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I'm Back! + Thoughts on Lent

| On
March 06, 2017
After a long blogging break, I'm back! Maybe for a long time, maybe just for a little. It's kind of funny, I haven't even opened up blogger in months and it took me a little while to remember where I get my images and what font I've been using and what not. Blogging is such a fun outlet for me but I let it become more than it needs to be sometimes...I just want this to be an outlet when I want it, nothing more, nothing less.

As Lent began a few days ago, I'm a bit surprised with myself that I didn't even consider giving something up this year. I rarely end up giving something up, but being the goal-setter that I am, I usually enjoy the thought process. But I think I've realized that I usually tend to make it about myself--what I can be seen doing, what I can talk about in conversation, what I'll get out of my choice. Which, of course, is so so wrong when you think of what Lent is supposed to be about--a time of turning our hearts back to God (away from ourselves!).

And then I started thinking about what it might look like to add something to my life instead of giving something up. That thought didn't go very far until just this morning, I heard an interview with writer Jonathan Fields. He was talking about his philosophy of giving, not just in money, but in time, attention, care, and emotions. He summed it up in what he calls the "Give 30 Project".

To participate, you choose a day. You can choose it a month in advance or when you wake up, but on a given day, you designate that day to be for giving. Throughout that whole day, any time you have an opportunity to give (and you can decide whether money is or isn't part of this) and you can give in under 30 seconds, you do it, whether it's holding a door, helping wipe up a spill, saying a kind word, etc. Jonathan said he makes it a goal to give 30 times on a giving day. At first, that sounded to me like quite a commitment...but that's still only 15 minutes of my time. I can handle that.

Jonathan even talked about something called a "giving glow". Of course, we shouldn't give just because it makes us feel like we're glowing from the inside out, but let's not try to pretend that isn't a great perk. We're called to give to others because we then can follow God's example as the ultimate giver. James 1:17 says that "every good and perfect gift is from...the Father of lights." When we give, no matter the medium or recipient, we imitate God's heart and obey God's commands. That's a good enough reason to me!

So as much as I dislike setting goals after a designated start date, I'll be giving for lent in the Give 30 spirit and method. Not giving up, just giving. Join me?

A little more on Jonathan Fields. You can read another interview he did with Not Salmon blog, visit his website, The Good Life Project, or download a free chapter of his new book How to Live a Good Life.

Monthly Goals / October

| On
October 02, 2016

Last Month's Goals:

Sooooo I could bother to spend time outlining my goals from last month, but in all honesty, I didn't do so well at most of them. The one thing I did succeed at? Start composting! I bought a airtight plastic bin and my roommates and I started filling it up with food scraps. Last week, I took our scraps to the Student Compost Co-op in our town and officially composted for the first time! So that's my victory for the month!

This Month's Goals:

BODY: Transition to a mostly-Paleo diet and document it on the blog. I've been dealing with some sleep/energy issues for the last six months or so and I'm fiddling around with my diet to see if what I eat affects how I feel. I don't think I'll follow a typical Paleo diet to the T but I definitely want to remove dairy from my diet and get rid of most grains/legumes/artificial sugars.

MIND: Turn off my phone for two hours a day. I think this is self-explanatory...

SOUL: Make a list of good-for-me/happy activities + actually do some of those activities when I feel a funk coming on. A lot of times lately, when I feel tired or in a bad mood, I watch some TV or lay around. But in the long run, that only makes me feel worse. I'm trying to break that negative cycle with something that might take a little more effort but makes me feel better!

SOUL: Follow the HelloMornings plan for well-balanced mornings. If you're interested, I highly recommend checking out the website and getting the free ebook about how to put together a morning that works for you. But the gist is, every morning you take time for God, planning, and health (God-Plan-Move). I'm hoping to write a more detailed post about how this works for me!

WORLD: Volunteer at least 10 hours in October. This year, I've started volunteering with a primate sanctuary near me and helping out with a local pit bull rescue. So my goal is just to be a little more intentional about the time I spend volunteering!

What are your goals this month?

Curated / 23

| On
October 01, 2016
I feel like I've been in a bit of a daze the last few weeks. For months, I've been having trouble with my sleep and energy levels. That, combined with my total lack of meditation lately, makes me feel totally spacey. Sometimes I reach the end of the day and I honestly couldn't tell you what I did all day or what thoughts went through my mind. Truly, that kind of mindlessness is bumming me out and I'm trying to approach it from a few angles. But before we get to all the links and stuff of this post, just wanted to pose the question to y'all--do you know the feeling I'm talking about? How do you deal with it?

15 little things to do to feel centered again [Rachel A. Dawson]

Practical ways to unplug [The Free and Wild Blog]

Bible reading for the modern woman [a GREAT read from The Tiny Twig]

How to stop worrying: 4 essential practices [Simply Relished]

This adorably decorated cabin in Helsinki!

How to fall in love with yourself [Daring to Live Fully--I love #2 and #4!]

10 steps towards a tiny wardrobe [Be More With Less]

9 things everyone should do while reading the Bible [Relevant Magazine]

7 ways to stay healthy at work [The Balanced Berry]

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff (still) - really loving this book, but for some reason I can't handle more than 10-15 pages at a time so it's taking me quite a long while! I'm hoping to finish it in the next week or so.

The Know-It-All by A.J. Jacobs (via audiobook) - This summer in France, I listened to the first eight hours or so of this audiobook over the course of my daily walks to and from my university. I had downloaded it through my library and finally checked it out again so I can finish it!

"To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance." -Oscar Wilde

Read, Reading, To Read

| On
September 12, 2016

It's good to be back into blogging. I really enjoyed getting to share my last post and just dump out some thoughts about instagram and how it affects our self-worth. But shifting gears a bit, I'm linking up with one of my favorite bloggers today. Bailey from Love Bailey Jean. Every September, she hosts a challenge for bloggers to post every day for the whole month. And I'm just not about that, but man does that impress me. I can't handle posting every day but I thought I'd just pop in here and there to address my favorite prompts.

Today's is....Three books! One you just read, one you're currently reading, and one you want to read.


Better than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin
Rating: 4/5 stars

Summary / Goodreads

Usually I don't bother to give a summary of books I review because there are plenty of those out there, but just to give you a peek, this book outlines several strategies that we can use to succeed in cementing new (good) habits in our lives or breaking (bad) habits. A lot of the strategies were pretty common sense, but it was still very helpful to have someone delineate a great plan of attack for putting new strategies in place. For example, the strategy of convenience says that habits are easier to form if the action we want to take it convenient. So if you want to go to the gym in the morning, have your clothes all laid out and plan to go to the gym nearest to your house. Logical, right?

I think the best way to read this book would be to have a habit in mind that you have had trouble implementing or would just like to add to your life. Then, as you read the strategies, you can try to apply them to your own situation. This book is definitely one I will review (if not reread) as needed.

Also as a side note, I love the author's podcast Happier. So if you're not a reader or just want even more Gretchen (or as podcast-listeners think of her, Gretch) and her sister Elizabeth, check it out!


The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff

So far, this book is fantastic. I haven't been reading it very quickly, but it's really quite fascinating. The 19th Wife is an odd mix of somewhat biographical retelling the life of Ann Eliza Young, the 19th wife of Brigham Young who eventually denounced Mormonism and polygamy, and a modern-day (fictional) murder of a fundamentalist Mormon by his 19th wife. This book is just brilliant the way it weaves together the two stories. That said, there is a good bit of language and sexual content in the modern day section which I'm not too keen on. So far, it hasn't been a deal-breaker to me, but it definitely takes away from the historical part, which is very interesting.

To Read.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman

This one might be cheating because I've technically started it and read like twenty pages. But I haven't gotten read any more than that anyways, so I'm adding this one to the list! I've heard lots of good things about this book, especially that it's funny and I'm all about that. Let me know if you've read it and if you liked it!


Why I Took a Break from Instagram (and You Should Too!)

| On
September 09, 2016

Guys, I really loved instagram for a long time. I've come a long way from my first couple posts years ago that only got a few likes. Now, I know how to take a better picture. I know what my followers will like and what my friends will comment on. I love picking out the perfect filter and coming up with funny captions, and to be honest, seeing those 'like' numbers add up. But a few weeks ago, I finally decided to delete my instagram app, thinking it would be just a temporary thing. But now I'm not so sure I want it back.

This summer, I traveled all through Europe and got to see some really, really beautiful places. The streets of France, wandering through England and Belgium, and taking in the glorious outdoors in Iceland. Every time I got a great shot of somewhere I visited, I got a little extra excitement from the thought that in a few hours or days, whenever I got internet again, I would get to share it on social media. It felt like a compulsion--posting it on instagram, just so everyone could see all the adventures I was having. But I really enjoyed it! Is that bad, in itself? To get joy out of showing off a little bit? I'm not sure.

But what concerned me more is that more and more frequently, I didn't feel like I was having enough fun, or a 'good enough' time unless I got to show it off to other people. I would stand in front of a magnificent ice cap in southern Iceland and instead of taking in its grandeur with awe, I would think of the best way to frame a photo, or what I would caption it. When did seeing something beautiful not become enough for me? Why do I have to post a photo in order to feel like I'm fully experiencing life?

I never want to get to a place where I do activities just so that I can document is on social media. It sounds like a ridiculous thing to do, but it's not that far off from reality, at least for me. I know months before my trip I was excited for all the fun pictures I'd get abroad and how I'd have an exciting new profile picture. I even started thinking of captions on the flight there.

I know I sound silly. I sound like a caricature of a millennial. I hate that I became that obsessed, but what's weird is that I didn't really feel obsessed...I didn't feel like I was any more consumed by social media than any of my peers. This is so normal for my generation and I'd venture to say, most people living in our day and age (in developed countries, at least).

Cue the introspection. Maybe I just really want to share my excitement about expanding my horizons. Maybe I want to show people that these awesome places really exist in the world! I do think that's part of it. But if I'm honest with's at least equally (if not more) about curating an image and perpetuating my own security. If I post pictures of myself doing exciting things with friends or visiting exotic places, then I therefore must be popular and loved and glamorous. 

But does the opposite have to be true? If I decide not to post a picture of my friends, does that mean they don't exist? If I don't post a picture of myself traveling, does that mean I don't lead an adventurous life? Of course not! But so often, we make that conclusion. At least, I do.

I guess the real question is 'where am I finding the source of my value?' I think that my previous use of Instagram would say that my value is found in my image that I've cultivated. The words that others would use to describe me. The jealousy or admiration that I receive from others.

In Isaiah 43:4, the Lord says, "You are precious and honored in my sight and...I love you."

Again and again in Scripture the Lord tells us of our value. Not because of anything we've done, any image we've created. Really, he loves us in spite of ourselves. Everything we do should make God turn his face away from us in disappointment but yet he still embraces us. All of the secret sins that we (of course!) don't share on social media are fully known to him, but we still are able to live in harmony with him thanks to the ultimate sacrifice.

So when I've received the most valuable and undeserved approval possible, why do I still fight for my reputation with others? I'm not saying I'll never use Instagram again--I'm sure I will. But I want to be increasingly aware of the needs and compulsions that lie behind a seemingly small choice to post. I want to remember whose love I already have.

Have you ever taken a break from social media? Why or why not?

Monthly Goals / September Edition

| On
September 03, 2016

Wooooo it's September! I'm so excited to be back into the groove of writing monthly goal posts. I really think that writing these posts help me achieve more + reflect on my life more, both because of the accountability and because it forces me to take the time to think about what I really want out of my month.

But as a side note, I'm excited that it's September, becauseeeee September is almost October and October is autumn and I LOVE AUTUMN. I love when it starts to get cool here in Florida (so like 75 degrees) and we get a little bit of a break from the humidity. But as little as it sounds, I really just love fall clothing! I love vests and boots and jeans and sweaters and long sleeves. I'm getting so excited just thinking about autumn! But for now...tis September. So here we goooo.

This month's goals:

BODY / Get up at 7:30 at least six days a week. My schedule this semester is a little haphazard and it's been taking a toll on my sleep cycle. Some days I get up at 7, some days I get up at 10! That just makes me feel a little out of wack for the whole rest of the day. I really just feel infinitely better when I get up early! To make getting up early as easy as possible, I plan to go to bed promptly around 10 o'clock every night and put my phone away from my bed. I also like to use an app called Alarmy that requires me to take a picture of something (like my bathroom sink) before it can be turned off. Then I have to get up!

MIND / Get at least a week ahead of schedule in my apiculture class. So apiculture (beekeeping!) is my one online class this semester and because all of the course material is available immediately, I'd love to take the opportunity to get a little bit ahead of where I need to be so that I can have some wiggle room later on if I need.

MIND / Read every night before bed. I really love to read + I think it's a really effective method for winding my brain down for sleep. Currently I'm reading The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff. Follow me on Goodreads to see more!

SOUL / On tough days, make a list of things that I've accomplished. Some days I make a long to do list and by the end of the day, I feel like I have it all left to do the next day. That tends to really get me down and in a funk so on hard days, instead of focusing on the things I didn't get done, I think it'd be helpful to list things that I did get done. For example, today I didn't do a single bit of school work. But...I did get to love on some lonely shelter pups and got a birthday present for a dear friend. That might not sound like much, but it's a happier thought than thinking about all that I didn't do.

WORLD / Start composting. I live in an apartment and don't have any sort of garden, but I still want to find a way to compost my kitchen scraps. Composting is basically like a super efficient way to recycle food waste into a really useful organic material. I've heard there's a community composting area in my town, but I'm not sure quite how to go about joining it. This is my month to figure it out!

What are your goals for September?

Goal Getters / August

| On
August 04, 2016
It really has been a while, friends! I took a long, long break from blogging to deal with an incredibly tough semester, some personal issues, and a bit of disillusionment with some of the directions blogging has moved in the last three years since I started this blog. I can't guarantee that I'm back for good, but I've missed blogging enough to give it another shot. 

That said, I think my attitude towards blogging has shifted quite significantly. For awhile, I was focused on getting products and sponsored posts and certain stats and things like that. When I was taking my blog break, I realized that I didn't miss any of that. I didn't miss the validation of having readers or the free things that I would receive here and there. I missed writing and discussing and publishing my thoughts. Blogging helps me value my intentions and organize my thoughts.

That said, I'm really not sure what this blog is going to look like in the next few months. But I suppose I'll find out as time moves along! Here's a quick update of what life has been like lately...

- I studied abroad this summer! I was in Lille, France, studying French, and then followed the program up with some solo travels to England, Belgium, and Iceland (holy beautiful!!). 

- I'm in Michigan for the last few weeks of summer and then I'll be moving back to Florida for my JUNIOR YEAR! After a very stressful and emotionally draining spring semester, I'm finally excited for the opportunities of this coming semester. I'm really looking forward to some of the classes I'm taking (beekeeping! resource conservation! sustainable ecotourism!) and that I'll be living with my best bud (hey g!). 

That's really about it! And in the spirit of getting back to tradition here on the blog, I wanted to share my August goals! Really, these are my pre-school-year my goals for the next three weeks! And also, I really love reading about other people's goals so if you have a blog and write about goals, leave your links in the comments so I can check them out! 


+ put away my phone for two full hours every day. It might not sound like much, but honestly, I'm a little too connected to my phone. Part of my issue with blogging was that I felt like it made me so dependent on technology, not only to write my posts, but to check stats and update social media, etc. I'm really trying to eliminate a lot of the extraneous tasks of blogging like social media, but I still waste way too much time on my phone. 

+ read for fifteen minutes every day. This summer, I've really started reading a lot! I've always loved reading but haven't made it much of a priority over the last few years. I've finally given in to less traditional reading formats like ebooks and audiobooks and it has honestly made all the difference. I especially love listening to audiobooks while driving or jogging or while waiting in line. I want to keep up this habit!

+ start a short morning strength routine. I've been running a lot this summer, but without the gym nearby, my strength training has definitely suffered a little bit. I plan to put together a 10-15 minute routine of arm, leg, and core exercises just to start my day on a strong note!

+ read one chapter of scripture every weekday. I currently am working through the book of James with my boyfriend H. I'm finding that one chapter per weekday is really manageable and if I miss a day, I just catch up on the weekends. 

That's all I've got for now! Now I need your help - book recommendations, advice on reducing dependence on technology, or links to your goal posts! Add 'em below.

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