Productivity Above All Else


I started a new job recently, and I'm in that awkward period of feeling heavily reliant on everyone else around me for directions. I have known for a long time now that I do not like to experience the feeling of asking for help (this is another blog post entirely, or perhaps a question best explored with my therapist). I have always been independent, sometimes, I think, to my detriment. I have a deep desire to be self sufficient and capable of handling things on my own.

But when you are new to anything, you inevitably struggle. Even when you know the struggle builds character, and knowledge, and tenacity. Even knowing that my coworkers are patient and kind, warm-hearted, and eager to help, I have a hard time asking for it. I think really what it comes down to is my need to feel in control. Not knowing what to do, not knowing how to help my boss without asking, propels me into the realm of anxiety. What if she thinks I'm needy? What if my coworkers think I'm lazy? What if I struggle and others see it?

What if, no one else judges me as harshly as I judge myself? What if my boss and coworkers are eager to help and answer my questions and show me the ropes? What if the Universe is conspiring for me, and not against me? 

My work is in getting out of my own way, and not valuing myself on my level of productivity. Because after years and years of full-time work concurrent with full-time school, I've finally got some space to breath and invest in the one thing ahead of me: this new job and the opportunities and experiences and growth it will bring. Some days may drag on, and the anxiety will settle in. Other days I'm sure I won't be able to catch my breath due to a seemingly endless to-do list. But each moment I want to savor and experience in the present moment-not in reflection or anticipation. I want to be in the moment. 

xo

Peace and Sunflowers


The world of Instagram has been blowing up with pictures of these sunflower fields. It's not wonder-they're gorgeous, especially the shots at sunset. I made my way out there with a friend from Madewell, Alex of Tinted Green on Instagram and YouTube

This was also during the awful spell of 100+ degree days, so we made our way out for sunrise, hoping to avoid the melting temperatures that basically hit after 8am. I'm so happy with how it turned out.







xxo



I've Got Your Back, ft. Caroline Williams


I met Caroline earlier this year through the non-profit Girls on the Run. We were both first season coaches and I can tell you we both learned a lot through the process.

Caroline has a zest for life. She’s got a ton of energy and excitement for the things that make her happy. Sure, at first it can feel slightly overwhelming, but the more time I spent with her the more I saw that Caroline is incredibly genuine, she is unapologetically herself, and her energy is contagious. Caroline is the first one who took me up on my recent promotion as a paid photographer. The whole experience was a beautiful soft landing for my first professional photography job. Her excitement for the project, the ideas I had, the shots I was capturing...it gave me so much confidence and reassurance that what I was passionate about was also a talent of mine. I could never thank her enough for the way she made me feel in that experience. 

Keep reading on to see exactly what I mean when I say that Caroline is passionate and real. You can also find her website here to read her personal essays and work that's been published. 

(If you'd like to hear to the full interview, head over to Soundcloud to give it a listen.)


What is the most recent book or article you’ve read that has influenced, encouraged, or challenged your thinking?
I’m currently reading Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s about living creatively, and being open to living a creative life. I guess as a freelance writer I feel like I need to be writing a personal essay every single day or I’m not being productive, and I need to have my blog constantly updated. This book has taught be to be open, and that the ideas will come. Elizabeth Gilbert is just a goddess.

Who is an influencer in your life?
My mom is my everything. She is also sober, and she’s taught me a lot along that journey. She was an attorney and married to my father. When my father passed away from cancer she grieved. But then she knew my dad wouldn’t want to see her in this perpetual state of sadness. So she reevaluated her life, picked herself up, found love again, found a new passion…They moved to Georgia on a farm and they rescue animals. She was in a situation where she could have wallowed and said, “That was my one true love and now I’m done.” But instead she realized she had a lot of life left to live and said, “Let’s do this thing.” My mom is just the greatest person in the entire world.



How do you see her influence in your everyday life?
Well, I try not to feel sorry for myself. That’s a huge thing. When I was drinking I definitely got into a hole of thinking, “I’m the girl with no dad. Why me?” My mom kind of reminds me that everyone has his or her own shit, and that I’m not any different. She reminds me that I’m not benefiting anyone by using your dad’s death to feel sorry for yourself.

And she’s just a badass. She’s an attorney turned animal activist. She could have been happy to go retire on the beach but instead she wanted to go adopt a bunch of elderly cows! 

What does feminism mean to you?
I was turned off by the word feminism at first. I think it can have a really bad connotation. I think some people think it means being one of the guys, and I don’t see it that way at all. It’s being treated equal to men, but still owning that you’re a woman.

Someone once told me I needed to stop wearing pink to work if I wanted to be taken seriously. And I thought that was so silly. I’m feminine. I’m giong wear lipstick and pink and I’m still really smart. So I think feminism is embracing your womanhood.

I think there are a lot of things that guys can do really well. There are a lot of things women can do really well. I think we’re equal, and we have these incredible strengths. I think a lot of women feel like they have to become more masculine to be as good as men. But it’s about owning your femininity. Or, if you have a masculine side, own that if that’s what’s comfortable for you. But you don’t need to change to be more manly to be treated equally.

Do you have a favorite quote or mantra that you live your life by?
I have two right now that are always in my head. One of them is “every situation is temporary”. I used to look at it through the lens of having a really bad day, or I was broke to remind myself that the struggle is temporary. But now, I’m in a very good season of my life. I have a job I love. I’m planning a wedding. There are these exciting things going on in my life. I feel very blessed. So now I remind myself that even the good stuff is temporary, so get off your phone, don’t take things for granted, this moment is fleeting. I’m learning to be present.

The other quote is, “if it costs you your peace, it’s too expensive”. I was in a job I didn’t like for a very long time, simply because it made financial sense. I had an office job like all my friends and I was trying to be this big city professional. And I was more comfortable financially then, but so unhappy everywhere else. All I did was wait for the evening when I was done with work. Sunday nights I would dread going to work on Monday.

Right now I’m writing, and working at a fitness studio that I love, and I’m so happy and at peace. I feel like I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing. And I don’t have as much money, but it’s not costing me my peace. It’s so important to love what you’re doing. Your job is a big part of your life. Do something that you love. This year I realized I’d take happiness over a huge salary any day.



What are you most passionate about?
One thing I’m extremely passionate about is fitness. When I got sober I kind of fell into exercise. At first it was out of necessity. My skin was crawling. I didn’t know how to unwind without wine or vodka. I started running, and running, and running, and then I was too tired for wine or vodka. And then I discovered what my body was capable of. I started running half marathons; I started feeling fit. I’m passionate about teaching people what their bodies are capable of.

How will you be an agent for encouraging other people’s health and wellness?
I recently took a part time job at a fitness studio.  And now being around people like trainers and the studio owner-exercise is their life. There’s a mindset of motivation and high energy. I don’t know in what capacity I want to work within fitness, but I’m interested in growing in that field.

I have had a lot of friends reach out to ask about exercise and the studio I work at. But they tell me they want to lose thirty pounds before they come in to the gym. What I try to do is encourage them to show up as they are, and to let the exercise change them. You don’t need to change yourself to start. I want to be a cheerleader for exercise, and show people that eating healthy is not just to lose weight; it’s to fuel your self with the right stuff. You don’t have to be in shape to show up at a gym. Come as you are. Do what you can. And you’ll feel amazing. Just try something. You’ll discover your power if you just show up and try.


Fill in the blank: I am ______________
I am sincere. 

Coming Up on the Finish Line


This week is my last with the summer program I've been working at. I'll start in my new position July 17th...which gives me a week off to finish writing my first draft of my thesis.

Yikes.

I've been "writing my thesis" for the past year now. And although I've got most of the research/reading/notes out of the way, I still have not organized it or put it into my own words to argue for my thesis. I've always been one to procrastinate. I used to feel bad about this character trait. Until I realized that I truly do my best work when I'm under the wire. My brain turns into overdrive and although I'm stressed, the quality of my work is far greater this way. 



There's so much temptation to just not finish my masters program. In reality, I'm frustrated with myself for going through this program in the first place. At one time I thought about getting my masters in counseling, but the time commitment scared me. Not the mention the whole reason for going to grad school was so that I could stay with the kids I was nannying at the time for a couple more years without feeling like a loser for being 25 and a nanny. But this is a whole other post...

My grandmother paid for my tuition during grad school (and undergrad. Shout out to my amazing grandmother!!). That's a huge reason for following through and finishing. But even more than that, I need to finish this degree for me. I need to close that chapter of my life-which I believe is the final thing keeping me entrenched in my grief over losing my relationships with the kids I nannied. 



So here I go. Pray for me. Hold me accountable. And don't let me get distracted with memes and youtube videos...May the odds be ever in my favor.

xxo


Perfectionism



This past weekend I met up with a friend at the Crocker Art Museum to hang out and do a casual photoshoot. Over the last few months I've been actively putting myself "out there" into the ether as a professional photographer and earlier in the week I posted to Instagram and Facebook about a meet up on Saturday for a fun shoot. 

Sara and I met through Arden Hot Yoga. She's a teacher and business woman and all around lovely friend to have. We've talked over the last couple months about scheduling a formal shoot to get her some headshots and material to use in promoting her teaching and workshops, but she shared she's been held back by a common fear I think we all have when it comes to having our pictures taken and social media: perfectionism. Not in the sense that she is a perfectionist, but as in the pressure to be perfect in your photos and captions and whit is so overwhelming, that it's easier to stay small and secluded, instead of promoting your skills and passions. 

It's the same pressure I feel to be a perfect photographer, to know all the things about aperture and exposer and ISO. It's the pressure I put on myself to build up my own following and gain attention for my work, without it being in a narcissistic or self-serving way. It's the pressure I feel to find influential people to partner with, but to still keep it real and intimate and more about the human connection than the popularity boost. 



There's some inspirational quote out there that says something like, you'll never experience the beauty of the world if you don't let go of the shore. Cheesy, but true. We'll never know the full extent of our power, creativity, vulnerability, influence, etc. if we don't first put ourselves into uncomfortable and challenging situations. Those moments when you can be completely comfortable and confident with where you're at and what you have-those are some of the sweetest moments in this whole experience of life...


xxo

Capitol Gardens




Guys, working a full-time job is exhausting...In the last year my work has been somewhat inconsistent (in not nonexistent), and getting back into the swing of a nine to five has been rough. I'm working at a summer school program teaching math in the morning hours, then dance and yoga in the afternoon. It's a quick transition over to dancing and corralling two classes of thirty pre-teens. I had all of these plans to go to the gym several days after work since they are close to each other. But honestly I haven't gone once. Hopefully week two will see me more settled and better at distributing my energy!



xxo



You Might Surprise Yourself


I danced in high school for my school's team. This experience undoubtedly shaped much of who I am as a woman today. It taught me leadership skills. It taught me teamwork and held me in a beautiful sisterhood. It brought important friendships into my life, and confidence in myself in many areas. 

It also brought with it self-doubt and comparison. I only started dancing in high school. I didn't have great technique. I had rhythm and a strong presence when performing, but I often felt shaky in my double pirouettes, or inflexible and lacking power in my leaps. I compared myself to the girls on the team that were taller and had beautiful long limbs. I compared myself to the girls on the team that were more popular in school. I compared myself to my best friends on the team and allowed my ego to get in the way. 


This feeling of mediocrity was one that held me back later in life. I stopped dancing after high school outside of the comfort and familiarity of that team. I found my way to yoga and was able to express myself through movement that way-something I'm eternally grateful for. When I tell someone I used to dance I often do it in a self-depricating way, just thinking about the caliber of dancers we see now on shows like So You Think You Can Dance, all over YouTube, and other media outlets. 

Several months ago when I applied for my current job as a dance and yoga teacher to middle schoolers I remember thinking, "I can fake this for four weeks. I've got basic knowledge and will basically throw myself into any position just to get on this school campus." The weeks leading up to the start of the program I began to feel anxious and nervous. I hadn't danced in front of a mirror for close to a decade. A.DECADE. I felt incredibly self-conscious going to The Well to use a fitness room to choreograph a routine for the camp. I was small in my movement and shy about even just looking at my body and how it moved. I eventually put some eight-counts together that I thought at least would be good enough and walked into the first day of teaching. 


What I discovered over these first few days of camp is that I know a lot more than I give myself credit for. I may not be as flexible as I would like. I may not be as thin or strong as I want. My choreography may be basic and simple. I may not know the english translation to every french term (looking at you battement...I mean, I literally had to google "ballet terms" to even figure out how to spell it). BUT. I am a dancer. I am me. And I am good enough. 

xxo

New Page


This week brought the start of a new summer job. I felt all kinds of emotions. This past year has been the toughest of my life so far. So much change. So much growth. SO.MUCH.FEELS. The start of something new (that I had longed for for so long) included both highs and lows. All throughout day one I reminded myself over and over that anything new is scary and unknown for a time. I went into day two with an attitude of acceptance and openness to the experience. Thankfully, the universe gave me a gentle pat on the back and I felt more relaxed and engaged. So much more to come in this new space. As usual, I'll be right here, sharing it all with you (I'm talking to you, mom & Brooke, my only two readers)



xxo


To My 18 Year Old Self

My little brother graduated from high school yesterday. It was a surreal experience for me. He is ten years younger than me. And although I call him my little brother, he is much taller than I am and has been for years now. I remember the excitement I felt at that point in time-finally finishing high school, ready to move on to college, not knowing how difficult life as an adult can be. This is an open letter to my much younger self, on the cusp of adulthood and college and so much more...


Dear Kelly,

What an accomplishment! I know you are excited to move on from high school. But I want you to take a few moments to recognize your place of privilege. I know that it seems obvious that you would be graduating high school. Your worries were always, can I maintain a 4.0, will I get into a good college, will I get a boyfriend before I graduate...But there are so many kids out there with far greater worries and stressors in life. Instead of fretting about grades, they're stressed about getting enough food, or their electricity shutting off, someone leaving for the day and never coming home, an abusive parent or caregiver...Graduating from high school is not always a given, or a right, for everyone. You are so fortunate to have a family that supported and encouraged you unconditionally along the way. 

The friends that you had in high school will not be the same friends you have as a adult. And that is ok. Life moves you in different directions. The important people in your life will stick. Those few people know who you are, and they love you anyways. Remember that those few meaningful relationships are better for you than having numerous surface level friendships. You guard your heart pretty fiercely. Trust few, but be open to many. 

College will bring its own challenges and excitement. Do not get caught up in comparing your university to theirs. You are meant to walk your own path, as are they. You are meant to be on a specific university campus with peers and professors that will play parts in your life you may never fully recognize. Do your best to settle your lonesome and envious heart. You are here for a reason, and hopefully one day you will see that more clearly. 

Work hard. Take risks. Be brave, and be compassionate. When the weight of responsibilities gets you down, reach out for advice and wisdom from those who have gone before you. Do not open a credit card. Live the broke life and learn about yourself in the process. These years of struggle and stretching yourself thin will teach you so much. Do not compare your story to someone else's. No one has it all figured out. And if you think they do, they are either fooling you, or themselves. Everyone is scared. Everyone is lonely. Everyone wants more love and less doubt. Everyone is deserving of love and kindness. 

Open your heart and your mind-intellectually, spiritually, socially. Be open to new experiences. You do not have to play the role of the good girl or live up to impossible standards of perfection. Life is messy. Even those messy parts can be fun. Do not judge others for living differently than you. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you let go of judgement and the need to be in the right, the sooner you will attract people into your life through love. You never know the battles someone else has faced. Do your best to give benefit of the doubt, to give second chances, to act instead of react, and to listen and be present. 

This life is hard. This life is uncertain. Stay true to your heart. Get into a little bit of mischief. Push yourself in every area of life. Mess up. Fail. Get down and dirty. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. This is life. This is growth. This is being present. 

Yours Truly,
xxo