to assemble either. So here I am, on the floor with my pile of pants and the 79 pieces of dresser across my bedroom floor, forcing my poor roommates to step between possible splinter situations, trying to put this thing together. About 2/3 of the way in I realized I used the wrong black screws in place of the other black screws, I then proceeded to unscrew and reassemble.This dresser was a journey. But I was determined, and after about a half season of How To Get Away With Murder, it was BUILT.

I felt slightly like a child had been born, my labor of love was created. I’ll be honest, the third drawer rubs against the sides a little more than it should….and there are 100% a few scratches on the front that it didn’t come with-but she works. And now, my pants have a home (yay).

This day I had ‘adulted’. I hear this word adulting a lot, mostly in the context of going to work or the gym or planting an herb garden. And while it is all those things, there might be more to it.

The question I found myself asking was, “Have I made a false equivalency between adulting and maturity? Did I trade what only comes with work for the inevitable?”

Adulthood technically will come to most of us, at least legally. At some point we will likely all make it to 18, to college, to rent payments, these things come, unprovoked, whether you’re ready or not. And I’m thinking that maybe in the (appropriate) excitement that often comes with those things I thought that maturity would just come stapled to the side like a booklet of instructions…but it doesn’t.

What could be worse is that the ‘adult things’ make me feel really busy and productive and successful, and then if seeking maturity was once a thought, it’s easily forgotten after that.

There’s a Proverb that says, seek wisdom, get understanding. Broken down it means, Wisdom is supreme; therefore, get it.

This meaning it’s not just coming to me, no mater how much I want it.

So really, adulting isn’t having the dresser, but is more like building the dresser. Laboring over the dresser. Because the relationships will come, but the maturity to forgive and understand someone else is something to be labored over. The job will come, but the discipline to optimize your work and increase you leadership is something to be sought. The succulent garden probably at this point has to come, but hey, it needs water too.

*cover photo for this post from Squared.one 

 

Beauty, grace, and queen of 50 states

Today is International Women’s Day! Woohoo! What a chance it is to celebrate. Not in exchange for understanding the disparities of this world, but in addition to seeing what’s broken and letting our celebrate fuel the mending process.

Beyond society and the world and global issues an inequalities and the glass ceiling and wage gaps (all of which you should know about), today more than anything I want to look inside myself. The biggest stump for me to get over if I’m honest is one of constant comparison and competition to other girls. If I stay honest, two web tabs over from this one is the infamous Bachelor “Women Tell All”, and for the past thirty minutes it has been a group of beautiful talented women speaking over one another, insulting one another, and entering a commercial break in tears. What is that? Social media and wanting to be desirable and all these things have us pitted against each other, but when I look at my life I can confidently say that after Jesus Christ himself, I have found the MOST strength by linking arms with my girls.

So let’s fight the women tell all scenario. Let’s squash the competition with celebration. Let’s get started :).

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KIM is quite often the LIGHT of my life.

She is a STRONG strong woman who has seen more adversity than I may ever see in my lifetime-yet she operates in so much JOY. She knows her limits and isn’t out to beat anyone, but to diligently serve every task, human, and goal she has committed herself to. I’m taking this one to the grave.

 

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HAN is my longtime super-power. Every day I wake up to a card hanging on my wall across from my bed. It reads,

THERE WILL BE DAYS YOU WANT TO GIVE UP.

DON’T.

And just knowing Han is telling me that makes me never want to.

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KAYCE is so many things I want to be when I grow up.

She is a GORGEOUS and fiercely intelligent and reminds me weekly to never let two things slip: my school game and my shoe game.

We’ve come a long way from the baby nerd classes in elementary school and I’m so glad I still have her.

 

AL

AL oh how I could cry a thousand tears over this one.

Alie is wildly curious, averse to small talk, and is the worst study partner because every time we see each other we have SO MUCH TO DISCUSS. Alie has in the kindest way held my hand as she and I often walk together into questions most people want to sweep under their beds.

She’s hot, she’s DRIVEN, and there is no question in my mind that I want to keep her close, if only to see where she goes in this life.

 

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RENZE is both halves of a POWERHOUSE, she has the ability to be strong and home.

She’s less like a friend and more like a sister. She teaches me, she holds me, pushes me and gives me the silent treatment every now and then. But in being so close, I’ve had to privilege to see every crack in her heart, every small moment of huge GROWTH, every internal battle fought between what is and what could be. Renze is a fighter for the good, and I love her a lot.

 

11931134_1032234686820749_698413821_nLIZ can’t even see this post right now because she’s loving the heck out of people in the Dominican Republic.

This girl is brave, gentle, wise, and she can SANG. If you don’t think you can recover from a friend break up, WE DID. We have seen the long road of friendship, and can I just say, so worth it. She is CONSTANT and last weekend I gold to hold her shoulders, look her in the eyes and say, ‘Something inside feels so excited for your future.’ I love knowing people who make me feel this way.

 

So there’s a handful of the downright lady greatness I get to know. Go celebrate your girls, fly that banner, champion those who are BETTER than you, and remind yourself these women are not my competition.

Why awareness is totally enough

There’s a running argument about the red X. That awareness isn’t enough, that for a movement of mostly poor college students not much change will come. Well first I would like to point to the policy changes that are already being made (go to Enditmovement.com to see more about that) which is amazing. But I also know there are more fronts in which we can get involved.

Secondly, there is a tendency to think that since we may not have to funds to give to organizations fighting issues of injustice, we cannot make a difference. So instead of looking at what we give to, I want to look at what we can stop giving to. Because money rules the world to be honest-and if we can’t give, we can surely stop.

I’ve spent the past three years researching violence against women, and the stigmas that create environments for gender based abuse to occur (we know that this is not limited to women, men and members of the LGBT community also experience high levels of harassment, but I want to hone in on particular spaces for right now). For every injustice there is a sticky web of systems, ideals (sometimes unknown to their holder), and community standards that feed into it. This really sucks, and isn’t everything, but is part of the issue. So I’d like to break down below just a few things that we can stop doing so that we can stop playing into the systems and motivations that create injustices like human trafficking.

So let’s just jump in.

#1 You can stop watching porn:

One part of human trafficking is sex trafficking. This issue has a lot of shady sides and layers to it, but a really easy thing we can look at is its connection to pornography. Pornography is so incredibly accessible to us. It’s easy, it seems personal, but it’s an industry (one of the biggest actually, Porn Sites get more clicks a day than Netflix, statistic from Pornland, a Media Education Foundation film), and when we click we are funding that industry.

So how is this connected to trafficking? There is evidence (much from people who have been trafficked) that when women are trafficked there is a high likelihood that pornography will be made of them. Long story short, when you’re watching porn you have no idea if that girl chose to be there or if she’s being brought out of a brothel to film with little to no rights, poor health conditions, and being pushed back into the closet with the other girls post production.

Secondly, the biggest portion of porn consists of teenagers. Which is illegal, and is by definition human trafficking. And every time we click, the industry makes money, and thrives.

We cannot stand up against human trafficking, and ignore the pervasiveness of pornography, they are connected on social and commercial levels.

Want more info? Check out this video: http://fightthenewdrug.org/how-porn-fuels-sex-trafficking-video/ and Fightthenewdrug.org.

#2 You can stop consuming erotic media that portrays abusive and dominant sex roles (i.e. 50 Shades of Gray)

This one is a little more touchy because it’s a little more out in the open. But I want to break it down.

In many ways, sex trafficking can result from the general (often subconscious) understanding that a man has the right to dominate and control a woman. What’s really unfortunate is that there is even a belief that women want to be dominated. In short, these ideas lead to abuse which takes many forms, one of which can be trafficking.

So, when we pay to consume media that portrays abusive relationships, we are giving it the go ahead. This media is being sold as harmless entertainment, but in studying how media impacts people, there is a term called internalization that is important here. Basically what this means is that everything we consume, sticks. Even if we know that it’s just entertainment, or that it’s just fantasy, simply our consumption of it at some level has changed how we think (this applies to porn as well). So when we consume media that glamorizes abuse, or eroticizes violence we are in tiny ways telling our brains, “You can treat a woman like that,” “I want a man to beat me,” “This is what I should look for in a relationship” (that many people find in pimp relationships), “I deserve to be punished,” and on and on. These tiny ideas will chip away at what we think we know, and eventually push us in a numbness to injustice, which makes it really hard to fight injustice.

And a note to the ladies, don’t use romantic/erotic media to escape what you feel like you’re missing in real life or in a relationship. I know it seems like an easy or fun option grab your girls for the viewing party, but you are worth more than that. You can put your money and your time into showing the world how freaking great you are instead of playing into this.

#3 You can thrift shop more

Another HUGE part of human trafficking is forced labor. And it’s honestly so astounding how many of the products we buy are made by forced labor workers, or workers who work in poor labor conditions because they simply need to make money and consider the risk worth putting food on the table. You can do a lot of research into the products you use personally and see companies track records with this (which I encourage!) But a really great way to counter forced labor is to buy used items rather than new ones. We are a consumer culture, needing the newest thing and now, but when we buy used items, we slow that demand.

Another great thing to do is to stop buying such cheap clothes. I’m in college and I love Forever 21 just as much as the next person but there are a few things to consider when buying clothes. Every piece had to be produced, and every company has to make a profit. So how do they make clothes so cheap?? They pay low wages, skip out on payments, or deny meal breaks so people can produce even more. They New Yorker says, student activism on over labor conditions is noticeable more quiet than it used to be (http://www.newyorker.com/business/currency/why-students-arent-fighting-forever-21). Why? Because we are poor and would rather have cheap clothes than care how the people who make them are treated. Ouch.

All in all today is a day to be celebrated. People around the globe are raising their voices to spread awareness of injustice. But we are a powerful generation that have the power to create a movement on every front. Not just on Instagram, and not just by way of policy. Every piece is integral to beating injustice, and if you’re going to wear the red X, there are things you too can do (and should do), because what is a movement if it’s not backed by action. Awareness is enough, because true awareness leads to greater understanding, and greater understanding allows us to take steps towards change.

4 Things keeping you from actually doing something about your passion // Alt. Title: Why I don’t write

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Sunday mornings aren’t normally my go-to for writing, but when you oversleep the family car ride to church, you run the Keurig, toast a bagel and drag your clunky Dell out on the front porch. So welcome to my sanctuary.

For the past few weeks I’ve been keeping a note titled: “What’s holding you back”. While this list could arguably be as long as my house, my list still only has 4 and I promise that’s enough for us to chew on this week.

1. Passionate≠easy….at least not if you want passionate=excellent.

Somewhere along the way we stopped doing hard things. We started ignoring that spark in our hearts that quietly but confidently drew us to what we were created for and swapped those moments for tasks we could quickly and cleanly accomplish.

But here’s the thing: Our passions will most likely require the most sweat and attention from us if we really want to see them come to life-and hear me when I say, you should want that. The flare of passion in your spirit is the kickstart necessary to propel you into many days of learning, reading, practicing, failing, and trying again. You’ve got a personal romance going with your soul, and at the end of the day you want to be able to sing “Too Good” to your passions-not “Somebody that I Used to Know”.

2. Thanks Brené

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You know it’s good when it gets the tweet amirite?? At least I thought it was. And when it comes down to it this one is pretty simple in theory, extremely difficult in execution.

Here’s the problem: we live in corners that plea with every other corner to validate our corner. Your passion is NOT an Instagram post and we cannot operate in life waiting for our likes to reach 100 to feel as though we have accomplished something. The value of the things your create must begin with you.

But get this: placing value on your work goes beyond the creation stage. Placing value on your work is publicly backing yourself and your creations. Placing value on your work is putting you face on the back of that book and knowing if it goes down you go with it. Placing value on your work is saying, “I’m willing to die with this project, and when it fails I will try again because this is what I was made for.” Your passion doesn’t have a voice unless you give it one, so speak up.

3. Your basket is full.

#3 is my cry to all creative humans to stop being “Jack’s of all trades”. Stop, take off that name tag. Your name is not Jack (well if it is you can keep your name) but my point is, you were not called to be good at everything, to have your hand in everything. And I know it is possible to do this and to be good at many many things, but the more energy, thought, and heart food you spread thin, the less hearty dinners your passion is getting.

Listen here, You’re not Gatsby. You don’t have to kill everything to be great. So let that fall off your shoulders. But you do have to kill your thing. Stop picking up things no one asked you to carry, your arms are going to get tired, and furthermore so will your heart. When we pick up the need to be all things, we unknowingly pick up anxieties should have been left on the ground, so in the words of my girl Elsa, freaking let it go.

4. Nowhere’s Perfect

I landed on number four when I was having a discussion with a friend about her job hunt. We had talked through potential options and with pros and cons chart in hand she reported back with a discouraged: nowhere’s perfect. And she was right, as many of us will encounter in our journey to seek and live out our passions. No job or opportunity is going to have everything you want, no book your write or piece of art you create will be flawless–but that doesn’t mean none of these things will be absolutely right.

I truly believe there is an inseparable link between the passion you were created with and the mark you are meant to leave on this planet, and to be blunt with you, everything you create that is beautiful is reflecting the guy who created you, because He gave you that passion in the first place. So maybe instead of looking for perfect, we start looking for the places 1) our passions can most flourish and 2) the opportunities that will most expand Jesus’ kingdom on earth. When we do that, we can shift our focus away from the comforts we want in a perfect workspace, to the elements essential to a productive workspace.

So that’s 4 friends. That’s the hope. Don’t let your passions die. Feed them more than fish food, and keep the lights on in your heart.

xoxo

 

 

words from the print

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Occasionally I get a chance to write for my hometown paper. Last week I got in the mix for edits. Enjoy a little Habersham flare, world.

“Learning from the best” Really.
Year one down. I’ve finished up my Freshman year at Georgia State University, and more importantly, wrestled an A in my first journalism class. The first of many that is. Next semester already has countless hours of writing slated, not to mention there will be other classes that I have to pretend to care about outside of my major. Luckily though, this summer I’ve been reminded of why I write.
Last week I curiously found myself thumbing through the archives that sit in the very middle of our offices here at The Northeast Georgian. Newspapers have always fascinated me. Shelved are large binders of issue upon issue of our paper. Hard copies of people’s stories from last month and from decades ago. As I ran my index finger along those long red spines I landed on an aged binder. This one was brown and faded and a small patch of red, fraying leather read, Tri-County Advertiser, 1939-40. I immediately pulled it off the shelf and began to gawk at the vintage ads lining the pages and the stories of local people from my home just 80 years earlier. After living in Atlanta for a year, I’ve come to realize this honest media written for the community is hard to come by.
Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post was privileged and trusted enough to be one of the journalists who covered Beau Biden’s funeral this week. His death was a tragedy that broke down partisanship and united the country in sorrow. In her review of that experience June 8 she said, “It [coverage] can provide comfort to an individual’s most intimate friends and family while simultaneously conveying that same person’s significance to total strangers.” Eilperin understands what true journalism looks like, much like my co-workers.
As an aspiring journalist it is a privilege to work with people who don’t get caught in the noise that media can sometimes be. They write for truth and to serve the community. When I’m back writing in Atlanta I’ll be a better journalist because of what I learned here in Cornelia. I understand that when people allow you into the most intimate moments of their lives, when they allow you to capture both the triumph and the tragedy- that’s both the allure and responsibility of journalism. And it is to be handled with care.
Originally published in The Northeast Georgian June 10, 2015.